High-End Home Theaters – How High do You Need to Go?

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If you ever liked to hang around high-end audiophile outlets that stock home theater equipment priced well into the stratosphere and wonder at the kind of people who might actually come in with the intent of buying, perhaps you have a short memory. As recently as five years ago, a home theater that could look like something that came out of Neverland was something you could reasonably expect to cram into your rec room if you had reasonable credit (I exaggerate a litle bit, of course). Back then, money was practically available on tap. If you were sufficiently passionate about something to want to to fork over a reasonable monthly payment for, a custom-installed projection system, La-Z Boys to melt into, and a sound system that could crumble your foundations could be yours with nothing more than a cursory background check.

The home theaters of your ultimate fantasies can set you back as much as Porsche Panamera (or two); but just as the market for Porsches and Ferraris hasn’t dried up just because there is a recession, the makers of high-end THX-certified equipment still find a great market – it’s just that they are no longer hoping to expand anywhere below the levels of the super-rich as they once used to when easy credit was available. But let’s for a moment wonder about what would be within reach, if those days were still with us.

In this exclusive club, that is never satisfied with anything less ambitious than a faithful recreation of the big screen experience right at home, the price of admission starts at around $150,000. At Goodwin High End in Waltham, Massachusetts for instance, that price would buy you a home theater installation, if you don’t include the price of the electronics. All said, after you’ve added in the prize of every extra cabling length and sound trap, and the consultation charges, you could very well be looking at a $200,000 tab.

If spending as much on equipping a home theater as you would on buying a house for your family seems a little over-the-top, consider this – custom-built home theaters aren’t just assembled out-of-the-box out of high quality components. They are built by hand. Acoustics experts come in with laser- and sonar- equipped gauges; they measure your space for acoustic anomalies, standing waves, poor wall and ceiling angles, and materials. They then proceed to build a whole new room inside your space, and separate it from the outer shell with spacers. The inner room is built to be perfect, with the perfect materials and the most acoustically efficient form.

Home theaters at the very high end are not as much about the equipment you buy, as they are about the space they are placed in. The perfect acoustic space that picks up sound, and delivers it to your years without sacrificing the quality of the sound the speakers put out is high art. It could take months to put together such a system. It’s like they are building a whole acoustic music instrument to place you inside, and this, as the you would expect, will take money. But there are high-end home theaters were possible for people who aren’t out partying with Bill Gates every weekend too.

Lyric hi-fi in New York specializes in high-end home theaters that don’t go over the top. What you’ll get for your money is a more reasonable 400sq. ft. screening room with seating for six, and a high-end projection system; it could run you wo about $60,000, and could win you plain admiration from your friends.

Everyone wants to know how far you can go with any kind of over-the-top passion – cars, jets, yachts. How far can they go investing in home theaters? A millionaire in San Francisco put one together for a budget that just squeaked past $1 million, and the aim was to replicate the theater acoustics the owner enjoyed at one time at the movies when a child. It was in the news not long ago that the millionaire didn’t really make it past the recession with his fortune intact.


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