subwoofer wiring noob question - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 27 Old 01-16-2012, 07:12 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm certain this is an easy question for y'all, so I apologize in advance.

We're in the process of redoing our basement which is allowing me to finally wire everything in wall for our networking and media center needs. I think I've got everything under control for all the pieces except ... the subwoofer.

I have one a Klipsch KSW-10 sub. I tried posting an URL, but apparently I'm too much of a noob. Forgive me that.

My current plan has 16AWG2C speaker home runs back to the distribution point, but what I wasn't sure about was the "pre-out" connection from the receiver (Sony STRDE995) which has a single SUB PREOUT RCA port back to the sub, which has the two RCA/LFE ports. Before the basement flooded, I vaguely recall having purchased some special cable for that purpose, but with the chaos since then, and all of that stuff being buried WAY in the middle of a fully packed garage, I can't even check.

All of that having been said, what would you say is the "right" cable grade/shielding/etc for that particular run? Can I just use another speaker cable run? RG6 with RCA termination? something over CAT6?

Thanks in advance for any advice...

- ZJ
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post #2 of 27 Old 01-16-2012, 07:30 PM
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Yeah, RG6 with an RCA terminator, or just an adapter later. If you run that along with the speaker wire, you'd be set for any powered or un-powered sub. Blue Jeans Cable and other recommend the Belden 1694a Precision coax for these runs. I did that for my subs - mostly "just in case"... At least it's not Monster-priced.

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post #3 of 27 Old 01-16-2012, 07:48 PM - Thread Starter
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My general feeling was to terminate everything RG6 based in BNC wallplate, and then have the "last mile" cable to whatever the device was convert from the BNC to whatever the actual need was. either F or RCA or whatever. The Belden cable is looking pretty darn expensive in comparison with other RG6 I've priced out. I have a little wiggle room in the budget, but not alot.

- ZJ
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post #4 of 27 Old 01-16-2012, 08:18 PM
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Agreed. I should have mentioned I have a "normal" RG6 run in my family room to the sub there, and it works fine, too... I'd just terminate in a F-fitting. $.50 to convert to RCA when the need comes.


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post #5 of 27 Old 01-17-2012, 10:44 AM
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I used RG6 with RCA male to F-type female adapters like Jeff mentioned and an RCA Y-adapter at the sub.

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post #6 of 27 Old 01-17-2012, 06:14 PM
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RG6? For a subwoofer? Huh??? Isn't that a bit...ironic?

The Klipsch KSW-10 has speaker terminal inputs, so why not run your speaker wire to the sub along the way?

Your receiver and subwoofer are consumer grade products that use RCA jacks/plugs. Using thick and stiff cable that's more suitable for carrying gigahertz+ RF isn't really ideal for carrying audio that tops out at a hundred Hz or so. A waste of money, really. Since none of your audio equipment uses BNC connectors, what's the rationale for this unnecessary expense?

My advice is to use good quality line level cable with RCA plugs for runs up to about 25 feet or so, maybe twice that when you don't need anywhere close to 20kHz bandwidth. For line level runs much longer than that, it's a good practice to convert the unbalanced consumer line to balanced professional spec cable. Balanced line cables are good for hundreds, even thousands of feet. You'll need a balun or active converter box at each end to convert to/from balanced/consumer.

BTW, if the speaker run is also going to be long, you would be well advised to run a larger gauge (lower number AWG) speaker cable. Lower speaker cable impedance means better speaker control, especially when using consumer equipment that can have mediocre damping factors. One good trick is to use solid conductor wire just like what's used for AC wiring, to get the most bang for the buck. Solid cable is equivalent of stranded cable that's 2 AWG larger. Since it's behind the wall, you don't need stranded wire because it doesn't move after it's installed.

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post #7 of 27 Old 01-17-2012, 07:46 PM
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[quote=Speed Daemon;21508829]RG6? For a subwoofer? Huh???

Agreed. We pros run RG-59 for subs.
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post #8 of 27 Old 01-17-2012, 07:53 PM
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Could just as well be RG-58. It isn't acting like a transmission line where characteristic impedance counts. The main thing that is important is a high percentage braided shield and a copper center conductor.
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post #9 of 27 Old 01-17-2012, 09:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Speed Daemon View Post

RG6? For a subwoofer? Huh??? Isn't that a bit...ironic?

The Klipsch KSW-10 has speaker terminal inputs, so why not run your speaker wire to the sub along the way?

Yes, I'm going to. speaker wire, 16AWG2C for the speaker connectors, and then, I guess RG-59/58 for the preout. I didn't realize there was much difference between RG6 and 59/58, and thats precisely why I was asking.

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Originally Posted by Speed Daemon View Post

A waste of money, really. Since none of your audio equipment uses BNC connectors, what's the rationale for this unnecessary expense?

Ease of use. I can make BNC-> F or BNC -> RCA cables for the various endpoints easily enough. I personally hate F-type connectors and wish they'd all diaf. The one thought that is just now occurring to me, though, is longevity. I highly doubt I'm going to live here forever, and whoever owns this place after me is probably going to look at those connectors and get all confused. Bleh. I *hate* F-type. Oh well.

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Originally Posted by Speed Daemon View Post

My advice is to use good quality line level cable with RCA plugs for runs up to about 25 feet or so, maybe twice that when you don't need anywhere close to 20kHz bandwidth. For line level runs much longer than that, it's a good practice to convert the unbalanced consumer line to balanced professional spec cable. Balanced line cables are good for hundreds, even thousands of feet. You'll need a balun or active converter box at each end to convert to/from balanced/consumer.

Well, crap. The sub run is 52' or just shy of that. The only other RCA run is for the audio out of the Wii. I believe that one is 36'. So does the Belken cable mentioned first qualify as "Balanced pro spec"? I suppose for just the three runs it isn't all that cost prohibitive.

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Originally Posted by Speed Daemon View Post

BTW, if the speaker run is also going to be long, you would be well advised to run a larger gauge (lower number AWG) speaker cable.

The longest run is again the sub, at 52'. All other runs are right around 25'. It will actually be shorter now that my wiring closet location had to move (its more central now). 16AWG2C good enough?
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post #10 of 27 Old 01-17-2012, 10:43 PM
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Originally Posted by cshepard View Post

Agreed. We pros run RG-59 for subs.

Well this pro keeps everything in the digital domain until the outputs of the loudspeaker management system. From there it's standard 600 Ohm balanced line to the amps, and some really hefty cable to the speaker cabinets, using Speakon connectors, of course.

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post #11 of 27 Old 01-17-2012, 11:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zhinjio View Post

Yes, I'm going to. speaker wire, 16AWG2C for the speaker connectors, and then, I guess RG-59/58 for the preout. I didn't realize there was much difference between RG6 and 59/58, and thats precisely why I was asking.

It's more about what's similar than what's different. All three are meant for carrying VHF to SHF frequencies, not baseband audio. Why not use real audio cable? And if you're going to use the speaker wires to drive the sub, a line level signal isn't needed.

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Ease of use. I can make BNC-> F or BNC -> RCA cables for the various endpoints easily enough. I personally hate F-type connectors and wish they'd all diaf. The one thought that is just now occurring to me, though, is longevity. I highly doubt I'm going to live here forever, and whoever owns this place after me is probably going to look at those connectors and get all confused.

Hence the problem. Once more you're choosing RF parts that aren't appropriate for AF use. What's so easy about tracking down oddball stuff like BNC wall plates and making custom cables that are worse than normal ones?

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Well, crap. The sub run is 52' or just shy of that. The only other RCA run is for the audio out of the Wii. I believe that one is 36'. So does the Belken cable mentioned first qualify as "Balanced pro spec"? I suppose for just the three runs it isn't all that cost prohibitive.

Belkin does make several types of STP cable for audio balanced line use. I don't see it mentioned here, but it's readily available in bulk or with various combinations of XLR and TRS connectors. You'll still need a balun at each end. But since running the speaker wires to the sub will eliminate the need for any other signal source, you're good with a pre-made "zip cord" style stereo pair with molded on RCA plugs for the Wii, provided you can find them in the right length.

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16AWG2C good enough?

It's good enough, sure. My point was that when it comes to speaker cable, there's no such thing as too little resistance. If you welded a dozen gold bars end to end and sold it as "the ultimate speaker cable" I'm sure that a few high-end mavens would pay twice the going price for the gold just to have "the best".

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post #12 of 27 Old 01-17-2012, 11:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Speed Daemon View Post

And if you're going to use the speaker wires to drive the sub, a line level signal isn't needed.

I'm going to have to call idiot on this one (on myself). I somehow had it in my head that using the pre-out still required the speaker wire connections. Bad me. Bad.

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Hence the problem. Once more you're choosing RF parts that aren't appropriate for AF use. What's so easy about tracking down oddball stuff like BNC wall plates and making custom cables that are worse than normal ones?

Yeah, changing my purchase back to standard F-type. God help me. Now I just need to figure out how to terminate those, as I've never done it before. Can't be too hard. Compression too, ends, hours of making them wrong, testing, getting bad results, then looking on here somewhere and finding answers in minutes. I'll wrangle it.

Newly measure lengths are 35' for the sub and 22' for the Wii connections.

Thanks again for all the advice.
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post #13 of 27 Old 01-17-2012, 11:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Belkin does make several types of STP cable for audio balanced line use. I don't see it mentioned here ...

Sorry, Belden is what I meant. 1694A.
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post #14 of 27 Old 01-18-2012, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Speed Daemon View Post

Well this pro keeps everything in the digital domain until the outputs of the loudspeaker management system. From there it's standard 600 Ohm balanced line to the amps, and some really hefty cable to the speaker cabinets, using Speakon connectors, of course.

600 Ohm systems are now just legacy equipment. Not much new stuff since the 1960's.

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post #15 of 27 Old 01-18-2012, 01:52 PM
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For analog sub-woofer cables and co-ax with a heavy braid shield that mates with your available connectors is good. The longer the cable, the more important the heavy braid.

Kevin
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post #16 of 27 Old 01-19-2012, 07:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zhinjio View Post

I'm going to have to call idiot on this one (on myself). I somehow had it in my head that using the pre-out still required the speaker wire connections. Bad me. Bad.

To err is human. To catch it before making the investment is money in the bank.

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Yeah, changing my purchase back to standard F-type.

I'm confused again. F plugs are also only RF. What's more, they require coax cable. That wouldn't work for your speaker wire. How about using a 1/4" TS jack and plug? One nice thing about TS connectors is that they work equally well with speaker and phono (line) cable. So if you change your mind you can re-use the connectors.

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Newly measure lengths are 35' for the sub and 22' for the Wii connections.

That should be fine for use with common unbalanced "phono" audio cable.

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post #17 of 27 Old 01-19-2012, 07:27 AM
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600 Ohm systems are now just legacy equipment.

If you mean by "600 Ohm systems" you're referring to the use of active circuits in place of transformers, you're only partially right. When you consider that some of the most costly studio equipment is vintage or built to old specs, the amount of true 600 Ohm equipment is on the rise. The Jensen Transformer company is alive and well and still making their products in the USA. What's old is new again.

Digital loudspeaker management is about as far from retro as you can get, but the last few feet are still analog. That means using 600 Ohm balanced cable, not 150 Ohm AES/EBU digital cable. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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post #18 of 27 Old 01-19-2012, 07:52 AM
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The longer the cable, the more important the heavy braid.

Sorry to be disagreeing with you again so soon, but using braided shield on audio cables is rather outdated. And weight is no guage of quality. The state of the art shielding uses aluminum foil for 100% coverage. Can't get much lighter than that.

When it comes to long runs (hundreds of feet), using a balanced pair, twisted pair, multiple pairs and more twists per a given length are more important. It's kind of hard to get more than 100% shielding, so...

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post #19 of 27 Old 01-24-2012, 05:18 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm confused again. F plugs are also only RF. What's more, they require coax cable. That wouldn't work for your speaker wire. How about using a 1/4" TS jack and plug? One nice thing about TS connectors is that they work equally well with speaker and phono (line) cable. So if you change your mind you can re-use the connectors.

Yes, F-type just for the actual video runs. I guess I skipped a few thoughts in my head that never made it into a post. I had originally considered BNC ends for everything just due to ease of use, and then changed my mind as I was reading through the thread and thoughts here. Ultimately, I sell this place, someone's going to look at the F-type connector and just understand what the heck to do with it. BNC? Maybe not so much. Not that the map and diagrams that will accompany the wiring closet wouldn't ultimately clue them in, but .... not everyone RTFMs.
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Solid cable is equivalent of stranded cable that's 2 AWG larger

..on what planet is this true?
Why do you make this stuff up?

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When it comes to long runs (hundreds of feet), using a balanced pair, twisted pair, multiple pairs and more twists per a given length are more important.

No, when using long runs, use a balanced system....ie. differential drivers and receivers over a twisted pair. It doesn't matter if it's got a shield or not...it's balanced/differential...just lilke a telephone line, which is unshielded and not twisted.
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post #21 of 27 Old 01-25-2012, 05:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Zhinjio View Post

Ultimately, I sell this place, someone's going to look at the F-type connector and just understand what the heck to do with it. BNC? Maybe not so much. Not that the map and diagrams that will accompany the wiring closet wouldn't ultimately clue them in, but .... not everyone RTFMs.

So you should use RCA terminations/wallplates for your sub.
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post #22 of 27 Old 01-25-2012, 03:22 PM
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Yes, F-type just for the actual video runs.

I see now. F terminators might work with baseband video. But as you noted, someone would see the F plugs and expect a cable, antenna, satellite or related RF signal to be there. BNC connectors are used a lot to carry video in broadcast/production TV facilities. The problem there is that they have so many cables with BNC plugs at the end, that if they lose a label it might take a while to figure out what that wire is for!

Of course you'll have a lot fewer video cables to choose from, and can use color-coded cable or some other method to make sure the right source goes to the right destination. These days it's just more common to use a digital video transport like DVI or HDMI. That confused me.

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I had originally considered BNC ends for everything just due to ease of use, and then changed my mind as I was reading through the thread and thoughts here.

Interesting fact: the guy who invented the BNC "bayonet" connector invented the TNC connector later on when he saw the bandwidth limitations of BNC.

Cheers!

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post #23 of 27 Old 01-29-2012, 07:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Speed Daemon View Post

If you mean by "600 Ohm systems" you're referring to the use of active circuits in place of transformers, you're only partially right. When you consider that some of the most costly studio equipment is vintage or built to old specs, the amount of true 600 Ohm equipment is on the rise.

The amount of legacy and legacy tribute 600 Ohm equipment made today is trivial compared to the modern style equipment that the B***ger company makes.

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The Jensen Transformer company is alive and well and still making their products in the USA. What's old is new again.

Jensen would be out of business if they only sold 600 Ohm transformers

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Digital loudspeaker management is about as far from retro as you can get, but the last few feet are still analog. That means using 600 Ohm balanced cable, not 150 Ohm AES/EBU digital cable. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Don't think that I have ever seen a 600 Ohm cable. I have seen pictures of them alongside railroad tracks 50 or 100 years ago.

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post #24 of 27 Old 01-29-2012, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Speed Daemon View Post

Sorry to be disagreeing with you again so soon, but using braided shield on audio cables is rather outdated. And weight is no gauge of quality.

Maybe you should tell that to our friend Bill Whitlock at Jensen Transformer. As he writes that a heavy braided shield (14AWG) is very important in an unbalanced interconnect.

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The state of the art shielding uses aluminum foil for 100% coverage. Can't get much lighter than that.

Foil is good at radio frequency for interference.(which is becoming more and more common) but braid is better for everything else.

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When it comes to long runs (hundreds of feet), using a balanced pair, twisted pair, multiple pairs and more twists per a given length are more important. It's kind of hard to get more than 100% shielding, so...

Very true, balanced is always better for long runs. (but it's not always available)

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post #25 of 27 Old 01-29-2012, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Speedskater View Post

Maybe you should tell that to our friend Bill Whitlock at Jensen Transformer.

No, I'm all booked up telling my elected officials things that all those TV commercials tell me to to tell, rather than just tell them themselves.

BTW, if your only experience with pro audio gear is "alongside railroad tracks 50 or 100 years ago", you really should resist the urge to pontificate about what you don't know. If you want to be contrary just for the sake of being contrary, do it to a mirror, please.

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post #26 of 27 Old 01-30-2012, 06:25 AM
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BTW, if your only experience with pro audio gear is "alongside railroad tracks 50 or 100 years ago", you really should resist the urge to pontificate about what you don't know.

You continue to reveal your lack of knowledge.
600 Ohm audio systems were phased out decades ago...get with the program, please stop embarrassing yourself.
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post #27 of 27 Old 02-05-2012, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Speed Daemon View Post

BTW, if your only experience with pro audio gear is "alongside railroad tracks 50 or 100 years ago", you really should resist the urge to pontificate about what you don't know.

With a comment like that, I can't resist the urge to join in the pontificating/educating:

"600 ohm" is NOT another term for "balanced audio," "electronically balanced audio," or "transformer balanced audio." 600 ohm systems ARE virtually extinct in professional audio, having been replaced by low impedance outputs feeding high impedance inputs. There's no reason to use impedance matched 600 ohm lines unless your dealing with cable lengths measured in miles instead of feet (for example, if you're a railroad).

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Digital loudspeaker management is about as far from retro as you can get, but the last few feet are still analog. That means using 600 Ohm balanced cable, not 150 Ohm AES/EBU digital cable.

The impedance of balanced AES/EBU cables should be 110 ohm, not 150 ohm. At any rate, to your point, cable impedance doesn't matter with analog audio over short distances, so 150 ohm, 110 ohm, 75 ohm, or 600 ohm (if you could actually find some) will all work just fine.

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F terminators might work with baseband video.

F connectors will most definitely work just fine for baseband video. It's very common to find F connectors used for the video input on professional analog CATV modulators.

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BNC connectors are used a lot to carry video in broadcast/production TV facilities. The problem there is that they have so many cables with BNC plugs at the end, that if they lose a label it might take a while to figure out what that wire is for!

Wow. Really don't know what to say at the suggestion that it's a problem to use a connector that makes sense because it might be confusing having so many of them.
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