Home Theater Wiring Tips

Many people don’t understand how home theater wiring works. It’s hard to figure out all the different types of cables you need for your audio-visual equipment these days. Yes, it can be complicated, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it on your own.

If you’re planning to build a big home theater system that changes the structure, you might want to think about hiring a professional home theater installer. Nonetheless, for many of us, all we need to do is spend a little time planning how we are going to connect our systems together, and we are ready to go.

So, how do we go about setting up a home theater wiring? Let’s find out.

How To Do Wiring For Home Theater

After connecting a few devices together, wiring your home theater will seem far less daunting than it initially appears to be. Wiring up the most common devices is covered in the following guide, but I also address the proper gauge of wire to use and the best approach to conceal the wires in your home theater..

Before you begin wiring your home theater, be sure you grasp the scope of the project. Professional help is recommended if you wish to install ceiling speakers or other showy gadgets that require structural changes.

Do-it-yourself home theater installation is an option for those who want something more modest or are confident with their DIY skills. Be prepared for the possibility that the project will take longer than anticipated.

The next step is to educate yourself with the types of cords and connections you’ll be using in your home theater. Even though TVs and receivers for audio and video have the most connections, most manufacturers are considerate and clearly designate the various connectors.

Inexperienced installers will have the most difficulty setting up speaker systems because they typically do not come equipped with the proper wiring. This means that you will have to purchase the appropriate gauge wire and do the final wiring yourself. Wire gauges will be discussed in more detail later, so it doesn’t have to be too difficult.

Read: What Need to Know About DTS Sound

Basic Terminology

Another thing you should know before you start wiring up your home theater is that there are different terms for the same thing. When people talk about their home theater equipment, they use words like interconnect, cable, and wire. But what do these words mean?

It is something that connects two audio and video devices. For example, the wire that connects a DVD player to a TV, or the wire that connects a TV to a DVD player. A HDMI cable is a way to connect.

Wire and cable are both words that are used to describe things that send audio signals from the amplifier to the speakers. However, these terms are used a lot together, and wire and cable are the most common. It does help to know the difference.

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How well you know your wires

There are many typical kinds of cable that you’ll encounter while wiring your home cinema. Listed below are some of the most prevalent:

HMDI

TVs and other gadgets may be connected using this wire. A high-definition image is produced, often in 1080p.

DVI

Conventional projectors and computers are the most common applications for this kind of wire.

SCART

The only time you’ll see these old-school wires is when you’re trying to connect standard-definition equipment (such as a VCR). As a general rule, the majority of individuals who desire to accomplish this will already have some experience with these wires.

Component

High-definition photos may be sent over this connection, which is rather popular. Three different colored pins form the basis of a component connection (usually red, blue, and green).

VGA/RGB

When it comes to PCs and laptops, the most popular method of connecting them to each other is through a USB port.

S-Video

There are many items using this kind of analog video connection, however it doesn’t generate as nice a picture as others.

Coaxial

This is a popular option among home theater aficionados for transmitting high-quality audio signals across devices.

RCA stereo and multichannel

Analog audio signals may be sent via RCA, which is available in two-channel and surround sound forms. In this essay, I go into great depth regarding these wires.

The most frequent kinds of cable in a home theater are the ones listed above, although there are many more. If I listed every sort of cable and every technique to connect it, we’d be here all day. Instead, I’ll stick to the most popular. Even if you’re using a less common cable, it’s probable that you already understand how to connect it.

In general, these wires are quite simple to put together. It’s a simple matter of plugging the gadgets in and you’re ready to go. An adapter is all you need if one device doesn’t have the correct sort of connection. They’re simple to get online, and they’ll cure a variety of problems.

Read: How to Fix Samsung TV Optical Out No Sound Issue

Follow the Safety Rules

It’s a no-brainer here. Safety is paramount when it comes to wiring, regardless of whether you’re putting up a home entertainment system or just swapping out an old power wire in the kitchen. Use only cables and wires that meet or exceed all applicable safety standards. Fire, chemical, abrasion, and temperature change resistance are a few examples.

A common mistake is to run the wires from beneath the chairs without properly insulating them beforehand. There is a risk of significant injury at the moment of the shot circuit because of this.

Interconnect, Wire, Cable, or Lead: Which is better?

Even the words used when connecting two systems together can be hard to understand. Anything that connects two AV devices is called an interconnect. e.g. from the DVD player to the amplifier.

It is called a wire or cable when it sends audio from an amplifier to the speaker, and it is also called a wire.

This is not true when it comes to wires and cables in home theater wiring discussions, where these terms are used very loosely. The term cable, lead, or wire is used by all types of connections.

Wiring Your Home Theater Speakers

So, as you can see, when it comes to connecting most of your home theater devices, all you have to do is plug the right cable into the right port. However, speakers are a little more complicated because they don’t come with the right tools (like wires) and you have to connect them all together.

So why do speaker systems not come with wires? Because people have different needs for their systems and different sized rooms, there can’t be a single wiring system for every speaker. An audio system wired for 3ft rooms is not going to be very useful in a 9ft room, because it’s not going to work.

Getting the job done right doesn’t take long if you have all the information you need before you start. The things you need to think about are:

  • The size of your room
  • There are a lot of speakers that you’re wiring together.
  • The level of sound quality you’re expecting
  • Whether or not you’re going to hide the wires.

Strings of thin metal called speaker wires let audio signals move from the speaker to the wires, where they can be picked up by the speaker itself. Simple, but there’s more you need to know. The properties of the metal used to make the wires can help you figure out if it’s going to work for you.

Resistance and Impedance

There is a certain amount of resistance in every cable, which is how much energy is lost when a signal is sent through it. A lot of people don’t like it when people try to help them, but that’s normal. The key is to balance the amount of resistance with how far a signal travels so that you can keep the quality as good as possible.

Another thing to think about is the cable impedance. If we look at a circuit, this is how the voltage and the current work together. Mismatches in impedance can make a signal bounce back at any point in the circuit, which can damage your equipment and make your signal less clear.

In this case, the reflected signal then shows up on your video device later than the original one. This is called “ghosting.”

It’s a good rule of thumb that most home theater devices have an impedance of 75 ohms. It doesn’t matter that this isn’t very important, but it’s good to know that devices can be connected without having an impedance match. Even so, it’s important to keep in mind that if you have two devices that don’t match each other in terms of impedance, you can solve the problem with a transformer, which are very easy to buy online.

Getting The Right Type Of Wire

A critical step in the installation procedure is deciding on the correct kind of cables to use. In my experience, many individuals see wiring as a last-minute task, which I’ve always found incongruous. Instead of investing much in high-quality gear, why not save some money by using bad wiring?

Anyway, before I go into gauges, let’s have a look at some of the greatest wire materials. It is important to know which metals are utilized in speaker cables in order to get the best performance from your speakers. The most common kinds of wire you’ll encounter are:

Copper

There are several types of wire, but this is the least costly and most popular. Copper is an excellent conductor and has low resistance, however it oxidizes, which is a downside. When copper is exposed to oxygen, it becomes green. If left unchecked, this will lead to a significant rise in resistance.

Silver

Silver is more costly than copper, but it has a lower resistance. In addition, since it oxidizes, silver wire is seldom preferable to copper wire in terms of performance and cost.

Gold

The most costly metal is gold, but it is also the best. There is no oxidation, hence it has the lowest resistance and is the best conductor. However, because to its high price, gold is seldom utilized throughout the whole wire. Gold-plated connectors are common, although this is sufficient to increase signal quality.

So, while deciding on speaker wire, keep in mind that resistance is a crucial consideration, and you want it to be as low as possible. Because copper wire is more affordable than silver, and “gold” cables are simply gold at the connectors, I choose copper. Copper wires are used in most cases.

Here are a few more basic pointers to keep in mind while deciding on the right cables and putting up the speaker system.

The longer a wire is, the more resistance it has. You should thus try to minimize the length of your cables. Plan your setup such that the distance between speakers is enough, but not so much that you run into problems with resistance.

Keep your lengths the same, if possible. Again, this helps with resistance since wires of the same length have the same amount of resistance. A better audio balance will result as a result of this, and if your distance measurements are inaccurate, you will realize it immediately.

Verify the area of the cross-section. A cross-sectional area’s math isn’t always useful in this context. A narrower cross section equals more resistance, according to the theory. Keep your cross-sectional area as broad as feasible in order to minimize resistance.
Don’t worry if this seems like a lot of information to take in, because it is. There are so many variables to consider when wiring a home cinema that I was completely stumped when I first started.

Most wire makers, on the other hand, are really helpful and give thorough information on a wire’s qualities, so all you really need to know is the gauge and the area to cover. These tidbits of information should help clarify the rest of the situation.

What Gauge Wire Should You Use For A Home Theater?

The most costly metal is gold, but it is also the best. There is no oxidation, hence it has the lowest resistance and is the best conductor. However, because to its high price, gold is seldom utilized throughout the whole wire. Gold-plated connectors are common, although this is sufficient to increase signal quality.

So, while deciding on speaker wire, keep in mind that resistance is a crucial consideration, and you want it to be as low as possible. Because copper wire is more affordable than silver, and “gold” cables are simply gold at the connectors, I choose copper. Copper wires are used in most cases.

Here are a few more basic pointers to keep in mind while deciding on the right cables and putting up the speaker system.

The longer a wire is, the more resistance it has. You should thus try to minimize the length of your cables. Plan your setup such that the distance between speakers is enough, but not so much that you run into problems with resistance.

Keep your lengths the same, if possible. Again, this helps with resistance since wires of the same length have the same amount of resistance. A better audio balance will result as a result of this, and if your distance measurements are inaccurate, you will realize it immediately.

Verify the area of the cross-section. A cross-sectional area’s math isn’t always useful in this context. A narrower cross section equals more resistance, according to the theory. Keep your cross-sectional area as broad as feasible in order to minimize resistance.
Don’t worry if this seems like a lot of information to take in, because it is. There are so many variables to consider when wiring a home cinema that I was completely stumped when I first started.

Most wire makers, on the other hand, are really helpful and give thorough information on a wire’s qualities, so all you really need to know is the gauge and the area to cover. These tidbits of information should help clarify the rest of the situation.

Some General Connection Tips

So far, I’ve talked about how to choose the right wires, like which materials and gauges to use. It’s also important to talk about how to actually install the wires. For the most part, connecting speakers together isn’t too hard once you get the hang of it. It’s important to remember that you’re building a circuit, and each speaker needs to be connected in the right way for them to work together.

Here are some other tips:

Make sure you know which leads on your speaker wires are positive and which are negative before you connect them. Because this is a circuit, you must ensure that all of the components are correctly linked to one other. When connecting the speakers to one another and to the amplifier, this is critical. The result will be either no sound or terrible sound if it is not done correctly.

If you don’t want to use connectors, I propose getting some wire strippers instead. Remove about 1 cm of insulation from each end, and then twist the strands together so they’re tightly bound. When this is connected to the speaker, loose copper strands might have an effect on the audio quality.

The connecting terminals on speakers are either spring clips or binding posts. Spring clips, on the other hand, can only be used with bare wires or pin connections. Make sure your speakers are in working order before making a purchase decision on a speaker connection (if any).

Binding posts, on the other hand, can accept any sort of connection, although working with bare wires is more challenging. Binding posts, as opposed to spring-loaded ones, provide a considerably more secure connection.

When wiring speakers, electromagnetic interference (EMF) must be considered. A lot of cable may be a problem, especially if it’s wrapped around itself. This is the reason why it is so critical to conduct accurate measurements.

Try to keep wires out of mortal danger by concealing them in places where they won’t be tripped on or damaged. To keep you safe, but also to maintain the wires in functioning condition, this is necessary. Because they’re so delicate.

Before you start measuring cords, develop a configuration for your speakers. To prevent the speakers from being squeezed too tightly together when connected, measure the distance between them and add an additional 15-20cm of wire. With this much leeway, you’ll be able to get the job done.

You might have too much distance between your speakers if they sound too quiet when connected. Opt for thicker cable instead of shifting the speakers (however, I suggest figuring this out before purchasing wire).

How To Hide Home Theater Wires

Setting up a home theater necessitates the use of a lot of wiring. It’s understandable that someone like me would want to do all in her power to avoid having all of these cords strewn around. Even if it’s not the end of the world, it should be avoided if possible.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that cables may be a severe tripping danger. Even if you don’t tread on or crush wires with furniture, they may still be damaged or even yanked away from their connections. Wires and devices will suffer as a result of these changes.

For a home theater, how do you conceal the cables that connect the various components? “Trunking,” as electricians describe it, is the simplest and least expensive choice. A variety of products fall under this umbrella word, but at its core it refers to a piece of plastic that is used to encase all of the wires and then adhered to a wall using glue or nails. This is a great method to keep all of your wires organized and out of the way, plus it’s simple to put together.

Plastic trunking is quite affordable and simple to get (see the image below). Self-adhesive backing is available on some at DIY stores and online, making installation more simpler.

Although it is simple to conceal, it is not the most visually pleasant addition to a space in which it is placed. For the most part, I didn’t like utilizing plastic trunking, but after a time, it becomes second nature. Its usefulness much outweighs its aesthetic appeal.

However, if you’re handy, the best option is to do the wiring inside the wall. Cables are hidden in wall cavities so they’re out of the way, precisely as it sounds like. Installing low-voltage wiring by yourself is generally not restricted, but you should double-check (for example, if you’re not the property owner or reside in an apartment complex) to make sure you’re authorized.

The fact that speakers are likely to be put on the wall makes this an excellent option. For my new home theater, I decided to go with a more professional and sleek aesthetic by using this method.

A home theater may also be a smart option if you’re remodeling a room and want to lay out the wires while you’re at it, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone. You’ll need CL2 or CL3 certified in-wall wires for this. Designed for the function, they are the best.

How To Hide Wires In-wall

In spite of the fact that you’ll need to cut and drill, drywall jobs aren’t very difficult. Just a few holes need to be drilled, wires routed to their proper locations, and a few plates and brackets installed. Despite the fact that this may seem to be a simpler form, wiring speakers in any setting is quite similar. These guidelines can help you get started:

Make a detailed plan before beginning any project. Make a mark on the wall wherever you want the speakers, A/V receiver, and TV to be. Make sure you plan everything out before you cut any wood. There is no turning back after you’ve dug a hole.

Take advantage of any open areas that may be available. If you have a basement or crawlspace, for example, you may make advantage of them to minimize the amount of cutting required. Attic wiring may also be done, and then gadgets can be dropped into the gaps.

Make sure you get lots of additional wire when making your purchase. Installing ceiling speakers? Make sure there’s enough spare cable to set the speaker someplace while you link everything up, for example.

Allow 10% to 15% extra wire than you think you’ll need as a general guideline.
Use this information to determine which wall plates best suit your needs. Wall-mounted volume controls are also available, so if you’re going to drill holes in the drywall, you may as well install them.

There are drywall support brackets designed particularly for speakers that may be purchased. The drywall must be removed before this can be done, so if you’re constructing from scratch, these could be the better alternative.

Make sure you obtain the proper junction boxes for your gadgets by doing some research beforehand.

Finally, if you’re running wire behind walls, be sure to use nail plates and secure them with screws. For example, if you’re running a cable through a joist, a nail plate would be the metal component that covers the cable. The nail plate protects the wires from any future wall construction.

Before Purchasing Equipment, Understand the Connections

If you think about this before you acquire your equipment, it will make your life lot simpler. It’s possible to factor in your intended method of interconnecting your devices when making hardware purchases.

To avoid having to return a piece of equipment because the connection types it has aren’t compatible with your current gear, this is a good idea. In other words, you don’t have to purchase everything separately; you can only budget for the particular connecting cable. Check to see whether the wires you need have male or female connectors.

Female connectors are the most common on gadgets. As a result, male connectors are required on the majority of cables. However, it’s always a good idea to double-check the cable before purchasing it. What is the other device’s input connection type? What gender are you? You can ensure that you purchase the right cable by first verifying this.

There’s no need to buy a new cable or adapters to fix your initial error if you use this.

Avoid Overpaying for ‘High-Quality’ Cables

The picture/sound quality you’ll receive from a cable isn’t always directly correlated to the money you pay for it.

For shorter cable runs, say 3-4 meters, a well-made no-frills cable will operate just as well as most costly cables and interconnects.

Investing a little extra on long cable lines may be worthwhile, but don’t overdo it. Most individuals won’t be able to profit from any improvement since they don’t have the high-quality hardware required.

There is little difference in sound quality between inexpensive and costly cables for most casual listeners and watchers. That is, if there is any difference to be made.

Separate power and audio-video cables

Due to the low voltage of audio and video wires, electromagnetic interference might occur. Because of this, you must keep them apart. If at all feasible, run your power cables on one side and your audio-video wires on the other using cable hangers or managers.

Looping power cords may also result in a humming or buzzing sound emanating from the speakers or scrolling bands on the display screen, therefore you should avoid doing this. You may solve this problem by plugging all your power cords into a single power strip or surge protector.

Final Thoughts

Wiring your home theater doesn’t have to be hard. It can be hard to figure out which speakers are which in home theater development, but once you get the terminology down, it’s not that hard.

It’s up to you to choose the right cables for your needs, so the best thing I can tell you is to make sure you plan everything out before you buy anything (or cutting any holes).

FAQs

Take this FAQ as a parting gift from us to help you with wiring of a hometheatre.

Do I need conduit for speaker wire?

If you are in an air space, you don’t need a conduit to connect things. Ceiling tiles aren’t strong enough to hold it up. In the NEC codes, they say that if the voltage is more than 100 volts, it must be in a conduit or have a suitable outer sheath..

How do I organize the cables on the back of my TV?

If you don’t want to have a bunch of cables behind your TV, use cable ties to keep them straight. To keep cables from getting tangled, plastic zip ties that cinch shut or hook and loop fastener strips wrap around bundles of them to keep them from getting loose or getting tangled. If your home theater components are close together, you can use these to keep them all in order.

Does speaker wire cause interference?

If you have high-level speaker wire in your system, it isn’t likely to make noise. Buy primary wire for speaker wire and use a drill to twist the wire together, then run that to your speakers.