Home Cinema Wiring For Beginners
Cinema room layouts are getting ever more complicated, just visit Dolby's website and you'll find 39 surround sound profiles detailed from 2.1 stereo systems to full blown 11.1.8. Check it out here - https://www.dolby.com/us/en/sp...
But don't worry, if your'e at the early stages of your dream home cinema room installation, we're here to help you through these stages. When we design a bespoke cinema room for a client we first try and get a feel for the budget and an idea of the clients expectations. If it's a larger, dedicated room with a reasonable budget then we can specify more speakers, including Dolby Atmos, or even twin subwoofers for improved sound quality.
If you're particularly serious about having "reference" quality sound in your new home cinema room, you may want to look at THX - they have their own THX licencing system for hardware that passes their stringent tests based on power handling and frequency response (amongst others). Theoretically, selecting your hardware from a THX certified manufacturer should ensure certain standards are met (assuming your room acoustics are good as well).
But back to wiring, you've decided how many speakers you plan on installing so lets cover each wiring point in turn. As usual, we always recommend installing more cables than you think you'll need. Future proofing just makes sense at this stage when you have the ability to run wires, so no skimping please !
1. HDMI Cable To Projector - From your equipment cabinet (rack) run a high quality HDMI cable that's capable of running at the resolution you intend to use it for. Currently that's probably 4k. Most cables over 5metres will struggle with 4k so then you may need an optical HDMI cable - these are usually directional so make sure you install it the right way round. It's a good idea to test it before and after installation to ensure it's working to specification. We have test equipment that allows us to do that quickly and efficiently.
2. Data & Fiber Cable To Projector - While we're running that HDMI lead, lets also run some Cat6 cables, 4 should be enough and also a couple of lengths of fiber cable to future proof ourselves for 8k resolution (and beyond) that's coming soon. The data cables can be used for control from a Smart Home system assuming you want to automate the cinema room from your Smart Phone or remote control
3. Loudspeaker Cable To Loudspeakers - Now, there's a lot of discussion about what makes a good speaker cable. For the moment we will stick with guage as being a pretty important parameter. Don't use skinny/thin wiring. Thicker speaker cables will carry power from your amplifier more easily. You don't need to spend a fortune. Oxygen Free Copper (OFC) speaker wires are pretty standard these days and there are some more exotic formulations that have gold or silver plating - if you're not sure please feel free to give us a call to discuss the options we have available. Run a separate 2 core cable to each loudspeaker position from your rack.
4. Incoming Services To Rack - Depending on your source components you'll need to bring your "services" into the rack. This includes things such as SKY TV, Virgin, Telephone, Internet, Alarm, Intercom, Freeview/FM/Dab antennas. You may need to liaise with your supplier about ensuring the correct wires are installed into the rack location to ensure you can use your preferred sources.
5. HVAC & Mood Lighting - Some rooms will have a heating/cooling system to keep the room comfortable and mood lighting can really give you that spectacular effect and "wow" factor when your friends and family join you to watch a movie. Speak to one of our mood lighting specialists if you need more information. We have a qualified electrician who can design and install electrical wiring solutions.
6. Subwoofer Wiring - Subwoofer positioning in your room can be critical to the overall effect. But once you've decided on the locations, ensure you have a high quality co-ax (75ohm) cable installed from the rack to each subwoofer position. RG6 is the preferred standard due to its higher bandwidth and better shileding compared to RG59. We recommend a separate cable run to the each corner of the room with local mains power socket to power the subwoofer.
7. Wi-Fi Wiring - You may need to install a wi-fi access point in the cinema room to ensure you have good coverage if you are far away from your nearest access point. Good wi-fi coverage will ensure any of your smart phone or ipad devices can control the system. Run a couple of Cat6 data cables back to the rack.
8. Screen Control Wiring - From your projector to screen housing, run 2 x Cat6 data cables. From the screen housing to the rack run 2 x Cat6 data cables. This will ensure you can trigger your motorised projector screen to drop when the cinema is switched on and retract when switched off.
9. Mains Sockets - Allow for switched mains power at the projector and screen positions - check the instructions to see which side of your motorised screen power is required. For a neat installation, fused spurs can be used that are switched at another location (eg. Skirting board level) or even back at the rack. At the rack area, allow for at least 4 double gang switched mains sockets.
Hopefully these guidelines on wiring for your home cinema installation have been helpful to you - we're always on the phone with friendly professional advice if you aren't quite sure on any of the aspects we've touched on here. We offer a professional, bespoke cinema room design and installation service across the UK if you'd prefer to have an experienced team design everything from scratch. We work with builders, electricians and interior designers to offer a turnkey solution to your new cinema room.