How To Set Up a Home Theater on a Budget

Home theater, luxury interior, comfortable divan and big screen.
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The pandemic led to one positive realization for many folks: Watching movies at home has its perks. You can pause whenever you want. You can eat whatever you want. The only annoying people talking are yourself and your family or friends. However, the quintessential, surround sound movie theater experience was still missing.

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So, how can you bridge the gap between the ease of watching a movie at home and the luxury of a movie theater? Here are some tips that will deliver the theater experience to your home without breaking the bank. 

For a Small Space:

Choose the Proper Big Screen TV

Obviously, you can’t do a home theater without a big screen. If your seats are between 8-12 feet from the screen, go with a 75 in. TV. A great value option is the TCL 6-Series Roku TV.

It offers QLED-boosted color and mini-LED backlight, plus it has Roku already built-in for your streaming needs. You can easily add a wide variety of apps to watch whatever you’re looking for. This TCL model also delivers great gaming performance, so your theater can double as a deluxe game room. This TV is going for $1,299.99 at Best Buy, which is a good deal given the screen size and streaming capabilities.

Make Your Money Work for You

You can always go for a slightly smaller screen if you want to keep the cost under $1,000. Additionally, the earlier model of this same TV is going for $999.99 on Best Buy.

Invest in a Soundbar

A soundbar is a great way to really feel like you have theater-quality surround sound, plus it’s relatively easy to set up. Usually, a soundbar only needs one cable to connect to your television and you get two front speakers and a center speaker all in one.

Experts recommend the Vizio V Series V51-H6 for a budget theater setup. This model costs $200 and includes a pair of low-profile surround speakers and a wireless 5″ subwoofer that brings booming bass in addition to the soundbar.

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For a Larger Space:

Get a Projector and Screen

Look at the distance between where you’ll be sitting to watch the movie and the potential screen. If it’s greater than 14 feet, you’ll want to opt for a projector and screen setup.

Make Your Money Work for You

A projector screen delivers optimal brightness and image quality that feels like you’re at the movies. To stay on budget, look for the Vavmo Outdoor Indoor screen. It’s 120 inches with a 16:9 aspect ratio and 4K HD image capabilities. Users say it’s very easy to assemble, well-made, and has excellent clarity.

Right now, you can purchase this screen for $120 on Amazon. The projector is a little more costly, even on a budget. Experts recommend the Optoma UHD38, which runs about $1,399. It’s a 4K UHD projector that’s great for both watching and gaming capabilities.

Opt for a Bigger Speaker System

Though you can rely on a soundbar for a bigger theater space, you’ll get more boom for your buck from a surround sound theater pack. For $329 on Amazon, you can buy the Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack 5.1 Surround Sound System, which delivers room-filling sound without taking up too much space.

For Both Spaces:

Get Ultra-Comfy Theater Seating

Another huge advantage of going to the movie theater over watching movies in your living room is the premium seats. Luckily, you can get some of those seats for your home theater setup at an affordable price. TheaterSeatStore.com sells leather recliners that are just like the movies for $500 each. Living Space is also selling a loveseat recliner for $795.

Make Your Money Work for You

Put Up Blackout Curtains

Last but not least, you need your home theater to be completely dark to create the ultimate cinematic experience. If you have a basement or another space that has little light coming in, that’s perfect. However, if you’re setting up your home theater in a room with a lot of windows, you need blackout curtains.

Kohl’s offers theater grade blackout curtains starting at just $23.79. Customers say that even after years of use and exposure to light, they don’t fade, so you won’t need to keep purchasing new curtains for your space. It’s showtime!

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About the Author

Sam DiSalvo is an LA-based comedian, writer and actor who's performed all over the country. Her written work has appeared in numerous digital publications. As a copywriter, she's worked with a variety of major brands including GoldieBlox and Thrive Causemetics. Sam loves dogs and is currently perusing leisure suits to buy for her corgi mix, Barry
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