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The Basics of Home Theater

The Basics of Home Theater

If you were planning on staying home a lot this summer then you probably thought about setting up a home theater. It’s not as hard as you may think, but don’t go into it thinking it’s going to be a breeze. Here are a couple of starting points to understand when setting up a home theater for your family.


Price is going to determine just about everything with your home theater. Even if you have a small budget, it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to have a home theater. It just means you’ll have to invest your money in specific items. Look at a home theater as a way to increase your home value. If you sell your home, you’ll eventually want this project of yours to make you money, especially if you have a dedicated room. Price is mostly going to dictate what type of projector or TV you can afford and the sound system you can afford. Before you purchase anything, come up with the budget for your home theater. The DIY Network also has a great article on design and price points.

If you are on a budget, you should spend most of your money on picture quality and a sound system.

Picking the right room

For most cinephiles, we want a dedicated room to our movie viewing experience. However, that’s not the case for everyone. Some families want their living room to turn into a movie space. In my life, I was introduced to the concept of a home theater with someone who built it in their garage. You really can build a home theater just about anywhere, but there are some caveats.

If you’re looking for a home theater that’s best for dealing with echo and reflection of light, then you’ll want to find a rectangular room with no windows. Windows have glass, which is bad for noise and lets light in. To deal with echo, you’ll also want sound-absorbing fabric in that room so it doesn’t disturb your family. On the flip side, if you’re going to build a home theater in your living room, you’re going to need a bright projector to deal with all the light coming from your living space. This can drive up costs and make your viewing experience not as pleasant. If your room has any windows, make sure to purchase some blackout curtains. When the movie’s on, you’re going to want it as dark as possible for your home theater.

Projector or TV

For most home theaters, you’re going to want a dedicated projector. It’ll provide the largest screen and give you high fidelity images. This is great for dark rooms and big spectacle movies. You don’t necessarily want the biggest. Rather you want the largest picture with the highest fidelity of black and colors. Projectors can cost from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousand, easily. Do your research before buying. It will probably be best to watch reviews and do an in-person test before buying a projector. That way you know exactly what you are getting.

It makes sense to buy a TV If you plan on watching movies or TV in a family space. The TV picture quality won’t be affected even if you have the lights on. Just make sure to get the biggest TV you can afford.

Sound System

You’re going to want to buy speakers that fit your needs. Most home theaters use a 5.1 Channel surround system that contains three front-facing speakers and two behind you. The sound produced by this, however, will be loud. This may not be the best choice for a living room setup. Instead, a soundbar and subwoofer may suffice for your living room. As with projectors, this can cost you several hundreds of dollars or several thousands of dollars. Do your research before going into the store, and then test out different speakers. Only then should you make a selection.


You’ll often see pictures of home theaters with movie theater-style seating. I don’t believe this is necessary. If you’re on a budget, an old couch will suffice and so will any old comfortable furniture. What matters most is the picture quality and sound. Even if you have a large budget, it is still prudent to purchase furniture, such as a sectional. A sectional is often better suited for a home theater because you’re going to want to show it off. When you bring guests and family over, everyone will have a place to sit if you buy multiple couches instead of high-quality single chairs. Also, if you have children, do you really want them playing on chairs that cost thousands of dollars, especially if it becomes a hangout spot? You’ll be able to have more people over and save money by purchasing couches and sectionals. 

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