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mikegp 12-22-2011 07:38 AM

What hardware do I need for surround sound, iPod, radio, etc hook up?
I know close to nothing about audio visual stuff besides knowing a bit about plasma/lcd/led etc. I'm finishing my basement and going to run speaker wires through the walls before closing them off. I would like to wire everything so that I can either run the audio from the tv, or a stereo, or an iPod that will all be located in a console under the tv. I've heard about receivers and numerous other AV terms, but not sure what the best way to do this will be. Also, where the wire goes from the wall to the console, what should I do? Thanks so much for any help.

diyorpay 12-22-2011 06:21 PM

It could take a long time to answer your varied questions and you'll probably get lots of opinions.

My advice would be to run your wiring before the room is buttoned up. A receiver is probably the A/V brains of an entertainment system. Look up 5.1 and 7.1 surround system concepts. Most people will be fine with 5.1. That's 2 stereo speakers up front, one center speaker for dialog, two rear surround effect speakers and one sub-woofer. SW can go anywhere you can hide it but plan the wiring when you decide. Rear speakers can be wall mounted and of lesser quality than front. The more inputs on receiver the better. The more HDMI inputs the better. Good reasonably priced gear at I happen to like Polk speakers. Some receivers today are very iPod friendly. Some are Sirius/XM friendly. Some are laptop or small computer footprint (with HDMI out) friendly. 100W per channel is more than most people need if subwoofer has its own power. Prices vary and only you can determine what you like. The receiver you pick will determine how speaker wires connect.

Best advice is hardwire the area with a Cat5 or 6 jack (run from your modem or router) so you can make your tv smart-interface with the internet either directly or through an addon box like Roku, Boxee, Apple, Google etc. Run any cable company or other provider wire too. Run wires for going to other locations (music mostly) as desired. Most receivers handle 2 sets of speakers. If you want more you may need a switch box.

An iPod can have a special cable with same male end as headphones on one end and RCA red and white audio out jacks on the other. It could go on CD in terminal on receiver or any other available audio jacks. To pretty it up and keep it charged too, add a docking station and run that jack from it. See for cheap but adequate jacks. If it's iPod-like and has an external out HDMI jack, then it's a standard HDMI jack to a tv HDMI jack in for audio and video.

Get a console with doors to hide stuff (as applicable) and open shelves to better get signal from your many remote controls unless you get a unified one.

Good luck!

gregzoll 12-22-2011 10:32 PM

First thing, is what is your budget, second are you looking at mostly using for watching sports and movies, or playing music with the audio system? There are A/V receivers that have every bell and whistle you can think of, and others that are simple, but have iPod hook-ups on them. There are also soundbars that also have iPod hookups.

I would suggest looking at what Crutchfield has, go to a local store (mom & pop are better, since they will spend more time with you to figure out what fits your needs), and try out something close to if they do not have the exact same equipment that Crutchfield has. Also look in the various Home audio forums over at

oberkc 12-23-2011 11:41 AM

Wires, in my mind, can't be predicted accurately. Forget trying. Run a 2-3" conduit between tv and other electronics locations. Add/modify the wires as needed.

Ironlight 12-29-2011 12:39 PM


Originally Posted by oberkc (Post 801188)
Wires, in my mind, can't be predicted accurately. Forget trying. Run a 2-3" conduit between tv and other electronics locations. Add/modify the wires as needed.

Excellent point. We're already seeing IP-enabled speakers hit the market that work with CAT5/6 and I can see them becoming wildly popular in the years to come.

But directly to the OP's question:

You should run all your speaker wire before you close up the walls. You'll want CL2 rated wire which meets code for in-wall applications. Run the wire to a junction box behind where your audio/AV equipment will be located and install something like this:
For switching between sources, you have numerous options depending on what sort of receiver you have. It may have inputs for all those sources, or you may need some sort of device that switches between sources if your receiver does not support them.

But I would do what oberkc suggests. That's future proofing and in a purpose-built media room it's a wise investment. Even 1" conduit would be better than nothing. You can run it and for the time being just put the speaker wire right in it. Make sure you also run a cord in it for fishing new wires through.

mikegp 04-16-2012 12:58 PM

I just remembered about this thread and came to check it out and realized that I never received any email notifications. Thanks for the replies, I really appreciate the help. I finally got back into my basement project and just finished the framing. Now I'm going to move onto electrical and wiring. I'm still as clueless as before about the AV stuff, but I'll reread everything posted above and I'm sure I'll come back with more questions. Thanks again.

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