Newly constructed homes, these days, include an extra space that you couldn’t find in a house 20 years ago – the home theater. Once called the "den" or "bonus room", or even the "man cave" the home theater has become the gathering place for families and friends in the home.
Perhaps two of the most common misconceptions concerning the home theater are that they are very expensive and that they take a lot of room. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Of course, your theater experience at home can certainly top out your budget, but it’s not necessary.
Get a System That Fits
One of the ways I saved money on my home theater system was that I chose a system that was the right size for my space. The benefit of having a smaller space for your home theater is that you can maximize the sound quite easily. Your selections of speakers follow the same rule of thumb. Well-spaced speakers of sufficient quality will give a much better overall sound than too many over-sized speakers.
There are many discount stores for speakers and finding the best is crucial for saving money. I personally use Richer Sounds here in the UK, I’m pretty sure there would be an equivalent in the place that you live.
Don’t Fall For Sales Tricks
Another way to stay within your budget is to not fall for sales pitches. Salesmen often – in fact, usually – make most of their salary on commission sales, so it is in their own best interests to sell as many components as possible. My dad used to fall for this all the time, he’d come back with a bunch of expensive monster cables and a $100 "safety Hub" which were totally unnecessary. Make sure to do your research ahead of time so that you know exactly what you want, and then stick to your guns when you get to the store.
You have a pretty good choice of screens and TVs out there. You can save quite a bit of money here, too, without enduring a poor picture. Many people think that the only way to go with a home theater is to have a huge drop-down screen with a projector suspended from the ceiling, or at the back of the room. However, a big-screen TV can yield just as massive an effect in a small area. Just be careful with the type you get, LCD televisions vary in response time, and if you’re an avid gamer, having a 50ms delay on your image can give you the disadvantage. Plasma is known for having a remarkably small response time but it’s not always the case, make sure you take a look at the specs before you take it home and realize you have made a mistake. Depending on the quality of the television you buy you may also find that the viewing angle can be quite small, have a walk around a display model to see if it is the one for you. As televisions have dropped in price quite dramatically, you will probably find they are cheaper than a projector/screen combo.
Amazon are usually quite good for television purchases, they are fast and efficient (usually) and have a great replacement service if the item is damaged or faulty.
What is a home theater without recliners? When designing my setup I had expected them to be much more expensive. I managed to find a pair on eBay with electric controls for $150, I was pretty pleased about that. If there isn’t anything on the online auctions you could always check your local home furniture store for discounts.
All of this equipment can amount to a lot of money. So, finding the right place to buy is the number one priority.
Some suppliers will take trade ins for your old theater equipment. Try to take this into account if your upgrading. Some people even purchase selected pieces at garage sales with the intention of using them to get credit for trade in.
As covered earlier on, online auctions are a good way to save money on your system. This may be especially true of situations where you need wall mounts, projector mounts, and component racks. All of these elements can easily be found on eBay and Amazon. Many of the items you can purchase on these sites are brand new, in the box items.
Don’t forget, as well, the used equipment. You can find this on sites online, but there are also businesses that market used stereo and video equipment. You’ll find the accessories there, as well as turn tables, amplifiers, speakers, and just about anything else you could want for your home theater. These stores are usually local, and make the components quite affordable. They also will take trade-ins
Be sure, as well, of your manufacturers. When you purchase used equipment, you will probably get better results with equipment from just one manufacturer. Sony, Yamaha, and Samsung all make great items, but they’re not the only ones on the market. Read Consumer Reports and online reviews of each of the items you need, so that you know which manufacturer to go with.
In addition, find out about warranties and guarantees. If you are buying at a brick and mortar store, ask for a warranty. You need a chance to use the equipment to see if it works properly. Since heat can be a big factor in whether electronic equipment continues to work properly, make sure you watch enough movies to allow the units to get as hot as they ever will. If you purchase online, you should get a 30 day guarantee with the units.
It is entirely possible to have a home theater on a budget. Just take your time, do your research, and don’t overdo it.
Josh loves his technology. Obsessed with all things sound related, his first surround sound experience was through his computer 10 years ago Cambridge sound works satellite speakers. Since then he has been working for a shop supplying home furniture.