10 Things You Need to Know About Wires and Cables

Cables are the glue that binds a system together. There’s no need to spend a fortune, but it’s a good idea to plan out your installation.

1. Make sure you know exactly how long each cable needs to be. That goes for speaker cables, interconnects, and power cords. Measure twice, cut once.

2. Use cable designed for the task at hand. Speaker cable should be of sufficient gauge for its length and power handling. Analog interconnects should be well shielded.

3. Double-check all your connections, including the polarity of your speaker wire.

4. Practice good cable management; avoid creating a tangled mess of technospaghetti.

5. Avoid running AC power cables alongside analog audio cables; this can cause interference in the audio signal. If they must be in the same vicinity, try to arrange them so they cross at right angles.

6. If your equipment offers both balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA connections, use balanced XLR for better rejection of induced noise.

7. Avoid excessively long HDMI cable runs. Keep an eye out for signs of signal degradation such as sparkles in the picture.

8. Use a wireless HDMI transmitter/receiver or a powered/active HDMI cable if you need to cover a distance greater than 20 feet or so. Fiber optic HDMI from brands like FIBBR is highly effective for long runs.

9. Don’t bother with “audiophile” cables that often cost more than the actual gear. Save your money and use basic cabling from companies like Monoprice and Blue Jeans Cable. Amazon Basics is a good source as well.

10. Are you building your room from scratch? Consider running all the wires you’ll potentially need in the walls or soffits.