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Podcast #900: Five Items Every Home Theater Needs that Cost Less than $500

We love our home theaters and want to get the most out of them that we can. This list is not about the actual AV parts, Display, Receiver, Speakers, etc, but more about things that will help you enjoy your home theater more.

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Five Items Every Home Theater Needs that Cost Less than $500

We love our home theaters and want to get the most out of them that we can. This list is not about the actual AV parts, Display, Receiver, Speakers, etc, but more about things that will help you enjoy your home theater more.

Lighting - Wall sconces that can be dimmed when watching TV/Movies add a dramatic element to any viewing experience. If you currently have sconces you can make them programmable by adding smart bulbs. If you don’t they are fairly easy to add by yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that you may need to hire an electrician and do some drywall repair which will raise the cost and make it cost more than $500. But for this list we assume you are all DIYers and we’ll leave it on the list!

Bass Shaker System - We have spent thousands of dollars on all kinds of equipment over the years and this one item has had the most impact on our viewing experience. You really FEEL the action. An added plus is that it can be had for less than $300. Here is a brief video on Ara’s Setup. Ara’s Bass Shaker Setup and Install Video.

Surge Protectors/Power Conditioners - This is not very glamorous but so essential. At the very least every home theater setup should have surge protectors. Protecting your expensive electronics doesn't cost much as well. Good protectors can be found at Costco for about $25. If you have noisy power lines a Power conditioner can help clean it up and improve your audio and video. They cost a bit more than surge suppressors. This one by Furman goes from about $180. There are others for much less.

Universal Remote Control - This may be the most annoying part of the home theater experience. Why the AV community can’t get together and define a remote control standard is beyond us? There should be one TV on and off command that all TVs respond to. Done then every remote could control every device. Maybe someday. Until then look into getting a universal remote like Harmony. They make physical remotes as well as an app for your phone. If you are good with only being able to control your home theater with a tablet or phone consider the simplecontrol app. This can set you back as high as $350 but there are lower cost options as well.

Acoustic Treatments - Acoustic management can make good home theaters sound great and great home theaters sound amazing. Today you can buy sound absorbing panels that enhance the decor of your room so it's more than just an audio improvement. You can spend more than $500 here but we feel that a few panels placed in the right spots can improve you Home theater for less than $500.  Some resources GIK Acoustics, AcousticMac, and Home Depot just to name a few.




Download Episode #900

Reader Comments (2)

Hey guys –

I’ve been a listener from somewhere around show #50, so congratulations on reaching 900.

You read a letter about stacking LCD projectors and wondered if it would be possible. I can tell you that it is, and we do that sort of thing all the time. I work in the AV industry for a company that produces corporate shows and events at hotels and convention centers. If you’ve ever attended a company event in a hotel ballroom with big screens and lots of company specific decorations around the room and stage, I am in charge of the crews that set up, operate, and take down all the gear to make those events possible. Stacking and blending projectors to make the images brighter is very common. We hire a projectionist whose job is to take two stacked projectors and make sure they are displaying exactly the same image pixel for pixel. He may also need to blend projectors, which is when two or more projectors are used to display an extra wide image. The edges of the two images must be precisely lined up so the displayed image appears to be seamless. Sometimes he will need to do both of these together, and it can take hours to finish. The biggest screen I’ve personally seen was over 200 feet wide and 50 feet tall. They used stacked projectors in 6 sections across the width of the screen, for a total of 12 projectors. Each pair of projectors had to be matched precisely with each other, and then blended with the stack next to it.

This is all done with high end professional gear. Christie and Barco projectors are very common, and if you think those are expensive don’t even ask about the lenses on them. Could it be done with consumer level projectors? Theoretically yes, but they may not have the precision in their adjustments to make the images match up perfectly. That is something I do not know.

Jeff (from Dallas TX)

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

I just wanted to make a comment about the fees for unlimited data with Comcast/Xfinity. My family has been cord cutters for several years now, relying on streaming for our varied tastes. Between a family of four with multiple game consoles, PCs and Macs, different streaming services, etc. there was no way we could stay under 1TB/mpnth downloads, even if we were still subscribed to cable. A while ago, I bit the bullet with Xfinity/Comcast and paid the extra $50/month for unlimited data. However, a few months ago, I got frustrated with our bill and went down to our local office. Ended up being a big savings

Turns out that if we used their latest xFi router at a $15/month rental, they'd include unlimited data. So basically, I saved $35/month ($15 vs $50/month). The best thing about this for me is that their xFi router is a standalone unit, but it also serves as the hub for a mesh network setup. They offer mesh "pods" for an outright charge (no monthly rental, just an outright purchase). Their mesh network setup is apparently based on tech from Plume, which does wifi diagnostics/evaluations. I live in a long ranch home, and I've never been able to get wifi coverage across my entire home from a single router. (Had been using a second router as an access point.) But after using the xFil router for a month, I got an email from Comcast that said the network diagnostics suggested I could benefit from the mesh pods, and they'd send me a set of three for free.

Been working great so far, and I've saved a bunch of money. Anyway, just wanted to suggest a potential savings for you guys and anyone else doing heavy streaming.

June 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSean

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