Does an affordable home theater compromise quality?

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A home theater can transform your living room into your own personal cinema. From stunning visuals to lifelike audio, everything about it makes movie night better than ever. But, with such luxury comes cost. Is an affordable home theater a reality?

Home theaters have been around for quite some time, claiming to bring alive cinematic experiences right in your living room (even the Super Bowl). It’s not that they aren’t capable of doing so but the hefty price tag is what keeps us from doing total upgrades. However, thanks to the recent advancements in technology, things are finally becoming affordable in the home theater space.

From speakers to displays, building a decent home theater setup for as little as $800 is a reality. Yet the question remains the same: is it actually good? Although most of these home theaters promise a high-quality surround sound system, it’s hard to fit the quality of a luxury home theater within such a small budget. So, does this mean a low budget theater can’t be good? Definitely not. You can always give affordability a chance but you need to know which features to look for.

Auna Areal Active 525 BK 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker System

Auna Areal Active 525 BK 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker System

Which features are really expensive?

  1. Dolby ATMOS Sound – You’ve probably heard most home theater systems claiming to have Dolby ATMOS sound quality. Reality check – it’s practically impossible to create the exact experience you get at the cinema screens at home, especially within a low budget. But even though you won’t be able to replicate the 64-speaker setup at home, you can always give these new brands a try. They might not make the helicopter in the movie sound like it’s on your rooftop but at least you’ll feel as if it’s in the neighborhood.
  2. Wired vs. Wireless – Wired home theater systems are pretty complicated for setting up and often require a specialist. It’s because home theaters are a combination of many systems in one place with overlapping wires. If you have to connect all those wires together, you may encounter a lot of issues. Opting for a wireless system is a better choice, even if they are a bit more expensive.
  3. Displays – Yes, we know that those OLED displays are filthy expensive. But it’s for good reason; nothing beats their clarity. However, if you really want to stick to your budget and get decent quality, projectors are something to consider. They produce massive displays and work in virtually any space.

Components and cost of a home theater

As explained on Lifewire, there are three factors you need to consider while building a home theater:

  • You might already have a few components required which can keep your costs down.
  • Determine how much you want to add to your setup at one time.
  • Figure out if you really want to build the entire setup from scratch.
MartinLogan Theos ELS Hybrid Electrostatic Loudspeaker

MartinLogan Theos ELS Hybrid Electrostatic Loudspeaker

Here are the components you need to consider for a home theater:

  • The Room:
    • Light – ambient light presence can disrupt image quality
    • Carpeting – it can affect sound quality
    • Wall construction – acoustic treatments required to tame vibration
  • The Video Display:
    • An LED/LCD or OLED TV.
    • Video projector/screen combination.
  • Receiver:
    • Radio tuner for AM/FM
    • Preamplifier that switches and controls audio and video sources
    • Built-in multi-channel amplifier
  • Loudspeakers:
    • For a 5 channel setup, you need front left/right, center channel, and left/right surround speakers.
  • Subwoofer
  • Source Components
    • DVD player
    • Blu-ray disc player
    • Ultra HD Blu-ray disc player
    • CD player
    • Turntable
    • Antenna/cable/satellite
    • Internet streaming
    • DVD recorder
  • Surge Protector
  • Connection cables and speaker wire
  • Control Options:
    • Universal remote
    • Android or iPhone with corresponding mobile apps
    • Voice control via Alexa or Google Assistant
  • Furniture
    • A comfy couch to revel in your very own personal cinema
BeoVision 14 4K Ultra HD LED TV

BeoVision 14 4K Ultra HD LED TV

Setting up the ideal home theater is a dream for many and a reality for few. While the price tag can be off-putting, the benefits of a great setup are immense. Nevertheless, you can always settle for a more basic system complete with visual and audio upgrades to enhance your experience. Are you up for a try or is the price just too much?

The Gadget Flow Daily Digest highlights and explores the latest in tech trends to keep you informed. Want it straight to your inbox? Subscribe now.

Meet Madhurima Nag

Madhurima Nag is the Head of Operations at Gadget Flow. She side-hustles as a digital marketing lecturer/speaker and loves to voice her opinion on marketing, crowdfunding and gadgets (of course!) in general.

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