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Helps this rookie!!!!


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#1 of 14 drvai

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Posted April 08 2008 - 01:16 AM

Hi to everyone.

I'm a complete rookie in this home theater thing. I searched this forum and learned A LOT, but still have some doubts. The thing is that I'm remodeling my place and I wanted to wire the living room and master bedroom with speaker cable. The contractor will do this, but I need to choose the cable (and buy it).

What do I buy!!??? I still don't know what system will I buy, actually I also need advice on this.

Will I be able to use a generic wall cable with a bundle home theater system (the ones that include speakers and receivers?).

What type of connector would I need?

Because of all the mess I have now, I can't dedicate 100% on this and I really would appreciate of someone could guide me a little bit.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

#2 of 14 chris.big.money

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Posted April 08 2008 - 03:51 AM

Hey i know how you feel- i'm a rookie as well; But i can help you in some areas. you should probably go to Home Depot and get some 12-16 gauge wire depending on how much you want to spend. Apparently, the home theater in a box (HTiB) systems are not recommended on this forum; i wouldn't recommend it either as i currently have one that i consider temporary and am not very happy with it. You should probably shop around for separate speakers and receiver. Do you want 5.1, 6.1, or 7.1 surround sound? What is your budget? Are you looking for High Definition systems? These questions could help determine if you should go for a HTiB or a full fledged system.

#3 of 14 drvai

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Posted April 08 2008 - 04:12 AM

Thank you so much for the response.
About the cable: wouldn't I need a special audio cable?

About the system: I was thinking in $1000, even though I could go a little further. I don't wan't anything too fancy. Just to play the HD TV and Blue ray. I've seen some systems that come with a cradle for an ipod, which would be a good feature.

Thank you.

#4 of 14 Jeff Gatie

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Posted April 08 2008 - 05:21 AM

In-wall rated 12 guage wire available at HD or Lowes will be great for your needs. No need to get a specific brand besides making sure it is rated for in-wall use; there's not much you can do to "improve" copper and plastic.

#5 of 14 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted April 08 2008 - 05:33 AM

Definitely go with a big honking roll of cord from Home Depot, either 12 or 14 gauge. (You don't want to go thinner than that.) Make sure it is UL rated for in-wall use. When I prewired a house I installed wall jacks that could accept banana plugs - one set just above floor level behind where the equipment rack would go in each room (I did the living room and one bedroom) and one set on the back wall above the main seating area. In the bedroom the jacks were placed to correspond with storage shelves built into the headboard of my bed. In the living room I installed a three-foot wide "floating" shelf above the couch and installed the jacks just above it near each end. Then I just attached banana plugs to wire running from the surround outputs on my receivers to the jacks behind the audio racks, and short lengths of speaker wire (the same stuff from Home Depot) and banana plugs to the surround speakers and plugged them right into the wall. Upgrades of the speakers or the receivers would have been a snap. (Unfortunately I didn't end up living there long enough to find out, but that's another story... Posted Image)

It is true that a lot of cheaper "HTiB" systems use hardwired RCA jacks or proprietary connectors for their speakers (or have all the speakers connect through a "bass module) which is one reason they should be avoided like the plague. (Another is that they offer little or no room for expansion or upgrades, especially the ones that integrate the DVD player and the receiver.)

You can find "Home theater in a box" from major manufacturers that are matched sets of separate components sold together at a slight discount. These sets tend to cost a little more than the more basic sets, but unless your budget is carved in stone, you will probably find that the extra flexibility and room for growth they offer is more than worth the extra money. (It is really annoying when you realize you can't get the most out of a game system you want to add to your system because there aren't any more digital audio inputs or HDMI connections available.)

Check the Denon, Onkyo and Yamaha sites, just to name three, for some competitve "HTiBs". You can also check locals stores like Best Buy and Circuit City which often bundle speaker systems with AV receivers and sometimes DVD players in packages that they sell at a discount. Sometimes an "HT in a box" doesn't all have to come in one box. (Also don't be afraid to haggle, even in Big Box stores. Many years ago I helped a friend buy a new TV, VCR and complete sound system at Best Buy and got them to knock a few bucks off the main speakers and throw in all the interconnects and speaker wires for free. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.)

Regards,

Joe

#6 of 14 Ennsio

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Posted April 08 2008 - 05:45 AM

Welcome to the Forum.

You've already been given some good advice for the wire that you need, but I'll chip in with some thoughts on your other comments.

You ask about what type of connector you need. I'm assuming your referring to connectors to your speakers, and if that's the case, then you don't need anything. Just strip the bare speaker wire and insert the end into your receiver on one end and your speaker on the other. That's the simplest and cheapest way and works fine for any type of speaker.

If you do want banana clips or something similar to use as connectors, they are far cheaper at Monoprice than anywhere else. You could also buy any wall plates or anything else you need for wiring the house from Monoprice and save lots of money.

As for what system to buy - the reason most home theater in a box systems are not recommended here is that they don't sound very good and limit your ability to add other components to your system down the road so you will end up having to buy a whole new system later on, rather than just being able to upgrade individual components if you bought a stand alone receiver and speakers.

You can also often do far better in terms of bang for your buck if you buy individual components and build up your system gradually. Many people recommend buying a receiver and a pair of speakers first, and then adding a sub, center channel and surround speakers as you have the money for it. If you have an idea for what your budget is, we could offer you advice for different systems to consider.

To get you started though, if your budget is low, try a Denon receiver and Athena speakers from Audio Advisor. I have the Denon AVR 786 and Athena LS100 speakers and they sound great for an entry level system that sounds far better than an entry level system, and the receiver has a lot of inputs for different components.

For the speaker wire, I would suggest 14 gauge in-wall for the fronts and 12 gauge in-wall for the surrounds as the signal must travel further.

#7 of 14 chris.big.money

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Posted April 08 2008 - 09:18 AM

Just to add to the above posts... depending on your budget, you could also find some great speaker systems on Klipsch Reference IV, Klipsch Speakers, Klipsch Quintet, BIC Acoustech, BIC Acoustech Speakers, Premier Acoustic, NHT Speakers - Call 888-224-3663 . They have some great all-in-one systems but they usually come with only the speakers. They leave buying the receiver up to you. As some of the above posts said, this further allows you to build on your system as time goes by. They also have the individual speakers if you do decide to go that route and pick out individual center, sub, left, right, surrounds, etc.

#8 of 14 drvai

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Posted April 08 2008 - 10:44 AM

THANK YOU GUYS....

I really thank you for the info. I guess that I already have it for the wires.

I also was thinking that I will finish up buying a receiver and separate speakers. The problem is that I have no idea how to match the speakers with the receiver. I guess that's a lesson for later.

#9 of 14 drvai

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Posted April 08 2008 - 10:45 AM

Another thing..

Plates with banana plugs are very cheap. Should I get those?

#10 of 14 Ennsio

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Posted April 09 2008 - 04:17 AM

As long as you properly connect the wires, then there should not be any problem with using plates with banana plugs. They will help make things look cleaner so if that is your aim, go for it.

Just make sure that the wires are solidly connected to the back of the wall plate so that there is a good signal path to the speaker. Sometimes this can be difficult to do so people prefer running the speaker wire through the wall directly to the speaker. This route is not as clean but reduces the number of connections in the signal path, and would probably work best when you have a bigger speaker that would hide the hole in the wall.

For matching speakers with a receiver, I would suggest you determine your budget for your speakers and your receiver and then go out and listen to some speakers. Once you know how much you can spend, and what speakers you like, we can recommend some receivers for you.

#11 of 14 drvai

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Posted April 09 2008 - 09:06 AM

Ok.
I started looking for cable, and found a couple of CL3 models for wall use. I only found 18 and 16 gauge. Do I need 12?

On amazon, I found this:
"Monster Cable 4-Conductor 14-Gauge In-Wall Speaker Cable UL-approved for in-wall use"

I wonder what happens if I just buy normal speaker cable.

I also was looking for the receivers and I could get a system for a good price.
Question: Can I use a 7.1 system as a 5.1?

Sony has a couple of nice models with all the connections available and at a good price.

"All in one" systems are really tempting as for about 400 you get the whole thing, but they really look cheap. Plastic speakers, even the cables are crap.

Thank you once again to all.

#12 of 14 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted April 09 2008 - 09:27 AM

Monster Cable is grotesquely overpriced for what you get. Again, Loewe's and Home Depot should carry 50 foot reels of exactly what you need at a price you can't beat. (When I bought my speaker wire I found out that HD had a "per foot price" that they charged if they were measuring off the reel and cutting to length. I had figured out how much I should need, plus a safety factor, and when the clerk did the math he told me that I could buy the whole reel for less that what he'd have to charge me for the exact length. Needless to say, I bought it. I also wired the condo I moved to after I had to sell that house and the condo after that from the same reel. There was still wire left on it at that point, so I gave it to my nephew to use in his first place. Posted Image

Regards,

Joe

#13 of 14 drvai

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Posted April 09 2008 - 09:33 AM

Thank you Joseph.
I went to my local HD and they didn't had "wall speaker cable". And from the normal speaker cable they only had 18 and 16 gauge.
Tomorrow I'll go to Lowes.

Monster cable is 100+shipping for a quad conductor (80 feet). Too much?

#14 of 14 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted April 09 2008 - 12:29 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by drvai
Monster cable is 100+shipping for a quad conductor (80 feet). Too much?

$1.25 a foot, plus shipping.

Here's some 14-g in-wall rated wire from the Home Depot website. 500 ft. for $145.00, plus shipping.

$0.29 a foot, plus shipping.

Loewe's has some 16 ga. (not carried in my local store) - a cardboard "pull-box" 500 ft. for $88.00 plus shipping.

About $0.18 a foot.

Posted Image

You tell me.

Later,

Joe