Home Theater
Good Home Theater for Less Than $1000
budget home theater
March 07, 2008 | by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Want to build a home entertainment system around your TV? Here’s what you can get on a $1,000 budget.
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Posted by Jerko McGillicutty  on  03/07  at  09:41 AM

I think it’s funny that you say “your receiver should have at least 3 HDMI inputs” and then you go on to suggest a bunch of receivers that don’t even meet that requirement. Good job guys! Oh, and BTW, now that the format war is over, I seriously doubt that BD player prices will “drop steeply” this year. Unless you consider a $50 price drop over the course of the year “steep”.

Posted by Jeff W  on  03/07  at  09:48 AM

Ideally one should try to get 3 HDMI inputs, but it can push some people out of their budget, so some receivers that were worth considering otherwise (but more budget friendly) were also presented.  Whether -you- really need 3 inputs is of course a personal call. 

We can agree to disagree, and I can see that you may think that without the ‘competition’ of HD-DVD, there’s no reason for Blu-Ray to drop.  However, I believe that the steeply increasing volumes that follow the end of a format war will increase competition betwen Blu-Ray manufacturers will push prices way down.

Just my opniion, I could be wrong 8-}

Posted by Steve Harbor  on  03/07  at  11:04 AM

I seriously doubt that BD player prices will “drop steeply” this year.

Yup, and the format war is going to drag on “for years.”  That was another widely held opinion by the HD DVD camp.

Because we all know new technology consumer prices never trend downward…

Posted by Ben Hobbs  on  03/07  at  02:00 PM

Strange name for the article considering that almost every combination of the systems you specify comes to more than $1,000.

Also whats up with specifying Bose speakers in such a budget setup, I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t suggest more to someone looking for a great sounding budget system.

If someone were to ask me I’d tell them to spend the money like this;

Blu-Ray Player - $300
Satellites - $200
Subwoofer - $200

Posted by JeffW  on  03/07  at  02:14 PM

Note that the quoted prices are list.  If you use street prices the $1000 target isn’t so unreasonable.

Posted by Chuck McKenney  on  03/07  at  02:25 PM

Not according to my math.  Try this scenario: Onkyo TX-SR505 ($299), Panasonic DMR-EZ17K ($149), Polk Audio Monitor 50s ($179), Polk Audio CS-1 center speaker ($139) and APC UPS (350 or 500VA, ~$40-$60) for a grand total of $800. Or how about this scenario - Sony STR-DG810 ($299), Sony RDR-GX255 ($149) and Boston Acoustics MCS 100 ($499) and APC UPS (350 or 500VA, ~$40-$60) for a grand total of $990. And there are a few others. Guess you were wrong, Ben.

Posted by Jeff  on  03/07  at  03:02 PM

I think this was a great article.  So many of these features have people who can sink 10-20,000 dollars into a system.  My budget was much more modest and my home theater system is more of an evolving thing than a all-at-once purchase. As I upgrade things, I sell the old stuff on e-bay.  So far I have sunk 1,600 tops into my system and I have no complaints.  It looks and sounds great.

$300 for Harmon Kardon receiver
$800 for current speaker setup (Infinity speakers, MTX sub)
$50 for a Sony DVD player
$400 for an inFocus IN72 projector (its not HD but it comes damn close and looks amazing when using a 720 or 1080 signal from cable HD channels).  I bought a refurbished one fdirectly from them. 
$30 for a DIY screen (using Parkland Polywall plastic as recommended by many in on the AVS Forums website)

People are shocked when they hear how inexpensive it is to set up, especially with the projector. My system cost less than most people’s plasma/lcd tvs and nothing beats the use of a projector in a dedicated home theater room.

Posted by blake  on  03/08  at  03:55 AM

I’m sorry, but I have to call BS on this article. The very fact that you recommended Bose and said it was an “upgrade” from a Boston Acoustics system is a travesty. The guys that wright these articles never know what they are talking about.

Posted by Lee Lareau  on  03/08  at  08:00 AM

1,000 budget- is too little - you are cutting yourself short!  You really need to spend (on the low side)
1200- 1500 otherwise you are going to have fair sounding(at best) instead of good sound system .

Why not do it right and spend a minimum or $2,000
and get it right? The system would be more future proofed- more HD switching cabability- More inputs to manage and more power NOT to mention
a real sub woofer and real speakers- This is not the place to skimp. WHY would you make a long term investment and miss the mark?

As fas Bose - well -Ask anyone who actually knows some thing about serious music systems/ audio- and you get your answer.
Saying it is a step up from Boston Acoustics is
just plain Ill informed.

Posted by Chuck McKenney  on  03/08  at  10:04 AM

“wright” these articles? Sorry but I have to call BS on your grammar.

Posted by Jeff W  on  03/08  at  10:30 AM

Actually, in the words of the article, I never said the Bose system is “Better” than the Boston Acoustics system. Speakers are very subjective thing.  I think there are many people who are satisfied with either system.  I could do a whole piece on how to pick speakers (in fact, maybe I will sometime 8-}).

Posted by Paul  on  03/08  at  07:23 PM

I too spent $2000 on my HT. 

$475 Onkyo 705 recevier
$400 Epson Home 20 projector
$300 DIY speakers
$100 DIY subwoofer
$200 Wii w/ extra controller
$375 PS3 80gb w/ 3 games
$250 HT accessories (cables, speaker wire, lighting, BOC curtains, etc.)

And I still have to build a screen which will most likely be a sheet of Wilsonart DW laminate

I didn’t really need to spend all that, but I wanted it to look nice and not half @$$ed.  All of this is in a 11 x 12 living room of my apartment.  I wouldn’t really consider the Wii as a HT item, but hey it was only $200 and would be a fun thing to play if some people came over.

I agree with Jeff whenever people get shocked on how much I spent for all of this.  Everyone I know has never really seen a projector in a HT environment and are shocked when they hear I got mine for only $400.  They always say “aren’t projectors usually a few thousand dollars?” No my friends.  The prices of projectors area falling big time and you can definitely get one in the same price range or cheaper than your 60+ inch flat screen.  .  I plan to upgrade to either a Sony VPL-VW40, Epson 1080UB, or maybe a Sayno Z2000 since my projector is outdated compared to the audio end of my setup.

Posted by Phil  on  03/09  at  12:11 PM

I hope the reviewer doesnt get paid. What a morron! Near the end of the review ” You don’t need fancy wires or cables. Standard quality cables (sold at places like Radio Shack) are fine.” But thats just the final straw to a totally worthless review. Mixing and matching componates takes time and hands on knowledge of the equipment. Not everything sounds the same to everyone. If that were true, we wouldnt have so many choices.
Good cables can make as big a difference in sound as investing another grand in equipment! Anyone who says otherwise hasn’t actually taken the time to “listen”.
I’ve said from day one that this site must be owned or financed by Sony. I have tried many Sony products and have yet to hear one worth its price, tv’s are another matter. I have a surround system over 8grand and my cables take up about $600. Yes, I have done the tests many times for the “dis-believers” and everyone has upgraded there cable because of it.
Please dont do any more “advice” columns to mis-inform anyone.

Posted by Jeff W  on  03/09  at  12:23 PM

I don’t want to get into a long debate since it’s sort of off point, but have you ever read the results of Stereo Review’s double-blind tests on premium cables?

Posted by HurricaneKid  on  03/09  at  05:15 PM


  This is a travesty.  You are telling people people with a 1k budget to look at a $700 bose speaker system?  What a joke.  You want to know how audiophiles feel about Bose?  Check out this:
  There are so many quality budget speakers out there.  Athena, and Polk are available for far less and are superior in every way.  You didn’t do your homework here Ace. 
  For real advice on how to put together a solid budget system check out AVSforum.  People there actually know what they are talking about.

Posted by Jeff W  on  03/09  at  05:28 PM

People are generally quite opinionated about this topic, and
I doubt there are any equipment suggestions I could make that -someone- wouldn’t object to 8-}  Clearly some people do buy Bose and are happy with it, or they wouldn’t be in business.  I’m quite familiar with AVS Forum and the high standards over there.  But I think that headset can make some pretty-darn-good-sound seem inaccessible to those without excessive income, and what I describe is, I believe, better than the Wal-mart all-in-one systems that can cost just as much.

If you’re not an audiophile or a spec-o-phile, and you put together a modest system as described, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  Although, that’s just my opinion 8-}

Posted by Joe  on  03/10  at  02:16 PM

Only read half this article so far, but am all ready disappointed in the advice.  I’m not going to argue the merits of speaker quality and Bose crap.  What i would like to point out is that you, Jeff Winston, recommended to consumers with a budget to purchase a receiver with 3 HDMI inputs on it then suggested the Onkyo receivers.  They are outstanding receivers that continually get high marks in the sub-$1000 category for receivers, but non of the Onkyo’s you recommended have 3 HDMI inputs.  The Sony models mentioned do, but are far less quality receivers and all the low-end Sony receivers seem to have plenty of issues with their HDMI switching.  People on a budget shouldn’t worry about HDMI switching on a receiver since it is a luxury type of feature.  I’m sure i have plenty of other qualms about your article, but I’ll let it stay at this for now.

Posted by Jeff W  on  03/10  at  03:20 PM

I already replied to the ‘3 HDMI’ comment in my earlier responses.

Posted by maxziel  on  03/11  at  12:11 PM

craigslist,, and Circuit City are what I used to create my home theater.

Samsung 32 lcd $600 craigslist
Yamaha receiver $100 craigslist
Boston Acoustics speakers $100 Circuit City
HDMI cables, HDMI switch $150 monoprice

For under $1000 that will last me at least 5 years.

Posted by likemysony  on  03/11  at  07:53 PM

Some people like Bose despite the facts.  As for Onkyo, this opinion isn’t based in fact I have read several reviews of the Sony 910 Vs same class Onkyo, the sound quality is comparable but the features offered by the Sony give the nod to Sony, it really doesn’t matter though.  What matters, is after you spend your hard-earned cash are you happy with your decision!
My under $1000 HT system, based around a (Panasonic plasma TH-42PZ77U $1050) include: A/V rec.  Sony STR-DG910 $345 incl. frt. EBay, Speakers Polk Rm20 (1 center, 2 front, 2 rear) $330 incl. frt. EBay, Subwoofer BIC100 $225 Ebay, cables/wire under $50 Monoprice. Everything is Brand New.  Already owned DVD player, Xmas received gift of HD-DVD player.  So I got lucky at Xmas, if I had to purchase a new DVD player it would have been under $100 standard definition.
The big question is am I happy with my decisions. YES!  Could I improve on the setup, Yes, I now need a Blu-Ray player, and a Harmony universal remote.  My original goal was to replace my old TV and HT setup with best bang for buck components that I could afford, no charge, paid for.  Plus, I wanted a system that was better than most HTIB. It took 2 months of shopping and bidding online.  There really is no way I could have achieved the quality of components with out Ebay and online shopping.  The advice about buy from a store with liberal price matching was applied for the TV, and it was the only item I didn’t want to trust the internet or Ebay for.  Sears gave me 3 price reductions, 1st a sales price, 2nd a CC app rebate (I immediately paid it off), 3rd a price match 60 days later with Fry’s sale).

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