Home Theater Shopping Guide
Last summer, overall box office performance was particularly bad. As The New York Times reports, a vast majority of the 23 major movies released this summer disappointed in ticket sales. While blockbuster sales were flat with last year’s $4.5 billion, attendance dropped around 3.5%.
And while some blame the lack of quality films for the drop, others are attributing the bad box office performance to the increasing popularity of home theaters.
The Radical Growth of the Home Cinema Industry
Just few years ago, home theaters were still considered a luxury only a few could afford. For instance, according to a 2013 CEDIA report, only four years ago, an average home theater cost around $26,000. But thanks to technological innovation, today’s customer now can enjoy a steady stream of new and more importantly, cheaper products.
So the fact that the market is rapidly grown isn’t surprising at all. According to TechNavio’s most recent Global Home Theater Market, the US market will account for 40% of total home theater market by the end of the decade. This growth can be attributed to the increasing preference of the US customers toward better visual and audio effects.
Building Your Home Theater
Now, we finally come to our topic of the day – what items do you actually need and how much money you need to spend in order to turn your mundane TV watching activates into a full-blown home theater experience?
Although the term home theater once referred to only high-end video and audio equipment, designed specifically to recreate the movie-going experience from the comfort of your own home, today, things are much different. Now, it’s basically a catch-all term for any device that enhances your viewing experience.
No matter if you’re looking to slightly improve your home audio-visual experience or you want assemble a home theater from scratch – there’s a lot to consider when it comes to equipment.
The TV is probably the important part of any home cinema system. And even though a lot of television sets come with different, distinctive feature, there are in fact, only two questions you need to ask yourself – what size of the screen do you need and what resolution do you want.
For starters, you have the standard HD products, and high-resolution UHD or 4K products. Standard HD models are a lot less expensive and you’ll also easily find many high-quality sets on sale. UHD sets on the other hand, may be impressive, but keep in mind that currently there’s very little UHD content being produced.
When it comes to the screen size, the rule of thumb is, your viewing distance should be two times of your width. And if you decide to buy a large screen TV, Brisbane UHT specialists recommend buying a TV wall mounting, because it will allow you create more space for the rest of your equipment.
How to spend your money: You should try to buy the biggest screen that fits in your screening room.
How to save some money: Skip the over-priced 4K sets, go with the classic HDTV, and spend the rest of your money on some additional equipment.
Our recommendation: The 70-inch Vizio E700i-B3 is a great choice, but if you don’t have enough space for a 70-inch screen, you should take a look at this 50-inch Sony model.
For most people, Soundbars are a great audio solution for their home theater, but if you want to take things a step further, you should consider acquiring an AV receiver. Now if you don’t know already, a receiver works as an amplifier for your speakers and the main switcher between all of your sources.
Most of these receivers will enable you to create a 7.1 surround system, which consists of seven speakers (right and left speakers in the front, right left side, right left rear and once center) and a subwoofer. A 5.1 system (practically the same setup, minus the rear speakers) is far more common. You can look into different amplifying products such as these DACs or similar components for your surround sound system.
If you like to crank up the volume while watching a movie you should look for a rather large amplifier, because in the world of RV amplifiers – bigger is generally better. But you should focus more on receiver’s HDMI inputs, because you first have to check how many of these inputs you actually need. And subsequently, you need to make sure that your receiver has at least that many of them.
How to spend your money: Feel free to buy the biggest amplifier you’ve seen, because it won’t hurt anything.
How to save some money: A lot of people will recommend Dolby Atmos – ignore these people, because you simply don’t need it.
Our recommendation: If you want a solid receiver, you can’t go wrong with Yamaha. For instance, here you have a great deal for this 5.1 RX-V377.
In some cases, speakers are the most intimidating parts of the home theater simply because audio quality is far more subjective than the other parts of your setup. Some small satellite speakers, for example have a strong bass, but a long, floor-standing speaker will provide a fuller sound range.
Of course, you can always mix different kinds of speakers – if you have enough room, maybe you should put the towering speakers up front, and mount your smaller speakers to the wall on the side and behind your sitting area in order to have a full, surround sound experience.
But once you find what you need, you’ll not have to worry about buying new speakers any time soon. You see, speakers have just a few moving parts, which means that they’re unlikely to break, even after a few decades. And new speakers don’t come out with a lot of new features, so you probably won’t feel a need to upgrade them any time soon.
How to spend your money: Since your speakers will probably last a couple of decades, you should spend a couple of extra dollars on them.
How to save some money: Unless you’re a diehard audiophile, you should avoid any top-notch speakers.
Our recommendation: If you don’t want to spend too much time selecting the speakers individually, go ahead and buy a package such as the DT ProCinema Series.
Putting together a home theater might even seem a little bit intimidating at first, but you have to realize that each piece of equipment is simple enough on its own. And once you truly decide what you want and you pick the best price, you’ll be able to enjoy all your movies in a completely new way.
And good places to look for equipment are in most cases the obvious ones like Wal-Mart, Amazon and Target. However, you’d be surprised just how often you can find great deals in stores like BuyDig and Dell – so make sure to visit as many stores both online and offline before you make any final decisions. You wouldn’t want to miss out on a great deal.