If you love movies or are an avid sports fan, a great home theater setup may well be your idea of heaven. But is a home theater setup actually affordable?
It can be—with some shrewd shopping and ingenuity. Read on to learn how to start creating your own home theater setup on a budget.
Find a Great Television
Obviously, any home theater setup starts with a great television. The good news is, it’s possible to pick up a quality television without spending a fortune.
When shopping for TVs, consider the benefits of buying open box or refurbished. Many are just like new, with no meaningful flaws or drawbacks, and sell for a fraction of the cost. Just think: you could get the centerpiece of your home theater for way less, and spend that money on all your accessories instead!
Is bigger always better?
One thing to be aware of when buying a TV is that size matters… but not in the way you might think. There’s nothing wrong with springing for a big TV, but you should know the size of your viewing space will determine your optimal screen size.
- For 720p and 1080p HDTVs, your viewing distance should be about twice the width of the screen.
- For regular HDTVs, the viewing distance is 1.5 times the size of the screen. (So, for example, a 55″ screen works best when you sit about five or six feet from the screen).
- If you spring for a 4K Ultra HD television, you can get a better viewing experience at about half that distance.
When considering what size TV to get, do the measurements for your own space to see what will work best. While buying a 90″ HDTV for your mid-sized living room might seem like a good idea at first, you may not be pleased with the end result.
Speaking of 4K, are Ultra HD TVs worth the price? That’s up to you. They currently offer the best resolution available (four times that of 1080p) and serve up an amazingly sharp picture. While 1080p is the most common resolution available, you may want to spring for 4K if you’re a sports enthusiast who wants truly dazzling video, or a cinephile with a keen eye for detail.
Get on the Streaming Bandwagon
One way to save some money on your home theater setup in the long run is to cut the cable cord. You can pick up a streaming media player and stream movies, television programs, and even YouTube videos to your TV for a fraction of the cost of a premium cable subscription. The days of browsing the shelves at Blockbuster may be gone, but thanks to services like Google Play and Vudu, renting movies digitally is inexpensive and easy.
Some home theater enthusiasts recommend going with a PC over a set-top box like the Roku for maximum flexibility, however personally, I consider this a matter of taste. A PC setup gives you more control, but there’s something to be said for the simplicity and hassle-free nature of a device like the Roku, which requires less maintenance and a minimum of fiddling.
It’s Audio Time
Now that you’ve got the visual part of your home theater setup going, it’s time to think about the audio. When it comes to speakers, bigger does not always mean better—both in terms of size and price. Rather, choosing the right speaker placement for your space is more important:
- Your typical 5.1 surround sound setup will feature a left and right speaker on either side of your TV, a center speaker, two rear speakers, and a subwoofer for bass. How these speakers are arranged will depend on the size and shape of your viewing space, but as a general rule, you’ll want your speakers aimed directly at ear level wherever you’re sitting.
- Side speakers should be placed a foot or two above ear level, while the center channel speaker will likely have to be aimed upward to point to ear level.
An “out-of-the-box” home theater setup likely has instructions on optimal placement. There are also some do-it-yourself guides out there to help you get started. Generally it’s a good idea to think about your speaker placement first, and then search for speakers that will best fit your space, setup, and budget.
Now You’re Projecting
A TV home theater setup can be relatively inexpensive and easy to set up. But if you have the room and inclination, a projector setup may be of appeal. While a flat-screen usually limits you to somewhere between 40 to 50 inches, a projector can easily go up to 100 inches if you have the appropriate wall space. A projector home theater setup may require a bit more upfront planning, but the viewing experience can be well worth it in the end.
You can also get great deals on projectors if you keep an eye out and do some research online. Just like with TVs, you can also save big on a quality projector when you shop by condition. Open box, refurbished, and even gently used projectors can make all the difference in completing your home theater setup—without breaking your budget.
Buying a home theater system isn’t something you do just once. Chances are, once you’re bitten by the home theater bug, you’ll always be looking for ways to tweak and improve your experience, whether it’s a with a new receiver, a universal remote, or a surround-sound overhaul. The good news is, you can start building an enviable home theater setup—without maxing out your credit cards! So are you ready to get started? Check out BLINQ’s home theater deals, for everything from TVs to streaming devices, and set yourself on the road to home theater greatness.