Build Your Own Home Cinema

The Aviator, 2004

by William Lobley |
Updated on

Cinemas project 4K film onto huge screens and provide immersive surround sound audio, drawing in audiences and creating wonderful experiences. Well, it turns out that with the right combination of products, you can create a cinematic haven within your own four walls. No more sticky floors and no more talkative audience members.

Home cinema technology is no longer the reserve of the super-rich, with complete audio systems and projectors available for much less cash than you’d think. You can spend huge amounts, of course, but for those on a modest budget there’re real, quality home cinema solutions available.

There’re two ways to go about this. You can opt for a projector setup, which is a specialist set-up offering a huge image. You’ll need to be dedicated to film love and be willing to give up quite a bit of space. It’s something to do with the spare room, though.

The other route you can take is to set yourself up with a large 4K TV and sound system for your living room, plus a couple of small modifications. With the advent of consumer TV’s with extremely precise and stunning picture capabilities a 4K TV is a real contender for a home cinema setup. If you’re short on space, looking for a practical set-up or on a budget, this setup is for you.

Audio is a key feature to making what is effectively just a big screen into a home cinema. Projectors do come with internal speakers, but you'll want some dedicated external speakers, no questions about it. TV’s try their best and are fine for casual viewing or watching the news, but there’s no competition when lined up against a dedicated system.

Read on for a product guide on how to get your home theatre up and running.

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Projection Setup

The luxury of a home cinema set up is a very special thing, but a projection room is the ultimate.


Empire Projection Set Up

BenQ W2700 4K Projector, £1,389.991 of 6

BenQ W2700 4K Projector

This is considered by many to be the premier 4K projector, projecting 8.3 million 4K pixels of beauty just for you. It's packed with features to support HDR10 brightness and maintain colour accuracy, with the new 4K DMD chip also giving you an extra 20% of screen size. You can dial in the screen size accurately thanks with the hassle-free automatic focus, with a maximum image size of 120-inches. Be sure to check out the projection distances to make sure you can fit it in to your room.

Optoma UHD300X 4K UHD, £865.892 of 6

Optoma UHD300X 4K UHD

A budget projector with a top-level performance. The UHD300X offers a bright and colour accurate projection in 4k UHD. It is capable of handling HDR data and will upscale your Blu-rays to replicate 4KHD. At under £1000, it really is a very tempting product that's perfect for that first home cinema.

Projector Mount, £22.993 of 6

Projector Mount

Some people will have a decent high table, shelf or wall-cubby to fulfil the 'projector stand' need. But if not, this projector mount is easily adjusted and fitted to either a ground/table surface or ceiling. Just make sure you've measured everything out and have the cabling sussed before you start screwing things down.

Panasonic DP-UB450EB 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player with Dolby Vision/HDR10+, £1794 of 6

Panasonic DP-UB450EB 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player with Dolby Vision/HDR10+

This player has it all - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Playback, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision support, and DVD upscaling. There's also a dedicated HDMI audio output to help out your specialist surround sound set-up. If this isn't what you're after, check out our other Blu-ray player selections.

AYAOQIANG 100 Inch High Quality Projector Screen5 of 6

AYAOQIANG 100 Inch High Quality Projector Screen

A blank wall or white sheet isn't going to cut it with a projected image – they'll just mess around with the colour profile and blind you with reflected light. This screen has a double-layer fabric. These surfaces work to improve contrast and offer bright (not simply blinding) crisp images. This is what you'll need to fully appreciate your 4K projection. Available in 100-inch or 120-inch versions.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Ultra HD with Alexa Voice Remote, £49.996 of 6

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Ultra HD with Alexa Voice Remote

This can plug straight into the HDMI port of your projector and give you access to the content catalogues of Amazon Prime and Netflix, and on-demand player like BBC iPlayer and 4OD – how good would series 5 of Peaky Blinders look on the big screen?

TV Setup

Today’s powerful TVs make the TV-based home cinema a real possibility and offers greater daily practicality.


Empire TV Set Up

Samsung 2020 65" Q90T Flagship QLED 4K HDR1 of 5

Samsung 2020 65" Q90T Flagship QLED 4K HDR

This TV makes an impact, and when coupled with surround sound, it'll deliver the ultimate home theatre experience. The depth of colour offered by Samsung's TV is remarkable and industry-leading, with a whole lot of technological wizardry going on behind the scenes. All that means for us is that it supports 4K and HDR10+ with an OLED screen which delivers an impeccable picture with void-depth blacks and crisp brights – there's even a mechanism in place to block any bright light seeping into adjacent black areas. It's got great Smart capabilities and can be viewed from side angles without image-quality drop. At 65-inches, it's big enough to act as a home-cinema screen in a moderate-sized

HISENSE 55U7QFTUK Quantum Series 55-inch 4K UHD HDR Smart TV2 of 5

HISENSE 55U7QFTUK Quantum Series 55-inch 4K UHD HDR Smart TV

Stop the press, it's a 55-inch 4K TV for under £600. This Hisense is a great option for the cinema fan on a budget, as the ULED screen is boosted with Quantum Dot Colour and Dolby Vision support to deliver you a fantastic 4K UHD picture. It has a razor thin profile which is good for wall mounting, and all the Smart capabilities you'll ever need.

LG UBK80 4K Ultra HD HDR Blu-ray Player, £993 of 5

LG UBK80 4K Ultra HD HDR Blu-ray Player

This player is your one stop shop for USB, DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K UHD content. It can stream too, but your Smart TV covers that off

House by John Lewis Low Wide Shelf Unit, £604 of 5
CREDIT: John Lewis

House by John Lewis Low Wide Shelf Unit

You're going to need a sturdy and wide base for your TV-based home cinema. The space is going to allow you to comfortably set up your TV, Blu-ray player and speakers, while the sturdy construction will stop any rattling from audio bass. Get a dark, matt colour too – you'll get no glare from the screen

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Ultra HD with Alexa Voice Remote, £49.995 of 5

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Ultra HD with Alexa Voice Remote

While the Smart 4K TV will no doubt stream, this device ensures that you can stream in 4K quality whenever possible from a simple and easy to use interface. Plus, you get the added bonus of being able to control the device with your voice, which adds yet another level of luxury and refinement to you home

Audio Setup

Audio is of equal importance to picture. There’re many solutions out there which will deliver huge, cinematic sound and suit your setup’s need.


Empire Audio Set Up

Sony HT-RT4 600W 5.1 CH Soundbar System with Tall Rear Speakers, £2691 of 4

Sony HT-RT4 600W 5.1 CH Soundbar System with Tall Rear Speakers

The soundbar, loaded with three speakers, sits beneath your screen. The subwoofer lays to the side. Two tower-speakers stand either side of you to the rear. This is a true surround sound experience which make sure you feel, as well as hear, the film. Sony's 5.1 HT-RT4 is an efficient and powerful speaker solution and an absolute steal for under £300.

Onkyo HT-S9800THX(B) 7.1 Home Cinema System, £1,0892 of 4

Onkyo HT-S9800THX(B) 7.1 Home Cinema System

This product is ideal for those seeking the ultimate home theatre experience. Onkyo has got THX, Dolby Atmos and DTS involved with this to deliver you a 360-degree object-based high-fidelity soundscape with you at its centre – and it's going to be marvellous. When you aren't losing yourself in film, you can take advantage on the Bluetooth connection to give your music a concert-level treatment.

Logitech Z906 Stereo Speakers 3D 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, £149.983 of 4

Logitech Z906 Stereo Speakers 3D 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound

If you are looking for some surround sound on a tight budget, then look no further than Logitech. These speakers hit THX certification and will play Dolby Digital and DTS: X without any hassle. The volume is huge, and it's got bass like thunder. The bass might be a little fluffier compared to what you'll find at the higher end of the market, but it's still very

Sonos Beam Compact Smart Soundbar with Amazon Alexa Voice Control, £3894 of 4

Sonos Beam Compact Smart Soundbar with Amazon Alexa Voice Control

Specs: Sonos multi-room connectivity, Dolby Digital, Speech EnhancementConnections: HDMI ARC, OpticalYes, this one's a fair bit pricier – but it's perfect for a home cinema, because Oscar-winning sound designers helped engineer and fine-tune audio output. This bar will easily fill a room with incredible film audio. It's also great for those with a TV set-up who need to save a little space without compromising power. Plus, if you get some more space or some spare cash, you can increase your surround sound with a few Sonos Ones to create a 5.1 system.


Some essential, some not so essential.


Empire Home Cinema Extras

4K HDMI Cable Lead, from £6.991 of 9

4K HDMI Cable Lead

4K HDMI Cable Lead, from £

Octane 2-Row Cinema Seating Cloud XS850, £6982 of 9

Octane 2-Row Cinema Seating Cloud XS850

How far is too far? They sure do look

Speaker Isolator, from £15.993 of 9

Speaker Isolator

These pads will absorb some of the bass rumbles from your speakers. This will help you hear the audio as it should be, only from the speaker, rather than through your sideboard's

Blackout Blind, from £9.994 of 9

Blackout Blind, from £9.99

When you're attempting to sink into your home cinema experience, the last thing you want is outdoors poking itself in, glaring on the picture or getting in your eye. The room needs to be as dark as possible. A blackout blind is the only way to do it, unless you feel like bricking up a

Blackout Curtains, from £19.495 of 9

Blackout Curtains

A blind is good but to make doubly sure blackout curtains will double the protection and stop any glare from around the blinds edge. It's not excessive if it

Neoprene Adjustable Cable Sleeves, £6.896 of 9

Neoprene Adjustable Cable Sleeves

You're setting up a home cinema. There are going to be a lot of cables. Keep them organised and save yourself a load of hassle

Six Reusable Popcorn Containers, £11.957 of 9

Six Reusable Popcorn Containers

For those who need that sickly-sweet smell and rustling noise to fully invoke the cinema

Cinema Light Box, £11.998 of 9

Cinema Light Box

"What's on tonight?" Start the anticipation buzzing and advertise your evening's viewing

No Mobiles Sign, £2.259 of 9

No Mobiles Sign

Just in case you have any guests over come over to watch a film are a little too relaxed – official signs cut out the need to talk, just point and shake your


Resolution guide:

HD: 1280×720

Full HD: 1920×1080

Ultra HD/4K: 3840×2160

What’s 4K and what is Ultra HD?

These terms refer to the same thing – TV resolution. 4K screens offer four times more pixels than HD screens, with 8.3 million pixels working across the screen. This means clearer, accurate images.

What’s HDR and HDR10+?

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. It works to get as much light, crispness and depth into your picture. Whites are brighter and blacks are darker. It offers a huge range of over one billion colours. HDR10+ is an extension of this, but through the use of metadata creates an even more refined picture.

What does 4K and HDR do together?

  1. screens give you the pixels, HDR takes care of making them look good.

What is Dolby Vision?

Dolby Vision is Dolby’s HDR and HRD10+.

What’s OLED?

LED screens use a backlight to provide the image. With OLED, the pixels produce their own light which gives greater accuracy to the image.

Blu-ray versus Blu-ray UDH?

Blu-ray disks carry high-definition content, Blu-ray UDH (Ultra-High Definition) supersedes Blur-ray by carrying 4K content. Not all Blu-ray players are equipped to play the UDH variant, so make sure to check before purchasing your player.

What’s upscaling?

The conversion of a lower resolution into a higher resolution. For example, DVD content being played on a HD player will undergo upscaling.

What’s Dolby Atmos and DTS ?

They're technologies from competing companies which reach for the same goal. An object-based sound system which offers the impression of being in the center of the action. Sound is given the impression of coming from all around, including above. It’s groundbreaking and extremely immersive.

What's THX certified?

If an audio system is THX certified it means that it has undergone vigorous and thorough testing to guarantee an extremely high-level of performance. The audio you hear will be the audio that the sound engineers intended.

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