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Wiring issues (1 Viewer)

nezander

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New home purchased 3 years ago, "pre-wired" for home audio/video entertainment system. The "pre-wiring" package leaves a huge bundle of wires terminating at the bottom of the wall where a home a/v system would normally be placed, they've been hanging out of the wall in a coil since I bought the house.

I finally get around to purchasing the a/v components I want, and get everything installed, including two satellite speakers behind and above my head. The outlets that are pre-wired for these two speakers each have a single blue cable that contains one red and one black wire, as I expected them to. I attach the two satellite speakers up there with some nice mounts, attach the red and black speaker wire to each one, and come down to find the corresponding wires to attach to the receiver.

When I get down there and unbundle the coil of wiring hangin out of the wall, I find 4 yellow cables and 3 blue ones. Of course they are not labled, but I figure I can just test until I get the correct two blue cables. I trim some blue cover back, and what do I find? About a dozen tiny multi-colored wires, none of which look like speaker wires. The other 2 blue cables? Same thing. So, I peel back one of the yellow cables. Inside are a red, black, white, and green wire. I doubt if they are connected to my speakers up top, but just in case, I try connecting the red and black wires inside to a portable radio, just to see if I can get any sound out of one of the satellites. No good. I try the other yellow cables, which have the same wires inside, still nothing.

So, is this typical? Am I missing something here? At this point, I can't tell what ANY of the huge bundle of wires hanging out of my wall are actually for. Shouldn't I just have 2 blue cables coming out down by where the A/V center should be that are attached to the two speaker wires above? Is there some other wiring scheme that home builders typically employ, or did I just get morons overcharging me a fortune to do a really bad job of "pre-wiring" my home for A/V?
 

Joseph DeMartino

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The tiny multicolored wires are either data or communcations wires. These kind of bundles often contain Cat-5 or Cat-6 cables and/or telephone wiring for home networking, etc. The others could be low voltage power wires or audio cables with a standard red/white l/r pair plus a green/black pair for a second speaker, using different colors to keep the pairs straight. Didn't your builder provide any information about this set-up? (BTW, the ceiling is a lousy place for surround speakers, which ideally should be to the sides of the main listening position and a little above ear-level when seated. Putting them in the ceiling is one of those interior decorator moves like mounting a TV above the fireplace - which is usually way too high for comfortable viewing. Aesthetics and concealment are allowed to trump function.)

Maybe you can contact them and they can at least put you in touch with the subcontractor who did the low-voltage wiring to explain all this stuff. (Can't believe they didn't label any of it.)

Regards,

Joe
 

nezander

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Nope, no lables anywhere or any schematics left by the builder or sub contractors. Highly annoying.
 

Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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The yellow cables, assuming the four wires inside them are large-gauge like the ones up at the speakers, it is probably 4-conductor speaker wire. It’s possible they ran one of them up close to the speakers, then split it out and spliced in the blue wire you see up there. (I’ll guess they ran the other wire somewhere else that someone might want a second set of speakers – a patio, bedroom, etc.)

Since there is two of them, the trick will be to figure out which one they used, and what the wiring configuration is. I’ll hazard a guess that red/black would be for one of the speakers, and green/white for the other, but you’ll just have to experiment with different combinations.

If all else fails, you’ll need a tone generator and probe to trace the cables. Hopefully you can find one in the $40-50 range on eBay.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt
 

brandonchenry

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Here is my best guess. Somewhere (garage, basement, utility room) you have a low-volt can (or a metal enclosure that all of your low-volt wires run to. In there you will find all of your Cat-5 (the little blue one with 8 wires in it) RG-6 (typical cable type wire) and your speaker wire. The Wire with four in it is a four conductor speaker wire (this is used by installers to save them the time of running two regular pairs together). Should this be the case, you need to make connections in your low volt box to get sound from your receiver to your ceiling speakers.

After reading this thread again, another possibility jumped into my mind...If you only have two speaker drops in your room, I bet the pre-wire is for a whole house distributed audio system. Do you have other rooms with two speaker drops in them? Also do you have any switches (or dials or blank cover plates) in any of the rooms? These would be your volume attenuators. They would have one yellow (4-wire) running to it, which would equal a stereo pair. Then From there, two of the blue (with the red and black pair inside) would run up to two speaker locations.

Anyway, I am starting to confuse myself now, so I hope I have not totally confused you too. If you give me some feedback, I will keep helping you diagnose what you have going on there.
 

nezander

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Oh yeah, there are blank cover plates everywhere. Several in each room in fact, some up high ( I assume for more speaker placement, maybe for the different 'zones' that my receiver's manual say's it's capable of handling ) and near the light switch in nearly every room. They all have at least one mud covered cable jammed up inside them. :frowning: There is also a much larger plate in the master bedroom closet (on an outside wall ) but it doesn't have any yellow or blue cables in it, it's all coax cable and the labels point to all of it being Verizon FIOS stuff. I can't find a larger plate where all of the audio-type cables might be hiding, so it seems like you are correct, that all of it is meant to control a/v signals per each room independently.

However, if that is the case, then you'd still think my original two speaker wires up there would be terminated down where all those cables are bundled, but I don't believe they are, unless my testing with a portable radio isn't the way to check it. It seems like they split it somewhere else and it's going to need to be traced and then spliced back down where I need it, but I don't have the equipment or skills for that. I'll have to hire somebody if it comes to that.
 

nezander

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Will one of those tell me anything that my feeble testing with a portable radio wouldn't? I'm asking because I genuinely don't know, I'm not familiar with it and have no idea how it works or what it does.
 

brandonchenry

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I know what you need to do.

In your living room, there is a blank cover plate (switch highth). Behind there is where one 4wire will meet two 2wires.

At this point you need to jumper them together with some wire nuts or something. They were not hooked up to start with because the installer was going to use a volume attenuating switch there to jumper everything together. You on the other hand dont want attenuation there, so should just jumper the wires together.

Then you can figure out which one of the 4wire leads hanging out at receiver location feeds the room it is in.
 

brandonchenry

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BTW

there may be one cat-5 at each volume attenuation spot too.

This could serve many functions depending on what you need/want.

If you hook your bedroom up as zone two on your receiver, at the wall justion box you could put a voulume dial with a built in IR repeater so that you could still control your rack in the living room with remotes in the bedroom
 

Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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The tone generator would connect to two wires (strip off the insulation first so it can connect to bare copper). The probe is used to find the wires. When it gets near the wires connected to the generator, you'll get an audible signal.

So, what you'd do is connect the tone generator and go to all those locations where the blank covers are and position the probe near the cover. If it's a location where the wires connected to the generator are, you'll hear an audible signal from the probe. Then you can remove the cover and check each individual wire. The tone will get noticeably louder when you touch the probe directly to the wires connected to the tone generator.

Handy gizmo to have around. I never would have sorted out the screwy phone lines in our house without it...

Regards,
Wayne
 

nezander

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You, sir, may be a certifiable genius. Soon as I get home tonight, I hope to prove that you are.
 

nezander

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Considering the wiring explosion that my home seems to be, I think I need to pick one of these up. Thank you for the info, sir.
 

nezander

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That was it! Thanks for the help, you just saved me a ton of money, I suspect. Much appreciated.
 

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