Tag Archives: surround sound

Top 10 Mistakes When Hooking Up a Home Theater System

I’ve seen lots of errors in my time as more and more of friends, family and clients start hooking up a home theater system. These mistakes can range from simple problematic issues to things that could quickly lead to premature device failure. In no particular order, here are my top ten mistakes when hooking up a home theater system:

10. Use the Right Speaker Cables

You don’t have to buy expensive cables to run wire for those surround sound speakers, but you had better not think that some left over 24 gauge cable is sufficient to make that 50 foot run from your AV receiver to your surround speakers.

Let me quickly explain why. Every cable has inherent resistance. Since we’re talking about resistance to the flow of electricity, it feels a little backwards. The thinner the cable, the more resistance the cable will have. There are other factors as well, but this is the big one. The more resistance a cable has, the more it will affect the frequency response which is possible at the end of the cable run. The reason this is related is because the load the amplifier has to deal with when driving a pair of speakers, changes with frequency. So if you add more resistance with cables that are too thin, you can actually change the sound—particularly at higher frequencies.

A good rule of thumb when hooking up a home theater system is that 16 gauge cable will work in just about any in-room situation, but if your runs are going to be over 40-50 feet in length, 12 gauge cable will further drop your resistance and keep your cables from becoming equalizers for your sound. If you’re running cables further than 50-60 feet you may want to rethink your multi-zone audio system design.

9. Don’t Overbuy on Your Interconnects

I see it all the time. People buy the most expensive cables at the last second because they didn’t include them at the time they ordered their speakers. Interconnect cables are important—in that your system won’t work without them. But having 24 karat, gold-plated RCA cables or battery-powered HDMI cables simply isn’t going to make your system sound any better. When you’re merely connecting a DISH satellite box to your to AV receiver—a grand total of a three foot run—you’re just not going to run into issues if the cable is at least made well. There’s not enough distance to have any problems or lose frequency response. The same goes for digital HDMI cables. Distances over 10 feet are where the problems lie. Plan ahead and keep it simple and you’ll avoid overspending.

8. Pay Attention the the HDMI Features of Your Cable

Thanks to the geniuses at HDMI Licensing (I am being facetious), the “any-old HDMI cable will do” mentality has gone out the window. Back when HDMI only handled 1080p video plus audio you could pretty much grab any cable up to 20 feet in length and it would work. Now you have features like integrated Ethernet and 4K support. If you’re planning ahead, you want to make sure the HDMI cables you buy now are going to last you when the “next big thing” happens. This is especially true if you plan to run your cables in the wall or crawl space and they can’t easily be replaced or upgraded. Pay attention to the labeling on HDMI cables and you’ll likely save yourself a headache later on. As a good baseline, always buy “High Speed” HDMI cables as they tend to have the latest design that supports most of the latest features.

If you don’t know what’s available in HDMI, here are the basic features:

  • HDMI Ethernet Channel
    This is a data channel added to the original HDMI connection that enables high-speed, bi-directional communication. Connected devices that include this feature can send and receive data via 100 Mb/sec Ethernet, so Internet-enabled HDMI devices can share an Internet connection via the HDMI link, with no need for a separate Ethernet cable. It also provides the connection platform that will allow HDMI-enabled components to share content between devices.
  • Audio Return Channel
    This is an actual audio channel that lets a TV send audio from either a built-in tuner or DVD player upstream to the A/V receiver via the HDMI cable. There’s now no need for an extra cable (or AV receiver input connection).
  • 3D
    New 3D gaming and movie formats and resolutions for HDMI-enabled devices require the cabling to handle 3D resolutions up to dual-stream 1080p.
  • 4K Resolution Support
    These new extremely high HD resolutions are more or less four times the resolution of a standard 1080p signal. These cables are rated to handle the full 4K resolution over HDMI.

Of course the trick with HDMI cables is that certification doesn’t necessarily imply that all cable lengths were tested. It’s supposed to mean that, but we see too many instances where longer cables are on the market, and they just don’t do the job. Which brings us to…

7. Active HDMI Cables are Best for Future-Proofing Your System and Going the Distance

Newer active HDMI cables actually have a chip embedded in them which is powered by the 5V available on the HDMI connector itself. These “smart” cables correct for what happens to the digital signal over long distances. Remember, HDMI is capable of sending billions of bits of data at any given second. That’s a LOT of data and it can get screwed up pretty easily. When it drifts out of whack far enough, you no longer get an image. Active HDMI cables solve that problem (for the most part) and give you a clean signal at distances previously unknown to the format. In addition, the chipsets embedded in these cables are getting less expensive to manufacture, and so active cable prices continue to drop. If you want to run a cable for 25 feet or less, a standard high speed cable will work for you at 1080p. If, however, you want to run a cable longer than 15 feet and 4K is on your horizon, you should probably be looking at an active HDMI cable.

6. Speaker Phase Matters!

Tower speakers and bookshelf speakers must be connected in phase. That means the positive lead on the AV receiver or amplifier is ultimately connected to the positive lead on the speaker and so on with the negative leads or terminals. When connected properly, the wave from each speaker is “additive” and all is well—the sound is as you’d expect from a stereo or multi-channel recording.

If just one speaker is wired backwards, however (positive lead to negative terminal, etc) then your system has become subtractive. A subtractive system has little effect on the wider stereo-separated sounds, but those sounds panned in the center may all but disappear. It may sound a bit like the sound is coming from inside your head, or the bass may simply be gone altogether. These two indicators are excellent signs that you may have a wire crossed. For speakers that you can’t get to, a 9V battery can be used to test phase. Simply touch the speaker cable leads briefly to the battery and observe the speaker (you may need a helper). Note that the small terminal on a 9V battery is the positive one and orienting the “positive” speaker lead to that should make the speaker driver push outwards. I have yet to see anyone break a speaker using a 9V battery provided you don’t leave it on there for long. If you touch the leads properly and the speaker driver pulls inward—you’re wiring is backwards. You don’t have to do anything except swap them at the AV receiver or speaker.

5. Heat Rises to the Top!

If you use a rack or shelves for your AV gear, remember to put the amplifier or home theater receiver at the top if possible. Heat rises and so you don’t want the amplifier to be at the bottom where it will contribute to baking all of the other components and have a harder time ventilating. It may seem counterintuitive to have it up top, but it’s a better choice in the long run. This is also related to our next item…

4. Ventilation is Not Optional!

If you are storing your home theater equipment in a piece of furniture, make sure you have adequate ventilation. I went to a home a little while ago where a friend told me he thought his amplifier had stopped working. It took me about 10 seconds to figure out why: He had stored it in a cabinet and frequently ran it with the doors shut! An amplifier generates lots of heat. If you contain that heat in an enclosed space you’ll eventually bake the components and the amplifier will fail. Give your AV equipment plenty of ventilation or consider adding a fan to your rack or furniture to encourage more airflow.

3. A Remote Control IS an AV Device

I can’t tell you how many people connect their home theater systems and then proceed to utilize five or six different remote controls (or more) to get everything up and running. I don’t know about you, but this is not my idea of fun:

  • Turn on the projector with the projector remote
  • Power up the home theater system with the receiver remote
  • Activate your electric drop screen with yet another remote
  • Power up your Blu-ray player with its remote
  • Grab the receiver remote to change inputs because the last thing you did was watch DISH (it has its own remote as well)
  • Pick up the Blu-ray remote control again to fast forward through the stupid commercial that pretends Blu-ray Disc technology is still new and was just invented yesterday by magical sprites who live on clouds and bring high definition to you via mysterious bits of data stored within glistening optical discs….
  • Pick up the home theater receiver remote again to adjust the volume (which is always louder on previews that the movie itself).

Are you starting to understand why a universal remote control might be a good idea? If you’ve spent good money on a surround sound system, don’t forget to get a great remote to make it all run smoothly. It’s a purchase you won’t regret.

2. Plan for an Eventual Upgrade

Once you start into surround sound, your going to get the bug, You really are. And when you do you want to be able to upgrade your system hassle-free. That means doing some planning up-front. A lot of times this simply means getting equipment that is upgradable. Most AV receivers and speakers are perfectly upgradable, provided you stay away from Bose systems or anything that has proprietary connections through the subwoofer rather than using a standard AV receiver with speaker level outputs and connectors.

And a lot of times making sure you properly install your surround sound speakers is another big step towards being upgrade-ready. I don’t care if you use in-ceiling, on-wall, in-wall, or stand-mounted surround speakers. If you wire them in properly and with care, you can upgrade them eventually with only a minimal amount of hassle. That may mean leaving yourself a little extra cable in the wall, or using standard speaker binding posts in the wall instead of running the cable through a hole and tying it directly to the speaker. It may mean wiring for Surround Back speakers during construction of a home even when you don’t plan to purchase or use them right away. Planning ahead is a big deal and it can save you tons of time and energy in days to come.

1. Wire It All Up For Goodness Sake!

You aren’t going to enjoy your new AV system unless it’s actually, you know, connected. So why do so many people bring home a 5.1 system only to let the surround speakers or center channel speaker languish unused because they didn’t have time to install them? Get those speakers installed. Mounting a TV on the wall will give you plenty of space for your center channel. (Plus, it makes your TV look cooler!)

There are a myriad of ways to install surround sound speakers. This may involve using crown moulding to hide the wires, or venturing into the attic or crawl space…or even pulling up the edges of your carpet. Whatever your method, get those speakers wired and start enjoying your full surround system, as soon as you can. It’s an incredible experience that will change your perception of movies in the home. Oh, and dragging cables across the floor just isn’t going to cut it. Plus, it won’t win you any points with your significant other (who may just veto that next opportunity to upgrade!)

The post Top 10 Mistakes When Hooking Up a Home Theater System appeared first on Audiogurus.

Top 10 Mistakes When Hooking Up a Home Theater System

I’ve seen lots of errors in my time as more and more of friends, family and clients start hooking up a home theater system. These mistakes can range from simple problematic issues to things that could quickly lead to premature device failure. In no particular order, here are my top ten mistakes when hooking up a home theater system:

10. Use the Right Speaker Cables

You don’t have to buy expensive cables to run wire for those surround sound speakers, but you had better not think that some left over 24 gauge cable is sufficient to make that 50 foot run from your AV receiver to your surround speakers.

Let me quickly explain why. Every cable has inherent resistance. Since we’re talking about resistance to the flow of electricity, it feels a little backwards. The thinner the cable, the more resistance the cable will have. There are other factors as well, but this is the big one. The more resistance a cable has, the more it will affect the frequency response which is possible at the end of the cable run. The reason this is related is because the load the amplifier has to deal with when driving a pair of speakers, changes with frequency. So if you add more resistance with cables that are too thin, you can actually change the sound—particularly at higher frequencies.

A good rule of thumb when hooking up a home theater system is that 16 gauge cable will work in just about any in-room situation, but if your runs are going to be over 40-50 feet in length, 12 gauge cable will further drop your resistance and keep your cables from becoming equalizers for your sound. If you’re running cables further than 50-60 feet you may want to rethink your multi-zone audio system design.

9. Don’t Overbuy on Your Interconnects

I see it all the time. People buy the most expensive cables at the last second because they didn’t include them at the time they ordered their speakers. Interconnect cables are important—in that your system won’t work without them. But having 24 karat, gold-plated RCA cables or battery-powered HDMI cables simply isn’t going to make your system sound any better. When you’re merely connecting a DISH satellite box to your to AV receiver—a grand total of a three foot run—you’re just not going to run into issues if the cable is at least made well. There’s not enough distance to have any problems or lose frequency response. The same goes for digital HDMI cables. Distances over 10 feet are where the problems lie. Plan ahead and keep it simple and you’ll avoid overspending.

8. Pay Attention the the HDMI Features of Your Cable

Thanks to the geniuses at HDMI Licensing (I am being facetious), the “any-old HDMI cable will do” mentality has gone out the window. Back when HDMI only handled 1080p video plus audio you could pretty much grab any cable up to 20 feet in length and it would work. Now you have features like integrated Ethernet and 4K support. If you’re planning ahead, you want to make sure the HDMI cables you buy now are going to last you when the “next big thing” happens. This is especially true if you plan to run your cables in the wall or crawl space and they can’t easily be replaced or upgraded. Pay attention to the labeling on HDMI cables and you’ll likely save yourself a headache later on. As a good baseline, always buy “High Speed” HDMI cables as they tend to have the latest design that supports most of the latest features.

If you don’t know what’s available in HDMI, here are the basic features:

  • HDMI Ethernet Channel
    This is a data channel added to the original HDMI connection that enables high-speed, bi-directional communication. Connected devices that include this feature can send and receive data via 100 Mb/sec Ethernet, so Internet-enabled HDMI devices can share an Internet connection via the HDMI link, with no need for a separate Ethernet cable. It also provides the connection platform that will allow HDMI-enabled components to share content between devices.
  • Audio Return Channel
    This is an actual audio channel that lets a TV send audio from either a built-in tuner or DVD player upstream to the A/V receiver via the HDMI cable. There’s now no need for an extra cable (or AV receiver input connection).
  • 3D
    New 3D gaming and movie formats and resolutions for HDMI-enabled devices require the cabling to handle 3D resolutions up to dual-stream 1080p.
  • 4K Resolution Support
    These new extremely high HD resolutions are more or less four times the resolution of a standard 1080p signal. These cables are rated to handle the full 4K resolution over HDMI.

Of course the trick with HDMI cables is that certification doesn’t necessarily imply that all cable lengths were tested. It’s supposed to mean that, but we see too many instances where longer cables are on the market, and they just don’t do the job. Which brings us to…

7. Active HDMI Cables are Best for Future-Proofing Your System and Going the Distance

Newer active HDMI cables actually have a chip embedded in them which is powered by the 5V available on the HDMI connector itself. These “smart” cables correct for what happens to the digital signal over long distances. Remember, HDMI is capable of sending billions of bits of data at any given second. That’s a LOT of data and it can get screwed up pretty easily. When it drifts out of whack far enough, you no longer get an image. Active HDMI cables solve that problem (for the most part) and give you a clean signal at distances previously unknown to the format. In addition, the chipsets embedded in these cables are getting less expensive to manufacture, and so active cable prices continue to drop. If you want to run a cable for 25 feet or less, a standard high speed cable will work for you at 1080p. If, however, you want to run a cable longer than 15 feet and 4K is on your horizon, you should probably be looking at an active HDMI cable.

6. Speaker Phase Matters!

Tower speakers and bookshelf speakers must be connected in phase. That means the positive lead on the AV receiver or amplifier is ultimately connected to the positive lead on the speaker and so on with the negative leads or terminals. When connected properly, the wave from each speaker is “additive” and all is well—the sound is as you’d expect from a stereo or multi-channel recording.

If just one speaker is wired backwards, however (positive lead to negative terminal, etc) then your system has become subtractive. A subtractive system has little effect on the wider stereo-separated sounds, but those sounds panned in the center may all but disappear. It may sound a bit like the sound is coming from inside your head, or the bass may simply be gone altogether. These two indicators are excellent signs that you may have a wire crossed. For speakers that you can’t get to, a 9V battery can be used to test phase. Simply touch the speaker cable leads briefly to the battery and observe the speaker (you may need a helper). Note that the small terminal on a 9V battery is the positive one and orienting the “positive” speaker lead to that should make the speaker driver push outwards. I have yet to see anyone break a speaker using a 9V battery provided you don’t leave it on there for long. If you touch the leads properly and the speaker driver pulls inward—you’re wiring is backwards. You don’t have to do anything except swap them at the AV receiver or speaker.

5. Heat Rises to the Top!

If you use a rack or shelves for your AV gear, remember to put the amplifier or home theater receiver at the top if possible. Heat rises and so you don’t want the amplifier to be at the bottom where it will contribute to baking all of the other components and have a harder time ventilating. It may seem counterintuitive to have it up top, but it’s a better choice in the long run. This is also related to our next item…

4. Ventilation is Not Optional!

If you are storing your home theater equipment in a piece of furniture, make sure you have adequate ventilation. I went to a home a little while ago where a friend told me he thought his amplifier had stopped working. It took me about 10 seconds to figure out why: He had stored it in a cabinet and frequently ran it with the doors shut! An amplifier generates lots of heat. If you contain that heat in an enclosed space you’ll eventually bake the components and the amplifier will fail. Give your AV equipment plenty of ventilation or consider adding a fan to your rack or furniture to encourage more airflow.

3. A Remote Control IS an AV Device

I can’t tell you how many people connect their home theater systems and then proceed to utilize five or six different remote controls (or more) to get everything up and running. I don’t know about you, but this is not my idea of fun:

  • Turn on the projector with the projector remote
  • Power up the home theater system with the receiver remote
  • Activate your electric drop screen with yet another remote
  • Power up your Blu-ray player with its remote
  • Grab the receiver remote to change inputs because the last thing you did was watch DISH (it has its own remote as well)
  • Pick up the Blu-ray remote control again to fast forward through the stupid commercial that pretends Blu-ray Disc technology is still new and was just invented yesterday by magical sprites who live on clouds and bring high definition to you via mysterious bits of data stored within glistening optical discs….
  • Pick up the home theater receiver remote again to adjust the volume (which is always louder on previews that the movie itself).

Are you starting to understand why a universal remote control might be a good idea? If you’ve spent good money on a surround sound system, don’t forget to get a great remote to make it all run smoothly. It’s a purchase you won’t regret.

2. Plan for an Eventual Upgrade

Once you start into surround sound, your going to get the bug, You really are. And when you do you want to be able to upgrade your system hassle-free. That means doing some planning up-front. A lot of times this simply means getting equipment that is upgradable. Most AV receivers and speakers are perfectly upgradable, provided you stay away from Bose systems or anything that has proprietary connections through the subwoofer rather than using a standard AV receiver with speaker level outputs and connectors.

And a lot of times making sure you properly install your surround sound speakers is another big step towards being upgrade-ready. I don’t care if you use in-ceiling, on-wall, in-wall, or stand-mounted surround speakers. If you wire them in properly and with care, you can upgrade them eventually with only a minimal amount of hassle. That may mean leaving yourself a little extra cable in the wall, or using standard speaker binding posts in the wall instead of running the cable through a hole and tying it directly to the speaker. It may mean wiring for Surround Back speakers during construction of a home even when you don’t plan to purchase or use them right away. Planning ahead is a big deal and it can save you tons of time and energy in days to come.

1. Wire It All Up For Goodness Sake!

You aren’t going to enjoy your new AV system unless it’s actually, you know, connected. So why do so many people bring home a 5.1 system only to let the surround speakers or center channel speaker languish unused because they didn’t have time to install them? Get those speakers installed. Mounting a TV on the wall will give you plenty of space for your center channel. (Plus, it makes your TV look cooler!)

There are a myriad of ways to install surround sound speakers. This may involve using crown moulding to hide the wires, or venturing into the attic or crawl space…or even pulling up the edges of your carpet. Whatever your method, get those speakers wired and start enjoying your full surround system, as soon as you can. It’s an incredible experience that will change your perception of movies in the home. Oh, and dragging cables across the floor just isn’t going to cut it. Plus, it won’t win you any points with your significant other (who may just veto that next opportunity to upgrade!)

The post Top 10 Mistakes When Hooking Up a Home Theater System appeared first on Audiogurus.

Top 10 Mistakes When Hooking Up a Home Theater System

I’ve seen lots of errors in my time as more and more of friends, family and clients start hooking up a home theater system. These mistakes can range from simple problematic issues to things that could quickly lead to premature device failure. In no particular order, here are my top ten mistakes when hooking up a home theater system:

10. Use the Right Speaker Cables

You don’t have to buy expensive cables to run wire for those surround sound speakers, but you had better not think that some left over 24 gauge cable is sufficient to make that 50 foot run from your AV receiver to your surround speakers.

Let me quickly explain why. Every cable has inherent resistance. Since we’re talking about resistance to the flow of electricity, it feels a little backwards. The thinner the cable, the more resistance the cable will have. There are other factors as well, but this is the big one. The more resistance a cable has, the more it will affect the frequency response which is possible at the end of the cable run. The reason this is related is because the load the amplifier has to deal with when driving a pair of speakers, changes with frequency. So if you add more resistance with cables that are too thin, you can actually change the sound—particularly at higher frequencies.

A good rule of thumb when hooking up a home theater system is that 16 gauge cable will work in just about any in-room situation, but if your runs are going to be over 40-50 feet in length, 12 gauge cable will further drop your resistance and keep your cables from becoming equalizers for your sound. If you’re running cables further than 50-60 feet you may want to rethink your multi-zone audio system design.

9. Don’t Overbuy on Your Interconnects

I see it all the time. People buy the most expensive cables at the last second because they didn’t include them at the time they ordered their speakers. Interconnect cables are important—in that your system won’t work without them. But having 24 karat, gold-plated RCA cables or battery-powered HDMI cables simply isn’t going to make your system sound any better. When you’re merely connecting a DISH satellite box to your to AV receiver—a grand total of a three foot run—you’re just not going to run into issues if the cable is at least made well. There’s not enough distance to have any problems or lose frequency response. The same goes for digital HDMI cables. Distances over 10 feet are where the problems lie. Plan ahead and keep it simple and you’ll avoid overspending.

8. Pay Attention the the HDMI Features of Your Cable

Thanks to the geniuses at HDMI Licensing (I am being facetious), the “any-old HDMI cable will do” mentality has gone out the window. Back when HDMI only handled 1080p video plus audio you could pretty much grab any cable up to 20 feet in length and it would work. Now you have features like integrated Ethernet and 4K support. If you’re planning ahead, you want to make sure the HDMI cables you buy now are going to last you when the “next big thing” happens. This is especially true if you plan to run your cables in the wall or crawl space and they can’t easily be replaced or upgraded. Pay attention to the labeling on HDMI cables and you’ll likely save yourself a headache later on. As a good baseline, always buy “High Speed” HDMI cables as they tend to have the latest design that supports most of the latest features.

If you don’t know what’s available in HDMI, here are the basic features:

  • HDMI Ethernet Channel
    This is a data channel added to the original HDMI connection that enables high-speed, bi-directional communication. Connected devices that include this feature can send and receive data via 100 Mb/sec Ethernet, so Internet-enabled HDMI devices can share an Internet connection via the HDMI link, with no need for a separate Ethernet cable. It also provides the connection platform that will allow HDMI-enabled components to share content between devices.
  • Audio Return Channel
    This is an actual audio channel that lets a TV send audio from either a built-in tuner or DVD player upstream to the A/V receiver via the HDMI cable. There’s now no need for an extra cable (or AV receiver input connection).
  • 3D
    New 3D gaming and movie formats and resolutions for HDMI-enabled devices require the cabling to handle 3D resolutions up to dual-stream 1080p.
  • 4K Resolution Support
    These new extremely high HD resolutions are more or less four times the resolution of a standard 1080p signal. These cables are rated to handle the full 4K resolution over HDMI.

Of course the trick with HDMI cables is that certification doesn’t necessarily imply that all cable lengths were tested. It’s supposed to mean that, but we see too many instances where longer cables are on the market, and they just don’t do the job. Which brings us to…

7. Active HDMI Cables are Best for Future-Proofing Your System and Going the Distance

Newer active HDMI cables actually have a chip embedded in them which is powered by the 5V available on the HDMI connector itself. These “smart” cables correct for what happens to the digital signal over long distances. Remember, HDMI is capable of sending billions of bits of data at any given second. That’s a LOT of data and it can get screwed up pretty easily. When it drifts out of whack far enough, you no longer get an image. Active HDMI cables solve that problem (for the most part) and give you a clean signal at distances previously unknown to the format. In addition, the chipsets embedded in these cables are getting less expensive to manufacture, and so active cable prices continue to drop. If you want to run a cable for 25 feet or less, a standard high speed cable will work for you at 1080p. If, however, you want to run a cable longer than 15 feet and 4K is on your horizon, you should probably be looking at an active HDMI cable.

6. Speaker Phase Matters!

Tower speakers and bookshelf speakers must be connected in phase. That means the positive lead on the AV receiver or amplifier is ultimately connected to the positive lead on the speaker and so on with the negative leads or terminals. When connected properly, the wave from each speaker is “additive” and all is well—the sound is as you’d expect from a stereo or multi-channel recording.

If just one speaker is wired backwards, however (positive lead to negative terminal, etc) then your system has become subtractive. A subtractive system has little effect on the wider stereo-separated sounds, but those sounds panned in the center may all but disappear. It may sound a bit like the sound is coming from inside your head, or the bass may simply be gone altogether. These two indicators are excellent signs that you may have a wire crossed. For speakers that you can’t get to, a 9V battery can be used to test phase. Simply touch the speaker cable leads briefly to the battery and observe the speaker (you may need a helper). Note that the small terminal on a 9V battery is the positive one and orienting the “positive” speaker lead to that should make the speaker driver push outwards. I have yet to see anyone break a speaker using a 9V battery provided you don’t leave it on there for long. If you touch the leads properly and the speaker driver pulls inward—you’re wiring is backwards. You don’t have to do anything except swap them at the AV receiver or speaker.

5. Heat Rises to the Top!

If you use a rack or shelves for your AV gear, remember to put the amplifier or home theater receiver at the top if possible. Heat rises and so you don’t want the amplifier to be at the bottom where it will contribute to baking all of the other components and have a harder time ventilating. It may seem counterintuitive to have it up top, but it’s a better choice in the long run. This is also related to our next item…

4. Ventilation is Not Optional!

If you are storing your home theater equipment in a piece of furniture, make sure you have adequate ventilation. I went to a home a little while ago where a friend told me he thought his amplifier had stopped working. It took me about 10 seconds to figure out why: He had stored it in a cabinet and frequently ran it with the doors shut! An amplifier generates lots of heat. If you contain that heat in an enclosed space you’ll eventually bake the components and the amplifier will fail. Give your AV equipment plenty of ventilation or consider adding a fan to your rack or furniture to encourage more airflow.

3. A Remote Control IS an AV Device

I can’t tell you how many people connect their home theater systems and then proceed to utilize five or six different remote controls (or more) to get everything up and running. I don’t know about you, but this is not my idea of fun:

  • Turn on the projector with the projector remote
  • Power up the home theater system with the receiver remote
  • Activate your electric drop screen with yet another remote
  • Power up your Blu-ray player with its remote
  • Grab the receiver remote to change inputs because the last thing you did was watch DISH (it has its own remote as well)
  • Pick up the Blu-ray remote control again to fast forward through the stupid commercial that pretends Blu-ray Disc technology is still new and was just invented yesterday by magical sprites who live on clouds and bring high definition to you via mysterious bits of data stored within glistening optical discs….
  • Pick up the home theater receiver remote again to adjust the volume (which is always louder on previews that the movie itself).

Are you starting to understand why a universal remote control might be a good idea? If you’ve spent good money on a surround sound system, don’t forget to get a great remote to make it all run smoothly. It’s a purchase you won’t regret.

2. Plan for an Eventual Upgrade

Once you start into surround sound, your going to get the bug, You really are. And when you do you want to be able to upgrade your system hassle-free. That means doing some planning up-front. A lot of times this simply means getting equipment that is upgradable. Most AV receivers and speakers are perfectly upgradable, provided you stay away from Bose systems or anything that has proprietary connections through the subwoofer rather than using a standard AV receiver with speaker level outputs and connectors.

And a lot of times making sure you properly install your surround sound speakers is another big step towards being upgrade-ready. I don’t care if you use in-ceiling, on-wall, in-wall, or stand-mounted surround speakers. If you wire them in properly and with care, you can upgrade them eventually with only a minimal amount of hassle. That may mean leaving yourself a little extra cable in the wall, or using standard speaker binding posts in the wall instead of running the cable through a hole and tying it directly to the speaker. It may mean wiring for Surround Back speakers during construction of a home even when you don’t plan to purchase or use them right away. Planning ahead is a big deal and it can save you tons of time and energy in days to come.

1. Wire It All Up For Goodness Sake!

You aren’t going to enjoy your new AV system unless it’s actually, you know, connected. So why do so many people bring home a 5.1 system only to let the surround speakers or center channel speaker languish unused because they didn’t have time to install them? Get those speakers installed. Mounting a TV on the wall will give you plenty of space for your center channel. (Plus, it makes your TV look cooler!)

There are a myriad of ways to install surround sound speakers. This may involve using crown moulding to hide the wires, or venturing into the attic or crawl space…or even pulling up the edges of your carpet. Whatever your method, get those speakers wired and start enjoying your full surround system, as soon as you can. It’s an incredible experience that will change your perception of movies in the home. Oh, and dragging cables across the floor just isn’t going to cut it. Plus, it won’t win you any points with your significant other (who may just veto that next opportunity to upgrade!)

The post Top 10 Mistakes When Hooking Up a Home Theater System appeared first on Audiogurus.

In-ceiling Surround Sound Speakers

I find with many rooms it’s easy to place the front speakers. Even the center channel seems to be something that finds its place below the television or, in rare cases, above. But surround speakers often get left uninstalled or not purchased, largely because the room isn’t set up to easily handle stand-mounted or wall-mounted rear speakers. Perhaps you have a large opening on one side of the room, or there’s simply no place to put speaker stands where they need to be. For these situations I highly recommend the use of in-ceiling surround sound speakers. In-ceiling surround sound speakers let you enjoy that nice diffuse rear- and even side-channel information even when the room doesn’t make it easy to place speakers.

So while we recommend in-ceiling surrounds (but never for the main left/right/center channels), there are some caveats to consider and some general guidelines for purchasing them. As a surround sound solution it’s hard to go wrong, but following a few simple tips can help you to make a decision that will last a long time and one you won’t later regret.

Considerations for In-ceiling Surround Sound Speakers

  • More Complex Doesn’t Mean More…Better
    If you’re in the market for in-ceiling surround sound speakers, realize that here are a myriad to choose from. In-ceiling speakers vary from two-way to four-way and can get very complex. While we aren’t going to broadbrush all 4-way speakers, I have to say that overcomplicating these speakers doesn’t always equate to better sound.
  • Backboxes are Good for Sound Quality
    Most entry level in-ceiling speakers are going to lack an included backbox. That means that they simply get installed into the ceiling with what’s called an “infinite baffle” That’s not a device, that’s your attic. It means there’s no backbox. It also means that you can’t really have insulation touching the speaker and that you’re now subjecting the speaker to the humidity, heat or cold of your attic depending on the season and where you live. It also means you can’t really know how those speakers will sound in the room because a backbox truly controls the frequency response and dynamics of a driver. No backbox means there’s simply not a lot of back pressure on the driver and it will yield a much different sound in different environments and under different conditions.

And here’s another tip: If the speaker doesn’t come with a backbox, but has one as an optional available accessory. It should also come with a way to tell the speaker that it now has a backbox—because the sound and output are going to change. The thing is, though, most products don’t do this, so take that into consideration as you figure out which speakers to select for your install.

  • Backboxes are Good for Energy Efficiency
    For energy efficiency alone—the ability to cover the speaker in R40 insulation—I’d recommend getting a speaker with a backbox, or one that lets you purchase it as an optional accessory. There are also aftermarket universal solutions, but again, now you’re putting a product on another product for which it was never designed. If it’s up to me, I always select a product with a backbox so I can not have to worry about replacing it 5 years later due to dry rot or mold issues. Plus, you separate the heat and cold of the attic from your home by more than just the material of the woofer cone.
  • Speaker Connectors are Important if you Already Ran Thick-Gauge Wire
    I installed some surround sound speakers once (OK, more than once) and the speaker wiring was 12-gauge. Trouble was, the connectors on the speaker only supported 14 gauge wire. I had to trim up the cable to get it to fit. This isn’t tragic, but you may want to make sure your cables aren’t better quality than your speakers! Dropping the gauge at the last stage isn’t a big deal, lots of installers do it. It just makes for a sloppier install. Another option is to attach or solder pin connectors to your wire, which can clamp easily into most spring clip connections. It’s up to you and your level of detail to the job. There’s no universally accepted way to do it, but there are a ton of wrong ways!
  • Size Matters (Yoda was Wrong)
    I tend to pay attention to the frequency response of the in-ceiling surround sound speakers when spec’ing them for a room. A larger 8-inch woofer, for example, is going to give you a lot of bass response while a smaller 4-inch driver is never going to hit the lowest parts of the frequency range. The important metric to hit cleanly, of course, is 80Hz. That way you can be assured that everything above your subwoofer’s crossover point can be handled by all speakers in the system. Some surround receivers offer independent crossover settings per channel, but I still like to simplify my installs by unifying that metric. An 8-inch woofer may get down to around 45Hz or lower while the bottom end of a 6.5-inch model may be closer to 70Hz at volume. Manufacturers have varying specs on this and so it’s often hard to compare.
  • Fire Up that Grille!
    It may seem trivial, but I really think the grilles used on in-ceiling surround sound speakers matter and deserve some attention. Some are snap-on models that are made of plastic and break quite easily. These also tend to be thick and stand out, as if to shout, “Here I am! I’m an in-ceiling speaker!” Others are made from metal, are paintable, and feature a magnetic attachment mechanism that lets them pop on and off with ease (but only when you want them to). Most of the new magnetic grilles are also paintable, so you can blend them perfectly into your ceiling. A grille may not be important to you, but I’ve been impressed by the new methods manufacturers are experimenting with in order to hide these ceiling speakers from view.

Conclusion

In-ceiling speakers used to be a very small segment, but they are gaining in popularity. They sound better, work better in newer energy-efficient homes, and considerably add to the convenience of adding surround sound in homes where those rear speakers would simply be impossible to add. If an in-ceiling speaker seems right for you, start checking off the features you find important. I’m pretty certain you’ll narrow down the selection quickly and be able to find one that will work well for you.

Shop In-ceiling Speakers at Audiogurus

The post In-ceiling Surround Sound Speakers appeared first on Audiogurus.

In-ceiling Surround Sound Speakers

I find with many rooms it’s easy to place the front speakers. Even the center channel seems to be something that finds its place below the television or, in rare cases, above. But surround speakers often get left uninstalled or not purchased, largely because the room isn’t set up to easily handle stand-mounted or wall-mounted rear speakers. Perhaps you have a large opening on one side of the room, or there’s simply no place to put speaker stands where they need to be. For these situations I highly recommend the use of in-ceiling surround sound speakers. In-ceiling surround sound speakers let you enjoy that nice diffuse rear- and even side-channel information even when the room doesn’t make it easy to place speakers.

So while we recommend in-ceiling surrounds (but never for the main left/right/center channels), there are some caveats to consider and some general guidelines for purchasing them. As a surround sound solution it’s hard to go wrong, but following a few simple tips can help you to make a decision that will last a long time and one you won’t later regret.

Considerations for In-ceiling Surround Sound Speakers

  • More Complex Doesn’t Mean More…Better
    If you’re in the market for in-ceiling surround sound speakers, realize that here are a myriad to choose from. In-ceiling speakers vary from two-way to four-way and can get very complex. While we aren’t going to broadbrush all 4-way speakers, I have to say that overcomplicating these speakers doesn’t always equate to better sound.
  • Backboxes are Good for Sound Quality
    Most entry level in-ceiling speakers are going to lack an included backbox. That means that they simply get installed into the ceiling with what’s called an “infinite baffle” That’s not a device, that’s your attic. It means there’s no backbox. It also means that you can’t really have insulation touching the speaker and that you’re now subjecting the speaker to the humidity, heat or cold of your attic depending on the season and where you live. It also means you can’t really know how those speakers will sound in the room because a backbox truly controls the frequency response and dynamics of a driver. No backbox means there’s simply not a lot of back pressure on the driver and it will yield a much different sound in different environments and under different conditions.

And here’s another tip: If the speaker doesn’t come with a backbox, but has one as an optional available accessory. It should also come with a way to tell the speaker that it now has a backbox—because the sound and output are going to change. The thing is, though, most products don’t do this, so take that into consideration as you figure out which speakers to select for your install.

  • Backboxes are Good for Energy Efficiency
    For energy efficiency alone—the ability to cover the speaker in R40 insulation—I’d recommend getting a speaker with a backbox, or one that lets you purchase it as an optional accessory. There are also aftermarket universal solutions, but again, now you’re putting a product on another product for which it was never designed. If it’s up to me, I always select a product with a backbox so I can not have to worry about replacing it 5 years later due to dry rot or mold issues. Plus, you separate the heat and cold of the attic from your home by more than just the material of the woofer cone.
  • Speaker Connectors are Important if you Already Ran Thick-Gauge Wire
    I installed some surround sound speakers once (OK, more than once) and the speaker wiring was 12-gauge. Trouble was, the connectors on the speaker only supported 14 gauge wire. I had to trim up the cable to get it to fit. This isn’t tragic, but you may want to make sure your cables aren’t better quality than your speakers! Dropping the gauge at the last stage isn’t a big deal, lots of installers do it. It just makes for a sloppier install. Another option is to attach or solder pin connectors to your wire, which can clamp easily into most spring clip connections. It’s up to you and your level of detail to the job. There’s no universally accepted way to do it, but there are a ton of wrong ways!
  • Size Matters (Yoda was Wrong)
    I tend to pay attention to the frequency response of the in-ceiling surround sound speakers when spec’ing them for a room. A larger 8-inch woofer, for example, is going to give you a lot of bass response while a smaller 4-inch driver is never going to hit the lowest parts of the frequency range. The important metric to hit cleanly, of course, is 80Hz. That way you can be assured that everything above your subwoofer’s crossover point can be handled by all speakers in the system. Some surround receivers offer independent crossover settings per channel, but I still like to simplify my installs by unifying that metric. An 8-inch woofer may get down to around 45Hz or lower while the bottom end of a 6.5-inch model may be closer to 70Hz at volume. Manufacturers have varying specs on this and so it’s often hard to compare.
  • Fire Up that Grille!
    It may seem trivial, but I really think the grilles used on in-ceiling surround sound speakers matter and deserve some attention. Some are snap-on models that are made of plastic and break quite easily. These also tend to be thick and stand out, as if to shout, “Here I am! I’m an in-ceiling speaker!” Others are made from metal, are paintable, and feature a magnetic attachment mechanism that lets them pop on and off with ease (but only when you want them to). Most of the new magnetic grilles are also paintable, so you can blend them perfectly into your ceiling. A grille may not be important to you, but I’ve been impressed by the new methods manufacturers are experimenting with in order to hide these ceiling speakers from view.

Conclusion

In-ceiling speakers used to be a very small segment, but they are gaining in popularity. They sound better, work better in newer energy-efficient homes, and considerably add to the convenience of adding surround sound in homes where those rear speakers would simply be impossible to add. If an in-ceiling speaker seems right for you, start checking off the features you find important. I’m pretty certain you’ll narrow down the selection quickly and be able to find one that will work well for you.

Shop In-ceiling Speakers at Audiogurus

The post In-ceiling Surround Sound Speakers appeared first on Audiogurus.

In-ceiling Surround Sound Speakers

I find with many rooms it’s easy to place the front speakers. Even the center channel seems to be something that finds its place below the television or, in rare cases, above. But surround speakers often get left uninstalled or not purchased, largely because the room isn’t set up to easily handle stand-mounted or wall-mounted rear speakers. Perhaps you have a large opening on one side of the room, or there’s simply no place to put speaker stands where they need to be. For these situations I highly recommend the use of in-ceiling surround sound speakers. In-ceiling surround sound speakers let you enjoy that nice diffuse rear- and even side-channel information even when the room doesn’t make it easy to place speakers.

So while we recommend in-ceiling surrounds (but never for the main left/right/center channels), there are some caveats to consider and some general guidelines for purchasing them. As a surround sound solution it’s hard to go wrong, but following a few simple tips can help you to make a decision that will last a long time and one you won’t later regret.

Considerations for In-ceiling Surround Sound Speakers

  • More Complex Doesn’t Mean More…Better
    If you’re in the market for in-ceiling surround sound speakers, realize that here are a myriad to choose from. In-ceiling speakers vary from two-way to four-way and can get very complex. While we aren’t going to broadbrush all 4-way speakers, I have to say that overcomplicating these speakers doesn’t always equate to better sound.
  • Backboxes are Good for Sound Quality
    Most entry level in-ceiling speakers are going to lack an included backbox. That means that they simply get installed into the ceiling with what’s called an “infinite baffle” That’s not a device, that’s your attic. It means there’s no backbox. It also means that you can’t really have insulation touching the speaker and that you’re now subjecting the speaker to the humidity, heat or cold of your attic depending on the season and where you live. It also means you can’t really know how those speakers will sound in the room because a backbox truly controls the frequency response and dynamics of a driver. No backbox means there’s simply not a lot of back pressure on the driver and it will yield a much different sound in different environments and under different conditions.

And here’s another tip: If the speaker doesn’t come with a backbox, but has one as an optional available accessory. It should also come with a way to tell the speaker that it now has a backbox—because the sound and output are going to change. The thing is, though, most products don’t do this, so take that into consideration as you figure out which speakers to select for your install.

  • Backboxes are Good for Energy Efficiency
    For energy efficiency alone—the ability to cover the speaker in R40 insulation—I’d recommend getting a speaker with a backbox, or one that lets you purchase it as an optional accessory. There are also aftermarket universal solutions, but again, now you’re putting a product on another product for which it was never designed. If it’s up to me, I always select a product with a backbox so I can not have to worry about replacing it 5 years later due to dry rot or mold issues. Plus, you separate the heat and cold of the attic from your home by more than just the material of the woofer cone.
  • Speaker Connectors are Important if you Already Ran Thick-Gauge Wire
    I installed some surround sound speakers once (OK, more than once) and the speaker wiring was 12-gauge. Trouble was, the connectors on the speaker only supported 14 gauge wire. I had to trim up the cable to get it to fit. This isn’t tragic, but you may want to make sure your cables aren’t better quality than your speakers! Dropping the gauge at the last stage isn’t a big deal, lots of installers do it. It just makes for a sloppier install. Another option is to attach or solder pin connectors to your wire, which can clamp easily into most spring clip connections. It’s up to you and your level of detail to the job. There’s no universally accepted way to do it, but there are a ton of wrong ways!
  • Size Matters (Yoda was Wrong)
    I tend to pay attention to the frequency response of the in-ceiling surround sound speakers when spec’ing them for a room. A larger 8-inch woofer, for example, is going to give you a lot of bass response while a smaller 4-inch driver is never going to hit the lowest parts of the frequency range. The important metric to hit cleanly, of course, is 80Hz. That way you can be assured that everything above your subwoofer’s crossover point can be handled by all speakers in the system. Some surround receivers offer independent crossover settings per channel, but I still like to simplify my installs by unifying that metric. An 8-inch woofer may get down to around 45Hz or lower while the bottom end of a 6.5-inch model may be closer to 70Hz at volume. Manufacturers have varying specs on this and so it’s often hard to compare.
  • Fire Up that Grille!
    It may seem trivial, but I really think the grilles used on in-ceiling surround sound speakers matter and deserve some attention. Some are snap-on models that are made of plastic and break quite easily. These also tend to be thick and stand out, as if to shout, “Here I am! I’m an in-ceiling speaker!” Others are made from metal, are paintable, and feature a magnetic attachment mechanism that lets them pop on and off with ease (but only when you want them to). Most of the new magnetic grilles are also paintable, so you can blend them perfectly into your ceiling. A grille may not be important to you, but I’ve been impressed by the new methods manufacturers are experimenting with in order to hide these ceiling speakers from view.

Conclusion

In-ceiling speakers used to be a very small segment, but they are gaining in popularity. They sound better, work better in newer energy-efficient homes, and considerably add to the convenience of adding surround sound in homes where those rear speakers would simply be impossible to add. If an in-ceiling speaker seems right for you, start checking off the features you find important. I’m pretty certain you’ll narrow down the selection quickly and be able to find one that will work well for you.

Shop In-ceiling Speakers at Audiogurus

The post In-ceiling Surround Sound Speakers appeared first on Audiogurus.

Dipole vs Bipole Speakers: What’s the Difference?

There seems to be some confusion when it comes to dipole vs bipole speakers. While I won’t dive into everything on that topic, the issue of bipole (bi-pole, bi-polar) surrounds vs. dipole (di-pole, di-polar) surrounds arises enough to make we want to clarify the topic for readers and home theater enthusiasts. If you want to understand the differences between bipole and dipole speakers, you’ve come to the right place.

First, some background on these two technologies. It’s important to note that the terms “dipole” and “bipole” don’t necessary retain their technically accurate definitions in reality. What I mean by that is a technical definition of a bipole speaker may not match many speakers labeled as being “bipole” that are sold in today’s market.

Let’s Address Dipole Speakers First

The strict definition of a dipole speaker is a speaker is a speaker enclosure in which the speaker radiates or projects sound forward, and the reverse polar response is 180 degrees out of phase. You get the simplest bipole speaker by mounting a driver onto an open baffle. The speaker fires in-phase on the frontside of the baffle, and 180 degrees out of phase on the backside of the baffle. Out of phase means that if a drawn version of the waveform has a peak on the front of the speaker, the rear speaker would be issuing the same level of the waveform as a trough.

A dipole speaker generates the same amount of SPL output from the front and back of the speaker, but the sounds are electrically out of phase with each other.

Of course, this doesn’t describe most of the dipole speakers you find today. Dipole now more loosely pertains to a speaker with two sets of drivers that fire out of phase with each other, even if those drivers aren’t oriented perfectly opposite each other. That means that a speaker whose drivers fire outwards at 90 degrees is still considered a dipole speaker—at least as far as surround sound speakers are concerned. When you have speakers firing out in opposite phase like that, the sounds cancel out in the center, leaving a null in the middle. When you “point” the middle of a surround speaker at the listening position, it creates a rather diffuse sound. This is more in line with what the re-recording engineers desire for their surround effects and ambient sounds.

Dipole vs Bipole Speakers: What’s the Difference?

Dipole Speaker Dispersion

How to Remember the Difference Between Dipole vs Bipole Speakers: With a bipole speaker “b”oth driver pairs are firing in-phase with each other. With a dipole speaker, the drivers are firing in “d”ifferent phase from each other. Dipole speakers are more “d”iffuse because they create a null at the listening position. If that doesn’t help you remember, nothing will!

That world is slowly changing as sound designers and re-recording mixers of feature film soundtracks get to use more specific point-source technologies like Dolby Atmos. Even with new technology dawning, surround sound speakers still remain very effective when they aren’t completely localizable by the listener.

Bipole Speakers Offer an Interesting Hybrid Approach for Listening

Bipole surround speaker utilize drivers which are wired in phase with the opposite pair. That means that a bipole speaker creates a diffuse sound, but lacks the dramatic null of dipole speaker whose drivers are wired at least partially out of phase with one another. When the sounds of both drivers in a dipole speaker converge, they don’t cancel each other out. In a dipole configuration, the central area of the speaker gets a diffuse sound caused by the off-axis summed response of the two in-phase drivers.

Dipole vs Bipole Speakers: What’s the Difference?

Bipole Speaker Dispersion

If you listen to a lot of music, or you can’t position the speakers exactly perpendicular to the listening position, then bipole speakers are for you. They produce excellent diffuse sound when placed on a rear wall, and they are my go-to choice when I can’t get the exact placement I need in a home theater.

Conclusion

If you’re really geeky, you might want to know what’s going on inside of the speakers themselves. For those few, I have this simple wiring chart. It oversimplifies things a bit, but should be helpful in understanding the basic concept.

Dipole vs Bipole Speakers: What’s the Difference?

Bipole vs Dipole Wiring

Do you have plans to upgrade your surround speakers? If so, have you decided on dipole vs bipole speakers? What criteria did you feel was the most important? Let us know in the comments below and Follow us on our Audiogurus Facebook page for even more tips and tricks.

Shop Surround Speakers at Audiogurus

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DTS X Surround Format (DTS:X)

DTS:X was revealed today as the company’s next-generation object-based codec technology. This new surround format will be the successor to DTS-HD Master Audio and directly takes on Dolby Atmos in the new height-channel surround format “war”. DTS X surround (DTS:X) was developed to deliver a lot of flexibility, immersion and interactivity to both content creators and consumers of music and movie content.

Manufacturer support seems to be high, and DTS has claimed nearly 90 percent of the home AV receiver and surround processor market for its new dts X surround (DTS:X). Supporters include Anthem, Denon, Integra, Krell, Marantz, McIntosh, Onkyo, Outlaw Audio, Pioneer, Steinway Lyngdorf, Theta Digital, Trinnov Audio, Yamaha, and others. These companies have agreed to launch products in 2015 that will support DTS:X. More manufacturer partners are scheduled to make announcements in the following months as well. One of the biggest impediments to adoption is the availability of chipsets supporting the new format (read our HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 article to understand the way this can mess with product releases) but DTS:X solutions are already available for leading 2015 AV receiver silicon platforms. This represents the majority of the DSP platform market share, including Cirrus Logic, Analog Devices and Texas Instruments.

The official launch of DTS:X is planned for March 2015, and we’ll be able to tell you more about it at that time.

“DTS was founded with the goal of making the world sound better through constant innovation. DTS:X is a result of years of cutting-edge development in the area of object-based audio and reflects our continued commitment to provide listeners with incredible immersive audio experiences. Through incorporating DTS:X technology into a wide range of home AVR products, our partners will take the listening experience to another level. I look forward to sharing further details at the official DTS:X launch in March.”

Jon Kirchner, Chairman and CEO of DTS, Inc.

For more information about DTS X surround, please visit www.dts.com.

The post DTS X Surround Format (DTS:X) appeared first on Audiogurus.

Yamaha RX-V777BT, RX-V677, RX-V577 and RX-V477 Receivers

There’s no question that Yamaha has some of the most feature-rich, configurable AV receivers in the industry. Their new 2014 line-up, however adds even more to the proverbial soup pot, including Wi-Fi and “Virtual Cinema Front”. We’re not so sure that Virtual Cinema Front is a good idea, but it certainly incorporates some of what the company has done with its sound steering technology (in its digital sound projectors) and optimizes the system for “those people” who simply refuse to place their speakers where they need to be…but I digress.

The new Yamaha surround receivers include the 7.2-channel RX-V777BT, RX-V677, RX-V577 and 5.1-channel RX-V477. The RX-V777BT, RX-V677 and RX-V577 feature built-in Wi-Fi as well as the new Virtual CINEMA FRONT technology (VCF is available in all five models). VCF lets consumers place all five speakers at the front of the listening area instead of mounting the surrounds in the back. Then, the system “steers” the sound so that it appears to be coming from all around in a simulated 7.1 listening experience. Yes, it’s a gimmick, but it does solve an interim problem for those looking for a bit more envelopment while the figure out how to get their surround speakers placed. Since a lot of speaker systems come with surrounds and a center channel, I think this is a good limited-time solution for the period between acquiring your system and getting it properly installed.

Some more notable features (available on all Yamaha RX-Vx77 receivers):

  • Spotify
  • HTC Connect, which lets you wirelessly stream music and other content from HTC phones.
  • AirPlay, for iOS-device compatible streaming of virtually any audio or app content
  • Internet radio (vTuner)
  • Pandora music streaming service

And, of course, the new Yamaha RX-V Series AV receivers come with the ability to download and use the free Yamaha AV Controller App which is available for both Apple iOS and Android devices (Yamaha has since topped promoting the Kindle version due to the Android-based Fire that obsoleted the need for a third development platform).

Taking a look at the breakdowns for each model, here’s what we have:

Yamaha RX-V777BT and RX-V677 Receivers

While the RX-V777BT is the top model, it’s mostly due to it including a Bluetooth wireless technology adapter so that you can stream music from any source (even without AirPlay or HTC Connect). Essentially, this is your Android streaming solution. You also get HDMI Zone B which gives you another HDMI audio and video feed that you can use in a different room or zone. Yamaha includes YPAO R.S.C. with both receivers, but adds multipoint measurement to the RX-V777BT which calibrates the listening area at multiple seating positions. The RX-V777BT and RX-V6777 have six HDMI inputs (the one on the front panel is MHL-compatible) and the HDMI output allows for 4K/60p video upscaling. (The RX-V777BT has two HDMI outputs, including that Zone B one mentioned above.)

Yamaha RX-V777BT, RX-V677, RX-V577 and RX-V477 Receivers Yamaha RX-V777BT, RX-V677, RX-V577 and RX-V477 Receivers Yamaha RX-V777BT, RX-V677, RX-V577 and RX-V477 Receivers Yamaha RX-V777BT, RX-V677, RX-V577 and RX-V477 Receivers

Both the RX-V777BT and the RX-V677 have SiriusXM Internet Radio as well as Rhapsody, and both incorporate YPAO Volume, which is similar to Dolby Volume in that it reduces the sound of commercials and brings up the often “hidden” details in movie soundtracks and music when the output volume is turned down (for instance, when you listen at night).

Yamaha RX-V577 RX-V477 Receivers

Backing a bit off the multi-zone and upscaling feature-set, the RX-V577 and RX-V477 still include a Zone B speaker output as well as dual subwoofer outputs. Both of these receivers also have six HDMI inputs and one output. They will pass-through 4K, 3D and utilize HDMI’s Audio Return Channel feature so you can get audio from your television’s tuner back to your AV receiver for transmitting that sound to your speakers—all without having to run another cable. Both the RX-V577 and RX-V477 Receivers feature a discrete amp configuration and 192 kHz/24-bit Burr-Brown DACs for all channels.

Yamaha RX-V777BT, RX-V677, RX-V577 and RX-V477 Receivers Yamaha RX-V777BT, RX-V677, RX-V577 and RX-V477 Receivers Yamaha RX-V777BT, RX-V677, RX-V577 and RX-V477 Receivers Yamaha RX-V777BT, RX-V677, RX-V577 and RX-V477 Receivers

Both the RX-V577 and RX-V477 AV receivers feature a discrete amp configuration and 192 kHz/24-bit Burr-Brown DACs for all channels.

Plan Your Next Steps



Finished Researching?

Yamaha RX-V777BT, RX-V677, RX-V577 and RX-V477 Receivers

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Running Wires for Surround Sound Speakers

When my friends start asking about adding surround sound speakers I get excited. But then they lament about running the wires, and I have to interject. It’s not as hard as it sounds, and there has never been a case where I haven’t been able to figure out a way to successfully execute running wires for surround sound speakers located in the back of a room. Some wiring jobs have been more difficult than others, but there’s always a solution if you apply some patience and enough effort.

The Three Basic Methods

There are many different ways for running wires for surround sound speakers, taking them from one part of a room to another. I’ve found that you can summarize the methods under three main categories:

  • Running surround sound wires via baseboards and baseboard moulding
  • Running surround sound wires using crawlspace or attic access
  • Running surround sound wires using crown moulding

In every situation I’ve found myself, there never been a time where one of these three methods (or a combination of all three) didn’t allow me to get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ in a listening room. Obviously, wiring up a home in new construction is the best method of all, but that’s simply not where most of us find ourselves. I’ll give you some thoughts and pointers on each, and hopefully this will serve as a great guide in getting the wiring in place should you find yourself wanting to add surround speakers to your home.

Running Surround Sound Wires via Baseboards and Baseboard Moulding

This really is the simplest way for running wires for surround sound speakers if you have a carpeted room, and you can get from one location to another without encountering a non-thresholded doorway. Even then there are options. Carpets are laid down through the use of tack strips. These tack strips are typically laid a half-inch from the wall, giving you a nice channel behind them in which to lay wiring. Also, baseboard moulding is typically installed slightly off the floor, leaving you yet another channel in which to tuck cabling.

Running Wires for Surround Sound Speakers

Running wires in baseboard

Recommended tools: Pliers, screwdriver, razor knife, fish tape, tape measure, wire strippers

The basic steps to installing wiring using this method:

  1. Using a pair of pliers, pull up the carpet from the area just behind your AV gear where your speaker wiring will begin its journey.
  2. Note the gap between the carpet tack strip and the baseboard, and also note any gap underneath the baseboard moulding as well. You can use this to hide your cabling and get it out of the way.
  3. Lay out your cabling—from your AV electronics all the way to your surround speakers. While some rare rooms may allow you to run cabling in two different directions to get to your surround speakers, it’s more likely that you’ll be running two pairs of cables all the way around. One pair of cables will then continue its journey to the second surround speaker.
  4. Use a pair of pliers to firmly grasp your carpeting and pull up approximately two linear feet to begin.
  5. As you tuck the cable into the gap between the baseboard and the tack strip, lay the carpet back down, making sure to be careful so that the sharp tack strips don’t puncture the wiring (or your fingers!) and create a short! As you lay down carpet, pull up some more as you go. This will create a nice, continuous flow of work and it also will ensure you don’t need to re-stretch your carpet to get it back into place as you found it.
  6. When you get to the first surround speaker, allow the speaker wire to come out from the baseboard and run up the surround speaker stand to the speaker. If your surround speaker is wall-mountable, then (see our note below) drill a hole in the wall so that you can duck the speaker cable in there and run it up the wall cavity. You will likely have to use a fish tape to pull the speaker cable up and through the bottom hole and out the surround speaker hole.
  7. Continue the second surround speaker cable until you get to the second surround speaker. Do the above steps for that speaker as well.

Baseboard Bonus: For an even cleaner look, consider installing a wall plate with speaker connectors at the back of your AV rack and at your surround speakers (if they are near a wall and on stands). Carefully drill a hole at the base of your wall behind your AV gear or speakers and run the wire up—connecting it to the back of your speaker connector wall plate. Now you’ll have a completely finished look that is much nicer than having speaker wiring simply duck into the carpet at the baseboard. This is how a pro would finish off the job, and there’s no reason you can’t too.

Running Wires for Surround Sound Speakers Using Crawlspace or Attic Access

When running surround sound wiring in your attic or crawlspace you may need to consult an electrician in your area (we can’t tell you what’s legal or permitted in your local municipality). Assuming you’re good to go, however, this method is often made more or less difficult based on the location of the speakers in relation to interior or exterior walls. For attic access, interior walls are easiest, while exterior walls are simpler for crawlspace access. The concepts are the same, however. You are essentially running your wiring either up or down a wall from one location to another. The tricky part will always be knowing where you are and finding the correct wall cavity. But I have some tricks for that as well.

Recommended tools: Cordless drill, 1/2″ wood drill bit, flashlight/headlamp, stud finder, razor knife, fish tape, tape measure, wire strippers, metal coat hanger or piece of 12 gauge wire, screwdriver, hammer, single-gang low voltage box(es), wire staples

The essential steps to running surround sound speaker wires using this method:

  1. Plan your cable route. You want the easiest route, so check out your attic or crawl space (or both) to see which method will be easiest. What’s nice about this method is that you can literally go from any place to any other place provided you have the access and the right tools for the job.
  2. Once you know which way you’ll be going, locate the wall cavity behind your AV gear. If there is an outlet on that wall (and there likely is) then you will have a basis for reference when you get to the attic or the crawlspace. Look for the emerging power cable and then measure over accordingly to get to the wall cavity you require. Use a stud finder on the wall below to determine how far over from the power outlet you need to go in order to hit an open wall cavity. Whenever possible, avoid running your speaker wire in the same wall cavity as power lines (this actually violates several building codes).
  3. Cut out a single-gang low voltage box hole in the wall behind your AV gear. Typically these are 18-inches off the floor, but try and match the height of the nearest outlet box so it looks uniform.
  4. Remember that you’re connecting the dots—that’s all. So, next you want to go into the attic or underneath into the crawlspace and drill upwards where you determined the wall cavity space to be. It helps to use a partner in this. In the event that you start to come through somewhere you shouldn’t, you can often hear exactly where the drill bit will emerge before it gets there. I have saved countless hours and hassle by having a friend tell me I was drilling in the wrong location.
    Quick Tip: Drill and poke a coat hanger or similar wire up from below to quickly and easily identify the proper location from within the attic (you’ll see the wire poking up through the insulation and avoid a lot of hassle.)
  5. Repeat this attic/crawlspace process for each surround speaker location. For stand-mounted surrounds, you’ll want a wall-mounted plate for your speaker connectors at the approximately 18-inch height. For wall-mounted surrounds or in-ceiling surrounds, you’ll likely want to wire the speaker up directly with no wall plate.
  6. Run your wiring from point to point, using a fish tape when needed to get it up through the attic or crawlspace hole and on to the next location. In the attic or crawlspace, always secure your wire using wire staples and a hammer. You don’t want the wire to dangle, as it can become a hazard or even get severed by mistake during a future renovation or repair.
  7. Terminate the speaker cable into the plates or speakers as desired.

Running Surround Sound Wires Using Crown Moulding

This is perhaps my favorite method, mostly because you also get some nice crown in the deal! It involves more work than the other methods, but it’s immensely rewarding, and it just might convince your other half to go for a surround sound system. (She’ll get crown moulding out of the deal!) A lot of the principles learned in the first two methods apply here as well, with the big exception that you are using the ceiling to circumnavigate the room with your speaker wire. It’s a solution I first tried back in 2008, and it’s been a staple of my recommendations-list ever since. Be warned, crown moulding without speaker wires is difficult enough to install if you haven’t done it before.

Running Wires for Surround Sound Speakers

Running wires behind crown moulding

Recommended tools: Miter saw, cordless drill, 1″ wood drill bit, stud finder, razor knife, fish tape, tape measure, wire strippers, screwdriver, hammer, single-gang low voltage box(es), wire staples

While we won’t go into the details of installing the moulding, here are the steps to placing wire behind it.

  1. Install 1×2 furring strips on the wall around the perimeter of the room. You will tuck the cabling above this piece of wood and it will also serve as a solid anchor point for the crown molding. I have seen people simply fish the wire behind the crown moulding loose, but I find this method to be more secure and permanent. Hint: Use a test piece of 1×2 and a scrap piece of moulding to determine the exact height you should install the furring strips at along the wall. In my installation, the strip was spaced about 0.75″ from the ceiling. Provide a 2- to 3-inch break between strips at each place you’ll need to access the cable from the wall.
  2. Again, plan how you want to run your cable. You want the simplest, most direct route. Typically, that means going straight up the wall from behind your AV gear and straight down the wall for each surround speaker. I tend to run the surrounds together rather than splitting them apart, even if it means using a tad more cable. It’s simply easiest to do it all at once as opposed to running two completely separate lines.
  3. Cut out a single-gang low voltage box hole in the wall behind your AV gear and cut out a 1-inch square at the ceiling. Use a fish tape to get two pairs of speaker wire run from the low voltage box up the wall and out the 1-inch access hole.
  4. Route both pairs of speaker wire around the room, securing it to the top of the furring strips. Stop when you get to the first surround speaker.
  5. Cut a 1-inch square at the ceiling at the location for the first surround speaker. For stand-mounted surrounds, you’ll want a wall-mounted plate for your speaker connectors at the approximately 18-inches from the floor. For wall-mounted surrounds you’ll likely want to cut another hole where the speaker will be mounted. Consult your speaker’s user manual to understand the preferred wall-mounting method. For an in-ceiling surround speaker, locate where the speaker will be mounted and cut out the hole for the speaker using the template. Be mindful of where the ceiling joists are located.
  6. Fish the first pair of speaker wire as needed to get to the first surround speaker.
  7. Continue on to the second speaker location and repeat Step 5.
  8. Terminate the speaker cable into the plates or speakers as desired.
  9. Attach and install your crown moulding. Caulk, paint and enjoy!

Conclusion

While all of these methods will work, sometimes you need a combination of each to get your speakers and your wiring where it’s needed. In any case, the crown moulding solution has convinced more than one wife to allow surround sound speakers in her living room due to the added benefit of getting the moulding installed.

Just be careful as you might end up having to install it in other rooms as well!

Have you utilized the crown moulding method for installing surround speakers? How did it go? Let us know on Facebook or post a comment below and give us your opinion.

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