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Confusing setup in existing house
21 replies to this topic
Posted December 31 2012 - 09:12 PM
We moved into a new house a while back and I'm finally getting around to setting up the home theater system. There are existing in-wall speakers, but I'm a little confused on their placement and the wiring and could use some assistance. All the connections for the speakers run into a built-in cabinet and the TV location is directly adjacent on the wall. I'm running a Harmon Kardon AVR 1700 (just purchased). So the basic setup is a 5.1, but the speaker layout is kinda weird. Picture 1 shows the layout. Picture 1: Layout There are 3 in-wall speakers and 2 in-ceiling speakers and they are as follows: Speaker 1: center speaker (I assume), I can't get the grill of to determine make/model. This speaker doesn't have a 'normal' speaker connection (see below) and I can't figure out how to hook it up.http://www.hometheaterforum.com/content/type/61/id/173047/width/350/height/700 Speakers 2&3: In-wall, both are brand JBL Speakers 4&5: In-ceiling, Pioneer S-910's. I guess i am unsure of how the entire system was designed as it doesn't fit the typical layout? When I wire my speakers to my AVR, which one's should I put in which spot? Now the really tricky part, I only have wires for 4 of the speakers; I am missing the wires for what I assume is center speaker, above the TV. I have some plates with RCA connections, and it appears I could hook to the speakers either via the RCA connections, or by the loose wires, but again, on this primary plate, the connections for the center speaker are absent (pic. 4). It doesn't appear to be an oversight, as the system was likely professionally installed and it looks pretty clean. I have a 2nd plate that runs the old AV connections out to the TV, with a matching plate where the TV hooks in on the wall (picture 5); on this plate, there are RCA jacks that say "power base" and "to c/speaker". I assume the power base if for the subwoofer that I'll need to purchase and the "to c/speaker" is for the center speaker??? But why in the heck does the center speaker connect off of this AV plate? How would I hook this into my AVR? Any ideas? I'm totally confused! Picture 4: speaker plate Picture 5: AV Plate (in cabinet) with matching plate above TV: Notice "power base" and "to c/speaker" jacks... Could anyone offer any assistance/advice? I'm a little confused on this whole thing.
Posted January 01 2013 - 07:16 AM
It doesn't look like surround so much as a kludged home audio system. The speaker connections look like RCA jacks. Take the plates off to get to the bare wire, if that's easier to test to, rather than terminating speaker cables to RCA connectors for testing. They also have RCA connector for video, indicating a composite video feed. That's useless for any HDTV. You want HDMI. At a glance, the whole thing looks like a hack job from 1985. You may be better off removing it, and setting up anew your surround and video system as desired for 2013 you may get some benefit by using the original wiring as fish cables to pull through new cable through the walls
Posted January 01 2013 - 09:22 AM
Ha, ha, yeah, this thing is confusing as all hell:) House was built in 1996 and I swear, everything I encounter is a confusing mess (don't get me started on this stupid, extravegantly expensive steam shower in the master bath that leaks from like 10 spots that are impossible to get to:o!). So my budget right now is not going to allow me to scrap the entire audio system, I'd like to try and salvage what I can and make due for a while. I have speakers 2-5 hooked up (via bare speaker wires), but don't have speaker #1 hooked up (I assume this was the center speaker) because it only has an RCA jack to plug into. So, how would I go about hooking into speaker #1? I don't want to damage my AVR, if this is a line-level (terminology???) input? There is a separate 'powered base' RCA jack on the plate (picture 5) as well, so I wouldn't think that the center speaker is also line-level, but I don't know how to find out for sure? Any help would be appreciated:)
Posted January 01 2013 - 09:23 AM
I would skip all that. It almost looks like the guy had a preamp and ran it through the wall. I'd almost venture(based on the age of those Pioneer) this was done Quadraphonic. Is the house old enough for Quad?
Posted January 01 2013 - 09:51 AM
House was built in 1996, so I doubt it was old enough for Quad. I'm almost positive that speaker #1 is/was the center speaker (of sorts), as it is directly above the TV. I think they just wired it funky, or had a different amp that used RCA connections? I'd like to hook into speaker #1 to test it, but don't want to damage my AVR, if the speaker is line-level. Is there a way to easily determine if that speaker will damage my amp? I can't get the damn grill off the speaker to see if it has power run to it, but I do not think it does.
Posted January 01 2013 - 11:24 AM
You need to take those RCA plates off the wall and see what is on the other side. RCA speaker wire connections is from like 1960. You either had screws, RCA or 1/4.
Posted January 01 2013 - 11:32 AM
It isn't impossible that those are RCA speaker connects. I have a Kenwood "smash rack" from the early 90s that the LR are normal wire...but the center and surrounds are RCA jack. As a kid I had an old LXi stereo(does that brand bring back memories???) That had speaker A/B and both connects were RCA. Basically, once you take those out you'll be able to see if it as an analog cable or speaker wire.
Posted January 01 2013 - 11:46 AM
Ok RCA plate off: the wire going to the RCA's labeled "power base" and "c/speaker" are one and the same. Red wire to post on one RCA connection, black wire to post on another RCA connection and the other, I assume ground, going to a ground post. Photos are blurry. So does this mean that the speaker fed by these wires is not a powered bass? Can I hook it directly to the AVR into the center speaker connection?
Posted January 01 2013 - 12:16 PM
Get rid of that RCA plate and hook up binding posts.
Posted January 01 2013 - 12:18 PM
Wait a minute... What is the total number of "gray wire"(looks like 6?) And do each of those have two internal wires?
Posted January 01 2013 - 12:31 PM
there are 6 wires, each with internal wires, they are mostly AV wires (I think), which I will be ignoring as I will be running HDMI (I assume). The RCA jacks labeled "power bass" and "c/speaker" are both fed by a single wire that consists of a black, red and bare wire.
Posted January 01 2013 - 12:36 PM
Anything that splits in two(at the end) is speaker wire. The other 4 could be for cassette/cd(that is if those don't split). You need to do the same on the other one. I have a feeling this one fed the center speaker directly and maybe(???) They had an amp. Since those two "speaker wires" are there...connect an amp and see what makes sound.
Posted January 01 2013 - 12:45 PM
Anything that splits in two(at the end) is speaker wire. The other 4 could be for cassette/cd(that is if those don't split). You need to do the same on the other one. I have a feeling this one fed the center speaker directly and maybe(???) They had an amp. Since those two "speaker wires" are there...connect an amp and see what makes sound.Ok great! I just want to make sure that the speakers those wires feed is not powered, as I don't want to blow my AVR? Is there a way to check that, or does a powered speaker's wires run differently than those in the picture?
Posted January 01 2013 - 12:56 PM
Take the entire wall plate apart(both of them). Any "gray wire" that doesn't "split in two"...pair up with the one underneath. Any gray wire(since there are 5 speakers there HAVE TO BE 5 gray wires that end in two wires. Period) you find that splits in two, you need to check. Regardless, you need to find those 5. They exist in this antiquated mess. Pick up a cheap $20 t-amp on Amazon. Connect your phone to it.
Posted January 01 2013 - 01:07 PM
Couldn't you check for continuity and resistance with a multi meter?
Posted January 01 2013 - 01:10 PM
If he has one/knows how to use it.
Posted January 01 2013 - 01:11 PM
If he has one/knows how to use it.There's always that....
Posted January 01 2013 - 04:20 PM
I would skip all that. It almost looks like the guy had a preamp and ran it through the wall. I'd almost venture(based on the age of those Pioneer) this was done Quadraphonic. Is the house old enough for Quad?I thought it was Quad at first, except there's five speakers. It's a weird hack job of 'whole house audio' As has been found, I think it's just speaker wire terminated in RCA jacks. (Not normal today, but not so crazy, since that's the termination still used for subs and many digital in/out.) For a few bucks at Monoprice, you can buy new wall plates. Or plug on the receiver and speakers and see what happens.
Posted January 01 2013 - 05:00 PM
Ok, thanks all for your patience and assistance:) I took the RCA plate off the center speaker and cut the wires and spliced to speaker wire and hooked to the AVR and the speaker works. The cable from the center speaker had 3 wires (red, black, ground), so I connected as follows to new speaker wire: red: red and ground, black: black, sound right, or can I just leave the ground unconnected? I agree that this is a hack job of a setup:rolleyes:. I'll plug it all in and see if it is workable until we decide to upgrade speakers and redo it all at some point in the future...not looking immanent as we have twins due in a few months:cool: What would be your recommondations on making the system most functional at this point without a complete tear-out? I could add a speaker or two and then disconnect one of the existing speakers I suppose? Any ideas?
Posted January 01 2013 - 07:37 PM
I would isolate what wire goes to what speaker, hook it up, see how it sounds...
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