If you enjoy watching movies and other types of entertainment but do not have the space or budget for a full-home theater, you can still get many of the same benefits in your living room. Home theater installations can be simple or complex. You can easily install a setup in your living room or family room to enjoy high definition visuals and surround sound. Home theater setups range in placement and scale to customize your experience.
The national average cost for installing a home theater setup is between $10,000 and $50,000. Most people spend $25,000 to install a fixed frame screen LED projector with 7.1 speakers and amplifier, professional wiring, and furniture. This project’s low cost is $1,000 for professionally installing an LCD TV with 5.1 speakers and blackout curtains. The high cost is around $100,000 for the professional installation of a retractable laser projector with a ceiling-mounted surround sound system with Dolby Atmos, soundproofing, furniture, and a popcorn machine.
|Home Theater Setup Cost|
|National average cost||$25,000|
While you can build a complete home theater addition, including flooring, soundproofing, seating, and lighting appropriate for the area, you can also create a home theater setup in an existing room. Add equipment to your living room if you want to enjoy high-def visuals and surround sound. Keep in mind that every setup can be different. Depending on your space and the movies, sports, or games you watch on your system, you may choose to have a higher or lower-quality setup. These result in vastly different costs. The following breakdown helps determine which pieces you may need and the costs. Depending on the setup you choose, you may not need all these pieces.
|Equipment||Cost (Materials Only)|
|Soundbar||$50 - $1,500|
|Wiring||$150 - $650|
|HDTV||$250 - $20,000|
|Projector and Screen||$250 - $37,000|
|Surround Sound System||$350 - $6,200|
Soundbars are beginning to be used in place of surround sound systems. Good soundbars can give you high-quality sound, but many people feel that a full surround sound system is still best. It often depends on taste and budget. Soundbars start at $50 for a smaller unit and reach $1,500 for advanced, multi-function sound bars. Another benefit of a soundbar is that there is no need to set up several speakers. For a simple home theater, a soundbar can offer excellent sound, has fewer cables, and does not take up room with additional speakers. A speaker system takes more work to install and involves more speakers, but many people find the sound better than a soundbar.
Most home theaters have wires running between the various components - the projector or HDTV, receiver, and speakers. If you want to do your own wiring, you can purchase the various cables for around $150 to $650 depending on the type and length of cable you need. However, expect total costs of between $1,000 and $2,500 if you want a professional setup by an electrician so that the wires are concealed and not visible. This includes the cost of the wires and installation, but not any other components. The wiring process involves connecting televisions, projectors, surround sound, and media streaming devices to the home’s electrical system. Home automation devices can also be installed in the theater.
HDTVs are another option to get your visuals for a home theater setup. An HDTV is large enough for home theaters and costs between $250 and $20,000. These are flat-screen TVs with a diagonal width of over 85 inches. They are designed for the best picture with a clarity that can be hard to get even with the best projector and screen combination. HDTVs can be hooked up to various streaming services or computers and are compatible with Apple TV and other devices. Most can also be connected to gaming systems, DVD, and Blu-ray players. Various HDTVs with different prices are listed in the table below for 32- to 77-inch televisions.
|HDTV Type||TV Cost (Unit Only)|
|LCD||$250 - $9,000|
|LED||$300 - $15,000|
|QLED||$450 - $10,800|
|OLED||$500 - $20,000|
Adding a projector set costs $250 to $37,000, which includes the projector and the screen. A projector and screen are an essential part of any home theater setup. A projector allows you to watch movies and TV shows on a large screen, creating a more immersive experience. A good projector also provides clear images and sound. A screen is necessary to get the most out of your projector. It reflects the light from the projector and creates a sharper image. There are a variety of screens on the market, so it is important to choose one that is compatible with your projector and suits your needs.
|Component||Cost (Unit Only)|
|Projector||$110 - $20,000|
|Projector Screen||$140 - $17,000|
Depending on the projector size and resolution, costs range between $140 and $25,000. Projectors start at small models designed to connect to a computer or other input device. Many of today’s models also work via Bluetooth or wirelessly to stream from a nearby source. Deciding on a projector screen requires choosing between mounted and freestanding. One benefit of a freestanding projector is that it can move locations. However, mounted projectors can also be nice if used in one space. Some are mounted on the wall, while others may hang from the ceiling. The screens are often larger with the mounted version. Homeowners also need to consider projector technology. The options include DLP, LCD, LED, LCoS, and laser. DLP has little motion blur and good color accuracy with a cost starting at $110, while LCD has high light output, great color, and excellent black levels for $200 or more. LED also starts at about $300, includes a long light life, needs little maintenance, and is energy efficient. LCoS projectors have a great contrast ratio, excellent black levels, and superb image quality at $500 or more. The laser has excellent black levels, a great contrast ratio, and a bright image with good color for $1,000 or more. Aside from the type of screen, the main factor affecting the price of the unit is the supported streaming resolution. There are several resolutions available, most commonly XGA (1024 x 768 pixels), WXGA (1280 x 800 pixels), HD (1920 x 1080 pixels), 4K (4096 x 2160 pixels), 8K (7680 X 4320 pixels), and some can have 16K (15360 X 8640 pixels).
|Projector||Cost (Unit Only)|
|DLP||$110 - $1,500|
|LCD||$200 - $7,000|
|LED||$300 - $10,000|
|LCoS||$500 - $15,000|
|Laser||$1,000 - $20,000|
Screens go hand in hand with projectors, offering a more common home theater experience. There are three types of screen projectors available for home theaters. They come in several sizes and have different attributes. These range from basic temporary screens to robust retractable fiberglass and premium screens with visual enhancement. Portable screens can cost just $140 but are not suitable for regular use. Instead, a retractable screen can be found for $550 or more and is more durable with a better picture.
|Screen||Cost (Unit Only)|
|Portable||$140 - $8,000|
|Fixed Frame||$300 - $15,000|
|Retractable / Electric||$550 - $17,000|
Surround sound systems are made up of various components to make it feel like the sound is playing all around you. This provides an immersive experience and feels like a movie theater. Surround sound systems are made up of many pieces, from the speakers and subwoofers to the receivers that coordinate everything. There are several layouts you can set up your home theater surround sound, with the most common being a 5.1. Setup and a 7.1 setup. 5.1 surround sound systems have two speakers behind, two in front, and one in the center, with one subwoofer and start at $350 for a basic setup. If you want to buy more advanced speakers and a subwoofer, your costs can go up to $5,000 for a 5.1. surround sound layout. 7.1 systems is a larger setup for which costs start at $450 for the seven speakers and one subwoofer but can go up to $6,200.
While most surround sound systems are sold as a package with everything you need, you can create your own system piecemeal. It is usually recommended to purchase a system designed to work together, but you can buy the components separately. Speakers and subwoofers are similar in that they play sound. However, the subwoofer is used for low frequencies, and speakers handle mid and high-range frequencies. The amplifier takes the signals and makes them loud enough to power the speakers. Receivers are similar to amplifiers because they amplify sound but also have a radio built into them. Prices for these items range from $50 for a basic speaker to $4,000 for a premium-quality receiver.
|Component||Cost (Unit Only)|
|Speakers||$50 - $600|
|Subwoofer||$100 - $2,000|
|Amplifiers||$150 - $2,200|
|Receivers||$200 - $4,000|
You can have each component of your home theater professionally installed. Many audio/visual suppliers who sell this type of equipment also install it. You can have some components installed by a handyman, with installations of projectors, screens, and TVs being very common. It is recommended to have your sound system installed by a professional electrician. They can find the correct placement for your system for the best results.
|Installation||Cost (Labor only)|
|Projector and Screen||$100 - $650|
|TV||$100 - $800|
|Sound System||$300 - $2,000|
The cost to install a projector and screen is between $100 and $650. This is usually a fairly simple installation. The screens are lightweight and easy to hang, usually going up in minutes. The projector is usually installed in a bracket on the wall opposite the screen or from the ceiling above. However, you need an electrical supply in the area in either case. An outlet can be installed for about $120 to $200 if there is not one already there. This increases the installation’s cost. The installation can be done fairly quickly if you already have an outlet, with the bracket mounted to a stud, and the projector secured.
HDTV installations range from $100 to $800. Large-screen TVs are heavy and designed to mount on the wall. Most come with a mounting kit but require proper installation to ensure they can safely hang. You may also need an outlet or cable installed in this area. Costs vary depending on whether the TV requires bracing behind it and whether an outlet or other electronics need to be installed. Larger-screen TVs usually cost more to mount than smaller flat-screen TVs because they need more support.
Surround sound installation costs $300 to $2,000, depending on the installation type. When having your speakers placed and installed on brackets on the walls or ceiling, your costs are closer to $500. If you have your speakers installed inside the walls or ceiling, your costs can be considerably higher. Likewise, if you need the wires hidden or require outlets or electrical supply near the receiver or any speakers, your costs are higher. Your costs also increase if you need design services. This is the process of having the technician help determine the best layout and system type for optimal results.
Home theater add-ons range from $65 for a popcorn machine to $20,000 to add several sets of furniture pieces to a home theater. While there are necessary items for a home theater to make movie watching possible, many homeowners also enjoy add-on components. Some popular add-ons for a home theater include blackout curtains or blinds, accent lighting, popcorn machines, furniture, soundproofing, and carpet installation. Many of these items make the space more comfortable, while others simply add to the home theater aesthetic. For example, soundproofing is usually added to prevent noises from other rooms from reaching the home theater, helping improve the sound quality inside the theater. On the other hand, popcorn machines can help bring ambiance to the room and a more real movie theater experience.
|Popcorn Machine||$65 - $600|
|Blackout Curtains||$75 - $400|
|Lighting||$150 - $2,500|
|Furniture||$500 - $20,000|
|Carpet||$700 - $3,600|
|Soundproofing||$1,200 - $10,000|
Wireless home theater setups cost between $250 to $4,000 for the soundbar, receiver, speakers, and subwoofers. These systems do not include the projector and screen or the HDTV but focus solely on the sound system setup. They come in several types. Some connect to your home’s Smart system or hub, while others work via satellite. Some also work via Bluetooth. You can mix and match components like any other home theater setup, but it is recommended that you purchase a package to know that all the components work together. You should also make sure that the wireless package you choose is compatible with your preferred viewing setup.
Many homeowners enjoy designing a home theater. There are many ways to distinguish a theater from the home. For example, many people shy away from using dark paint colors, but those are excellent in a theater. It makes the room dim and cozy like a movie theater should be. Colors like navy blue and charcoal gray often make a good choice. Creativity can also be used in other ways. Home theaters can be set up with recliners, sofas, or other seating a homeowner enjoys.
Movie posters are another design element that many enjoy using. These can be on the walls or the hallway leading to it as a grand entrance that makes the room more eye-catching. For those who have a room with windows, consider blackout curtains to ensure the space is dark for films during the day. A statement ceiling can also go a long way. Paint stars, use textured tiled, or insert cove lighting.
Some people enjoy adding a home concession stand with a popcorn maker, bar, and candy selection. This area can also allow you to use bold carpeting you cannot in other spaces. Look for fun patterns and intense colors that match the other parts. There are numerous ways to design a home theater. Consider your options and budget, and choose something that appeals to you.
If you want to experience a home theater, you can create a dedicated room. This can be a new home addition or a converted room, such as a basement. These rooms can cost $20,000 to $70,000 and include soundproofing, theater chairs and furniture, carpeting, and lighting to enhance your viewing experience.
Costs for a home theater control system range from $50 to $250, depending on the system. If you want to enhance your viewing experience, adding a control system may be what you need. This system can dim the lights, adjust the volume, and start and stop the picture. These can be Bluetooth and voice-activated, or you can purchase a wired hub. They give you ultimate control over the room.
Adding a Dolby Atmos surround sound system costs $250 to $2,300. If you have an average-sized room and want the best audio experience, this setup provides the best performance. Dolby Atmos uses reflectivity to create a natural, lifelike sound that envelops the listener, achieving this by reflecting sound off the ceiling and walls, creating a more realistic sense of space and immersion. Additionally, it allows for object-based mixing so that sounds can be placed anywhere in the three-dimensional soundscape. Dolby Atmos can be set in any surround system layout, including 5.1 and 7.1, with two or four additional Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers, allowing a more realistic and effective mix than traditional methods.
Basic setups include surround sound, a receiver, and a projector and screen or an HDTV, along with the necessary wiring. Other items might include an antenna or cable box, disc player, media streamer, and DVD recording devices.
It depends on the setup. A complete home theater room is seen as a luxury, while home theater setups in a living room can be removed when you move out. A room dedicated to a home theater can boost resale value for buyers who enjoy indoor activities.
For most households, 5.1 will be adequate. 7.1 is only necessary for much larger spaces. A 5.1 surround sound system has 6 channels going into 6 speakers, while a 7.1 has 8 channels. The extra sound channels improve sound quality to some degree.
Netflix works with 5.1 and 7.1 setups. Some movies are also set up for Dolby Atmos, but this is on a case-by-case basis. Netflix is made for a 5.1 setup but works fine with a 7.1 configuration.