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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello! New to the forum and home AV (its been a while at least). My exp. has been limited to HTIB setups in the past with a 5.1 sony receiver. I just bought a new home (short sale) and received little information on the whole house audio system. It includes 10 ceiling mounted speakers (RBH-A610), 3 pairs on the 1st floor and 2 pairs in the basement. I just bought an Onkyo TX-NR515 in hopes to use the speakers. I believe the speakers are setup separately for the 1st floor and the basement but I'm just going to focus on the basement for now.


Summary: I've hooked up the speaker cables that were coming out of a built-in where the old theater area was setup from the previous owner and can't get any audio to work.


There are 2 purple shielded cables that have 4-wires each (white/green/black/red). There are 4 RBH-A610 speakers mounted in the ceiling and only 1 volume control knob. You can see the way the 2 speakers are wired are the same as the INPUT on the knob. However, the output doesn't match which I found odd. I'm not used to these volume control knobs so I'm not sure exactly how that works.


Any pointers on where to start? There is an area in the utility room of the basement where all the cables come together. Essentially all the whites, greens, blacks, and reds coming together and are connected by screw on connectors.




 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by quiksilver1804  /t/1468734/new-home-with-ceiling-mounted-speakers#post_23215636


Summary: I've hooked up the speaker cables that were coming out of a built-in where the old theater area was setup from the previous owner and can't get any audio to work.


There are 2 purple shielded cables that have 4-wires each (white/green/black/red).

That would be one cable (it's not shielded, just a purple insulation sheath) for each pair of speakers, hopefully.
Quote:
There are 4 RBH-A610 speakers mounted in the ceiling and only 1 volume control knob. You can see the way the 2 speakers are wired are the same as the INPUT on the knob. However, the output doesn't match which I found odd. I'm not used to these volume control knobs so I'm not sure exactly how that works.

Output of what? Each speaker needs two wires (out of the four in each cable), which should be the red/black for one speaker, and the cable looks to continue on to the other speaker with the green/white.


It may be set up where the volume control was only used for one of the pairs. Hook one of the cables up to your AVR, with red/black and green/white on the L/R speaker outputs. Do only one cable at a time, so you can figure out what's going on.


It's possible that all four speakers are connected together after that volume control, and that the 2nd cable may be a link to the utility room for further distribution options.
Quote:
Any pointers on where to start? There is an area in the utility room of the basement where all the cables come together. Essentially all the whites, greens, blacks, and reds coming together and are connected by screw on connectors.

All the other cables? How many? Three or more than three? Any other volume controls in the house? Connected by screw on connectors to what? Are they just tied together?


That's a start...


Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your reply! I'm still reviewing and learning more about the setup but I left some responses.
Quote:
Output of what? Each speaker needs two wires (out of the four in each cable), which should be the red/black for one speaker, and the cable looks to continue on to the other speaker with the green/white.

The image where it shows Input/Output from the volume control. The green/white combo is +/- on input but then -/+ on output
Quote:
It may be set up where the volume control was only used for one of the pairs. Hook one of the cables up to your AVR, with red/black and green/white on the L/R speaker outputs. Do only one cable at a time, so you can figure out what's going on.

I tried one cable then both cables. I'm doing the +/- in green/white as well as the red/black. I've moved the speaker wires around from front/back/center and still haven't received any audio.
Quote:
All the other cables? How many? Three or more than three? Any other volume controls in the house? Connected by screw on connectors to what? Are they just tied together?

I recounted and there are 4 pairs upstairs (and 2 wires ran outside but no speakers) and 2 pairs in the basement. There appears to be 1 volume control for every pair of speakers except for the basement -- i can only find 1 for all 4 speakers. I took another picture of where they seem to all meet together in the basement utility room. The cables run up and some appear to go upstairs while others run to different parts of the basement (where the speakers are and the built-in location).


I guess I'm just trying to make sure I'm not missing anything -- if the cables are hooked up correctly, they should be able to just plug into the receiver and work?


The cables terminating in the basement utility room:
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by quiksilver1804  /t/1468734/new-home-with-ceiling-mounted-speakers#post_23216138


The image where it shows Input/Output from the volume control. The green/white combo is +/- on input but then -/+ on output

Ok, that's a mistake - swap the green/white on the output side. Red/Green are usually the positive, with black/white the negative.
Quote:
I tried one cable then both cables. I'm doing the +/- in green/white as well as the red/black. I've moved the speaker wires around from front/back/center and still haven't received any audio.

You'll need to try the other one separately, and you should only be using the front L/R outputs of your receiver.
Quote:
I recounted and there are 4 pairs upstairs (and 2 wires ran outside but no speakers) and 2 pairs in the basement. There appears to be 1 volume control for every pair of speakers except for the basement -- i can only find 1 for all 4 speakers. I took another picture of where they seem to all meet together in the basement utility room. The cables run up and some appear to go upstairs while others run to different parts of the basement (where the speakers are and the built-in location).

Looks like one pair of speakers in the basement may be for surround, the other pair for whole-house audio. Likely the one pair with the volume control is run back to the utility room.


The bundle of wires all tied together indicate that all the house speakers were driven by a single amp. Where does that one cable that's separate from the bundle go? That may head back to the theater area for the AVR to serve the whole house from there. Do yourself a favor and label the cables as you figure out where they go.
Quote:
I guess I'm just trying to make sure I'm not missing anything -- if the cables are hooked up correctly, they should be able to just plug into the receiver and work?

Hopefully, yes. But you'll need an AVR with a 2nd zone to truly make use of the rest of the speakers in the house - or just a separate stereo receiver.


Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah i believe this will just be a long process of labeling the cables as I go and getting the help from a friend to see if I can see cables move as I pull them, etc. There were 2 built-ins in the home: 1 in the main living room (built for a 32" tube in 2000) and one in the basement (that still exists). Upstairs, there are 4 wires coming out of the wall located in the area of the built in (I had it removed as part of renovations). I tried hooking those up first and couldn't get anywhere so that's when I went downstairs. I can't tell yet if the cable from upstairs is tied into the mess of wires downstairs. On the volume control knob, there are 2 sets of 4 wires going to it, however, there is a separate purple cable hiding in the wall behind it not hooked up to anything. I think that's to give me the option of controlling another st of speakers.


More to come as I found out more. Frustrating but fun at the same time
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by quiksilver1804  /t/1468734/new-home-with-ceiling-mounted-speakers#post_23216232


Yeah i believe this will just be a long process of labeling the cables as I go and getting the help from a friend to see if I can see cables move as I pull them, etc.

If you detach the wires from the bundle (wire nuts), you can use a 9V battery on each +/- pair (make/break a connection) and be able to hear something (a scratching sound) from each speaker to identify them. You won't be able to move the cables - they'll be way too rigid.
Quote:
There were 2 built-ins in the home: 1 in the main living room (built for a 32" tube in 2000) and one in the basement (that still exists). Upstairs, there are 4 wires coming out of the wall located in the area of the built in (I had it removed as part of renovations). I tried hooking those up first and couldn't get anywhere so that's when I went downstairs. I can't tell yet if the cable from upstairs is tied into the mess of wires downstairs. On the volume control knob, there are 2 sets of 4 wires going to it, however, there is a separate purple cable hiding in the wall behind it not hooked up to anything. I think that's to give me the option of controlling another st of speakers.


More to come as I found out more. Frustrating but fun at the same time

You're going to have to map out each wire before you'll be able to figure all this out. Twisting a loose pair together and using a volt/ohm meter (check for 0 ohms - a short) at the other end can help identify cables. Or it may be time to invest in a tone/probe. If you've got more wiring unlabeled, that will save you a lot of time/effort.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Ideal-TRACETone-Cable-Wire-Tester-and-Locator-62-140/100598687#.UW9XVqKG3No


(that's cheaper than I expected! Everyone working with any low-volt wiring should own one of these...)


Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you for your help! I happen to have a home depot right across the street so ill pick one up tomorrow. It will easily be worth it to figure out this mess plus ill have one for the future. My father in law mentioned a multi meter as well so im guessing its a similar concept.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by quiksilver1804  /t/1468734/new-home-with-ceiling-mounted-speakers#post_23216383


Thank you for your help! I happen to have a home depot right across the street so ill pick one up tomorrow. It will easily be worth it to figure out this mess plus ill have one for the future. My father in law mentioned a multi meter as well so im guessing its a similar concept.

Multimeter is a volt/ohm meter that you can use as I explained above, but it's a very slow process. The tone/probe sends a signal down the wire, and you detect it with the probe just by getting close enough to the wire - it beeps, and you know for sure which one is which.


Just be sure to disconnect the wires from that wire nut/splice, otherwise they'll all beep.
 

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I'd tackle 1 pair at a time. Take pics, take notes, draw diagrams, and disconnect.


Find the manual on the volume controls. Are they impedance matching? For 3 pairs you need to find out.


That volume control is wired poorly. We shouldn't see any copper. Those loose strands will cause problems.


The 'connecting strip' (terminal block) on the volume control slides off, and may make life easier when making connections, and your drywall will get scratched less when fumbling with troubleshooting.


I would probably also start in the basement. If you can't get the single pair to work, then take the VC out of the circuit, and try without it.


There is no single color convention for wiring speakers. Look at the speaker connections to determine how the installer decided to wire everything, make sure it matches at the VCs.
 

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I'd hold off on the cable tracer; you'll have an audio source (AVR) to help you determine which is which. And, a 9V battery or $7 multimeter would be more functional, for this need.
 

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I read back through the thread. Definitely first thing, look up the VC specs. You need to make sure they are impedance matching VCs. If they are not, you'll need an impedance matching box between the VCs and the AVR amp. They're called 'IM Speaker Selector Boxes', but it's a misnomer; not used to select.
 

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For 1 pair of speakers, you won't need impedance matching, so feel free to troubleshoot a single zone without concern.
 

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I would use a pair of bookshelf speakers to make sure the Onkyo AVR still works, before troubleshooting the wiring. Trying to power 6 pairs of speakers could have damaged the amp. Don't test it with headphones.


Set the VC to a low level, before testing a zone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for all the help! It is truly appreciated. The 9v battery has helped me quite a bit so far. I went ahead and pulled apart all the cables from the turn on connectors and was able to find 4-5 groups of cables that were 'sparking' and making the scratching sound. A couple of the cables in that group of wires weren't doing anything. There was only 1 purple cable in that group of wires and with the 9v test, it did lead to the two speakers shown. I pulled my AVR directly in the utility room and hooked them up there and they worked! The VC was also working and adjusting the volume. I learned the other pair of speakers in the basement were RBH MC-6 and weren't even hooked up! They are also using a much higher gauge of speaker wire (16 maybe) which was odd. I couldn't get it to work in the ceiling but pulled one down and tested on the floor with some straight speaker wire and they worked.


I looked on the VC for a model or something but couldn't find anything. I'll completely unhook it and find out which kind it is.


I think I'm going to make a diagram with a legend for every speaker, then use some labels to mark all the cables. I have free time this weekend as well so hopefully I'll have something going by the end of the week!
 

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Glad to read you're making progress!


Here is an example of an impedance matching 'speaker selector' box.

http://www.htd.com/Products/Speaker-Selectors


Many manufacturers make them; also available from Niles, Russound, OSD, Monster, Pyle, etc.


Again, you'll only need it if your VCs are not impedance matching. Zone control is at the VC (on/off); no need to 'select' with the SSB.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I took out one of the VCs and couldn't find any markings or model numbers. In comparison, it looks like the AudioSource AE100VC which has impedance matching of 2x, 4x and 8x. That matches up from the amazon description page and the backing of this VC that had a foam cover. It has the 8x 4x and 2x with a jumper over the 4x. Not quite sure what that means but I can read up a bit more.


Amazon AE100C product page: AudioSource AE100VC Impedance Matching Volume Control


Volume Control:
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by quiksilver1804  /t/1468734/new-home-with-ceiling-mounted-speakers#post_23217619


Thanks for all the help! It is truly appreciated. The 9v battery has helped me quite a bit so far. I went ahead and pulled apart all the cables from the turn on connectors and was able to find 4-5 groups of cables that were 'sparking' and making the scratching sound. A couple of the cables in that group of wires weren't doing anything. There was only 1 purple cable in that group of wires and with the 9v test, it did lead to the two speakers shown. I pulled my AVR directly in the utility room and hooked them up there and they worked! The VC was also working and adjusting the volume. I learned the other pair of speakers in the basement were RBH MC-6 and weren't even hooked up! They are also using a much higher gauge of speaker wire (16 maybe) which was odd. I couldn't get it to work in the ceiling but pulled one down and tested on the floor with some straight speaker wire and they worked.

:

Based on what I saw above, the 4 conductor cable is wired to two sets as you discovered. We use Red/Black (Right+/-) and White/Green (Left+/-) as our standard, so that single cable should be for both left and right speakers. As Jeff and Neurorad said, just make sure it is consistent throughout the house so you know how to connect at the amp/distribution end.


The way the wires are twisted together makes me think that the volume control is indeed impedance matching.


The other speakers in the basement are probably running to another area? Maybe for a surround system with a wiring location somewhere else...


B.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Darn. I was hoping for that too. I finally got it apart but no dice. I looked at others and many of them look very similar behind the knob. AudioSource doesn't seem to have a notch on the knob so it might not be it. The jumper actually has settings for 1x, 2x, 4x, and 8x so it might be something else. Niles seems to put their brand on theirs. Hmm..
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by quiksilver1804  /t/1468734/new-home-with-ceiling-mounted-speakers#post_23218750


I took out one of the VCs and couldn't find any markings or model numbers. In comparison, it looks like the AudioSource AE100VC which has impedance matching of 2x, 4x and 8x. That matches up from the amazon description page and the backing of this VC that had a foam cover. It has the 8x 4x and 2x with a jumper over the 4x. Not quite sure what that means but I can read up a bit more.

Not sure whose product that is, but the 1x / 2x / 4x / 8x jumper indicates that it is an impedance-matching VC. Those settings are for the "number of pairs" attached in parallel, each with their own VC. So with four pairs of speakers in the house, wire-nut-connected in parallel, this is correctly set up win the 4x jumper in place.


Jeff
 
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