Running speaker wires question

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Bill Bradstreet, Oct 19, 2001.

  1. Bill Bradstreet

    Bill Bradstreet Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm getting very close to signing on the dotted line for a new house. The house has been started, but the walls don't have sheetrock on them yet. I'm thinking that I might be able to get speaker wires run through the walls for the HT and maybe a little more.
    Any suggestions on what I should ask for?
    The house has CAT-V already running through out, but I don't think the CAT-V will go from the Point A to the Point B that I need, so something else needs to be run.
    Should I do CAT-V? Should I do conventional speaker wire?
    The HT room will be 22x14. How important it is for me to make sure the wires running to opposing channels be the same length? Should I be asking any other questions?
    Thanks!
    Bill
     
  2. SamRoza

    SamRoza Stunt Coordinator

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    Cat-5 is not for speaker loads. CAT-5 is for network/data/phone service.
    I'd find some plenum-grade 12ga speaker wire to wire your room with. Or regular 12ga wire in a conduit(I believe that would make non-plenum grade wire legal to use in walls).
    Also, for short distances, it's not so important to keep your speaker wires the same length.
    Sam
     
  3. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    you don't want to use cat-5 cabling for your speaker. that stuff is designed for computers...besides...it's way too thin.
    since you have the opportunity now, run the thickest wire you can through the walls. i suggest 12g from home-depot. i think it's only about .30/foot.
    also, consider what you want to do here. basically, consider how many rear-surround channels you'll be running. pretty soon...having 4 (rear-center & rear-surround) speakers may not be uncommon. i guess you could always run the wire, but not punch a hole until you know you need it.
    also consider what kind of rear speakers you'll be running. if you run di-poles, you may be more likely to put them on the side walls then on the rear...but that's a whole different debate.
    i don't really know a lot about code though...i suspect you'll have to run the wire in a conduit or something. i'm sure your contractor will know this.
    you're lucky though. not having to run the wire on the floor down the side of your wall is so much nicer. it'll totally add to the dedicated ht feel.
    ------------------
    "The ship of death has a new captain." - nosferatu (1922)
     
  4. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    For wire run through the walls you can use the same kind of wire used for electricity, for most single family homes it is "12-2 non-metallic sheathed cable" some of which is trademarked "Romex". To pass the wire horizontally, drill a hole in the stud approximately in the middle for 2x4's or 2x3's, about two inches in from the inside wall edge for 2x6's. If the electrician has already begun stringing wire inside the walls, you can mimic that.
    You will need to decide roughly where the wires will come through the wall into the room, and install outlet boxes at these locations. The contractor doesn't want to string your wire through a hole in the drywall panel when putting that up. Even so, he may charge you extra for the additional outlet boxes he has to cut holes in the drywall for and the extra wires between the studs he has to squeeze the insulation batting around. Come to think of it, it is better to let the electrician start work first so you can match your outlet boxes' height above the floor to those for the house current.
    Unfortunately the cable with four 12 gauge wires is quite hard to find, you can get cable with three 12 gauge wires (12-2) or four 14 gauge wires (14-3), one of the wires is bare but that doesn't matter for speaker connections.
    You don't want to use a common ground for two speakers and get away with three wires instead of four. Since speakers need to be in phase, the combined current would make the ground need to be bigger than 12 gauge. Contrasted with 120-240 volt three wire electrical circuits where on average the net current through the ground is less than through either of the two hot wires.
    Other video hints: http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/video.htm
    [Edited last by Allan Jayne on October 19, 2001 at 02:27 PM]
     
  5. Bill Bradstreet

    Bill Bradstreet Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks on the CAT-V. I didn't think it was good for speakers, but someone told me one that it could be done, so I figured I'd throw it out there.
    I'm comfortable doing the speaker wiring in the walls... done it before in a basement. That's the easy part. I was planning on doing enough wire for a 4 surrounds.
    I've been very happy with my Yamaha DSP-A3090 (which has the front effects). I'll be replacing it eventually (hopefully soon) with either the new flagship or the replacement for the 3000, so that I keep the front effect speakers.
    I have a feeling when I finish the room, I'll be putting the A/V equipment in the back corner of the room instead of the front. I'll make a closet for it to fit in after I move in. Fun winter project I guess. ;-) That means I'll be stringing wires to the front of the room. I guess I'll have to string 6 wires as a result... front effect (left & right), front mains (left & right), front center, front subwoofer. The back wall. I'll probably want to do the surround channels as well just to be anal about the wiring. So, that means I'll have to wire 4 surround channels. The rear sub will probably get incorporated in side of the closet with a place for a plant on top or something.
    It obviously would be easiest to do all this before they do the sheetrock, but I may actually opt to wait until after closing. Then I could take my time and plan out where I place stuff. I'm not really an electrician, but I understand enough to do speaker wire installation. And I've done sheetrock in the past, so that shouldn't be hard to do too.
    This is where I'm going on the long term plan at this point. If I go with Maggies and end up hanging them from the ceiling, some of the wiring placement will be different than if I use cones placed on the side walls. If I don't go with Maggies I'll probably go with Klipsch or Def Tech powered towers, so the set up will vary based on the speakers. The wiring will be done to accomodate the speakers (the correct approach I think).
    If anyone has any corrections to my logic or improvements, PLEASE share! :)
    We've been giving an unofficial go-ahead by the mortgage company. Now we need it in writing and then we're ready to put in an offer I think! I'm excited if you can't tell.
    I'm psyched because this house has a basement, SO the bonus room will become the Home Theater! YEEEHAW!!!
     
  6. Sean-D

    Sean-D Agent

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    Bill,
    DO NOT USE ROMEX WIRE!
    Or any other type of data transmission line.(CAT-5) DO NOT use conventional speaker wire for this application. Using any in-wall wiring is a totally different ballgame. You can't just use whatever wire you have around the house. There are CODES that have to be followed. This is required EVERYWHERE. The (NEC) National Electrical Code specifically forbids the use of any wire outside of it's voltage or fire protection ratings. It may cause you insurance problems down the road.(No kidding) Please, ask your electrical contractor to make sure to use the correct wire.(they sometimes don't)
    It will protect you legally if god forbid an electrical fire ever breaks out in or near that wall. Insurance companies love loopholes. Something as insignificant as this can blow up in your face. I've been doing this for over 12 years and I can tell you it matters. I don't mean to scare you but you have to take care of business here. It's very simple. I will tell you exactly what kind of wire you need to be code compliant.
    Your In-wall Speaker wire should have these specifications in order to be (NEC) code compliant any where in the United States:
    * Must be CL2 rated low-voltage (speaker level) wire(Residential Use)
    * Must be CL3 rated low-voltage (speaker level) wire(Commercial Use)
    * Must be UL listed
    (most all wire manufacturers build the better CL3 rated wire only)(CMR is also available)
    All you need to do is go to a local consumer electronics store in your area(Best Buy,Circuit City,etc.) that sells Monster Cable and look for the following:
    Monster Cable 2 or 4 conductor "IN-WALL" CL3 & UL listed speaker cable. That's exactly what you need for your application. They sell it off of a large spool to whatever length you want. They also sell it on pre-wound mini-spools in specific lengths. It costs more than regular speaker wire but it's more or less a lifetime purchase. Spend the bucks now and you won't be sorry. Wires have twisted pairs technology so they will reject RF/EMI noise for better sound. Try to get wires with conductors between 14awg & 16awg. 12awg is not necessary for rear channel speakers.
    People will tell you it doesn't matter,......it does.
    I hope I haven't scared or confused you about this but I promise it will pay off down the road.
    Let us know how it turns out. Good luck.
    General Info: The electrical wiring in your walls create a strong magnetic field around itself. Run your speaker cable as far away from your power line inside the wall as possible to prevent noise. If you have to cross back over it for any reason, cross it at a 90 degree angle to prevent noise transmission.
    ------------------
    Sean-D.
    "If at first you don't succeed...,remove all evidence that you ever tried."
    [Edited last by Sean-D on October 20, 2001 at 02:18 AM]
     

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