How do you put together a great home theater without breaking the bank? As I built my own home theater, I did it over several years spreading out the cost. I started out with hand-me down or entry level equipment and gradually replaced components as my budget allowed. My focus was to get the best picture and sound possible in a non-dedicated home theater room. This system currently sits in my living room. The system below cost me about $4,000. The good news is you could put together a equivalent system today for about $3,000.
TV: Samsung LN52A850. This 52″ LCD has a stunning picture with wide viewing angles and brilliant colors. At less the 2″ thick, I preferred it over the newer ultra-thin Samsung models that came out in 2009 which did not have the same viewing angles or uniformity of picture brightness.
Receiver: Pioneer VSX-1014. Released in 2004 this receiver’s guts were the same as Pioneer’s “Elite” receivers which cost much more. While it does not have HDMI, it was fairly future proof with its analog inputs. However, the exclusion of multi-channel analog outputs from newer components have limited its future use. Without HDMI, it cannot decode newer audio codecs such as Dolby Digital Plus.
Blu-Ray/DVD Player: Pioneer BDP-320. No streaming services but great Blu-ray and DVD picture quality. Has multi-channel audio outputs.
DVR: TiVo Premiere
Remote: Harmony 700. Unless you want to have juggle all of those remotes, you can simplify and replace them with one Harmony remote. The 700 is the perfect remote for a system of this size.
Streaming Boxes: Apple TV (gen 2) and Roku 2 XS. I like the interface on Apple TV and I also like the fact that it’s a seamless iTunes front-end. The Roku 2 XS is used a lot for both Netflix in 1080P and for Amazon Prime.