I am seeking advice to put together my first 5.1 set up. I have a set of Monoprice 10565 speakers and a Pioneer VSX 823 receiver.
Disclaimer: I am a complete newbie when it comes to wiring and set up!
I have done a bit of reading on the forum, and so far my understanding is that a popular economical method that still retains good sound quality is to simply purchase 16 gauge speaker wire and attach to respective posts on the speakers and receiver.
I am hoping I can get some advice with regards to the following questions:
1) Choice of wire gauge. I understand this is a controversial topic, but would it be fair to say that 12-16 gauge is the popular choice? I seem to see 16 gauge often recommended on the forum, but also see that Wirecutter.com recommends 12 gauge.
1a) Distance factor. I understand longer distances may benefit from thicker gauge. My longest distance for one of the speakers will probably run about 20 feet. (Thereafter, about 15 feet for the other back speaker, and ~3-5 feet for the fronts and centre.) Should I consider leaning toward a thicker gauge? And if so, is 12 gauge sufficient?
2) Choice of wire brand. Again, a controversial topic. (What isn't controversial in the AV world?!) It seems to me that the important bit is to get pure copper. But I see Monoprice and Amazon as popular recommendations, or even generic brand from local hardware stores suffice? Home Depot here in Toronto sells RCA brand cable, but I can't tell if it's pure copper... I am hoping to pick something up in person so that I can work on setting up this Sunday. By off chance, can anybody recommend a local option in Toronto?
3) Use of plugs. From what I understand this makes the installation "cleaner", but is not necessary from a sound quality perspective. If I forgo this, do I need to solder? or just twist and/or thread the wire?
4) Are there any idiosyncracies for my particular gear?
Thanks in advance!!!
Id suggest 14 gauge as the thickest to go, 16 or even 18 is probably fine for your setup, but not worth going any thinner than that in my opinion. If you were running anything over 75 feet then maybe push into the 12 gauge, but for the current 20' range 14 would be more than plenty. I would suggest having the same length of wire for similar speakers, both backs cut to 25' for example. Even if one side only needs 15' you can just twist tie the extra 10' to keep it clean, but at least the 2 speakers are wired the same. Same goes for both fronts and potentially the center speaker too, but I don't think the center "has" to be the same length as the front sides, its just preferred if the length will already be close (if sides are 7' let the center be cut to 7' as well).
Banana Plugs definitely make it easier to connect to the receiver and remove later on, especially if you think you might move the system any time soon, constantly dealing with the twist knob and squeezing the bare wire through the slot among all the other connectors can be a pain if working with a small space. I think it saves time too even though it takes a few extra minutes to hook to plugs onto the wires, they all connect into the receiver in seconds.
There are tons of different banana plugs (and other types too) to pick from in regards to how they hold the wire, but all do the same thing in the end as long as its on secure. I personally went with these:
which fasten on with 2 screws and really hold the wire tight. I wouldn't bother with anything that requires soldering the ends if they even exist.
Just remember to connect the same sides of the wire to the receiver and speaker (red to red) to keep the polarity. If you cant really tell the 2 sides of the wires apart(no color difference), i usually just go with whatever half has writing on it is my positive side and may even mark it with a sharpie to find it easily. The color coded banana plugs help with that too.
I ended up doing some research on the run today and ended up jumping the gun before seeing your reply. I liked this article: http://www.crutchfield.com/S-pfRLy6eIxkb/learn/learningcenter/home/speakers_wire.html.
For future reference, for those in GTA region, I ended up purchasing 100ft of pure copper 16AWG bulk speaker cable for $10.68 (after tax) from infinitecables.com (called ahead for same-day pick up available in Markham). (product code BK=SPZ16-100; http://www.infinitecables.com/pop/bk_spz16.htm)
Nevertheless, your advice is much appreciated. I hadn't considered using equal lengths of cable for the paired back and front speakers, respectively. Intuitively, it makes sense theoretically, and I might as well use the extra cable that I will have lying around. And I like the convenience of the banana plugs as you've described, although I do not expect to be moving the system (any significant distance) for about 3 years. I'd seen the same brand on Amazon recommended by others on the forum. I would have loved to have this delivered already for my intended Sunday installation, but I suppose I could install without the plugs first, then reinstall with the plugs at a later date? I can't seem to find anything equivalent locally at anywhere near a comparable price, unfortunately.
Sounds like you ended up with a good set of wire for your setup.
You can definitely install it with bare wire first and add plugs later, or never add the banana plugs as they are more just for convenience and you may get a nice clean install up and running on Sunday and not want to mess with it again. The bare wire through the twist knobs on the receiver will give the same quality of connection as plugs, just be sure the exposed wires don't cross other ones or touch other terminals if excess is exposed.
Use the chart to select the right gauge.
I unfortunately did not realize that the subwoofer requires a different type of cabling. It requires RCA mono out of the receiver, to stereo into the subwoofer.
A commenter on Amazon for the speakers mentions that something like the following is required:
However, looking at the jacks, it appears more like:
Unfortunately stores are closed here now, so I will try the latter later this week and report back...
Maybe I was misusing the word "stereo". The subwoofer has either RCA in or speaker lines in (both options have dual inputs)
Since I have no prior experience doing this, I'll go by the (instruction) book and use a 1-to-2 Y-line type cable as instructed. I don't have a 1-to-1 RCA cable handy anyway, so if I'm purchasing a cable I might as well get the cable that the manual calls for...
I misread the name of the cable that I was planning to pick up. It's actually a 3.5mm to RCA cable.
This is proving more challenging than I expected. 1x RCA to 2x RCA seems to be a rare breed of cable ....
You can get a Y adapter separate to split a single RCA cable into the double (1 female to 2 males), also try searching for subwoofer cable somethings its labeled more under that.
There are many brands and options and ways they are sold so it might take a minute to decide, i know i ended up finding a great deal for mine and was able to get it packaged together, i believe i have the 6 foot version of this cable: http://www.amazon.com/Monster-M850-SW-12-M-Series-Subwoofer/dp/B0010DLYO2/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1397537191&sr=8-2&keywords=monster+subwoofer+cable
and was able to get the whole set for like $18, and its crazy durable and heavy, maybe overkill for your setup, but figured it might help.
Unfortunately, it seems a lot trickier to find a convenient retailer in Canada. Most items on Amazon.com don't ship to Canadian addresses. I've shipped to a location in Niagara Falls and picked up, but can't justify doing so for a couple of cables!
As an aside, I'll mention for any future readers that I did come across this option which looks perfect:
(Unfortunately, it does not ship to Canada, so I did not purchase this)
I've ordered a mono RCA cable and Y-adapter from a local retailer, Canada Computers, which is supposed to ship within a couple days from a local warehouse... Hopefully it works out.
I'm wary about how cheap they cost, but I figure if I get it in a timely manner and they're so cheap... as long as they work, I won't be too disappointed if I feel I need to upgrade at a later date.
Just out of curiosity though, would this cable have worked:
I'm confused by the description "Connect DVDs, DTS and other home theatre components requiring coaxial cables to subwoofers 75 Ohm Impedence Heavy-duty injection-molded RCA connectors featuring 24K gold-plating on all contact surfaces".
I understand that there is a difference between (digital?) coaxial and RCA connectors, but if I'm reading the description correctly for this product... it's cable is coaxial, but the connectors are RCA? And thus, should work for my application?
Yea I think the product itself would have been fine, it likes a little odd to me on that single male side, but I suppose theres a lot of ways to make a cable that I havent seen.
I agree the wording is slightly odd, i'm used to Coaxial/Coax meaning the like TV cable or cable to run to a modem not an RCA plug tips, but it seems like the right thing if you would have gone that route.
Currently, I'm using a Dynex Y-adapter with Rocketfish single RCA cable that I bought from Futureshop, which is working fine, but the cable was quite pricey.
FYI for those looking for an RCA M/M/M Y-splitter cable or adapter in the Toronto area, infinitecables.com appears to have a nice selection at reasonable prices.
Subwoofer cables, including Y-splitter: http://www.infinitecables.com/av_subwoofer.html?x=70&y=15
RCA cables, including Y-adapter: http://www.infinitecables.com/av_composite.html
I'm planning to get this: http://www.infinitecables.com/pop/av_rca1m2m.htm
I was very happy with their speaker wire, so I intend to pick this up, and return the overpriced cable to Futureshop.
Perhaps there is a difference in quality, but I don't expect I will be able to appreciate it?
Subwoofer cable requirements are the least critical of all. Any RCA/RCA cable will be fine. No need to use a Y cord at all. Assuming our AVR has some form of auto-cal, run that and the sub will calibrate just fine with just the cable. Not sure about shipping to CA, but Monoprice, search "subwoofer cable"...a few things pop.