When it comes to luxury home theaters, getting the cheapest bargain isn’t high on the agenda. It’s almost the antithesis of what a custom home theater is all about. It’s much more important to equip the room with quality products that will stand the test of time and provide an experience that goes above and beyond expectations.
In this article, we detail how to use a generous budget to heighten performance and comfort, rather than wasting it on over-priced products that won’t last and are often not fully functional. We’ll also touch on priorities when budgeting for a luxury home cinema experience and where it’s wisest to splurge.
1. Focus on warranties and quality guarantees
It’s surprising how many people skim research and fail to miss warning signs when it comes to “luxury” products. Try not to get distracted by flashy pictures and false promises, it’s a good idea to dig deeper than the first layer of marketing before spending.
Expensive equipment and furniture should be of extraordinarily high quality, customizable, and come with substantial warranties. Judging the quality of a project from pictures alone can be tricky; we recommend visiting showrooms, requesting samples and seeking out real reviews and testimonials.
Any home theater company worth the money it’s asking will be more than happy to answer extensive questions and have knowledgeable customer care teams who can help buyers navigate their catalog.
A custom home theater is an investment, and it’s wise to work with passionate professionals to source the right materials. The CEDIA website offers a list of trusted brands, products, and professionals that are all dedicated to excellence in the home theater industry.
2. Budgeting for sound isn’t all about the speakers
It’s easy to get excited by the specs on high-end speakers, but don’t let it distract from less glamorous aspects of building a home cinema like acoustic paneling. To create a truly immersive home theater experience the luxury is in the detail, and sound is no exception to that rule. Spreading the budget across all aspects of the sound experience is going to make a massive difference to the overall sound quality.
Soundproofing the room with insulation and paneling is only step one, there are also doors and windows to consider. And when the room is ready for speakers and subwoofers — there’s budgeting for custom ways to conceal or display them. Designers and A/V Integrators spend a lot of time figuring out how to get the best sound quality through carefully mapped out speaker layouts.
In our blog about best practices for layout in home theater, we talk about some of the challenges designers face when it comes to sound design in home theaters.
3. Home theater controls define the home theater experience
If the goal is a luxury theater experience then allocating a decent chunk of the budget to automation is critical. The alternative is a room where people fumble for light switches, struggle to turn on the system and silently curse the complicated looking remote control.
The best solution for making a home cinema easy to manage is to have a dedicated tablet that is simple to use and is home to a range of easy to use options. The device should connect to everything: lights, blinds, temperature, A/V equipment, etc., and can be set up in such a way that it’s not complicated to use.
Presetting different “scenes” will mean that at the touch of a button that says “Watch Movie Mode”: lights will dim, blinds will lower, and the display will turn on. It can take a bit of time to set up but is worth it as it dials the overall experience up about ten notches.
When considering which control systems to use — we recommend experts like Lutron. Their systems are intuitive and make for seamless user experiences, and there are all sorts of custom solutions so that it’s easy to get creative with lighting options. Even if a full custom control system is out of the question, Lutron has software programs that allow users to easily dim lights and control the room’s ambiance through an app on their tablet or phone.
To find out more about how control systems impact home theater performance, we recommend reading our blog with A/V experts Moseley electronics about upgrading a home theater.
4. Getting the best display involves more than an expensive screen
Screens come with lots of impressive features, and it’s easy to throw money at them and assume a great movie watching experience will follow. Alas, the screen is only the finishing touch when it comes to this part of the home theater puzzle. It may seem counterintuitive to split the budget between different elements of the display, but that’s what we suggest.
Getting the best possible signal to the display can be tricky. It’s worth spending money to make sure the processing system (DVD/Blue Ray reader) is of the most exceptional so that the image relayed to the screen does the film justice. Sony is trusted by the industry when it comes to reliable, high-quality projectors and players.
We’re not saying neglect the screen; it’s equally important. Stewart Filmscreen sets the standard when it comes to excellent displays. From custom sizing to screen finishes, their website is a welcome resource for those who are unsure of what to look for in a luxury display.
In this blog about placing a home theater in a castle, there are some interesting points made about why the projector is such an essential part of the display.
5. Buy home theater seating that will outlive the equipment
Technology changes quickly, so in ten years, most technology will need to be replaced by newer and faster models. Luckily, humans take a lot longer to evolve and so a high-quality chair that’s comfortable today is still going to be comfortable ten years down the line. One of the biggest mistakes we see in home theaters is choosing the wrong seating and having to have expensive seats ripped out two or three years down the line.
Uncomfortable chairs are the easiest way to ruin a luxury experience. Nobody wants to suffer lower back aches or find themselves fidgeting as they try to settle back to enjoy a movie. The easiest way to prevent this is to invest in quality chairs first. Many of the best home theater designers prioritize seating above all else and use it to inform the rest of their plan.
Make sure the seating offers a remarkable warranty, durable fabric, top class mechanisms and is designed to last. We’ve developed the Diamond Elite Certification to define what it is that sets the best home theater seating apart.
6. Hire experts at the layout stage
DIY may be the name of the game, but don’t let that get in the way of hiring professional home theater consultants during the planning and layout phase. Whether or not a design team manages the entire process, it’s wise to get sound advice from people who work on luxury home theaters every single day.
As experts, they can spot roadblocks, help with designing the right layout, and point the functionality of the room in the right direction. They should also have a backlog of trusted partners and will often be able to recommend the brands and tools that make designing home theaters easier for them.
A luxury home theater is going to require a generous sum of money, so invest wisely in the early stages to ensure the whole process runs smoothly.
Find out more about designing luxury and custom home theaters on our blog. Check out this post about theater design resources that offers plenty of inspiration and also our handy guide on how to choose the right paint for custom home theaters.