If you have a spare bedroom, you’ve probably dreamt of turning it into a home cinema or media room.
While you might be confused as to what you will need, it’s exactly fairly easy to build a home cinema. Plus you can always start with budget-friendly options.
So let’s explore how to build a home cinema and the costs involved.
Basic home cinema system
There is only four key component you need to build a home cinema system. These consist of a display, media player, amplifier and speakers.
There’s a big debate in amongst home cinema enthusiasts when it comes to displays. There’s are two main camps.
In one corner, you have the people who use 70 inches or larger 4k HD TV as their display. The other corner believes using a TV leads to a poor viewing experience and so the only display they will ever use is a projector and screen.
There’s also a few who combine both a TV for day to day viewing with a projector and screen for a movie watching.
While it comes down to personal preference, you need to bear in mind that projectors cost money to maintain. Simply put, bulbs aren’t cheap. Also if you’re using a projector then your room needs to be of a certain size in order to get a decent size image on the screen.
Both of these issues don’t exist with a TV. However old films do not scale correctly for TV and therefore leave black strips at the top and bottom of the screen. This can create a less than optimum viewing experience.
In addition to a display, you’ll need at least a DVD player. Of course, if you also have a Blu-ray collection, then you’ll need a media player which can handle both formats.
The typical AV receiver allows us to route audio and visuals while powering the speakers. Think of this bit of kit as the brains.
Before buying any old AV receiver, you need to consider how many inputs you’ll need, what display output(s) you require and whether you need the unit to power speakers. On the last point, you will need to decide how powerful you need the amplifier section to be and if you want 5.1 or 7.1 sounds.
Of course, there are many more elements to consider when purchasing an AV receiver but this is a basic list to get you started. You can learn more about AV receivers on the market in our review of 5 which all cost than £300.
While what speakers you will need will depend on your AV receiver and the design of the room. So, it’s worth investing time into listening to a range and deciding what’s best for you.
Say our AV receiver outputs 5.1 surround sound then we need 5 speakers and 1 subwoofer. Typically in a 5.1 configuration, speakers are placed at the front left and right as well as at the back, again on the left and right. The remaining two speakers including the subwoofer are placed under the screen.
You can purchase individual speakers as well as a 5.1 speaker package. Some shops even sell matching AV receiver and speaker package, which may be the best option if you’re starting out on your home cinema adventure!
There are two types of speakers available in-wall, which require mounting in the ceiling or wall and enclosed speakers. With these, you can either screw them into the wall or leave on top of bookcases/media unit and some even come with stands.
Piecing it together
With all of these pieces, all we have to do is wire them together and we have the basis of our home cinema room. Of course, in time you might want to build a rack of sorts to hold all of the gear especially if you decide on using an AV receiver and power amplifiers for the speakers.
Ideally, you’d build a room within a room in order to create a soundproof space for you to enjoy movies watching. However, it’s expensive and is a permanent change.
With that said, most rooms can benefit from wall or ceiling acoustic treatments. As well as soft furnishings and heavier carpet. All of these help control reflections and make the room sound better. It’s worth remembering a room will sound different depending on the number of people in it. Furniture layout can also have a big impact on how a room sounds.
Traditionally, home cinema rooms were fitted with leather recliners. However, as interior designers have re-imagined the space, the oversized leather seats have gone. It’s not uncommon now to see daybeds, sectional sofas or even love seats in home cinema rooms. Of course, you can still use single leather seating.
In order for the best experience, you should consider the layout and where the optimum position is for key items. You don’t want the speaker to project the sound in such a way that only two-seat have good sound. Nor to do you want to find that the blinds don’t fully darken the room and there’s a weird reflection on the screen.
It’s worth trying out a system before drilling and screwing components into walls. This way you can move seats and the speakers as you watch a movie to see if a small change has a big impact. Then you can start to properly install the components in place when you’re happy.
Again, and it’s important to stress this, design the room around your need and viewing habits. If only a few of you will use the space then consider using a smaller number of bigger seats interspersed with small tables in order to make the experience the best it can be.
Ideally, you would want to have one remote which can control multiple elements at the touch of one button. There are many these remotes on the market and if you have a home automation system, then with a bit of work, you should be to integrate the two elements.
Small side tables are also a must! Even if they are just used for holding remotes. If you don’t have somewhere to put drinks and snacks, it could have a negative impact on the movie watching experience.
You can add rubble pads to the seat, which will move with the film. It’s an exciting extra!
How much will it all cost?
The most often question we hear is how much will adding a home cinema room cost. Sadly, there’s no one correct answer as your room, spec and features will be different from the next person.
And while you can spend anywhere from £10,000 to £250,000, it’s likely you’re able to get a good system for a couple of grand if you’re prepared to do most of the work yourself.
It’s also worth noting that many buyers are now looking for a property with a TV snug or cinema room. So, you should be able to realise a good return on any money spent if you ever come to sell up.
Starting your home cinema on a budget
You don’t need to start with the complete system in a fully isolated room.
You can, in fact, start with a good second-hand projector and screen from eBay. These can be paired with a second-hand surround sound DVD player.
This will mean you have all of the basics covered. As you have more cash, you can upgrade to an AV receiver, better speakers and add a Blu-ray player.