There’s no doubt that having your own home cinema is a real luxury, but how much does a home cinema cost? How can you make sure that you are getting the very best value for your money and an amazing experience to boot?
How much does a home cinema cost and how to get stunning performance and value for money.
In this article we will look at:
- Home Cinema or Media Room?
- Which room would make a great cinema room?
- Audio – likely costs.
- Video – likely costs.
- The room – our top tips for a breath-taking home cinema room and where to allocate budget
- Other things to consider – the minutiae.
- When should you bring in a home cinema expert?
- What’s next?
- In conclusion…
Home Cinema or Media Room? (A tricky one!)
This fundamental question is sometimes the trickiest of all! Should you opt for a high-performance media room, to allow your room to be used for many purposes, or should you go for a dedicated home cinema room, with all the feels of the real thing?
To consider this existential question in more depth, you need to know what the difference is between the two concepts. Our article, “What’s the difference between a media room and a home cinema?” deals with this in some depth.
If you are opting for a dedicated home cinema, it is because you want to recreate and experience the immersive feeling of being in a big-screen cinema. Since the entire “raison d’être” of the home cinema room is for the enjoyment of films, it follows that you would try to achieve the best video and audio performance, with the minimum of compromises. (Don’t forget – TV, boxsets and gaming is also a must!)
Big sound and a vibrant image, in an authentic setting, from the seating to the lighting!
If your room should have more than one purpose, for example, a family games room and TV room combined, a media room solution is best. This will give you a better level of home-cinema style performance than just a flat-screen on the wall. However, it will also leave you space and budget for other fun things!
An unobtrusive set-up that comes to life at the press of a button!
Concerning cost, a general rule would be that a dedicated home cinema would cost more than a media room. (This doesn’t always follow if there are special considerations such as needing to hide a TV or projector, or having retractable seating, for example, as this can impact the final budget.)
Which room would make a great home cinema room?
Once you have decided that a dedicated home cinema is the best choice for you, you’ll need to consider where it will be located. (If you went for a media room, here’s the link to our article, “How much does a media room cost?”)
Locations we have used in the past:
- Basement (classic)
- Attic (comes a close second)
- Spare Room (guests are like fish anyway)
- Above the garage (ultimate man-cave)
- Summer house (lots to think about with the glass)
- Shed (yes, this is possible and fun!)
From a budget perspective, the type of room will have a really big impact on the overall cost. If you are using an attic room, thought will need to be given to isolating the sound, so that it doesn’t spill out of the room and cause a nuisance downstairs. In the example of the summer house with lots of glass surfaces, you’ll need to think about black-out shades (here’s a link to our article about controlling natural light) and acoustic treatments (there’s more in our article, “Acoustic treatments for Home Cinemas”).
Home Cinema Audio – Likely Costs.
Getting bang for your buck!
Don’t underestimate how important the audio is in a home cinema situation. Be prepared to allocate a good 30-40% of your budget to the audio system.
It is really important to give thought to the type of audio system you would like. In immersive cinemas with a higher number of audio channels, the correct planning and positioning is vital. And since these audio channels will need to be wired, getting these details nailed down early on is critical.
As with everything, the range of possibilities for cost is huge. Indeed, in the past, we have created superb home cinemas with audio costing from between £4,000 and £180,000.
Home Cinema Video – Likely Costs.
Image is everything!
Everyone loves a vast vibrant picture and you should expect to allow about 30-40% of your budget for the image. Traditionally, a projector and screen would be the weapon of choice in a dedicated home cinema, but there are great advancements in other areas to consider and they shouldn’t necessarily be ruled out (for example, here’s our take on The Wall).
You should expect your video setup to cost anywhere from £3,500 to £160,000.
For a breath-taking home cinema room, here’s where to allocate budget.
Here’s where it gets really exciting! Clearly, you will want to ensure that the money spent on audio and video gives the best performance and value possible, no matter where in the budgetary scheme of things it comes. You should allow about 30% of your overall budget for the room and it breaks down like this:
- Acoustic treatments – to allow you to acoustically isolate the home cinema and to ensure that the room performs well acoustically, consolidating the investment you have allocated to the audio – 50% of room budget
- Seating – comfortable and authentic seating – 30% of room budget
- Controlling the light – lighting and shading – 20% of room budget
We can’t emphasise enough how important it is to calculate and address the room responses. We talk more about acoustic treatments in our article, “Acoustic treatments for Home Cinemas”. By getting these details right, you absolutely will increase the performance of your home cinema room.
We would recommend that you allow between £3,000 and £70,000 for the room.
Other things to consider – the minutiae.
No home cinema room is really complete until you have thought about how you will control the electronics. Whether that be integrated into your home control system or via a simple learning remote. No one wants to ruin the moment by lighting up an iPad mid-film to make a small volume adjustment! Should you add a Crestron intelligent remote?
Have you thought about integrating the lighting? For example, you would dim the lights at the beginning of the film and raise them slightly during an intermission. Would a Lutron lighting control system add to the experience?
There are many possibilities for décor. Would you like a themed home cinema room, such as a Star Wars room, an Avengers room, a Russian Palace or will you keep it conventionally art deco or even minimal (see our projects for ideas)?
Have you thought about a bar, a concession stand, or a popcorn maker?
Will your home cinema have a separate projection room? Should it be visible – do you want to flaunt those electronics or keep them out of sight?
Have you thought about your source equipment, what sort of content will you display? Will you use the room for gaming? Have you thought about a movie server such as a Kaleidescape?
When should you bring in a home cinema expert?
“An expert knows all the answers – if you ask the right questions.”Levi Strauss
There are so many things to consider, at a fundamental building and infrastructure level, that of course, we would say as soon as you can!
Advice on where to locate the home cinema room, which cables to run, how to construct the walls, how many loudspeakers etc is all better considered at the very beginning. An expert will guide you through design considerations, will calculate acoustic performance, noise floor, achieve correct brightness for the screen, integrate your air conditioning, your intercom, your security system, design the baffle wall etc. They will consider things such as the heat output from the electronics, the imposed electrical load on air conditioning, ambient light detrimentally affecting contrast etc.
It makes sense, economically and practically, to have your expert take care of all of these things, to avoid niggly mistakes or serious errors in compatibility.
Since we want to ensure that the performance of your home cinema room is not compromised by a later introduction to the project, our initial outline design and consultation service is free of charge and can be done remotely in the first instance, meaning that we have the opportunity to discuss and address anything time-critical as early in the process as possible.
When committing your budget to a home cinema, it’s important to consider not only the technologies available now, but what’s on the horizon. It’s always disappointing to discover that you have just bought last season’s model and an expert can help you to navigate this particular minefield!
Getting the infrastructure right, so that you can add to or upgrade your home cinema room later on, is crucial. Do think about cabling for future possible upgrades and advancements.
Consider not only how technology may evolve, but also your own tastes and needs. For example; think about whether the seating can be planned so that you could reconfigure it in the future if you wished to change the aesthetics?
There are lots of things to think about.
A quick look on Google will tell you that there are an enormous number of home cinema products available, with prices ranging from the tens to thousands of pounds. The cost of your home cinema will depend on lots of factors, from the room to the level of performance you require. When considering which products we use in our home cinema projects, we not only look at budget (of course this is so important) but we also make sure that the products are well-matched so that they perform well together. We make sure that our home cinemas give great value, no matter the budget.
For further reading, please see our project, Luxury Screening Room or our article What’s the difference between a media room and a home cinema?. If you are interested in the design work we do, please read our article on Home Cinema Design.