Future proof distribution planning - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 16 Old 12-04-07, 10:27 PM Thread Starter
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Future proof distribution planning

Hello. I have spent a lot of time looking for the "how to" of running wires in my existing home, and thanks in large part to Wayne A. Pflughaupt I at least have some ideas as to how to approach the job.

I have searched for the answer to my questions, and if I have overlooked a thread, please accept my apology. And if you would be so kind as to point me to it ....

It will not be easy to run the wires/cables in my 10 year old house with a limited attic and a mostly finished basement, so I want to try to do it right and just once if possible. I would like to hear the best approach to have something flexible and high quality for, say, 10 years. Here is the penciled version of the "plan":

Sources: PS3 Blueray, poss. also HD DVD, 2 DirecTV HD DVR

Inputs to: AVR (looking at Denon 4308CI, Integra 8.8 mainly)

Locations/zones: All HD. Primary location via HDMI and with 7.1 sound; 1 secondary location via component and with 5.1 sound. Interested in a 3rd location, but AVR's currently under consideration only have 2 video output zone capabilities.

I hope to figure out how to stream home video as well as music to the "zones".

Here is what I'm trying to figure out for now and the forseeable future. What wires/cables should I install?
  1. Can I separate the AVR from even the Primary TV by using optical HDMI?
  2. I am assuming I have no choice but to run component to the secondary zone, right?
  3. Should I use mini coax bundles for my component run? If so how many cables per bundle and how many bundles?
  4. What should be done to prepare for the possibility that component distribution will be prevented because of HDCP non-compliance?
  5. What wires/cables are good to use for the speaker runs? (They need to be in-wall rated. Actually everything needs to be in-wall.)
  6. How many runs of cat5e should I install, including probably a network?
  7. Should I use optical audio?
  8. Is there anything else with fiberoptics that I should plan for?
  9. Is there a good conduit for retro-installation?

And of course if anybody has a suggestion for a better distribution plan, I would very much appreciate your input.

Again, if this is all a dupe, I am sorry.
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post #2 of 16 Old 12-05-07, 12:09 AM
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Re: Future proof distribution planning

1. I may be confused about this... but what is "optical HDMI"?

2. The 4308 has 2 HMDI outputs, so you can run HDMI to Zone 2.

3. You will only need one run if you have a Zone 3. Bluejeancables.com sells the components in a bundle if you need a bundle. It has a good durable jacket.

4. I don't know.

5. I believe it's CL rated that you want (flexible and easy to work with)... you can buy it in big rolls and save. Depending on the distance I would use 12 - 16 gauge.

6. Use Cat6 and run as many as you possibly can. All kinds of things are beginning to be networked and you just never know. Just do it!

7. I would use HDMI where possible and Coaxial Digital otherwise.

8. I don't think so, but I'm not totally sure. Somebody probably is though.

9. Another dunno... ???

6. I can't count...
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post #3 of 16 Old 12-05-07, 07:34 AM
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Re: Future proof distribution planning

I agree with Sonnie, but I may split these hairs.

#1 -- Yep, never heard of "optical HDMI." And I'm not exactly sure what you're trying to accomplish. Are you trying to make it such that you don't have to use the audio system (the AVT) to listen to TV if you're just watching something simple like the news? Let us know, and we may be able to suggest a method to accomplish it.

#2 -- I didn't read the Denon manual, so forgive me if I'm wrong. If you're talking about the official "Zone 2" capability of the receiver, and it does not support an HDMI output, then yeah, you'll have to run component. I think you may be just suggesting he use the second HDMI out to go to another room, Sonnie -- but in that case he'll just be watching the same thing in that room as is playing in the main room (Zone 1). However, if you're setting up for a second zone, and you don't mind paying the extra money, I'd also suggest to run the HDMI even if your current receiver doesn't support it; I would imagine that near-future receivers will.

#3 -- if you're talking about using the coax cable that looks just like RG-59, but is thinner, I just don't know. There would be three cables per bundle, though, and as many bundles as connections you want to make (e.g., one bundle to bedroom 1, one bundle to bedroom 2, etc., would provide for video in each of those rooms, and that video would be sourcing from your "main" audio system). Hopefully a more experienced installer will jump in here.

#4 -- not sure. I don't like all these rules!!!

#5 -- agree with Sonnie. If you're going to buy a giant roll of it, go with 12 gauge. It may not be necessary for all runs, but you won't have to worry about it being too small. CL2 is what you want for in-wall. If you are on a budget, use 14 or 16 gauge, but no smaller.

#6 -- agree with Sonnie. Install as much networking as you can or as you want. Before I sealed up my basement's ceiling with drywall, I ran on Cat 5e to every room. Cat 6 is probably better. I'm not using them yet, but you never know when.

#7 -- How far from your sources (DVD player, PC, CD player, whatever) to your receiver? And what other connections would you want to make with optical? There's certainly nothing wrong with it, and I use it for a couple different things. I'd say coaxial or optical is kinda like "six of one, half dozen of another." If you are going from an HD-DVD or BluRay player, you'll use the HDMI connection, which will get you the best audio. From "regular" DVD sources or your DirecTV box, you can use optical if you want. I have used up to 50' of optical with no problem.

#8 -- not that I know of

#9 -- don't know.

You may want a PC to connect someday, especially if you want to stream home movies to all locations. That's another project!

A couple ideas on fishing all these wires if you haven't done it before. They make a lubricant, available at Home Depot, et al, that will help you get the cables through tight spots. I haven't used it, but I know it'll help, especially on long runs. Also, it may be helpful for the future to leave a extra "pull" in the wall. That is, something that's just there to help you pull "something else" in the future. Perhaps a couple lengths of strong nylon string or perhaps simply an extra cable that's not connected to anything -- just something so that you don't have to re-fish in the event that you want to add something down the line.

I think that's it for now.

Good luck!

-- Otto
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post #4 of 16 Old 12-05-07, 12:18 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Future proof distribution planning

Thanks guys.

I obviously called it the wrong thing. Noobistic!

From what I understand "regular" HDMI has a max cable length of about 30', which means the second "room" has to be pretty close. There are baluns that work with fiberoptic cables that can send HDMI up to 500' and are HDCP compliant. I don't know which, if any, sellers are good, but here is a ramdom example of what I'm talking about:

http://www.digitalconnection.com/Pro...Cables/hdm.asp

There are also HDCP compliant ways to lengthen HDMI transmission with cat 5e. Another random example:

http://www.avovercat5.com/products/hdmi.htm

As to the number of cat5e, or cat6, there has to be some number you would recommend. I'm thinking 4 at present. And of course with the very good pointer about the "extra pull", it might not matter if I'm off a few ... as long as I make all the mouse holes big enough. Also, not sure if fiber can be pulled in that manner, although maybe I could pull a little skinny conduit, if not put one there in the first place. Not sure if there is a little skinny conduit that doesn't crimp that a few fibers could be easily pulled through "someday".

So CL2, 12 ga for speakers it is.

Thanks again, both of you.
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post #5 of 16 Old 12-06-07, 12:24 AM
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Re: Future proof distribution planning

Uh... the prices on those HDMI gizmos...

I'm not familiar with either.
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post #6 of 16 Old 12-10-07, 12:35 PM
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Re: Future proof distribution planning

The only way to really future proof is to run conduit or get good at fishing wire. Besides that it wold be buying the most cutting edge cables/connections that are currently on the market. That would mean HDMI 1.3b certified cables, Cat6 network cable, 12 gauge speaker wire, triple shielded RG59 and anything else you might fancy.

A HDMI 1.3 certified cable should be able to run 1080p its full length. They do make them in 25ft lengths.

For networking you would be best to get a DSL/Cable decent router and make a communications closet. Your DSL or Cable internet connection would be there hooked directly to the DSL/Cable router. You could use a Star Topology (run everything from the central point to it's end point). Or you could use multiple routers if you plan on having multiple network connections in multiple rooms. In that case you just need to feed one CAT6 line to each distribution point. The price of CAT6 is only marginally higher than CAT5e so don't skimp now.

You could also go wireless and use a wireless N Cable/DSL router and wireless access points hardwired to your network devices. Wireless isn't as secure and reliable as wired, but can be a lot simpler.

For speaker cable runs I'd use 14 gauge minimum CL2 rated wire. If you can afford 12 gauge go with that especially for long runs.

I would run coaxial digital audio using RG59 cable. It's a lot stiffer and will be easier to fish through your walls.

As for retro conduit, if the drywall is up you can really only do conduit parallel to your floor joists and studs and or vertically from floor to floor (or though and attic or crawlspace). If going through an attic or crawlspace make sure to properly seal and insulate the opening you created. You can run cable through baseboard raceways, crown molding or external conduit also.
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post #7 of 16 Old 12-10-07, 08:15 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Future proof distribution planning

Quote:
MatrixDweller wrote: View Post
The only way to really future proof is to run conduit or get good at fishing wire. Besides that it wold be buying the most cutting edge cables/connections that are currently on the market. That would mean HDMI 1.3b certified cables, Cat6 network cable, 12 gauge speaker wire, triple shielded RG59 and anything else you might fancy.

A HDMI 1.3 certified cable should be able to run 1080p its full length. They do make them in 25ft lengths.

For networking you would be best to get a DSL/Cable decent router and make a communications closet. Your DSL or Cable internet connection would be there hooked directly to the DSL/Cable router. You could use a Star Topology (run everything from the central point to it's end point). Or you could use multiple routers if you plan on having multiple network connections in multiple rooms. In that case you just need to feed one CAT6 line to each distribution point. The price of CAT6 is only marginally higher than CAT5e so don't skimp now.

You could also go wireless and use a wireless N Cable/DSL router and wireless access points hardwired to your network devices. Wireless isn't as secure and reliable as wired, but can be a lot simpler.

For speaker cable runs I'd use 14 gauge minimum CL2 rated wire. If you can afford 12 gauge go with that especially for long runs.

I would run coaxial digital audio using RG59 cable. It's a lot stiffer and will be easier to fish through your walls.

As for retro conduit, if the drywall is up you can really only do conduit parallel to your floor joists and studs and or vertically from floor to floor (or though and attic or crawlspace). If going through an attic or crawlspace make sure to properly seal and insulate the opening you created. You can run cable through baseboard raceways, crown molding or external conduit also.
Thank you very much.

To summarize, you recommend:

cat6 x 1 for network
rg59 x1 for audio
12 ga CL2 speaker wire x 1 to each speaker
HDMI 1.3b x 1 for short HDMI (<25')

And for longer video runs (which except for the single TV nearby, most will be)? Mini coax Component bundle?
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post #8 of 16 Old 12-11-07, 11:12 PM
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Re: Future proof distribution planning

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kjgarrison wrote: View Post
Thank you very much.

To summarize, you recommend:

cat6 x 1 for network
rg59 x1 for audio
12 ga CL2 speaker wire x 1 to each speaker
HDMI 1.3b x 1 for short HDMI (<25')

And for longer video runs (which except for the single TV nearby, most will be)? Mini coax Component bundle?
That would be the minimum. Also I should have said RG6 and not RG59. RG6 is much better.

You can run one CAT6 cable to each location if you plan on using a router at the other end. The other way is the star topology which would have you run everything from the central location outwards. So if you need two network connections at your AV end then run 2 lines, etc. One wire is simpler and depending on how much cable you need it could actually be cheaper since routers are pretty cheap these days.

Figure that you may need three or more connections for network. Your HD/BD player, a receiver, and possibly a HTPC. You could get crazy and run 4 CAT6 lines, but then your wall plate will get filled up pretty quick.

Why do you need to stretch a cable for digital audio? Would you not just run speaker wire from the AVR to the speakers in the 2nd and 3rd zones?

You'd also want to house all your components together and use a RF remote with IR blasters or some kind of X10 setup. That would control the 4308, the HD/BD/CD players and what ever else is in your media closet.

For video to the other locations you could run RG6 component. Monoprice has 50, 75 or 100ft lengths for a good price. You might want to run 22AWG HDMI cables instead if the displays support HDMI. 1080i or 1080p24 should pass over it fine. 1080p60 would be a challenge. I'm not sure if the audio would continue on after the 4308 down the HDMI cable or if it could be configured not to (that would reduce bandwidth too). Note that component will not pass 1080p.


You may want to elaborate on your plan a bit more. Where will the equipment be (What is in what room, etc)?
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post #9 of 16 Old 12-12-07, 07:30 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Future proof distribution planning

Quote:
MatrixDweller wrote: View Post
...........

You may want to elaborate on your plan a bit more. Where will the equipment be (What is in what room, etc)?
That, perhaps, is the problem. It's a chicken-and-egg thing. I don't really have a clear plan yet. Do I decide what electronics to have where and then figure out the wiring, or do I figure out the wiring to handle whatever electronics I do decide on both for now ... and for later?

In addition I just recently was told that the really important item is some sort of matrix switch, possibly amplified.

I do have some concepts on my "Wish List".
  1. Hi def TV in 3 locations, one a HT, and the other two just TV's using the TV's own speakers.
  2. Two DirecTV DVR's because we sometimes need to record more than two programs at a time. Also two gives more viewing location flexibility.
  3. Some sort of home media server with personal video, still pictures, and audio (CD's)
  4. Hi def DVD player, Bluray and prob HD DVD
  5. We want to watch any source from any location at any time, and we want full control from any location.

I guess you could also add to the list to figure out the wiring so that it only has to be done once. I have to retrofit an existing 2 story + basement home which has a small attic (that only covers part of the house), and a mostly finished basement. But the wiring depends on the equipment, and, at least in the future, to a large degree the equipment depends on the wiring.

You asked why I need digital audio, and I don't know that I do. Wasn't it in the list you gave me? What I do know is that speaker cables from an AVR to zone 2 will work because AVR's can mostly also send video to zone 2. None that I have looked at send video to zone 3, so that is not a solution for all my needs based on an AVR. Plus I don't know if an AVR will send different AV, or even A, feeds at the same time. I don't think they do, which means I can't be in zone 2 looking at one thing from the AVR while somebody else is in zone 1 looking at something else. So because of all these unanswered questions and limitations on equipment I have no idea what equipment I need, much less what wiring/cabling I need. Oh, and I am just getting this understanding of all this as I type.
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post #10 of 16 Old 12-13-07, 09:56 AM
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Re: Future proof distribution planning

You will not be able to run high def to the other zones via the 4308ci. I beleive it will run composite video (and/or possibly S-Video) to other zones and not component or HDMI. The 4308 has two HDMI outs but I believe they are not assignable to zones.

So what you'll end up having to do is daisy chain together some HDMI switchers and splitters in your equipment room so that via remote you can select which DVR or AV source appears on what TV. This could get very complicated but is the best solution. I'm also not sure how well the splitters and switchers would function.

I will follow up with a diagram of how to split the HDMI up in a bit.
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