You would like to enjoy your music and video at home but you are concerned about the impact the installation will have on your interior decoration. Worst, you may be planning on using a multichannel surround sound system which means you will likely have dozens of cables running all around the room. How to avoid this nightmare (or a ban from your better half) and keep your interior design up to the right standard? You have come to the right place.
Below will be presented a series of solutions on how to best approach this dilemma depending on your requirements.
1. In-wall wiring
You are building your home or just about to renovate your living room? It's the perfect time to plan the installation of your audio video system. By planning this ahead of the construction you give yourself a chance to build a wonderful installation that will completely blend into your room decoration or simply become invisible. If you read the article on the Artcoustic art speakers, you noticed that wall mounted solutions are best served with in-wall wiring to avoid visible cable raceways. Another fantastic solution is to actually use in wall speakers. While most audiophiles prefer traditional in room speakers, a number of specialist brands offer truly wonderful performances with their in wall speakers and there are options for every budgets as well. If you want some tips for brands, check Triad, Kef, B&W, James Loudspeakers, focal, MK Sound and of course Artcoustic which also offers in-wall solutions. This list is far from exhaustive but gives quality options for various budgets.
The installation of in-wall wiring is something I would recommend you leave to a specialist as it requires experience and equipment. To find a qualified installer, the best is to look for a CEDIA accredited custom installer, also called system integrators.
If you are however a handy person and feeling in a DIY mood, I strongly suggest to read this very comprehensive guide from crutchfield (click here). You will find tons of tips and although it may look a bit technical, it is essential to go through the steps explained if you want a quality (and safe) installation.
Of course, your house construction will define the possible options, but if you have drywalls, false ceilings, an attic or basement/crawlspace then you likely have the possibility to run wires through your walls, ceiling or floor.
Crutchfield useful post, click here
2. Surface mounted wiring
While in-wall wiring may be the best option for stealthy installations it is simply not always possible as your room may already be built and the construction not fit. Don't worry, there are a lot of alternatives that will help you hide these cables away.
- Wire channels: often used for retrofit lighting installations wire channels are the simplest option whether you need to run from one side of the room to another or go up and down a wall to a speaker. Construction is made of flame-resistant, paintable extruded PVC, and they’re backed with adhesive tape for easy installation. Different kinds exist to accommodate more or less cables, separate compartments, so make sure you have clearly defined how many cables need to run in, to select the right product. As for the installation, position the channels next to a plinth or in a corner and they will blend in without attracting too much attention.
- Corner duct, crown molding, door jambs and cable channel plinths: these are all smart versions of the plastic wire channels and further help hiding the channel away whether it's within the plinth, crown molding or door jambs.
- Under carpets or large rugs: not so common for living rooms in continental Europe but widely present in North America and United Kingdom, floor carpeting is another good hiding options (make sure you use flat cables in this case). It also works with large rugs although be careful to install the cables in an area with limited traffic where cables won't be compressed by repetitive steps which could result in damages on the long run.
- Cord covers: not really a "design option" but necessary in some cases, cord covers are usually made of rubber or aluminium profiles. While they protect the cables from step compression, their drawback is that they don't sit flush on the floor due to their protruding height.
Whichever solution you may pick for your installation, have a look at the links below as they provide more in depth information on all these options:
3. Invisible wiring
This solution is a bit more "exotic" as there are only few manufacturers offering this kind of wires. So why are these invisible? Simply because they're so flat (usually from 0.1 to 0.5 mm) that you will almost not notice them on the wall. They can of course also be used under carpets and rugs but here the point is that their shape allows them to just stick to the wall or ceiling without the use of plastic channels. For a perfect installation you can apply on the wires a mesh tape and mud the wire over before painting, but you can also just paint over if you accept the slightly more visible protuberance.
4. Media cabinets
It may seem obvious for many but it took a while before furniture brands started really understanding that a shelf, a TV stand or a sideboard in the living room are likely to host some "technology". Past years though a growing number of solutions were introduced from the likes of IKEA (to the point they sell their own media solutions now), to Danish brands like BoConcept for instance offering felt covers for integrated speakers. You can now install your electronic equipment and speakers more easily inside those cabinets as they provide some level of cable and heat management.
If you really want to step up though I would like to suggest checking out brands like Spectral in Europe and Salamander Designs in North America. These brands have always been specialists at integrating audio and video equipment in their furnitures providing many useful features that allow you to customise the cabinet to your exact needs. Some of those products also provide superb designs which stand on their own as furniture solutions. Check out the videos here or directly their website to discover their solutios
Like Spectral likes to quote, these are simply Smart Furnitures. I would probably add expensive but you do get the best possible solution before going fully bespoke.
5. Wireless solutions
This is the elephant in the room. If wires are a design problem, why not going wireless you may rightly ask?
There are indeed numerous wireless solutions available today and while some really offer quality solutions, the lack of universal standard makes it very difficult for consumers to find the right solution for their needs. I will therefore list here a number of wireless categories which i will cover more in-depth in a following post.
- Wireless transmitters and receivers
- Bluetooth and Airplay speakers
- Battery powered wireless speakers
- Multiroom wireless speakers: Sonos and BlueSound
- Hifi wireless speakers
- WISA the emerging wireless HD audio standard
Any of these solutions will help you cut the cord and enjoy music without a technological mess but again keep in mind that eventually music sources, user interfaces, sound quality and budget are the key parameters to help you narrow down the options. Stay connected and discover in the next post the world of wireless audio solutions.
Thanks for reading!
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