The league added an extra regular season game, but it’s playoff time and the Big Game is fast approaching. It can take weeks or even months to choose the perfect A/V system, but who has that kind of time? To enjoy the Big Game in all its high-definition glory, we just need the right display and audio system to pull us into the action and, thankfully, we can have it for less than the price of game-day tickets. Depending on the size of your viewing space, I’ve suggested three systems that will take your Big Game experience straight into the end zone.
Compact Living Spaces
When I say compact, think New York City studio or one-bedroom apartment. You’re a master at doing more with less and you can’t afford to have your TV and speakers take over your space. Thankfully, we’ve got you covered with some options that are ideal for smaller viewing spaces.
Display: Sony X85K 4K HDR Smart LED TV
Being available in a 43" screen size isn’t why this Sony TV made our list; we chose it because of its high tech to value ratio. With its native 4K resolution and support for Dolby Vision and HDR 10, colors will pop off the screen, and its 120 Hz refresh rate is ideal for live-action sports. The X85K runs on Google OS, so you can stream the Big Game without issue or having to add another component to your system. If you already have a cable box or external streaming device, the X85K has four HDMI inputs with support for HDMI 2.1. Let’s face it, this TV isn’t just for the Big Game―you have 364 other days to think about and, with these features, you’ll be just as well prepared for your next series binge or gaming session.
Sound: Bose® Smart Soundbar™ 600
Did I mention that the Sony X85K supports eARC over HDMI? Well, it does, and using this single cable connection between the TV and soundbar will allow you to enjoy immersive Dolby Atmos sound. The Smart Soundbar™ 600 also supports Alexa and Google digital assistants, and can you stream your music easily, thanks to AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect capabilities. If you have a pair of Bose®’s popular Bluetooth headphones, you can pair them with the Soundbar for those times when a quieter listening session is in order. At approximately 27" wide, this soundbar packs a lot of tech into a manageable form factor.
Medium-Size Living Spaces
Do you have a bit more square footage? Perhaps you’ve prepared the perfect space in your living room or home office and can accommodate a system with a bit more horsepower. Here are two options to consider for bigger viewing spaces.
Display: LG C2 evo OLED TV
LG has been making incredible OLED displays for years, and the C2 continues that tradition. Available in screen sizes up to a massive 83 inches, the C2 is designed to integrate into all types of viewing environments. For medium-sized spaces, though, the 55" may be the sweet spot. If you’ve never seen an OLED TV in person, you owe it to yourself to stop by our store and see them for yourself. The black level and contrast performance of OLED TVs must be seen to be believed, and its off-axis viewing is superior to that of traditional LED-based displays. The Big Game can attract big crowds and with this OLED TV, your guests can focus on the action (and commercials) and not worry about which seat in the house is the best one. OLED displays have been criticized for their brightness capabilities (unfairly, in my opinion) compared to LED TV varieties, but LG’s evo C2 is designed to be up to 20% brighter than the company’s entry-level OLED displays. Add LG’s excellent video processing and support for Dolby Vision, HDR10, VRR, FreeSync, and more, and you’re ready for all kinds of high-resolution content. LG uses the webOS Smart TV platform, and the included “Magic Remote” offers intuitive navigation across its interface.
Sound: Sonos Arc Soundbar
Big TV calls for big sound, and with its 11-driver array, the Sonos Arc is ready to deliver. While the Arc works great as a stand-alone unit, you can add additional compatible speakers and create your own music ecosystem to achieve the wireless multi-room audio experience for which Sonos is known. You can even add additional Sonos speakers to the same room, such as the Sub for enhanced low bass reproduction and a pair of Ones as dedicated rear channels; all of these speakers combine to deliver a true multichannel home theater experience. While Dolby Atmos and surround sound can be surprisingly good in a soundbar, nothing beats dedicated speaker channels, especially for sporting events and, with the Arc, you have the option to expand your system as needed.
Dedicated Viewing Spaces
Have you spent hours browsing basement and media room home theater setups on Pinterest? Do you want your Big Game experience to feel like you’re at the game? We have some recommendations for a larger-than-life experience.
Display: Big TV or Projector?
This conundrum pops up frequently when people design dedicated viewing spaces but, thankfully, there are many good options. While I’m personally in the big TV camp, I’ve had some spirited discussions about the benefits of home theater projectors, and after seeing some in person, I get it. Pair a projector like the BenQ TK700 with a 100" screen and it’s hard not to get sucked into the action and feel like you’re been teleported to the game (though teleportation may be cheaper than game tickets). Like the TV options mentioned above, the TK700 supports HDR10 and has native 4K UHD resolution. If you are going the projector route, consider a high-performance streaming device like the Apple TV or the Roku Ultra. Both have had updates in 2022 and combine speedy operation with excellent high-resolution video and audio support. If you're still leaning toward big TV, the two we mentioned above come in a variety of screen sizes. There are also a few other options we’d happily help you navigate. But projector fans, I hear you: you’re right, they’re awesome.
Sound: Soundbar or Receiver?
Personally, I love soundbars, but receivers have always been my personal preference when space allows it. When pairing a receiver such as the Onkyo TZ-NR7100 with dedicated speakers and a subwoofer, you have a system that’s looking beyond the Big Game and begs for a weekly movie night. A well-assembled system can handle your sports viewing, game play, and home theater viewing equally well. With that said, I’ve had the opportunity to review the Devialet Dione soundbar and demo the Sony HT-A9, and both were capable of filling my dedicated listening space, sounding much bigger than the “soundbar” name would suggest. Much like choosing a display for a dedicated space, there are a lot of good options here, as well.
Are You Game Day Ready?
Have you been considering some upgrades for the Big Game or beyond? Tell us in the Comments section, below. I hope we’ve helped you narrow your choices, and if you have questions, we’re ready to discuss the answers.