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Posted By: MatManhasgone Building the AV Sound room - 02/14/15 06:57 PM
If I listen to my wife and get all the other things done around the house first, then I will probably be old and deaf before I get around to building my AV Sound Room. So F&#! it, I am starting it now so I can get some enjoyment out of it.

I have carved out a small section of my basement that will be mine. I have about 17' x 15' with 8.5' ceilings. I have been working in my mind on how to get it done for quite some time and slowly slipping in a piece of equipment here and there hopefully under the radar.. (but she clearly knows about the speakers).

in my past house, I had a large 60" RPTV and located the AV receiver overtop of it. Sound wise it was ok but the level of speakers that I was using clearly were no where near what I have today. In order to minimize the backlash, I have learnt from that experience that all cables and connectors need to be hidden or else SWMBO gets very loud. The flip side to this is that once inside the walls it's very hard to change/upgrade to the next prevailing standard. That might not be a big thing if nothing ever broke or became so obsolete to be impractical to still use.

(Remembering back to the days of SVHS replaced by component made totally obsolete by HDMI 1.0 -- now we are at 2.0 and who knows if we will suddenly switch over to DisplayPort for 8k TV's)

So one of my design criteria was to make this setup upgradable to the new standards that I see myself buying into. To facilitate this, I thought it best to run some form of conduit around the outside of the room to pull wires through. The most cost effective one was pvc central vac tubing. Low cost and easy to get parts for.



In the corner of the room there is my electrical panel that will need to be boxed off. I thought it would be also a great place to terminate all my networking cabled as well and just get everything into a single panel area.

Now after thinking about it some more, trying to run all my speaker cables though there as well as the HDMI, toslink, and a pair of RCA there is not going to be any room left in side the conduit. Right now I don't have a replacement TV for this room. My initial thought was to bring back my big RPTV that is on loan to my parents (more that it's a bugger to move and it never made it from my new house).

For speakers, I have the LFR1100, so there are essentially 6 pairs of wire for them, + 2 pairs center. Now would you run an extra 4 pairs to cover the 11.x spec to add in optional Height and Wide front speakers??

For the rears, I have some QS8 for the two side walls and some small directional energy CS mini speakers (4) that I had for surround sound in the last house. My current receiver has support for 7.1 so I will probably hook them up. But do I run spare cable runs to the back to cover optional high + ear level rear surrounds and a couple more for a center rear channel? Running wire now it very cheep compared to trying to fish it after the walls have gone up.

Then there is the side of cable lengths. if you believe the snake oil side of speaker wires (BTW I am pulling 12 gauge) you should have all the speaker pairs with equal lenghts of wire. So if it takes 15' of wire to get to the left front speaker from your amp, then the right front speaker should also have 15' of wire even if the run only needs 8'. This gets compoundly difficult when pulling spare sets and with speakers like the LFR's that have 2 pairs each and could take bi-wiring if you wanted to.

Then I put the question of would the speaker wires really need to be in a conduit at all as if I pull a spare set of wires, then you have some fault tolerance or ability for speaker upgrades if new tech requires more lines.

I know that my AV room is never going to get to the level that most of the posters here seem to build to. I simply don't have the cashflow to fund that level.. but good idea's are always welcome.

Posted By: bridgman Re: Building the AV Sound room - 02/14/15 08:47 PM
Having equal length speaker wires is a bit too snake-oily for me.

Anyways, here's one argument for conduit:

When my house was being built I made quick random guesses at where the speakers and electronics would end up, and had the electrician pull wires and install outlet boxes in all the appropriate locations. That went fine.

Then a different crew was finishing the wood floor (2x6 T&G on beams) and in the process the amplifier ends of the speaker wires all got caught in the floor polisher, whereupon they were variously pulled out of the wall, stretched, snapped or just friction-burned. I could have raised a stink but by then I had already decided that I wanted the electronics in a different location so wouldn't be using the wires anyways.

If I had used conduit I could have probably fished a new string through and pulled replacement wires. Spare wires probably wouldn't have helped although I guess there was a non-zero chance that only one wire per pair would have been done in by the polisher.

On the other hand even conduit wouldn't have helped after I decided to move the electronics, so give electronics positioning some careful thought and remember that an IR extender (which I didn't know existed during the initial design) can make a out-of-the-way locations become usable.

Don't forget to wire for Atmos smile
Posted By: AAAA Re: Building the AV Sound room - 02/14/15 08:50 PM
Cable lengths matching does not matter on a house scale. On a 12AWG wire you are in great shape. Volt drop will not be an issue. As for snake oil theory, belden measures wave propogation in cables with reference to the speed of light. Really fast stuff. Properly sized, 15ft vs 100ft of spkr cable doesnt matter at all.

When I throw the main switch in a massive warehouse all the lights strike at the exact same time. smile Electron flow is virtually instantaneous.

In my room I ran 2 conduit to ensure flixibility for later. Exact same 2" vac line. Great stuff and cheap. Welcome to the madness that is building an AV space. laugh
Posted By: MatManhasgone Re: Building the AV Sound room - 02/15/15 01:46 AM
The size of the room pretty much dictates what can be put where. The only parts that actually have any chance of moving around is if/when I buy some real subs for the room.

The cost of running the pcv is minimal, but you need to figure out what makes sense. When it comes to the ATMOS thing.. I don't know if this is really a tech that I want to consider. There is no way right now that I can look into putting speakers in the ceiling, and considering that is the point that sounds reaches the upstairs rooms. Through the walls makes no real difference for me as I am in the basement.

My thought was to no even bother putting in pot lights, but rather going with a solid double layer gyprock ceiling with no holes in it, and instead for lighting going with that flex strip LED lighting that runs on 12V and have it wrap around the outside of the room perimeter. That will light up the ceiling space to give even light cast across the room without any holes for sound to travel up.

Now if I did ever get into ATMOS or more likely what DTS develops, I will have 4 channels of speaker wire running for the hight speakers already, and it's just a case of mounting something like the wall mount M2's or M3's and surface mount them to the ceiling. Then you can put the wire for them surface mount in those neat plastic tracks from the front and back wall connectors.

I was planning on having some form of ceiling sound treatment anyways so the speakers could blend in with those.

The really hard part of trying to fit actual speakers into the ceiling is knowing what is where behind the plaster. Short of a good map and measurements along with some digital photographs it's good luck for something in the future. In short unless you are installing them now when it's going up, then it's just not likely to happen. I have a 100 amp line through one side of the ceiling, and 2 natural gas lines that need to be worried about. Then there is all the whole house worth of electrical cables in a scattered array. Surface mount gives you easy access to place speakers just about anywhere. With a double layer you can use a few of those ez-ancor drywall screws and have more than enough strength to hold those speakers.
Posted By: AAAA Re: Building the AV Sound room - 02/15/15 02:46 AM
You can add wall sconces to add room light coverage. Toggle bolts are stronger than easy anchors for on ceiling mounting. Its pretty daunting at first. Once you break it down and take it step by step its not too bad. Step by step is easier to budget for and still have a life too. smile
Posted By: bridgman Re: Building the AV Sound room - 02/15/15 05:34 PM
Sounds like a good plan... and you've pretty much talked me out of suggesting you run conduit.

Are you thinking about wall plates with banana jacks or actually running the wires out a hole to your speakers ? After thinking about it a bit it's the "wires hanging out of the wall" part I don't like, since that's what makes them vulnerable to damage and puts you in a situation where you might want longer wires later.
Posted By: MatManhasgone Re: Building the AV Sound room - 02/15/15 08:20 PM
I am in the stuck side to that part. Go with banana plugs or not.

From a clean line look side of things, it makes a lot more sense to have a plate and then you can move the speaker around however much you like and all you need is to adjust the leads to the plate on the wall. Want to clean up around a speaker.. you can unplug it from the wall and move it away with no chance of damaging what is inside the wall.

On the flip side to that... again, who knows if this is just selling snake oil, but every connector that you add into the mix is your slight loss of signal or introduction of noise. The question comes to play is how much?

On the receiver/amp end.. if I have run a whole whack of extra cables out to the different parts of the room, sure is much nicer to have a collection of corresponding face plates grouped into the array of matching speaker plates at the other end. So you know that this group of 8 plugs are your surround speakers, and this other set are reserved for your ATMOS. You only need to plug in a patch between the wall and the amp for the speakers that you are driving. Makes it more neat and tidy.

The down side to the face plate for everything comes when you have a whole whack of wires. On a single decora plate you can fit 8 plugs (4 speakers).

So for my setup, the front L&R takes up 2 spots.
C + spare + front L&R ATMOS 1 spot
Sur L & R + 2 rear C 1 spot
Rear Sur L&R + rear L&R ATMOS 1 spot

So I have in total 5 sets. They make a 4 gang plate, but I have not seen a 5. So then you have to figure out how your are going to break them up into a 2 and 3 group. You want them to look logical.
Posted By: AAAA Re: Building the AV Sound room - 02/15/15 09:19 PM
Why not just use a 5.1 or 7.1 wallplate that mounts to a 2 gang device box? Then add a blank plate with keystones you can configure however you like. They use them for data jacks but you can get coaxial and speaker keystones just as well at HD or lowes.

For more room you can use a deep 4x4 with a 2 gang plaster ring. Done it lots before and works great.

As for bananas vs bare wire affecting audio, I have used bananas ever since I got "serious" about audio and they are an added cost for sure. If you get the kind with a locking tip and a set screw on the wire connector, and use anti-ox on the wire to connector joint, you will have a zero maintenence, trouble free connection until the archaeologists exhume your system 1000 years from now. laugh Bananas make terminations on the back of crowded AVRs a breeze! Totally recommend. As for SQ affected: totally bogus.

I use the sewell brand plugs. They are clones of the high end ones and are an awesome value.
Posted By: MatManhasgone Re: Building the AV Sound room - 02/16/15 01:29 AM
Originally Posted By: Serenity_Now
Why not just use a 5.1 or 7.1 wallplate that mounts to a 2 gang device box? Then add a blank plate with keystones you can configure however you like. They use them for data jacks but you can get coaxial and speaker keystones just as well at HD or lowes.


My mistake, I actually have 5 pairs on a single plate.. Thanks monoprice


So I am pretty good for that part. I have to make sure of how many of these plates that I have ordered. I also do have the keystone ones with 2 and 4 openings to cover me. For the front speakers, I need to decide if I am running 3 or 4 pairs, so I can either a 6 plate keystone or one of these 8 plate too.
Posted By: chesseroo Re: Building the AV Sound room - 02/16/15 04:06 PM
Originally Posted By: oakvillematt

On the flip side to that... again, who knows if this is just selling snake oil, but every connector that you add into the mix is your slight loss of signal or introduction of noise.

You're first inclination is correct.
This is marketing bunk used to sell more expensive wire that allegedly removes such unproven problems.
Posted By: chesseroo Re: Building the AV Sound room - 02/16/15 04:12 PM
Originally Posted By: bridgman

Anyways, here's one argument for conduit:

A second vote for conduit.
Not much will change in the big scheme of things. HDMI/Display Port are two of the few things that might. That being said, since we installed our conduit during the building process, i can now run Gigabit ethernet cabling if required. I can never remember if i installed Cat5 or Cat5e cabling those 9 years ago. Theoretically i can use the Cat5 but i should probably upgrade it.
I can easily do that with the conduit.
Posted By: chesseroo Re: Building the AV Sound room - 02/16/15 04:16 PM
Originally Posted By: bridgman
wall plates with banana jacks or actually running the wires out a hole to your speakers ? After thinking about it a bit it's the "wires hanging out of the wall" part I don't like, since that's what makes them vulnerable to damage and puts you in a situation where you might want longer wires later.

I thought about the wall plates vs. the wires. We have a wall plate with a hole in the middle and just wires (for now).
I wasn't sure 100% about the QS8 placement and wanted to use the wire to move the speaker around. At some point if we decide the location is fixed, then we'll cut the wires short, add a wall plate with banana plugs, then run a fixed length wire from the wall plate to the speaker.
I can't say the 'loose' wires are in the way for any cleaning purposes and there would be no reason for anyone to yank on the small length (< 1') that runs to the speaker. It adds flexibility for placement until you are sure of the location.
Posted By: bridgman Re: Building the AV Sound room - 02/16/15 05:28 PM
Originally Posted By: chesseroo
A second vote for conduit.
Not much will change in the big scheme of things. HDMI/Display Port are two of the few things that might. That being said, since we installed our conduit during the building process, i can now run Gigabit ethernet cabling if required. I can never remember if i installed Cat5 or Cat5e cabling those 9 years ago. Theoretically i can use the Cat5 but i should probably upgrade it.
I can easily do that with the conduit.

Ahh, good point - conduit between electronics and display would be really useful, even if wires between electronics and speakers are sufficient.

Maybe "conduit between electronics and anything that isn't a speaker" is the correct wording.
Posted By: nickbuol Re: Building the AV Sound room - 02/16/15 06:27 PM
Just a quick couple of thoughts.

You want some level of separation between electrical wires and network/audio/video cabling. You run the risk of interference if you put them too close. Best practices for network wiring states that if you have to run a network cable near an electrical cable, try to NOT run them parallel, and if they must cross, make it as a 90 degree angle to reduce the proximity. I don't know what would happen if you put your network terminations right next to all of the electrical going in/out of the breaker box.

Not saying that it won't work, but just to use a bit of caution and maybe research it a bit.

As for conduit, you have hit the age old problem of filling up the conduit with current wiring and not having room for new.

There are really only a couple of solutions. 1) run 2 conduits in parallel with each other. One for now, and one for expansion. 2) Reduce what you put into the conduit by taking things like the 12ga speaker wire and not putting it in the conduit. Speaker wire should be fairly safe if protected by a decent height off of the floor and placed far enough back to prevent a nail/screw from hitting it (or use stud cable protector plates). That should open up some space inside the conduit.

Keep in mind that the conduit also needs very gentle curves in order to get any future cabling through it and a lot more space than you think you may need.

Otherwise, this is going to be fun to follow the progress.
Posted By: chesseroo Re: Building the AV Sound room - 02/17/15 02:10 AM
Originally Posted By: nickbuol
Just a quick couple of thoughts.

You want some level of separation between electrical wires and network/audio/video cabling. You run the risk of interference if you put them too close.

That would have to be one pretty big power cable.

Quote:
I don't know what would happen if you put your network terminations right next to all of the electrical going in/out of the breaker box.

Nothing.
I know several people who have their home routers wired with all incoming and outgoing connections at the electrical junction box.
Quote:

Reduce what you put into the conduit by taking things like the 12ga speaker wire and not putting it in the conduit. Speaker wire should be fairly safe if protected by a decent height off of the floor and placed far enough back to prevent a nail/screw from hitting it (or use stud cable protector plates). That should open up some space inside the conduit.

There was consideration to put speaker wire in a conduit???
It is just speaker wire. By the time that wire type may change, we'll all be long dead.
The only thing speaker wire needs to be for construction is rated for in-wall use (CL2 if i recall).

Quote:

Keep in mind that the conduit also needs very gentle curves in order to get any future cabling through it and a lot more space than you think you may need.

45 degree elbows are fine. The 90 degree elbows are problematic.
Posted By: MatManhasgone Re: Building the AV Sound room - 02/17/15 02:46 AM
I in one of my past lives worked for a company named LanStart, and I use to design co-ax & 10baseT lan systems day in and day out. (if that doesn't date my age)

The rule of thumb in pulling cables was to have a 1' separation. The worst was not power cables but florescent lights. In my install, I have a good 20" below the breaker box and I was going to loop the network bundle in a good loop below the breaker so that they stay clear of the convergence of lines in that might induce traffic on the network. I have no lights in the ceiling to worry about, and the only florescent lights are in the laundry room and I don't have network drops in that room. Even if the washing machine had a network port I wouldn't use it.

I DO have CL2 rated speaker wire, and with the way that the basement walls are getting put up, I also happen to have a gap between the blanket insulation wrap that is already up and the stud walls I am adding (and filling with Roxol Comfortbats).

Just for the fun of it, I tried to push down the Solidmate 25ft 22AWG CL2 High Speed HDMI Cable. it is supposed to be good for 4K signals with wide colour. Now going down the conduit was good through the first bend at the beginning, but the second bend it did take a bit of coaxing to get it around, but after that it went quite smoothly. I know from pulling cables that you need to thread a puller string to get the cable down and pull in additional wires. If I was replacing the HDMI, i would attach the replacement cable to it and pull the old cable out to get the new one in.
Posted By: nickbuol Re: Building the AV Sound room - 02/17/15 04:25 AM
Originally Posted By: chesseroo
Originally Posted By: nickbuol
Just a quick couple of thoughts.

You want some level of separation between electrical wires and network/audio/video cabling. You run the risk of interference if you put them too close.

That would have to be one pretty big power cable.


Best practice in network engineering states that you need to keep them separated and not run directly next to each other. As a certified network engineer, this is what we are taught, and not just for commercial installations. Network cables have built in noise resistance, but it is more for radio interference (not radio stations, but radio signals that can come from a variety of sources, including household power). Noise resistance does not mean noise proof. Heck my phone is water resistant. It can be submerged in water for 30 minutes before running the risk of issues (I am sure that there are some caveats) but it can't stay underwater indefinitely without problems. If building from scratch, why wouldn't you follow best practices as much as possible? If doing a retrofit, then yeah, you have to make compromises some times.


Quote:
I don't know what would happen if you put your network terminations right next to all of the electrical going in/out of the breaker box.

Quote:
Nothing.
I know several people who have their home routers wired with all incoming and outgoing connections at the electrical junction box.

Good to know. Like I said, I didn't know because I don't have any personal experience with this. You don't either, but know people that do. My experience here is more on the commercial side where building power and network closets are kept apart. Granted that the incoming main runs are significantly more power that to a residential home. However, even when that building power drops down to regular current levels run to cubicles, the power lines have their own troughs that they run through in the floors or drops from the ceiling even than what the network lines run through. Server rooms also separate the power from the network runs with power under the raised floor and the network cable run on what are called ladders up above the servers. This serves a few purposes, but one of them is to keep the data lines away from power.

The last time I personally saw power and networking in a close proximity at one of my employers was back in 1994 and that company didn't follow any standards and they suffered for it for other reasons. Their network equipment and servers were so sub-par that I can't say that the power proximity was an issue because they were just prone to failure either way.

Quote:

Reduce what you put into the conduit by taking things like the 12ga speaker wire and not putting it in the conduit. Speaker wire should be fairly safe if protected by a decent height off of the floor and placed far enough back to prevent a nail/screw from hitting it (or use stud cable protector plates). That should open up some space inside the conduit.

Quote:

There was consideration to put speaker wire in a conduit???
It is just speaker wire. By the time that wire type may change, we'll all be long dead.
The only thing speaker wire needs to be for construction is rated for in-wall use (CL2 if i recall).


The second to last paragraph in the original post talked about putting speaker wire in the conduit. Like you, I was just saying that it wasn't worth it. Keep it off the floor to protect against any potential critters (heaven forbid) and protect them inside the stud and there is no need for conduit.

Quote:

Keep in mind that the conduit also needs very gentle curves in order to get any future cabling through it and a lot more space than you think you may need.

Quote:

45 degree elbows are fine. The 90 degree elbows are problematic.

Exactly my point. I had 2 large curves in my 3" PVC conduit (the gray PVC made for this stuff) made up of four 45 degree curves to make them more gradual (they were BIG curves). I couldn't even push one of my HDMI cables through it to my projector because the HDMI cable was so thick and stiff. That was when the conduit was empty. I ran all of the cables to my projector outside of the conduit and kept it there for future expansion only. I figure that if I need to add something later, I can just attach the new cable to my pull cord, and use some electrical grease on it to help it around the bends if need be.

So Matt, do what you wish, but since you are down to studs, you have a lot more flexibility. No sweat off my back if you do something different. You seemed to be asking for opinions, so I gave you mine based off of real hands on training and experience. Does it mean that doing something else won't work fine too? Heck no. You could zip-tie the cat5 to a power line and have everything work just fine. I guess I am more of a "use the tried and true" method and not just enough to get me by or risk of future issues. This has proven to be more expensive for me down the road, but I know that it will be done with the least potential for any issues or degraded performance down the road.

This is all fairly contested information. Google searches will yield the best practices that I mention, but also have people that say that they don't have issues doing something less than best practice.
Posted By: MarkSJohnson Re: Building the AV Sound room - 02/17/15 11:45 AM
I go out of my way to run all my wires along fluorescent tubes on dimmers on poorly grounded circuits.

To me, the increased harmonic distortions are reminiscent of a 1950s-era tube amp and impart a classic rock and roll sound into everything I listen to,making everything more musical.
Posted By: AAAA Re: Building the AV Sound room - 02/17/15 02:25 PM
Yep, we have our pee pees slapped if we put ANY network or extra low voltage signal cables run free air parallel within 1' of any current carrying conductors. Run in metal conduit you can run closer. There is actually code rules that state near a certain voltage you have to maintain a certain seperation. Too lazy to find it unless someone wants it.

If you use an enclosed metal network cabinet any noise induced power concerns are negated. Just dont expect a WIFI router to do its job if you locate it in the same cabinet. I know you already know all of this stuff Matt. smile This is for the lurkers. Hi lurkers. wink ::wave::

WRT the whole radius of bends issue, the only time it really matters for signal cables is if running fiber optic. Unless you pull with connectors on. Then just make a smooth head with some tape to negotiate the snags in the corners. Here is a handy trick for all those looking to fit stuff into a conduit that is tough to fish or push into.

Tie a piece of plastic bag onto some pulling twine. Shape it like a balloon tying at the base of the balloon. This is called a "mouse." Put the mouse in one end of the conduit and make sure it fills the area completely. Grab a shop vac and suck the mouse through by putting the nozzle on the other end. Then tie onto the twine and pull your cables\fishtape in. We pull parkades like this with PVC conduit in slab. A mouse will travel a hundred feet in less than a couple of seconds. Pretty cool. Just pull another twine in with the cables if you ever need to add additional lines without removing existing.
Posted By: nickbuol Re: Building the AV Sound room - 02/17/15 02:27 PM
Originally Posted By: MarkSJohnson
I go out of my way to run all my wires along fluorescent tubes on dimmers on poorly grounded circuits.

To me, the increased harmonic distortions are reminiscent of a 1950s-era tube amp and impart a classic rock and roll sound into everything I listen to,making everything more musical.


Does that actually work to make things sound more musical? I haven't seen it on those elitist A/V websites yet. I might have to stop at Home Depot after work and get some fluorescent tubes and set something up. grin

Again, my post is just what the "experts" train as best practices. There are many things that aren't "best practices" about my setup, but if the effort is little or no additional cost or time to reduce most of the proximity, then why not?

But back to the fluorescent tubes. Do they have to be run inside the walls, or can I mount them in the room? Can I use blacklight tubes? What about simulated sunlight tubes so that I can get a tan while listening to music?
Posted By: Hansang Re: Building the AV Sound room - 02/20/15 10:14 PM
One thing to consider is that CAT 3, 5, 6, 6E's are twisted to offset interference. If you look at the NEC, page 710 of the PDF (below) spells it out. The part 2, on that page says you need 2" separation. but this is for non-power over ethernet.

https://ia600805.us.archive.org/20/items/gov.law.nfpa.nec.2011/nfpa.nec.2011.pdf

hsb
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