Terminations, Install, Data & Power
In practice, the main control panel SpeakerCraft terminations, coupled with compression WBT speaker terminations (left pic) and Canare Coax terminations (right pic) courtesy of Blue Jeans Cable worked flawlessly. My vision for hot swapping components and cables was quickly becoming a reality.
Editorial Note on Terminating Coax Cables
S&S Electric found it somewhat challenging to terminate the 1694A Coax since they are a bit thicker than standard RG6 Coax. I found the initial terminations they did didn't pass the tug test as the F connectors fell off at the slightest pull. A minor adjustment to their crimping tool and some added care resolved this problem.I verified continuity of these cables by using the 'Pin Test' method suggested by Ray Adkins.
What you do is take and insert a needle or sewing pin into the cable far enough to puncture the outer jacket and contact the outer braided shield, but not so far as to contact the dielectric of the center conductor. Then using a volt meter, touch one probe tip to the outer shell of the F connector and the other probe tip to the pin. You should observe continuity and a near zero ohm reading.
Editorial Note on Terminating Speaker Cables
When terminating the female Banana's onto the speaker wires, great care must be taken to ensure adjacent wires within the pair, or from other pairs groups, do NOT make physical contact with each other. When I popped off the back panel on the main control panel, I saw instances of strand contact between conductor pairs. Using a pair of needle nose pliers, I separated the conductors.
I then used a wrench to tighten down the terminations. The biggest source of discontinuity with cables is usually in the quality of the terminations. Making a tight compression fit is the best way to ensure uniformity in the connection while also minimizing resistance (the dominant metric of importance in speaker cables.)
I also got S&S Electric to install some in-wall speaker cabinets (likely another first for them), as per my instructions. Thanks to the excellent consultation of Ray Adkins, we came up with an easy and effective method for them to follow.
- Line the outer cabinet and 2x4 framing of the wall with wood glue.
- Secure the speaker box between the wall framing with wood screws which are inserted from inside of the cabinet.
Note: If the 2x4 framing is greater than 14 inches on center, use furring strips for a more snug fit before installing screws.
- Drill a small hole at the top of the speaker cabinet and insert speaker wire.
- Use glue or wood caulk to seal the whole after the wire has been run.
S&S Electric did a great job on my speaker cabinet installs and followed my instructions to the letter.
Family Room System
This is where the secondary 7.1 home theater system resides as well as where the majority of my guests will be entertained. It also serves the whole home for distributed audio, a particularly essential requirement when hosting parties. I had S&S home run all of the distributed speakers to this location with 10/4 and Cat5e. In all likelihood I will not have immediate use for the Cat5e run, but allow for future expansion for touch panel controls and automation.
Got enough wires? I hope so. With all of the 10/2 speaker runs for 7 main theater speakers, 12 pairs of distributed speakers, and Coax to connect all of the components including indoor and outdoor subwoofers, outdoor television and connectivity back to System #1, I believe I covered all of the bases.
All terminations were done with SpeakerCraft using F-connector to female RCA's for all A/V Coax and Female banana's for all speaker terminations. Cat5e for all of the volume controls and control data were terminated into RJ45 connectors for now.
The idea here was high WAF (how else could a husband sell off surround sound in his wife's bedroom without it being completely invisible)? In-wall speakers and no equipment (other than flat panel display and cable box) is the answer. With that in mind, realizing I was using the Denon AVR-5805 for System #1, it seemed only logical that it was time to take advantage of its second zone surround feature for this application. I decisively chose to prewire this room for 5 speakers and 2 subwoofers, 6 COAX runs, 2 CAT 5e and Ethernet.
To take it one step further, I decided to install inwall subwoofers. This allowed me to keep the theme of no visible equipment in the room while also allowing me to run dual subs.
Again I gave S&S electric specific installation instructions on mounting the RBH SI-10 in-wall subwoofer cabinets. We decided on MC products for the speakers since the Signature grills are not flush mounted to the walls like the MC ones are. More on this in the dedicated equipment article.
Data Distribution Panel
What use would the Audioholics Showcase home serve without having the ability to stream data and video throughout the house? We certainly wouldn't be able to get any work done and would likely spend most of the time just chilling listening to tunes and watching DVD's. Hmm on second thought….
We needed a centralized demarcation point for all phone, data, and cable. We selected the laundry room in which to install our data distribution panel.
As you can see in this pic, we have punch down blocks for all phone and Ethernet service as well as for cable and satellite TV. In the distribution panel also resides our broadband modem and one of the wireless routers/hubs. We have prewire for Satellite TV, over-the-air antenna and cable TV (our current choice) to all of the theater rooms, two offices, and guest rooms and back yard. Our Ethernet connectivity is quite extensive, serving 3 desktop computers, an Xbox, Yamaha MusicCAST 2000 and the Denon AVR-5805. Our wireless network supports two laptop computers and a wireless print server.
You're probably wondering what kind of power we have to handle all of this. Fear not, as S&S Electric took good care of us. Rather than providing the standard 150amp service designated to this house design, they upgraded me to 300amp service via two distribution panels. Each dedicated line has 20amp service and independent grounds tied back to the panel. System #1 alone has 4 dedicated runs, followed by one each for Systems #2 and #3.
Peering at the above pic to the left, it is clearly obvious that routing power is S&S Electric's forte. This was a class A job of wire management, routing, and termination. Everything on the panel was clearly labeled just the way I like it to be.
Every dedicated line for home theater equipment is fully protected and conditioned by the award winning APC S15 or H15. When it comes to clean power, I don't mess around and elected what I felt to be some of the best solutions in the industry (see our FAQ article on APC). More on this topic will appear in the dedicated Showcase equipment article.
Cabling - That's a Wrap
As you can see, the wiring in the Audioholics Showcase home is quite complex, though highly functional. We spared no expense at using only the best solutions in the market which are all, of course, snake oil free. Stay tuned for the next article in this series which will deal with the selected Audioholics Showcase equipment.