How Much Does a Home Theater Setup Cost?

How much do I really need to spend on a home theater system?

No matter what you desire in a home theater, it boils down to how much you are willing to spend.

Home Theater Cost Factors

  • What you already have that you intend to use.
  • What you need or want to buy to add to what you already have.
  • What you need or want if you are starting from scratch.

The Starting Point

A typical home theater starts with the following:

Depending on the combinations of components and accessories, your budget could vary significantly.

Movie playing on projection screen in home theater
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Matching Components to Rooms

Small Rooms

A modest system for a small room might consist of a smaller screen TV (32 to 40 inches) combined with a soundbar or home-theater-in-box audio system, and any needed accessories. You should budget up to $1,000. If you are using an existing TV, and just purchasing a basic home-theater-in-a-box or soundbar system, expect to budget about $500.

Small to Medium Size Room

For a small to a medium-size room, if you have or buy a 50 or 55-inch TV, DVD or Blu-ray Disc player, home theater receiver, mid-range speaker system, and other accessories, you should expect to budget between $1,500-$2,000.

Medium to Large Room

For a medium-to-large sized room, consider a TV 55-inches or larger or modest DLP or LCD video projector, as well as a mid-range surround sound setup. Plan to budget from $2,000-$4,000. A lot depends on the type and size of TV, brand/model video projector, home theater receiver, and speakers used. The cost of a DVD player or Blu-ray Disc player is much less than the other components.

Going High-End

If you go for a high-end 4K Ultra HD (65-inches or larger) LCD, OLED TV, or a mid-range 4K video projector and screen, home theater receiver, and speakers, definitely budget at least $5,000-$10,000 for a complete setup, including cables, cabinets, and other peripherals you might need.

Adding On-Wall Speakers Or Ceiling Mounted Projector

If you are mounting speakers on walls, ceiling mounting the video projector, but not going into the walls or ceiling for wiring or ventilation needs, you should expect to budget about $10,000-$15,000 depending on what level of components you end up using.

The above amounts don't include the cost of any new furniture you may desire for your home theater room.

Custom Installation

If you are going with a custom installation and high-end components, that also includes extensive room construction (such as going through walls or tearing out or redoing walls), budget at least $25,000, or more and consult a home theater installer.

Price Traps

One home theater price trap is loudspeakers. Many bargain-priced loudspeakers could sound terrible, compared to some priced a little bit higher. On the other hand, you might hear a good set of loudspeakers priced very reasonably, but also hear a group of loudspeakers that sound better, but priced two or three times as much. The decision is whether those significantly higher-priced loudspeakers sound just a little bit better or significantly better for you to reach into your wallet for extra cash.

Brand Loyalty

With TVs and home theater components, there is also the question of brand loyalty. Although familiar brand names might provide features and performance, check out some brands that you might not be familiar with, especially if you have not shopped for a TV or other home theater component in several years. You might be surprised at what other brands you aren't familiar with, or considered before, might offer.

The Bottom Line – Do What Is Right for You

What you spend depends on what you want and where you will use it. The above examples provide a general guideline of what to expect.

Technology advances and the downward price spiral of components (especially 4K Ultra HD TVs) frequently change what you might need or want to spend.

Some inexpensive and mid-range options provide exceptional value and performance. At the same time, some costly components only deliver a marginal increase in performance and might not always be the best value.

You could tailor a home theater setup to your individual needs. There is no single best home theater system that is right for everyone. You could spend hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a home theater.

You have lots of options, and that's the way it should be. After all, it's YOUR home theater!

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