The 15 Essential Items To Build The Ultimate Home Theater

Photo: Elite Home Theater Seating

Going to the theater to see movies on the big screen is an experience unlike any other. But it does have some major downsides. For instance, there’s always the risk that you’ll end up sitting near rowdy crowd members who can’t keep themselves from talking during the film. There are also sticky floors, sometimes uncomfortable seating, and the high cost of the overall visit. But there’s another option if you want to spend the scratch: building your own home theater.

Obviously, you’re limited by the space you have and how much money you can spend, but building out the ultimate home theater can give you the same big screen experience you’d get at a regular theater but with virtually none of the drawbacks. Of course, that can be made or broken by the gear with which you outfit your space. Skip the guesswork and have a gander at 15 of the best pieces of gear to build out the ultimate home theater on our following list.

Amazon Prime

From Netflix to Hulu, there are a lot of available streaming services that offer up streaming for everything from television shows to blockbuster movies. But the problem with most of them is that, if you’re looking to watch something that isn’t in their library, you’re out of luck. But that’s where Amazon’s Prime service shines — not only does it come with a wealth of included streaming options for no additional charge, but if you want to watch something that isn’t included, you can pay a rental fee or even buy a digital copy. Pair that with all the other bonuses of Amazon Prime — like free shipping on purchases, Prime Now grocery delivery, and Amazon Music — and this is a hard service to pass up.

Subscribe: $13+

SnapeZo Movie Poster Frames

If you’re the type to agree that cinema is an art form or you’re just a huge film buff, you might want to put some of your favorite movie posters on display. But if you care about appearances and you’re not a teenager, using thumbtacks isn’t going to cut it. Luckily, with SnapeZo, you can choose from the same catalog trusted by movie theaters around the world for their frames. The options are wide-ranging, from simple aluminum frames to more high-end backlit options, and come in a number of sizes to suit whichever format your movie poster collection follows.

Purchase: $15+

Whirley Pop Stove Top Popcorn Popper

There’s probably no better snack to go with a good movie than theater popcorn. And if money is absolutely no object, you could buy the same full-sized popcorn makers they use at theaters around the world. Of course, there are some major downsides. For starters, they’re bulky and take up a lot of room. Furthermore, you’ll likely end up with a lot of waste at the end of each use. Of course, all those issues can be circumvented if you opt instead for the Whirley Pop Store Top Popcorn Popper. Small enough to store in a cabinet, this clever device will allow you to create some of the freshest and most delicious popcorn you’ve ever had without being too cumbersome, unsightly, or wasteful. It’s easy to use, easy to clean, and 100-times better than microwave varieties.

Purchase: $33

WD My Book Desktop External Hard Drive

If you’re going to be building out the ultimate home theater, you’re going to need a place to store your collection of movies. And while you could put together an IKEA cabinet and load it to the brim with DVDs and Blu-Rays, you might find that digital storage is a far better option. In that case, you’ll want to pick up an external hard drive like Western Digital’s My Book. With a massive range of options from 3-20 terabytes of storage, you can select the ideal drive to suit your collection and you’ll probably still have plenty of room leftover. All you have to do it plug it straight into your Television and, voila, all your movies are available at the push of a button. You could also use it to store video games for your favorite console and, if you’re worried about security, it even comes with available password-protected encryption.

Purchase: $85+

Apple TV 4K

There’s a pretty good chance you already own a smart TV capable of streaming from a number of different app-based services. If you don’t, you might want to consider picking up a separate streaming device that will give you all the same perks as a smart television, like Apple TV 4k. With compatibility across all the best streaming app platforms — Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, and more — this device will stream gorgeous high-def entertainment right through your TV. It’s also compatible with Siri so you can control it with just the sound of your voice and it features wireless connectivity — that way you don’t even have to plug it into your modem.

Purchase: $179+

Aftermaster Pro

One of the biggest annoyances we’ve come across when watching our favorite movies and shows in our home theater is that the sound is not optimized for non-theater viewing. That often means that dialogue is so quiet, we’re forced to turn the volume way up and then we’re completely jarred when the action kicks in and our eardrums are nearly blown out. But that’s what the Aftermaster Pro is for — to equalize the audio from any source and create an even listening experience free of those too-low lows and shockingly-loud highs.

Purchase: $180

ButtKicker BK-LFE Low-Frequency Effects System

Even if you have a top-of-the-line audio system in your home theater, one of the hardest things to capture is the great, big, booming bass of a full-size theater. Luckily, there’s a way to simulate the same effect without shaking your home to its foundation. This ButtKicker BK-LFE unit can easily attach to any standard home theater seating and will simulate the same bass rumble you might feel in a regular theater seat. It’s a lot like those 4D rumble seats, except without the nauseating rocking back and forth or other cheesy effects, like misters or air cannons.

Purchase: $240

Logitech Harmony Elite Universal Remote

With so many streaming devices and high-tech gadgets nowadays, getting your home theater ready for a movie can be a huge annoyance. Instead of shuffling around turning everything on by hand or fiddling around with twelve different remote controls, however, you can just link all of your tech together and access everything from a single device with the Logitech Harmony Elite Universal Remote. With the included full-color touchscreen control and hub, you can power all your gear on and operate it in its entirety without ever having to worry about other remotes again. And if the control is missing for whatever reason, you can still access all the same controls via an included smartphone app.

Purchase: $270

PlayStation 4 Pro

If you’re going to put together the ultimate home theater, you might want to include a gaming system — like the PlayStation 4 Pro with its 1TB hard drive and massive library of award-winning games. And while the gaming side of the PS4 is superb, it also has some hidden abilities. For instance, you can access a wide variety of streaming apps from the PS4 menu — eliminating the need for a secondary streaming device. And it can play Blu-Rays and DVDs, so you don’t need a standalone player. And if you want to ditch your cable box altogether, you can sign up for PlayStation Vue and still get live television without the annoyance of a cable contract and peripherals. People tend to think of the PS4 as a gaming console, but it’s far more than just that.

Purchase: $399

Bowers & Wilkins Formation Suite Speakers

Having a massive high-definition screen is only one part of the full theater experience. The biggest, most beautiful display isn’t going to be all that enjoyable if the audio that goes with it is sub-par. As such, it falls on you to make sure to outfit your home theater with a superb surround sound system, like the premium options in Bowers & Wilkins Formation Suite. Not only does this suite of devices — which includes five different speakers — offer a full range of high-fidelity audio, but it also looks as beautiful as it sounds.

Purchase: $699+

HTC VIVE Pro VR Headset

The more that technology progresses, the more it looks like virtual reality is the next big step in entertainment. But if you don’t want to wait for it to become completely standardized, you can hop on board now with a wide variety of excellent VR headset options, like the industry-topping HTC VIVE Pro. This fully-immersive system hinges on a gorgeous 2880 x 1600 resolution display, optimized ergonomics, and 3D spatial audio. And if you want to use the headset for more than just experiential viewing, you can invest in the full system — which includes controllers and sensors — to give you the ultimate access to what is almost certainly the future of gaming.

Purchase: $799+

Cambridge Audio CXUHD 4K Blu-Ray Player

Even if you subscribe to all of the available streaming services and download movies digitally, there may still be a chance that you own some DVDs or Blu-Rays that you’ll want to watch at some point. And that means you’re going to need a Blu-Ray player. Well, you’ll do no better than the Cambridge Audio CXUHD 4K option you see here. The brand’s first UHD player, this device was designed sans DACs to help reduce noise and improve both audio and picture quality. And while it can play discs of all qualities, it also offers WiFi connectivity — so you can stream digital movies or television shows directly from the device.

Subscribe: $800

Elite Home Theater Seating

The best movie in the world is going to be hard to enjoy if you’re not physically comfortable — which is why good seating is so important to any theater, especially one in your home. That’s where Elite Home Theater Seating comes into play. This brand offers a huge variety of premium seating options, of which almost all are customizable, made from high-end materials, and designed specifically to survive literal decades of usage. It’s Elite’s opinion that theater seating is more than just a reclining chair with a cupholder — it should be ergonomic, supportive, and look beautiful in the process.

Purchase: $2,300+

Sony 4K SXRD Home Cinema Projector

If you’ve got a big enough wall or the ability to equip your home theater with a drop-down screen, you might be in the market for a cinematic projector. And while there are a lot of options for every budget, we’re partial to the Sony 4K SXRD you see here. With native 4K resolution, an adjustable lens for the perfect angle, 1,500 lumens of brightness, and so much more — this might just be the best projector you can get for $5,000. Granted, that sounds a bit pricey (even for a home theater), but its an investment in the experience that will serve you well for years to come.

Purchase: $5,000

Sony MASTER Series Z9G 8K Smart TV

If you’d rather avoid the inconvenience of rigging up a cinematic projector in your home theater or you just like the idea of having a standalone television better, then the ultimate option is probably the gargantuan Sony MASTER Series Z9G 8K Smart TV. Measuring up at up to a whopping 98 inches, this absolute monolith of a television boasts 8K capabilities, comes with the option for an IMAX-enhanced version, and is equipped with both Dolby Vision and Atmos for incomparable picture and sound quality. It even features Netflix-specific calibration for incomparable high-fidelity imagery. Of course, it’s exceedingly high price is going to scare away all but the richest, most dedicated movie buffs.

Purchase: $70,000

30 Best Summer Blockbuster Movies Of All Time

Once you’ve transformed your humble abode into an epic movie theater, you’re going to want to break it in with an epic movie. Test your new setup the right way by watching one of the best summer blockbusters of all time in the comfort of your home.