There is virtually no limit on how much you can spend on a home theater. From starter home theater audio systems that cost just a few hundred dollars to high end home theaters that can range into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, there seems to be no shortage of home theater equipment for every price range. But how much should you spend on a home theater to get the most bang for your buck and the most fidelity for your dollar? To answer that questions, there are a couple important considerations you should make first.
Setting a Budget
The first question you should ask yourself is “How much can I afford to spend on a home theater?” By nailing down this figure first, you can then start to consider how much to spend on each individual component. If you are starting from scratch and need to buy everything, including a screen, a receiver, an amp and speakers, expect to pay no less than $1,000 for a quality system. If you have some other components already, such as a TV and a receiver, then you may be able to invest in or upgrade individual components and get a decent system for as little as $500. If you have more to spend, then it’s time to consider how to split your budget.
In general, an all-in-one system won’t give you sufficient range of sound for a home theater. While all-in-ones may seem affordable at the outset, their underperformance usually necessitates an upgrade down the road anyway. As such, you’re usually better off taking that money and putting it towards individual components, which can be upgraded one at a time when you have enough money.
Speakers are the most important part of your home theater system. As such, you should commit to spending about 50 percent of your budget on speakers. So, for example, if you have a budget of $2,000, spend at least $1,000 or so on your speakers. The remaining $1,000 should be spent on the receiver and single playback devices.
Receivers and Amps
The reason you leave a large portion of your budget for a receiver and amp is because without the right power, you won’t get the performance that you’d expect from your high end speakers. Devote about 30 percent of your budget to a good amp and receiver that can power your speakers to get the best performance from them.
The remaining part of your budget should go towards playback devices, such as DVD players, Blu-ray players and gaming systems. This should amount to about 10 to 20 percent of your budget after buying speakers and an AV receiver.
Lastly, you should also save some money for cables, media and other wires and necessities you need to get the system installed. Also, don’t forget to factor in installation costs. Some suppliers will provide free installation, but make sure you have your equipment costs in addition to any setup or taxes before making a purchase.