Someone asked me recently what home theatre setup I’d build myself if money was no issue. I’m not talking about an actual theatre — I’d rather just go to the movies for that — but here’s what I’d buy myself. If you have an appropriately fat bank account, enough space at home and an afternoon to buy everything, here’s what you should get.
Now, this is actually a realistic list — I like to keep things simple. For that reason, there’s no big external audio/video receiver with floorstanding surround speakers, no drop-down cinema screen with a LED projector. I just like a TV, a soundbar underneath it, and a few things plugged in.
It’s also stuff you can buy at just about any store, too — no fancy exotic brands. By the end of the year — once the PS4 Pro and Samsung’s new soundbar are both out — you’ll be able to walk into your local Harvey Norman or JB Hi-Fi, give them this list (and a stack of cash) and walk out with my perfect home theatre setup.
TV: LG 65EF950T, $8999
The TV is obviously the most important part of any home theatre setup, and I haven’t been quiet about the fact that I think the LG 65EF950T is the best TV that you can buy right now. It’s an OLED panel, which means perfectly black black levels. It’s 4K, which means a ridiculous amount of detail at the per-pixel level. It’s HDR, which means more detail than ever in highlights and shadows. Fed with appropriately high quality 4K HDR content, it looks incredible, especially in a dark room where those blacks just melt away. Plus, it just looks great when it’s switched off as well.
Sound: Samsung Series 9 K950 Soundbar, $1999
This soundbar is genuinely the best of its class that I’ve ever heard. As soundbars go, it’s quite sizeable and chunky, and that’s because it hides away a bunch of upward-firing speaker drivers for Dolby Atmos positional audio, bouncing audio off your ceiling to give your movies overhead sound effects. It has a great sub for low frequency effects, it has wireless rear speakers for proper — not simulated — surround sound, and it can pump out some seriously loud volume given its relatively small size compared to an actual surround sound home theatre system.
Blu-ray: Panasonic DMP-UB900, $1099
Ultra HD Blu-ray players are still very new, and that means there aren’t many on the market at the moment. That’s the reason that I was tempted to roll this item and the next together and go with a Xbox One S, the cheapest 4K Blu-ray player you can buy. But I really like the Panasonic DMP-UB900’s simple interface, and it also has the best image quality chops of any UHD player you can buy right now. 4K Netflix and 4K YouTube built in takes care of the two most popular ultra high-def streaming services on the market.
Gaming: PlayStation 4 Pro, $559
I’ve gone for a Playstation 4 Pro in this hypothetical setup because in this generation of gaming consoles I’ve found myself using a PS4 more than an Xbox One, and the PS4 Pro is the best iteration of the PS4 that you can (soon) get. You get HDR support for games as well as 4K video output, which isn’t so important considering the TV and Blu-ray player have their own 4K video outputs — and probably at higher quality, too. What’s important is support for a bunch of great games on the platform and support for future high-res and high-frame-rate games, which the OLED TV will do amazing justice to.
Streaming: Apple TV (4th Gen), $299
It’s probably indulgent to have a fourth media streaming device in this already well-catered for home theatre system, but I can’t help but love the fourth-gen Apple TV. A bunch of high quality streaming services (both TV and movies on demand and all five major local catch-up TV services) and mobile games, beautiful 4K screensavers and seamless software updates, all accessible through the unparalleled voice-recognition skills of Siri? All in one box? How could you say no at such a reasonable price tag.
Streaming: Google Chromecast, $59
Unless you already own an Android TV like the Sony Z9D, buying a Chromecast is just about the easiest way to connect pretty much any streaming video or music or streaming anything app from your smartphone. For anyone that comes over and wants to show you a quick clip off YouTube, or even for those lazy nights when you can’t be bothered to change the HDMI input or reach for the remote but still want to stream some Netflix, a Chromecast is an amazing piece of technology. Every house should have one. You should have one. Get one.