$3,500 vs. $39,999? What you get for the money?

$3,500 vs. $39,999 ? What you get for the money.On our website, we have home theater media room packages that range in price from $3,500 to over $100,000. So if you’re thinking of buying equipment for your media room, what should you expect to get for $3500 and what $39,000?

For starters, the $3,500 home theater media room is based on entry level products from some of the manufacturers we represent. We change the equipment periodically so that we offer the best value we can for the money. Right now, that would include a Pioneer 5.1 channel receiver with HDMI switching, up to a 100″ film screen, an Optoma 1080p projector, mount, 2 ? HDMI interconnect cables for components, a 5.1 surround sound speaker system, a bluray DVD player, surge protection (very important) and basic installation.

When someone calls on this package, I always first ask what size the theater room is that they are planning to install it in. This system wasn’t designed to be installed in a huge room so we need to clear that up pretty quickly. The last thing you want to do is buy a system, any system, and be underwhelmed. The $3500 home theater media room package has other limitations as well and the biggest is with the projector. This is a $1,000 1080p home theater projector ? currently one of the least expensive ones on the market. That means no lens shift and limited throw distance. So, the projector has to be mounted in a very limited location. Don’t misunderstand – done right, this system would satisfy a lot of people. But it does need to be done right and it does have limitations.

Now, what does $39,999 get you? Well, with that kind of money, you move into the world of “audiophile” and “videophile” equipment. We’ll start with speakers. That kind of money buys a Snell THX Ultra2 7.2 system. The “.2″ in the system represents two Snell Basis 550 subwoofers (with 2 ? 12” woofers each!) Make no mistake; this is a world class speaker system that would make you think twice about ever going to a movie theater again. You’ll hear soundtracks differently than ever before. I often find that I hear things in movies that I’ve watched 1,000 times that I’ve never heard before. The level of detail and the subtle nuances are brought to life in a system like this. The electronics in the system are also top notch, and THX Ultra2 certified. This home theater media room package use Parasound electronic products (they are the company that supplies some of the electronics to George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch and has been credited in the Star Wars films.)

Before I continue, one thing I should mention is that when you move into a system like this, you have to apply the “weakest link” theory ? the system will only be as good as its weakest link. So, that means high end video and audio cable interconnects, high end speaker cables, high end surge protection? you get the idea.

For the video side of things, we use a JVC DiLA 1080p projector and a Stewart filmscreen (long noted as the industry reference screen.) Even out of the box, this is an incredible video system. It’s jaw-dropping when properly calibrated.

$39,999 is a lot of money for anything, especially an entertainment item. Obviously not everyone will be in the market for a system on this level. But whether you’re a DIY’er or you hire a company to do the work, try to go out and see a system like this to allow you to have a reference level that to compare and then strive to come as close to that as possible in your system.

We’re just finishing designing our $100,000 home theater media room package. That will take the reference level to 11!

-Clay Hankins is the CEO of The Audio Guy, LLC located in theDallas, TX area and serving the Dallas Home Theater, Media Rooms and surroundingDFW area markets.

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