When it comes to home cinema, whether you want a basic system or a full theater experience, the wiring used to connect the various components of your system together is one of the most important part of the whole project. Without a proper wiring set up, even the best audio-visual equipment money can buy won’t mesh together to create the home cinema experience. With that thought in mind, let’s take a few moments to discuss how to plan and wire your home theater system for optimal performance.
Inventory and Planning Is Essential
When it comes to setting up your home cinema, planning is an important step. The perfect home entertainment experience begins before you get out the wire strippers and speakers. The planning stage is your opportunity to solve problems with your home theater system before they become an issue. In this stage, it is helpful to assess what audio-visual equipment you already have and what you still need to acquire or might want in the future. You might already have a Tivo, Cable box, Blu-Ray player and Playstation 3 but what happens when the next generation consoles are unveiled this year? Do you want a Wii U, an Xbox or even adding a PC or a Smart TV unit? Not only do you have to worry about the space for the components themselves but the ventilation and heat build-up and the changes to the wiring should be considered.
This is also the stage where you can start looking at the types of wiring you will need to make the system components work together so you aren’t standing in your living room at 3 AM holding an RCA connector instead of the banana plug connectors your sound system requires.
Map Out Your Project
It’s always helpful to have a clear image of what you want your assembled system to look like and drawing a floor plan for your project can be very helpful. This is especially true if you have a complex system that will require banana plug connectors, regular speaker wire, RCA cables and other wiring for the complete system. By creating this map of your home cinema (complete with notes on connections, power sources and measurements), it is easy to see where the components will be placed, the lengths of wiring and cables needed and any problems that might crop up in the assembly process.
Make sure it’s adaptable though, you don’t want to have to rip up the entire carpet to change the speaker system from a 5.1 to 7.1 surround sound, nor do you want wires under the carpet. By tucking the wiring along the edges of the room, it’s much more concealable but don’t forget about doorways as the wire will need to run over the top, rather than getting in the way on the floor. For a standard doorway you will need to add about 15ft of cable to negotiate your way around it.
You Get What You Pay For
Like so many things in life, the performance of your home theater is dependent on the investment you put into it. The majority of people understand this when it comes to the equipment they want to outfit their home cinema with. They choose brand-name televisions, DVD and Blu-ray players or sound equipment all with the ideal of creating the perfect home audio-visual experience. However, in many cases the much higher priced commercial cables don’t seem to give sufficient advantage in sound and image quality to be worth the investment.
In addition, they are unlikely to be the right length for a custom installation and you’ll need to, either daisy-chain them together or wrap up the excess with a cable tie. By buying coaxial cable in bulk and getting the connectors you need, you can generally get a much neater job done.
Setting It Up
Once you have made it past the planning, mapping and purchasing stages, it is time to get out the wire strippers, banana plug connectors and the zip ties because you are ready to assemble your home theater system. To make the process easier, consult your drawings often and set up all of your existing equipment in its approximate location. Then run wiring or cables to the appropriate areas. Labeling both ends of the wire or cable with color coded tape can be a very easy way to ensure that your connecting the correct cable to a component. For the sake of aesthetics and safety, wiring and cabling should be concealed as much as possible. There are some wonderful cable sheathing products on the market that can turn a snarling mass of cables and wires into a tamed and professional looking installation.
Wiring up the perfect home cinema system doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. With advanced planning and a minimal understanding of how the various parts of the system fit together, almost anyone can create the perfect home audio-video experience.
Written by: Norman Everman took a screwdriver to the back of his boom box in the late 80s and hasn’t looked back since. Currently the co-owner of a TV and video production company, he once worked out that he had laid enough coaxial cable to stretch around the world.