Somewhere between entry-level and high-end is the sweet spot for buying home theater components. You don't want to go so cheap that you end up being unhappy with the purchase, but you also don't want pay for bogus features or performance gains that have diminishing returns.
CNET's sweet spot home theater is our roundup of products that deliver that perfect mix of design, features, performance, and, most importantly, value. We already have separate lists for the best home audio and home video products, but consider this to be a single-page cheat sheet of the home theater we'd put together if we had to start from scratch.
Sweet spot 5.1 speaker system: Energy Take Classic 5.1
Skip the sound bars and the home-theater-in-a-box systems. They're decent options if you're on a tight budget, but the real sweet spot is a true 5.1 speaker system, which can be less expensive than you might think.
The Energy Take Classic 5.1 ($400 street price) is our Editors' Choice and the hands-down best overall speaker system we tested in this price range.
While most budget speaker systems we've reviewed have trade-offs, the Energy is seemingly without compromise, with excellent sound quality, a compact and elegant design, and a $400 street price. It's one of the best home theater values we've ever seen and it's an investment likely to last you at least 10 years--much longer than your average gadget purchase.… Read more