Running Speaker Wire for your Home Theater Room and Stereo Speaker System

For obvious reasons running speaker wire is easiest to do before the home theater room is finished; before the drywall goes up specifically.

This way you can run wire to the locations they need to be behind the wall surfaces and keep all that ugly cable out of sight.

running speaker wire

That being said, this is not always possible, so we have to focus on other efficient ways to get your speaker wire to the speakers.

One such solution is to use a fish tape, cut a small slit into the carpet and run flat speaker wire under the carpet.

Running speaker wire under carpet is a lot easier than tearing off the drywall or fishing cable through the attic in most cases.

But you cannot or should not just run any wire under the carpet. For one thing most speaker wire will create a lump where the wire is run.

In some situations this is not such a big deal, but in most installations you would benefit from using a purpose built cable that is designed to be walked on and is also very flat.

The jacket on this cable is stronger and built for the abuse of being treaded on day in and day out. Plus, it’s basically unnoticeable to the eye too, which is an added bonus.The other way is to run the cable into the crawl space if you have one (a crawl space) or basement or even the attic. In this situation you will have to drill a hole in the top or bottom plate of the wall to get the wire into the room walls. This will take some special tools such as an electrical fish tape, electrical boxes and so on.

Here are the most popular options for running speaker wire:

• Running speaker wire under carpet; see Wire & Cable

• Running speaker wire through the attic

• Running speaker wire in crawl space or basement

• Calling an electrician and having them run your cabling

Running speaker wire under carpet being probably the easiest solution; we will discuss this first. You may need a fish tape to complete this project successfully.

Cut a small slit through both the carpet and the padding underneath. Run the fish wire under both carpet and the padding. Use a fish tape and a helper to guide the fish tape from the opening to the desired location. It may be necessary on longer runs to make several slits to guide the wire along the path you wish it to run. Take your time getting the tape to the desired location. Once you have reached your end point location pull the tape out and wrap the wire around the fish tape loop and tape it so that it will not snag when you pull it back through.

Carefully pull the tape and the connected speaker wire back to the first point where you inserted the fish tape.

Running speaker wire through the attic is pretty simple too, but you may need to drill holes into the top plate of the wall. You will also need a hole in the wall to get the wire back into the room. Provided you do not have any stop plates that keep the wire from falling down the wall so it can be accessed from the wire termination hole in your room. More about that in a bit…

It is easiest to drill holes in both top plates of both walls that the wire will be running down. You will also need a speaker wire termination box, I usually use a standard electrical box for this. Cut the electrical box hole into the wall at the same distance from the floor that other electrical boxes are in your room. Use the electrical box as a template, and then cut the hole into the walls both at the entrance and end point where the wire needs to come out.

Don’t put the electrical box in the wall until after you have run the wires. You can pretty easily reach your hand in the wall and pull it out after it has been run down into the wall from the attic. If you have insulation in the walls, this project will be a little tougher and take some additional patience. See the following to complete this step.

Start in the attic, make sure the wire is long enough to run the length of the run you need plus to go down both walls to get to your desired location. (You will have to locate the top plate of the wall inside the attic before drilling the holes) Make sure to leave plenty of wire so you can easily bring the wire out of the hole, you can always cut the wire shorter later. You can even use some special speaker wire termination plates that are made to mount right to the electrical box.

These can be found at nearly any home supply builders store such as Lowes or Home Depot. You can probably get the speaker wire at the same store too if you wish or you can order it through Parts Express Tools & Tech Aids – Installation tools, test equipment, speaker repair and replacement tools as well.

Running speaker wire through a crawl space is a good option for hiding speaker wire (if you have a crawl space under the floor of your home theater room).

The method is the same as running the wire through the attic mentioned above.

The difference being you will need to find the bottom plate of the walls from the crawl space. This location is most easily found by locating nails that are sticking out of the floor, (showing the sharp part of the nails where you can see them looking up at the floor from the crawl space) there would be bare nails running in a line where the bottom plate was nailed into the floor.

Having an electrician run your speaker wire is obviously the easiest but also the most expensive of your options. Still, for many home audio enthusiasts this option is going to be the most attractive. A good electrician will have no trouble finding your walls and running the cabling. They are used to this type of retrofit installation and have all the tools necessary for the job.

Speaker wire connections

Now that you have the wires run, you can tackle the easy part. Here you may also need some specialized tools and what you need will largely depend on what type of wire you are using and the connector types you need.

Below are some tools you may need to complete the tasks above:

• Wire strippers

• Electrical tape (for fishing wires)

• Connectors to terminate the speaker wires, such as banana plugs, spades or whatever speaker wire connectors you plan to use. Connectors – One of the largest selections of connectors online for home, car and professional audio

• A soldering iron may be necessary if you wish to solder your connectors. This offers the most long term and stable connection type. Screw connectors can work themselves loose over time. Tools & Tech Aids – Installation tools, test equipment, speaker repair and replacement tools

• Screw drivers

• Wire cutters

• Crimpers

• Speaker wire connection plate or speaker wire plug in plates to give attractive wall appearance

See the Parts Express Tools & Tech Aids – Installation tools, test equipment, speaker repair and replacement tools

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