Speaker Wire, Subwoofer Cables, HDMI Cables, Ethernet
In this day and age of “wireless” everything, one thing remains true for setting up a home theater audio system. That is the need to separately supply or buy, run, and connect several types of wires and cables between various system components to complete their proper installation. If you are like most home theater enthusiasts and audiophiles, you may have a selection of leftover wires and cables in your possession available from which to dig through. But are they the right type, length, gauge, and quality for setup of a brand new system?
Speaker wire Front left and right, center channel, side/rear/back surround, and elevation/height/ceiling speakers each need to be individually connected to one of the speaker outputs located on the backside of the home theater receiver. All but the lowest priced receivers and almost all home theater speakers on the market today feature superior screw type binding posts instead of cheaper spring clips on back which allow you multiple options for terminating speaker wire runs; the most popular choice other than simply twisting the bare wire is probably using banana plugs.
The longer the speaker wire runs you’ll be making, the thicker the wire you should use. Speaker wire gauges are often written as AWG (American Wire Gauge), and the lower the gauge, the thicker the diameter of the wire. For example, 12AWG is thicker than 14AWG, which is thicker than 16AWG.
Oxygen-free copper (OFC) speaker wire is standard. If you will be running any of the wiring through or inside walls, ceiling, and/or floor, be sure to use CL2 or CL3 (class 2 or 3) rated speaker wire. If you will be cutting and stripping bulk wire from a box or roll, it will spare you considerable time and hassle using a wire cutter/stripper tool. Alternatively, you can buy pre-terminated speaker cables in various gauges if you know the specific lengths you will need ahead of time.
During system setup and installation, be sure to pay close attention to the positive and negative leads on the wire, as well as on the receiver’s speaker outputs and the speakers’ inputs, and make all connections while the receiver is powered off.
Subwoofer cable(s) A powered subwoofer also needs to be connected to the backside of the home theater receiver, as well as plugged into a nearby AC outlet for power. Subwoofer cables are sold in various lengths. You will need to run a subwoofer cable from one of the subwoofer/LFE (Low Frequency Effects) outputs on back of the receiver to the location of the sub, probably near a corner or wall. Alternatively, “wireless” transmitter and receiver options exist for connecting a sub to a receiver without running a subwoofer cable, but both the transmitter and receiver will also need to be plugged into AC outlets along with the sub.
HDMI cables You will need to run an (Ultra High Speed) HDMI cable from the HDMI output on back of each source component such as a satellite/cable box, Blu-ray Disc player, and/or video game console to an HDMI input on your home theater receiver, as well as an HDMI cable between the labelled eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) compatible HDMI input on your smart TV or UST projector and the eARC compatible HDMI output on your home theater receiver.