Going over budget is one of the most common mistakes people make when setting up a home theatre. But knowing which components you can do without, what can be repurposed, and by keeping a lookout for bargain buys, you can create a great home theatre experience and save a lot of money, too.
The cost of purchasing and setting up AV equipment can be a grey area for newbies. Builders and architects can quickly give you an estimate of what a new kitchen or swimming pool is going to cost, but technology is different because there are so many variables.
First, you need to determine whether you want a basic home entertainment system, or if you’re very particular about how your system sounds and the quality of your screen display. Most homeowners are somewhere between these two extremes. Others don’t really know what they need at all. Basically, your home AV budget should cover:
Surround sound system
Furnishings and storage
Know What You Want
You won’t be able to pick the right technologies if you don’t know what you need them to do. It’s a worthwhile investment to take some time and even spend a little money to assess your needs and learn more about your requirements. A qualified AV integrator will help you identify your needs and check that the physical space in your home is optimal for the technology you’re looking to install.
It's important to avoid paying for features and functionality you won’t use, so be wary of the very latest home theatre trends. They may have a lot of new features, but do you really need them? If you can, get some advice from a qualified AV engineer who will be able to help you sort out the facts from the hype. They can also help you choose equipment based on the needs of your particular application.
If you are stuck on a tight budget, you might still be able to accomplish your home entertainment goals if you’re prepared to sacrifice some of the shiny new bells and whistles. As an example, a projector instead of a TV may sound like a good option, but they can be expensive to maintain and could end up costing more than a good TV in the long run. Also, a projector isn’t backlit, so you’ll have to fork out extra cash on a screen and blackout curtains.
Easy Does It
Rather than trying to buy all the AV equipment you want at once, think about adding items a piece at a time. Purchase the essentials first to create your core system. This allows you to spread out the cost and gives you the opportunity to check performance, and decide between components that constitute a luxury, and those you can't do without. Plus, if you try to purchase everything at once, you might end up compromising, which will probably lead to you having to upgrade sooner rather than later.
Purchasing the must-have components first means you can make do with cheaper variations of the less critical items, or that you can leave them out completely. Spreading your purchases over a year or longer will enable you to add the most future-proof, quality components to your home entertainment system at each step of the setting up process.
Save on Furniture
Buying equipment for your home entertainment centre isn’t just about the tech. You’ll need some kind of cabinet to store your devices, plus comfortable seating to relax in while you watch or listen.
There’s no need to purchase furniture made of cheap pressed wood and veneers, but you don’t need expensive designer items either. Look for reasonably priced furniture that blends in with your existing home décor. Otherwise, consider building it yourself or repurposing furniture you already have. This will ensure you have enough money left over for the important stuff that will directly affect your home entertainment experience.
Second-hand shops are an excellent place to look, whether actual bricks and mortar shops close to where you live or on the Internet. Don't forget to check out local garage sales, too. You just might get lucky and pick up items in good condition at a bargain price.
Start with Inexpensive Speakers
When it comes to speakers, bigger isn’t necessarily better. It’s more about the setup and the component quality. Also, look at the size of your space and match the speakers to the size of the room. Most home theatre systems come with five satellite speakers and a subwoofer. You need to work out where it’s all going to go, and where all the cables and wires will run before you go out and make your initial purchase. This can save you time and money in the long run, and don't worry if your standard speakers are not quite up to your expectations. They can always be upgraded later.
Get a Good Television
Don’t focus too much on the TV operating system. Focus instead on getting a television that has 4K and HDR support, and at least 55 inches in size. Rule of thumb says that even for small rooms, the TV should be the biggest you can afford.
Pay More for a Good Receiver
Probably the most vital part of your home theatre system, the receiver can be compared to a PC’s processor. If it’s not right, the whole system will suffer. If you must compromise, do it somewhere else, like on seating, upholstery, and unnecessary extras.