Home Theater

Ten Upgrades for People Serious About Home Theater (Part 2)

I am a true AV enthusiast. I write for a tech website, listen to the AV Rant podcast weekly, and I love tinkering with my setup to make it “The Best!” So to continue my series, “Ten Upgrades For People Serious About Home Theater (Part 2)”, I will focus on the other stuff you need to wow. Of course, we will have some reasonable choices for you. But let’s remember those over-the-top ones! Let’s discuss! 

Upgrade Six – Speaker Cable 

Speaker cables are one of the essential parts of your entire system. So many people overlook the value of speaker cables in our hobby. Because without them, we wouldn’t be able to get the sound from our receiver to our speakers. What? Did you expect me to wax poetic about the transformative nature of a “good” speaker cable? You got the wrong writer here, pal! 

Reasonable Speaker Cable Choice 

So for this choice, I will head over to our friends at SVS. Not only do they make outstanding subwoofers, but they also make some fancy pants speaker cables that look audiophile and won’t break the bank. 

They come in various lengths and have a nice braided outer jacket. The cables get finished with some premium-looking speaker pants and your choice of 24K gold-plated banana plugs or spade connectors. Heck, you can even get super fancy and mix and match with banana plugs on one end and spades on the other! 

The SVS Soundpath Ultra cables start at $43.99 for a 4′ speaker cable. But if you need a longer speaker cable, they are customizable up to 50′. And that cable tops out at $94. So I’ve spent far more on less in this hobby. 

Over The Top Choice 

Oh boy, do you want to spend a whole lot of money on something that won’t do a thing to improve your sound? Well, an “audiophile” grade speaker cable is what you need! 

For enthusiasts wanting to go OTT, a set of Skogrand Beethoven speaker cables is the only way. Starting at about $22k for a single 10′ speaker cable, you get all the things. Custom silk outer sleeve, low-k material inner framework, and the fanciest of speaker pantaloons! 

Upgrade Seven – Paint 

Everyone knows that paint makes the room. You could have a plain grey wall, but we are AV enthusiasts. So we need to take it to the next level. 

Reasonable Paint Choice 

Paint doesn’t need to be crazy expensive to be effective. You want a color that is easy to apply, has good coverage, and won’t scuff if you look at it. I used Behr Ultra Scuff Defense. I got mine in the matte finish and have been impressed with its durability. So I went with their Asphalt Grey color, and I love it!  

Over The Top Choice 

Everyone knows that light is the enemy of the home theater. You need to eliminate, no, eradicate every source of light in your room! For that, there is only one choice—Vanta Black by Surrey Nanosystems. Vanta black absorbs up to 99.965% of all visible light. Plus, it’s carbon nanotubes! I have no idea what that means, but it sounds expensive! 

And cost? Whereas most paint’s price is by the gallon, they price Vanta Black by the gram! How much does a gram cost? Oh, only about $80! And how much does a gram cover? A couple of square inches – maybe! You do the math on that one! You better get ready to mortgage one of the MUONs to afford that wall paint. 

Upgrade Eight – HDMI Cable 

So you will need a “good” HDMI cable to get the most out of your system. How much you are willing to spend will be up to you. 

Reasonable HDMI Choice 

Getting a quality HDMI cable that doesn’t cost much is straightforward today. There are LOTS of choices out there. What do you want in an HDMI cable? I would get an Ultra High-Speed Certified HDMI cable if I were you. It will give you 48Gbps throughput to get all the HDMI 2.1 goodies. 

Our friends at Monoprice have many options that won’t break the bank. I opted for their “fancy” HDMI cables with the braided outer jacket. They start at $11.99 for a 3′ in-wall rated cable and top out at $23.99 for the 15′ version. If you need something longer, you will want to look at the Monoprice 8K SlimRun AOC (active optical cable) HDMI. 65′ will set you back $116, which is reasonable for that length! 

Over The Top Choice

If you want to show off, nothing says “wow” like a crazy expensive HDMI cable you will never see! Audioquest makes some of the most costly HDMI cables that money can buy. And check out these features: 48Gbps, eARC, 4k/120, and 8k/60! And they come with names like Thunderbird, Firebird, and Dragon!! “My cable is fire, Bro! I have a Dragon!” A 3′ length will set you back a measly $2395, and 10′ is $4495.

And remember to order at least 3x more length than you need because you want to be able to coil that bad boy on the floor like the audiophile baller you are! 

Upgrade Nine – Room Treatments 

I have always said that the icing on the cake was room treatments. A well-treated room can make you rethink a speaker upgrade. 

Reasonable Sound Treatment Choice 

Naturally, I would point you toward DIY options to keep the cost down, but we are looking for a reasonable upgrade that will impress. For that, I suggest GIK Acoustics. Their Alpha Series combo panels with absorption/diffusion look fantastic and will tame your room. And no, most rooms do not need diffusion, but the panels look impressive. 

And they are not expensive. A box of four 2×4′ combo panels is $480 or $120 per panel. 

Over The Top Choice 

So there is only one choice here. You need to ditch the Vanta Black paint… and the gyprock! That’s right, folks. You need to build yourself an anechoic chamber! The only way to hear the music in its purest is to absorb every bit of ambient noise. Oh, and put your amp in Pure Direct

They are costly, and I found a kit on Alibaba for a cool $300k. But I am sure it’s quality! 

Snack area? Serious audiophiles don’t snack because the popcorn particles will absorb sound, and you need all the sounds to appreciate fully the “perfection” that is a needle on vinyl. 

Upgrade Ten – Seats

So you now have the best display in town. And you have the most rock ‘n roll speakers for your space, and all the other boxes got ticked off. So now you need to sit down and enjoy it! Time for seating. 

Reasonable Seating Choice

There are as many opinions about what is best for home theater seating as there are home theaters. Seating comes down to personal preference and room layout. I like Valencia Theater Seating. Starting at $6000, their Bespoke Series is simple, customizable, and great looking. Valencia will cover your needs whether you want a single chair, a love seat, or a bank of recliners/sectionals. 

Plus, you can add accessories like a wine glass caddy, popcorn bowl holder, or cigar ashtray!

Over The Top Choice

So there is only ONE choice for your OTT space. And that choice is a Herman Miller Eames Chair. Yes, I am aware that it only seats one. But audiophiles don’t share. Ever!

Our Take

So there you have it. Ten Upgrades For People Serious About Home Theater (Part 2)! Sure, some of the upgrades are on the pricy side for the newcomer. But here is what I have learned about AV, “buy once, cry once.” Sure, I still love to score a deal. But I don’t even flinch about buying new, quality gear because I know it will be a one-time cost.  

As for my over-the-top options? I would love to say that they were fictional. But people do buy $22k single speaker cables. And worst yet, they think they make a difference. So, in any case, I hope I made you chuckle at the silliness that is our hobby!

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