Audio Distribution ( Link to Audio Distribution Page) is pretty straightforward. You send music from a central device, to speakers all over the home. Prewiring your audio is usually simple, but there’s a few choices you need to make first.
Are You Doing An Intercom And Audio, Or Just Audio?
- If you’re putting in an Intercom, do you want the intercom in all the rooms that have Audio, or just some of the rooms?
- Do you want Volume Controls on the wall, or are you just going to use your mobile device?
Lets start with the most basic Audio system, and we’ll work our way up from there.
Prewire Audio For One Room
To prewire the Audio for one room, you need (2) 16/2 (speaker wire). Each speaker gets one wire.
For best practice you can buy 16/4, which is both speaker wires in one cable. You run the 16/4 to the first speaker in the room, and then run (1) 16/2 from the first to the second speaker. This keeps it a little cleaner in the Media Rack, and it’s one less cable you have to pull through the house.
Some people see homes where a room has only one speaker and think they only need one wire (called a Dual Voice speaker). That’s actually a special type of speaker that creates a stereo effect out of one speaker. It still requires (2) 16/2.
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Prewire A Volume Control
Volume Controls are located on the wall, typically next to the light switch. You can get a knob that spins, or a slider to control your volume. Anymore, most systems allow you to control the Volume from your mobile device, but if you want to put a Volume Control on the wall here’s how you do it.
Run (1) 16/4 (speaker wire) from your Media Rack to the location of your Volume Control. Leave yourself about 18” of slack that can hang out of the wall. From there, you run (2) 16/2 out to the speaker locations for that room.
Prewire A Keypad
A keypad and a volume control, aren’t necessarily the same thing. A keypad is a digital controller that allows you to select music for the room. It requires (1) Cat5e. If I wire up for a Keypad in the room, I always wire it up for volume control as well. So I run (1) Cat5e and (1) 16/4 to the Keypad location. Then (2) 16/2 to the speaker locations.
Prewire For Intercom
You should check the specs of your intercom, but most intercoms requires (1) Cat5e for each station in the home. If all you are doing in that room is the intercom, than all you need is the (1) Cat5e. If however you are doing both Audio and Intercom, you wire it up with the Volume Control and/or keypad. Lets assume we’re doing all 3 for this discussion.
Pull (2) Cat5e (one for the intercom, and one for the keypad), and (1) 16/4 to the location on the wall where you want the Keypad and Intercom located. Then run (2) 16/2 out to the speaker locations.
For the doorbell, have your electricians run the doorbell like they always do. You run a Cat5e from the door bell, back to the Media Rack. This gives you an option to tie the doorbell into the Audio system later if you want.
Named one of Technology Integrator’s Top Talent Under 40, Matt has designed systems for 10 national award-winning projects, including "Home Theater of the Year", and "Custom Smart Home of the Year" from CTA™ (Consumer Technology Association). His ebook “How To Wire Your Smart Home” is a best seller among professionals and DIYers alike. You can watch Matt share the secrets of his craft on YouTube!
Matt is a Golden State fan.