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#405609 - 06/18/14 05:21 AM Inwall speaker cables help
oakvillematt Offline
veteran

Registered: 05/06/14
Posts: 187
Loc: Oakville, Canada
What is the best advice for inwall speaker cables.

From an aesthetics perspective, it would be neater to run each and every cable terminating at a wall plate and leave the in wall cables only inside the walls.

From a sound perspective, every time you break the cable you are introducing another point of possible loss or interference. So you would be far better off running a single cable from the AMP directly to the speakers with no breaks in-between.

But what about future-proofing your install? It is smarter to run too much wire for future speakers than not enough. A face-plate looks nicer on the wall rather than a coil of wire hanging from the wall, that is long enough to reposition a speaker that you have not yet got or may never.

Does having those extra face plates degrade the signal path between the amp and the speaker by enough of a degree to effect the sound in an audible level or is it a theoretical on paper thing?

In my case, for my room, I am running 16 pairs of speaker wire through the wall. That is quite a bundle of wires to deal with at the amp/receiver end. Not all of them are going to be hooked up. A well labeled face plate panel would sure look nicer, but I am building for sound not looks.

Any opinions or experience in this matter is appreciated.
_________________________
Matt

People are like a box of chocolates. It's hard to tell initially which ones are nuts.

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#405612 - 06/18/14 08:07 AM Re: Inwall speaker cables help [Re: oakvillematt]
Murph Offline
axiomite

Registered: 10/05/06
Posts: 6860
Loc: PEI, Canada
I used wall plates. I think it's neater but it's a matter of perspective I suppose.

There is no discernible loss in properly connected cable lengths. Use solid runs if you can so you never have to worry about the splice getting loose, but if it's done well, even that risk should be next to zero.

More important is the total distance of the run. Use a sufficiently heavy gauge for the length you are going and you will have no problems.

As you say, face plates negate the worry about extra length. That is another good reason to go that way since you are starting fresh and have the opportunity. I just used open lengths when we built the house but face plates when I turned a room into a HT room. I am much happier with the wall plates.

Face plates do not negate the signal path. Nothing a human will ever detect anyways. Just be sure the face plate has a good, solid connection to the wire and you have no worries.

Sounds like you already have all the answers you need. A well labeled master face plate is indeed the way to go. As mentioned, I have both scenarios in my home. Trust me. Face plates are the way to go when you have this great opportunity to do it from scratch.

Caveat.
Your question was strictly audio & speaker wire so I stand firm on my answers. However, if you are doing a HDMI run, it is a rather finicky technology. I'm not promoting the expensive HDMI cables that falsely claim better picture quality and such. However, it can be distance sensitive and requires some forethought in installation.

_________________________
With great power comes Awesome irresponsibility.

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#405616 - 06/18/14 09:11 AM Re: Inwall speaker cables help [Re: Murph]
oakvillematt Offline
veteran

Registered: 05/06/14
Posts: 187
Loc: Oakville, Canada
Originally Posted By: Murph
Caveat.
Your question was strictly audio & speaker wire so I stand firm on my answers. However, if you are doing a HDMI run, it is a rather finicky technology. I'm not promoting the expensive HDMI cables that falsely claim better picture quality and such. However, it can be distance sensitive and requires some forethought in installation.



I have a different thread about HDMI. I know that right now the HDMI spec is 1.4a. I know from past experience that technology changes so fast that trying to futreproof yourself it impossible as you can't predict the changes that are going to take place.

I will gather that it is very unlikely that speaker connections are going to change in the future away from wire to some other midium, and even if they do, will there be enough of a reason to change from my great sounding speakers to something else. Probably NO.

In past houses, I spend hundreds on 25' SVHS cables as they were the best out there, only to be replaced by component. The I bought a 60" HD 1080i RPTV only to have it made obsolete as it doesn't support HDMI. And this has been in the course of 15 years, and I plan on living another 40-50 from today.

That is why I plan on running a conduit for those sorts of connectors, so when HDMI 2 and beyond become mandatory, I can replace the one I have easily with the new going spec.

But speakers, the only upgrades that I have seen in the past 30 years I have been into the HI-Fi market is the number of them you connect.


I was planning of buying a big 500' spool of 12AWG CL2 cable. Far more than I need in length and gauge but spending that extra $50 now means that even if I move up to serious power hungry speakers with 1000w monoblock amps to drive them, the cables in the walls should be more than enough to drive them.

My plan is for:

3 pairs Front Left
2 pairs Front Center
3 pairs Front Right
1 pair Front Left High
1 pair Front Right High
1 pair Sur Left
1 pair Sur Right
1 pair Rear Sur Left
1 pair Rear Sur Right
2 pairs Rear Center

3 pairs extra zones out

I am running 3 pairs of cables out to the fronts as I have the LR1100 right now, but figure I might as well wire in for the LFR2200 that require another channel for the top and side drivers to give that 720deg sound bubble in all directions.
_________________________
Matt

People are like a box of chocolates. It's hard to tell initially which ones are nuts.

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#405617 - 06/18/14 10:41 AM Re: Inwall speaker cables help [Re: oakvillematt]
Murph Offline
axiomite

Registered: 10/05/06
Posts: 6860
Loc: PEI, Canada
Sounds like a plan coming together!

The 12 gauge wire should be fine. You are going to blow your ears right off your head before you can actually use enough current to ever melt them, assuming your runs are not way too long. There are lots of good articles regarding speaker wire length vs. gauge out there.

For in wall, your building code may also require that you use sheathed, in-wall rated cable.
_________________________
With great power comes Awesome irresponsibility.

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#405627 - 06/18/14 05:06 PM Re: Inwall speaker cables help [Re: oakvillematt]
Serenity_Now Offline
local

Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 260
Loc: PEI, Canada
Cl2 is good. 12awg is good.
I vote conduit to each location from a zone box at the rack. Your front drops can have boxes in line for heights and main channels. 1" conduit would work. Rest can be 3/4".

You can also do hdmi in 1 1/4 or larger pipe, but would recommend hdmi over cat 5 for long runs of over 25ft. Cheaper. You can mount blank covers with center knockouts and run right straight to your speaker terminals instead of terminal plates. Save much $ on wallplates, which imo are un neccesary if you are doing conduit to data boots anyway. Paint the plates the wall color and they dissapear.

Conduit = flexibility, upgradability and shielding from emf if you go emt.

I've done a 7.1 basement in 3/4 emt for ht runs for a client. Great results. About 200$ in material.

The wall plate route to that many locations is about the same if you get quality plates. Ie. not monoprice. Done that route too for another. Lowes has nice plates.

If you go wallplates, you can treat the copper with anti-ox and ensure lifelong reliability if connections are made up tight. No issue there. But lots of terminal plates become uber ugly and draw attention- especially if they are for future speakers.

Stuff to consider I guess.



Edited by Serenity_Now (06/18/14 05:10 PM)

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#405642 - 06/18/14 09:48 PM Re: Inwall speaker cables help [Re: oakvillematt]
JohnK Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 10403
Matt, as Andrew indicated above, if a connection came completely apart there would be a noticeable difference in sound quality; otherwise there's no good reason for concern about multiple connections.

Any of the gauges typically used for speaker wiring are more than sufficient for any of the power levels which are used in home audio. Items such as hair dryers and hot plates are significantly more demanding.

Among the online sources for no-nonsense info on speaker wiring needs, this one by a respected veteran in the industry is probably the one most cited and valuable.
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#405703 - 06/22/14 04:09 PM Re: Inwall speaker cables help [Re: oakvillematt]
dberthe Offline
hobbyist

Registered: 04/01/14
Posts: 23
Loc: Southern California
Hi Matt,

The other posters all had good advice. I would only add the following as something to consider:

The CONNECTIONS are always the weak links in any type of wiring. As an electrician for 40 years (also worked in the IT business), I can't count the number of times problems were traced to the connections.

Unless the wire/cable is damaged or defective, a direct run (only terminated at the source and destination) will always be the most reliable.

Intermediate connections (ie..terminal plates, patch panels, splices, etc.) mainly exist for convenience, future changes or cosmetic reasons, but, each one introduces a potential failure point.

Ultimately, it is a compromise. So you might, as an example, run the cables directly to the remote speakers and install a termination panel at your equipment location. Just be sure to use quality terminals such as binding posts (as on Axiom's speakers).

Also, the other poster's suggestion of using metal conduit (EMT) is an excellent idea for the reasons given, and using 12 gauge cable is smart.

Hope this helps,
Dave
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M60v3, VP100v3, QS8v3, EP350v4, Onkyo TX-NR905

M22v2, Vector Research VRX-9000 stereo

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#405705 - 06/22/14 05:07 PM Re: Inwall speaker cables help [Re: dberthe]
oakvillematt Offline
veteran

Registered: 05/06/14
Posts: 187
Loc: Oakville, Canada
Well, I have done some thinking about it, and when you consider that each of those interconnecting points require a Keystone plate, and a set of binding posts, all that starts to add up. You can easily run up an extra $15 per channel in plates.

With 16 runs, that is almost as much as I am spending on cable to begin with. So I will try and give myself a good extra length of cable and simply go direct.
_________________________
Matt

People are like a box of chocolates. It's hard to tell initially which ones are nuts.

Top
#405891 - 06/30/14 08:04 PM Re: Inwall speaker cables help [Re: oakvillematt]
Serenity_Now Offline
local

Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 260
Loc: PEI, Canada
Not sure if you've already ordered your speaker wire yet. I can recommend, based on test specs and research, belden 1311A cable. I just ordered a 500ft case for myself and can report when I get it.

As far as I have found it is the best bulk speaker cable available on the market. Comes in 500ft or 1000ft spools. Companies like blue jeans cable sell it at around 1$ a foot for similar products. I dont know for complete certainty, but I'd guess expensive cables are often dressed up and rebranded belden.

A 500ft spool would get your room close to pulled and cost roughly 350$. I deal with belden stuff all the time at work and can stomach the cost for getting something proven in commercial use. Good luck with whatever you choose. smile

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