web analytics
Menu Close

The home Theater on a budget

To most “Home Theater” means either a soundbar with a 4″ bass speaker or a gigantic room with thousands of dollars of furniture and projections and BOSE sound systems, a vision of $10 grand. But one can have a really good system for around $1000.

An iTheater is a Home Theater for one. I cannot recall anytime in the past few decades that anyone wanted to watch what I want to watch other than a Packer game.

For those who are happy to watch Game of Thrones on their tablet, or from the kitchen, or with a phone in hand, or what you like are TV dramas, sitcoms, cable news, reality tv or cannot put their phone down for more than a minute, this is not for you!  Go away! Which leaves about 26 or so people in America who should read on…

But if you like to immerse yourself into the art of things; the cinematography, sound, music, that bass that gives it importance, CGI, action, grand vistas and great adventures this has your name on it. It is also great for sports and of course concerts.  The Stones in Havana was really really good and the Roger Waters new one, And Rolling Thunder, all in 5.1.

It is about the immersion. In fact since I got the 65″ TV the other day and with cartridge in hand I sometimes fear I might fall in like Alice.

The movie production series are exceptional. Though Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, The Pacific, Westworld and Peaky Blinders are about it, but there is an endless supply of 1080i / 5.1 series that are almost as good.  I recently stumbled upon one called OUTLANDER.  After watching the first one and liking it, I clicked MORE EPISODES to find 53 more!  That took a couple months.

Some movies I have watched a second time on this system go from a five to a 10+ knock yer socks off. Fury Road! Holyhockerlockers!

And I have to admit that the best $60 I have spent on this was the yearly plan for PBS Passport. Decades of AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, NOVA, FRONTLINE, INDEPENDENT LENS, POV, MASTERPIECE, NATURE and so on… But that is all about learning stuff in a quality entertaining manner which again leaves only the 26 of you.

Also there are great old epics like Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, Lord of the Rings, 2001, Star Wars and such that make it a new experience. It even makes SO-SO movies  great and is  better than the movie theater. Popcorn with a coke is a buck rather than $15.

My greatest two moments so far were the recent movies Thor Rangorak and Deadpool 2.  In the last scene of Thor comes an aerial view from above over the coming final battle scene. I turned it up all the way. Suddenly it all went quiet and I heard this familiar single scream that didn’t click right away. A a haa aa, A a haa aa, monsters and three headed Trolls with axes, heads and limbs and blood flying through the air and then KABOOM! THE IMMIGRANT SONG. The loudest fastest Rock and Roll song there ever was.   Dust floated down from the ceiling.

We come from the land of the ice and snow
From the midnight sun, where the hot springs flow…

And Deadpool 2, the big attack scene of his newly formed X-Force jumping out of a plane to engage the enemy to ACDC THUNDER! The whole team dies in three minutes which was unexpected great thunderous fun!

And of course Thrones with the dragons coming from behind and the dogs barking and horses neighing in 5.1. Some shows do 5.1 so well I find myself looking behind me to the door.

Here is the how of it.

1. The Room

I had a head start with a detached garage that has been a party room for 35 years. But any room of any size will do. An old Lazyboy placed so eyes are 5 feet from a 55″ screen. A movable futon or a bar for Packer game parties. DARK.  Single people have an advantage on this one!

2. The sound system

A 5.1 system means two speakers front, two speakers side, one voice speaker center and the .1 is the center bass.
A 145 watt AVR [Audio Visual Receiver.]
New AVRs have 7.2 but I have yet to see anything produced with it. Keep in mind AVRs also have a MULTI-STEREO mode to use all the speakers in full function stereo music.

Of course you can go lite with a 5.1 soundbar system with a 6″ bass that cost between $500 and easy to set up.

But power and bass matter, it’s what gives music and sound body and a sense of importance. It’s why every band in the world has a bass drum and a bass player.
Far better to get an AVR which can play anything from anywhere; Bluetooth, phone, wifi, tuner, laptop, Pandora/Spotify, Alexa and full equalization control of each speaker. AVR’s are video HDMI dominate, all of them have at least 4 HDMI so you can use if with a game console, a computer, video camera etc.

3. The video system

A 55″ 1080i preferably with a Roku box.  HBO, NETFLIX, PRIME and maybe PBS PASSPORT and HULU.

Cost for minimum requirements:

A room?
A Lazyboy – used $100 – 60″ from eye to 55″ screen is about right.
55″ 1080i or 4K TV – smart or not $250
AVR 145 per channel 5.1 amp  $250 [I needed a 165w to drive the big speakers – $350]
Roku box with voice search – $45
Two pair L and R speakers – $500? [min 8″ woofs]
One center 10″ bass  $60
One voice box  $25
Total about $1200. Subtract what you already have.

All I needed was the AVR, the woofer, the voice box and replaced all 10 speakers in the 1968 12″ cabinets from Amazon $150. My total $500.  The recent upgrade to 65″ 4k was not necessary.

For a few years now I have spent several hours each night out there happy as a clam. And still have not run out of high end stuff to watch.