Ten Must-Have Accessories for Your Home Theater
As hobbies go, Home Theater falls solidly under “going down the rabbit hole!” Over my decades in the pursuit of perfection, I can say that my home theater has changed dramatically in equipment, placement, and decor. And when someone tells me they have reached their end game, I always counter with a “For now!” But, what if you have found the perfect speakers and placement? What do you do next? I will give you my top 10 must-have accessories to take your home theater experience over the top.
1) Room Treatments
So it baffles me that people will spend thousands on speakers and then invest hours in placement and measurements in their room but neglect to add acoustic treatments.
People seem to think that room correction is a magic bullet that will fix every issue in your room. While it will help with some problems, it can only do so much. Adding proper absorption or diffusion to your room (in the correct positions) will do far more to correct your room issues than the best room correction.
I think that most people shy away from room treatments because they believe it’s too expensive (go DIY) or will be ugly (keep reading). But trust me when I tell you that room treatment will be one of the best investments you can make in your sound.
2) Printed Acoustic Panels
So you want to add room treatment, but you don’t want your space dominated by monolithic black panels. That’s understandable. Not everyone will prioritize function over form. And it’s hard to blend panels into a shared space that is both a home theater and a living area. So if you want to treat your room and add some style, printed panels may be your ticket. This is one of my favorite must-have accessories for any home theater!
Here, there are a couple of options. First, some companies like GIK can print your image, mount them to your panel choice, and ship them to you. No muss, no fuss here. This option is more expensive than a full DIY panel with no printing. But, you are getting a pre-made panel with your choice of image.
If DIY is your jam, you could always get the fabric printed by a third party (Spoonflower does this) and then mount it on your DIY panel. This option is great to keep costs down, and you can get any variety of photos printed.
Note: All images you submit will have to be your own, royalty-free, or something you have purchased a license to use. Companies like GIK have a massive library of royalty-free images, or Google-Fu it. We have a tutorial for that as well.
3) Physical Media
Do you want to make every aspect of listening to music just a bit more inconvenient? With little to no difference in sound (maybe even a downgrade), and add a bunch of extra costs? If so, physical media is the rabbit hole for you!
In the early ’90s, I had a significant collection of CDs and LPs, with a sprinkling of tapes and minidiscs for good measure. But given my desire to always be on the bleeding edge of tech, I quickly adopted streaming platforms and mobile devices and sold off all of my gear, confident that I would never touch it again!
But after several lockdowns, I found a renewed passion for physical media and music in general! So let me be clear here, you will not hear me wax poetic about the tonality or clarity of physical media vs. streaming media. CD-quality from my player vs. lossless on Tidal sounds the same. And if I can be honest, vinyl is a step down in terms of clarity and dynamics. But how I love dropping the needle on an LP! If a record player isn’t a must-have accessory for a home theater, I don’t know what is!
Physical media is about nostalgia (for me), taking a step back, and enjoying music again. My friends laughed when I told them I got a turntable, and now they can’t wait to see what vinyl we will be spinning!
And you don’t have to drop a ton of cash into it. I have the Monoprice Monolith Turntable (a review is in the works), and it more than meets my needs for a turntable. If you shop your local buy and sell, you can get some decent LPs for a reasonable price. CDs are even cheaper. I snagged a great CD player and 200 CDs for about $60.
4) Plex Server
Ok, so I just advocated for physical media, and now I am telling you to get a Plex Server. I love my collection of BluRay and DVDs, but sometimes you want to be able to throw on a movie without the disc. Enter Plex.
I own a pretty substantial physical media collection, but sometimes it’s a pain to find it and throw it on my BluRay player. Plus, I am away for my job, so I like to download my movies and take them with me. They made Plex for someone like me.
Fortunately, it’s not a massive layout of cash. I ran a personal Plex server with a modest PC and then moved to an Nvidia Shield. Plus, it’s super simple to set up. Put your ripped movies (I won’t get into how to do that – it’s a whole other process) onto a drive, install the Plex Media Server on your PC, NAS, or Nvidia Shield, and follow the setup guide to make your libraries.
Add the Plex player to your device (most streaming devices can access Plex) and set that up, and you will have access to your movie library. If you want to go down the Plex rabbit hole, you can get the Plex Pass and add trailers before the movies or Webhook automation to your system. Imagine starting a movie, and the Webhook commands tell your lights to dim automatically! To my friends, the Plex server setup is like magic making it the one must-have accessory in my home theater they find the most impressive.
5) Fancy Speaker Cables
Alright, I bet many of you are scratching your head because you have read my articles where I blasted people with expensive speaker cables. I still do, but I said FANCY speaker cables, not expensive. I have zero issues with someone getting some pre-made speaker cables with braided jackets because they look good. If they are going to be out in the open, I can see the need for an aesthetically pleasing cable. Just know that they won’t make a bit of difference, sound-wise so don’t break the bank thinking they will.
Some of my favorite cables are the Amazon Basic speaker cables. I own three sets for my left, center, and right speakers. They have a simple black jacket with a gold-colored banana plug. But if you want something fancier, these speaker cables from GearIT have a nice braided jacket, fancy wire pants (yes, that’s what they call them), gold banana plugs, and come in black or white, allowing you to add some visual contrast to your space. Or you could go the DIY route and make your own for next to nothing and brag about your bespoke speaker cables!
6) Paint / Wall Paper
Many people think that a home theater must be a dark, sterile space with nothing on the walls to be “perfect!” I don’t subscribe to that notion, and I have designed my space to reflect my hobbies and passions. Paint or wallpaper is one of the easiest ways to jazz up a room. My wife and I chose dark paint colors because it was primarily a home theater, but we balanced them with my Star Wars decor and chose colors we felt would live in that world.
Do you like bold colors? That’s an easy one. Grab your favorite color and make an accent wall. I have seen lots of rooms with bold accent walls, and they looked amazing. I am currently in the process of adding a cool geometric patterned wallpaper to my hallway, and I think it will be super cool.
Remember, it’s your room, so don’t let anyone tell you what to do with it.
7) Decor / Art
The decor of your room is an easy way to make it match your personality. As I said earlier, I am a huge Star Wars fan, and my room has helmets, art, and models from Star Wars. However, I also love music, so I have my CDs in racks against a wall, and of course, there is my collection of whiskey and rum.
But I also have an assortment of pillows that add some pizzaz to the room and a bit of visual interest. But that’s just my room. Make your room into what you want. If you love greenery, I have seen setups that feature great plants that accent the room. Just don’t put them on your speakers!
8) Media Rack
It’s no secret that I am a kid of the ’80s and that my love of HiFi is from that era and still influences my choices in gear. The ‘80s were all about the HiFi stack and the rack! Back then, the racks were pretty bland, but today we are blessed with so many options.
I am a fan of the vertical rack, but if that’s not your thing, there are tons of horizontal consoles that will fit your needs and your budget. Ikea makes some great consoles that are very budget-friendly. But if you want something more upscale and you have a bit of cash to burn, Salamander Designs has some fantastic stuff. Plus, you can customize it to fit your needs.
No matter what you choose, a well-placed media rack or console can set your room apart from others.
Ok, so this is not for everyone, but I loved it when my local theater proudly proclaimed they had Dolby Surround on a plaque. Many theaters still do this, and my local IMAX still has plaques for DTS on the walls.
I decided that I wanted to do the same. So I found a great seller on Etsy (Cinesigns) that made some great classic theater signs on aluminum. They are reasonably priced, high quality, and give me that movie theater vibe. The best part is that you can show off your gear in a classy way and add a little something extra.
But you can also have movie posters or an excellent “Now Playing” sign in your theater. The world is your oyster here. As accessories go, putting up plaques in your home theater is a must-have for me.
10) Internet-Connected Lighting
One of the most fun things I have added to my home theater is internet-connected lighting. It lets me turn my lights on and off with my voice via a voice assistant or control it with my remote.
It’s also dimmable and color-changing, so I can use my app to set up scenes for almost any situation. I have a movie scene that drops my lights to near dark and pulls up my bias lighting. I also have one that syncs the lighting to my music and can change with the beat.
And if you think it will cost you a fortune, you are wrong. Five years ago, there were only a few manufacturers, and the cost was prohibitive. But now, many companies are making internet-connected lights, and they are pretty darn affordable.
Home Theater and its setup are wholly subjective. What one person prizes as a must-have is another person’s “Pass!” I have given you my Top Ten Items that I feel have taken my theater over the top. But I am interested in what you added that you think adds value and pizazz.
Let me know in the comments what you added and why you feel it’s worth adding!