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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I made a critical error in the design and wiring of my Home Theater systems which, hopefully, people setting up their systems could avoid if they are rewiring or installing flatscreens.

Flatscreens are kind of new and unique. To make the installation look the best, all of the cables and power connections should be hidden behind the TV. For most homes, this requires some rewiring and installing a media-type of box behind the TV. Just hanging the TV on the wall results in wires dangling all over the place and some type of set-top box located close by. All of my large flatscreens I painstakenly rewired for super-clean installs. They all have cable from the satellite boxes and the HT set-up ones have HDMI cables coming from hidden AV receivers.

I did make 3 regretable mistakes. I did not run coax cables, or telephone to my receiver area and did not even consider running a cat6 for internet to my AV equipment. These cables are necessary for things I never considered.

I have 4 seperate HT set-ups (dedicated home theater, 2 bedrooms, and living room). All of these have hidden receivers that send HDMI to the flatscreen in that room. The satellite receivers were all centrally located and a single cable goes from the satellite to each seperate television (I share the same satellite between several TVs). Standard infra-red and RF infra-red blasters allow channels to be changed and receivers to be cotrolled.

The problem I am now facing is a lack of coax by the receiver (coming in from the dish) and no cat6 for internet access or telephone. When I first wired the system, I wish I would have ran extra coax to the receiver locations. It almost seems stupid, but now I am trying to install another dish for HD TV. I do not need HD TV everwhere in the house (mainly on the HT set-up TVs). I would like to have the HDMI go to the primary TV for HD, and still be able to send a second signal (no HD) to other TVs. To do this, I need at least two additional coax cables (one in, and one out). It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to run three, and use the extra coax for an external or attic mounted FM antenna.

The cat6 or cat5 is starting to be a necessary component for hi-end AV equipment. My entire house is hardwired for cat6 or phone (simple unclip and clip change over), but I never even thought of running wires for an RG45 to my AV receivers. Nor did I think I needed a phone line by my receiver. As it turns out, that new HD TV box requires a telephone line (or pay an additonal $5.00 a month charge) for it to constantly communicate with the Dish provider). As far as the internet access, Receivers and Bluray players need to be periodically updated. I just purchased 3 bluray players (2 Sonys, 1 Samsung) and the Samsung had to be updated out of the box just to work, the Sonys use the net to get updates and additional bluray information. My receiver also has an RJ45 for net access to update itself. As far as updating the blurays without internet, Sony would send a disc--nice guys. Samsung required me to burn a CD-R (I don't even have any--only DVD-Rs). Unfortunately, you have to have the player hooked up to an HDMI TV to use the menu to update them, which usually means in the installed location. With all of my receivers in hidden closets, this was miserable. I had to make a jumper cable to run from the either the computer modem or a computer wall jack to the players to conduct a one time update. Ditto for the Sony special online features and telephone connection for the HD TV.

If anyone is even considering a Home Media Computer type of system, or like to listen to internet radio, an internet connection near your receiver is a must. Like I said before, I wish I had put these wires in when I had the walls opened 10 months ago.

When I first designed and installed the system I could have easily installed these extra wires. Now, it is going to be extremely difficult and require cutting into walls again.

If anyone is in the process of wiring a system up this advice could be a real time saver.

Super Moderator
9,337 Posts

Interesting write-up, Jeff.

Back in '96 or so when my best friend build his house, I tried to get him to drop a phone line and extra coax where planned to set up his home theater. (He wasn't interested, but within a couple of years we were retro wiring everything I had advised him to do when he decided he wanted to get Direct TV.) I would have thought all the stuff you're mentioning was standard fare by this time.

Fortunately in my place re-wiring is no problem at all, but I know everyone doesn't have this luxury (if you want to call crawling through an attic a "luxury").

Check the Tech Articles link in my signature - there's a detailed "how to" article on retro-wiring that might be helpful.

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