These products are the best of what we have reviewed. They offer superb performance, unbeatable value, or both. They are hardware and software that we can recommend and stand behind, and that we work to keep updated as new products are announced and tested.
The Wizard of Oz 4K Blu-rayReview Date: November 6, 2019 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The Wizard of Oz holds up 80 years later, and this disc shows how even a film as old as it benefits from 4K. The colors are fantastic, the use of HDR is subtle but well done, and I can't imagine the film looking better than it does here.
SVS Prime Pinnacle SpeakerReview Date: September 18, 2019 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The SVS Prime Pinnacle is a speaker that sounds like it costs far more than $1,600 a pair. The construction is top-notch, and the sound quality is fantastic. Listening to stereo music on these was a complete joy, and they will serve as the basis of a great two-channel or multi-channel system.
Avengers: Endgame 4K Blu-rayReview Date: July 30, 2019 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
Avengers: Endgame is a fantastic film and one that was just as good watching again as it was in the theater. The audio and video are both improved compared to seeing it in the theater, and it is a fantastic title for showing off what your home theater is capable of.
The Lego Movie 2 4K Blu-rayReview Date: May 3, 2019 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
Lego Movie 2 is a great sequel to the first film and it looks fantastic on disc. The lack of Dolby Vision is disappointing, but the image still pops on the screen with a wide array of colors and HDR used throughout.
SVS SoundPath Wireless Audio AdapterReview Date: April 16, 2019 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The SVS SoundPath Wireless Audio Adapter makes it easy to turn any subwoofer into a wireless version in 5-10 minutes. It is easy to set up and worked perfectly in testing and helped make my AV area a bit cleaner.
Creed II 4K Blu-rayReview Date: February 27, 2019 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
Creed II is a well-done sequel to Creed that tells a good story and goes in directions you don't always expect. The boxing scenes are well done and the visuals and sounds of the punches will make you want to look away from the screen.
A Star is Born 4K Blu-rayReview Date: February 11, 2019 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
A Star is Born is one of the best films of 2018, and one of the best discs in recent memory. The movie is fantastic while the image and audio don't disappoint at all. This is one that I will keep coming back to in the future and well worth the purchase.
SVS PB-3000Review Date: February 6, 2019 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The SVS PB-3000 is a fantastic performing subwoofer that does a wonderful job with movies and music. It fills out the lower octaves in music without drawing extra attention to itself, and you can feel it in your chest as it rattles the walls when watching movies.
Epson HC4000 ProjectorReview Date: January 26, 2018 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The Epson 5040UB was a fantastic projector when we reviewed it last year, and the HC4000 is almost identical. The contrast ratios are lower, so if you have a completely dark room it is worth stepping up to the 5040UB, but those placing it in a living room or family room can save 20-25% while getting otherwise identical image quality.
Denon AVR-X6400HReview Date: January 12, 2018 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The Denon AVR-X6400H packs everything you need for a top-end home theater into a single box. You can power, and optimize, a 7.2.4 channel system without any external amplifiers. If you want a Dolby Atmos/DTS:X system that sounds great without needing to run external amplifiers, the X6400H does the job easily while sounding fantastic.
Vizio M55-E0Review Date: October 4, 2017 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
For your peak TV value this year, the 2017 Vizio M-Series is hard to beat. Other than the TCL P607, that only comes in a 55" size, the Vizio offers the best combination of pure HDR and SDR performance for your dollar. It is improved over the 2016 model with much better HDR support, but gives up a little bit in SDR performance to get there.
Blade Runner UltraHD Blu-rayReview Date: September 1, 2017 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
Blade Runner is a classic, and deservedly so, and it's never looked better than on this UHD disc. Details are flawless when the film allows, and blacks are deep and dark. The transfer can't make some 35mm shots less grainy, but it can show exactly what is on the film and make it look fantastic.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 UltraHD Blu-rayReview Date: August 15, 2017 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 is the first Disney release on UHD Blu-ray and it is one of the best looking titles to date. With the phenomenal use of HDR and WCG, and an Atmos soundtrack that is reference class, we hope all their future releases live up to the quality of this disc.
Arcam AVR850Review Date: May 2, 2017 Reviewed By: Mark Vignola Summary:
The AVR850 is a truly high-end AVR option for those concerned with best-in-class performance sonic performance: Arcam’s Class G amplification paired with Dirac Live room correction software, means a user can achieve very high performance, without resorting to the complexity of AV separates. The unit lacks some common features and can be quirky in performance, but both of these can be managed through the proper installation with your AV professional.
Sony VPL-HW45ESReview Date: April 5, 2017 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The Sony VPL-HW45ES offers superb 1080p image quality for a dedicated home theater room. The contrast ratios are the best you can get for this price, and the image is very accurate before and after calibration. Sony knows exactly where to cut features that most people don't need from their higher-end units while still providing you almost the same image quality for only $2,000.
Planet Earth II UltraHD Blu-rayReview Date: March 26, 2017 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
Planet Earth II is a wonderful combination of fantastic content and fantastic image that everyone in the family can enjoy. Some of the images are incredible and you can't believe how good it looks, and the wildlife you see is just amazing.
Anthem MRX 1120Review Date: February 8, 2017 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The Anthem MRX 1120 is a high-end receiver that delivers high-end sound. It is one of the few receivers that can power 11 channels at once and it does so well. Anthem Room Correction remains some of the best you can get, and the flexibility of the MRX 1120 makes it easy to integrate and control even the largest home theater. A reference quality component.
SVS SB16-UltraReview Date: February 2, 2017 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
SVS has done a fantastic job with their first 16" sealed subwoofer. The SB16-Ultra is a powerhouse with loads of power but remaining completely in control. It integrates flawlessly with the speakers in my room and provides phenomenal bass for movies and music.
KEF Ci THX Speaker SystemReview Date: January 27, 2017 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The KEF Ci THX system provides reference quality sound in a package that becomes totally invisible once installed. It is expensive and if you have 2x4 walls you might need to get a bit more creative on the install of the Ci200RR-THX, but once in place they disappear and just deliver the movies and music perfectly.
Epson 5040UBReview Date: January 13, 2017 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The Epson 5040UB is the best projector we've used at this price range. The fully powered lens makes it easy to setup and use in a large variety of situations. Support for UHD with HDR and WCG make you well prepared for the future and provides an improvement to the image. Blu-ray movies and UHD content both look fantastic on the Epson 5040UB, but you will be best served by having a calibration performed on it.
HDHomeRun ConnectReview Date: October 19, 2016 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
If you need to get a TV signal to a projector or a TV without a tuner, you should look into the HDHomeRun. It can also stream that content to your computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as working as a DVR with the appropriate media server. It offers far more than a normal TV tuner ever can.
VIzio P65-C1Review Date: September 13, 2016 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The Vizio P65-C1 is the best looking LCD TV we've reviewed this year, and the best TV at its price this year as well. Unless you're willing to spend 1.5-2x as much for an OLED in the same size, you won't find a better image for the price today.
DarbeeVision DVP-5000SReview Date: September 4, 2016 Reviewed By: Mark Vignola Summary:
Still one of the easiest improvements one can make to a video set-up - the Darbee technology is fantastic, and the Darbee DVP-5000S addresses the chief complaint from the previous generation of mediocre build quality.
KEF Reference 1Review Date: August 9, 2016 Reviewed By: Mark Vignola Summary:
The KEF Reference series is an exceptionally nice speaker, from one of the most respected brands in speaker manufacturing. In the Reference 1 and 2C, KEF has constructed a speaker that spares no expense from both a technology and construction perspective. The result is a wonderful sounding speaker. If you are looking to own among the best in attainable speakers, the KEF is a serious contender.
Marantz AV7702mkIIReview Date: May 13, 2016 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The Marantz AV7702mkII offers everything most people need in a preamp at a fantastic price. For far less than most competitors you get every feature you need today, and are ready for tomorrow with HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 support.
JVC X550RReview Date: May 3, 2016 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The JVC X550R is the best projector we've seen close to this price range. Class leading contrast ratios, accurate colors, lots of light output, and support for HDR make it the pack leader. Unless you're a gamer that needs lower input lag, it would be our first choice if you're willing to spend $4,000 or more.
Roku Streaming StickReview Date: April 24, 2016 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The Roku Streaming Stick is now the best media streamer for most people. It offers a fast interface, quick boot times, a new RF remote, and a new private listening mode in the app that makes it a great update. All of the previous Roku features that are so great, from a large library of services to the best search, are still present.
Control4 EA-5Review Date: April 12, 2016 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The Control4 EA-5 is the flagship model of their home control systems. It offers a great user experience that ties your home theater and smart devices together. It makes using any system, from the simple bedroom one to a 15 seat home cinema, simple and intuitive, and works flawlessly.
BenQ HT2050Review Date: February 5, 2016 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
If you are after a projector under $1,000 you should start your search with the BenQ HT2050. It offers up a bright, sharp, accurate image for $800 that no one else can touch. Unless you need a feature that it doesn't offer, it should be where your search starts and is likely where it will end.
Denon AVR-S710WReview Date: January 31, 2016 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The Denon AVR-S710W is the receiver to get in the $500 price range. It has all the features you need to be ready for the future, and is easy to get installed and setup. It offers far more value in a $500 receiver than anything we have seen before.
ELAC B6Review Date: December 23, 2015 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The ELAC B6 bookshelf speaker out-performs anything we've heard in this price range to date. With a full lineup available, supporting up to a 7.1.4 channel Dolby Atmos and DTS:X system, it's a speaker lineup that will grow with you.
BenQ HT3050Review Date: December 3, 2015 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The BenQ HT3050 is the best projector at the $1,000 level that we've seen to date. It offers a significant improvement over the prior HT1075. Accurate colors, a very sharp lens, and lots of light output make it a great projector for your home theater.
Yamaha CX-A5100Review Date: November 30, 2015 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The Yamaha CX-A5100 is a processor that is as ready for the future as you can be today. It offers excellent audio quality, virtually every feature you need in a processor today, and comes in at a price point that makes it extremely competitive.
KEF R300Review Date: November 16, 2015 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The KEF R-Series offers fantastic sound quality all through the range. From a 2-channel system up to a 7.2.4 channel Dolby Atmos system, you can design one that offers sound better than almost anything in the price range. A variety of finishes and models makes it easy to integrate into your home no matter what you are looking for.
Sonos PLAY:5Review Date: November 14, 2015 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The updated Sonos PLAY:5 offers superb whole home audio either as a single speaker or a stereo pair. Many people will find $500 to be a bit expensive, but the sound rivals or exceeds passive bookshelves with an amp for the same price.
Logitech Harmony EliteReview Date: November 5, 2015 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
If you want a great universal remote and the $350 price tag is OK, the Harmony Elite is for you. Easy to use, well designed, and able to control even a complex system it does a fantastic job. Simpler systems and smaller wallets should consider the Harmony Companion which works almost as well.
Epson LS10000Review Date: September 2, 2015 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The Epson LS10000 projector offers great contrast ratios, accurate colors, and a 20,000+ hour lifespan through its use of lasers. Virtually silent and able to power up in around 20 seconds, it produces images that look fantastic today and will for years to come.
Harmony Home ControlReview Date: July 26, 2015 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
A fantastic remote control for almost any home system. Controls everything, works even inside of a cabinet, and is simple to make changes to. Only a backlight and a small OLED screen could really improve upon this remote for the price.
Samsung U65JS9000Review Date: June 23, 2015 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The Samsung UN65JS9000 offers a brilliant image with great contrast ratios, accurate grayscale and colors, and HDR/Expanded Gamut capability. The integrated SmartTV features stream 4K content and four HDMI 2.0 ports with HDCP 2.2 are ready for future UHD sources. Expensive but one of the few TVs today that won't be outdated with UltraHD Blu-ray comes out this year.
SVS Ultra Bookshelf SpeakerReview Date: May 21, 2015 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The SVS Ultra Bookshelf speaker is a very nice speaker for $1,000. With a full-bodied sound, large soundstage, and very good clarity you need to spend hundreds more to find an overall better speaker. Well built, and large for a bookshelf, but able to fill a room.
SVS PC-2000 SubwooferReview Date: May 3, 2015 Reviewed By: Stephen Hornbrook Summary:
The SVS PC-2000 is the cylindrical design version of the PB-2000. It may be taller, but the PC-2000 has a smaller footprint and is lighter and easier to move around than the PB-2000. During stressful testing the PC-2000 never misses a beat, filling my home theater up with gobs of low frequency effects along with quick, clean and musical bass. This subwoofer will perform wonderfully in all but the largest of rooms and even with the odd case that it doesn’t, the generous 45 day in-home trial offered by SVS has you taken care of.
Sharp LC-32LE653UReview Date: April 27, 2015 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
For a value 32" HDTV you can't really beat this Sharp. It's $280, 1080p, includes Netflix, and has an image out of the box that is very accurate. You can't use it as a monitor because of overscan, but for everything else it works great.
Pioneer SC-85 ReceiverReview Date: April 9, 2015 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
$1,600 is a lot for a receiver, but you can't spend less than the Pioneer SC-85 and get what it offers. High-end DACs from ESS, room correction with subwoofer support, Dolby Atmos, and 9 channels of Class D amplification make for a complete package. You can't spend less and get these features, and you can spend a lot more without really adding much to the package. The SC-85 sits right at a sweet-spot for those that want the high-end receiver features without spending a fortune.
Oppo PM-3Review Date: March 16, 2015 Reviewed By: Stephen Hornbrook Summary:
The Oppo PM-3’s are perfect for listening in an office or in public thanks to their closed back design. With its planar magnetic drivers and high sensitivity, this is one of the very best sounding, easiest to drive headphones on the market. Full, extended bass, lush midrange and silky highs combine for the PM-3’s warm sound and transparent presentation. Highly recommended as our top headphone under $500.
Pioneer Elite Atmos SpeakersReview Date: February 19, 2015 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The Pioneer Elite Atmos speaker system is a fantastic sounding system for both movies and music. Even if these speakers didn't do Atmos, they would still be recommended at their price. Unless you need a speaker than can do 20Hz without a subwoofer, you should hear what the Pioneer speakers are capable of.
Epson Home Cinema 3500Review Date: February 5, 2015 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
For your living room home theater, the Epson Home Cinema 3500 is a great projector. The lens shift makes it easy to install, integrated speakers let you bring it with you, and 2500 lumens makes it bright enough for any situation. If you have a dedicated home theater you should consider other options, but for non-dedicated rooms it makes a great choice.
Samsung UN55H8000Review Date: December 16, 2014 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The Samsung UN55H8000 offers an image that is incredibly accurate, has very deep blacks, and looks fantastic. The curve doesn't really add or distract from the overall image quality. As their top 1080p display for 2014, Samsung has an image that competes with the best LCDs out there.
Oppo PM-2 Planar Magnetic HeadphoneReview Date: December 1, 2014 Reviewed By: Stephen Hornbrook Summary:
The Oppo PM-2 is one of the finest headphones you can currently buy and at $699, practically a bargain. It is more sensitive than most planar magnetic designs, allowing them to play with some punch on portable devices. Rich yet neutral tone and excellent soundstaging make these some of the best headphones on the market. Power them with the HA-1 headphone amplifier and enjoy top of the line digital to analog conversion via its ESS ES9018 DAC along with high fidelity recordings via USB input. A match made in heaven!
Yamaha YSP-2500Review Date: November 20, 2014 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The Yamaha YSP-2500 is their cheapest sound bar that uses their beam forming surround technology with IntelliBeam room calibration. It gives you a true surround experience with a single sound bar and no extra speakers. If you want surround sound in a room but do not want to run extra speakers, the Yamaha YSP-2500 can do what no other sound bar can do.
Samsung UN32H5500Review Date: October 15, 2014 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
If you want 1080p resolution and good streaming support in your 32" TV then the Samsung UN32H5500 is the right pick for you. It offers very good overall picture quality, a fast quad-core processor with good streaming support, and enough inputs to support your other devices. It offers almost all the performance of Samsung's higher-end 32" display but without many of features you do not need for a much better value.
BenQ HT1075Review Date: October 8, 2014 Reviewed By: Stephen Hornbrook Summary:
For less than a grand, experience movies and games on a real big screen. Paired with a 120" Silver Ticket screen, the Benq HT1075 delivers eye-popping, bright and sharp HD images. This small, compact projector even comes with a built-in speaker for on-the-go movies and gaming. Other projectors in the same price range don't offer the bright, accurate images that the BenQ HT1075 does.
Yamaha RX-A1040Review Date: August 30, 2014 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The Yamaha RX-A1040 offers a powerful package for $1,100. The pure audio performance is very good and the included WiFi and streaming features make it easy to listen to all of your content. YPAO does a very good job of improving the performance in my testing while Spotify Connect becomes almost essential after using it. It lacks HDCP 2.2 so your future 4K devices will need dual HDMI outputs, but otherwise there isn't much to fault on the RX-A1040.
Vizio S5451W-C2Review Date: June 10, 2014 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
If you have a big screen TV and want big sound to go with it, the Vizio S5451W-C2 is your easiest choice to get there affordably. The sound bar puts out a large enough soundstage to feel at home with a 100" screen, while the wireless surround speakers are easy to integrate into a room without running too many wires. It doesn't offer the performance of a receiver and six separate speakers, but it blows away the audio from any TV and includes Bluetooth streaming for your smartphone and tablet. A very impressive sound bar.
Paradigm SoundscapeReview Date: April 15, 2014 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The Paradigm Soundscape is an expensive sound bar but one with almost no equal when it comes to sound quality. It delivers clear audio, including dialogue with a dedicated center channel, and very deep bass for a product of its size. With multiple inputs, including Bluetooth, it can integrate into any AV system. The included wireless subwoofer adapter lets you add truly deep bass if you want to later and doesn't limit you to a specific brand. As of now, it is the best overall sound bar on the market.
SVS PB-2000Review Date: February 25, 2014 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The SVS PB-2000 moves enough air to make your pants flap in the wind. Output isn't everything and the PB-2000 is as comfortable reproducing the double bass from a jazz album as it is with a thunderous explosion in a film. It's big, and not incredibly attractive, but it sounds fantastic for a very reasonable price.
Emotiva XSP-1Review Date: November 14, 2013 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The Emotiva XSP-1 is as good as a two channel preamp can be without spending thousands of dollars more. With high quality components, home theater bypass including subwoofer channels, and analog bass management, it does everything you want in a pure analog setup. The RCA and XLR inputs are both very good, unlike other products that use a cheap RCA to XLR converter, so you can use both without worry. The only thing I didn't see that I really wanted was a 12V trigger to automate the home theater bypass mode, but I can live without that. For anyone that wants excellent performance in their two channel system, or wants to integrate one into a home theater, without raiding the kids college fund should start with the Emotiva XSP-1.
Vizio S4221W-C4Review Date: November 12, 2013 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
The Vizio S4221W-C4 sound bar produces the best sound quality in any affordable sound bar. Dedicated tweeters provide extra clarity compared to other sound bars on both movies and music. Plenty of inputs allow it to work with virtually any setup while integrated Bluetooth makes it easy to stream audio from your smartphone or computer.
Sonos PLAY:1Review Date: October 14, 2013 Reviewed By: Chris Heinonen Summary:
If you've never lived with a Sonos system, you don't know what you are missing out on. The PLAY:1 is the most affordable way to get started and it sounds as good as a passive speaker at this price. The ability to fill any room with audio at the touch of a button, from your personal library or almost any streaming service, is something you never want to give up. A pair of the PLAY:1s in any room will give you the gift of music all the time for a price that wasn't possible before.