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In this podcast, you will need how to start a 4K home theater on a budget. You will learn from the best shape of a room for home theater to speakers placement, right seatings and cable selection, to calibration and optimization to choosing the right source and audio component, to home theater safety checks. You can check each chapter. It has 11 chapters and each chapter is tackling a different problem of the users.
Here are the resources.
I have talked about these articles in the above episode. These articles will help you to know this topic in detail.
- Cheap vs. Expensive HDMI. Which Is Better? (Buying Guide)
- What Is The Best Speaker Wire Material? (Head-on Comparison)
- What Gauge Wire For Home Theater Speakers? (Chart Data)
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Not A Fan Of Listening? Read The Transcript Of This Episode
Chapter 1: The Foundation of a Home Theater (Set The Stage)
Building a home theater might seem a difficult task to you but it is all about having the right mindset and willingness to put in the work. Choose a room that has minimal ambient light and suitable acoustics. But you will tweak the acoustics of the room by yourself too. The one major step is to remove every material from the room that has reflective surfaces and install those materials that have a dense composition to absorb sound as much as you can.
Also, choose a room with rectangular ceilings and not triangles or of another shape. This is because you need to install ceiling speakers for Dolby Atmos effects. This is where I like my object-based audio speakers to go but if you are a fan of DTS:X then you can go for elevated speakers that can be installed on the wall and for that, you can choose any type of room shape.
Chapter 2: Which Display Options To Choose?
There are two main options for home theater display. The first is a smart TV and the second is a projector. Smart TVs can give you nice contrast with sharp images and easy setup but a projector can give you bigger screen sizes cheaper and that cinematic experience at home.
Another good thing about projectors is that you can install LCR speakers behind the screen of the projector if the screen is acoustically transparent. What will this do? This will give you a more immersive sound.
You will feel like the actors are talking straight to you. The audio is the most significant part of home theater and we will talk about this in the later parts of this podcast or another episode if you want a little more detail about it.
Chapter 3: Which audio component to opt for?
Audio is a crucial aspect of any home theater. There are two main components: speakers with a receiver or separate and a simple soundbar. Before proceeding further let’s discuss what is separates. In separates you get a separate amplifier, preamp, and audio/video processor and in entry-level you get all of these in one box and that is called a receiver.
You can go with a receiver with speakers or a soundbar with a simpler setup to instantly upgrade your TV or projector’s sound quality. The receiver is the controlling center of any home theater system. You need to connect every audio-video component along with speakers to it. You will also need to place the speakers in the right positions.
I will talk about speaker placement but first, clarify this. I recommend the receiver as the second option, the soundbar as the third, and separates as the first option.
For complete immersive sound that can place you in between the movies, TV shows, or games you need to opt for a powerful receiver or separates.
Ok, what about the speaker’s placement? You need to place all the speakers in a way that they surround you.
Place the center speaker at zero degrees with you and its tweeter at your ear level.
Adjust the left and right speakers’ woofers to be at the same height as the center speakers’ woofers. Now place the left and right speakers in a way that they make an Equilateral triangle with you and with each other.
Place the left and right surround side speakers 3-4 inches away from you and their tweeter should be at your ear level, repeat the same for the rear speakers.
Next are the Atmos speakers or elevated speakers but this podcast will get lengthy. You can request a complete speaker placement guide in the next episode.
One subwoofer in your home theater is essential but two or better. You will need to continuously change their placement and position to observe where they sound the best.
Chapter 4: Crucial Tips For Source Components
Source components are the backbone of your home theater. These are the devices that provide soul to your entertainment. Source components are Blu-ray players, streaming devices, or gaming consoles. But you need to match their quality with other components. Like if your projector is 4K then arrange 4K discs for your Blu-ray player.
Before buying these components whether you are considering Blu-ray Players, gaming consoles, or streaming devices. You need to search first whether they are still supported by their manufacturers and whether they get regular firmware updates.
It is very important to avoid errors in the future and this future is not like a year from now you can face these errors by tomorrow if they have outdated firmware.
For streaming devices, make sure they provide access to all the latest streaming services that you like and they can easily integrate to your smart home devices if you have any.
Chapter 5: Crucial Comfort and Seating Tips
If you are not feeling comfortable at your home theater then no matter how good your home theater equipment is, you will never be able to enjoy it to the fullest. That’s why you need to invest in comfortable seating.
Don’t go for fancy seatings that cost $5000 per seat, just hunt for the seats that are comfortable for you. But if you can find a good second deal on the $5000 seats then you can consider those too.
Chapter 6: Audio & Video Calibration and Optimization Tips
Here this part has a little hustle and it is not as simple as it sounds. For audio, you can calibrate it with an SPL meter or with a mic that comes with almost all modern receivers.
If your receiver has that mic then it is very simple just follow the instructions of the manufacturer’s guide and you will have good immersive audio at the end. These mics calibrate the audio according to your room.
For video, raise the brightness of your display according to the ambient light quantity in your home theater but make sure to raise the sharpness and adjust the contrast accordingly.
Remember, your ears and eyes are the best calibrating tools in the world. But if you are a complete newbie and obsessed with your home theater audio and video then you can hire a professional calibrator locally or on Craigslist.
Chapter 7: Connectivity And Controlling Of The Equipment
You need to use a smart home system or universal remote to control every piece of equipment with just one remote or with voice. It is essential because you can’t keep 7 remotes on one side to control each piece of equipment. It will be frustrating. And for wired connectivity use good quality cables.
Make sure to use high-quality HDMI cables for the source component, display components, and processing components like receivers.
Make sure the HDMI cables are the latest. The newer releases from the reputable company the better they will be. But don’t buy gold-plated or expensive HDMI cables. You can get the best from $15-50 easily.
For the speakers’ connectivity make sure you use pure copper wires with at least 14 gauge width but thicker is better such as 16 or 18 gauge depending on the distance of the speakers from the receiver.
As the distance increases you need thicker wires for that. You can read in detail about the wires and HDMI cables from the articles attached to this episode description to know this topic in depth.
Chapter 8: Realistic Home Theater Budget and Future Upgrades
Building a home theater on a budget is easy but it needs good knowledge to be at your side. Remember that technology is changing very fast. That’s why you should invest in entry-level equipment first and keep the upgradation of them in your mind. You will need to upgrade with it and this entry-level equipment will give you the necessary experience and will save you money too.
Remember you can set up a 4K Dolby Atmos theater from $8000 to $50000 depending on your needs.
If you need good quality speakers then you can buy second hand too but if you need fancy ceilings or Italian seating, a cool Turkish rug under your feet then it can cost you more.
You can buy a 4K projector for under $2000 but if you are obsessed with true 4K and native 4K with high frame rates then yes it can cost you from $7000 to $50000. Yes, there is a projector from Sony that can cost you 50 Grands.
In the end, it depends on what you really need and what is a luxury. Prepare your budget according to your needs.
Chapter 9: Safety Checks For Home Theater
Use power surge protectors or power conditioners to protect your equipment from sudden surges in power and will also prevent fire hazards.
Also, don’t let your equipment overheat. Place them in a good ventilation area and give them occasional breaks after a few hours of usage.
Place the power outlets out of the reach of the children. Along with that don’t keep bare speaker wires or wires that have worn out. Your pets or children can step on it and can give them electric shocks.