What’s on your home theater wishlist? Do you wish you could ask a home theater professional what they would use if they were planning a home theater room?
Here are the top 12 home theater recommendations from our team of home theater professionals at Utah’s Advanced Integrated Systems (AIS).
Home Theater Wishlist
- Wired components
- Future-proof wiring
- Hidden/invisible speakers
- Dolby Atmos surround sound
- High-quality subwoofer
- Great acoustic panels
- Sony projector
- High-quality screen
- Enterprise network
- Kaleidescape streaming
- Great lighting and lighting control
- Integrated home theater control
If you’re looking to create the ultimate home theater wishlist, you’ll want to avoid wireless components where possible. The reason is simple: wireless technologies like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi introduce potential lag and interference that can disrupt the audio/visual experience. Wired speakers and projectors provide a more direct connection that is less likely to be affected by these issues. In addition, wired connections typically offer higher quality than wireless, so you’ll get better sound and picture with a wired setup.
Our Wired vs. Wireless Component Advice: If you want a consistent experience, go with wired components.
Wire your home theater like you are wiring it for 8k. We’re still ways out from 8K technology, but 8K is realistic, and it is coming. Design your theater room to be ready for 8K. We recommend having all of the right pre-wiring so your network and components can give you the 8K experience when it is readily available.
Our 8k Wiring Advice: Because 8k is so close, the worst move you can make is to design your system to only be able to handle what is available now. Prepare for the future. Make sure the wiring backbone is capable for years to come and technology to come. It will save you time and money.
Traditional speakers can be bulky and intrusive, ruining the aesthetic of your room. Invisible speakers, on the other hand, offer superior sound quality without sacrificing style. Because they are mounted flush with the ceiling or walls, they blend in seamlessly with your décor.
Our Speaker Splurge: One splurge for a cool-looking theater room is invisible speakers. Giving yourself that immersive experience without being able to see the speakers will give you more control over your theater room’s aesthetics.
Dolby-Atmos Surround Sound
For anyone who loves movies, Dolby Atmos is a must on your home theater wishlist. This technology provides a much fuller sound than traditional surround sound systems. It uses multiple speakers to create a true 360-degree sound field. This adds an incredible sense of immersion to the movie-watching experience, and it’s one of the reasons why Dolby Atmos is such a crucial part of the best home theater setups. Dolby Atmos is a must-have if you’re looking to take your home theater to the next level.
Our Surround Sound Splurge: The biggest splurge will be for Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers. These provide the immersive experience you desire when considering the movie theater experience.
To create a truly immersive home theater experience, add a high-quality subwoofer to your home theater wishlist. A subwoofer’s low-frequency bass sounds, like explosions, are essential for creating a realistic and exciting movie-watching experience. In addition, having multiple subwoofers can enhance the home theater experience by creating a more evenly distributed soundscape. This makes viewers feel like they are right in the middle of the action.
Our Subwoofer Splurge: By investing in a high-quality subwoofer (like JL subwoofers) you can ensure that your home theater will provide an unforgettable experience.
Great Acoustic Panels
Smart acoustics can turn a theater room into a home theater experience. Acoustic panels on the wall help optimize the sound. Sound dampening also contributes to a better listening experience by keeping good sound in the room, and preventing unwanted sounds and vibrations from the rest of the home from entering.
Our Acoustics Advice: Focus on keeping sound out, keeping sound in, and optimizing the sound that you keep in. Reduce echoing with carpet, rugs, or floor mats. If you want to have a great experience, at least incorporate some kind of acoustic paneling. Sound isolation clips can also help.
There are many budget-friendly projector options, but with projectors, you get what you pay for. Some of those budget-friendly projectors are 4K capable, but once again, 4 K-enabled technology doesn’t guarantee a great picture.
Our Projector Advice: We would always recommend a higher-quality option for projectors. Sony leads the market in projectors perfect for a home theater wishlist. We have some options available with other brands, but we recommend investing in a great 4k projector from Sony. They aren’t just your average classroom projector.
High-Quality Projector Screen
Don’t just hang a sheet on the wall. If you want a top-quality picture, get a top-quality projector screen. The great part about projector screens is the number of options. For a dedicated theater room, a fixed screen is usually the most practical because you would never need the screen to be out of the way. But, if it’s a multi-purpose room where the screen is needed out of the way from time to time, you’ll want a motorized screen.
Our Projector Screen Splurge: If you want more of the Broadway theater feel for the TV, you could also splurge on a motorized curtain that covers your screen.
Streaming quality has an enormous impact on modern home theaters. That’s why we stress so much the importance of wired systems. Your home theater system will demand a great network to push 4K & 8K. To meet those network demands you will need a great wired network with high-quality components.
Most people don’t think twice about the quality of their home network when streaming a movie or playing an online game. However, it’s important to have an enterprise-quality network if you’re trying to set up a home theater.
Enterprise-quality networks are more reliable than consumer-grade ones. They are designed to handle large amounts of data without slowing down. While they were designed for businesses, enterprise networks can also be used in homes to create a truly immersive experience.
If you’re planning on streaming high-definition video and audio in your new theater room, an enterprise-quality network is the ideal way to create a home theater that will truly impress your friends and family.
Our Network Recommendation: If you’re serious about setting up a home theater, ensure you have an enterprise-quality network. It’ll make a world of difference in your viewing and listening experience.
Kaleidescape is the best option for streaming movie theater quality pictures and audio. Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ are great, but they aren’t optimized for theater quality.
Our Streaming Splurge: Kaleidescape is something we wouldn’t even hesitate splurging on for your 2023 home theater wishlist. Most popular streaming services will have a few optimized options, but everything on Kaleidescape is optimized for the best home theater experience possible.
Great Lighting and Control
Obviously, the movie experience is better with the lights off, but a completely dark theater isn’t exactly the best choice. That’s why dimmable lighting is a must for a great theater. Being able to light the room up completely to clean up or set things up is convenient. To adjust the lighting how you want it, dimmers are crucial.
Wall sconces on the side wall are a great way to provide soft light that is pointed up the wall. Overhead lighting will allow you to light the whole room for cleaning and getting everyone situated. LED light strips are great for lighting pathways, the back of the screen, and under the seating. They add a great effect, and when placed behind a screen helps improve the viewing comfort, and help your eyes see the picture even better.
Dimmable, automated lighting from Lutron you can ease your eyes back into normal lighting so you don’t get hit by bright lights all of a sudden.
Our Lighting Splurge: One of the coolest splurges for your home theater is LED lighting. Adding LED light behind a projector screen in the ceiling, behind acoustic panels, and on the floor will kick up the quality of a theater-like crazy. They even have LED pathway lights that light up when they sense movement, so your pathway is lit while you walk in or out of the room.
Read More: Home Theater Lighting Ideas
Integrated Home Theater Control
Nobody wants to navigate thirty-eight remotes just to watch a movie. A theater with all the bells and whistles is great, but the inconvenience of dealing with a remote for each component can make the experience needlessly annoying.
There are so many media control centers you can go with. We install a ton of Apple TV devices in our theaters. It’s a great way to get all the streaming apps in one place.
Our Integration Advice: Tying everything into one control system can improve the experience. Being able to control every component from one remote, one app, and one platform will have an enormous impact on the home theater experience. One of the most convenient ways is to program everything into an ELAN control system. You can control everything with the ELAN app or the remote control. That will give you control of what device you are watching, playing, or listening to with the push of one button. You will have control of lighting, shades, and projector screen from there as well. That same remote can control the volume of your surround sound as well.
Curious about Elan Control Systems? Check out some of our tutorials.
Install Your Home Theater Wishlist with AIS
Now that you know the different home theater must-haves and what to look for when choosing them, it is time to start planning! If you are unsure where to start or need help setting up a home theater, our team of experts at AIS can help.
Visit our budget calculator to get an idea of your home theater’s cost, or contact us to get started on your project. Our team will work with you to create a home theater perfect for your space, needs, and budget.