A/V Hub and Wiring

Michael_NicoleJuly 26, 2011

I am planning a new construction home and I am trying to decide where to run all of my A/V wires to. I was thinking of home-running everything to the 1st floor study, rather than to a closet or the basement. I figured I would have my modem and router there. The room is more open than a closet. The basement is unfinished but was hoping one day to finish it without worrying about moving the A/V location. I was planning to use iTunes/Airfoil with multiple airport expresses and and multizone amplifier. Going to homerun 16g speaker wire from in-ceiling speakers from multiple zones (master bed, master bath, kitchen, dining room, backyard) to amplifier in study. I do not like volume knobs on the walls in each room. I can use apple remote on iphone/ipad to control volume and source. I would then directly connect airport expresses via cat5 cable to modem/router and use each airport express to create a zone.

Going to use apple tv in family room so speaker wires will just home run to behind TV stand.

Also going to wire coxial RG6 and cat5 or cat6 to each TV location in the house.

Any thoughts on this plan?

Where is the best place to run A/V wiring to?

Is cat6 preferable to cat5? Is there a cost difference and is it worth it?

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The answers to your questions are based on your preferences. I like a central wiring closet, in a basement or other out-of-the way place. The primary reason is that no matter how neat the installation, lots of wires and terminations aren't attractive (to me).

Cat6 is worth the extra installation cost if you require the extra speed (250 MHz vs. 100 MHz for Cat5e). Yes, Cat6 is more expensive than Cat5e, and usually takes the cabling job out of the domain of the DIYer. I would consider optical connections if you really need more than 100Mhz bandwidth.

My primary recommendation would be to install some form of conduit into which you can place your A/V cables, since no matter which type you install, they're bound to be obsolete in a few years.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 4:38PM
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kurto has provided you with some very good advice.

As far as your iDevice dedicated system, and not liking in-wall speaker level controls, I don't agree with it.

I don't know if you are single, or have a family, or have company staying with you at times, but unless they all have iPhones/iPads with them at all times, how are they suppose to control each zone that they might be in?

I recommend a traditional setup with in-wall speaker controls, set at mid-range, that then can be controlled remotely, as well as in-room. That then provides individual users to lower sound levels, when needed, without trying to find you or an iPhone/iPad to do it.

So, you have in-wall 16g wiring back to a multizone amplifier (Savant or other brand?), but you haven't really mentioned what you wish to distribute over the CAT5e/6 - RG6 to each location.

Do you also want video in each room? Is the source HDMI/HDCP video, STB distribution, or over-the-top streaming?

Unfortunately, there's no simple solution or standard, so like kurto suggested, put it all in conduit - and I highly recommend with lots of room for new pulls.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 11:36PM
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"install some form of conduit"

Flexible non-metallic (AKA 'smurf tube' for its sometimes blue color).

if you put it in place from basement (or lowest level) to attic you can then have the option of adding lines and dropping then with minimal wall damage.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 12:55PM
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Smurf tube is a much better choice than standard PVC since the "rigid" PVC can sometimes resonate in the walls from the speakers in home theater installations. Also, the ridges in the flexible tubing of smurf tube create less friction in cable pulls.

While it may be difficult to find larger diameters, your best bet for A/V installations is 2 inch. The tubing is usually available as blue for electrical, orange for low voltage, red for alarm systems, and yellow for communication systems. As far as I have ever seen, the electrical characteristics are all the same and the color is only for identification purposes. If anyone has seen differently, please correct me.

Anyhow, just remember one thing to prevent one of the biggest mistakes I've seen over-and-over, the molded connector on a standard "type A" HDMI cable does not fit through 3/4" PVC.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 12:06AM
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