Home cinema with 4K resolution – What do I need?

Enjoying films and series on the big screen at home – a dream of many cinema fans. The price of such a project, however, does not come cheap. We explain what equipment you need for your home cinema. OLED TV with 4K resolution, sound system with Dolby Atmos – anything is possible!

Home cinema for all price categories

Putting a TV on the sideboard and connecting a Blu-Ray player is easy. Of course you can watch movies with it, but is that enough for a home theater? Probably not. So in order to achieve the dream of home cinema, there are several methods: from cheap to expensive. We’ll introduce you to 3 ways to match your budget – from good and cheap to high-end.

In all three cases we will make you suggestions for technology and interior design. You shouldn’t neglect the latter! The best picture and the best sound system have no positive effect if the room is not set up especially for home cinema. We also assume that you won’t be satisfied with Full HD resolution, but with 4K. Please consider the following checklists for your new home cinema!

You’re dreaming about your own home theater? We’ll show you what you need. ©Evinger71

Checklist for the best picture

When choosing the best picture for your purposes, you should first ask yourself a few questions.

  • 4K resolution with a TV or beamer?
  • TV: OLED or QLED?
  • 3D functionality?
  • How many inches screen size?
  • HDR10+ or Dolby Vision

TV or projector?

For the best possible picture, you should first ask yourself whether you prefer a TV or projector. With a projector, you will definitely need a special screen, which can, for example, be mounted from the ceiling. The advantages of a projector are the size of the resulting image, the space saving, real 4K cinema resolution (4096 x 2160) – and the “real” home cinema feeling, since digital projectors are also used in the cinema.

4K-capable televisions are much cheaper than projectors, but the resulting image is correspondingly smaller. Contrast levels are comparable, but this varies from type to type. The best choice is between an OLED and a QLED TV. These two construction methods are currently the most popular technologies on the market.

A television, on the other hand, is usually cheaper, easier to install and the picture quality is independent of the ambient light. Strong light will bring the best projector to its knees. When choosing a beamer, you should know that a 4K capable beamer is relatively expensive. High-quality devices are in the $3,000 to $4,000 range.

Just as popular as high image resolutions has been, rich contrast and color depth are the newest talk of town. High Dynamic Range, HDR for short, is constantly being enlarged in new devices to make the resulting image look as realistic as possible. Trends in this direction are the HDR10 and Dolby Vision formats. However, current technologies are still far from exploiting the capacity offered by these formats.

In home cinema, projectors also cut a good figure, but are usually more elaborate than televisions. ©leszekglasner

3D: Movies at your fingertips

Another question you should ask yourself when setting up a home theater is whether you want 3D functionality or not. Because of the slightly annoying nature of glasses, 3D movies have hardly established themselves in the home, but they’re very popular in big cinemas. Both projectors and televisions now have 3D capabilities. But don’t forget that you also need a 3D-enabled Blu-ray player.

Checklist for the installation

  • The distance from the TV to the couch (we at tvfindr have developed a practical tool for this).
  • Acoustic elements for dispersion and absorption of undesired frequencies
  • Beautiful furniture and seating for you and your guests
  • Atmospheric light for the right atmosphere
Absorbers like these can greatly improve the sound in home cinema. ©alexandre zveiger

The larger the TV, the greater the viewing distance should be – or simply the position of the couch or cinema armchair. The viewing angle also plays a role: if you sit directly in front of the TV, that’s basically no problem. Only when viewing from the side at an angle, distortions in the picture occur with different models. Or colors somewhat lose their authenticity. This problem does not exist with projectors at all.

For professional use it might be worthwhile to copy a practice from recording studios and radio studios: Here, acoustic components are used to disperse and absorb unwanted frequencies. If, for example, the bass is too booming at a certain volume and the setting on the device cannot be corrected, a bass absorber in the corner can help.

Since this is a very challenging subject, we advise you to consult a professional!

Creating a cosy ambience

Every regular cinemagoer will know that the armchairs and sofas in cinemas are always very comfortable. This is just as important for home cinema!

If there is a sofa in your living room at home, that will be enough for beginners – but for professional home theaters there are a lot of high quality furniture, which can equal or even exceed the comfort of large cinemas.

Light also plays an important role in professional home cinema. Everyone knows: When the curtain rises and the lights are dimmed, it’s “film off”!

A curtain might become difficult at home, but atmospheric light can be recreated. Ambient lighting is a buzzword here – imitation should mean something promising. With some models even voice control is possible!

Check out this home cinema transformation which features great lighting.

Checklist for the best sound

Even when it comes to good cinema sound, you should consider a few options carefully.

  • Home cinema system or separate components?
  • The “sweet spot”: The place in the room where the sound waves of all existing loudspeakers arrive at the same time.
  • Do you need an AV receiver?
  • Virtual surround sound or real surround sound?
  • Dolby Atmos?
  • How many subwoofers are required?

The right angle also plays a role in the sound. If you are using multiple speakers in a surround system, the speakers should be placed so that all sound waves travel toward the same point. The point where this is achieved is called the sweet spot. The sound enjoyment is best here. Ideally, you should be able to place the Sweet Spot on your couch or cinema chair.

Virtual Surround Sound

However, if you only use one large speaker, such as a soundbar, you don’t need to calibrate the sweet spot.

High quality Soundbars and Soundbases manage to bounce the generated sound waves off the walls and ceiling as if the sound really came from all sides. This is called virtual surround sound.

True surround sound

Authentic surround sound, on the other hand, can only be produced with a variety of speakers. For example, with a 5.1 system.

A center speaker, four satellite speakers at ear level and a subwoofer provide a rich sound spectrum that is distributed throughout the room. As a spectator, you feel like you are in the middle of the action. To do that, you need an AV receiver. But you can do even better.

Dolby Atmos – Amidst all the action

If real surround sound isn’t enough, you can add Atmos speakers to your sound system. If you already have a 5.1 sound system and add two Atmos speakers, we’d call it 5.1.2. These additional speakers are designed to add immersion by playing sounds from the ceiling.

With Dolby Atmos, a helicopter flying over the scene sounds like a plane is really gliding over you. Or rain landing on a sun sail above your head. The possibilities are endless with Atmos.

The loudspeakers are integrated into the existing system – then there are two possibilities. Either they hang from the ceiling and point to the sweet spot, or they are placed on column or shelf speakers. In the latter case we’re talking about Atmos Enabled.

The speaker does not point down to the listener, but is instead reflected from the ceiling. The results are definitely comparable.

This video demonstrates and explains Dolby Atmos very well.

Bass that makes the walls tremble

An action movie is only really fun when you feel the bass of the explosions and the blood starts to boil. To achieve this, almost every sound system has a subwoofer – both in sound bars and surround sound systems.

For larger rooms, however, we recommend the use of several subwoofers. Two should be enough. If the room is smaller than 50 to 60 sqm, one woofer is sufficient.

If you are thinking about purchasing two subwoofers, please first check whether it is possible to connect two devices to your AV receiver!

Our recommendation for your home cinema

In this table we have collected the best products from different price ranges so that you can set up your home cinema. Of course, these are just suggestions – you decide for yourself at the end of the day.

If this table has been helpful to you or if you want to add something, please leave us a comment!

BudgetRoomPictureSoundAcoustic improvementsFurnitureExtrasAdditional equipment
less than $2,000Living roomSamsung Q70R, LG OLED B8Teufel Cinebar 11 + SubwoofernoneSofa for two personsnonePopcorn machine
$2,000 – $5,000Living roomLG OLED C9Teufel Cinebar Pro + SubwoofernoneSofa for two persons or moreXbox One S as Blu-Ray player and for gamingBlu-ray shelf
$5,000 or moreBasementLG OLED C9, Samsung Q950R OR Sony VPL-VW570ES/BSystem 6 THX AVR for Dolby Atmos "5.2.4-Set"Diffusers for distribution, absorbers to erase unwanted frequenciesHome cinema sofas for several peopleOnkyo AV receiver (included with the sound system!)Life size statue of Superman

This post is also available in: Deutsch

* Approximate price incl. VAT, plus shipping costs // Last updated on 20. February 2020 at 19:59. Please note that prices shown here may have changed in the meantime. All data without guarantee.
More about new TVs?
Then subscribe to our television newsletter!
More about Home Cinema?
Then subscribe to our Home Cinema newsletter!