A simple guide for home theater room budgeting
Home Theater, Man Caves, and Media Rooms are the dream setup for many homeowners. They can easily turn under used space from good to great! We get several calls and inquiries from prospective clients with thoughts of wanting to create these setups in their homes, but have no idea of the costs. Most times alot of client education goes into explaining what it takes to turn their dreams into a reality. This article hopefully will act as a guide to help find what is right for your space and budget.
Video source - Do i use a TV or a projector?
The video source is one of the main components of any media room. The main questions to take in consideration when designing the room is how will it be used in the future? Both are solid options, but let's discuss them further:
4k LED TV
Pros: A TV allows the room to be multi use without lighting requirements. A TV can be used in varying lighting conditions. You also are able to get 4K resolution, HDR, smart apps, and a bright, vivid picture with the lights on.
Cons: The downfall of using a TV in this setting is you are limited on screen size. Standard large LED TV sizes currently range from 65" - 86". Average pricing for a feature packed large TV currently ranges from $1000 (65") - $3999 (86").
PROS: Projectors are what comes top of mind when anyone thinks of a Theater or Media Room. They allow you to get that "Wow Factor" that people want when they bring someone into their prized room to show it off! Average screen size for Home Theaters when using projectors range from 106"-150"! HOME Projectors have also made great advancements and now have longer life bulbs, quiet operation, and are available with 4K resolution and HDR!
A decent projector for home theater use typically ranges from $1k-$3k.
Cons: Projectors require dim to no surrounding lighting in the room for optimal performance. The darker the room is, the better the image produced will be. Projectors also need a screen to display an image onto.
Average screen costs are typically $400-700.
Audio is the main piece that brings to room together. It is what these rooms are all about and what truly brings the experience Box Office Theaters offer at home! There are two main options here, soundbar or surround sound system. Let's discuss them below.
Soundbars came about from residential customers buying budget home theater kits and not understanding how to arrange the speakers or not wanting to pay the install cost to correctly do so. Many people would simply take the 5 speakers and sit them under the tv next to each other. The electronic manufacturers started seeing this happening and created what we now know of today as the SOUNDBAR. Basically they are a bar with a bunch speakers crammed into it. Cheaper soundbars give as little as 2 speakers in the bar while more expensive ones have multiple speakers strategically arranged inside to "simulate" the surround sound experience. They DO NOT hold a candle to even an entry level 5.1 surround sound system. Typical soundbar cost ranges from $300-700.
Pros: Lower Pricing and labor. Being that all the speakers are in 1 bar, its as simple as mounting the single bar and connecting 2 wires. No audio receiver is required for use.
Cons: They DO NOT create a TRUE surround sound experience
SURROUND SOUND SYSTEM
A surround sound system consists of speakers strategically placed around a room, that are wired back to an audio receiver. The receiver is the hub and heart for the entire system. All components, speakers, and the video source connects to it. A typical 5.1 Dolby Digital audio setup includes a CENTER channel speaker (voices and dialogue), FRONT LEFT & RIGHT speakers (action speakers), REAR SURROUND speakers (surround sound and background effects), and a SUBWOOFER (bass & depth speaker). The diagram below shows typical speaker placement for a room.
Variations can be done to this system, depending on the size of the room. More surround speakers can be added, aerial surround speakers, additional subwoofers, etc. You can go a crazy with this as you'd like, but the standard is 5.1 DOLBY DIGITAL for a true surround sound experience.
Speakers and components vary greatly in costs, but average costs typically range from $1000-2500.
Pros: Surround Sound Systems create a TRUE home cinema sound experience. They allow audio to move around the room and work with the video source to make an truly immersive experience. Receivers act as the HUB and heart for the entire system and tie everything together, connecting all components, speakers, and the video source, simplifying the control for system.
Cons: Higher price and more labor. They require more time, effort, labor, and configuration to have correctly installed.
Install costs vary depending on the route that is chosen for the room. To simplify it, we'll break it down into two case scenarios...TV & soundbar OR projector & surround sound system.
TV & Soundbar
typically $400-500 - average 90-120 mins install time
Projector & 5.1 Surround Sound System
typically $1500 - average 6-8 hour install time
"this process is very similar to buying a car..."
Hopefully this article is useful to many looking for some clarity on some of the basic costs associated with creating an entry level Home Theater space in their home. One thing I always tell clients when starting a conversation on home theater, "this process is very similar to buying a car. You can get a Kia or Hyundai which are budget, reliable cars and will get you where you need to go but may have some quirks from time to time, a more reliable mid range Honda or Toyota with less stress and more reliability, or you can get a Mercedes or BMW and enjoy the luxury ride everytime you drive it. Which kind of car do you want to drive?"