Home theater in a box or soundbar with a $600 budget?


Jul 17, 2013
I am looking for a sound system to attach to my new Samsung 55F8000 and PS3. After investing in the TV and whatnot, I am left with only $600 to get some better sound than the TV's speakers.

So, with such budget, do I go for a home theater in a box (Sony, Samsung and LG are the popular ones in my area, poor country) or do I get a soundbar? I know buying separate receivers and speakers is the proper choice, but I cannot achieve much with the budget and with the availability of stuff locally. I can run the cables for 5.1, but if the rear speakers have wireless, it would be better for me.


Sep 2, 2013
Hello AgentSmith88,

Congratulations on your new Samsung 55"! I'm glad you're also interested in upgrading your audio situation and with a $600 dollar budget, you actually have quite a few options.

Soundbars aren't a bad solution and for the price you can get pretty decent sound. The other benefit is the limited amount of equipment taking up space in your living room. A soundbard running the length of your TV and a subwoofer is a pretty small footprint when looking for an alternative sound solution. The downside of a soundbar/subwoofer setup is the limited ability to expand and upgrade. Essentially what you see is what you get without options for expanding your setup.

Another solution to your audio situation is to purchase a 5.1/7.1 surround sound kit. Pretty much any major electronics manufacturer, like the ones you have mentioned, sell a kit or 'home theater in a box' (HTIB). Some are good and some are bad. When looking at these kits, I highly recommend reading through the customer reviews to prevent making the same mistakes of others. The benefit to these kits is you can upgrade at any time. I started with an Onkyo 7.1 HTIB and eventually phased out every piece of that kit. For example, I replaced the front speakers then a month later replaced the subwoofer. In the end, I ended up with a killer 5.1 system with mid- to high-end components. The downside to these kits is the quality. The speakers are typically the weakest link and the receiver the strongest, which isn't saying much.

Finally, if you're patient and can add to your budget over time, I suggest keeping a close eye on eBay. I found each piece of my setup on there and, knock on wood, haven't had any issues. The thing to do on eBay is search for one component at a time and certainly do your research before placing any bids. The cool thing about going this route is you can build a system that no one else has. Meaning, you don't have to be brand loyal, but rather quality oriented.

I hope you can find some good advice within my response and while I'm no audio expert, I will certainly offer more advice based on what I know if needed.

Good luck!