budget home theatre

If you’ve figured out what wrong with the weather, make sure to let us know, because we sure have been puzzled about the on-and-off-weather last week. While it is a great excuse to get out of garden weeding and lawn mowing, we did enjoy some chronic binge-watching in our home theatre. Yes, that’s where you can find us, whenever some switch-off time is in place…. 

If we have your drooling, we have you exactly where we want you. But is it achievable to have a high performing set-up that you can be seriously proud of if you have a very modest budget? We say it can be done and we’ll show you how. We put together a 5.1 full home theatre set-up that is excellent value for money. We’ve recommended variations of this set-up (everybody’s situation is different) to several of our customers on many occasions and so far every single one has landed a very happy customer email in our inbox. (We love getting those, so keep them coming!)


Loudspeakers: ELAC Debut 5.0 speaker package comprising of four ELAC B5 bookshelf speaker and an ELAC C5 Centre speaker. If you situation requires in-ceiling for the surrounds, we suggest the ADS 6.5” in ceiling speakers.  

If you don’t know about the ELAC Debut speaker range by now, you probably have been living under a rock. So much has been said and written about the Debuts and it’s fair to say they did cause more than a bit of a stir in the world of AV. 

What we like about them is that they go deep and they don’t muddy-up the mid-range and there’s low coloration. The ELAC B5’s have a smooth and wide frequency response their off-axis response is very well-behaved. 

Michael Fremer from Analog Planet sums it up with: ‘These are not good speakers; these are GREAT speakers.’ 

The newly announced updates, the Debut 2.0 speakers are expected to be available mid-year, but knowing ELAC, we expect that to be more towards the end of the year. We certainly hope they prove us wrong.


Subwoofer:  ELAC S10 subwoofer or stretch to the SVS SB1000 

If your budget is super-tight, the ELAC S10 is a good choice, but for an extra NZD450, you upgrade to an SVS subwoofer.  Now that is a lot of extra money for a budget set-up, but we tell you it’s worth it and you’ll thank us for it. SVS is the King of subwoofers and the darling of nearly every audio and home theatre-related publication in existence, and for good reason: SVS makes rocking, high-performance subs at shockingly reasonable prices.

While the rest of New Zealand is waking up to what SVS is capable of, the Rapallo and SVS friendship goes back for quite for some time. Here’s why: SVS scales back on unnecessary features and aesthetic niceties, but stubbornly avoids compromising performance. Often, that puts SVS’ entry-level subs on par with or better than most of its competition’s mid-level to premium offerings. Our kind of sub!

The SVS SB-1000 is by far the most forceful, detailed bass you can get for this amount of money.

Whether it is movies or music, the SB-1000 develops a clean, tight low end. It is never boomy or muddy: your Blu-rays and UHDTVs are more like the movie theatre than you could imagine. Streamed music and CD’s are fuller and richer; fast, deep lows bring more life to the party. And gaming sound effects blow you away.


AV receiverYamaha RX-V483

You probably think we sound like a broken record by now, but when it comes to delivering performance on a budget, it’s Yamaha all the way.  The reason why we recommend it  that often to our customers is because of its excellent performance on one hand but also its outstanding reliability. We know it works  and it works well and that is worth a great, great deal. 

The 5.1-channel AV receiver offers surround sound and wireless connectivity with your favourite speaker system. It has Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Apple AirPlay built-in for wireless connection to your compatible smart devices. The receiver outputs up to 80W per channel at 8 Ohms and features YPAO multipoint sound optimization to tailor the sound to your environment.


Blu-rayPanasonic DMP-UB300 4K UHD Blu-ray player.

A decent 4K UHD Blu-ray player on a tight budget, we say it can be done. At its price point, it’s really hard to beat the Panasonic DMP-UB300. The UB300 is stripped-down version of its bigger brothers and manages to offer an excellent audio and video performance over HDMI at a previously unthinkable price point. In our search for a cheap UHD Blu-ray player, the UB300 fits the bill with an identical audio and video performance compared to Panasonic's other 4K disc spinners and a decent set of features that includes hi-res audio support and 4K HDR streaming services. 

Obviously, something had to give compared to its more expensive sibblings: the UB-300 only has one HDMI output, no optical digital output and no built-in WiFi but if none of that matters to you then it's a definite bargain. 


Do you want a projector and a projector screen with that?  

We’re going to assume it’s a projector and screen you are dreaming of, and if your wallets has a little bit of stretch, you ‘re off with the Epson EH-TW6700 at NZD3,000. No problem. You’ll be as happy as a pig in mud. 

Although we don’t tend to recommend it, if push comes to shove, you can project movies on a  white wall with projector paint. Otherwise, a manual projector screen in the size that matches your room costs around the NZD700 mark, depending on the size. 

But, there is an even lower end entry-level option in the Epson EH-TW5600. It will give you a proper home cinema experience, with a projector that includes zoom, throw ratio, keystone, and lens shift adjustments.

That said, if you’re already in two minds about a projector vs. a television and you really need to money-pinch, the television might be the more economical option.  

This entire home cinema set-up, speakers, woofer, AV-receiver, Blu-ray player, projector, screen and cables sets you back more or  less NZD6,000. That’s a pretty amazing achievement, a great deal to show off and a lot of enjoyment you will get out of that.


Obviously, this set-up is not a one size fits all solution and it might need some tweaking to suit your specific requirements. Which is why we would like to invite you to give us a call for what would work for you: different set-up, different budget, different favourites, a little demo… It’s only a phone call away. In the end: what you don’t ask for, you are not going to get. Right? 


Happy dreaming, planning, building and… enjoying!