Speaker Wire, Subwoofer Cable, HDMI Cables, Etc.

When you choose to go with a conventional hard-wired home theater audio system which includes a component home theater receiver as the system’s main hub, five (or more) passive speakers for surround sound, and a powered subwoofer for the deep bass, you will also need to separately select and purchase the right types and lengths of wires and cables to properly connect each of the surround sound speakers and sub, AV source components, and also the television or UST projector to the back of the home theater receiver. 

Speaker Wire Before purchasing a spool of speaker wire, you first need to think through the room locations of the two front left and right speakers, the center channel speaker, and two rear surround effects speakers in relation to the location of the home theater receiver. Be sure to calculate for additional length needed for non-straight wiring paths. The longer the speaker wire runs between the receiver and speaker locations and/or the lower the impedance on the speakers, the thicker, lower gauge speaker wire you will need to use. 16 or 14 AWG (American Wire Gauge) speaker wire is fine for most applications. If you will be running any of the speaker wiring inside walls, ceilings, and/or floors (with or without wall plates), you should use CL2/CL3 in-wall rated wire. OFC (Oxygen Free Copper) costs a bit more but is preferable over CCA (Copper Clad Aluminum) speaker wire. There are wireless rear speaker transmitter and receiver kits available for those who simply cannot, or prefer not to, run two speaker wires from the back of the receiver to the locations of the two rear surround speakers — but some complain of hearing popping sounds.

Speaker Wire Terminations You may want to use banana or spade plugs at each end of your speaker wire runs if both the speakers and the back of the home theater receiver feature binding posts. Some lower-priced speakers and receivers which have spring clips will only work with pin type terminations or twisted bare speaker wire. 

Subwoofer Cable Likewise, before buying a subwoofer cable, you should first decide where you think the sub will likely end up being located in the room. Most people end up placing a subwoofer somewhere near a corner towards the front of the room, but you may want to experiment a bit before deciding on an exact final sub location. Keep in mind that because the subwoofer is powered, it will need to be located near an AC power outlet. There are also wireless subwoofer transmitter and receiver kits available for those who prefer not to run a subwoofer cable from the back of the receiver to the location of the subwoofer. Of course, if you are setting up a 5.2 system with dual subs, you will need to buy two subwoofer cables.

HDMI Cables Check out this HDMI cable overview at HDMI.org. You will need the right speed and length of HDMI cable for connecting each of your HDMI source components (such as a gaming console or Blu-ray Disc player) to the back of your receiver, and also between your receiver and your television or UST projector via HDMI ARC or eARC.

Ethernet Cable If you will be connecting a network-ready home theater receiver directly to a home Internet router instead of using Wi-Fi wirelessly, you will need to use a Cat 6 Ethernet cable with RJ45 termination of appropriate length to run between the router and the Ethernet port on back of the receiver. 

Digital Audio Optical TOSLINK cable might be used to connect the audio signal from a pre-HDMI television to a home theater receiver. Digital coaxial cable might be used to connect a CD player or the audio from a DVD player to a home theater receiver. 

Analog Audio(/Video) Stereo RCA audio cables are most commonly used for connecting a turntable, cassette deck, or perhaps a CD player to a home theater receiver. Composite video was commonly used for VCRs and camcorders while component video was often used for DVD players. (Remember S-Video?) Many of today’s entry-level and mid-range home theater receivers (and newer televisions) lack composite and/or component video inputs and switching capability.

Coaxial Cable This is the type of screw-on cable coming into your home through a jack on the wall from your cable or satellite TV provider.