With the corona virus raging and movie theaters closed for the near future, now is the perfect time to put together a home theater to give you a cinema experience.
As great as it would be to spare no expense and build a $2 million dollar batcave theater, you probably still need to work within a budget.
Luckily, creating the home theater of your dreams doesn’t have to completely kill your bank account. You can put together a wonderful home theater set-up yourself. Here’s what you’ll need to think about to make your theater every bit as amazing as you’ve always dreamed it to be.
It all starts with the projector and projector screen
At the heart of any home theater setup is the visual experience. Many people simply go with a big flat screen television, but it’s important to realize that a projector and screen set-up is actually much more effective (less expensive, too!) You can easily achieve a positively astonishing high def viewing experience for $1000 or less.
With a projector, you’ll also need to get a projector screen. And if you get a high quality projector you’ll want a high quality screen to get the most out of it. However, some home theater enthusiasts choose to build their own display surface. If you have limited funds to invest and aren’t into DIY, consider ready-to-go options with a matte white surface. Matte white screens are able to provide a great viewing experience while remaining cost conscious. However, in a well lit room the ambient light could wash out your image, an ambient light rejecting screen would be your best bet to prevent this.
If you’re looking to get the best picture clarity with a 1080p or 4k projector look for a textureless display surface, instead of a matte one. The texture on a matted surface causes some level of image distortion from higher res projectors thanks to their smaller pixel size. Make sure to buy a true 4k projector screen instead of a 4k “ready” screen.
As with many things in life, bigger is better. For a truly immersive cinema experience like at the movies you want to have a big screen. We recommend getting a screen that’s at least 80 inches. Just remember, no one has ever complained about getting a bigger screen.
If space is more limited consider getting an Ultra Short Throw Projector, where the projector sits right underneath the specialized UST screen.
The Sound System Can Make Or Break Your Home Theater
Despite what you may think, you don’t need a state of the art sound system to get the most out of your home theater. Unless you’ve got an unusually large space for your home theater, a smaller system is going to be a more economical choice.
When deciding on what speaker set up to get go for a surround sound system instead of stereo speakers. This will give you the most realistic and immersive cinema experience you can get. You’ll also need to get a receiver and speaker wire to connect the receiver to your speakers. Don’t worry about spending extra on specialized wiring options marketed as “speaker cable”, regular bell wire will be just as good without costing you extra.
For the best surround sound experience, we recommend putting one of the speakers directly in front of you. This can be an issue for larger screens because they could block the speaker. If you want the true surround sound experience like in a movie theater and you want the big screen feel you need a acoustically transparent projector screen. These projection surfaces are perforated or woven to let soundwaves pass through the screen without muffling the audio or rippling the screen, distorting the video.
Other Things to Consider
Last but certainly not least, you’ll want to consider what other touches your inhouse movie theater will need to give you the cozy, personalized experience you want. Plush home theater seating is an absolute must (especially seats that come with a cup holder). Wall decorations like your favorite movie posters will also make your theater feel more like your own.
You’ll also want to consider adding remote control options for your budget home theater. After all, no one wants to have to get up to adjust the lights or sound once they’re already comfortable. Consider putting in a smart dimmer switch that links to your phone so controlling the lights is extra convenient.
Follow these steps and you’ll enjoy the classic movie theater experience before you know it for less than you think. All from the safety of your own home.
And don’t forget the popcorn!