Help me figure out how to wire for my home theatre
November 30, 2012 11:03 AM   Subscribe

What wiring should I run to facilitate building a decent home theatre setup?

I'm currently finishing my basement and would like to run some wiring before I start dry-walling but I'm not sure what and how much I should do. The room in question is roughly rectangular in size (20' by 14') and I've had the electricians put 4 outlets on both of the 2 walls that would potentially hold the TV and other devices.

When all is said and done there will most likely be a HD television, PS3 or Xbox, DVD player (we're in region 1 but have a lot of region 2 discs) and a surround sound stereo. I'll have a media server of some type but it will be located elsewhere and be accessible over the network.

I have already planned on putting 2 data drops at each location as well as 1 coax drop but after than I'm not sure what else to add to the mix.

I want surround sound but I don't know much about setting that up. How many speakers are involved? What's the difference between 5.1 and 7.1? Should I run a speaker wire to each corner of the room? Install speakers in the ceiling? How would I manage it if I switch the setup from one side of the room to the other? Do I need to do a home run from each location back to some type of patch panel? Should I simply run wires from one end of the room to the other, connected to wallplates and then connect the speakers and/or sound system to the wall plates?

What about running an HDMI cable from end of the room to another? Not sure why but I imagine I could connect a laptop/computer at one end and have it display on the TV at the other.

Also, if you have any suggestions as to types of TVs and stereos I would definitely welcome them. We're in Canada so some of the media player suggestions might not be applicable.
posted by smcniven to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Buy speaker wire from Monoprice, you'll save a lot of money...

Buy in-wall faceplate (keystone jack) receptacles for RJ45/8P8C connectors from Monoprice as well. You can get flush or angled ones. Also surface mount boxes if those are necessary.

If you're doing a new install, use cat6a cable for data, it's pretty much future-proof. You'll be able to run 10GBaseT and HDBaseT (HDMI/4K over Ethernet cable) over it. If cat6a is too expensive at least use cat6, not cat5e.
posted by thewalrus at 11:25 AM on November 30, 2012

If you have a drop ceiling you don't need to do too much ahead of time. You can just run speaker cable through the ceiling wherever you need it. If you don't have a drop ceiling I'd run speaker cable to all four corners and directly behind the main sitting area with access to it via a junction box up high or at whatever lever the speakers will be at. You can just use a blank on the box or if you want to get fancy you can have a plate with speaker terminals. Have it all terminate to where the receiver will be located.

If it were me I'd put a nice fat conduit down the walls where the TV will be and another one where the components will be. This way in a few years when something better than HDMI comes along you'll be able to run it.

If you're going to wall-mount the TV put a good sized access panel in the wall behind it so you can run various cables to it. Power as well so you don't have cables coming down the walls.
posted by bondcliff at 11:48 AM on November 30, 2012

The best thing to run is conduit so you can fish your cables later. Having a nice TV hanging on the wall with cables coming down under it ruins the awesomeness. If you ever think you'll want a projector, even having conduit to the ceiling isn't crazy.
posted by cmm at 12:19 PM on November 30, 2012

Seconding cmm. Run conduit in the walls and you'll be able to easily run the cables you discover you need to run, when you need to run them. It's also the last word in future-proofing because pulling out old cable and running newer stuff is dead simple.

Also seconding buying everything at Monoprice.
posted by InsanePenguin at 12:59 PM on November 30, 2012

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