Sunday , September 25 2022

Best Gifts to Upgrade a Home Theater

If you’re looking to surprise your friends and family with better audio and video, here are some great options starting at just $25.

Ty Pendlebury


Ty Pendlebury is a journalism graduate of RMIT Melbourne, and has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.

There’s more to a great home theater than just a big screen. There are tons of other nifty gadgets and appliances out there that can take a home audio and video experience to the next level, and they don’t have to cost you thousands. If you’re shopping for a budding audiophile, you might want to take a look at a turntable or a new pair of headphones. And a streaming device or new some new speakers can make a big difference in a home cinema setup. From $25 and up there’s a perfect gift here for every budget.  

Whether you’re buying for a cord-cutter or not, the Channel Master Flatenna offers a wealth of entertainment with no ongoing fees. Stick this stocking stuffer on a window and plug the cable into a tuner and they can be watching PBS in an instant.

It’s possible to spend hundreds of dollars on a video streamer. Possible, but not necessary. With a list price of $40, the Roku 4K Express offers something for everybody — a huge range of apps and compatibility with video standards such as Dolby Vision and 4K resolution. That it works so well for the money is the good kind of surprise.

The Audio-Technica AT-LP60X is the best budget turntable, hands down. It offers simple automatic operation and its sound quality is a cut above anything else at the price. Perfect for a child’s bedroom, or a smoky, low-lit music sanctuary.

Read our Audio Technica AT-LP60X review.


The Roku Streambar is an instant video and audio upgrade in a box. It offers the excellent Roku streamer on board and boasts enhanced speech quality via the integrated speaker.

Read our Roku Streambar review.


If you’re looking for a pair of relatively affordable headphones to appease the budding audiophile in your family, the HD6XX offer an extraordinary value. They do need a good amp — you can’t really run them from a phone — but the sound quality can’t be beaten. I use them connected to a receiver for late-night viewing and they work a treat.

Read our Sennheiser HD6XX review.


With an improved look and clearer sound, the Debut 2.0 is even better for people looking to dive into the audiophile world. And at $400, it’s cheaper than a receiver or a turntable. The Elac Debut 2.0 6.2 is an excellent value.

You can spend a lot of money on a Dolby Atmos setup, but here’s one for well under a grand. It looks great, it’s easy to use and it sounds good with music and movies.

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