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For Do-It-Yourself Home Theater Wiring – Read the Instructions


If you are a do-it-yourself type, an important part of setting up your home theater system is configuring the home theater wiring correctly.   Common knowledge is that men don't read manuals - but this is one area where the manual is critical to the performance of those expensive components you just purchased.

If you have just unpacked your new system, remember that you will need space to attach and configure the wiring so don't put all the heavy equipment back against the wall until the job is completed.  When placing the components avoid using enclosed spaces such as close cabinets as the heat generated by the system needs space to dissipate.  Providing an insufficient area for air circulation and cooling could damage those expensive components.  Also consider weight so that you don't stack them in a way that is likely to fall and could injure a child or pet.

When purchasing your cable and wiring for the project remember to look for connections of sufficient size that you can attach them with your hands.  Avoid both the high cost products that promise magic performance benefits and the low end cables that will need frequent replacement and not allow the best picture and sound possible from your system.  The length of speaker wire needed will dictate the wire gauge required.  For less than 100 feet, a 16 gauge wire is fine, while for longer distances you will need 14 gauge or even 12 gauge speaker wire.  Don't guess - measure.

Label your connections once you have them completed.  If you change the arrangement of your room or need to move your system, the few minutes you spend now labeling the connections on the cables and wires can save you hours when you reinstall the components.  Always remember that when you are connecting your system, you are not trying to be fancy - you just want the cleanest way to connect each of the components to each other.  Most systems have very clear instructions for doing this - read them!

There are solutions available for the problem of a mass wires and cables that are an eyesore.  These are known as cable management systems and include a product known as raceways which are smooth plastic strips that enclose your wiring as it goes around the room.  The raceways are attached to the wall just above the baseboard and provide a neat way to run your wires.  An alternative is to use what is known as a sleeve, a simple tube of plastic or metal that you slide the wiring through before making the connections.   After you have installed cables and wires properly, add the last important part of your home theater wiring - a high quality surge protector.