From the Forum – Speaker Wires in My Walls

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Speaker Wires in My Walls:

“Quick and Dirty:

I have a TV on one wall, a receiver on another, and want to put surround sound speakers on the TV wall and a third wall. I want to bury the wires inside the walls so they aren’t visible. I am absolutely not handy. Do I need an electrician, a drywall expert, something else? And any recommendations on contractors?

A little more detail:

The TV is on the northern wall. The north wall is connected to the neighbors, but where the TV is has been built out a few inches. The wall came pre-wired with an HDMI in and out. The built out wall has vertical studs. I want three speakers on this wall (above and to the sides of the TV).

The eastern wall has the receiver on it and is outside facing. All the speakers will connect to the receiver.

The southern wall is also outside facing. I want to put two speakers on this wall.

I also own the floor above, if going through the ceiling is easier…

Thoughts? Thanks!”

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18 Comment

  • janie4

    You want a home sound system installation person. Try Belmont TV and ask who they use. They’re great for installs. They’ll bury everything, and should keep any need for drywall patching to a minimum.

  • You don’t need an electrician, but you’re going to need someone who knows drywall/basic home carpentry and how to use fish tape.

  • justinbc

    I contacted Mr. TV Mount (located in VA) about a similar install, doing mine over the fireplace and burying the wires. They have a pretty reasonable package deal price.

  • dcdon

    Chase Systems did all the wiring in my house. GREAT JOB!!!

  • Just a thought: if you live in a typical DC rowhouse, and you put speakers on the walls, your neighbors will hate you. I have this situation – when my neighbor puts his music on, it’s like he is grooving out in the middle of my bedroom. The brick and plaster wall is like a giant amplifier. Thank god he has relatively good taste in music, but when i’m trying to sleep it is no bueno. Just something to consider.

  • There are a lot of options for wireless rear channels in 2014. Soundbars also work well in typical DC house size scales and don’t require any rear speakers at all.

    Running the speaker wires is relatively easy, fishing that HDMI cable from the TV to the receiver is the hard part. You might want to get them closer.

    • ledroittiger

      Second this. Why waste the money on infrastructure for outdated technology (unless you have some seriously awesome surround speakers, that is).

      • justinbc

        A traditional speaker setup with receiver will always beat out the wireless options. Even the brand new Def-Tech wireless setup I just got, although awesome, can be bested by a similarly priced true surround setup.

        • A wired surround system will blow the doors off of any wireless system if they are similarly priced, I don’t think this is under debate. And don’t you still need to run power for the surround speakers? If there aren’t conveniently located outlets you will have the same problem as having to run speaker wire, only 10x worse because now you are dealing with true electrical upgrades that will require an electrician (and a permit if done above board). The only place I see wireless systems really earning their keep is in a true multi-room or whole house set up. Most major receiver manufacturers are now offering remote base stations or wireless capabilities built in to the main receivers for extending systems anyway. The big benefit of Sonos, et al is the plug-and-play capabilities and portability (take some speakers out to the backyard for a party, etc.), but they all have their bugs. It’s kind of hard to screw up speaker terminals.

      • I’ve been looking for “wireless” speakers for months now. Is the technology really there? All I am seeing is the Rocketfish products or Bluetooth speakers that only work with Bluetooth devices, which my receiver is not.

  • I offer this recommendation without knowing what kind of receiver you have, how attached you are to said receiver, how many speakers you already have (or are going to buy), and/or the budget with which you’re operating. Have you considered a Sonos wireless surround sound system? They’re definitely not cheap, but they are very easy to set up, even easier to use, and there will not be a need to hide speaker wires. That way you don’t have to hire an AV installation company, there are not any studs to worry about, and the system is non-intrusive so you can move it around as you wish.

  • Instead of spending the money on a drywall person and/or electrician, I would suggest spending probably the same amount of money on a wireless speaker system.

  • The wires are pretty simple, just hit monoprice and buy some 12 Gauge speaker wire (~ $30 for 100 feet in-wall / plenum) and wall mount plates (1 multi panel at the receiver & 1 per speaker set). The harder part is running them from your receiver, to the speaker end-points. I would avoid wireless, as you (realistically) need an outlet at each speaker.
    If you have plaster on brick walls, you might want to mount the speakers from the ceiling. Otherwise, you will have to dig in the walls to run the wires, and then patch. If you have wood frame walls with plasterboard, you will have to cut & cover from receiver to the speakers & make holes to run the wires through the framing. If you have aluminum framing, you can usually use holes that exist in the framing to run the wires all the way around.

  • You say you own the floor above, is that an attic? Or is it finished space? If the former and the joists are already exposed this is a pretty trivial task. If there is flooring up there you don’t want disturbed it’s not even worth trying to run access via the floor above, you still need to punch holes.

    This is an easy job for an electrician or handyman to run the cabling. The cost would be nowhere near replacing your existing speakers for a wireless system, that’s crazy talk. If you need to run through those studs for the lateral runs there will be more holes to patch. An alternative you may have not considered: using wiring conduit. If you run it along the ceiling and/or floor junction or trim and paint it the same color as the wall it almost disappears. Runs that go from the ceiling vertically are more noticeable, running from the floor trim to the middle of a wall can usually be hidden behind bookshelves, etc. If you are going for a look where your entire system is basically exposed and smack dab in the middle of otherwise blank walls it will look silly. Alternatively you could use it for some of the more inconspicuous runs to save fishing cable. The strips are self-adhesive, cheap and absolutely DIY, just plan your runs carefully before cutting. I have some that have been stuck up for 10+ years with no problem and you’d have be looking pretty carefully to notice them. Home Depot carries a selection, just measure to be sure all of the cables will fit in the channel if you are running more than one. I’ve had no issues cramming 3 speaker wires into the smallest channel they have, HDMI may need it’s own.

    • Also, alternatively, if you have crown molding sometimes it’s possible to remove that and run wire behind it. It would depend entirely on how big the molding is and what kind of cavity is behind it. Same goes for shoe molding, You just need to be extra careful when securing the runs and nailing the trim back in place. Depending on your comfort removing molding it’s also DIY.

  • Sonos wireless speakers or a sound bar will do a lot for surround sound without the wires & complexityespically if your not looking to jump into the Hifi world with all its snake oil. Otherwise JBL control / contractor series in wall speakers or the less pensive Klipsch in wall are great for the money. 40 to 100 watts to each speakers is plenty for home Hifi Speakers. Use 12awg speaker wire in a plenum jacket from homedepot, it’s abot $1 a foot and will sound better than any fancy magical “Hifi” wire retail stores sell!!!!!!

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