How To Do Wiring For Home Theater

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How To Wire Up Your Home Theater

Wiring up a home theater system may seem like a fairly difficult task. However, if you remember that the idea behind wiring up a home theater system is to make it look professional, you’ll do exactly that. Therefore, it is important that you take your time and work in an orderly way. Consider these tips and tricks to ensure that you are laying out your wiring properly:

  • The wiring should be neat and orderly
  • Keep the wires separated by putting the red wires together, white and green together, and blue together. If you want, you can also use wire ties to keep the wires grouped together.
  • You should use wire trays to keep the video and audio cables organized. If you are working in a tight area, you can also use wire channels, which are much like the wire trays. These are space-saving and can be used if space is an issue during the installation.
  • When you are wiring up a home theater system, you should also take a look at your design. Make sure that you are spacing out the devices and the wiring properly so that they look neat in the end. You can also lay out the devices and the furniture in the following manner: · Soundbar situate on the wall at an angle of 45 degrees

· Laying out your TV, so that you can later mount it on an articulating wall mount.

Basic Terminology

Before we jump into running the actual wires, here’s a brief overview of some of the terminology that you will run into. You will probably run across other terms as you chat with electricians and read more about home theater wiring.

Some of the basic terms that most home-theater enthusiasts should know include:

AFV (audio-video): A single unit that contains functions for the audio and video portions of media. The unit may contain multiple inputs, output, and may even include DVR capabilities.

AV (audio-video): Term used interchangeably with AFV.

AV receiver: AV receiver is similar to an AFV. It receives and processes signals that you send it. The difference between the AV receiver is that it contains some, but not all, of the inputs and outputs of an AFV.

Back box/closet: An AV receiver is installed into a specially made cabinet to support it. The cabinet is usually located in the wall/closet behind your television screen. This cabinet is commonly referred to as a back box or cabinet.

Coaxial cable: It is the most common cable used in home theater setups. It carries the signal from the box to your TV.

Knowing Your Wires (And Interconnects)

If you are going to create an entertainment system, with your own lights and speakers or even just a simple sound system, there’s probably no better time to tackle a home wiring project than the present.

Before you get started, it will help to know the difference between the various wires and the different interconnects. This section will give you some background on the different types of wires and interconnects. This knowledge will also help you figure out where each wire will be going and help you avoid any surprises in your final product.

Wiring Your Home Theater Speakers

Home theater systems can get really complicated, but wiring home theater speakers is actually fairly straightforward.

So, even if you think your system is a little too complicated, don’t worry. This post will take you through the basic and simple process of wiring home theater speakers.

The most common wiring method is bi-wiring. In this method, the speaker cable goes into two ports: one for the tweeter and another for the main driver. You can also wire your home theater speaker in series. In this method, one end of the cable is attached to the speaker and the other end is attached to the subwoofer.

To begin wiring home theater speakers, first, turn off your speakers and take the grille off the front of your speaker. Then pull out the terminal pins that are holding the wires in place. Now, strip off the covering and the necessary part of the cables to expose the metal part. From here, it’s a simple matter of securing the cable with the help of the solder or terminals. Make sure that the corresponding positive and negative terminals are connected to the positive and negative parts of the cable.

Resistance and Impedance

The terms "resistance" and "impedance" are commonly used when it comes to electrical circuits. To many hobbyists, they're just confusing jargons, and even fly across the eyes of an expert. However, for electrical engineers, these terms are crucial to understanding how electricity flows through a circuit and to effectively designing wiring for home theater applications.

Both resistance and impedance resist the flow of electricity in a circuit. They work very differently from each other, however, and create different effects on a circuit.

Resistance is the opposition to the flow of electrons. It is the property of an object that restricts the flow of electrons through it. Because of this, the amount of resistance in a circuit is usually expressed in resistance in ohms. For example, the diameter of a wire, the length of a wire, and the material of the wire can all affect the resistance of a wire and thus increase or decrease the electrical flow in a circuit.

Impedance, on the other hand, is the result of the interaction of different frequencies of AC current in a circuit. Like resistance, it expresses the amount of opposition to the flow of electricity. However, unlike resistance, impedance is usually represented as a complex number.

Getting The Right Type Of Wire

The right wire will ensure that the installation of your home theater system goes smoothly and the first component to invest in is the wiring. While it’s true that HDMI and other cables that were once used to connect your equipment can now miraculously transmit visual and audio streams over a single wire, the Ethernet and speaker wires are still very important and you need to get the right types of wire in order to ensure the system runs without any problems.

The cables will enter the theater room through a wall or floor. HDMI and other cables can be installed in the wall or ran under the floor. Ethernet wires, speaker, and telephone wires will have to be installed in the walls.

Doing the wiring yourself is not always possible since it requires tools and expertise that you might not have. If you can’t do the job yourself, then look for an experienced contractor to do it.

As far as speaker, Ethernet, and telephone wires are concerned, filling the walls with wall plates and patch panels is a great way to conceal the wires. These days, wall plates do not have to be disguised with artwork. They can be designed to look high-tech and stylish. You might pay a little more than you would for wall plates but you get a better look and you don’t have to deal with hanging art.


If you’re already in the know when it comes to wiring, the following information will come in handy when planning wiring for a home theater system – or any other home theater related electrical project for that matter.

First off, let’s talk about the two common types of copper wiring – solid and stranded.

There’s no doubt that stranded copper wiring is the preferred choice for home theater applications. Stranded wire is less prone to overheating, which is a problem that can lead to sparking, fires, and electrical shorts. The thicker size of stranded copper wire also offers a higher current. And for a home theater application, the thicker wire decreases electrical resistance and minimizes current loss.

Quick Tip: If you’re planning on wiring your home theater yourself, you can save yourself a good deal of money on the installation cost by running the external wiring (or special house wiring) yourself. Just be sure to do it according to the wiring and safety codes in your area.


Since you've already made the decision to install a home theater in your house or apartment, you've realized that you have a lot of work ahead of you. The initial cost of all the components and the additional equipment is only the first hurdle that you have to overcome.

The real challenges of home theater installation begin once you start planning, inspecting, and installing the wiring. For this reason, it's important to take the time to study the home theater wiring guide in order to help you decide on the best procedure for wiring your equipment. The entire home theater system depends on the effective and efficient running of the wiring, so if it isn't done correctly, the end result will suffer.

The primary components in a home theater system are electrical and it is essential that they be connected properly and in the right place. If you don't feel that you have the know-how to get the wiring done right, you will have to enlist the services of a professional to help you out. It's very important that all of the wires are labeled and connected appropriately. The professionals should be able to complete the job in a timely manner and shouldn't have much trouble if everything is clearly labeled and a layout for the wiring is necessary.


Multi-channel home theater systems use gold-plated RCA composite connectors (phono or RCAs). Why do they use these connections? Because gold is one of the best metals for conducting electricity and it’s also electrically and thermally conductive. Gold-plated phono connectors and RCA cables provide symmetrical conductivity.

There are multiple types of home theater systems and not all are equal. Many are the post-mid century speakers manufactured before 1990. Your best bet is to read manufacturer specifications and ask questions from a specifier architect.

The speakers should be eight ohms and impedance matching at the amplifier. Here?s a diagram of it.

What Gauge Wire Should You Use For A Home Theater?

As a rule of thumb, 16-gauge wire is less expensive and more commonly used than 14-gauge wire. 14-gauge wire is more expensive but its thicker and more durable than 16-gauge wire. Generally, a 14-gauge wire should only be used for a home theater when setting up a recording and mixing studio.

However, if you're not an aspiring recording and mixing engineer, then you can get away with using a 16-gauge wire. Of course, this is just the general rule of thumb. These days, power conditioners have better line conditioning and correction systems. Generally, a line-conditioned 16-gauge wire is as sufficient as a 14-gauge wire.

Some General Connection Tips

  • Wire is sold by the strand. A strand has multiple wire conductors. For example, speaker wire often has 8 strands and a subwoofer cable usually has 4 strands.
  • Wire is measured by its gauge. The larger the gauge number, the smaller the wire. Eg, 14-gauge wire is smaller than 16-gauge wire.
  • More strands of wire in a wire bundle will result in less resistance and a higher-quality performance, but also cost more.
  • Learn the difference between the different wire colors. White is used for the positive side of the connection, red is used for the negative side of the connection, and black is used for ground wires.
  • In wall-mounted speakers, the positive connection is typically made behind the wall plate at the end of the speaker's wire. The negative connection is made on the wall plate on the other side of the wall.
  • For in-wall wiring for speaker-level connections, follow the manufacturer's instructions. Typically you will route the wire through the wall into a nearby electrical box, connect the speaker wire to a junction box (not a wire nut), and then cap off the speaker wire with wire staples.

Here are some other tips:

  • Minimize your cable runs: Keep your length of runs to a max of 25'. This will minimize loss and decrease number of splitters needed. This is especially important if you are planning to use Cat 5 cabling.
  • Run Cat 5 cables if you can: If building a home theater with a 7.1 or a 5.1 setup, Cat 5 cabling is much easier to use than Cat 3 or 4. Cat 5 is cheaper and easier to use. Cat 5e is even better because it uses a special shielding which allows for a smaller diameter patch cords.
  • Avoid using coaxial cable if possible: Again if using Cat 5 cabling you wouldn't have to worry about this crucial wiring issue. But if you're using the cheaper Cat 3 or Cat 4 setup than you'll have to use an extra device called a "Coax And Transformer" which is used to boost the signal to adequate wattage.
  • Run a HDMI cable: HDMI is the preferred type of cable for transmitting video in a home theater system because it is quicker and more versatile than component video. Also, HDMI does not require a special "transformer" to boost signal like coaxial wire does. If using Cat 5, run separate types of cable to each device but at lease use HDMI for the main receiver. If this is not a possibility, then use component video.

How Do You Hide Wires For A Home Theater?

Most people don’t like taking on a project that requires a lot of work. Home theater is a networked system which consists of audio and video equipment. It includes installing a receiver, setting up the speakers and adding the home theater projector. It involves Jumbo wires and soldering. Thus, it is important to have a good knowledge of how to hide wires for a home theater.

Wire covers are an easy solution which can be of help to you to hide wires. The basic ones are simple opaque plastic tubes with a slit near the base. The wires are inserted through the slit. As the covering is opaque, the wires are concealed from view and can be installed anywhere in the home.

The next solution is to use a more flexible type of tube, which can be moulded around a bend and joints can be glued.

There are many other ways of hiding wires for a home theater. For instance you can create a hidden compartment in furniture, cut a hole in the wall to accommodate a cable, hide the wires under a rug or plants or tiles.

Many choose to conceal wires inside wall. However, it is a project to do it yourself. For people who have the requisite DIY skills, it can be the best way of hiding wires.

How To Hide Wires In-wall

When you are building a house or installing a home theater in an existing house, you may opt for in-wall wiring. In wall wiring is a convenient, economical, and easy way to conceal TV and speakers wires.

Going with in-wall wiring is a good alternative if you don’t want to see wires and cables dangling from your walls, or you prefer to have them concealed behind a wall. Installing in-wall wiring is a neat option that will also leave your walls looking beautiful and pristine.

If wiring inside the walls is not an option, you may also decide to go with wall plates or to hide it along baseboards. If you need to run wires through a basement ceiling, you have many options, such as conduit, in-wall piping, or wire baskets.

When it comes to in-wall wiring, your best bet is to contact a professional electrician. They will come to your home and assess the situation and recommend the best wiring solution for you.

Final Thoughts On Home Theater Wiring

This post is based on the basics of home theater setup. We have covered everything from the video and audio cables and equipment to HDMI, home theater furniture, speaker placement and wiring for home theater.

A home theater is a great addition to any home. It makes watching TV or movies a more fun and enjoyable experience. It also keeps the kids happy and entertained, thus quietening down the home during noisy afternoons.

For the best home theater experience, make sure you get the best quality on the projector, on the audio and on the video cables. Nowadays, all of these items are affordable and within reach for pretty much anyone. That’s because technological advancements are bringing down the production of such components, making them attainable for most people.

Once you’ve invested in the best equipment available in the industry, you’ll be able to enjoy your first home cinema experience with ease, as all the technical aspects will be taken care of for you, thus allowing you to focus on the movie itself.

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The first step in planning your home theater wiring is figuring out exactly what you want to do with it. Whether it's just to add a few extra components or to design and install a home theater system complete with surround sound and a media center, get clear in your own mind what you want to accomplish.

Check the Power

Because home theater wiring involves not only extra components, but also lots of different wires, planning will be needed. Sometimes it's best to ask yourself, "What am I trying to accomplish with this home theater installation?"

The most obvious factor is your budget. Adding a TV, DVD player, Blu-ray, game console, cable or satellite box, and stereo speakers can get expensive. Once you get into wiring a home theater, home automation, and other devices, your budget problems can grow exponentially.

But that doesn't mean you can't do it. Start with the device you want to use, and think about the features you want to have. Is a big-screen, high-definition television absolutely necessary? Do you want to be able to access special apps for viewing content on your TV? Do you have multiple gaming consoles, more than one Blu-ray player, or perhaps a media center that lets you watch TV shows or movies from your hard drive or Internet? Do you plan on using any of the gadgets for viewing or listening to media while on the road?