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How Much Have You Invested in Your Home Theater?

A home theater is a blessing for those who have one, and it needn't cost a fortune to get decent picture and sound quality. Of course, the more you spend, the more potential there is for truly great performance, though high prices do not guarantee it. Also, as cost increases beyond a certain point, the gains in performance generally become smaller.

These musings lead me to wonder, how much have you invested in your home theater, including display, sound system, and source devices? If you've built a dedicated room, please include furniture, acoustic treatments, ambient-light control, décor, and construction as well. What proportion of your budget has gone for video, audio, and environment?

Vote to see the results and leave a comment about your choice.

How Much Have You Invested in Your Home Theater?
Under $1000
5% (220 votes)
$1000-$3000
15% (644 votes)
$3000-$6000
23% (970 votes)
$6000-$10,000
20% (852 votes)
$10,000-$20,000
19% (774 votes)
$20,000-$50,000
11% (449 votes)
$50,000-$100,000
3% (126 votes)
Over $100,000
3% (127 votes)
Total votes: 4162
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COMMENTS
K.Reid's picture

Once one starts in this hobby or profession for some, it's hard to cease looking and shopping for that next display, speaker, or tweak which inevitably leads one to reach deeper into the pocket to bring us closer to the ideal HT experience.

aleksandr's picture

The secret is: read a lot... You don't need a lot of money 4 a decent set up .

kevon27's picture

You hit the nail on head.

Chase.Barnett's picture

I've got a Panasonic 42S30, Onkyo 609, Martin Logan MLT-1's and a Sony S350 and I couldn't be happier or agree with you more. I'm under $2500 total cost for the system that sounds great. My system is in a 13x12 room and it is more than powerful enough for it.

curtiswhite's picture

I have a decent setup. With some of the stuff coming from craigslist.
If you don't mind used there are allot of bargains to be found.

fufanuer's picture

If you have patience and are okay with last year's models, used is a cheap way to go. In fact, every part of my system is used. I've spent a fraction of the price for the performance!!

pointfdr's picture

Every 10 years i upgrade and spend $12,000 this year was great i got the sharp 80" tv denon receiver and Panasonic blu ray boston speakers and new att&t cable.
but 2 months down the road all the new stuff comes out and i start drooling over better stuff.

msardo's picture

Let me just say "exactly!" to what everyone has posted. It is a passionate hobby for me and has been for as long as I can remember. It is alot of fun, but I think the biggest thing to remember is that if you read and shop well and can be patient - you are able to find better deals. Also, you can find better deals when you can buy more items at one time - however, that comes with having to have more up front to get started.

I was lucky, I had a home theater with a dedicated room that I built in my basement. Complete 7.1, Blu-Ray, front projector, theatre seats, 100% control of lighting, all wiring in wall, etc. - it was great (and I miss the dedicated room). But we sold the house and then made a secondary deal to sell the equipment in the theatre room. I did pretty well on this deal. That is what allowed me to get a terrific deal on new equipment which is all a significant upgrade over what I had (which was very good).

My only loss now is the dedicated room as I am now living in a small apartment.

It wasn't by design, but I guess I "flipped" my theatre room. :-)

DominickLedesma411's picture

Display
Samsung HL-61A750 61" DLP with LED light engine
Excellent picture quality, no lamps to replace, and it was cheap! This, however, will probably be upgraded next. I am currently contemplating a 60"-65" Panasonic or Samsung Plasma.
AVR
Onkyo TX-NR609
I really, really wish I waited and got a Marantz instead! I wanted good sound quality (THAT the Onkyo has, at least), with HDMI and Networking. I found that the Onkyo 609 will let you LISTEN to the network or USB source, but not control it from Zone 2...making it worthless. You have to switch back to zone 1 (interrupting the other people watching in the living room!), change your song or radio station, switch Zone 1 back to whatever they were watching before, THEN you can listen in Zone 2. FAIL!
Speakers
Martin Logan Motion 12 floorstanding speakers
Martin Logan Motion 8 Center Channel
Martin Logan Motion 4 Bookshelf surrounds
Era Designs 10" Subwoofer
These speakers are simply outstanding for their price! They sound even better if you crank them up a bit! The "Motion Tweeter" they have in them images VERY well, and they have plenty of dynamic performance in both movies and music.
Although I am VERY satisfied with my current speakers, I am DROOLING over the Atlantic Technologies AT-1 speakers...I may take a look at upgrading after I replace my screen and AVR.
Power Conditioning
Panamax M5400PM
Wow! I simply CAN NOT believe how much better my system is with this attached! I upgraded from a Panamax M5300EX, and INSTANTLY saw an improvement in my picture quality and sharpness! This was unexpected, as I have a DLP set with HDMI digital connections...I simply did not think filtering my power would have such a dramatic effect on my system...but it did! HIGHLY recommended!
Gaming/Multimedia
Xbox 360
Playstation 3
Control issues aside, the PS3 is the best "entry level" Blu-Ray player out there. I also use the Xbox for HBO Go (Game of Thrones) and I have used just about every rental option on both platforms (Vudu, Netflix, Playstation Network, Zune Video store). For picture and sound quality, the prize goes to Vudu, with their HDX movies, it's as close to Blu-Ray as I have seen from a streaming service. Xbox's Zune Market however, gives you a 48 hour viewing period for your rentals, and PERMANENTLY archives any movies or TV shows you purchase! This lets you delete and re-download your purchased videos at will! I really wish everyone would let you do this.
It's tough because Microsoft has the best policies with regards to their store, but they have the noisiest hardware with very poor video and sound quality! (try it! Record an MP3 or play a CD in an XBox, then play the same track on ANYTHING else!) Still, I use both consoles frequently for videos.
Control
RTI XP6 Control Processor
RTI T3V Remote
RTI Android Tablet app
This is truly and incredible control system! I can program my remote and tablet with customized graphics and a customized layout, control my IP enabled devices directly over the network, control my lighting system (Lutron RadioRa2), and integrate everything the way I want it! I jumped on board as soon as they released their Android app...now I can take an inexpensive tablet (I am going to use my hacked NookColor 7" tablet) and have a fully functional touchscreen remote with meta-data feedback! They have come a LONG way in just a few short years...from a company just making "remotes", to a full fledged control system that rivals anything on the market! And they are one of the few that supports iOS, Android (phones and tablets), as well as a "Virtual Panel" that can be run from a PC!
Now that I have my control system, my next upgrade is going to be to put all of my equipment in a rack, and hide it all either in a closet or in the back corner of the room. I still have a LOT of work to go to get it "perfect", but what fun is a finished system?

zimm25's picture

I've purchased 8-10 music or theater systems for myself (home & work) and friends and find no problem finding very high quality used equipment a generation (or 2,3,4) behind and at 70-90% off retail price. I just upgraded my own projector & screen and got an RS-2 matched with a 92 inch Stewart StudioTek screen for $1600 combined. 3 years ago, buying the two items new would have cost 80% more. With the exception of 3D, the vast majority of viewers couldn't see any difference between my set-up and a current $10,000 system. That leaves me a lot of money for upgraded room correction, masking, etc.

Audio is easy too, especially speakers & amps. Audiogon, videogon, canuck audiomart, etc make it so easy. I always look for a hobbyist with some wealth who is changing equipment, doesn't mind taking a loss and has taken impeccable care of his equipment. $20k speakers from 8 years ago still sound like $20k speakers of today, but you can find them for a fraction of that. Find the designers & manufactures you like and watch for deep discounts. Then ask the owner lots of questions via email and phone (preferable).

John Freeman's picture

I use diy speakers, and very good ones, and this saves a lot of money. I have approximately $900.00 invested in speakers, including a a Dayton Titanic 12 inch sub. The rest is in the electronics and flat screen, about $2,200. If I purchased the flat screen now it would only be about $700.00 instead of $1,200.00 It is worth every penney as it used every day. I watch a lot of sports and always use the HDMI from the cable box through the Pioneer Elite receiver, and it sounds great.

MatthewWeflen's picture

I kind of don't know what "Home Theater" is supposed to mean. I chose $1-3k as my "home theater" setup comes in just under $3k, with the display making up the bulk of that amount.

But are a 52" flat panel, a HTIB AVR/speaker setup, HPTC, and a few source components really a home "theater?" Or is it just an entertainment center in the living room? I can see arguments for both, and I tend towards the latter answer (seeing as how it pulls double and triple duty in the home - broadcast tv, blu-ray, gaming, video streaming, music).

I kind of feel like, at a minimum, it has to be a dedicated environment. Maybe not a room, but a nook, a side of a room, a finished basement, whatever, in which nothing happens except for watching movies.

Maybe I'm just a stickler for words.

Scott Wilkinson's picture
I apply a broad definition to the term "home theater." For example, I would definitely include the system you describe as a home theater, even though it pulls double and triple duty; all of the applications you list are rightfully part of the home-theater experience. Of course, a dedicated room is the purest expression of the concept, but even in that case, people watch TV, play video games, etc.
Ladyfingers's picture

Hsu Research Ultra 1 system with three HC-1s at the front (thrilled, will not upgrade)

NAD T747 receiver (amazing sound, but not thrilled with the digital capabilities, to be honest)

Logitech Squeezebox Touch (Perfect device except for long scanning times when adding files to a USB drive)

Sony PlayStation 3 (fantastic for BD playback, but I'm looking to invest in an Oppo for quieter multi-region playback)

Pioneer DV-400V (nice device for a basic DVD player)

Western Digital WDTV (would be faultless but or lack of gapless playback)

Sony KDL46Z4500 (apart from slight sharpening of video, it's a lovely TV with truly excellent colour)

123sam's picture

Once bitten by the AV bug, forget the word budget. It's far too finite in meaning. AV systems has always been a moving target and always will. Upgrading your AV system is always the one thing you can count on. And because of Your Love for this hobby, you'll somehow find the money to invest in the latest technology for it. It has taken me since June 1970 to understand that fact. Once you stop to count how much you've invested over the years, you will be amazed. How much? A lot, and still Loving and Enjoying my AV system. What a great fun hobby we have guys. Enjoy.

Pedro14's picture

It really doesn't matter how much you spend (to a certain extent) on a home theater, as long as it was designed properly. If you go out and buy $50,000 that isn't right for your room, you accomplished nothing. It's kind of like going out and purchasing a $1500 pair of shoes that don't fit!
All the "do it yourselfer's" crack me up when they purchase things because they're highly rated, etc.

123sam's picture

In todays audio/video climate, we have to consider the opinions of different reviewers from several HT review mags like this one. With internet sales only companies like Oppo, Emotiva, and others, that's how word get out about great products we can't go to the local stereo store to see or hear. As we all know quality, performance and price seldom is the same or equal or will get you great listening pleasure. We get what we pay for can be thown out the window when it comes to av gear. Because of great reviews (highly rated) I purchased an Oppo dv983 dvd player and a bdp83 blu ray player. Being highly rated have a place in this av climate.

davey49's picture

I haven't seen a hi-fi/home theater store in almost 10 years. Everyone seems to have closed up shop and become a "home theater installer"
You're on your own unless you have a six figure or more income.

bc70's picture

The question was about how much you have invested in your 'Home Theater' The reason my 'Home Theater' is so expensive is because I put money into making the room worthy of a good sound system.

willieconway's picture

Another interesting question, particularly for this site's advertisers, would be "How much are you planning on investing over the next 1, 2 or 5 years?"

I'm currently at $3,500 with the display accounting for 2/3 of that, all spent within the last 6 months. My guess is I'll spend another couple of thousand over the next 5 years (if nothing breaks).

mehuang's picture

I guess I need more clarification of this question to answer the poll. Are you asking how much we have spent for the current system in place or how much we have spent on our primary system over the life of the room? For instance I replaced my primary plasma, receiver and blue ray player last year.

I am guessing most of us who answer probably are always looking to upgrade so the question is how often this occurs? For me, I installed my primary system in 2005 and did my upgrades in 2011.

ca1ore's picture

I have actually kept a record of every audio and video componenet bought and sold in my lifetime - from a pair of AR-12 speakers in 1974 for $400 to a Meridian Sooloos MD600 in 2012 for $3,000. In 'current' dollars, I have 'invested' north of a quarter million in those 38 years (much of it bought second-hand). Seems like an incredible amount in total, although it is only a bit more than $7K per year. My most frequent upgrade has been the preamp/processor, logging in at 12; least frequent, speakers, at only 4. My current system makes up about 50% of the total investment.

Deckard's picture

I just replaced my home theater after 12 years. My new set-up cost approximately half of what my first one did and it is vastly superior. I bought good gear to begin with so I got to skip incremental improvements. In fact I am still using my original Boston Acoustic speakers which still sound like money in my new set-up. I have checked out newer speakers but I prefer the depth that I get out of mine. Instead of replacement speakers, I bought a new pair of Bostons to take advantage of my new zone 2 capabilities. At this point all I am missing is good universal remote to run the system. So far in the past year I have spent a less than $3000 (the cost of my first tv by itself) on improvements and replacements by taking advantage of deals and keeping an open mind when deciding on brands.

jnemesh's picture

Display
Samsung HL-61A750 61" DLP with LED light engine
Excellent picture quality, no lamps to replace, and it was cheap! This, however, will probably be upgraded next. I am currently contemplating a 60"-65" Panasonic or Samsung Plasma.

AVR
Onkyo TX-NR609
I really, really wish I waited and got a Marantz instead! I wanted good sound quality (THAT the Onkyo has, at least), with HDMI and Networking. I found that the Onkyo 609 will let you LISTEN to the network or USB source, but not control it from Zone 2...making it worthless. You have to switch back to zone 1 (interrupting the other people watching in the living room!), change your song or radio station, switch Zone 1 back to whatever they were watching before, THEN you can listen in Zone 2. FAIL!

Speakers
Martin Logan Motion 12 floorstanding speakers
Martin Logan Motion 8 Center Channel
Martin Logan Motion 4 Bookshelf surrounds
Era Designs 10" Subwoofer

These speakers are simply outstanding for their price! They sound even better if you crank them up a bit! The "Motion Tweeter" they have in them images VERY well, and they have plenty of dynamic performance in both movies and music.

Although I am VERY satisfied with my current speakers, I am DROOLING over the Atlantic Technologies AT-1 speakers...I may take a look at upgrading after I replace my screen and AVR.

Power Conditioning
Panamax M5400PM
Wow! I simply CAN NOT believe how much better my system is with this attached! I upgraded from a Panamax M5300EX, and INSTANTLY saw an improvement in my picture quality and sharpness! This was unexpected, as I have a DLP set with HDMI digital connections...I simply did not think filtering my power would have such a dramatic effect on my system...but it did! HIGHLY recommended!

Gaming/Multimedia
Xbox 360
Playstation 3

Control issues aside, the PS3 is the best "entry level" Blu-Ray player out there. I also use the Xbox for HBO Go (Game of Thrones) and I have used just about every rental option on both platforms (Vudu, Netflix, Playstation Network, Zune Video store). For picture and sound quality, the prize goes to Vudu, with their HDX movies, it's as close to Blu-Ray as I have seen from a streaming service. Xbox's Zune Market however, gives you a 48 hour viewing period for your rentals, and PERMANENTLY archives any movies or TV shows you purchase! This lets you delete and re-download your purchased videos at will! I really wish everyone would let you do this.

It's tough because Microsoft has the best policies with regards to their store, but they have the noisiest hardware with very poor video and sound quality! (try it! Record an MP3 or play a CD in an XBox, then play the same track on ANYTHING else!) Still, I use both consoles frequently for videos.

Control
RTI XP6 Control Processor
RTI T3V Remote
RTI Android Tablet app

This is truly and incredible control system! I can program my remote and tablet with customized graphics and a customized layout, control my IP enabled devices directly over the network, control my lighting system (Lutron RadioRa2), and integrate everything the way I want it! I jumped on board as soon as they released their Android app...now I can take an inexpensive tablet (I am going to use my hacked NookColor 7" tablet) and have a fully functional touchscreen remote with meta-data feedback! They have come a LONG way in just a few short years...from a company just making "remotes", to a full fledged control system that rivals anything on the market! And they are one of the few that supports iOS, Android (phones and tablets), as well as a "Virtual Panel" that can be run from a PC!

Now that I have my control system, my next upgrade is going to be to put all of my equipment in a rack, and hide it all either in a closet or in the back corner of the room. I still have a LOT of work to go to get it "perfect", but what fun is a finished system?

davey49's picture

I've spent ~$2500 for my Home Theater, but that was back in 2002-2005
Think $1000 for a 32" no name LCD with only one DVI input.
Speakers are good (Polk), AV Receiver is OK but difficult to use (Sony)

Deckard's picture

In my opinion, year is not important. The most important thing is that you get enjoyment out of using it. If it isn't broken there is no need to fix, or in the case of home theater, replace. However, if you are starting to eye new equipment, there is an abundance of great gear available at just about every price point.

Jiminhno's picture

With a little research and knowledge you can obtain a great looking and soundIng home theatre system
Use your ears... And eyes...
My current setup is Marantz AV7005,Rotel Rmb-1075, PSB Image T6,T5,C5,and a couple Psb 6i subs
Panasonic 58vt20a plasma. (Yep I'm a Aussie) and gear costs a lot more here...things you do for love.. Lol
Apple tv,Ps3,Xbox 360, toshiba XE1 HD DVD,Panasonic bdp310....... Harmony one remote....floor treatment
RUG!!.... Lol

It's taken me a few years to obtain this gear that's only
Mid level at best but with correct set up im a extremely happy man
And it's money well spent....

yellowc4s's picture

Den
Denon AVP-A1HDCI(a)
Denon POA-A1HDCI
OPPO BDP-83SE
B&W 802D
B&W HTM2D
B&W DS8
JL Audio Fathom F113
Panasonic TCP-65VT25

Bedroom
Denon AVR-5308
Oppo BDP-83SE
B&W M1
Sunfire HRS10(i think)
Wii
Panasonic TCP-58VT25

Guest Room
Denon AVR-1311
Oppo BDP-83
B&W M1
B&W ASW?
Panasonic TCP-42

Car
2012 Audi S5
Factory Head Unit
Mobridge interface
Audison BitOne x2
Arc Audio SE4200 x3
Arc Audio SE2150
Hertz MLK3
Hertz MLK2 TW x2
Hertz MLK2 TM
RE Audio SEX104

mastemaybe's picture

As noted, well cared for gear is where it's at. Folks of our ilk are notorious for taking primo care of their stuff, and the higher you go up the A/V food chain, the more this nearly neurotic behavior is found, I've discovered.

With a 9G 60" 9G Kuro (purchased new, shipping included, from an authorized dealer for $3100), a Denon 4311 AVR (bought 4 weeks used for $1300), an appletv ($99), a 400 disc Sony BD Changer ($500 with REAL haggling), (6) Crown XLS 1500 amplifiers (bought in "bulk' from a local authorized dealer for $1800), a Panamax 5400M (ebay: $300), a Niles S-1230 12 channel amp for 3 interior/exterior zones NEW: $200 off ebay), and an 11 channel Definitive Technology speaker array consisting of BP 2000's up front ($600 used), a CLR 3000 for the center ($400), (2) pairs of BPVX's (ebay purchase through liquidator ($1500 for all 4)), a pair of BP 20's (used, $300), a pair of in-wall UIW 65's ($275 from said liquidator) and a JTR Captivator and Crown XS 900 I paid $1800 for, total, I guess I could push it further some how, but I'm REALLY happy right now. Perhaps another sub and a PJ down the road.:)

I figure I saved nearly $6,000 in loudspeakers alone.

It (buying used) was a big leap for a guy who always bought his equipment new, but once you realize what you REALLY want is simply a bit out of your reach ($), you find out just how amazing measured, finicky, second-hand shopping can be.

I'd invite all my other nutty A/V comrades to do the same!

ca1ore's picture

Couldn't agree more about buying used gear. I've probably bought and sold over 100 components in my time in the hobby with only 2 probems - one on something I bought and one on something I sold where the buyer took exception to my rating on the unit ($50 bucks back fixed the problem). It is a badge of honor for most people in the hobby to both take care of the gear and represent it accurately in a sale. Fortunately, the vast majority of the scammers are blindingly obvious and easily avoided.

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