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How to wire surround sound when modifying the walls is not an option?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hello all,

I've been following this forum for quite some time though I only now just joined. I found the information here invaluable when purchasing a TV recently and I'm hoping now I can get the same stellar feedback for A/V. I feel I should introduce my level of expertise and room setup as they play large roles into the whole process.

I'm fairly new to audio and video, though I've owned an entry level system before. I don't know all the technical stuff (ohms, impedance, etc.) but am looking to understand, and I figure I'll learn as I go, especially when reading posts on this forum.

Here's a quick mockup of my living room. It's not ideal, but it's what we've got to work with. The blue circles are where I'm thinking about putting the satellites and subwoofer when I get a new system:
Living room layout

The room is 13.5 feet by 13.5 feet. Given this layout/arrangement, what is the best and cleanest way to install a surround system if going into the walls is out of the question? Also, is my proposed speaker setup optimal?

I think this is it for now, thanks in advance.

clrux
Edited by clrux - 7/29/13 at 7:28am
post #2 of 18
Thread Starter 
Update
After giving it some thought, I think I'm going to check Home Depot for Wiremold equivalents, paint them the same color as the living room walls, and run the wire externally in the corners and along the ceiling corners. This should, I hope, make it look clean (maybe unnoticeable?) and we won't have to go into the walls.

Does anyone recommend any brand from Home Depot (or Lowe's) that's comparable to Wiremold? I'd need 13.5 feet x 5, and I don't want to have to buy a bunch of the expensive kits with like 5' sections.

Speaker setup
I'm still unsure about the best speaker setup though, given the funky space. I'd greatly appreciate any feedback on it.
post #3 of 18
you might want to compare it to the kits at monoprice. I haven't tried it myself but they seem like a pretty good deal and I like the quality at monoprice.

Here's a link to the kit - http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=105&cp_id=10520&cs_id=1052005&p_id=8288&seq=1&format=2

It comes with a few raceways and some connectors/corners, and you can buy extras for very cheap.
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks mehal88, those are exactly what I'm looking for. And the price is much better, too. I also like that they're hinged so I can modify as needed. I'm going to make a spreadsheet estimating lengths and quantities before ordering, but this looks like it'll fit my needs exactly. I'll probably go along the baseboards, since they stick out a bit, and along the door jams.
post #5 of 18
If you have carpet, you might be able to stuff them down between the carpet and baseboard.
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
No carpet, only hardwood floors throughout. I'll take another look tonight and see if there would be any way to fit the wires between the baseboards and the floor.
post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by clrux View Post

Thanks mehal88, those are exactly what I'm looking for. And the price is much better, too. I also like that they're hinged so I can modify as needed. I'm going to make a spreadsheet estimating lengths and quantities before ordering, but this looks like it'll fit my needs exactly. I'll probably go along the baseboards, since they stick out a bit, and along the door jams.

Yep I just found them yesterday. I have a couple I had picked up from Microcenter (I don't know if you have one close to you) that were like $5 for 4ft. But these from Monoprice definitely seem like a good deal. I will soon be needing them when I get a projector and have to run the hdmi across the whole room.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
I'm in Boston and there is a Micro Center in Cambridge, not too far. I'll go check them out. Thanks for that little tip.

Do you have any thoughts as to the speaker setup?
post #9 of 18
Is there another way into the DR, besides the archway? If yes, you could hang a curtain across the archway, and move the TV in front of the curtain.

If you're renting, you could run cables in the walls, or behind baseboards, and behind door trim. If done cleanly with nice-looking wallplates, the landlord might thank you.

Any room in the DR, or BR, for the bookshelf? How about some beautiful built-in bookshelves (done well, of course), above the couch?

Any changes you make can be covered up with a new coat of paint, when you move out, e.g. holes left in the wall from built-in shelves.

The cable raceway may necessitate painting when you move out, anyway, when it's removed.
post #10 of 18
How are you planning to put the satelittes? on a table or bookshelf or hang them on the wall? I feel like the subwoofer and the left rear is a bit out of the way, you want the sound to seem "even" when you're on the couch. What are all the speakers getting plugged into? A receiver/amp or directly from a HTPC?

I had bought the ones at microcenter a while ago because I thought they were cheap. They barely even compare in price to the ones from monoprice though, over 12' for $8 with several connectors in every kit. you can easily trim the pieces as needed with a hacksaw. Monoprice is great for basically anything related to cables.
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

Is there another way into the DR, besides the archway? If yes, you could hang a curtain across the archway, and move the TV in front of the curtain.

The archway is the only entrance to the dining room and the rest of the house.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

If you're renting, you could run cables in the walls, or behind baseboards, and behind door trim. If done cleanly with nice-looking wallplates, the landlord might thank you.

We own the condo, but the lady has expressed strongly that I've got free reign over the setup, but I cannot alter the house physically (save nails, adhesives, etc.) smile.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

Any room in the DR, or BR, for the bookshelf? How about some beautiful built-in bookshelves (done well, of course), above the couch?

Moving furniture is certainly an option, I just don't know a better way to configure it. The cable outlets are all where the TV is now (but if I'm running wires, it'd be easy to do it all). Built-in bookshelves aren't an option because there's nothing but outside on the other side of two of the walls.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

Any changes you make can be covered up with a new coat of paint, when you move out, e.g. holes left in the wall from built-in shelves.

Right, good point here. Again though, the lady has expressed that I can do pretty much whatever I want with the setup so long as I don't alter the condo.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

The cable raceway may necessitate painting when you move out, anyway, when it's removed.

I think this is going to be my best bet. The Monoprice raceways are adhesive, paintable, and hinged making it really perfect for what I'm trying to do. Ideally, when we sell this condo and move out to the burbs into something more permanent, I'll be able to go all up in the walls smile.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by mehal88 View Post

How are you planning to put the satelittes? on a table or bookshelf or hang them on the wall? I feel like the subwoofer and the left rear is a bit out of the way, you want the sound to seem "even" when you're on the couch. What are all the speakers getting plugged into? A receiver/amp or directly from a HTPC?

I'm still trying to figure this one out. What I'm thinking currently is that I'll use the Monoprice raceways to run cable/wires along the baseboards and set the speakers on stands (save the center one, which can go right in front of the TV). The subwoofer can really go anywhere, even by the TV. I did read somewhere though that it wasn't good to put the subwoofer near the center channel. Is that true?
Quote:
Originally Posted by mehal88 View Post

I had bought the ones at microcenter a while ago because I thought they were cheap. They barely even compare in price to the ones from monoprice though, over 12' for $8 with several connectors in every kit. you can easily trim the pieces as needed with a hacksaw. Monoprice is great for basically anything related to cables.

I've measured and added, and I'll need a total of 8 kits. It'll have a little more of everything than I'll need though, but that's good. The whole package for roughly $70 ain't bad, I don't think.
post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by clrux View Post

I'm still trying to figure this one out. What I'm thinking currently is that I'll use the Monoprice raceways to run cable/wires along the baseboards and set the speakers on stands (save the center one, which can go right in front of the TV). The subwoofer can really go anywhere, even by the TV. I did read somewhere though that it wasn't good to put the subwoofer near the center channel. Is that true?

Can you squeeze the left rear stand next to the couch between it and the bookcase? I never heard of not putting the sub near the center, and I can't figure out why that would be, although I do not have too much of a background in that. I have a dual sub setup and mine are on both sides of my couch. Gives the people on the couch a nice little rumble during heavy bass sounds.
Quote:
Originally Posted by clrux View Post

I've measured and added, and I'll need a total of 8 kits. It'll have a little more of everything than I'll need though, but that's good. The whole package for roughly $70 ain't bad, I don't think.

8 kits seems a little high to me, I don't think you'll need more than 45'(ballpark conservative estimate). 4 (or even 5 if you want to be really conservative) kits should be plenty, and just figure out which types of extra connectors you might need. I calculated 13.5' for the length and width of the room and 7' to go up and back down the door. Comes to 41' and add a few for losses during cutting etc.

EDIT: I just figured out what we were differing on. You are looking to use a raceway for each wire while I would putting them together. What type of cables are you planning on using for the speakers and sub? I currently have 2-14 gauge speaker wires and 2 Mediabridge Ultra subwoofer cables running through the 1" raceway from microcenter. Obviously you won't be able to fit all of that but I think you should be fine with just the subwoofer and 1 speaker in the same monoprice raceway. Also, this might be a personal preference, but you don't really *need* a raceway for the length of the back wall since the couch and bookshelf will be covering it anyway.
Edited by mehal88 - 7/29/13 at 5:29pm
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mehal88 View Post

Can you squeeze the left rear stand next to the couch between it and the bookcase? I never heard of not putting the sub near the center, and I can't figure out why that would be, although I do not have too much of a background in that. I have a dual sub setup and mine are on both sides of my couch. Gives the people on the couch a nice little rumble during heavy bass sounds.
8 kits seems a little high to me, I don't think you'll need more than 45'(ballpark conservative estimate). 4 (or even 5 if you want to be really conservative) kits should be plenty, and just figure out which types of extra connectors you might need. I calculated 13.5' for the length and width of the room and 7' to go up and back down the door. Comes to 41' and add a few for losses during cutting etc.

I might be able to fit the left rear between there. I'm looking to get a couple of stands too, so I'll have to find some that are thinner/smaller, but yeah I think that'll work - thanks! I'll keep reading as to where is best to place the subwoofer.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mehal88 View Post

EDIT: I just figured out what we were differing on. You are looking to use a raceway for each wire while I would putting them together. What type of cables are you planning on using for the speakers and sub? I currently have 2-14 gauge speaker wires and 2 Mediabridge Ultra subwoofer cables running through the 1" raceway from microcenter. Obviously you won't be able to fit all of that but I think you should be fine with just the subwoofer and 1 speaker in the same monoprice raceway.

Ah, I remeasured and only need 4 kits, plus a few additional pieces. I wasn't factoring in the 9.25" raceways. So, each kit has a total of 157" of raceway. Whew.

Cables... no idea. The system I'm considering - at the top of my list atm - will likely come with the 16 gauge cheaper variety of wires, and I was looking at some 14 gauge, but haven't looked into what might be best. Is 14 gauge copper wire the same as 14 gauge copper wire, or do brands matter? I did read that I should make sure it's UL compliant, so I'll do that, but what else should I be on the lookout for?
Quote:
Originally Posted by mehal88 View Post

Also, this might be a personal preference, but you don't really *need* a raceway for the length of the back wall since the couch and bookshelf will be covering it anyway.

Ah, good point. I don't really think I'll move the couch at all. I was going for the cleanest approach. I hate cords and wires, but I really wouldn't see them. Hmm.

One more thing. The HT system I'm looking at is the Yamaha YHT-399UBL. I've been researching for a while and this one wins over another one because of the powered subwoofer. The previous one I had been looking at was passive. This seems to be a good lower-end-mid-level system. The speakers can be swapped out later if need be, or, alternatively the deck can be swapped. Fairly limited budget on this, but going for most bang for my buck. Thoughts? Is there something else in this price range you'd recommend instead?
post #14 of 18
Subwoofer placement should be fine up front by your TV if you have space, or at the bookshelf where you were originally thinking too... Generally setups have it by the TV or the seating area. Subwoofer placement isn't as important as the speaker, because the LFE will fill the room but the speaker is more directional.

I'd suggest 5 kits just in case, especially since its only $8.

For a HTIB, the 16 gauge should be fine. I bought my system in pieces so it did not come with any wire, and that's why I bought the 14 gauge.

No real thoughts about the HTIB, its one of those things you don't really pay attention to unless you're in the market for one.
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
Update: I'm currently using a 3.1 setup with the subwoofer placed by the TV. It sounds rather good. Next month I'll be ordering speaker stands for two rear surrounds near the couch. And since I've got extra wiring kits (you were right!) I'm going to run the additional two channels (the S7500 is a 7.2 capable system) to the kitchen so we can listen to music while we're in that area of the house.

So far though, really happy with the sound/placement, and the kits.

Thanks for the feedback.
post #16 of 18
Can you not ditch the bookshelf. An iPad can store every book you've ever touched quite easily. You're giving up a lot of seating there.
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
We could move it. What do you suggest we do with the rest of the stuff? We don't have an "L"-shaped sectional sofa (yet) - just a normal "rectangular" one.
post #18 of 18
Sorry wasn't trying to be unuseful, but I'm sure others here know more than I do. I'm not sure what the flooring is like, but you can get flat cable that you could run around the outside of the room. You can even paint it. You can try monoprice for cabling. They're usually the lease expensive. The surrounds are usually an issue.

For the TV, I have either rmounted it or put it on a TV stand with a mount. I've put the center channel in the stand as well though the purists here will scream (cue purists) about how that's bad for sound. You could mount it and use a stand for the center channel with standing main speakers. Not sure where you'll pu tthe AV rack. Quite honestly, if it's a small room and you're not dropped 10k here, I'd just get a swivel stand and put the center channel in that.

Run the cable around the outside of the room along the floor. You can use ties and stick it to the wall if you like. Use that to run the urrounds. You can get speaker stands for those and aim them inward.

On another note, are you buying any of this new? If so, go to a nice home theatre store, tell them what parts you need and explain the room and your limitations. They'll be very helpful. Just be sure to buy something from them.

Another alternative might be to
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