Setting up a home theater entails quite a bit, the most obvious being, selecting the right screen size and HDTV for your needs. Next comes the speakers, and there are multiple options out there when it comes to choosing the right speakers and setting them up to complement that brand new television.
Now, the final piece is in the cables. This step may seem simple, but it can make or break all the entire set up if not executed correctly. So, here are the most important things to consider when choosing and organizing the cables for any home theater set up.
I\’ve Got the Power!
Virtually everyone will need a power strip or two for their home theater systems and it would be negligent to not re-enforce the advice of seeking out a quality model with a good surge protector function. A great model is the Belkin Pivot-Plug models. They incorporate a pass through filter to protect against surges from the cable system and incorporate an ingenious swivel plug design to accommodate bulky DC adapters.
If the budget is there, the next level is to get a line level conditioner. These devices accommodate the shaky nature of most house electrical currents and stabilize it to be a steady 120V / 60Hz power source. While this conditioning has little effect on sound quality, it does wonders for the long term durability of the equipment.
There are a few steps to take behind the system to make life simpler and to avoid some nagging interference problems. In the name of neatness, grab some Velcro straps or zip ties that will let you bundle up groups of wires and also pick up any slack in wires that are too long. Velcro is better as it is re-usable and easier to break apart and put back together, but will cost a bit more. Zip ties will suffice just be sure to buy a jumbo box since any future wiring changes will require snipping and destroying the existing zip ties.
You Gotta Keep them Separated
Cable bundling will also help in segregating the cables in the back of the system according to signal type. While there is a variety of heated debate among home theater geeks (seriously – we have heated debates about this stuff) it is best to bundle the wires into three categories: Power, Signal, and Speaker.
Power cords are the ones that plug into the wall or power strip. Keep these far away from the other two especially if the house or apartment is older. Power cords emit a good amount of EMI (Electro Magnetic Interference) and can even transmit EMI from other electrical sources from elsewhere in the house. This EMI can cause interference in the signal wires, which results in either audio or video static or both.
Signal cables are the ones that move the audio and video signals from component to component such as HDMI, component video, or analog signal wires. The power level of the signal in these cables is so small that they can more susceptible to EMI.
Speaker wires are typically copper cables that run from the amplifier or receiver to the speakers. Here is where most of the heated debate is. Speaker wires do emit EMI, but at a far lesser scale than power cords, but they are also low powered enough to be subjected to the EMI of the Power cords. The safe bet is to still keep them separated.
The next page deals with room tuning for achieving optimal sound.
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