How to Manage Your Home Theatre Cables

 

If you've ever experienced the 'cable spaghetti' lurking at the back of your home theatre system, then you'll know why managing your cables is so important. Keeping your cables neat ensures your equipment works efficiently and free of annoying electrical interference. Organising your cables makes it easier when you need to carry out repairs or add extra equipment. Also, tangled cables are a definite fire hazard, as they can overheat and short out. Besides all that, well-organised cables simply look better. Here's how to get your cable spaghetti untangled with little cost and effort.

Use the Correct Cables

 

One of the reasons your cables may be in a mess at the back of your AV system is that you’re using the wrong kind of cables. Years of purchasing the cheapest cables leave you with a mass of different thicknesses, materials, lengths and colours. It may be worth upgrading to new, uniform cables. They’re affordable and will make a big difference.

 

Keep AV Cables and Power Cables Separate

 

All power cords should be running downwards to a power strip on the floor. This is not only energy efficient but also protects against power surges. All the HDMI cables should run upwards to the TV. 60 Hertz power cables can result in unwanted electromagnetic interference in nearby low voltage video and audio wiring.

 

When you set up your home theatre system, run all your power cables together on one side and your AV cables on the other. For instance, keep all the power cables on the left-hand side where the wall plugs are and your AV cables on the right-hand side. This will reduce or eliminate interference and make future access so much easier.

 

Try to keep the cables at ninety-degree angles rather than running them on the diagonal. Invest in a 90-degree or swivelling HDMI coupler. Particularly if your TV is wall-mounted or is pushed closely up against a wall, diagonal HDMI cables may be under stress without your realising it because they’re being forced to bend at the neck. A swivel coupler will sort this problem out and will help your HDMI cables run in a smooth line along the back of the television.

 

Cables that run diagonally inevitably cause entanglements further down the line. Which is why it's always a good idea to separate the two, (power and AV,) along different planes. What we mean by this is to keep power cables close to the equipment and the AV cables further away and closer to the wall.

 

Cable Ties Are Your Friends

 

Cable ties are a wonderful invention. You can buy them by the hundreds for next to no cost. Plus, they come in all sorts of exciting colours! And don’t be stingy with them either. Keep a pair of scissors at hand to snip off old or misplaced ties and neaten up the ends of the new ones. You can also bundle your cables neatly together with zip ties, then run these cable groups neatly along the side of your AV rack or along the wall. These awesome little accessories mean the difference between a tangle of wires and a neatly organised system.

 

Alternatively, Velcro wraps can do a good job too. They cost a little more but can be rewrapped and reused many times over. Velcro can be cut to whatever length you like, depending on the thickness of your cable bundle. Velcro wraps are especially useful for those cables that you have to adjust more often.

 

Secure the Cables

 

Once the cables have been bundled together into separate trunks, it’s good to attach the cable ties or Velcro to your shelving. Some zip ties have integrated screw holes which can be anchored to your shelving. If you’re not sure about the placement or permanence of your setup, you may prefer to use sticky anchors to secure your cable ties to various points around your system.

 

Colour Code

 

It's a good idea to put labels on either end of all your cables. Get hold of a cheap personal label maker and create labels which stipulate the cable type and which device it’s connected to. For instance, “Xbox HDMI”. Doing this will mean that you won’t even have to look at the connector. You’ll be able to tell which end to disconnect when you want to replace or test a cable. And while you're there, why not label all the power cables on both ends too?

 

Coloured labels will help you to see which cable connects where. Alternatively, use different coloured cables. Colours such as yellow, red, and blue are usually cheaper than black or white ones anyhow. HDMI cables can be purchased in a variety of shades. Expandable coloured tubing is available for fitting around your cable bundles too. This method will ensure that when you look behind your home theatre system, you’ll easily be able to tell which cable belongs to which device.

 

Declutter

 

You’d be surprised how many unused cables can accumulate behind your AV furniture. Remove all but the essentials, and your organisation tasks will become a whole lot easier. The same goes for plugs. Invest in one good multiplug that houses all shapes and sizes of plugs safely, rather than having an unsafe mass of adaptors piled on top of one another.

 

Don’t Rush It

 

Most of us who purchase new audio-visual gear can’t wait to get it set up so we can watch that latest blockbuster. Take your time to set up the cables properly right at the beginning. It won’t only look great but will protect the integrity of the cables. When cabling gets bent or twisted it can cause poor signal transmission and interference. Take the time to buy the correct length of cable too. Cables that are too long or too short are even more challenging to organise. Spending that extra bit of time setting everything up correctly right from the get-go will enhance your enjoyment of your system for years to come.

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