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Can Building Your Own Home Theatre Actually Save You Money?

Recently the Cineplex theatre chain has joined with Bell’s controversial motion which would allow internet service providers to block websites that provide copyrighted content. Opponents believe allowing ISP’s to censor this content is a violation of free speech and could be a slippery slope to other types of content becoming blocked. While we will leave the political punditry to the experts, It’s easy to see however why Cineplex would be in favor of this ban. Currently, it’s extremely easy to watch movies online from legal low-cost services like Netflix or Amazon Prime, but also from grey area “pirated” sites used by Android media boxes and the Kodi software. It’s this latter portion that has Cineplex concerned, as many of the new movies that are still in theatres are available to stream and download (though often they are of a lower quality or contain subtitles). If more Canadians are staying home and watching Netflix or their Android box, it could seriously hurt their business. Many people question if the recent decline in ticket sales, however, is actually due to digital piracy, or the high cost of going to the theatre. This week we will crunch some numbers and look at how much it costs to go to a movie, and whether it may actually be more affordable to build your own home cinema!

Tickets
The cost of tickets has skyrocketed in recent years, thanks to the advent of 3D and VIP cinema options. As of March 2018, 4 movie tickets (2 adults, 2 children) will set you back between $45-$89 depending on whether you care about 3D, AVX sound, or Dbox seating. 4 tickets to the VIP theatres (19+ only) will set you back $103.96!

Concession
Even more shocking than the ticket price, is the price for simple snacks. Looking at current theatre combo’s, 4 Regular drinks, 4 Regular Bags of Popcorn (not including extra butter) and 2 small bags of candy costs $57.98 (which we are hoping includes taxes).

So at the cheapest, you are looking at spending about $103/night to enjoy a movie in a theatre with your family, without 3D or extra butter on your popcorn, and with the possibility of kids kicking the back of your seat. If you typically head to the movies once a month, you’d be spending over $1200/year at the theatre, and if you go weekly, that’s almost $5000/year!

Getting Cinema Quality Sound At Home

When the cost of the going to the theatre with your family can cost anywhere from $1200-$5000 a year, building your own home theatre looks pretty attractive, and affordable by comparison. A good home theatre will last you many years and provide countless nights of low-cost entertainment for your family.

We’ve discussed how to create a great Hi-Fi system for under $1000 in the past, here we will expand on that in the context of a film primary home theatre system. For the purposes of this article, we will assume that you already own a TV, and focus on providing the best audio experience for your new home theatre.

The foundation of your home theatre will be a strong 2.1 channel audio system. Getting a good quality left speaker, right speaker, and subwoofer will ensure a great sound for film & music. Most enthusiasts agree it’s far more enjoyable to experience a high quality 2.1 channel system than a cheap 5.1 or 7.1 channel system. The best thing about building your home theatre is that you don’t have to build it all at once. Piece it together over time as your budget allows, and you can always upgrade in the future!

All About That Bass

Starting your system with a decent subwoofer is essential to get that cinema-quality sound, and starting with a good sub from the start means you won’t have to be worried about underpowered bass down the road. We recommend the Paradigm DSP Series 10″ SubWoofer. Paradigm is an excellent brand of Canadian made speakers, known for their high-quality components. The DSP 10″ Sub retails for $799.

Stereo Time
monitor audio bronze2 speakers
Rounding out our 2.1 system will be a pair of front speakers. There are a few options, first starting with whether you want bookshelf of tower speakers. If you are in a smaller room, we would recommend a pair of bookshelf speakers, as you will be able to utilize the crossover on your subwoofer to fill out the low end. Typically, you will get a higher quality bookshelf than an equivalently priced tower speaker. However, if you are in a medium-large size room, having a pair of tower speakers with a more full frequency range will be beneficial. Keep in mind that bookshelf speakers may require stands which will add to your end cost. There is a benefit to keeping all of your home theatre speakers in the same brand and series so they are a better sonic match. If you plan on utilizing bookshelf speakers for your front mains we recommend the Monitor Audio Bronze 2 Speakers. For towers, we recommend the Paradigm Monitor 7 or Monitor 9 series. These range between $649-$1200/pair and are a great choice for your front speakers.

Receiver
You’ll need a surround sound capable receiver to control all of your components. Receivers will have a variety of functions, ranging from how many speakers you can control (2, 5, 7, 9, 11), how many HDMI inputs for video they include, some include internet connections to directly stream music from sources like Spotify or Tidal, and some may connect to other speakers through wireless connections. For the purposes of this article, we are going to recommend the Denon AVR-S530BT 5.2 Ch Receiver. What this receiver lacks in advanced features (Wifi) it makes up for in amazing sound quality at a great price, $350. While it doesn’t have the ability to stream music directly from the internet, it does have Bluetooth functionality so you can wirelessly play music from your smartphone, or computer.

Completing The Surround Sound System

Centre channel speaker
Now that you have a solid 2.1 system, you can now expand to a full 5.1 Surround sound system with the addition of centre, and 2 rear speakers. The centre channel is important as it allows the dialog to be played through its own speaker, making it easier to hear what the actors are saying, even during loud scenes. Based on which front speakers you chose, we recommend sticking with that series and filling out your surround sound system with a centre channel and rear bookshelf speakers.

bookshelf speakers

Depending on whether you chose Monitor Audio or Paradigm, your new 5.1 channel cinema-style surround sound system would cost between $2600-$2900, or the cost seeing about 25 movies. Of course, this system can be enjoyed by your family every day, for years to come.

Do you have any questions about installing a home theatre system in your home? Be sure to contact an AVU partner near you!

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