Digital Trends Best of 2011 Awards: Home Theater

Digital-Trends-Best-of-2011-Awards-Home-TheaterWe enjoy reviewing iPhone docks and headphones just fine, but what really gets our blood pumping is home theater and home audio gear. This year saw some major improvements in LED TVs and some new audio components which completely obliterated preconceived notions about price versus performance. Putting together this best-of 2011 list of A/V gear was a piece of cake because each component, in its own way, stood way out front of the competition as the best of the best. Using this list as a guide, an absolutely first-rate home theater with top-notch music performance, can be assembled for under $10,000.

Make sure to check the rest of our Best of 2011 Awards to see all of this year’s winners.

Sony-XBR-HX929Sony XBR HX929 Series, $2,500 to $5,400

Best LED TV

Sony’s top-of-the-line XBR LED TVs may have lofty prices, but the XBR’s performance is absolutely first rate. The XBR’s full array of locally dimmed LED backlighting provides tremendous brightness and contrast with black levels that venture well into plasma TV territory. Available in 46-, 54.6- and 64.5-inch models. Be sure to check out our review of this outstanding Sony XBR HX929 LED TV series.

Samsung-D8000Samsung D8000 Series, $1,700 to $3,000

Best Plasma TV

Samsung’s D8000 Plasmas put out an image so film-like, you may never go to a commercial movie theater again. This TV series also puts out some of the best 3D images we’ve seen, and comes with two free pairs of 3D glasses — a big bonus for 3D fans. Our Samsung D8000 review covers all of the remaining reasons this TV series was a shoe-in for our best-of 2011 list.

Oppo-BDP-95Oppo BDP-95, $1,000

Best Blu-ray disc player

Oppo has made quite a name for itself in the past few years, and it’s no wonder with products like the BDP-95. Oppo’s flagship Blu-ray player handles just about everything. Its Blu-ray playback is nearly flawless, and its DVD upconversion is second to none. What really gets us excited over this player, though, is its audiophile features such as balanced XLR outputs, separate DACs for two-channel and 7.1 output, SACD playback and streaming FLAC and WAV support. It’s even got an eSATA port! Our review of the BDP-95 is forthcoming but, as you can likely gather, we’re rather smitten with this player.

Anthem-AV-MRX-700Anthem AV MRX 700, $2,000

Best A/V Receiver

The Anthem MRX 700 earned its spot on our best-of 2011 list based almost entirely on its sound quality. While other manufacturers are cramming every feature they can into a single box, Anthem sticks to the simple art of making a great-sounding piece of equipment, leaving the Internet streaming tricks for a component better suited to the task (i.e. Oppo’s BDP-95). While the MRX 700 faces pretty stiff competition from A/V receivers like Pioneer Elite’s SC-57 receiver, it holds its position due to its warm, powerful and revealing sound quality. Check out more in our Anthem AV MRX 700 review.

Aperion-Audio-Verus-Grand-Tower-XD-Speaker-SystemAperion Audio Verus Grand Tower XD, $4,000 to $4,600

Best Home Theater Speakers

Aperion Audio’s Verus Grand speakers are the Internet-direct speaker company’s flagship offering, and they truly sound the part. Blessed with a premium, furniture-grade finish, quality components and borne of experienced engineers, the Verus Grand are musically faithful and tremendously life-like. Aperion’s risk-free policy on shipping is also hard to beat: Shipping to your home is included with the purchase price and, if the speakers don’t work out for any reason, Aperion picks up the return shipping tab, too. Keep an eye out for our upcoming Verus Grand tower speaker review.

Home Theater

From soundbars to headphones, here are the best audio deals this holiday season

Whether you're looking for a great new pair of headphones or a fantastic new soundbar to bolster the sound of your brand-new television, these are the best audio deals to be found this holiday season.
Home Theater

These awesome A/V receivers will swarm you with surround sound at any budget

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to shopping for a receiver, so we assembled our favorites for 2018, at multiple price points and all loaded with features, from Dolby Atmos to 4K HDR, and much more.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.
Home Theater

What are HDMI ARC and eARC? Here’s how they can simplify your home theater

HDMI ARC is one of the coolest TV features at your disposal. But if you're like most folks, you have no idea how it works, if you even know what it is at all. Here's our primer on HDMI ARC, as well as the next generation technology, eARC.
Movies & TV

Our first look at 'The Punisher' season 2 hints at January 2019 premiere

The Punisher is getting a second season on Netflix, with Jon Bernthal returning to play Marvel Comics' gun-toting antihero, Frank Castle. Here's everything we know about season 2 of The Punisher so far.
Home Theater

Vizio is still rocking the Black Friday spirit with these TV and soundbar deals

If you missed out on all the great TV deals this past Black Friday and Cyber Monday, don't worry, Vizio has you covered. The company has some great discounts on its most popular 4K TVs and sounbar systems. But don't delay -- some of these…
Product Review

Step aside, Sonos: Riva's Concert is the best smart speaker you can buy

The Riva Concert series speaker is a fantastic, small-profile smart speaker with Alexa integration, truly excellent sound, and great looks, making it the perfect addition to your kitchen, living room, or bedroom.
Home Theater

Common AirPods problems, and how to fix them

Apple’s AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds we’ve seen, but they’re not perfect. If you’re having trouble, take a look at our guide to the most common problems and what you can do to fix them.
Home Theater

Anker’s micro projectors get an equally small price in time for the holidays

Looking for a great deal on a tiny video projector? Anker has some tiny prices on three of their smallest devices. With features like Android 7.1 and designs as small as a can of soda, these projectors make the perfect travel companions.
Music

Spotify is the best streaming service, but its competitors aren’t far behind

It can be hard to decide which music streaming service is for you, so we've picked out the individual strengths of the most popular services, aiming to make your decision a little easier.
Home Theater

‘Star Trek: Discovery’ season 2 gets a new, Spock-heavy trailer

CBS has released a new trailer for Star Trek: Discovery season 2, which premieres January 17 on CBS All Access. The new trailer features series newcomers Spock and Christopher Pike prominently.
Home Theater

Radiohead, The Cure, and more to join Rock Hall of Fame. Listen to their hits

Radiohead, The Cure, Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, and more have been selected to join the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. Here are our favorite songs from the four artists' hit-filled careers.
Deals

LG’s most affordable OLED TVs now come with $170 to $260 in gift cards

Trusted electronics retailer ABT is offering LG's most affordable OLED TV, the B8 series with $170 and $260 gift cards for the 55- and 65-inch models, respectively. While the OLED TVs don't often go on sale gift cards like this are…
Home Theater

Google Chromecast returns to Amazon just in time for the holiday shopping crunch

It's been a chilly few years between Google and Amazon, but things may be improving. You can now buy two versions of Google's Chromecast on Amazon, something that hasn't be possible since 2015.