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Best home audio products of 2015

CNET has picked SVS Prime Tower as one

CNET has picked SVS Prime Tower as one of the best audio products for the home. Credit: CBS Interactive

Home audio encompasses a wide array of product categories, including everything from AV receivers to surround-sound speakers to iPod speakers and tabletop radios. These standout products represent some of the best values in the home audio arena.

The following CNET staff contributed to this story: CNET contributor Steve Guttenberg, former senior associate editor Matthew Moskovciak, senior associate editor Ty Pendlebury and senior editor Laura K. Cucullu. For more reviews of personal technology products, visit

Bowers and Wilkins 685 S2 bookshelf speakers

CNET RATING (Out of 5)

(4.5 stars) (outstanding)

THE GOOD: The speakers offer excellent sound quality in an attractive, stand-mountable package. Their versatile sound handles music and movies well. The redesigned tweeter offers better insight into recordings without becoming harsh, and the new tweeter cover is a godsend for parents.

THE BAD: Bass could go deeper; somewhat uninspiring looks.

THE COST: $699.98

BOTTOM LINE: An astoundingly good set of speakers and an excellent deal at this price level.

Pioneer SP-SB23W sound bar

CNET RATING (Out of 5)

(4.5 stars) (outstanding)

THE GOOD: Amazing quality for a sound bar, particularly when it comes to the blend between the sub and the main cabinet. Performance is even more impressive considering the size of the tiny wireless subwoofer, which is easy to hide in the room.

THE BAD: The system's style won't wow you and the sound bar's chunky size might block your TV's remote sensor.

THE COST: $349 to $399.99

BOTTOM LINE: The best affordable sound bar out there.

Onkyo TX-NR646 audio-video network receiver

CNET RATING (Out of 5)

(4 stars) (excellent)

THE GOOD: Cutting-edge technologies such as Dolby Atmos and DTS-X surround formats, in addition to AirPlay, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth; excellent sound quality for movie replay with exciting sonics and class-leading dynamics.

THE BAD: Its external design is generic and bulky; terrible remote; an ancient menu system.

THE COST: $525.52 to $599.99

BOTTOM LINE: Generous feature set and superlative sonic skills at one heck of a value.

SVS Prime Tower speakers

CNET RATING (Out of 5)

(4 stars) (excellent)

THE GOOD: The speakers are capable of quite deep bass and work well in a home theater context and are available in a stunning high-gloss black finish.

THE BAD: The sound's highly detailed character can lack intimacy. The rear panel's twin bass ports need a foot or more of clearance from the wall behind the speaker.

THE COST: $499.99

BOTTOM LINE: They'll appeal to audiophiles hankering for big-speaker sound at an affordable price.

©2015 CBS Interactive Inc., a CBS Company. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


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