When I said home theater was dead (kinda)

Back in 2014, I wrote an editorial about why people didn’t care about high-end video. On our previous platform it was the source of a very lively discussion. Unfortunately all those comments didn’t transfer over to our new system. So, perhaps after all these years it’s time to reignite the conversation.

Is home theater dead?

It’s not dead. And I’m glad. But I think that a decent home theater isn’t as droolworthy as it once was, most of the time. Unless you’ve really sunk some cash into getting one of those specialty TVs Samsung’s been pushing at CES. Most of us get our TVs from big box or club stores and it’s pretty amazing what you can get for $500. Sink another $100 into a sound bar from Solid Signal and you’ll get very decent sound to match the very decent picture.

That’s the thing. People today get everything they need from a home theater system without a lot of work and without paying a high cost. So truly high-end home theater just isn’t something people drool after.

The other thing you have to realize…

…back in the glory days of home theater, which I’d call 1975-2000, a TV was the only way you got instant, engaging entertainment in your home. I mean, I suppose if you got the newspaper delivered you could get some joy out of that. But realistically if you wanted to sit back and be entertained, the TV was how you did that back then.

Today there are so many other ways you can be entertained. There’s your phone, obviously. There’s still your computer and tablet, assuming you have both. You might have a VR headset or any of hundreds of gadgets that didn’t exist forty years ago. Putting a massive investment into just one of those options might not be needed.

And really, home theater is not disappearing

If you look for it, there are plenty of opportunities to set up a really impressive home theater. Back in the early 1980s, getting a home theater setup generally involved going to small, cramped showrooms with very few choices. If you wanted to learn more you either relied on the salesperson or finding magazines or catalogs to pour over. Today, you probably have some sort of large electronics store within a dozen miles or so, and even if you don’t you have thousands of options from places like Solid Signal which are open 24 hours a day. Need information? You have a whole internet full of tutorials and reviews, including this blog and the granddaddy of them all, AVS which has been up and running for over 20 years. If you can’t find information about a particular part at AVS, it probably doesn’t exist.

What’s really happened is that home theater has expanded from being the province of the few to being massively popular among a large slice of the population. Those people who have a desire for a genuinely excellent experience can get one by buying one of the tons of products out there, with more reference material being available than ever. That doesn’t sound like anything’s disappearing at all, and it all sounds good to me.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.