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Wiring for surround sound?

This is a discussion on Wiring for surround sound? within the XDTalk Chatter Box forums, part of the XD Talk category; Originally Posted by bdavison I used to install home theaters for a living. I am a THX certified installer, and work with sound/media on a ...


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Old 05-25-2012, 09:00 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdavison View Post
I used to install home theaters for a living. I am a THX certified installer, and work with sound/media on a weekly basis in large arenas. So here are a few tips.

You will need to run cable for the following:
1. Center Channel
2. L and R front channels
3. Subwoofer
4. L and R (if running 7.1 surround, I'd run them anyway since someday you might want to upgrade)
5. L and R rear channels
6. 3 HDMI cables minimum to your flat panel display.(if hanging on wall)
7. Power to the flat panel.(if hanging on wall)
8. Composite cables to the flat panel (most things are HDMI now, but if you don't run these you will probably find some obscure item you want to connect that only has composite outputs..there are others too like s-video, etc.)
9. Coaxial cable to cable or satellite.
10. HDMI cables to bedrooms/bathrooms/garage/etc. (anywhere you want to send the video/audio feed other than the theater)
11. Speaker wire to the patio, pool area, garage.

I HIGHLY recommend using a in-wall junction box that has terminals for each thing you want to wire up inside the wall. Don't just run them out the drywall or out of the bottom of the wall. You can get terminal boxes that contain all the female HDMI, female speaker, coax and power outlets.

Ignore any idiot that says you need monster wire. Its not worth the money, and is a scam. Just use rated in-wall speaker wire. You may want to consider adding HDMI repeater/amplifiers in the HDMI lines. The amps won't be needed in most homes, unless you are running long multi-room HDMI cables. Anything over a 50ft run....add a HDMI amp/repeater. If its over 100ft...dont even run it, it won't be worth squat.

If you are hanging a large flat-panel, use the right mount, and make sure when you install it, you put ALL the bolts into a stud. I would recommend having the framer double stud or box in the area you plan to put the TV. 60" LED/LCD/Plasma screens weigh well over 100lbs in some cases. It needs a solid mount. Don't skimp on the mount. Children have been killed by falling flat panels. Actually, anything that is heavy and hanging....mount it solid. Overkill here is ok.

If you are running a projection....same thing...mount the screen on the studs. Make sure the framer/electrician puts in a power outlet box with double studs in the ceiling for the projector mount, and power options. It needs to be SOLID. You should be able to hang from the power box. If its not solid...the subwoofer will shake the mount/projector and make your picture look like crap. You can install a junction box for your connections.

I recommend installing soundproofing before the drywall goes up. There are a bunch of options here. Not only will this keep your theater sound in the theater, but it also helps to eliminate unwanted buzz or vibrations from inside the wall that ruin the sound.

If you are installing audio/video equipment in a closet, or enclosed area it needs ventilation, and lots of it. It needs a good high volume fan unit, that will pull the heat out of the equipment. Make sure it has somewhere to get air too...and filtered air works best since it will keep dust out of your equipment.

I HIGHLY recommend getting a filtered power supply for your gear. Not just a surge protector, but an actual FILTERED power supply. LED/LCD/Plasma panels are susceptible to power spikes...the displays are usually ok, but spikes can fry the power supply in the unit. The filtered power supply will take care of this, in addition...it gets rid of power issues that can cause interference problems.

Choose your lighting carefully. Not only which lights you plan to use, but their locations as well. Cheaply made lights will vibrate and drive you nuts, not to mention you will be changing bulbs constantly as the subwoofer blows them out. Choose solid well made wall sconces, and in-ceiling lights. LED's are fantastic as well. Stay far away from any lighting that hangs off the ceiling. Ceiling fans are a big NO too. Be aware of their positioning too. Lights that are in the wrong place, will reflect off the screen, or put annoying shadows/reflections in the room. Dimmer switches (especially remote operated) are really nice.

Let me know if you need anymore help.
You just scared me with all that jargon. I don't plan on having a dedicated theater room even though I'm buying the house as a bachelor.

Looking at my floor plan is it even feasible to run surround sound in such an open great room?

KB - Houston Interactive Floor Plan
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:00 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdavison View Post
I used to install home theaters for a living. I am a THX certified installer, and work with sound/media on a weekly basis in large arenas. So here are a few tips.

You will need to run cable for the following:
1. Center Channel
2. L and R front channels
3. Subwoofer
4. L and R (if running 7.1 surround, I'd run them anyway since someday you might want to upgrade)
5. L and R rear channels
6. 3 HDMI cables minimum to your flat panel display.(if hanging on wall)
7. Power to the flat panel.(if hanging on wall)
8. Composite cables to the flat panel (most things are HDMI now, but if you don't run these you will probably find some obscure item you want to connect that only has composite outputs..there are others too like s-video, etc.)
9. Coaxial cable to cable or satellite.
10. HDMI cables to bedrooms/bathrooms/garage/etc. (anywhere you want to send the video/audio feed other than the theater)
11. Speaker wire to the patio, pool area, garage.

I HIGHLY recommend using a in-wall junction box that has terminals for each thing you want to wire up inside the wall. Don't just run them out the drywall or out of the bottom of the wall. You can get terminal boxes that contain all the female HDMI, female speaker, coax and power outlets.

Ignore any idiot that says you need monster wire. Its not worth the money, and is a scam. Just use rated in-wall speaker wire. You may want to consider adding HDMI repeater/amplifiers in the HDMI lines. The amps won't be needed in most homes, unless you are running long multi-room HDMI cables. Anything over a 50ft run....add a HDMI amp/repeater. If its over 100ft...dont even run it, it won't be worth squat.

If you are hanging a large flat-panel, use the right mount, and make sure when you install it, you put ALL the bolts into a stud. I would recommend having the framer double stud or box in the area you plan to put the TV. 60" LED/LCD/Plasma screens weigh well over 100lbs in some cases. It needs a solid mount. Don't skimp on the mount. Children have been killed by falling flat panels. Actually, anything that is heavy and hanging....mount it solid. Overkill here is ok.

If you are running a projection....same thing...mount the screen on the studs. Make sure the framer/electrician puts in a power outlet box with double studs in the ceiling for the projector mount, and power options. It needs to be SOLID. You should be able to hang from the power box. If its not solid...the subwoofer will shake the mount/projector and make your picture look like crap. You can install a junction box for your connections.

I recommend installing soundproofing before the drywall goes up. There are a bunch of options here. Not only will this keep your theater sound in the theater, but it also helps to eliminate unwanted buzz or vibrations from inside the wall that ruin the sound.

If you are installing audio/video equipment in a closet, or enclosed area it needs ventilation, and lots of it. It needs a good high volume fan unit, that will pull the heat out of the equipment. Make sure it has somewhere to get air too...and filtered air works best since it will keep dust out of your equipment.

I HIGHLY recommend getting a filtered power supply for your gear. Not just a surge protector, but an actual FILTERED power supply. LED/LCD/Plasma panels are susceptible to power spikes...the displays are usually ok, but spikes can fry the power supply in the unit. The filtered power supply will take care of this, in addition...it gets rid of power issues that can cause interference problems.

Choose your lighting carefully. Not only which lights you plan to use, but their locations as well. Cheaply made lights will vibrate and drive you nuts, not to mention you will be changing bulbs constantly as the subwoofer blows them out. Choose solid well made wall sconces, and in-ceiling lights. LED's are fantastic as well. Stay far away from any lighting that hangs off the ceiling. Ceiling fans are a big NO too. Be aware of their positioning too. Lights that are in the wrong place, will reflect off the screen, or put annoying shadows/reflections in the room. Dimmer switches (especially remote operated) are really nice.

Let me know if you need anymore help.

I agree completely. I would also like to add that if you are doing an enclosed cabinet for the tuner, amp., and other pieces make sure you leave room over and behind them for cabling and cooling. A friend had a built in unit done for her house when she renovated and I went over to look at what it would take to hook up heer system. Long story short her carpenter allowed just enough room for the individual pieces, no cooling and no cabling and no air flow. I told her what needed to be done to fix it and I guess that he hit the ceiling when she told him to fix it and she was not going to pay for it. I allow atleast 2" over amps and about 1" for everything else. As for airflow I use a high flow cooling fan mounted high in the cabinet as possible and aimed out of the cabinet. Blowing cool air in can cause condensation, sucking out hot air is far better. To keep her unit quiet I used the pocket where her TV was mounted on a retract setup as a plenum. I drilled a 3" hole down low and another up high where I mounted the fan. The plenum was big enough to cool her system with the TV retracted, but still fairly quiet with the TV up. So far her only issue was when she was learning how to use the system. I got calls for a month going Help!!!! I also agree that to do the job right you want to use UL listed in-wall cabling. If there is something like a fire it might cover your butt, besides local code may require it. Ask your local building inspector to be sure. I hope this helps. Have fun.
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:04 PM   #23
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I know about the cooling needs well. I have to keep my office in the 60's because there's a tall wall locker filled top to bottom with all our routers and cable boxes. If they get hot IT gets an alarm and we get griped at.
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:23 PM   #24
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It sounds more complicated than it is, but it will be a learning experience and if done right will be very enjoyable.
Plan what you want and where you want it, then allow for upgrades and changes.
Research what will be needed to complete your plan.
Practice some of the terminations on your kitchen table until you are comfortable with them and are more comfortable. Trust me lying on your side to make connections for a box down low sucks enough. It is certainly not the most comfortable time to learn how to do it.
Refine your plan as needed to ensure success.
Execute your plan. Do NOT get over frustrated while doing the install. If you get frustrated walk away. Being frustrated is a good way to make mistakes and when dealing with electricity (even low voltage) property damage and personnell injuries and death can and have occured.
Enjoy the experience. Not many can say that they installed a in wall system woth being proud of in their own home.

If you have questions I will help if I can. Enjoy.


BTW It sounds to me like your IT's need to find another spot for the rack or quit gryping. If I would be ticked to have to keep my office that cold (if I had an office, I have a bench in a shop).
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:34 PM   #25
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What about a wireless system? What's the pros and cons?
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:37 PM   #26
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It's not a rack. It's an 8 foot locker with what looks like hundreds of wires coming out of it. I actually like having an excuse to keep it cold.
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:42 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by UofHdevildog View Post
What about a wireless system? What's the pros and cons?
That would depend on what you want to run (ethernet, stereo, etc.). The biggest con is depending on where you live there can be a lot of interference.
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:44 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by UofHdevildog View Post
It's not a rack. It's an 8 foot locker with what looks like hundreds of wires coming out of it. I actually like having an excuse to keep it cold.
Ok, I would be to cold. Even living here in northern WA state, I still get cold. I am usually wearing a jacket in the shop. 70 degrees is about right for me.

Check your PM in a few minutes.
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:45 PM   #29
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UoH,

That's going to be an interesting room to set up for HT.
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:59 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UofHdevildog View Post
What about a wireless system? What's the pros and cons?
That would depend on what you want to run (ethernet, stereo, etc.). The biggest con is depending on where you live there can be a lot of interference.
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