Curing Spaghetti Syndrome

Manage and Conceal Your Home Theater Wiring

Today's home entertainment systems look like works of art. Sleek lines, voluptuous curves and high gloss finishes hint at the technological awesomeness hiding within. Exposed wires and tangles of cable, however, quickly detract from the beauty of your flat panel TV or home theater surround sound system. The good news is that with a small investment of time and money, you can gain back control over your wiring. Just follow these four steps:

1.) Minimize the Number of Cables
I'd be willing to bet that you have cables running in and out of your TV and/or A/V gear that serve no purpose. Re-examine your wiring (consulting owner's manuals if necessary) to make sure there are no unneeded or redundant cables. If you have equipment with HDMI jacks, use them! Not only will it deliver the best picture and sound, but one HDMI cable (which carries high resolution audio and HD video) can replace five or more analog ones. Another great way to minimize cables, especially those running in and out of your TV, is a switcher. By routing all of your components through an A/V receiver with HDMI switching or a dedicated HDMI switcher, you can eliminate all but one wire (not including power) going to your TV.

2.) Manage the Spaghetti
The more components in your A/V system, the more mess you're likely to have. Now that you've streamlined the number of wires, tie up any excess using cable ties. Depending on your setup, heat shrink tubing is a great way to bundle wires together behind you A/V system.

3.) Plan Your Route
You've taken care of the wiring behind the scenes, now it's time to tackle the wiring running all the way to the other side of the room. Luckily concealing wires is pretty easy. But before you can begin, you have to plan a route, and make sure you have enough wire/cabling to go the distance. You will also need a plan for dealing with obstacles along the way, like doorways, stairs, trim pieces, etc. Finally, take advantage of existing hiding spots. Curtains and furniture are great at masking wires.

4.) Conceal Exposed Wires
Ideally you would run your wires inside the walls, and out of sight. For many people this is not possible or practical. A nice, inexpensive alternative is cable "racetracks". These self-sticking plastic channels hide wires and can even be painted to match the color of your wall or trim. There are a variety of racetrack accessories for making right angle turns, running wires in a corner and other obstacles you might face.

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