I used to be a professional installer for AV equipment for over 10 years. I do have quite a bit of experience when it comes to running speaker wires and setting up audio equipment. If you are planning to set up some speakers in your home or change the location of some loudspeakers, you every once in a while run into some difficult problems. In this post, I will offer some advice for solving these installation problems.
Admittedly, setting up audio equipment requires a special touch. Just imagine how upset your wife is going to be if you by accident drop your due LCD TV which may have cost thousands of dollars. Also, you need some experience when it comes to choosing the right audio and video components. Different types of audio equipment have different types of connectors and don’t necessarily interconnected with your other equipment. However, if you feel up to the challenge then go for it. Save some money by not hiring installer but running the wires yourself.
Usually, some of the most challenging problems arise when a particular environment is not suited for running wires. It is not always feasible to use existing cable channels to run wiring inside walls. Some older homes are usually not wired with any cables for AV equipment. Those homes usually don’t have any openings which would allow running the required wires easily. So you might end up drilling holes to the floor and running the wires in the basement or through the attic. However long cable runs have their own challenges. If the cable between an amplifier and speakers is too long, the cable itself poses an inductive load to the amplifier. Thus the impedance that the amplifier sees is different than the speaker impedance.
Very long cable runs also cause reflections of the audio signal. Those reflections can cause distortion at high frequencies. So it is always best to keep the cables as short as possible. If you don’t have an option but to run very long wiring in order to reach the location where you are setting up speakers, then I would recommend using fairly thick wire rather than thin wire. Thick wire will reduce the overall impedance. This impedance can cause problems as I indicated above. The higher the cable impedance, the more power is dissipated inside the cable. Very thin cable can run hard when you run speakers with a fairly high wattage. This is very similar to running electrical wiring. You wouldn’t want to use thin wiring to connect a stove for example.
In some instances, running wires is not feasible not just because the place is not accessible but it would be virtually impossible to hide the wires from view. This obviously depends a great deal on that the core of the house. As an alternative, you could consider some wireless solutions including wireless speakers. Also, they are some power line transmitters on the market which can conduct audio signals via the electric wires. Each of these solutions has pros and cons. I will look at those options at a later post.