Building a home theater can be one of the most rewarding experiences you can have if you’re a fan of movies, immersive television or gaming, as it can improve your experience of all and any of those immeasurably. If you have the space to dedicate to some of your favorite media consumption, then you can build something truly great that caters to you and your tastes in a way that can bring you real joy every time you indulge.
The ultimate home theater is a little bit different for everyone too, so it’s important to consider what you want most from your media viewing experience. A big TV might seem obvious, but it’s got to fit into your space and budget—our list of the best TVs can help there. Dedicated sound is also important, but so is a comfy chair. Maybe you want a fridge nearby, mood lighting or plush curtains to make it feel like a movie theater—just don’t forget to consider the acoustics.
Whatever kind of home theater you’re looking to build, there are some important components you’ll want to consider. Here are the big ones, with options for those with larger and smaller budgets so that you can pick and choose the perfect products for your ideal home theater.
The Best TVs For Your Home Theater Centerpiece
The Richest Viewing Experience Available
LG G1 Series 77-Inch OLED TV
The centerpiece of any home theater will always be the screen you watch and play everything on. Today’s high-end televisions are massive, gorgeous, and offer a fantastic experience no matter what you’re viewing on it.
The best TV in the world right now is the LG G1 OLED and it’s available at 55, 65, and 77 inches, giving a wide range of options and prices for anyone considering it. It builds on the success of the previous generation GX televisions and includes LG’s new OLED Evo panel, which is just as rich in color and contrast as its predecessors, but bumps the brightness considerably, making it better suited to HDR content, and viewing in brighter rooms. That’s ideal if you don’t always want the blacked out cinema-like experience.
It’s great for gaming too, with an incredibly low input lag, support for high refresh rates and has full support for both Nvidia’s G-Sync and AMD’s Freesync technologies.
Quality Visuals At A Price You Can Afford
Hisense H9 Quantum Series 55-Inch TV
If you can afford it, an OLED will give you the most premium home-theater experience, but it isn’t the only option. If your have a more modest budget, or want to go with a traditional LED TV to avoid the potential for burn-in, the Hisense H9 is an awesome TV that starts well below $1,000 and has a fantastic picture.
It’s available in 55 and 65 inches, and features 4K resolution, full array local dimming and quantum dot technology for rich and vibrant colors. It’s an incredibly bright TV, helping HDR content really pop, and it enjoys a fast response time and low input lag for responsive gaming. For more great TV suggestions, check out this guide to the best TVs available today.
Best Projector For Your Home Theater
OLED-Like Visuals On The Biggest Screen Possible
Sony VW325ES 4K HDR Home Theater Projector
If the TVs above aren’t big enough or movie theater-like enough, then you can always build your own projector screen for your ultimate home theater experience. The high-end ones are expensive, but there’s no real substitute for the absolutely enormous size of these kinds of display setups, and it’s a more authentic cinema experience because of it.
The best projector available in 2022 is the Sony VW325ES, thanks to its high 1,500 nits brightness, support for 4K and HDR content, and its rich and vibrant colors. The contrast is excellent, too, thanks to Sony’s SXRD liquid crystal technology, giving it that OLED-like look.
There are higher-end models which use a laser source for more durability, and greater brightness, but they can start to cost in the tens of thousands of dollars, leaving most potential buyers with little left to spend on everything else they’ll need for a new home theater experience.
A Quality 4K Projector Anyone Can Afford
Optoma UHD38 4K Projector
If you’re a gamer or working on a tighter budget, the Optoma UHD38 is an excellent alternative. It’s still 4K and supports up to 240Hz refresh rates, giving it low input lag and making it a much more responsive display for any home theater. There are more affordable alternatives, but beware of going too far south of $1,000, as many of those don’t even manage 1080p resolution.
A Screen Just Like The Movie Theater’s
If you’re spending a lot on a projector, you should get a good screen too. The Elite Screens VMax2 is beloved by cinema aficionados for its wide range of size options (up to 135-inches), high-quality materials and wide viewing angles. It’s also super easy to install compared to some of its contemporaries.
More Affordable, But Needs More Space
Vamvo 120-Inch Projector Screen
The Vamvo portable projection screen is a great budget alternative, as it’s not only much more affordable, but can also be setup with ease outside. This can also be a great option if you’re looking to configure your home theater before setting up a permanent screen, as it can be easily moved around to try different setups.
The Best AV Receiver For Your Home Theater Audio
A Receiver That Handles Literally Everything
Denon AVR-X3700H AV Receiver
You can buy all the fancy speakers you want, but without a decent AV receiver to plug it into, you’re going to struggle to find the connections, and you won’t have the deep support and sound customization that only a great AV receiver can offer. This Denon model is one of the absolute kings of the AV world right now, offering not only gorgeous audio support for a wide range of mediums, but all the connections and forward thinking support you could ask for.
It comes with four full-speed HDMI 2.1 ports for 8K and 4K 120Hz passthrough support, 9.2 channels for expansive surround sound setups, HDR and HDR10, wired and wireless internet connections, variable refresh rate support, auto low latency mode and quick frame transport.
Despite its dizzying array of features and physical connections, the AVR-X3700H is designed to be super easy to setup and use. The on-screen setup assistant will walk you through every step of the process, even automatically calibrating any connected speakers to give you the best sound possible—no expertise required.
Cover The Basics Without Breaking The Bank
Yamaha RX-V385 Home Theater Receiver
As awesome as the Denon AV Receiver is, it’s far from necessary for a great home theater experience. Sony has an excellent receiver of its own, and it ticks almost as many boxes at a fraction of the price.
The Sony STRDH590 gives you all the connections you need for a fantastic 5.1 surround sound system, with an additional second subwoofer if you want it. It also supports 4K resolution, HDR, Dolby Vision and both wired and wireless connections. With HDMI 2.1 and eARC support, you can connect compatible devices straight to your TV and use an additional HDMI cable for your AV receiver for full surround sound in any games you’re playing, too.
The Best Home Theater Surround Sound System
A Full Surround Sound Setup
Q Acoustics 3000i 5.1 Home Theater Speakers
For the most immersive home theater audio experience, you need to have some sort of surround sound setup. The most extreme audiophiles may opt for more speakers than most people could fit in a room, and you can dig into buying different speakers from different brands if you want to, but that goes beyond the scope of this overarching article. For most, the best value for money will be in a high quality 5.1 surround sound setup, like the Q Acoustics 3000i 5.1 Home Theater Package.
Combining a pair of bookshelf speakers, two big floorstanding speakers, a single center speaker, and an active subwoofer, there is heaps of power, tonnes of clarity, and a gorgeous aesthetic that will fit into any home theater. They also come in white, black and wood grain, helping it naturally fit your home’s particular design. Better yet, all of these speakers can be purchased individually, so if you’re not quite ready to shell out for them all at once, you can buy the basics and add to them gradually, improving your sound as you go.
Great Audio When You Don’t Have Much Space
If you’re building a minimalist home theater, or just don’t have the space for a surround sound speaker system, the Sonos Playbar is a great soundbar option. It’s pricey, but it has fantastic sound quality far beyond what it should justifiably be able to do without additional help from external speakers.
If you can find the space and budget, grab the subwoofer as well, as there is no real substitute for a bigger speaker when it comes to the powerful lows. Besides that added expense, the Playbar is a fantastic way to improve your home theater’s audio.
A Basic System That Works Great With Home Theater PCs
Logitech Z906 5.1 Surround Sound Speaker System
For a much more affordable surround sound system, the Logitech Z906 is a great pick. Its speakers are small but mighty, and can fit into all sorts of rooms and budgets with ease. It has an impressive 500w sustained power output, peaking to 1,000w when needed for the most raucous of movie moments, and has connection options for up to six devices simultaneously with digital or analog inputs. It’s designed more for PC inputs, so you might need to buy a couple of cables to get it set up, but it’s a powerful little system for upgrading your home theater audio on a budget.
The Best Home Theater Seating
Premium Theater Seating At Home
Seatcraft Anthem Home Theater Seating
All the entertainment in the world is no good if you don’t have somewhere comfortable to enjoy it from. Home theater seating isn’t the same as typical living room fare, though. You want plenty of space for you and some friends, the ability to kick back, and maybe even a handy surface for drinks and snacks.
To that end, Seatcraft built the Anthem Home Theater powered reclining sofa, complete with a range of exciting features for movie and TV fans alike. Made from top-grain leather for maximum comfort, these reclining sofas feature a comfortable powered footrest that can be extended with the touch of a button, and a powered headrest that’s easily adjustable for maximum comfort.
The edge seats feature fold down tables and have hidden in-arm storage for controllers, drinks, or smart devices. They even have charging ports to power up your phone or tablet while you watch your favorite films and shows.
For even more space for snacks and drinks, the center seat folds down for a large, shared table, complete with mini spotlights and a series of full-size plugs and a wireless charger for any accessories or gadgets you want powered while you relax.
Sit Back And Relax
Pulaski Larson Theatre Recliner
You can save a lot of money by buying individual recliners for your home theater, and if it’s just you who’s going to be watching, you might as well save the space too. This excellent recliner from Pulaski Larson is supremely comfortable and comes with its own swivel tray which you can attach to each arm. It also has a built-in drinks holder and hidden storage in each arm, plus a pair of USB charging ports to help your devices stay powered while you watch.
Set The Mood With Smart Light Bulbs
Smart Lighting For Any Vibe You Want
Philips Hue Smart Bulb Starter Kit
You can really complete the home theater experience by using the right mood lighting. While that might mean something different for everyone, you can set up your lighting to cater to every mood and setting with some smart lightbulbs, and Philips Hue are arguably the best around.
With a smart Bridge hub to connect to, each of the lights can be individually controlled and set to a near-infinite range of hues and temperatures. They can be dimmed, brightened, or even perform lighting effects like pulsing in time with the music.
Line Your Floors And Walls With Any Color
Nanoleaf Essentials 80-Inch Lightstrip Starter Kit
If you want something for the flooror want to ditch the central hub for a more affordable lighting solution, Nanoleaf’s Essentials range of lightstrips and bulbs are excellent. They’re just as bright and have the same wide range of colors. The strips are particularly handy, as you can simply cut them to size with a standard pair of scissors.
Popcorn Machines For A Load Of Buttery Goodness
A Popcorn Popper Befitting A Concession Stand
Great Northern Antique Style Popcorn Popper
What are movies without popcorn? What’s a movie theater without a popcorn maker? If you want that truly authentic, classic cinema experience, this Great Northern Antique Style popcorn maker is a must. It can handle a full eight ounces of popcorn at a time, for a mass of deliciously sweet, salty, and buttery popcorn—more than enough for a group of friends or family enjoying a film in your new home theater.
It comes with a quiet motor (though the pops won’t be quite so silent) and features tempered safety glass all around to protect onlookers and home cinema-goers alike from any overly hot kernels.
A Little Cheaper, Just As Delicious
West Bend Theater Style Popcorn Popper
You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to get a good popcorn maker. This West Bend option is smaller, and a little less fancy, but the popcorn it makes is still delicious. It has the same hot pan/oil popper for an authentic big-screen popcorn look and feel, and a nostalgic look that will evoke a classic movie going experience for everyone.
Chill Out And Stock Up On Drinks
Aobosi 94-Can Beverage Refrigerator
Just because you can pause your movie to go get a drink doesn’t mean you should have to. This fantastically capable and compact cooler can fit a whopping 94 cans inside. Thanks to its quiet compressor, it keeps them chilly without interrupting your big screen home theater experience.
It includes four removable and adjustable shelves with six slots to pick from, so you can store drinks and food of a variety of sizes—great for wine or champagne if you’re having a fancier evening. The glass front lets you find your drink of choice immediately, and it has a locking function to prevent accidental opening or to keep children out.
Keep Some Essentials Handy
If you don’t need tens of drinks at your disposal, or want a more affordable way to keep some drinks cool and within easy reach, this mini fridge from AstroAI can fit six cans inside, or a host of other chilled food and beverages, all inside an attractive chassis. It comes in pink or a variety of other colors, and even has a handy carry handle should you need to haul it a little closer to your chair.
Don’t Forget The Slushies
Fancy a truly indulgent and nostalgic experience? How about a genuine ICEE Home Slushie Maker? It takes a few hours to get to the right temperature and consistency, but once it does, you’ll have your own classic frozen treats within your own home.