The Best Home Theater Gear for Your Big Game Watch Party

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The Best Home Theater Gear for Your Super Bowl Watch Party

The Big Game is nearly upon us and if you're planning on hosting your own watch party, you might consider upgrading your current home theater setup to maximize your viewing experience. After all, what better way to celebrate Buffalo finally winning a league championship than in glorious 4K and surround sound? Just kidding, Buffalo will never win. But here are some awesome home theater recommendations for you anyway. Enjoy!

Seating Capacity

When shopping home theater equipment, one of the most important things to keep in mind is the size of your viewing space and the viewing distance. This is especially important if you're trying to find the best TV for your home theater.

According to the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), the optimal viewing distance results in the TV screen filling up 30 to 40° of your field of view (FOV). That's about 7" of screen for every foot of viewing distance for a 30° FOV and 10" of screen for every foot of viewing distance for a 40° FOV. If you want to skip the math, just follow the chart below.

Screen Size

Screen Size

Viewing Distance (30° FOV)

Screen Size

Viewing Distance (40° FOV)

50"

7.1' (2.16 m)

5' (1.53 m)

55"

7.9' (2.41 m)

5.5' (1.68 m)

60"

8.6' (2.62 m)

6' (1.83 m)

65"

9.3' (2.83 m)

6.5' (1.98 m)

70"

10' (3.04 m)

7' (2.13 m)

75"

10.7' (3.26 m)

7.5' (2.29 m)

80"

11.4' (3.47 m)

8' (2.44 m)

So, now that we have a means for calculating viewing distance and determining the size of our viewing space, let's talk about appropriate gear recommendations.

For Smaller Viewing Spaces

Many of our New York readers will likely fall into this category. We're talking studios or 1-bedroom apartments with 5 to 7' of viewing distance. For that size of viewing area, you're going to want a TV that's 48 to 55", as well as a soundbar that's similarly compact.

One of the best "small-screen" TVs for watching sports is LG's 48" C3 OLED evo 4K TV . For the last ten years, LG has been cranking out some of the best OLEDs in the world and the C3 is no exception. This "mid-range" model features a stunning 48" 4K UHD panel with a 120 Hz refresh rate and HDR support, built-in webOS, the greatest TV remote ever made, and so much more.

LG C3

LG C3

The C3 is particularly outstanding for watching sports, because it features exceptional SDR peak brightness performance and reflection handling (which is a must-have for bright rooms and fighting glare), an exceptionally fast sub-0.1 ms response time (goodbye motion blur), excellent gray uniformity, and a near-perfect viewing angle that will allow everyone at your watch party to enjoy the same incredible viewing experience no matter where they're sitting.  

If there's one "drawback" to the LG C3 it's that, like most TVs, the sound quality is just OK. It's not bad by any means, but if you're looking for sound quality that's better than "just OK," you should consider pairing the C3 with a new soundbar.

For smaller spaces, we recommend the Sonos Beam (Gen 2). Measuring 25.6" wide and 2.7" tall, this 2nd-gen soundbar is a good-sized speaker for smaller viewing spaces. Even though it's small, the Sonos Beam offers big soundstage. In fact, during our hands-on review, we couldn't detect a difference between the 25.6" Beam and a much larger 40" soundbar. Throw in advanced features like Dolby Atmos support, built-in Wi-Fi, and compatibility with all your favorite streaming services and voice assistants, and you're looking at (and listening to) one of the very best smaller-sized soundbars on the market.

Sonos Beam

Sonos Beam

For Larger Viewing Spaces

If you have a larger viewing space, one that can accommodate a viewing distance between 7.5 to 10', you're going to want a larger screen. For this size of viewing area, you should look at TVs in the 60 to 75" range.

At that size, one of the best TVs for watching the Big Game (or, really, any game) is the Samsung S90C OLED TV. This is not a TV. This is art. The S90C's picture quality, peak brightness, and color vibrancy are superb. HDR content looks unreal. Even video games look stunning thanks to the S90C's incredibly low input lag, an exceptionally fast refresh time, and support for 4K gaming at 144 Hz.

Samsung S90C

Samsung S90C

No surprise, the S90C is also an exceptional TV for watching sports. Its SDR peak brightness and reflection handling are both great, and its viewing angle is exceptional. The S90C also features a near-instantaneous response time, so you won't experience any motion blurring, no matter how fast-paced the action is. On top of all that, the S90C's color uniformity and vibrancy are exceptional, so you won't see any color variations or smudges in the on-screen image.

Now, if you want to pair one of the best screens in the world with one of the best soundbar systems, go ahead and take a look at the Samsung HW-Q990C. While it's definitely not cheap, this premium 11.1.4-channel soundbar system offers arguably the best overall performance, so you definitely get what you pay for. The Samsung HW-Q990C is ideal for virtually any use case or media type, including watching movies, streaming shows, listening to music—even dialogue-heavy content like podcasts and audiobooks sound incredible on the Samsung HW-Q990C. Not only is the sound quality unreal, but the level of immersion you'll experience is second to none. What that means for your watch party is that you and your guests will feel every hit, hear every audible, and experience the game like never before.

Samsung Q Series HW-Q990C

Samsung Q Series HW-Q990C

For Dedicated Viewing Spaces

If you have a home theater or any dedicated viewing space that has a viewing distance greater than 10', you might forego a TV altogether and opt for a home theater projector instead. That is definitely an option, and depending on the size of your viewing space and how big of a screen you want, it might be your best solution. Grab a high-end projector like the BenQ TK860i and throw the game up on a 120" screen in glorious 4K HDR and no one's gonna complain (well, the NFL might).

BenQ TK860i

BenQ TK860i

A word of caution, though: Choosing the right projector can be tricky. Not only do you need to weigh factors like optimal viewing distance and desired screen size, but you also need to be more mindful about certain environmental factors, like the amount of ambient light in your viewing area, what type of screen you'll need, any installation requirements or restrictions, what your intended use is, and so on. If you do decide to go with a projector, be sure to consider these key factors.

As far as choosing the right sound system for your dedicated viewing space: a premium soundbar system like the Samsung HW-Q990C will serve you right no matter the setup—this includes a dedicated home theater. However, some people do prefer A/V receivers to soundbars—especially users with multifunctional theater setups that rely on the myriad connections A/V receivers traditionally facilitate. Just like with projectors though, if you're going the receiver route, make sure you consider all the factors that are relevant to your particular setup before making a choice. 

Denon X-Series AVR-X1800H

Denon X-Series AVR-X1800H

Are You Ready?

The Big Game is only a few weeks away and if you're planning on upgrading your home theater setup, now is a great time. B&H has a ton of "Super Specials" you should definitely check out, along with any of the recommendations above. 

If you have any questions or comments about home theater gear or setups, be sure to drop us a line. Or if you just wanna talk football, we can do that, too.

By the way, I've got Kansas City and San Francisco in the final. Barring injuries, San Fran will win by 10. Tell me I'm wrong and who you've got instead.

2 Comments

Not the matchup I was hoping for but credit to the author for guessing the supe bowl teams. Might have to place a wager. 

honestly, same. i was hoping for a KC v Detroit matchup, but alas. Also, I hope I'm very wrong about my pick. Native Kansan, so I'm routing for KC. Who you got?