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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; My house starts construction in a little over a week and I figured during framing would be the best time to wire for surround sound. ...


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Old 05-25-2012, 09:34 AM   #1
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Wiring for surround sound?

My house starts construction in a little over a week and I figured during framing would be the best time to wire for surround sound. My situation though is I have zero experience doing it. I'm very mechanically inclined but have never messed with wiring. Is this something that's easy to do, or should I leave it to the pros?
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:37 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by UofHdevildog View Post
My house starts construction in a little over a week and I figured during framing would be the best time to wire for surround sound. My situation though is I have zero experience doing it. I'm very mechanically inclined but have never messed with wiring. Is this something that's easy to do, or should I leave it to the pros?
It's as easy as planning your speaker placement and running standard speaker cabling. As long as you know your placement it is a piece of cake. I went ahead and went the extra mile by wiring my house with Ethernet and hdmi to every cable outlet so every tv and computer has a gigabit Ethernet connection and every tv can get a feed from my media center.
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:40 AM   #3
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So just buy the wire and fasten it to the frame with the ends of for the speakers in the right spot? After that do I just go back and tell the builder where to leave holes in the drywall?
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:57 AM   #4
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I did this a few years ago, it's pretty easy if your builder is cooperative. I was also able to run all of my AV cabling to and from the monitor, but it took some planning.

My advice is to terminate all of the wires at one end from a wall junction box (behind) where your components will be placed. Terminate all monitor wires in a junction box (behind) where your monitor will be hung/place. Terminate all speaker wires through a small hole in the drywall where your speakers will hang, or up through the floor where they will sit. My builder ran the wires and cables though holes drilled through the wall studs.

My final bit of advice is to make a list of all of the cables and wire with the length you will need and buy them from an online site instead of spending WAY too much at Best Buy, high quality cables and wire are MUCH less expensive if you shop. Buy the speaker wire by the spool and buy alot more than you think you will need, and also buy the cables longer than you think they need to be, it really sucks to run out of wire in the middle of the project.
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Old 05-25-2012, 10:21 AM   #5
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This is what I do when wiring buildings and homes. Take it for what it's worth but I do quite well at it.

Anything inside the walls needs to be done right. You can fix paint and floors and countertops but if it is inside the wall it is permanent.

You will need an access panel or wiring closet. Run your cables inside of a conduit from your origin to your access panel. The blue :smurf tube" you can get at Home Depot is great to use since it comes in 100 foot rolls. This is in case you decide to switch between satellite and cable and either need additional cables for a change or an extra cable for internet access or something like that. Run another piece of conduit (or four) from your access area to your area where you plan to have your components. Depending on your surround sound setup you will need an access panel to run the wires and split them out to the various speaker locations. Standard speaker wire in the grey sheathing with Red / Black wire is all you need (14 ga lamp wire). Either terminate them with a box and speaker plugs like I have or have the drywall guys pull them through the wall for you. Take pictures and measurements of everywhere you have a wire.

In my houses I have the following home run to every room in at least two locations per room - one white rg6, one black rg6, one blue cat5e and one grey cat5e. There is nothing I cannot configure with that run. and it is easy to track what is what with that setup. You can even buy that setup bundled together in one cable.

You will always need the ability to pull wires based on technology changes. HDMI might be great now but who knows what will be the standard five years from now. That is why your component area to your wiring closet should have conduit.

Spend the money now on doing it right and you will be golden.
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Old 05-25-2012, 10:24 AM   #6
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This is what I do when wiring buildings and homes. Take it for what it's worth but I do quite well at it.

Anything inside the walls needs to be done right. You can fix paint and floors and countertops but if it is inside the wall it is permanent.

You will need an access panel or wiring closet. Run your cables inside of a conduit from your origin to your access panel. The blue :smurf tube" you can get at Home Depot is great to use since it comes in 100 foot rolls. This is in case you decide to switch between satellite and cable and either need additional cables for a change or an extra cable for internet access or something like that. Run another piece of conduit (or four) from your access area to your area where you plan to have your components. Depending on your surround sound setup you will need an access panel to run the wires and split them out to the various speaker locations. Standard speaker wire in the grey sheathing with Red / Black wire is all you need (14 ga lamp wire). Either terminate them with a box and speaker plugs like I have or have the drywall guys pull them through the wall for you. Take pictures and measurements of everywhere you have a wire.

In my houses I have the following home run to every room in at least two locations per room - one white rg6, one black rg6, one blue cat5e and one grey cat5e. There is nothing I cannot configure with that run. and it is easy to track what is what with that setup. You can even buy that setup bundled together in one cable.

You will always need the ability to pull wires based on technology changes. HDMI might be great now but who knows what will be the standard five years from now. That is why your component area to your wiring closet should have conduit.

Spend the money now on doing it right and you will be golden.
Go to www.monoprice.com

Make sure you buy wire rated for running inside walls.

Also, most speaker vendors sell rough in kits for their in wall/ceiling speakers. If you know what speakers you want these will really make installation easier after the sheetrock is installed.

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Old 05-25-2012, 10:47 AM   #7
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Spend the money now on doing it right and you will be golden.
Darn you and your common sense! What are you doing on the interwebs?!
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Old 05-25-2012, 11:41 AM   #8
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Also, make sure you buy/install quality wiring. Cheap wiring will corrode thereby affecting sound quality.
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Old 05-25-2012, 11:56 AM   #9
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Also, make sure you buy/install quality wiring. Cheap wiring will corrode thereby affecting sound quality.
14g lamp cord bought in large rolls is sufficient.

IF the ends corrode, just strip a little off and and reconnect. It's not going corrode inside the insulation

I like the dual rg6 cat5e plan. What I did for a friend, I ran all the cable in the bare walls, photographed it, drew it up and let them seal the walls with the cable behind the sealed walls. That way if she decided to upgrade in the future, speaker wires are already in place.

Running a chase is also a good idea. Especially from a basement to an attic, but be careful of any codes. I have run 2" pvc on several different occasions and never had it rejected or questioned. Also, I've never bothored with fire resitant low voltage cable. Some municipalities may require it, my local inspector said "why".

Surround (and rear) speaker placement is so very critical for proper surround sound. I fought for a long time to get mine sounding right, but finally gave up on WAF and put the damn things where they belonged. HUGE difference.
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Old 05-25-2012, 12:23 PM   #10
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Let your electrician, plumber and mechanical guys have at it first. If they have to work around you and your wires, you can jack up your prices possibly or they might just go right through your work and your going to have to do it twice, or three times. You can have your turn when they are done, before the drywallers come in. Keep in mind that there will be inspections throughout the process and you can be the cause of some of those little red stickers (violations). Keep your low voltage wires out of the holes the AC wires use. Use fire-stop caulk where needed. Don't compromise the structure (framing) by drilling any-size holes just anywhere you think is convenient. Not trying to scare you off at all - just work with/around the pros.
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