Need tips on prewiring for surround sound

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by Tim_Wetzel, Oct 2, 2004.

  1. Tim_Wetzel

    Tim_Wetzel Stunt Coordinator

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    My house is under construction, and I want to wire the living room for surround sound. I don't plan to have anything fancy in there - just one of those prepackaged surround sound systems that come w/ a reciever, 5 speakers, and a sub.

    What kind of wire should I look at?

    What kind of receptacles are available for the surround speakers? Should I just put in a standard electrical box, or do they make specialized parts (that hopefully are smaller) for speakers? I can put in a regular box and plate, but that's a pretty big hole in my ceiling, and this system won't be in for a while so I'll put in blank plates.

    Also, I'm unsure how to mount the speakers. A couple will probably be from the wall, and a couple others from the ceiling. It would be sweet to find a small plate that has a mounting and the wire receptacles.
     
  2. Mike Fassler

    Mike Fassler Supporting Actor

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  3. Tim_Wetzel

    Tim_Wetzel Stunt Coordinator

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    What gauge wire?
     
  4. Mike Fassler

    Mike Fassler Supporting Actor

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    I would assume 10 gauge all around will be sufficient for you.
     
  5. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    A regular electrical box is fine. Normally I recommend not using any kind of “receptacle” – which is typically a wall plate with banana plugs on it. Just use a blank plate with a hole in it, and leave enough speaker wire to go directly out to the speaker.

    However, since this is new construction that probably isn’t the best tact – the wire is bound to get painted over, nailed-through during sheetrocking, or otherwise damaged. If there is an attic or basement available where extra wire could be coiled up and pulled through later on, I’d do that. If not, you can always have them do it like cable TV or phone jacks – coil up a small length in the box, and terminate it. For speaker wiring, you’d want to use these wall plates from Parts Express, or something similar:


    [​IMG]


    Most of the big hardware stores these days have this stuff, as does Radio Shack.

    Another thing, if the location you plan to have your sub is any distance from the equipment, you might want to have a signal cable run for it. Use a good grade of RG-6 coaxial, with solid copper center conductor and braided shield, and have the cable TV guy put “f” connectors on it like any other CATV jack. Between the wall and sub, and wall and receiver, you can use regular coaxial cable with F-to-RCA converters.

    You can also have an electrical outlet put in at the sub location, too. This way you won’t have to drape signal cables or electrical cords across the floor. Make sure the sub’s electrical outlet is on the same circuit as the one near the rest of the home theater equipment.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  6. MartybenSchmuel

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    Just a thought...I pre-wired our new home and had the electrician leave small holes with a length of wire hanging out (I had already mapped the location of in-wall and floor standing, and in-ceiling speakers) so that I could mount the speakers in the walls/ceiling. If, however, your speakers will be unattached to the walls/ceiling then the picture that Wayne presented is the ticket. Also, if you're just building, be sure to consider "structured wiring" for the entire house. I'm kicking myself for not investing the money in what is now a frustrating experience.
    Marty T.

    By the way...14 gauge or less (fatter) is sufficient
     
  7. Tim_Wetzel

    Tim_Wetzel Stunt Coordinator

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    One thing I need to figure out is how I'm going to mount the surround sound speakers. That will help me decide where exactly to put the wires. I dunno if I should put them on the wall or the ceiling.



    MartybenSchmuel - What do you mean by "structured wiring"? Like feedin speaker wires into the bedrooms, kitchen, etc? I do plan on doing that. I dunno how many speakers I should put in each room though...



    Wayne A. Pflughaupt - How do I ensure it's rated for in-wall use? Should it say that on the package?



    I think what I'll do w/ the wire is coil up a foot or so and stuff it into the box and tape it in there, so it won't be damaged during the finishing process.



    My floorplan is like this: http://www.americandesigngaller.com/1445fp.jpg

    EXCEPT, the stairs are agains the wall that seperates the kitched from the living/dining room, and the fireplace is in the northwest corner. The TV will be about where the fireplace is shown. You can see where the ceiling is vaulted, and the wall that seperates the kitched from the living/dining room does not connect to the ceiling.



    Not ideal for home theater, but my basement will be very nice when it's finished. (several years, probably)
     
  8. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Tim, the wire will either specify it’s for in-wall, or be designated as “CL-2 rated.”



    By the way, the link bounced.
     
  9. MartybenSchmuel

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    Tim,
    Structured Wiring is the term used for complete networking of your home for cable TV, computer networking, telephone, and you can throw in speaker wiring as an extra. Essentially it runs coax (RG6) and network (Cat5e) cables to every room in the house from a panel in the garage or utility room. You can then add any TVs, computers, telephones, etc. anywhere in the house without having to call the electrician. For speaker wiring, I used CL 14-4 from Monster Cable (thats 4 separate wires of 14-gauge wire all in one sheath). You can also use 16-gauge for the "background music" speakers. Home Depot ought to have some CL wire in stock (try to get 4 strands in one sheath).

    Regarding wall or ceiling speakers, I would opt for in-wall, assuming there are studs behind each wall. I had to go with ceiling speakers because one of my side walls is an outside wall of the house (cinderblock) and doesn't lend itself to imbedded speakers!!
    Marty
     
  10. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    10ga is very thick and you may have trouble working with such thick strands. Most of us use 12 ga wire for the long runs.



    Run the wires to standard electrical outlet box's. Pull enough wire to create a un-broken run from amp to speaker. Shove the excess into the wall and use a blank wall-plate. Later, drill holes through the wall-plate to reach the speakers. You CAN put in wall-plates with binding posts, but save that for later.



    Be sure to run 3 sets of speaker wires to the rear. A rear-center speaker is becoming popular and you wont regret the extra capacity.



    Find the corner of the room with the 2 longest, un-broken walls. This is likely where you will put your subwoofer. Run some ordinary RG6 CATV coax to this location. Make sure you leave several feet of slack as the subwoofer can often sound much better if you move it a few feet along the wall NEAR the corner. Buy some "F-to-RCA-Male" adaptors from Radio Shack to convert the coax to a long subwoofer cable. Do the blank wall-plate trick here as well.



    Strong Suggestion: Make sure to have a live phone jack behind your equipment rack. Many CATV and Sat box's want a phone jack.







    None. Companies like Polk Audio make in-wall speakers or you are stuck trying to mount small speakers with universal brackets onto the walls. You basically have to pick the speakers first before we can discuss mounting options.



    Just note that most of us dont like in-wall speakers. They have nearly zero flexability and once you cut the hole - thats where they stay good sound or not. I prefer running speaker wires to electrical outlet box's down low, then running wires to the rear speakers. (I also prefer all the speakers to be at ear-height).



    If you really, really want the clean-looking install, pick a spot 3-4 feet above your ear level and run speaker wire to this location and tack it up to a stud. If you buy small sat speakers, drill a small hole to pull the wire through and mount the speakers to brackets. If you go with in-walls, cut into the sheatrock near where the wire was and it should be available.



    Hint: zig-zag the speaker wire between the studs with insulated staples LIGHTLY tacked into place. Years from now you may need some slack. Tug the wire to pop the first staple and you will have 9-15" of slack. Tug again for more.



    Hope this helps.
     
  11. Sami Kallio

    Sami Kallio Screenwriter

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    Have the wire go through pipes. You don't want your attic to be a wire jungle. Makes the wiring safer, cleaner and easier. Regular wire would do as the pipe is there to protect it.
     
  12. Tim_Wetzel

    Tim_Wetzel Stunt Coordinator

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    Link fixed.
     
  13. Tim_Wetzel

    Tim_Wetzel Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't like the idea of putting the wires in the wall then cutting thru later. I have bad visions of not finding the cable and cutting a large hole to find it, or being one stud off.



    I'll probably just run them to standard single-gang electrical boxes, then the speakers will be mounted by brackets. I just plan to have the small "background sound" speakers that come with systems like this: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/t...cs&vi=tech-data



    BTW - I'm not even sure what all of these speakers are, and where exactly to place them. [​IMG]



    Also I'll probably end up the surrounds "too high" for some people's tastes, just b/c I like them out of the way. In a few year when I finish the basement, I'll set up the basement for more serious sound. My upstairs floorplan kinda sucks for theater anyhow, since the wall between the kitchen and living room doesn't reach the ceiling and the ceiling is vaulted.
     
  14. Tim_Wetzel

    Tim_Wetzel Stunt Coordinator

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    ttt [​IMG] I'm starting this work tomorrow.
     

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