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Sound A/V Choices Keep Theater Budget-Friendly
May 19, 2009 | by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
This home theater’s balancing act offers solid performance at a superior value.
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Posted by Kenneth Lawson  on  05/19  at  11:21 AM

25,000 for a home theater,,,?
Low budget….?

I regularly look at the theaters showcased here and have marveled at the expenses have spent building many of the wonders showcased here.

Granted this low budget compared to many of other showed here, This is NOT low budget,

I ‘m I looking at spending probably 1000.00 maybe 1500.00 if I’m lucky for a new HDtv and sound system this summer.
Thats low budget.
How about showing us what can be done on a REAL Low Budget?
How about are report detailing what is the best bang for the money in the real world, the ones of us who shop in Wal-mart and Kmart live in?

  But calling a 25.,000 home theater a budget set up is ridiculous particularly in theses ecominic times…

Ken Lawson
  Don’t get me wrong I love seeing all the thing that can be,, if one has the resourses to build and pay for it.

Posted by FH Media  on  05/19  at  12:56 PM

what they don’t tell is is the cost break-down for equipment vs. design vs. decorations (furniture, woodwork, curtains, ect.) and labor.

The equipment in this room is fairly modest and can be bought for $5K -7K or so. construction costs are a HUGE part of the costs that we are never told about.

Posted by Kenneth Lawson  on  05/19  at  01:10 PM

  You do have a point about the lack of cost breakdown, and actual cost of the equipment, verse the cost of construction and material and labor,
However, my point still stands, many of us who read this site can only dream of being able to do anything even close to anything shown here.

For most of us “Home theater” is a decent sized HGTV and a decent sound system with the speakers placed around the living room, and if we’re lucky,
a hd receiver to watch regular tv with, and real lucky a blu-ray dvd player, probably in the form of a PS3, which we only use as dvd player anymore and don’t even play games.
The idea of even 5-7,000 on equipment is beyond us.  To say nothing of a dedicated room for a home theater..

Posted by FH Media  on  05/19  at  01:21 PM

Like all things, It all boils down to “What will draw more customers?”. If there were 2 magazines next to each other, one with a Chevy Cobalt on the cover, and one with a Ferrari 360 on the cover, which one would you pick up?
You are expressing a very common scenario, and it is completely valid, however showing a hybrid $2000 HTIB with a LCD TV combo will not attract the majority of readers they are looking for.
CNET has a lot of good information on budget based systems and I encourage you to check them out.
Best of luck!

Posted by Benny @ Integrity Sound  on  05/19  at  05:09 PM


I understand your perspective about not being able to afford luxury home theaters even in the $25,000 price range.  However, there are several consumers that have always dreamed about this type of set up and are willing to pay this handsome price because their financial freedom has permitted them to do so. 

If $25K is way above your budget, then you should consider a less expensive set up without all the wood work, home theater chairs and fancy popcorn machine.  I have installed home theater systems in the $7000 price range before…..and that includes labor.

Posted by phillip  on  05/19  at  09:32 PM

just my 2 cents. this site is awsome, but I understand the concern. I was in the same boat, i do not have the cash to put these in, so here is what I did…the majority of money spent was on the tv, 42” philips ambilight plasma ($2,000), denon 7:1 surround system in a box ($500) , philips upconvert dvd player ($40) mount for tv off ebay ($50) 200’ of monster cable thx certified surround sound speaker wire (ebay $50 brand new) 25’ component cable belkin brand (ebay $20 brand new) and a monster cable flat panel surge protector on clearance from circuit city ($99) I did all of the install myself, all cables are in the wall, none are seen. So deals are out there, it took me a month of searching the internet for deals and 3 weeks to install it the way I wanted it while working full time…

Posted by Benny @ Integrity Sound  on  05/19  at  10:59 PM

Ken, at $1000-$1500 for a complete home theater system, I’m not sure you’re looking at the correct magazine.  Perhaps Consumer Reports or would be a more practical route to go.

Posted by Kenneth Lawson  on  05/20  at  08:02 AM

What it all boils down to is which end ofthe scale your working from. On mine and many others scale, 25K is way over the top,  On most of he folks who’s theaters are featured on theses pages 25K is on the low end of their scale.

I do understand that this site/magazine is geared to the high-end consumer. Folks who the the where with all to call 25k a budget theater .

I was never looking at this magazine/site to find a system that is in my price rang, That was never my intent. My main point is they need to realize with the internet and web site like this, (Which I love, and look at on a regular basics ) attract a a huge number of visitors. Not all of them are your target readers.

I would venture to say that the vast majority of the site visitors are folks like me who appreciate the work and quality that goes into the rooms showcased here, but realize that they will never be in a position to do anything even close to whats here.

My point/idea is not to suddenly cater to the low-end demographics, but to acknowledge that they do look at this site. Every once in a while, do a article rating a number of system in the lower end and giving opions as to what is a better buy quality wise, so when w do have the money we can spend wisely. Also how about featureing a well done home theaters under certain price points, ie, 2000. and say 5000. showing what can be done with very limited resources, Theses are just a couple of ideas thrown out for future reference .

Ken Lawson

Posted by Paul  on  05/20  at  11:19 AM

While I personally didn’t think of $25k as a budget home theater, while I was adding up what I spent on building a basement theater I realized that I had spent close to $25k without even realizing it.

$10k on gear (bought over 3 years)
$5k on furniture
$9k on building materials, carpet, accoustic panels, lights etc

While very surprising that I spent that much, it also put in perspective that I might have been better off contracting someone, as I like the theater shown better than my own.

Posted by Paul  on  05/21  at  12:13 PM

I have a question regarding the rooms $25k budget: 

My question comes from the inclusion of the room’s furniture in the price tag.  I don’t think that furniture should be included in the $ reported unless the furniture also has an AV aspect (ie.  buttkicker system, DBox etc).  While some sort of furniture/fixtures needs to go in the room, would EH tally 2 or 3 regular sofas as part of the $25k budget if the customer had chosen to follow that route, rather than dedicated HT seating?

Posted by Kenneth Lawson  on  05/21  at  12:22 PM

Paul; excellent point about what is included in the budget and how it is figured,
  I have another question;
I wonder if the writers of theses articles ever read he comments generated by their articles or do the editors of the site/ mag read   any of the discussions around any of the articles?
if so, at what level are they discussed in-house?
Just food for thought…


Posted by Chuck McKenney  on  05/21  at  12:35 PM

Ken, Paul - As web editor, I read just about every comment posted on this site. And yes, we welcome any and all suggestions. I will discuss your ideas with our staff.


Posted by Kenneth Lawson  on  05/21  at  12:52 PM


Thanks for the fast response…!!

As you see this article has generated quite a lively discussion..

Granted I started it with my first post.
I don’t expect you to change the whole site/ mag.
I Think I mainly wanted to try bring into perspective, what is budget for some, is far out of reach for the vast majority of your readers who regularly look at this site and sites like it and dream..
A nod the the reality that many of the readers of this site are well below your targeted audience of high end consumers, would go a long way.

  Again, thanks for both responding to my general question and doing it so fast.

Ken Lawson

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  05/21  at  02:09 PM

I vote for keeping furniture in the budget considerations—it can be a great place to either splurge or save and is an integral part of the theater.

In fact, in the July issue of EH, we have a story on an $84k home theater, with a sidebar from the installer explaining where you might want to skimp if you don’t have a budget like that.

Homeowners had spent about $12k on customized seating. Installer suggested you could slash $4k off of that and still get a good experience, but you won’t get the exact look and feel you’re after.

Posted by Kenneth Lawson  on  05/21  at  02:30 PM

Yes furniture, particularly seating can be a place to either splurge or cut back.
Also a lot depends on the look and feel your trying to go for,
Adding extras such as a bar in the back of the room, or dinner theater type seating with small tables would defiantly influence the style and feel of the whole room and movie experience.

Putting in more basic seating with a eye towards updating the seating later, would tend to leave more money for the major tech equipment.
Another thing that should influence the seating budget and type is the eventually end use of the room, is it a dedicated home theater, or a central family room doing triple duty as a family room, media/tv/music room and on occasion totally home theater?  All of this would dictate furniture placement type and equipment choices and type and placement.

Those are just idea thrown out there to consider when looking the overall budget, particularly in relation to furniture style and cost.

  Thats not even counting if you have a nice piece you already have and really love, adding that to the mix makes more interesting and cuts cost.

Ken Lawson

Posted by Paul  on  05/21  at  03:40 PM

Perhaps it might be possible to breakdown the costs into four catagories? 

For example:Gear, furniture, building materials/construction costs, labor.

I understand that some homeowners may not want to share the breakdown of expenses, but perhaps this is a happy alternative in reporting how much a given project costs, as us readers could see where the funds were spent, and possibly where we might be able to save or splurge.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  05/21  at  04:38 PM

Paul, that’s a great idea! We could just present a pie chart so readers can get a flavor of the breakdown.

I think we’ll also plan a followup story on the homes of the year, inviting dealers to tell us what they would do with a budget of 15% more and 15% less.

How does that sound?

Posted by Kenneth Lawson  on  05/21  at  04:54 PM

Or possibility expand the follow up to include ideas for options in reducing the budgets, Say, 50% reduction of budget, or other equipment options that would compare to what the did get.  As talk to the owners about the decision process they went through in both material and ascetics, in design and materials,

  Another idea, follow a home theater being built over the entire process, discussing everything from placement of the room, and equipment and other issues involved in building the complete room. Talking to both the owners and installers. Discussing various options at every stage and why the chose what they did.  I realize that would be a whole new series of stories if done right it could be very enlighting.
Just some another ideas..


Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  05/21  at  05:29 PM

Keep ‘em coming, Ken!

Posted by Chad Lofgren  on  05/21  at  05:39 PM

Hi all,

I am the Operations Manager of the company that actually did this particular job. Without going into specific numbers, I can tell you that we spent approximately 40% of our budget on equipment, 15% on materials, labor, design, and programming, 10% on seating, and the other 35% went to the building costs associated with the project, including carpet, woodwork, granite, etc. All told, the project was fairly close to the $25,000 threshhold of this category.

I understand some of the concerns mentioned in the previous posts regarding costs. $25,000 is still a good deal of money for the average consumer to spend on building a theater. At the same time, though, building a dedicated theater is not something that everyone has the ability to do. Someone mentioned using the room as a mulitpurpose room - I believe that there are separate categories that cover these types of rooms - i.e. great room. You can shave a considerable amount of money by just hanging a nice flat-panel, retroing in surround sound speakers, and locating EQ in an entertainment center or nearby closet. You can use existing furniture, carpet, etc. if that’s what you are looking to accomplish. I believe there are “Best Family/Media Room” & “Best Fun Room” categories that are shown in the magazine that may not be available online yet. These categories may address more of what some of you are looking to do for yourselves.

If anyone has any questions specifically related to this article or comment, I will be checking this board periodically, and I try to repsond.

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