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How Does Wiring Affect Your Home Theater?

written by: •edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 7/6/2011

While designing a home theater sound system, we focus on the speakers. When it comes to home theater wiring, few know that including the best wire is equally important and that the quality of the connecting wires improves sound quality.

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    You Need the “Right Connections"

    Fig 1 - Home Theater with Concealed Wires You have made a significant amount of investment in your home theater speaker system, and you certainly would want them to produce the best sound. Apart from having the best speakers, it’s very important to have the right wires and connections between them.

    Even the best speakers won’t sound great when connected through low-quality speaker wire and an improper wire installation.

    Here are a few tips to help you choose the right set of wires for your speakers and to make proper wiring installation.

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    Wire Thickness

    The first step towards choosing the correct wires for your home theater speakers is to get the wire thickness right. We never recommend thin wires for your speakers.

    You should keep it in between 12 to 16 AWG. Going lower than 16 AWG is like distorting the performance of your speakers. An accurate thickness of the wire really helps your speakers' ability to deliver the explosive effects in your home theater sound.

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    Wire Length and Quality

    Deciding on the wire length can be done simply by measuring the actual distances between speakers after you place them in your room. Make sure you buy some extra length to keep those margin for errors or if you wish to change the setting in future.

    Quality is also very important. While choosing speaker wire, always consider the quality of your gadgetry. The build-up quality of the speaker wire should be at par with your speakers and amplifier. Make sure that your speaker wire supports the power rating of your sound system.

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    Connections and Connectors

    Making the right connections is the final step in installation. You have set all home theater equipment up in your room, you obtained the correct wires, and now the only step left is to connect the speakers.

    Speakers and amplifiers/receivers normally come with either of the two connector types- spring terminals or binding post connectors. Each speaker connection has two terminals marked (+) and (-) to, color coded as black for the (-) and red (+); Correct polarity is very important throughout your speaker wiring.

    Always terminate your speaker wires with proper connectors. It always better to choose pre-cut wires which have the connectors attached to them.

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    Give A Neat Look to Your Theater

    When you build your home theater system with the best possible equipment, you also get to deal with lengths of wires lying all around the room. So you certainly need to do something about those wires.

    Putting the speaker wires inside walls, under the carpet and in the ceiling are a few available options for you to hide those wires. This definitely leads to a neat look, but can involve a lot of reconstruction work and the need to call for professional help. Hence, it can be an expensive option.

    Do it yourself? Actually it requires a good skill level related to constructions and electricals. We don’t normally expect this level of skill from our regular readers. However, you may consult an electrician or professional installer to know if it’s actually possible to do by yourself. When you’re planning the home theater at the construction or finishing phase of your house or in case you’re building an entirely new room for the home theater, hiding the wires in the walls and ceiling is the best option for you.

    Important: Before you start, make sure you check if your building code requires a permit or an inspection. Moreover, it’s important to remember that in-wall installations require the use of only specially certified wires that comply with national standards for resistance to fire, chemicals, abrasion, and temperature extremes.

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    References

    Image from Wikimedia Commons by Derek Jensen

    Home Theater Design, an e-book by Duncan McClelland