A personal home theater is one of those things that many men dream of but most can’t actually have. People bring up many objections against having their own home theater. Too expensive, no room, etc. Well, if you’ve managed to free up a space to create your man cave in, two of those objections are already out the window. You’ve got a room and in that room you can do whatever you want.
Is it too expensive? In this guide I’ll explain how you can build your own home theater for only $2000.
Here’s what will be covered in this post;
- What do you need for a home theater?
- What does each home theater part cost?
- What should you think about before buying?
- Home theater parts recommendations
What do you need for a home theater?
There are a few essential pieces to creating your own home theater. Here they are;
It’s a home theater. It’s used to watch movies. Of course you need to have a screen in one shape or another. There are two main options. You can get a TV or a projector and a screen. Which one is better is a hot topic. The price and size play a role in deciding what’s best for you.
You need a place to sit comfortably. There are many options here. From sofa’s to recliners to specialized theater chairs. Again it depends on your situation and budget what’s best for you.
A movie consists of video and sound. It’s a pretty important part of a home theater. It’s just a little less important than a screen in my opinion. For some people sound is more important than for others. There are many options at many prices.
Movies don’t play themselves out of thin air. You need something to play the material. A small pc, DVD player, Xbox, PlayStation, etc. are all things you can use to play movies.
Now everything needs to be tied together. Different cables are necessary to make everything work. Small but essential. Besides that, you might need some dark curtains or blinds to black out the room if you’ve got any windows in your man cave.
How much should you spend on each Home Theater part?
So the total budget is $2000. That’s not a whole lot of money for all the things listed above. That means we have to be careful how we spend that money. Home theaters can cost up to hundreds of thousands if you want to go crazy. So the budget for this article is certainly on the lower side.
So let’s see how much to spend on what to get the best bang for your buck.
- Screen +-$700
- Seating +-$300
- Sound +-$800
- Players +-$150
- Accessories +-$50
The screen is the most important part of a home theater system. The prices of big screen TVs has come down quite a bit, even with features like 4k and HDR. That’s why the budget for the screen is a little lower than for the sound system. Audio technology moves quite slowly and the prices are quite stable. That’s why the audio budget is a little higher than the screen budget.
Comfortable seats cost some money but to stay within the budget we can’t go for something top of the line but still decent. Maybe you’ve got seating already. In that case you can either save the money or increase the budget for either your screen or sound.
Since most people will use Netflix or something similar to watch movies, spending a lot on players is not necessary. If you need something else to play your favorite movies there is a small budget for that.
For accessories we’ve only got a small amount. While expensive cables might have a small impact in more expensive systems, for a system of this budget the impact is too small to justify spending more of the budget on.
Considerations before buying Home Theater parts
To know what’s best for the money, we have to know what we’re looking for. Some things I’ll be looking at are;
- Fit for the job
We have to make a choice in the type of screen. A TV or a projector. Bigger TV’s have really come down in price the last period of time, especially if you look at the size and features. Projectors still have an advantage in sheer size but to get the same picture quality you’ll have to spend more money.
To make the right decision we have to look at one thing.
What size screen do you need?
Well, that depends how far you are away from the screen you will sit. Read the following article for more information.
So if your man cave allows you to be inside those distances, go for a TV.
If your man cave is larger than that and you want to sit further away, you can consider going for a projector. Do keep in mind that in this price range you will take a pretty big hit in picture quality by going for a projector.
The TV’s in this price range come with quite a few features like 4k, HDR, smart options, etc.
The projectors in this price range come with considerably less features and lower resolutions. Also, you need to buy a separate projection screen. What you have to spend on the screen you can’t spend on the projector.
For most people the TV will be the best option at this budget.
While there are specialized home theater seats, the good ones are way above the budget. A better option is going for a “normal” sofa or recliner. For more information on comfortable seating, check out this article: Comfortable chairs for your man cave.
For most people a sofa is probably the best option. They’re comfortable and provide enough space for multiple people.
Audio is grounds for a lot of discussion. Different setups, brands, technologies, etc. A lot of it is up to taste and what you find important. If you’re going to watch movies by yourself, consider getting some good headphones. For less money, you will have better sound. Although I have to admit that a good sound system with speakers is going to be a bit more “fun”.
Stereo or 5.1?
There is another difficult choice to be made here. There are countless setups possible. The main choice we have to make is if we just want a stereo (2 speakers no subwoofer) or a 5.1 system (5 speakers around you and a subwoofer). If you only have to buy two speakers you can spend more money on one speaker. In a 5.1 system there are 6 speakers so you can spend less per piece.
That means a stereo system of the same price will have a better quality but the 5.1 system will provide surround sound. Read more about the different systems here.
The also has consequences for the amplifier you need. A stereo amplifier usually has less components than a 5.1 amplifier so for the same price, they can build a better stereo amplifier.
What’s better? That depends on you. If you care more about the sound quality and maybe you want to listen to music sometimes, a stereo system is probably better for you.
If you just watch movies don’t care too much about sound quality and like the more immersive experience of a surround system. The 5.1 system is for you.
Most TV’s have built in player capabilities nowadays. Netflix and other streaming services don’t need anything else than the app on the TV. If you want to play DVD’s, Blu rays or something from another source. You’ll need a player for that.
Finally we need some cables to tie everything together. As said before, normal cables will do perfectly fine for this setup.
Other accessories are: A TV wall mount bracket and there is some of the budget left to get some blackout curtains or similar.
Recommended Home Theater parts
Now we’ve got all of that out of the way, what do I recommend you buy within this budget?
This TCL (Amazon link) is 65”, 4k and has all the functions you need. The picture quality is good for the price. It has Roku built in for smart functionality. The drawback is that there is some bloat ware built in to the TV that is hard (impossible) to remove. That is why it’s cheap for what it is. If you can live with the bloat ware it’s a good TV.
Projector + Screen
If you need a bigger screen, you can get a projector and screen.
First we go for a simple screen since we need most of the budget for an acceptable projector. This Elite Screens projection screen is 100”, wall mountable and manually retractable. It’s simple but does the job as it should. Link to Amazon.
For the budget, you should be able to get a good 1080P projector like the Viewsonic PJD7828HDL. Check the price on Amazon.
For seating we want something comfortable. What’s the best for you really depends on the available space and your needs. If you’re going to watch by yourself, go for a nice recliner like this one on Amazon.
Sometimes you want to invite some friends over you need some more space to sit. In that case a sofa is better. Specialized home cinema seating is nice but doesn’t fit this budget.
Whether you choose the stereo or 5.1 system, the components you need are roughly the same. You need an amplifier and speakers.
For the 5.1 surround set the following items are very good value for money.
The Pioneer Andrew Jones set is recommended by several audio review sites. The speakers are full sized where most sets in this price range aren’t. That makes the sound quality a bit better than most comparable sets. The set includes: Two floor standing front speakers, one center speaker, one Subwoofer and two rear bookshelf speakers. You can get it on Amazon, here.
Of course you need an amplifier to handle all those speakers. Yamaha has a good reputation for making good and reliable AV recievers. The RX-385 (Amazon link) has all the features you need. 70W per channel. HDMI in and outputs with 4k support, and Bluetooth connectivity.
For the stereo setup, you can use the same amplifier as for the 5.1 set. That means you can upgrade to a surround system later.
For speakers you can look at reviews on What Hifi for example. But since the Stereo setup is more focused towards sound quality, it’s better to find a Hifi shop and listen to some speakers yourself.
What you need to play movies is up to you and your preferences. The recommended TV already has Roku smart functionality so that’s taken care of. If you want to play something that’s not possible with a smart TV you need another player. The most common ones will be Blu-ray and DVD.
If you chose the projector you’ll need something to give it smart functionality.
If you don’t need any of that, save yourself some money!!
If you want to play Blu-rays and DVDs, get a Blu-ray player. Blu-ray players can also play DVDs and Cds. DVD players can’t play Blu-rays. The Sony BDPS6700 player is simple but does what it has to do. It’s also one of the cheapest Blu-ray players available. Check the price here.
If you want to take advantage of smart functionality on your projector, the best option is a Roku. Since the projector I recommended is not 4k, the normal Roku streaming stick is enough. Check the price on Amazon.
If you possibly want to upgrade to a 4k projector in the future, go for the Steaming stick plus. This has better Wi-Fi and can play 4k content. It’s not much more expensive than the standard streaming stick so if you possibly want to upgrade, go for the plus version. Link to Amazon.
Finally here we have some things to tie everything together.
TV wall mount
This Echogear TV wall mount bracket fits TV’s up to 70” so it will be sufficient for the TV suggested above. It’s easy to install if you’ve got basic DIY skills and does the job.
We need one cable to get sound from the TV or player to the amplifier. We’ll be using the digital TOSLINK connection since that will likely result in slightly better sound quality than using the RCA outputs from the TV.
Spending a lot of money on this cable is a waste of money. Any cheap one that’s long enough and works is good enough. This one on Amazon for example.
To wire up your speakers you’ll need some speaker wire. If you’ve chosen the 5.1 system, this 100ft spool of wire is perfectly fine. It’s long enough to wire up all your speakers and 14 gauge is suitable to use over longer distances.
If you’ve chosen the stereo system, you need less distance so we can get some higher quality stuff. This 30ft is a little thicker and the copper is purer so there is less resistance. Link to Amazon.
To connect the recommended subwoofer to the recommended amplifier, you can’t use normal speaker wire. You need a subwoofer cable. One like this is suitable. Good quality, long enough, flexible and cheap. Check the price on Amazon.