Building a Home Theater on a Budget

budget home theaterAmericans tend to spend a lot of time in front of our television sets so a budget home theater is a great thing to have. Whether we are movie junkies with multiple memberships to Internet movie rental companies or are serious addicts to all things reality on television we are addicted to our entertainment. Since we spend so much time watching our televisions it makes sense that we make a sizeable investment in our home theater in order to get the best possible quality picture and sound from our systems.

We do not, however live in a one size fits all world, which has lead to a good deal of healthy competition within the entertainment industry as well as the electronics industry. This is excellent news for consumers that must live within the constraints of their budget home theater. As competition emerges along with newer technologies we see a downward trend in the prices of existing technology. The real trick however is to be content with last year’s technology today and you could actually save thousands on your home theater. [Read more…]

Home Theater Speaker Basics

One of the most essential components of a good home theater is its speakers. You simply cannot achieve that theater atmosphere if you do not have good speakers from which to enjoy the sound that is such a vital part of a good ‘movie going’ experience. The problem is that most people are easily confused as to which speakers they really need for their home entertainment systems as well as the proper placement of those speakers in order to create a true surround sound.

The following are the basic speakers that are required to complete a good home theater: front left and right speakers, a center channel speaker, surround sound speakers, and subwoofers. Center channel speakers are overlooked and left out of many home theaters. I recommend against doing so as these speakers supply a good portion of the soundtrack in many movies as well as add fullness and depth to the dialogue. [Read more…]

Why Buy Home Theater Kits?

You will find all kinds of homes around the country and around the world. Some are big, some are small, and some are simply average. When you are searching for home theater systems you will find the same thing. This is particularly true of the home theater systems that come as a package deal. While I do not normally endorse these purchases, just as all homes are not alike, neither are all people. This means that what may be best for me and my home theater may not be the best plan of action for you and your home theater.

I definitely recommend listening to any home theater you are considering before taking the plunge and purchasing. There are many times in life when you get what you pay for. While most of us live within some degree of budget constraints you will find that most of us have certain things we simply will not go ‘cheap’ when purchasing. You should keep in mind that there are great ways to get outstanding bargains however, when it comes to purchasing electronics. One of these ways is by purchasing a home theater kit where all the pieces (generally with the exception of the television) are included.

Seeing is believing when it comes to value for most of us. The best way to find a home theater kit that you are going to be confident about purchasing is to take a look at the kit, listen to the speakers (the first 5 to 10 minutes of the movie Top Gun is an excellent test for sound), and take a look at the system to see how you find the interface. It doesn’t matter how great a system sounds if you can’t figure out how to use it once you’ve taken it out of the box. You might also want to look into the price of professional installation if you are electronically challenged when it comes to matters of programming and installation. These kits are also often appealing to those who find the prospect of shopping around for the parts and components tedious.

While it is difficult for me to accept at times, we were not all born shoppers. For people such as this, home theater systems that come as a package deal are often life rings tossed out in a sea of shopping among sharks. This convenience for some is worth any price that could be stamped on the box. The good news is that there is enough competition that prices are typically competitive according to quality.

Box kit home theater systems are appealing to many consumers for many different reasons. Those who live in small apartments or have very small home theater rooms typically find that it makes no sense to invest in a system that will rattle the walls or have the neighbors complaining. Those with limited budgets find that this is an economic way to get everything at once. People who have little time to invest in researching all the items they will need find it incredibly convenient that they will not need to worry about missing something important such as a receiver during the process. Still others find that they like knowing up front what the price for the total home theater experience is going to be, at least the electronics component at any rate.

It is important to remember that a home theater means different things to different people. Finding the ideal home theater for you may not necessarily equate to the ideal home theater for someone else who has grand visions of a cinema themed room with dark rich colors on the walls and muted lighting effects along with blacked out windows for the ultimate movie viewing experience.

Don’t get too caught up in the details and remember that it only has to work for you and your needs. Creating a wonderful home theater is a great way to bring the family together on a regular basis. Buying a pre made home theater kit or system is a great way to begin enjoying the wonderful benefits of a home theater experience while learning the things you like and dislike about your system. This could be a work in progress for many years to come as you learn more about what you do and do not prefer.

Wireless Speakers Offer Excellent Sound Selection

Technology is constantly evolving and introducing new products to an already full line of home theater products. While not the newest kids on the block, wireless speaker technology is also advancing at a rate that prices are no longer out of reach of the average consumer and the value of being able to move your speakers around without going to the work of rewiring is appealing to consumers on an increasingly large scale.

I always try to keep in mind when buying new electronics and electronic components that this year’s technology will sell at half the price this time next year. For this reason I have a hard time investing in the latest and greatest when it comes to technology and tend to remain exactly one generation behind the curve when buying new products. I like to save money whenever possible and in most cases my like of saving money outweighs my like of having new gadgets and gizmos at the high price they often command.

I also have a nasty habit of keeping those products until they are no longer useful at all (I still have my little 13 inch television from my college dorm and I won’t tell you how long ago that was). I will keep it until it no longer works. It is currently being used in my television. I only mention this in order to convey the fact that making a sizeable investment in electronics in most cases is an investment that will last for quite some time unless you are one of those people who has to have the latest and greatest new tech toy each and every year.

Back to my original point wireless speakers have been emerging technology for a few years now. We’ve finally developed enough competition that market prices are trending downwards. This makes now the perfect time to look into the option of purchasing wireless speakers for your home theater. They are still a sizeable investment for the average home theater consumer but well worth it in my opinion for the freedom of choice and movement that they provide.

This is a great add on if you have an existing home theater in place and are considering an upgrade. I think that many people will find that the options this affords makes it well worth the investment that will be required in order to achieve. I strongly recommend however that you do not simply go online and buy the first set of wireless speakers and receiver that you find. This is a serious gamble, as you have no idea what kind of quality you will receive. The best possible recommendation is to make the rounds of local stores and listen to the various systems that are on the market.

Once you’ve found the one wireless sound system that appeals most to you it is time to go online in order to compare prices. Once you’ve found the best price online you should then check your local stores and see if they offer a low price gurantee that will match the online price you found. This is a great way to find better deals and save a little money (by not paying shipping charges).

You should always keep in mind that there are no absolutes when it comes to creating a home theater. You do not have to follow a specific code, or use certain components or even certain seating. The best thing you can do is to create an atmosphere in which you and your family can best enjoy your television and movie viewing experiences. You should keep the sounds you like in mind when selecting speakers and choose speakers that will provide the fullest amount of sound that you are comfortable with the idea of paying your hard earned money in order to purchase. Seriously, this is your money and your home theater is an investment you should take great care to make the best possible investment for your money.

Basic Components for a Home Theater

Many people never bother looking into purchasing a home theater through sheer fear of the decisions that may need to be made in the process. Many among these aren’t even sure of exactly which components are included in a home theater or which ones are needed in order to create an effective and entertaining home theater. For this reason, many people simply do not bother going through the process of looking at their options when it comes to these wonderful systems on the market today much less ever bother actually purchasing one.

If you are one of the many who has experienced some degree of confusion when it comes to the individual parts and pieces that are included in a home theater system and what they do, hopefully you will gain a better understanding once you’ve finished reading. The first thing to understand is that there are varying degrees when it comes to home theaters. The following components are the makings of a very basic home theater that will provide excellent functionality. They are not however inclusive of every possible piece or part that could make up a home theater system.

Off to the basics, the first thing you’ll need when creating a home theater for your family to enjoy is a television. It might seem a little too obvious to some but I have yet to find a box kit that includes a television-mainly because the choice of screen is for many the most personal aspect of selecting a home theater. There are essentially three choices in today’s television market: front projector, rear projector, and plasma. There are variations within each of these and the prices fall anywhere from modest to quite costly. This is the component that most home theater owners spend the most time contemplating and it affects the types of components that will be most effective later on in terms of things such as high definition and other choices you can make.

A receiver is another important component. You will probably have a DVD player or recorder of some sort as part of your system; you may have a Tivo and cable box or satellite and will probably have speakers of some sort for your system. The receiver is the box you plug them all into-it receives all of this inputs and correlates it so to speak. This is the ultimate traffic director when it comes to your home theater and I suggest you spend a good portion of your home theater budget making sure that this is a good quality part.

Speakers are where your sound will flow. One of the best things to me about a home theater is the ability to experience surround sound very similar to what I experience in theaters while having the ability to put my feet up or snuggle under blankets (which simply can’t be achieved in a theater). Speakers come in all shapes and sizes and are also quite personal for some consumers while give and take for others. You can purchase these are part of a kit in order to make the selection process easier.

Finally, you have your DVD player or recorder. If high definition is important to you, you now have that option. If your television isn’t HD ready or capable, I’d pass and go for an older (less expensive) model of DVD player until something more up-to-date is called for. These items are a great start for any home theater and you can build, expand, and upgrade over time for an even better system. Enjoy!

Common Home Theater Mistakes to Avoid

A home theater is no small investment, particularly if you are going for a good quality home theater. With that in mind there are many mistakes that people make along the way when it comes to their home theaters. What you want to do is learn from the mistakes of others rather than dooming yourself to repeat those that have been made so many times before. Below you will find information on some of the most often made mistakes when it comes to creating a great home theater for you and your family.


I’m not talking Microsoft either. One thing that is a killer for your home theater is a room full of windows. At night, every car passing by will prove distracting and during the day little can be enjoyed on your television from the sunlight pouring in. Even normal curtains allow some degree of light into the room, which will provide a distracting glare on you television screen. If you have no windowless rooms in your home you will at the very least want to install some heavy duty blackout drapes or curtains in order to prevent the glare and distraction that windows provide.

Cheap Speakers

Sound is one of the most important factors in imitating a theater quality movie viewing experience. If you have cheap speakers you will not receive the quality of sound that you will need in order to achieve that experience. The first five or ten minutes of the movie Top Gun provides one of the best sound tests I’ve ever seen. Grab a copy of the DVD and take it with you to the stores, compare speakers using that DVD and go with the set that provides the best quality of sound. It’s a good litmus test and you will be glad you did if you ever listen to a favorite movie on a friends inferior speakers.

Poor Installation

It makes no sense to invest thousands of dollars in a home theater system only to bring it home and do a poor job of installing it because you didn’t want to spring for the extra two hundred dollars for installation. Improper installation of your home theater will result in much less quality than you paid for, which makes a good quality system a complete waste of money. Pay the price now for professional installation if you have any doubts at all about your ability to properly install your system.

Not Reading Directions

On the other hand if you decide to do your own installation the number one problem is the result of not reading the instructions for not only installation but also the operation of your home theater. We may feel that we are intuitive by nature but sometimes it helps to have a roadmap to follow. Instructions for installation and operating manuals are our road maps and reading them first will not only save a great deal of time but also increase your enjoyment of your home theater.

Avoiding these common mistakes can go along way towards helping you get the most possible enjoyment from your home theater. It’s amazing how much of a difference little things can make along the way. Good luck with the selection, purchase, and installation of your home theater. I hope you enjoy many wonderful hours of movie, television, and game watching on your new system.

Compare Home Theater to Movie Going

Many people shy away from purchasing a home theater for fear of the great costs involved in doing so. I recommend that you put serious pen and paper to those assumptions rather then merely assuming it is too costly for your limited budget. The truth of the matter, when compared with the costs of going out to watch a movie you might find that you will be spending less money in no time by watching movies at home rather than paying for the ‘movie going’ experience.

You might want to pay careful attention to how much money you spend each month going to the theater. Don’t forget including any costs involved in hiring sitters, going out to dinner (most people don’t do McDonald’s before or after going to theaters), concession stand purchases in those figures. Even if you go to the theater once a week as a couple or as family the costs can really add up. If you visit the theater less or have a smaller family those costs might be less but you could also seriously raise those prices by going more often or having a larger family.

The important thing to remember when pricing a home theater system is the value it will bring to you and your family. If this will bring the family together at home for a couple of nights a week it is well worth the investment in my opinion. If it will keep the teens in your home and off the streets on the weekend it is worth even more. A home theater is an investment in the enjoyment of your home for everyone involved and many families find that this is a great way to enjoy a night at home. It’s also a great way to insure super-Super Bowl parties will be taking place in your home rather than the homes of others (it’s a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things).

With this in mind you can buy kits for anywhere between $200 and $2,000 (and upwards, but if you are going to spend more than $2,000 I seriously recommend building your own home theater). Box systems are rather easy to find in local and mass-market retailers and are rather simple to install (even for the uninitiated). These systems may not provide the best possible system but for those who have significant budget concerns they are a great place to start and you can get some really great systems if you are willing to seriously shop around and compare the different quality between brands as well as which bells and whistles you require and which you can live without.

Once you make the decision to buy a home theater the best thing to do is check out what is available. You should then take complete advantage of the great competition on the market today by searching for the most features for the lowest price. You just might be shocked and amazed at the great bargains that you can find, especially in the months following the big consumer expo show each January.

You should combine the home theater and excellent movie experience in your home with a membership to Netflix, Blockbuster, or some other home delivery DVD system and you can have frozen pizza, microwave popcorn, and all the pillows to hide behind you can ask for in the comfort of your home for a fraction of the price of going to the theater once a week.

Decorating your Home Theater on a Budget

If you are fortunate enough to be building a room in your home that is dedicated to the purpose of watching movies or as a home theater it only makes sense that you would like to decorate the room in a manner that is completely befitting of its purpose. There are amazing options available within this growing market of decorating and generally, there are prices that are designed to match. The good news is that while art often imitates life, there is no reason that we can’t imitate some of the great art we see in the movies or on televisions shows in our homes-at a fraction of the cost.

First of all, a really good home theater is an investment, particularly those that are generally used in private rooms. With that being said you will want to decorate your room in a manner that will not distract from your movie watching experience. There are many ways you can do this and many of them come at rather hefty costs for the average consumer. You do not have to purchase special lighting at $500 a pop when you can go to your local lighting or home improvement store and find excellent wall sconces that will be perfect for your home theater at a fraction of the cost for which you will find them at specialty stores catering to those building home theaters. For more low lighting options you can use inexpensive strings of rope lighting or even Christmas tree lights in order to provide some light without risking a glare on the screen.

Rather than hanging expensive drapery on the walls in your home theater you can apply textured paint in dark colors in order to avoid distracting glares. Your local retailer may encourage you to soundproof your walls and you are the only one that can really decide if that is necessary. I personally would pass, particularly if your home theater is going to be in a basement, which is typically somewhat removed from the rest of your home and your family area.

As far as flooring goes, darker carpeting is a good idea in most areas though possibly not the best in a basement. Cork makes a good flooring option for basement floors as is works to muffle sound from escaping the room in addition to a natural resistance to moisture related problems that may occasionally arise in a basement. It is also a very inexpensive flooring material that is highly underrated.

I also recommend dark furnishing for your home theater. A good choice might be darkly colored sectional sofas if you want the family to enjoy the space together. I also recommend beanbags or other special seating for the little ones who may enjoy your home theater as well. This gives them their own seats and helps eliminate some of the bickering and squabbles that often arise over premium seating space.

The point is that you do not have to spend a fortune in order to create a great atmosphere that is totally conducive to an overall pleasant movie watching experience in your home theater. While I do not recommend a great deal of clutter along the walls in this particular room you can do great things with plastic popcorn boxes and flameless tea light candles along the floor. Let your imagination present creative options to the big-ticket items you see in the specialty shops you’ll be amazed at some of the neat things you come up with.

Harman Kardon Signature Series 2.0 Surround-Sound Processor/Tuner

Harman Kardon Signature Series 2.0 Surround-Sound Processor/Tuner Review

For those seeking home theater performance a cut above the ordinary, the team of Harman Kardon’s Signature Series 2.0 surround processor/tuner and Signature Series 2.1 multichannel amplifier (sold separately) offers superior sound, sophisticated ergonomics, and outstanding build quality. For its own part, the Signature Series 2.0 processor/tuner–which requires an outboard amplifier for you to listen to it–offers great sound, terrific setup flexibility, and ease of use, though its performance is slanted more to audiophiles than videophiles. It handles decoding for all the major surround formats–Dolby Pro Logic, Dolby Digital, and DTS. In addition, the Signature Series 2.0 offers 5.1-channel analog inputs for newer surround formats, such as DVD-audio, where the decoding can take place in your source component. This processor even includes an RS-232 serial port for interfacing with home automation systems. Most receivers present a fascia loaded with kn (more…)

Yamaha RX-V565BL 630 Watt 7-Channel Home Theater Receiver

Yamaha RX-V565BL 630 Watt 7-Channel Home Theater Receiver

From the Manufacturer

From the Manufacturer Yamaha’s New Home Theater Hub Yamaha’s new 630-Watt 7-Channel RX-V565 Home Theater Receiver offers many advanced features to ensure maximum enjoyment of your home entertainment sources. These include 1080p-compatible HDMI (4-input, 1-output), XM and SIRIUS Satellite Radio capability, iPod and Bluetooth compatibility, Yamaha CINEMA DSP, improved YPAO sound optimization, multi-zone custom installation options, and four SCENE buttons. Multiple inputs make the RX-V565 your home theater hub View Larger High Dynamic Power Capability for Great Sound The Yamaha RX-V565 is capable of delivering large amounts of reserve power for accurate reproduction of the high energy peaks that are especially prevalent in digital audio sources. This prevents clipping and emphasizes the music’s dynamic qualities. This receiver also uses high-quality Burr-Brown 192kHz/24-bit DACs for all channels. The DACs provide accurate sound field reproductio (more…)