AVS Special Member
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Give a monkey a brain...
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Installers sometimes mark up their prices extravagantly to keep labor costs down. Unlike electricians and other subs, the typical AV installation company can't keep their guys busy every day, all week. And, they/he didn't charge for the spec/plan work, which eats up time. Training eats up time, too. Lots of hidden costs with AV that they need to cover. I'm not saying all aren't busy, but there is a lot of leg work done outside the home. Even though this is a prewire, they need to cover costs elsewhere.
Keep in mind the better companies can often charge what they want, as it's hard to find good subcontractors. Anyone can prewire, but not all have experience and take the time to do a good job. They may do a better job if they know they'll be doing the install, and not just the trim-out (adding wallplates and connectors).
Panduit and Tributaries are quality manufacturers. Their products and cables are higher quality than others, and they do cost more than other manufacturers. I don't think it makes much of a difference for speaker cable in general, but it may be a lot easier to work with (better jacket, easier pulling). For HDMI, installed in a wall, I'd probably pay a premium to get the better cable. Consider Redmere-chip HDMI cables for runs over 30 feet.
Running 1-2 category cables next to a long HDMI cable makes perfect sense. That HDMI cable will need to be replaced some day, when new tech arrives, and an HDMI 2.0-over-category cable solution will be a fine cushion. An empty 2" conduit run from attic to TV locations would be even better.
I haven't had any issues with my Monoprice cat6, but you're kind of stuck using what the installer uses. If you hand him boxes of cable, he could blame your cable if there are any issues.
I say talk to 1 or 2 other installation companies. Find out what products they use, maybe talk to some references. Hard to find quality subs.
Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha
Give a monkey a brain and he'll swear he's the center of the universe. -Fishbone