How Much Will My Home Theater Cost?
All construction, electrical, installation and furnishing costs aside, here's a rundown of the equipment you'll be able to afford on a budget.
January 23, 2008 by EH Staff

A pro at helping homeowners allocate their home theater dollars, Michael Fehmers of DSI Entertainment Systems in Studio City, CA, helped us put together this useful breakdown.

DISPLAY - A 42-inch flat-screen TV (LCD or plasma).
SOUND - A home-theater-in-a-box system, which includes a surround-sound receiver and five speakers.
CONTROL - A basic infrared remote.
ENVIRONMENT - A finished space, like your family room or den.
INSTALLATION - You’ll need to set it up yourself.

DISPLAY - A 42-inch or larger flat-screen TV (LCD or plasma).
SOUND - A surround-sound receiver with separate in-ceiling speakers and a stand-alone subwoofer.
CONTROL - A radio-frequency remote control (it’s more reliable and versatile than a standard infrared clicker).
ENVIRONMENT A finished space, like your family room or den.
INSTALLATION - If you buy your own equipment you might be able to afford to have a professional install it.

DISPLAY - An inexpensive video projector and screen.
SOUND - A 7.1 surround-sound setup with higher-quality speakers and subwoofers.
CONTROL - A radio-frequency remote control.
ENVIRONMENT A built-from-scratch dedicated theater room (you may have to furnish the room with pieces you already own).
INSTALLATION - Professionally done.

DISPLAY - A higher-quality projector and screen (possibly a perforated screen that allows sound from speakers placed behind it to drift into the room).
SOUND - A 7.1 setup but with a higher-quality receiver and speakers than what you could afford with $20,000.
CONTROL - A small touchscreen-style remote.
ENVIRONMENT - A built-from-scratch dedicated theater room.
INSTALLATION - Professionally done.

DISPLAY - A 1080p video projector (has the highest resolution available) and a CinemaScope screen (shaped to be superwide for a highly engaging viewing experience).
SOUND - A separate processor and amplifiers; seven great speakers and two subwoofers.
CONTROL - A color touchscreen-style remote.
ENVIRONMENT A built-from-scratch dedicated theater room with new specialty cinema seating (you may be able to afford hiring a home theater designer who can create a theme for your room).
INSTALLATION - Professionally done, from the interior elements to the electronic equipment.

Extra Touches
If your intent on spending even more let your imagination run wild. May we suggest:

  • Add a special lens to your projector that can display images in anamorphic (superwide) mode.
  • Add masking material to your screen that alters the shape of the screen based on the format of the video being displayed.
  • Add a DVD server that can store hundreds of DVDs digitally and display the titles of your movie library on the theater screen.
  • Add decorative acoustical treatments to the walls and ceiling; hire an acoustician to design and install the products for you.
  • Motorize everything: the screen, the projector and window shades.
  • Accessorize to the hilt: a popcorn machine, a bar in the back, a lobby, marquees, tactile transducers that make the seats shake in sync with the movie action.
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