Digital RapidRun Description
Last year when we had the opportunity to install and review the very innovative and impressive Impact Acoustics PC/Video, Home Theater RapidRun cabling system, the cabling system removed much of the guess work from the pre-wiring process and made a difficult task much easier for the DIY home owner or professional A/V installer. The RapidRun cabling system became wildly popular for its ability to instantly instill flexibility into pre-wiring. Custom installers rapidly adopted the system for their client’s pre-wire installs. HDMI and to a lesser extent DVI connections (for video) are now the industry standard for high performance digital audio and video connections. Not one to rest on its laurels, Impact Acoustics has now broadened the RapidRun cabling system line with the introduction of the RapidRun Digital cabling system. When we received word that Impact Acoustics would be introducing the new digital version we were anxious to get the new system for testing and evaluation.
Just like the PC/Video, Home Theater analogue version of RapidRun the new RapidRun Digital is a completely modular cabling system. The main runner cable is a versatile multi-use cable available in lengths of 15, 25, 35, 50, and 65 feet. The Digital Runner is constructed using high quality 24 AWG wire and is heavily shielded with Mylar foil and copper braid. The cable is CL-2 rated for in-wall use and each end of the cable has a screw on protective cap designed for tough pulls. The cap is rated to 15 pounds of pulling tension. When the 15 pound rating is exceeded the split-ring will open up to prevent the cable from being damaged. The connectors have an arrow indicator to insure proper connection alignment and a bright red band is used to identify the cable to the corresponding termination. This guarantees you won’t use the wrong termination on the Runner Cable. We found the overall quality of the cable to be excellent. The Runner Cable is very flexible, termination points appear to be very good, and the connectors are of very high quality.
After the RapidRun Runner Cable is installed it can be terminated in many different configurations. For lengths up to 35ft, passive HDMI and passive DVI Wall Plate Modules can be used. The cable can also be terminated using a HDMI/DVI Flying Lead or any combination of the two. According to Impact Acoustics, active Flying Leads should be available by summer of 2007 at around the same MSRP of the active wall plates. The HDMI and DVI Break-Away Flying Leads are available in various lengths between 1.5 and 10 feet. If you are a professional A/V installer, the RapidRun Digital’s unique design gives you the ability to terminate HDMI and DVI connections at the job site. Now digital cabling can evolve as your client’s system changes. I don’t know about you, but as a custom A/V installer I find that just plain “cool”. Needless to say if your client needs you to change the system configuration and it takes you less than five minutes to accomplish, it will make you look like one very smart installer.
For longer lengths between 35 and 65 feet, Impact Acoustics offers an active version of their HDMI Wall Plate Module. The Active HDMI Wall Plate Module is installed at the source end of the cable run and has an integrated amplifier and extender which will correct attenuation and impedance for the longer runs. The really ingenious and cleverly engineered part of the Active HDMI Wall Plate Module is freedom from being tethered to an external power supply! Yep, you read that correctly. All HDMI based sources like DVD players and HDMI switching A/V receivers have a 5-volt buss built into their HDMI outputs. The Active HDMI Wall Plate Module uses this power to amplify the signal. Only one Active HDMI Wall Plate Module is necessary for cable runs longer than 35-feet. The Passive HDMI Wall Plate Modules, Passive DVI Module or Flying HDMI/DVI Lead’s can be installed at the other end of the Digital Runner Cable.
The HDMI/ DVI Passive and Active Wall Plate Modules are constructed fairly well. We found that when the HDMI cables were inserted into the HDMI Wall Plate Module input connector it was held firmly in place. The white metal face plate is paintable, but we would have liked to have seen a color option for off-white and black.
One issue we discovered with the cable termination on our Active HDMI Wall Plate Module review sample is that the connector became partially dislodged from the cable. This may have occurred during the installation into the low voltage box. Care should be taken when installing the lead as to not bend it at the connection point. Impact Acoustics has since then address this issue we have found on our pre production units by adding molded strain relief beneath the metal shell that encompasses the soldered terminals and bonds the jacket to the strain relief.