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Home Cinema Wiring

5.1 channel surround sound speaker layoutWe are frequently asked about schematics for Home Cinema Wiring for a dedicated cinema room or lounge prior to decoration. We always suggest putting in sufficient wiring ready for the future as it is far easier to install at a first fix stage, rather than in a separate event involving re-decoration etc. The wiring required is fairly straightforward and involves the following:

  • Mains Power (usually at least 5 double sockets for equipment)
  • Reception (TV / Satellite / FM / DAB)
  • Video Signal cables (HDMI sources to amp to display)
  • Speaker cables (amp to speakers)
  • Subwoofer cable (amp to sub)
  • Internet access (Cat6 cable to sources / Amp / TV / Projector)
  • Lighting wiring
  • Control (IR / RS232 control of equipment)

 

If it is possible to have a piece of trunking that allows you to run additional cables through the wall at a later date, then this is a very good option. Many games consoles  for example have added sensor bars which have involved extra cables running to or near the TV.

We generally recommend avoiding the use of connection plates in wiring schemes – they introduce more connectors into the system, and these are the weak points where signals get reflected or lost. The highest quality setup is one where two pieces of equipment are connected by a single cable without any breaks or junctions in between. For example we use brush-plates to bring a single HDMI cable out of the ceiling void straight into the projector. The exception is where you need to have a clean wall, or you might want different lengths of a patch cable.

 

Mains Power is frequently forgotten, however is worth some attention. – There are rarely enough mains sockets on the wall, and plugging in multiple extension leads gives a wiring mess, and does not get the best out of the equipment – particularly for power amplifiers. We generally recommend a minimum of 5 double sockets on the wall, more if there is room. If you have a projector, it is worth checking that the power for the projector is on the same phase (ideally the same ring) as the rest of the equipment, as otherwise you can end up with earth loops and excess noise in the system. We have a previous article on power supplies that is worth reading too, as a decent power supply is worth investing in.

Reception signals will be either Coax cable from a terrestrial antenna or satellite dish, and these need to go to either the receiver box(es), or to a TV if the system involves a TV. we have an article on home wiring for satellite and TV that goes through the distribution of satellite and TV around the home.

Video Signal Cables are the main connection between sources (Satellite receiver, Blu-ray player etc.), the main AV Amplifier, and the display (TV or projector or both) If the sources are in the same place as the AV amplifier, then these are easy to install with the main equipment. Where HDMI cables are difficult to reach after installation (e.g. through a ceiling to a projector), we normally recommend installing two. This is because the connectors are rather fragile and easy to break, so having a spare saves a lot of grief if the end of one gets damaged.

Speaker Cables are frequently installed chased into walls and run through ceilings etc. so as not to be visible. We recommend a cable of the highest quality that is commensurate with your equipment. Though we most frequently use Linn K20 cable as this does not let the highest quality equipment down, and is a reasonable cost at £6/m. We have a couple of articles on room layout and multi-channel speaker formats, which are worth referring to when it comes to speaker positioning.

Subwoofer cable is another one that is easy to forget. If the sub is next to an equipment cupboard, then this can be added easily, however if the sub is elsewhere in the room, then this cable needs to be chased in around the room with the speaker cables. NB. the subwoofer will need Mains Power too.

Internet Access is required for a lot of equipment, both for updates and for streaming music and movies. A typical installation will have a single Cat6 cable coming from a router to the Home Cinema equipment area. An Ethernet switch can then be plugged in to give access to all of the equipment that requires it – we find that an 8-way switch is typical, though if there is a Projector we suggest two lengths of Cat6 cable from the equipment area to the projector, as one can be used for HDMI/Cat6 and one for data. We have a separate article covering general wiring for the  Home Data Network and Telephone.

Control wiring is frequently very simple, and often is integrated into the Cat6 wiring. If IR control is needed to be extended to a projector for example, this only takes one pair of the Cat6. Most commonly a multi-function IR remote control will have a number of IR emitters that stick to the front of equipment, or blasters, that flood the equipment area with the IR control signals, so these are local in the equipment area, with one or two run to external equipment (TV, Projector etc.)

Home Cinema Wiring may seem like a lot to think of, however each individual part is simple and straight forward. The Key thing is to get sufficient wiring installed prior to any decoration, and a well thought out scheme will cater for any changes to the system for years to come. We pride ourselves on the thought and planning that we put into our home cinema wiring schemes, and do our best to future proof the systems as much as possible.