Before Buying a Home Theater System

Before Buying a Home Theater System

Five things to consider before buying a home theater:Who wouldn’t want a home theater? Having easy access to all the music and movies, video games and other entertainment they provide can bring lots of enjoyment to you and your family. But before you move forward on your home theater room, here are five key considerations we tell our clients in northern New Jersey to keep in mind:

First: will your home theater be a dedicated or multipurpose room? If it is a dedicated theater, ambient light will not be a factor, and you don’t need a projector with the highest brightness or a screen that will amplify light. Like a highway sign at night that’s brightest when seen head on, the picture quality of a home theater screen with high gain declines when viewed off axis. If your home theater installation is in a multipurpose room, the screen choice should be grey (to help with the washed out blacks) and the projector should have a higher brightness rating.

Second: where will you store the audio video gear? It doesn’t need to be in the same room (with the exception of loadable gear). If it is not installed in a professional rack, have ventilation issues been addressed? How easy will it be to service? Do you have enough additional space for future audio video equipment?

Third: do you want the home stereo speakers exposed or more stealthy, as in flush mount speakers or invisible speakers? It’s not just an aesthetics choice. If your home stereo audio budget is based on box speakers, you will need to increase the budget for flush mount (in wall or in ceiling) speakers, which are much more expensive for the same quality sound as box speakers.

Fourth: Have you considered 3D? If you choose not to get it and you find that content and broadcasting has exploded with 3D programming two years from now, you will wish you paid the few hundred dollars more to get 3D in your home theater. Remember that technologies evolve. First generation CD playback units did not have the audio fidelity of the current crop of higher end CD players.

Fifth: if it is a dedicated theater, what percentage of the budget for your home theater setup will go toward entertainment gear and what percentage will be for furnishings like home theater chairs, curtains, sconces and the like? One of our clients here in New Jersey purchased a house with a beautiful nine-seat home theater; I wondered why he needed until I saw how inadequate the audio video gear was. There’s not much point building a beautiful home theater if the equipment that runs it doesn’t measure up.