Why Now is a Great Time to Start Planning Your Home Theater

By Leon Shaw

As I was sitting watching the Mumford and Sons concert in South Africa last night in beautiful 4K from Directv, I started thinking about just how much the wonderful world of home theater has changed over the last couple of years.  When I think about the performance levels Audio Advice was installing just a mere ten years ago compared to what the industry now has to offer, it just makes me so happy to know we can now bring what was not even dreamed of 10 years ago to your home for far less than something not as good cost 10 or even 5 years ago.

What is happening right now is a magical convergence of changes to both sound and picture technology.  We’ve never really had this happen before in the audio video business.  Normally there will be some improvement in video or audio, but no comparable improvement for the other half.  So what are these changes, and why should you be as excited as I am?

Unless you have been under a rock, you have probably heard about 4K or UHD video (they are both essentially different names for the same thing).  4K TV sets have been out for a few years and look fantastic, but true 4K projection technology for home theaters has been at the upper end of the price ticket.  Also, as with most new technology in the video sector, the tech usually comes out in front of the content.  We’ve had 4K for a few years, but content has been very scarce.  

Two things have happened very recently that are really exciting.  We finally have 4K Blu Ray players!  Sony introduced their new 4K player for under $300 recently which puts 4K playback at an affordable price point.  What about content?  Did you know that on Sept 26th, 76 4K Blu Ray discs were released!  The tempo for Blu Ray content is picking up at an amazing rate.  

Plus most of the major movie streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, and Vudu are offering more content in UHD.  The content on Vudu is exceptionally good looking too by the way.

So this year, actually in the last two to three months we have this huge shift in 4K UHD content, it’s now here, finally!

At the recent CEDIA industry trade show, Sony introduced a new 4K front projector that is half the price of the 2017 model, yes, half!  Sometime in Oct 2017, these will start to arrive in our stores and they will allow you to put a true 4K front projector into your home theater.  The price of this new projector is $4,998!!!!  Simply amazing when I think back that the first 4K projector we sold just 4 years ago was $27,000!!

There is one more side of the video portion of home theater that hit amazing new price points this year as well and it’s the super cool widescreen technology. Most big-time movies these days are filmed in widescreen (actually about 85% of movies are).  This is a wider format than the standard HDTV picture.  At Audio Advice, we have been installing widescreen theater rooms for over a decade, but until just a few months ago, this type of projection system was fairly expensive.  Well, once again, in the last couple of months, we have new technology making it far more affordable!  Yes, Epson has a new projector for under $3,500 that will get you into that great widescreen experience. On the 4K side of things, until this month, a 4K solution that got you into widescreen was $15,000, well you guessed it, the price dropped almost by half to $7,998 for Sony’s new 4K projector that does widescreen!

As you can see, in just the last couple of months, massive shifts have occurred on the picture side of home theater that make it a fantastic time to invest.

On the sound front, lots of changes are afoot as well.  Dolby Atmos was introduced just a couple of years ago.  This is the first major upgrade to surround sound we have had in about 15 years and the improvement is just huge! 

Dolby Atmos adds additional speakers to give you the most amazing surround sound experience you have ever encountered.  Everyone who hears it for the first time just comes out grinning ear to ear.  Just like the projector world, Dolby Atmos surround sound receivers have come down dramatically in price.  We have them as low as $498 for the new Sony STR-DN1080!  

For as long as I have been in this business, one thing has been a huge elephant in the room, and that is the room itself.  The room your system is in effects the sound of your system far more than anything else. Over the past 20 years there have been many attempts to fix issues caused by the room.  Some have been ultra expensive and worked well, while others were complete flops. Fixing the room has a lot to do with measuring the problems and having the horsepower on the computer processing side to fix them without screwing up the sound.  I bet you guessed it, yep, this year technology has come out that fixes issues in your room for far less than ever before!  We are particularly impressed with the technology Anthem uses, which can be had in a full Dolby Atmos unit for as little as $2,499.  Just three years ago you had to pay $21,000 for a Datasat processor only to get great room correction!

The final part of the theater room is the acoustic treatment side of things.  In the last couple of years, more companies have gotten into producing acoustic treatment materials, thus driving the price down for this very important aspect.

Do you see now why it is a great time to start planning that dream home theater?  At Audio Advice we love designing custom home theaters.  I personally get involved with a lot of them and just have a blast figuring out the best way to set up a room. We’d love to help you get started.  Please take a few minutes to watch this great video we’ve put together on home theater, we think you will like it!

Leon headshot

Leon Shaw

Leon is the founder of Audio Advice. With nearly four decades in the business, he is among the most respected names in the audio/video and home technology industry.