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Home Theater on a Budget, Part 1: Starter System

Great sound is possible at an affordable price.

If you’re on a tight budget, creating the perfect home theater experience might not seem like a realistic goal. But, armed with a little knowledge, it’s entirely possible to assemble a quality home entertainment system at an affordable price.

It comes down to knowing what to look for and how much to spend on each element of your system. Here are some suggestions that will enable you to build a great-sounding 5.1-channel starter system without breaking the bank.

AV Receiver

AV Receiver

At the heart of every home theater system is an AV (Audio-Visual) receiver. The Bluetooth®-enabled Yamaha RX-V385 is a great starter receiver for any listening environment. It offers 5.1-channel surround sound, meaning you can use up to five speakers (three front and two rear) and one subwoofer. Or consider the Yamaha RX-V485, which adds extra power and Wi-Fi capability.
Main Speakers

Main Speakers

Yamaha NS-333 bookshelf speakers are a good choice for your main front right and left channels, as well as your rear surround channels. They offer several features that allow them to mesh well with any home theater setup, including a high-gloss piano finish, a two-way bass reflex design that make them flexible enough for both main and surround use, and magnetic shielding so they can be placed next to a TV or video monitor without degrading the picture with stray magnetic fields. NS-333 speakers come in sets of two and are internally wired with Monster Cable™ to ensure optimum sound quality.
Center Channel Speaker

Center Channel Speaker

To complete the front end of your home theater, you’ll need a center channel speaker designed to help boost the dialog in a movie that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle of the other two front speakers. The Yamaha NS-C444 is specifically designed for this purpose. It incorporates two-way acoustic suspension and features a speaker grill, a high-gloss piano finish and a waveguide horn that allows the sound waves to reach your ears without getting reflected off the walls.


No home theater audio system is complete without a powerful low end. An excellent choice here is the Yamaha NS-SW100 powered subwoofer. Its special Twisted Flare Port is designed to create a smooth flow of air around the edge of the port (versus the turbulent air flow around a conventional port). With its gently shaped form and slanted front surface, the NS-SW100 is also a stylish addition to any household.


One last note: Make sure to make room in your budget for speaker wire, HDMI cables, speaker stands and other accessories you might want to include with your system.

You’ll find that even on a limited budget you can create a home theater experience so nice that you’ll likely think twice before heading to the movie theater. The only thing you’ll have to do is pop your own popcorn!


Part 2 of our “Home Theater on a Budget” series, covering intermediate systems, can be found here.

Click here for more information about Yamaha AV products.


Ted Goslin
Ted Goslin is a content marketing specialist for the Yamaha Consumer Audio group who has dedicated his career to learning and writing about music and sound technology. His time as senior editor of Mobile Electronics magazine resulted in his being nominated twice for the Western Publishing Association MAGGIE Awards. Ted’s work at Mobile Electronics included small business best practices and exploring the emergence of new audio technology in blogs and feature articles. His music background includes over 20 years playing, teaching, and composing music for steel drums. He is also the editor and publisher of the popular online publication, PAN Magazine. Ted loves showing people the benefits of having quality audio in their home and helping them overcome common problems they experience while exploring various ...

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