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Audio System Design and Installation

FUNDAMENTALS OF AUDIO TECHNOLOGY, SOUND SYSTEM DESIGN AND INSTALLATION Rev. 3

Leviton Integrated Networks: Audio System Design and Installation

Table of Contents
Level 1: Fundamentals of audio technology
Overview: Fundamentals of Audio Technology, Sound System Design and Installation ....................................................................................................................................1 Part 1: Fundamentals of Sound, Electronics and Audio Systems Basics of audio reproduction .................................................................................................3 Basics of electronics ..................................................................................................................6 What makes a sound system? ............................................................................................ 10 Part 2: Basics of Multi-Room Sound System types ............................................................................................................................. 13 System layout ........................................................................................................................... 15 System elements and components .................................................................................. 16 Part 3: Basics of Home Theater System topology ...................................................................................................................... 28 System elements ..................................................................................................................... 29

Level 2: System design and specification
Part 4: Design and Installation Planning Working in production home construction .................................................................... 32 Blueprints, floor and electrical plans ................................................................................ 32 Design tools .............................................................................................................................. 33 Power requirements .............................................................................................................. 34 Location strategies .................................................................................................................. 35 The walk-through .................................................................................................................... 36 Part 5: Developing the Bill-of-Materials Bill-of-Material considerations ............................................................................................ 37 Examples .................................................................................................................................... 38

Level 3: System installation and set-up
Part 6: Pre-Wire/Rough-In Scheduling ................................................................................................................................. 39 Tools and materials ................................................................................................................ 39 Review of wiring practices ................................................................................................... 39 Wiring the premise ................................................................................................................. 41 Preliminary wiring check ...................................................................................................... 44 Part 7: Trim-Out Scheduling ................................................................................................................................. 45 Tools and materials ................................................................................................................ 45 Preparation ................................................................................................................................ 46 Installing and connecting speakers ................................................................................... 46 Installing and connecting volume controls .................................................................... 48 Connecting the distribution module (Impedance Matching with Auto-Surge) . 49 Making the amplifier connection ....................................................................................... 50 Installing and connecting the home theater .................................................................. 51 Part 8: Equipment Set-Up and Troubleshooting Activating the multi-room system and the Home Theater system ......................... 52 Basic troubleshooting ............................................................................................................ 53

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved. Rev. 3.

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Leviton Integrated Networks: Audio System Design and Installation

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© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Overview: Fundamentals of Audio Technology, Sound System Design and Installation
Program goal: Leviton has created complete, easy-to-install and use, high performance audio systems targeted toward the “Bell curve:” the 90% of residential construction currently missed by the audio installation business. Program structure: This is a three-subject (organized into 5 interdependent proficiency levels) audio system design, specification, installation and marketing program for contractors currently in the installed multi-room audio business as well as those looking to add this service to their portfolio.

This is the Leviton Integrated Networks Audio 1 course.
Audio 1 contains three “foundation” training levels: Fundamentals of residential audio technology, system design and specification, and system installation and set-up. The course includes basics of acoustics and electronics, along with audio system design and installation, as a subset of structured cabling. Contractors completing Audio 1 will have the ability to configure, install and activate a multi-room audio system and home theater system using industry-standard components.

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

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© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Part 1: Fundamentals of Sound, Electronics and Audio Systems
Basics of Audio Reproduction
Whether it’s a thunderclap or a whisper, every sound is the result of acoustical energy. This acoustical energy is generated by a “source” and moves through a medium (air, liquid, or a solid material) in the form of sound waves. The sound waves received by the human ear and converted into electrical impulses for our brain to process and store. Indeed, we actually hear with our brain; our ears simply collect and convert the sound. For our purposes, a sound wave can be measured by its frequency (how many times the wave occurs each second) and by its intensity, or level. Frequency is measured in cycles per second, or Hertz (Hz). A 20 Hz bass tone, for example, which is the lowest frequency humans can detect, means that the sound wave is repeating 20 times each second. To give you a notion of what a 20 Hz bass note actually is, if we use 1100 feet/second as approximately the speed of sound at sea level, and divide that distance by 20 (as in 20 Hz, or 20 cycles per second), we can picture a sound wave that is roughly 55 feet long. Using the same type of calculation, since the upper end of human hearing is 20,000 Hz (20 kHz), a sound wave at this frequency is barely half an inch long. Tech Note: The long and short of sound waves. Sound is easy to imagine because it moves relatively slowly (compared to light and other forms of energy)—a pokey 1,100 feet per second. That’s why when you count the seconds between a lightning flash and the thunderclap during a storm, you can tell how far away the strike was (it takes sound 5 seconds to travel about a mile at sea level). As anyone in aviation knows, the speed of sound changes depending on altitude. It is important to note that although speakers do an amazing job of sorting out every sound wave length between 55 feet and half an inch, larger speakers are (generally) better at reproducing longer (deeper) sounds and smaller speakers better at shorter (higher) frequencies. This is why most home-entertainment speaker systems (with a few notable exceptions) consist of multiple, purpose-built drivers such as a woofer (a large speaker for reproducing the longer, lower frequencies) and a tweeter, a very small speaker for reproducing short high frequencies.) If the woofer is larger than 8-inches, sometimes a third driver called a mid-range is used to fill in the middle frequencies. To make sure the right frequencies get to the right driver, multi-driver speakers typically use a crossover network to direct different ranges of frequencies to the right driver. Otherwise, a tweeter would be quickly burned-out trying to reproduce bass frequencies. It is also important to understand that sounds are made up of complex mixtures of frequencies called fundamentals and harmonics. To help us understand the concept of fundamentals and harmonics, let’s consider several musical instruments, such as the piano, pipe organ, clarinet and accordion. All are capable of producing the same range of frequencies (that is, they have the same fundamental (bass) frequency range within the frequency spectrum); however, they all sound different. This is because they each produce a unique set of overtones and undertones, or other frequencies, which are called harmonics.

A 20 Hz bass note is roughly 55 feet long.

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Tech Note: The sound is in the details. If you look at a simple frequency response chart, instruments such as the piano, pipe organ and others seem nearly identical—they cover relatively the same spectrum of sound. The reason they sound so different and distinct are the myriad acoustical overtones and details, or harmonics, that these instruments produce.
In an audio system, doubling the electrical power increases volume by just 3dB.
BASIC PRINCIPLES OF SOUND
100Hz 200Hz 300Hz 400Hz 500Hz 600Hz 700Hz 800Hz 900Hz 10kHz 20kHz 20Hz 30Hz 40Hz 50Hz 60Hz 70Hz 80Hz 90Hz 1kHz 2kHz 3kHz 4kHz 5kHz 6kHz 7kHz 8kHz 9kHz

AM RADIO FM RADIO–MAGNETIC TAPE RECORDING DISC RECORDING 33MM FILM RECORDING 16MM FILM RECORDING PIPE ORGAN HUMAN EAR WIDE–RANGE SPEAKER SYSTEM MALE SPEAKING VOICE FEMALE SPEAKING VOICE KEY JINGLE HAND CLAPPING BASS VIOL TIMPANI HARMONICA ACCORDIAN FOOTSTEPS BASS DRUM CHIMES PIANO 88 NOTE PICCOLO CYMBALS TUBA XYLOPHONE CELESTA TRIANGLE TRUMPET CLARINET OBOE CELLO VIOLIN TROMBONE

Frequency Range of Instruments

In sound reproduction, when harmonics interact in a way that degrades the original sound, it is called harmonic distortion. Intensity is measured in energy units called Bels, named in honor of the inventor of the telephone. Because the intensity of sound influences the height of the sound wave, intensity is usually referred to as amplitude. The Bel is mathematically related to power ratios. But because Bels are unwieldy for expressing sound amplitude relative to human hearing, the standard in audio is to use one-tenth of a Bel, or a decibel (dB). Mathematically, three decibels, or 3dB, is considered the smallest increment in volume that the ear can detect. Sound(s) Saturn rocket at lift-off Full orchestra Boiler shop Highway traffic Subway station Average traffic Average office Average conversation Whispering voice Film soundstage 60-70 dB 30 dB 20 dB 0.0001Watt 0.000000001 Watt 0.00000000001 Watt 100 dB 0.01 Watt 120-130 dB 1 - 10 Watts Decibel Level 195 dB Power Level 25 - 40,000,000 Watts

The mathematical relationship between volume (dB) and power (watts) is complex. In an audio system, doubling the electrical power increases volume by just 3dB (the smallest increase one can hear). However, to double the volume, the electrical power must be
4 © 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

increased by 10 times. The preceding table puts the relationship between volume (dB) and electrical power (Watts) in perspective relative to human hearing. Frequency and intensity should be considered together. When we say that a typical speaker has a frequency response from 40 Hz to 20 kHz, it does not mean much unless we also know how relatively loud the speaker is at those frequencies. That is why the speaker’s frequency response is also referenced at 0 db. If that speaker’s intensity varies very little, this might be specified as 40 Hz to 20 kHz +/- 3 dB. A speaker rated at 40 Hz to 20 kHz +/- 10 dB, on the other hand, could be missing significant parts of the sound (likely low bass and high treble).
60 Hz – 20 kHz

100

A: Frequency response, Magn dB re 7.080p

90

80

88 86 84 82

70

60

50

20

20

40

50 60 70 200 80 90 100

1K 300 400 500 600 700 Hz 800 900

2k

3k

4k

5k 6k 7k 8k 9k 10k

20k

Frequency response of a typical in-wall speaker. The y-axis scale, in decibels, provides critical information as to how “flat” the speaker actually measures.

Frequency and intensity are only part of the acoustical mechanism that makes sound “sound” natural to the human ear. The field of psychoacoustics, which deals with how the brain perceives sound, shows that sound’s spectral component (frequency realm) is only part of the story. Equally important are the direction from where the sound appears to come (known as the spatial realm) and exactly when in time it reaches us (known as the temporal realm). Without these other audio cues, sound “sounds” dead, as anyone who has spent time in an acoustical “dead” room (anechoic chamber) can attest to. For example, we depend on frequency response and harmonic information to tell us that a piano sounds “like a piano.” But, we depend on temporal (time) and spatial (directional) acoustical cues to tell us where and how far away that piano is. This would also be true of the locations of a singer and the orchestra that make up the performance.

We depend on temporal (time) and spatial (directional) acoustical cues to tell us where a sound is.

Sound arrives from different directions and at different times.

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Reproducing sound requires electronics to amplify the sound from a source, and energize or drive a loudspeaker to reproduce it.

This is easily proved through a very simple psycho-acoustical experiment: sit in a chair, cover your eyes, and have someone serve as a moving sound source by walking around the room while talking constantly (or ringing a bell or jangling keys). The fact that you can tell almost exactly where the sound is coming from even when you can’t see the source proves how sensitive your ear/brain hearing apparatus is to space and time acoustical cues. Since the direction and timed arrival of sounds changes depending on the ratio of direct and reflected sound we hear, all these parameters are crucial in determining how realistically a sound system can reproduce music. Tech Note: The math behind sound. Sound reproduction concepts are usually expressed in logarithmic, rather than linear, terms. An example is the fact that doubling sound volume requires a ten times increase in power. Another example is found on most commonly-used frequency response graphs, where the “benchmark” frequencies are double the value of those preceding them: 62Hz, 125Hz, 250Hz, 500Hz, 1kHz, 2kH, etc. It is not critical to master the math—just to know that this is why response curves and power graphs look the way they do.

Basics of Electronics
While producing sound is a mechanical process, with few exceptions, reproducing sound requires electronics to amplify the sound from a source, and energize or drive a loudspeaker to reproduce it. Let’s examine a few basic electronic concepts which may be helpful in understanding audio systems.
Flow: Cu.In./sec.

Amperage is similar to the volume of water in a pipe

Voltage is similar to the pressure behind the the water pushing it through

Amperage X Voltage = Power (Wattage) Volume X Pressure

Power. All audio systems require electrical power to run, as speakers are essentially AC linear motors (but instead of moving a shaft or object, the speaker moves back and forth, which imparts pressure on the air in front of it to propagate sound waves). Power is measured in watts (W) and is expressed in several ways. Peak power is the maximum power that might be used over any given time interval (usually of a very short duration), while continuous or RMS (Root-Mean-Square) power is the average power that is used over the same period. This is why a speaker might be rated as 120 W continuous/ 60 W RMS. Incidentally, “Root Mean Square” power is the most mathematically correct way to express “real-world,” useable average or continuous power. Current, Voltage and Resistance. Electrical elements might be easier to understand in terms of plumbing. Current is the rate of electron flow through a conductor. Current is measured in amperes (A), which is like the volume or amount of water flowing in a pipe. Voltage (V) is the pressure pushing the electrons along, just like the pressure behind a water system. Resistance can be anything that slows the flow, such as a blockage in the pipe, or reducing the diameter of the pipe and consequently reducing the water flow.
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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Ohm’s Law. George Ohm didn’t set out to make life miserable for audio installers. Mr. Ohm is simply the gentleman who first noticed that the amount of voltage and amperage changed when he used different types and lengths of conductors. In the process, he figured out the physics at work behind these changes. For example, Ohm found that while 20 V produced 1 A of current in a 1 meter wire, when he doubled the wire length to a 2 meters, the same 20 V source only produced 0.5 A of current. However, when he doubled the thickness (diameter) of the wire, the same 20 V now produced 4 A of current. Furthermore, when he changed the wire type from copper to gold, the resistance increased, but when silver was used, the resistance decreased. The Ohm, named in his honor, is the measure of resistance that allows one volt to push one ampere of current through a conductor. Based on this relationship between voltage, current, and resistance, Mr. Ohm devised a law which stated that in any circuit, current is directly proportional to voltage and inversely proportional to resistance. Using Ohm’s Law, several formulas can be derived: Ohms (resistance) Amperage (current) Voltage (pressure) Watts (power) Voltage / Amperage Voltage / Resistance Resistance x Amperage Voltage x Amperage
Mechanical impedance exists in a speaker, which, as a motor, has moving parts that must be pushed into action by the audio signal.

Impedance. Resistance in direct current (DC) electrical circuits is relatively simple, but in alternating current (AC) circuits, resistance gets more complex. This is because various components react to alternating current (but not to direct current), which further resists or impedes the current. Therefore, AC resistance is typically referred to as impedance (Z) (literally, anything that impedes the flow of electricity). Impedance can be defined as “the total opposition to current flow in any circuit,” regardless of whether the opposition results from electrical, mechanical, and/or acoustical forces. In fact, in an audio system, all three forms of impedance are present. Tech note: Related but not necessarily interchangeable. Impedance and resistance, while often used interchangeably, are not exactly the same thing. Electrical resistance refers to the extent to which a material resists current flow in a direct current (DC) application, expressed as a ratio of a conductor’s potential difference to current flowing through it. Electrical impedance refers to all the factors that can oppose (or impede) non-direct or AC (alternating) current, including capacitance and inductance—it is more complex as a result. Acoustical impedance takes into account pressure against a speaker’s diaphragm, while mechanical impedance addresses the moving parts of a loudspeaker. In real-world audio systems, this is why calculating system impedance must take into account speakers, volume controls and cabling. In any electronics system, matched impedances are a prerequisite of high performance.

Electrical impedance exists in the wiring, volume controls and at the amplifier itself. Recall that Mr. Ohm became famous for observing that just by changing a wire’s length or diameter, the resistance changed dramatically. Likewise, in a multiroom audio system, with potentially a half-dozen volume controls and hundreds of feet of cabling, electrical impedance becomes a factor.

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Both mechanical and electrical impedance exist in the speaker, which, as a motor, has moving parts that must be pushed into action by the audio signal. The moving parts naturally “fight back” when the AC electrical signal tells them to get moving. Speaker impedances quickly add-up in a multi-room system. Acoustical impedance exists at the interface between the speaker and its environment (the listening room) – a speaker must work much harder to push a 55-foot bass note into the air in a room than it does to push a half-inch treble sound.
30 B: Impedence, Magn (Ω) Loudspeaker parameters 25 Ω 20 Re fo Qm Qc 15 Qt Zmax 10 5.50 Ω 50.48 Hz 2.91 0.69 0.56 28.580

5 20 200

Hz

2k

20k

Impedance curve for a typical in-wall speaker. The speaker’s actual impedance is highly dependent on the frequencies being reproduced. Note that a speaker’s impedance can vary greatly from its “nominal” rating.

Leviton understands that the Contractor’s Law (Time = Money) is just as critical to success as Ohm’s Law.

Why must impedances be matched? In electrical circuits, impedance matching is essential to maximize power transfer, minimize distortion, and improve performance. Audio is no exception, which is why amplifiers have nominal impedance ratings. If an amplifier is connected to a low-impedance load, it can become unstable and even selfdestruct. Likewise, if an amplifier is connected to a high impedance load, it may not be able to “drive” the speakers adequately. This is why amplifiers and speakers have nominal impedance ratings – their stated electrical “comfort zone.” To explain the difference between “nominal” and “minimum” impedances, think of the speaker as a dynamic (as opposed to resistive) load. The speaker presents a higher impedance to the amplifier when it is “pumping” sound at some frequencies than at others; that is, the actual impedance of the speaker will change or “swing” depending on the frequencies it is reproducing. This is why a speaker might be rated at 8 Ohms nominal/6 Ohms minimum. How do impedances add up? It depends on the circuit. In a series circuit – similar to a “daisy chain” – the speaker impedances simply add. For example, two 8 Ohm speakers present a total impedance of 16 Ohms (Z1 + Z2 = Z total). However, in a parallel circuit – the (the type used in star-topology wiring) the calculation involves reciprocals and is more difficult to use. With two resistances, a simplified formula is: (Z1 X Z2) / (Z1 + Z2) = Z total. For example, two 8 Ohm speakers in parallel will have 4 Ohm total impedance. With more than two speakers, we must use another version of the impedance formula, which involves summing up the reciprocal of each impedance, then taking the reciprocal of the sum: 1 / Z total = 1 / Z1 + 1 / Z2 + 1 / Z3 …1 / Zn. Ultimately, you want to ensure that the total speaker impedance stays within the typical amplifier’s “comfort zone,” which is generally between 4-8 Ohms. Isn’t there an easier way? Absolutely! Build the audio system around a centralized impedance-matching distribution device. This is exactly how the Leviton Integrated Networks audio systems are designed, with speakers, volume controls and distribution components all matched to ensure perfect impedance matching in systems covering up to six rooms/zones.

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© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Leviton understands that the Contractor’s Law (Time = Money) is just as critical to success as Ohm’s Law. That is why all Leviton Integrated Networks audio systems are based on the “No Math Required” principle. Although we took a little time to explore impedance to help you to understand its role in audio systems, you shouldn’t have to deal with it. The Leviton solution is engineered for the needs of production building and contracting, as you would expect from a leader in electrical devices. Tech Tip: don’t spend valuable time doing the math. In multi-room audio calculating audio system impedances is time consuming and error-prone, and a mistake can even result in amplifier damage or system malfunction. It’s a lot easier to use a centrally-located impedance-matching device, and there are a number of good ones on the market. Usually an extra audio component, an impedance-matcher is wired between the amplifier’s outputs and the volume control/speakers in each room. It presents a stable 8Ohms to the amplifier regardless of what’s hooked up on the other side (the trade-off is sensitivity; the impedance-matcher consumes quite a bit of audio output power—but amplifier power is relatively cheap). An impedance-matcher also takes up room as another audio component (Leviton’s System Matching Module approach eliminates that problem—it mounts right in the structured cabling enclosure). Some common electronic terms and components based on these concepts: a resistor is a device that opposes (but does not completely block) electric current. It does this by being made of carbon or another material that is only a partial conductor. Anything that passes current is a conductor. Metals such as silver, copper and aluminum are good conductors (silver has a resistance of 0.00000001 Ohms, which for practical purposes is non-existent). Materials like glass and wood are such poor conductors (glass has a resistance of 1 trillion Ohms!) that they are effectively insulators. Between the category of good and poor conductors are the semi-conductors, which includes germanium and silicon. Semi-conductors include transistors and other solid-state devices. Transistors are used to amplify voltage or current in audio amplifiers and are sometimes called output devices or drivers, and – in combinations of millions – as switches in PC’s. Inductors are simply coils of wire. Inductors have the interesting property of producing a magnetic field when alternating current is passed through the inductor. Transformers are related to inductors in that they change the voltage or current level from the source side to the load side. Capacitors are commonly found in audio applications. A capacitor stores and releases an electrical charge at a predetermined rate. In an amplifier, large storage capacitors and transformers form the power supply, which delivers the voltage and current (as directed by the output devices) needed to drive the speakers. In speakers, capacitors (along with inductors and resistors) form part of the crossover network, a built-in passive circuit that properly assigns the sound to the right individual drivers. In conventional volume controls, a special audio-transformer or autoformer is used to change the sound level without changing the sound (in practice, autoformers tend to filter some of the low and high frequencies, which is why Leviton uses transformer-free volume control technology incorporating aero-space grade resistors.

Leviton uses transformer-free volume control technology incorporating aero-space grade resistors.

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

What Makes a Sound System?
Any system reproducing sound, including music, is made up of the same five parts – regardless of its size, cost or complexity. Sound source: this is a low-level sound signal (also known as a “pre-amp level” or “linelevel” in the audio world, although the latter is very different from the electrical meaning!) containing necessary music and entertainment information for reproduction. Sound sources include compact discs, analog and/or digital radio stations (AM/FM, XM and satellite, and internet radio), digital formats such as MP-3 and Wave files, and older formats such as records and tapes. Source components include CD changers and jukeboxes, PC’s, digital and analog radio tuners, and internet-enabled audio appliances. A system’s listening options are usually expressed as either single-source (which means it plays one type and content at a times throughout the house) or multi-source (which allows listeners to switch between different types and content in different listening areas known as “rooms” or “zones”). Sources can have both analog and digital outputs, but at some point the digital sound signal must be converted back to analog to be processed by our hearing. Tech Note: Digital demystified. While there is a lot of mystique around digital and analog reproduction, the technology is easy to understand. In analog sound reproduction, an “image” or replica of the sound waves is stored in a record groove or on magnetic tape. Later, this replica is tracked or read, and reproduced. In digital sound reproduction, sound is broken into slivers through sampling by a computer (using an analog-to-digital converter), with each sliver assigned an individual binary number that is stored on a CD or MP-3 file. Later, those numbers are reconstructed back into the original sound waves and are reproduced by another computing chip (a digital-to-analog converter). For a good analogy, use a home improvement project such as replacing a front door. You could take a picture or make a scale drawing of the door in order to order the right size, but that might cause some error (just as a phonograph record always has some noise). The better method would be to precisely measure the door, write down just those measurements, and have the replacement door cut to that exact set of measurements. The second method is much like the concept behind digital sound reproduction—by only copying and playing back the numbers that “measure up” to the original sound, it leaves behind any noise— which is why CD’s don’t have the clicks and pops associated with LP records or the hiss associated with magnetic tape. With either mode, the audio the signal must eventually be converted back to analog AC and amplified in order to drive speakers and be heard. The process of assigning numbers to sound is called sampling. A chip-based computer called an analog-to-digital converter essentially dissects or “slivers” the incoming sound into thousands of tiny impulses each second, assigning a digital binary number to each. Those numbers are all that are stored on a compact disc (or in an MP-3 file). When it comes time to play the digital music back, these numbers are “read” by another specialized computer, in this case a digital-toanalog (DAC) converter, which reassembles them into coherent sound waves.

Sources can have both analog and digital outputs, but at some point the digital sound signal must be converted back to analog to be processed by our hearing.

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© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

One problem is size—these millions of numbers take up a lot of storage space (a single second of CD-quality music would require over 50 pages of sheet-fed computer paper, for example!). To reduce the size of digital sound, digital systems employ Codecs (literally compression/decompression) to essentially “dehydrate” the sound, throwing away all but the essentials. Inaccurately termed “compression,” this process is described as “lossy” because it is a close, but not exact, replica of the original. Coming up with digital coding systems that can satisfy the human eye and ear was one of the primary missions of the Moving Pictures Experts Group, who set the MPEG video standards that make DVD’s possible. Their MPEG-2 system’s audio layer 3, more commonly known as MP-3, is now the foundation for the entire internet and PC-based music industry.
A. Waveform B. Sampled C. Each sample is
assigned a binary number and the numbers are stored ie: 1100111100111000

A single stereo amplifier of sufficient power can run left and right speakers throughout an entire house.

In the digital process, the analog sound waveforms (A) are sampled some 44,000 times each second (B). Each sample is assigned a binary number (C). During playback, those numbers provide all the necessary information for reconstructing the original sound.

Amplification: by itself, a sound source does not have enough power to “drive” speakers. The signal must be electronically boosted, or amplified, in order to be heard. An amplifier takes the signal and provides the necessary gain for that purpose. Since nearly all music listening is done in stereo over two speakers, nearly every amplifier system assigns two separate channels of amplification to speaker pairs – one for left and one for right. In a multi-room system, this does not necessarily mean that each room has two dedicated channels. In fact, a single higher-powered stereo amplifier of sufficient power can run left and right speakers throughout an entire house—the two stereo channels are simply split between the multiple rooms or zones. Either way, the preferred method is to have a separate amplifier dedicated to powering the multi-room sound system (either with two high-powered channels or multiple lowerpowered paired channels), rather than playing everything off of the AV receiver or entertainment center (although the dedicated whole-house amplifier may be located in the same stack of components). Amplifier power is stated in watts per channel (WPC), which is simply an expression of the amplifier’s ability to do work based on its voltage and current capabilities. Tech note: on rooms and zones You’ll hear both terms used in multi-room audio, somewhat interchangeably. A zone, which is a listening area, may refer to one or several rooms. A master bedroom with an attached bathroom might be a zone, for example. So would a kitchen with an adjacent dining area and/or family room, or an outside patio area. Generally a zone will have more than two speakers, but it will usually have a common volume control.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

While every room is different, installing built-in sound systems in production construction has the advantage of the rooms being consistent from building to building.

Volume Control: every system must be controlled. Imagine a listening system with no volume control, running at “full tilt” all the time. A level, or volume, control is essential. In a single-room stereo system, the amplifier’s volume control is used. In a multi-room system, each room/zone has at least one control, which is usually mounted on the wall and/or is accomplished using a remote control device. If remote control is used, some kind of method to “repeat” its commands back to the amplifier and source components is required. Typically, infrared (IR) repeating is used. Additionally, multi-room systems may include other control features such as source selection (AM/FM, CD, PC, etc.), operational functions (fast forward, rewind, skip, and stop), and equalization (bass, treble, and more advanced functions) Speakers: the amplified and controlled source signal must be converted from electrical to acoustical energy in order for us to hear it. This requires a transducer (a device designed to convert one form of energy to another). A speaker is an audio transducer (as is a headphone and a microphone). In a multi-room system, speakers are usually built into the wall or ceilings. Unlike shelf or floor-standing speakers, which have their own acoustically-tuned box or enclosure – which maximizes their efficiency (their use of the amplifier’s power), most in-wall speakers and ceiling speakers must use the wall or ceiling itself as an enclosure. This can become an issue when in-wall speakers are used with limited-power amplifiers. Listening room. Sometimes considered the fifth component, the listening environment is part of the acoustical circuit – through sound reflection, absorption and diffraction, the room itself has the capacity to greatly affect the sound. Sound actually behaves much like light, and, like light, dictates much of the room’s character or ambience. While every room is different, installing built-in sound systems in production construction has the advantage of the rooms being consistent from building to building. This is similar to factory-installed automotive music system, which have the advantage of being located in a predictably consistent acoustical environment, since each car on a particular production line has the same interior.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Part 2: Basics of Multi-Room Sound
System Types
Centralized, localized, or modularized system architecture? While there is an almost infinite variety of combinations of types and brands of speakers, sources components, controls and amplifiers available, there are three common methods, or system architectures, in which they can be organized.
MR/MS hub
SGC65 SGC65 SGC65 SGC65

Localized Systems
SGC65 SGC65 SGC65 SGC65

Multi-Room/Multi-Source Control and Amplifier Center

SGI65 AV Reciever "Front End" (and can serve as multi-room amplifier)

SGI65

SGI65

SGI65

SGI65 AV Reciever "Front End"

SGI65

SGI65

SGI65

Multi-Room Multi-Source Multi-Room Single-Source
SGI65 SGC65 SGC65 SGI65

Multi-Room Multi-Source Multi-Room Single-Source
SGI65 SGC65 SGC65 SGI65

Audio Sources

Audio Sources

SGC65

SGC65

MR/SS hub

Dedicated Multi-Room Amplifier (if required) SGI65 SGI65

Centralized System

Localized System

In a centralized system amplified music is distributed over speaker wire run from a central amplifier (either stereo or multichannel) to speakers and volume controls in each room In a localized system a low-level music signal is distributed over communications cabling (usually Category 5 UTP) to “satellite” amplified volume controls in each room.

Centralized Systems: A centralized system is similar in concept to a mainframe computer – all of the intelligence and power are in one central location, with connected “terminals” (speakers and controls) located throughout the premises. In a centralized audio system, the amplifier is usually located in a stack along with the other audio components (sources, equalizers, etc.) with all the multi-room speaker wires and infrared repeating control cables terminating at that point. Speakers, volume controls and/or keypads, and IR receivers are all located at the other end of the wiring infrastructure. Between them is the whole-house structured cabling panel (or a second panel dedicated to audio components), through which all speaker wire are “home run” for easy access and configuration changes. Using a wallplate location to consolidate all cabling is not recommended. In this architecture, the amplifier may be the big two-channel stereo variety or even an AV receiver, with the multi-room system connected to the “speaker B” terminals. But since this means that whatever is being listened to in the main system room will also be heard around the entire house, most system designers either use a separate amplifier or separated amplifier stage of an AV receiver. Better receivers are equipped with multiroom/multi-source capability or a dedicated stereo or multi-room amplifier to drive the whole-house system, which allows the playing of a different source or sources throughout the room. Some amplifiers are modular and consist of “mono-blocks,” which allows extra channels to be added by plugging in more mono-blocks. The main advantage of any centralized system is high performance, because larger (20-50 Watts per channel typically) amplifiers may be used since size, heat and voltage issues are not a concern with these “outboard” amplifiers. While some power is lost over the longer wire runs, the relatively low “watts© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved. 13

The main advantage of any centralized system is high performance.

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

per-dollar” ratio of these amplified systems overcomes that issue, making centralized systems a great overall value. Localized systems: Localized Systems are much more like communications systems (such as telephone and intercom) – the cabling carries the basic signal, but all the amplification and controlling is done by a dedicated component in the room itself, with that component simply plugged-into the signal cable.
In a localized system, the amplifier itself is right in the listening room and usually built right into the volume control or keypad

In a localized system, the amplifier itself is in the listening room and usually built right into the volume control or keypad, which theoretically should provide an advantage since the amplifier is much closer to the speakers. The concept is simple: either single or multisource audio signals are sent from the centralized main system over low-voltage cabling to each room-located volume control/amplifier unit, which powers the individual speaker pair in that room or zone. Simplicity is the main advantage here – the requirement is simply Category-5/5e cabling to each planned volume control/amplifier location, which connects to the speakers via speaker wire. The main drawback is an inherent power restriction caused by current limitations over Category-5/5e cabling. Just by looking at the difference in size and capacity between speaker wire and Category-5 UTP cable, you can easily grasp the concept. Electrically, Category- 5 cable is a very small “pipe” as compared to 14 AWG stranded speaker cable. In such systems, the Category-5 cable has to deliver the amplifier’s electrical power as well as the audio signal. While the line-level audio signal from the entertainment center is perfectly suited for Category-5 distribution, these localized systems also must power the individual room amplifiers with 24 Volts DC over the same Category-5 cable. This restricts their total power delivery capability, although such systems are fine for casual listening. Given that the per-room cost of a localized system is equal to or higher than the per-room cost of a centralized system (with a multi-room amplifier that can deliver 20-75 Watts per channel to the same room), on a watts-per-dollar basis, the two types are not always “apples to apples.” Modular systems: A third type of system architecture is starting to appear. In a modular system, all of the amplification is located right at the speaker itself, with the speaker functioning as a “node” on an audio network. Some early systems have debuted with speakers networked by speaker wire, Category-5 cable, and even wireless cards that are IP-addressable to function as part of an Ethernet network. This area is still in the research and development stage, and because the amplifiers are buried in the wall with the speakers, all the same power limitations of localized systems also apply to analog-powered modular systems.

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© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

System Layout
Specifics on control and speaker location are covered later, but the overall plan should assume that the system will have three “layers:”

Multi-Room/Multi-Source Control and Amplifier Center

AV Reciever "Front End" (and can serve as multi-room amplifier)

B. Central Consolidation Point

C. Back End

Audio Sources

A. Front End System Block Diagram

A. The front end includes the AV receiver or entertainment center with associated source components (tuner, CD changer, etc.). It is important to note that a QuickPort™ wall plate should be installed behind the front-end location to allow for four speaker binding posts (2 red/positive and 2 black/negative) for connecting the audio amplifier at the front end with the central consolidation point. B. The central consolidation point, such as a structured cabling panel. This panel may either be the whole-house panel or a second, dedicated AV panel. All system wiring (amplifier feed, speaker wires, and control cables) would be “home run for easy access and configuration. The panel will also house any centralized audio distribution components, such as multi-room connection blocks. C. The back end, which includes from two to more than six rooms, each with one or more speakers and a volume control.

It is important to note that a QuickPort wall plate should be installed behind the front-end location to allow for four speaker binding posts.

The system topology for communications wiring also applies to audio systems.

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

System Elements and Components
Speakers
Speaker types: the vast majority of installed multi-room and home theater systems involve just three types of installed speaker: Ceiling-mounted: Unless it is difficult to access, for music and background/foreground entertainment, the ceiling is the best place for sound as they can cover the entire room and remain out of “line of sight.” Ceiling speakers are usually co-axial in design, which means the tweeter is in front of, and mounted on axis with, the woofer. The most popular ceiling speaker size is 6.5 inches. In-wall: While in most new construction the ceiling is very accessible, in retrofit situations and special circumstances it may be easier to access the wall. And, for home theater listening, the wall location is preferred for flanking the viewing area for a proper theatrical presentation. 6.5-inch in-wall speakers are the most commonly used size with the 8-inch speaker being the second most popular. Outdoor: The growing popularity of developed outdoor entertainment areas (decks, patios, spas, pools, etc.) has popularized the outdoor speaker. These speakers usually resemble small indoor “monitor” speakers, with a smaller metal or plastic enclosure, mounting bracket, and weatherized grille and connectors.
Each individual speaker driver is really an electro-acoustic linear motor.
Dust Cap Surround

Terminals

Basket Center

Voice Coil/Former Magnet Back Plate Vent

Cutaway of a typical speaker

Speaker design and technical features: Typical in-wall and ceiling speakers are usually of multi-way design, which means they are comprised of: • A low-frequency driver (woofer) for reproducing bass • A high-frequency driver (tweeter) for reproducing the treble range • An optional mid-frequency driver (midrange) to reproduce the middle, or “vocal,” region of the sound spectrum • A crossover network to make sure that low, mid and high frequencies each reach their assigned driver Each individual speaker driver is really an electro-acoustic linear motor. All dynamic speakers consist of three basic elements: a voice coil which sits suspended in a magnetic gap surrounded by a magnet, and a cone or diaphragm which is attached to the voice coil. When AC current from an amplifier is applied to the voice coil, it moves back and forth in the magnetic gap, driving the cone/diaphragm and imparting acoustical energy into the air in the listening room. As a moving system, speakers have a natural resonance point, a certain frequency (usually in the bass region) where they are the most efficient (where they produce a maximum amount of sound with very little power applied). While resonance is easily managed and can even be put to work in enclosed speakers, it can create acoustical problems with inwall and ceiling speakers.
16 © 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Tech Note: The “moving air” myth. You may hear some custom installers boast of a speaker’s ability to “move air,” which is inaccurate and misleading. In reality, speakers generate sound waves which are a form of energy propagating through the air in the room, which is the medium of their transmission. Speakers convert electrical energy into acoustical energy and impart that energy into the air in the listening room; fans and blowers “move” air. Sound waves behave just like ocean waves, which are the result of energy moving through the water and not the water itself moving. Speaker materials: There is a great deal of variation (and potential for confusion) in speaker design and materials, and not all of that variation is for purely scientific reasons. Given the amount of competition, a lot of brands resort to marketing “designer” materials whose mere presence is no guarantee of improved performance. Generally, all that is important is for the individual drivers to respond quickly to audio signals in order to faithfully reproduce them, while not deforming in the process (which would add distortion). For woofers, that means constructing them out of materials that are as light and rigid as possible. Treated paper, which has been used to form woofer cones since the 1920’s, is now joined by materials such as polypropylene, aluminum, titanium and Kevlar. Kevlar, which is a trademark of DuPont, has excellent characteristics – strong enough to stop a bullet, yet light enough, as a fiber, to easily work with. However, even the most exotic plastic or metal is still out-classed by old-fashioned paper when it comes to strength/ weight ratios. Paper is cellulose, an ultralight and rigid natural fiber. That’s why some of the best woofers are a layered hybrid of paper and an exotic material, to get the best of both worlds. Tweeters can be made out of a wide variety of simple and exotic materials including fabrics (silk, nylon), plastics (kapton, polymers) and metals (aluminum, titanium, even beryllium). But, their final form – usually an ultra-light, micro-thin, dome-shaped diaphragm – is dictated by the need to move at rates of up to 20,000 times per second in order to faithfully reproduce high frequencies. Because the faster, shorter and higher frequencies are much more directional (resembling a flashlight compared to the woofer’s floodlight pattern), tweeter shapes take into account dispersion characteristics in order to reproduce sound more evenly. While some in-wall and ceiling speakers feature directable or swiveling tweeters to compensate, this can actually impair the stereo image (the proper placement of the apparent source of sound in the room). A better approach is to correctly engineer the speaker for even, wide dispersion at all audible frequencies.
As a moving system, speakers have a natural resonance point, a certain frequency (usually in the bass region) where they are the most efficient.

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Speaker polar response (Looking down at the speaker)

Speakers are rated in several ways, power handling, impedance, and frequency response.

Tech note: polar response is important—and swiveling tweeters can ruin it. Because a woofer might be reproducing a sound wave over 50’ long while a tweeter is dealing with sounds as small as half an inch, they do not radiate sound the same way. A speaker’s polar response indicates how evenly the speaker distributes, or disperses, sounds at different frequencies. As frequencies get higher, the sound gets more directional. While bass notes are smooth and omni directional in pattern (like a floodlight), midrange frequencies tend to “beam” more like a spot light, and treble can behave like a flashlight. To overcome this in in-wall and ceiling speakers, some speaker companies build a swivel point into the tweeter so it can be aimed into the listening area, setting up a “sweet spot.”

Speaker specifications: As we have already discussed, speakers are rated in several ways, power handling, impedance, and frequency response. Other factors include: Open and enclosed designs: Most in-wall and ceiling speakers are open-backed. That is, they are like a shelf speaker’s front baffle without the enclosure, similar to automotive speakers.

The role of a baffle (either an enclosure or a wall/ceiling)

By using the wall or ceiling cavity as an enclosure, this type of speaker offers relatively high value and efficiency, which are useful advantages in whole-house multi-room systems. But what if the wall or ceiling itself is not acoustically ideal? The fact is that architects and builders do not make wall/ceiling design and material decisions based on acoustics. The characteristic “hollow” sound heard in many in-wall systems is the result of backward-radiating sound, often excessive mid-bass resulting from the speaker’s resonant point, reflecting from the back wall and passing again through the cone and the wall itself. The listener is actually hearing the reflected sound trapped inside the wall through the thin cone.

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Tweeter Midrange Bass © 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

In fact, a speaker mounted in a wall or ceiling can actually turn that wall or ceiling into a transducer. Composite or hybrid cones, with their layers of materials, provide one level of defense by minimizing the effect, and placing insulation behind the speaker can certainly help. Tech Tip: for liability reasons, any insulation materials must be suitably fire and safety-rated for in-wall use! Carefully check the ratings and specifications of any audio installation accessories, especially in production construction. The best solution is to use an in-wall or ceiling speaker featuring a precisely-tuned subenclosure, which eliminates the wall or ceiling from the acoustic circuit altogether. This is actually the preferred method in commercial and professional audio systems, and is catching on in residential systems. Speaker location: The listening room is a critical part of the acoustical circuit, and is essentially a speaker enclosure in its own right. While it can’t be easily changed, there are some guidelines to working with it. Preliminary speaker location: In selecting speaker locations, the goal is two fold: 1. The locations should ensure even, smooth sound coverage in the primary occupancy space for the room, and 2. The locations should be as unobtrusive as possible, out-of-the-way of furnishings and not taking up any valuable decorating “real estate.” Speaker considerations: Conforming to the location guidelines just mentioned is always easier with ceiling speakers, which can effectively cover the entire room and do not take up any living or decorating space. Ceiling mounted speakers are usually a close match to the ceiling in color, and are not as likely to require wallpaper or color-matching. Just as the vast majority of primary lighting fixtures are ceiling mounted, speakers, which are really “sound fixtures,” should be similarly considered. Sound, like light, is reflected, diffused and absorbed by room treatments. As well, selling builders, architects, sales agents and ultimately end-users is much easier when sound system components are out of the “line-of-sight.” Consumer preference for ceiling speakers runs very high, which is why ceiling speakers account for two out of every three speakers sold for professional installation. Always consider the ceiling your primary solution, with in-wall speakers your back-up for the following situations: • Ceiling access is difficult or not advised for construction or other reasons (in a small bathroom, for example, where they may be too asymmetrical or close to a ceiling fan/light fixture • The room is so low and wide that too many ceiling speakers would be needed to provide effective coverage throughout the room • Home Theater applications, where in-walls are better-suited for front and center sound reproduction (however, ceiling speakers are also suitable for surround applications) • Soffit situations, when taking advantage of a particular room design detail (archway, niche, alcove, fireplace, etc.) is desired Location basics: A low-ceilinged room is ideal for multiple ceiling speaker pairs, while a higher-ceilinged room can get away with fewer speakers. The reason is that the sound coverage fans out as the distance increases from the speaker, so the higher the speaker, the wider and broader the coverage (the sound has more time to spread out).

When specifying volume controls, the most important thing to consider is not speaker power but rather the amplifier’s output power.

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Always consider the ceiling your primary solution, with in-wall speakers as your back-up.

If using the walls instead of the ceiling, in-wall speakers should be located on the longer wall if possible. With in-walls, the best height is as close to (standing) ear-level as practical given the room’s intended use. (Obviously, this must be compromised by furniture and décor, and aesthetic considerations.) If the speakers must be mounted higher than earheight, they should be inverted to place the tweeters on the bottom and take advantage of their extra directionality. Design note: Ceilings rule. While an in-wall location will rarely please everyone, few people object to ceiling speakers—which is why most lighting is placed in ceilings instead of on walls. Using the ceiling as the primary installed speaker location is always the path of least resistance. While harder to access in a retrofit, ceiling speaker wiring is no more difficult in new construction than in-wall. Take advantage of it! Location specifics: The best horizontal speaker location can be determined by measuring the speaker surface twice. First, divide the surface in half, and divide each half again (this divides the wall into quarters). Note the two lines marking the divisions between the two left quarters and the two right quarters (this is the outermost desirable speaker placement). Next, divide the same surface into thirds, and note the two lines marking the boundary of the first and third division. The difference between the lines from the quarters and the lines from the thirds are the ideal range for placing a left or right speaker, with the final locations dictated by room use and symmetry considerations. The same exercise can also be used to plan speaker locations in a ceiling. With either ceiling or wall placement, it is important to note that a speaker’s bass response dramatically increases when the speaker is closer to one or more room boundary. This phenomenon is called doubling. While shelf and floor-standing speakers can be easily moved, in-wall and ceiling speakers are fixed and the mistakes are permanent. Staying within the boundaries of the “Quarter/Third” method effectively pulls the speaker locations sufficiently from the room boundaries to avoid bass doubling. However, final placement will depend on the room’s sound “signature.”

Axis B Axis A Axis B 1. Divide surface into half and quarters 2. Redivide into thirds 3. "Boundary difference is optimum for speaker location

B A B

C
Axis C

B A B

C

4. Ceiling optimization axis "A" is prefered

Quarter/Third Speaker Placement Method

Tuning the speaker locations to the room: This is much simpler than it sounds: simply stated, rooms have different acoustic “signatures” that can be optimized by carefully choosing the final speaker locations. Depending on construction and materials, and furnishing and intended use, a room is either: hard (live) with a lot of sound reflections or soft (dead) with fewer reflections. In a hard room, sound appears to come from different locations and arrives at the ear at different times, so the ear hears it as emanating from points beyond the room itself. This makes the room sound larger-than-life.

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© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Because the majority of sound reaching the listener in a soft or dead room is direct sound, the room sounds smaller since it lacks the multiple reflections that seem to emanate from points beyond the room. The following table illustrates sound absorption coefficients for particular building materials in three frequency ranges (low frequencies, midrange and high frequencies). Note: the higher the number, the more sound absorbed by the material. Room Surface Material: Brick Acoustic ceiling tile Carpet Glass Drywall on studs Concrete block (painted) Low Frequency 125Hz .03 .76 .02 .35 .29 .10 Midrange 1000Hz .04 .99 .37 .12 .04 .07 High Frequency 4kHz .07 .94 .65 .04 .09 .08
As a rule, kitchens, baths and dining rooms tend to sound “live,” and bedrooms, family rooms and dens tend to sound “dead.”

A carpeted, drywalled room with an acoustic tile ceiling is pretty “dead,” while the brick room with large windows or patio doors is pretty “live.” But a live room may benefit from a slight increase in bass to balance out the room’s inherent “brightness” and to minimize reflections and irregularities, which is what moving the speakers closer to the boundaries will do. This also reduces the “larger-than-life” sound of a live room. Conversely, the “dead” room will benefit from speakers located further from the boundaries and closer to each other, which will make the room sound more “live” and slightly larger at the same time. As a rule, kitchens, baths and dining rooms tend to sound “live,” and bedrooms, family rooms and dens tend to sound “dead.” The rules to use: 1. in soft/dead rooms, speakers should be closer together (and further from room corners/boundaries) to maximize reflections and minimize bass response 2. in hard/live rooms, speakers should be further apart (and nearer to room corners/boundaries) to minimize reflections and maximize bass response

Transmission: Sound penetrating room boundries and affecting adjacent rooms.

Absorption: Sound energy that is diminished by room surfaces or objects in the room.

Reflection: Sound literally reflecting from room surfaces.

Diffusion: Sound reflected in a random fashion throughout the room.

Single speaker applications—a growing category, since stereo speakers are useful in small rooms such as master bathrooms, where there is a need for high-quality sound but not enough room for two speakers. In this case, follow the same placement guidelines for a room interaction with a more symmetrical location (such as axes “A” or “C”).

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Volume Controls
Types: The vast majority of installed sound systems use passive volume controls in each room or zone (a zone is a listening area, which may be a room, or it could be several room combined such as master bed and bath, or family/kitchen area, or outdoor). A passive control is in-line between the amplifier and speakers, and attenuates the sound (it cannot amplify it). Although one still hears antiquated terms surfacing in volume control discussions (such as “rheostat” and “L-Pad”), since the 1970’s volume controls have used autoformers (audio transformers) for more efficient signal management and better performance. Ratings and specifications: Volume controls usually have one salient specification: power handling. Like speakers, they should A sliding volume control offer a peak and a continuous/RMS rating. And, like speakers, a lot of volume controls out there just use the highest number. Insist on both for your own peace of mind and your customer’s. Tech note: don’t underrate the job of the volume control. Remember that both the speaker and volume control are directly “in the line of fire” with the amplifier’s output power. A high-power rated speaker connected to a low-powered volume control forms a chain with a dangerously weak link—and sets the stage for an expensive call back! Choosing the right power: When specifying volume controls, the most important thing to consider is not speaker power but rather the amplifier’s output power. For example, consider a whole-house system being driven by a high quality 150 Watt RMS stereo amplifier. This is like a water system with a lot of potential pressure on one side, but it needs fixtures on the other end equal to the task. That amplifier, under peak power conditions and under high-demand conditions, can deliver almost twice its rated output power for an instant. That amounts to 300 Watts Peak per channel. Divided over a fourroom system, each room must be prepared to handle at least 75 Watts RMS/channel, and more is always better here. So, that “moneysaving” 100 Watt peak/50 Watts RMS control is simply not going to be up to the job. On the other hand, a 60 Watts RMS/channel amplifier could comfortably operate with lower-powered controls. Multi-channel amplifiers for multi-room systems usually have multiples of lower-powered amplifiers, and are more suited for lightweight controls. Note: amplifier, volume control and speaker power-matching is thoroughly covered in Part 4: System Design and Installation Planning. Choosing the right type of volume control: A volume control must handle all the voltage and current produced by the amplifier. As well, it must pass every audible frequency, from 20Hz to 20 kHz, to the speakers. This makes the volume control the weakest link in the audio chain and often results in compromises that can be heard in the bass and treble ranges. In fact, volume controls can contribute to the distinctive “nasal” sound associated with in-wall and ceiling speakers, which is the result of filtering out some of the bass and treble. This is something that autoformer volume controls simply cannot avoid. Even the best autoformers filter some low and high end sound, and lower-powered lightweight controls are even more likely to do so (their lighter transformers can more easily “saturate” with electromagnetic force/EMF). Leviton Integrated Networks also offers transformer-free technology controls, which, as a purely “resistive” load, leave audio signal frequency response untouched.

When specifying volume controls, the most important thing to consider is not speaker power but rather the amplifier’s output power.

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© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Tech note: To get rid of “in-wall sound,” first replace the volume control! The muffled sound many people associate with installed speakers may actually be coming from the volume control. Autoformers filter sound by nature—they essentially create the same effect as turning down an amplifier’s bass and treble controls would. Going to a non-transformer volume control can dramatically improve the sound.

0 dB - 10 dB - 20 dB - 30 dB - 40 dB - 50 dB

Both stereo volume control inputs Transformer free volume control output

- 6 dB @ 58 Hz - 6 dB @ 11.5 kHz

Major brand top of the line transformer control output. 1Hz 10Hz 100Hz 1kHz 10kHz 100kHz

Autoformer versus transformer-free volume control.

Volume control locations: These should be planned for convenient access and based on room use. For example, a kitchen area is also a communications center in the typical home (most phone calls take place in the kitchen unless there is a home office). Having the volume control relatively close to the phone/PC area is more convenient for adjusting the sound level before making or taking a call. Bedroom and bathroom volume controls should be easily accessible (some installers locate bedroom volume controls next to the bed itself). Special features: Some volume controls enable IR routing (being able to receive commands from infra-red remote controls and repeating them to the entertainment center) and/or other major features. Leviton’s Decora Digital Chopin™ Volume Control provides three-way room volume control much like a three-way light circuit lets you control lights from different locations.

In a centralized system architecture, the first decision is whether to use a legacy amplifier (one already owned by the end-user), or to provide the end-user with a new amplifier dedicated to multi-room sound.

Amplifiers
Amplifier location: As mentioned previously, the amplifier will be located at the system’s front end and connect to the central consolidation point using a wired QuickPort wall plate with two pair of speaker binding posts. Amplifier types and features: In a centralized system architecture, the first decision is whether to use a legacy amplifier (one already owned by the end-user), or to provide the end-user with a new amplifier dedicated to multi-room sound. Given the variables in production residential construction and home sales, the best course will be to engineer a system to accept a legacy amplifier while also accommodating a dedicated amplifier if practical.

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

There are three types of amplifiers to consider: AV Receiver: Many higher-end AV receivers have sufficient output power to drive a multiroom system, and some have multi-room/multi-source capability which allows using some of the amplifiers in a surround receiver to drive multi-room speakers. As the most popular category in consumer AV, the AV receiver is likely to be the amplifier of choice in three out of four multi-room installations (and it does “double duty” running a built-in home theater). Two-channel amplifier: Also known as a stereo amplifier, this can work in place of or alongside an AV receiver. Any higher-output stereo amplifier with a robust power supply (at least 50 Watts RMS/channel) can power a properly designed multi-room system. Multi-room amplifier: This is similar to a stereo amplifier, except it may have four, six, eight or even twelve channels, with channel pairs assigned to different rooms/zones. Because these designs have a lot more amplifier output devices (transistors) connected to the power supply, each channel is usually lower-powered than a two-channel amplifier (multi-channel amplifiers generally produce 20-40 Watts RMS/channel). Their main advantage is flexibility in more complex (and custom) multi-room systems using keypad control and separate functions and sources for different rooms. Tech note: high current facts. On that “high current” phrase: during the 1990’s, the phrase “high current” came into wide usage. In audio, having sufficient current (amperage) does matter, but only if both voltage and impedance are taken into consideration as well. In “realworld” audio systems, voltage, current and impedance are interdependent concepts. Other amplifier types to be aware of: Commercial amplifiers for music distribution use a different amplification method called 70 Volt, which requires speakers with complementary transformers for correct operation (you CANNOT use them without the right speakers). 70Volt amplifiers are most often encountered in business, hospitality and office venues. Do not confuse this with “audiophile” tube amplifiers which also have transformers – these are autoformers more closely related to the ones used in volume controls. You can treat an “audiophile” tube amplifier as you would a solid-state design (tube amplifiers are rarely used in multi-room systems). A few solid-state amplifiers use autoformers as well. Amplifier features to look for: Some features and technologies are very useful for multiroom system operation. a. Music sensing – this automatically turns the amplifier ON when a musical signal is present, allowing the amplifier to idle when not in use, which saves electricity and minimizes wear and tear. On the downside, a long pause between songs (such as a cycling CD changer can create) can send the amplifier back to idle mode, and cause the first second or two of music to be dropped.

b. Impedance matching – yes, amplifiers have impedance issues as well, and some of them offer switchable 4/8 Ohm operation for adjusting the output devices to the load present. This helps maximize performance and prevent “overdriving.” c. Switchable speaker outputs – some amplifiers allow A and B speaker switching, which helps set up dedicated audio zones.

d. Variable input/output – being able to adjust the volume of the amplifier itself is extremely useful. It lets the installer and user set a maximum sound level for the entire multi-room system.

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© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Amplifier power: Power is one of the most misunderstood concepts in audio system design. In fact, far more speakers are damaged more by too little power than by too much power, which is why commercial sound system professionals usually increase the power amplifier size when a client is “blowing” speakers frequently. The reason is that amplifiers being grossly overdriven will clip (literally, clip-off part of the music waveform), producing aberrant waveforms and excessive distortions. Because an amplifier can produce about twice its rated output power in “clip” mode, this can easily result in thermal damage to a speaker’s voice coil and mechanical damage to its moving parts. The most effective way to minimize the chance of expensive (and time-consuming) damage is a two-stage approach: Power and Protection. Power – be conservative but “aim high.” Skimping on power can be expensive in the long run, and tough on both amplifiers and speakers. There is a lot of copper in a multiroom system, possibly more than 1,000 feet of speaker cabling alone. Professional sound engineers assume that a speaker is safe with a power amplifier with a Peak power rating that is roughly twice the speaker’s RMS power rating, which means a speaker with a 60 Watt RMS rating can be used with an amplifier delivering up to a 120 Watts Peak/channel. Next, they consider the user’s requirements for the sound system – a recording studio or cinema, for example, might require sustained peak capability while more routine applications may demand stronger continuous operation. For residential applications, the available Peak power in each room/zone should be no lower than 50% of the speaker’s rated RMS wattage specification, and no higher than 150% of the speaker and volume control’s RMS specification to ensure an adequate safety margin. Tech note: calculating power often means adding apples and oranges! To ensure an adequate safety margin, always compare the speaker and volume controls RMS rating (continuous, minimum and more conservative) with the amplifier’s available Peak power rating (more dynamic and “real-world). Protection: Most amplifiers are designed to shut down if they encounter problems such as shorts, low impedance, overdriving, etc. Leviton Integrated Networks highly recommends protecting both distribution components and speakers. Centralized protection at the point of distribution can shut down a speaker if it receives a potentially damaging power surge. This is why Leviton is now building its AutoSurge™ protection technology into selected speakers and distribution components. The Leviton Spec-Grade system is centrally wired through an Impedance Matching module with AutoSurge technology, which ensures correct system matching and maximum overdrive protection. AutoSurge uses some of the same technology proven in Leviton’s Transient Voltage Surge Suppression line (TVSS) for commercial and institutional use, effectively providing audio surge protection as a built-in system component. AutoSurge-equipped speakers and distribution components will briefly shut-down in the presence of damaging power, and will automatically reset once the danger has passed. Tech note: to protect speakers, increase the power. It may seem counter-intuitive, but clean, ample power is less likely to damage speakers than inadequate power. The reason is that a chronically underpowered system is constantly running at “clipping,” where the amplifier is actually chopping-off the audio waveforms due to its power limitations. A higher powered amplifier is less likely to “clip,” and the clipping is what ultimately damages speakers. Note: amplifier, volume control and speaker power-matching is thoroughly covered in Part 4: System Design and Installation Planning.
© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

Far more speakers are damaged more by too little power than by too much power.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Cabling
Cable performance: most distributed audio signal travels over speaker wire, which is multi-stranded two-conductor. The best wire to use will be between 12-16 gauge (AWG, the lower the number the heavier the wire), with the strands themselves of a very light gauge (165/34 wire means that each conductor is made up of 165 separate 34 gauge strands). Most wire in this class will meet essential specifications for loop resistance (less than .2 Ohms), inductance (less than .25 microHenries/foot) and capacitance (less than 50 picoFarads/foot). But don’t worry about these specs! They are simply there to demonstrate that there is some science to proper cable design, contrary to most audiophile cable marketing claims. Cable ratings: It is critical to use and install only UL-rated cables specified for in-wall and ceiling use, according to local wiring codes and the National Electrical Code (NEC). If you use cabling not rated for in-wall and ceiling use, you expose yourself to a significant liability risk. Cable types: There are three types of cable used in multi-room sound and home theater installations: • Speaker level cable: Every speaker must be connected to an amplifier, usually through a volume control, with cable designed for the job. Recall that cable length is increased, its resistance also increased. And, when the cable diameter is increased, cable resistance is decreased. In distributed audio systems, it is a good idea to keep cabling impedances to a minimum, which is why speaker cable is multi-stranded. These bundles of wires present the signal with a large overall diameter, thereby providing a path of lower resistance for electron flow. Speaker cable, or wire, is measured in gauge. The smaller the number, the heavier the cable. 14 gauge (14 AWG) wire, because it is easy to manage, terminate, and has low impedance, is considered standard for multi-room. However, ensure that the speaker wire is UL Class 2 or 3 (CL-2 or CL-3) rated for in-wall use. CL-3 rated cable has an extra insulating (usually grey) sheath around the two insulated (red and black) wires, and the designation “CL-3” will be printed on the cable. Note that the main advantage of using a smaller cable is that it is easier to terminate. If you want to use heavier “audiophile”-type cabling, you may need to terminate it using special adapter tips in order to fit the cable into volume control connectors and amplifier terminals. Note: in a plenum application (such as an air return), installed speakers and cabling must be rated for plenum use (cable for this purpose will be designated CL-3P). This, however, is rare in residential installations. • Line level/pre-amp level cable: A large class, this includes everything from AV component interconnect cables to specialized video cables for projection use. Generally these are “shielded” cables, which means they have a grounded layer of metal mesh or foil around the conductor(s) to prevent interference from outside sources (such as speaker cables and AC wiring). In an installed system, the most likely application for in-wall shielded cabling is connecting a receiver to an amplified subwoofer, as both the AV receiver and subwoofer will have RCA-type inputs/ outputs. Again, if the cable is going into the wall it must be rated for in-wall use. Note that the shielded coaxial cable recommended for distributed video applications (RG-6 Quad shield) may be used in these applications with F-RCA adapters. Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP): Also known as Category-5 or 5e cabling, UTP is gaining ground as an accepted cable for line-level and preamp-level applications. UTP cable protects the signal, without shielding, through a series of mathematically-correct twists in the wire pairs, which neutralize any interference. (The technology dates back to the mid20th century, when rural telephone lineman started noticing that when they twisted cables between long runs they got noticeably less static and noise at the ends.)

It is critical to use and install only UL-rated cables specified for in-wall and ceiling use.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

In multi-room audio and home theater, UTP cable is used for both line-level signal distribution and control features, including IR routing. Because UTP is so inexpensive, it’s a good idea to run it along with the speaker wiring to volume controls for any future applications or upgrades (refer to Level 3/Part 6 for cable distance reommendations). Most Category-5 UTP is rated for in-wall use, but check the jacket or box to be sure. Tech Note: cable marketing—separating fact from fiction. There is very little science in the ‘art and science’ of audiophile cables, and electrons are notoriously brand-agnostic. Innumerable “double blind” tests have proven that while listeners can detect a difference between adequate and inadequate cabling, they cannot discern any differences between generic and designer-branded versions of the same basic cable types. Some essential specifications for speaker wire are: 1. loop resistance (less than .2 Ohms) 2. inductance (less than .25 microHenries/foot) 3. capacitance (less than 50 picoFarads/foot) The important thing here is that most installer-grade CL-3 rated 14AWG stranded speaker cable actually meets these specifications in the lengths typical of multiroom runs, and any cable that meets these specifications will not affect the sound quality more than .5dB, which is less than 1/6th the minimum sound difference detectable by the human ear (3 dB)! Given that even a significant deviation from these specs might at worst affect sound by 1 or 2 dB which is still well below the threshold of human hearing, it becomes apparent that the cable “debate” is more Shakespearian than scientific—in other words, “much ado about nothing.” Cabling should be the least expensive part of an audio system. Upgrading volume controls, speakers and amplifiers is a much better investment.
Most Category-5 UTP is rated for in-wall use, but check the jacket or box to be sure.

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Part 3: Basics of Home Theater
System Topology
Home theater planning and installation is very different (and usually less complicated) than a multi-room system, for three reasons:
Side surround locations in side walls Ceiling surround locations Fronts Center

Media Screen

Subwoofer locations

Back surround locations in rear wall

Note: Expanded surround systems may require additional rear and side speaker locations. Self-contained: Home Theater systems are always confined to a single room. The home theater receiver or amplifier outputs may also be used to drive a multi-room system, but that will be through a connection from the AV receiver or entertainment center back to the centralized structured cabling panel. Wiring simplicity: No audio controls are required; the AV receiver or entertainment center directly drives and controls the speakers. Moreover, the home theater system does not “home run” back to a central panel. All wiring is located in the listening/viewing room, and home run back to the entertainment center or AV receiver area. Finally, a modern surround-sound receiver or amplifier has five or more built-in amplifiers designed to drive speakers, so there is no impedance matching required. Location: The main purpose of the system – audio enhancement and reinforcement of a video experience – means that the layout and location of all audio components will be dictated by the location of two elements: the viewing screen (TV or projector screen), and the viewing area (usually couch or entertainment area). In production building, the location for the screen/TV is determined by the location of AC and coaxial TV outlets, by room fixtures (notably fireplaces) and where the rest of the furnishings are going to be placed. Often, a simple review of building plans and discussion with the architect, builder or decorator will provide all the necessary information to create an effective home theater layout for production homes. On-Wall vs In-Wall: Increasing in popularity are on-wall home theater systems using small satellite speakers and dedicated subwoofers. The wiring plan is the same as in-wall/ ceiling systems, however.
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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

System Elements
A home theater system will consist of the following: Listening/viewing room: The same location considerations covered in Basics of MultiRoom Sound apply here, with one change: listening height should be determined by a seated, not standing, listener, which will place the speakers slightly lower. If they must remain high due to room considerations, it’s even more important to invert them to get the tweeter location lower. The same principles of hard/live and soft/dead rooms also apply. If the family room has a large window area, you can almost count on it being live, while enclosed dens are usually dead. Take into account that home theater rooms, by virtue of sofas, carpeting and usually several people, are somewhat absorptive to begin with. Follow the same rule: increase speaker distance from each other in hard/live rooms, and decrease speaker distance from each other in soft/dead rooms. Design note: on surround-sound and speaker locations While there are a number of standards out there, do not confuse the “channel” designations with the number of speaker locations. Dolby Pro-Logic and Dolby Digital, which account for virtually the entire market, both use five speakers. The number designation in a surround technology usually refers to a particular decoding format and not necessarily the number of speakers required. The trend is actually toward fewer speakers. The new Dolby VS standard, for example, is designed to reproduce full surround effects from only two speakers. Five speakers plus a subwoofer location will cover most home theater requirements in production building. Expanded home theater systems may add a rear center channel (Dolby® 6.1) or additional surround speakers (Dolby® 7.1). While this is outside the “Bell Curve”, it is a good idea to pre-wire for them for future upgradability. When placing surround-sound speakers, the preferred position is behind the listeners. The next position is on the side walls flanking the listeners, and the third position is in the ceiling above (and behind) the listeners. However, it’s important to note that because most modern AV receivers with DSP (digital signal processing) capabilities have a host of surround settings and room compensation adjustments, speaker placement is not as critical as it used to be—when it comes to adjusting a surround-soundfield, the modern AV receiver is both smart and capable enough to do quite a bit of “correcting.”

Most rooms can be adequately covered by two properly-placed speakers.

Speakers and Speaker Locations:
Front left and right speakers: This pair or pairs will provide the main theatrical sound image, and will flank the TV/screen area. An array system uses two pairs of front speakers, with the top pair inverted so that the arrayed speakers’ tweeters are closest together. Remember to plan for large entertainment center furniture. If this is likely in the viewing location, position the speakers so they will not be obstructed. Center channel speaker location: Leviton Integrated Networks recommends that you wire a center channel speaker location but don’t install a speaker there. Moreover, that wired location should be paralleled from a QuickPort wallplate with speaker binding posts near the floor. The reason: It is almost impossible to correctly plan a center channel location in production building because of the diversity in center channel arrangements and TV design (a 50+inch large-screen TV, for example, will almost always block any installed inwall center channel!). By installing a speaker connection wallplate along with an in-wall wire, the homeowner has the option for connecting-up his own enclosed or shelf centerchannel or having an in-wall center channel installed later. Surround speakers: Properly-placed surround speakers can make the room appear larger.

An in-wall and an enclosed (shelf) center channel speaker.

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Surround speakers can be located above the listeners, on either side or rear walls or in the ceiling.

The trick is to remember that surround information is most convincing when not heard directly, and that the surround-soundtrack is engineered to be reproduced as an “ambient field” around and behind the listeners. This means that surround speakers can be located above the listeners, on either side or rear walls or in the ceiling. While the preferred placement is usually on the wall behind the listeners, this is not critical as final acoustical adjustments can be made using the AV receiver or surround amplifier (all modern types have reasonably sophisticated level-matching modes for fine-tuning a surroundsoundfield). Tech tip: plan some additional surround options. It’s not uncommon for installers to wire two or even three separate surroundsound speaker locations, such as ceiling, side wall and rear wall. It gives them a lot of flexibility later, especially if the homeowner has space or decorating requirements that rule out the first location.

Subwoofer location: Most AV receivers have an RCA (line-level) subwoofer output, and a subwoofer is a common upgrade for many consumers. The Leviton Integrated Networks recommendation is to install two QuickPort wallplates: one behind the entertainment center, and the second in the likely subwoofer location (usually a corner away from the sofa, and in proximity to AC power). Each QuickPort plate will feature two RCA jacks (red and black), and will be connected to each other using shielded in-wall audio cable so that the bass signal can be sent from the AV receiver to the subwoofer. [Note: this is an excellent location for a TVSS AC outlet to protect the subwoofer.]

AV Entertainment Center
Generally, the AV center will be close to the TV area with all AV components located closely enough to use “patchcords” or interconnects. However, in some room designs the TV location (possibly on top of a corner fireplace) may be some distance from the component area (possibly built-in shelves or cabinets). In these situations a dual-gang wall plate with two six-way QuickPort Decora inserts should be planned behind the TV.

An A/V entertainment center

Each should contain an F-connector (coaxial TV), left/right/video (red, black and yellow) RCA jacks, and an S-video connector, with a corresponding dual-gang wallplate behind the component area. This will enable multiple video sources (two RCA and two S-video) to reach the TV; and the three RCA’s can be used for either composite audio/video or component video.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

The AV center is also the source for the speaker-level audio, which will require a second two-gang wallplate with one six-way Decora insert and one four-way Decora insert. This will accommodate five pairs of QuickPort speaker binding posts (each pair with one black and one red), one pair for each of the five speaker locations: left front, right front, center channel, left rear (surround) and right rear (surround). The AV center area is another excellent candidate for a TVSS AC outlet to provide protection for sensitive and expensive AV components. Design note: planning for home theater and whole-house audio. A lot of installers get confused when laying out an entertainment center. Remember that there may be two concurrent functions in built-in home entertainment: home theater and multi-room or whole-house audio. Remember too that there are two ways of powering these functions: 1. The AV receiver is running both the home theater and the multi-room audio package (in the multi-room/multi-source mode, a feature on a lot of higherend AV receivers). 2. The AV receiver is running the home theater, and a separate amplifier (either two-channel or multi-channel) is running the multi-room audio package. However, the AV receiver is connected to the separate amplifier (usually on PREAMP or TAPE OUT) to provide sound source signals (CD, FM, etc.). In either case, the components will usually be located in the same entertainment center and connected to the centralized panel and distribution module in the same way (through QuickPort wallplates and speaker cabling).
Remember that there may be two concurrent functions in built-in home entertainment: home theater and multi-room or whole-house audio.

Cabling
The same three cable types used in multi-room sound and home theater installations are also used in home theaters. Refer to the cabling section for specifications. Design tip: subwoofer locations. Installing a subwoofer wallplate means making a judgment call on subwoofer location. Remember that because almost any modern amplified subwoofer is equipped with adjustable gain, frequency and phase, placement is not as critical as with passive subwoofers. A good rule-of-thumb is to locate the subwoofer in the same general front plane as the left, center and right speakers, near one of the room’s two front corners where it can be concealed. The thing to avoid is putting the subwoofer in a location that may be a bass “null” in relation to the listening area. Think of the room’s bass response as a “checkerboard” pattern—moving a few feet may dramatically increase or decrease the perceived bass. Moreover, many systems may sound fine while everyone is standing—but when everyone sits down the bass drops away! However, there is an excellent method of determining optimum locations in a finished and furnished room. You can change places with the subwoofer—in other words, place the working subwoofer itself in the listening location (such as on the couch) and then move around the room listening to various locations. The locations where you hear the bass sounding the best are the ideal places for the subwoofer—when you trade places with it, the effect will remain the same.

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Part 4: Design and Installation Planning
Working in Production Home Construction
The following information is geared toward new construction, where wiring and component locations will be pre-determined based on the type of home and replicated in multiple models. Making this successful will require close collaboration between the contractor and the builder’s team (architect, interior designer, sales agents, and others), and with end-users if possible. This is different from custom and retrofit installations, where the relationship is generally directly between the contractor and end-user, and the contractor has ample feedback on intended room use and living patterns. You will encounter two production home scenarios (a new project and an existing project), and based on that will want to adjust your system plan accordingly. Note that while model homes are referenced below, keep in mind that some builders do not use them, relying instead of centrally-located sales or design centers to feature options. New project: In this scenario, you will be entering the development at the pre-production stage, which also includes the model home(s). The advantage is twofold: you may be able to influence a few of the audio-related final room parameters (such as TV location for a family room), and will be able to perform a “from scratch” installation in the actual model home(s). The latter is easier and gives you the opportunity to use that experience in finetuning the audio system plans for the production homes to follow. The disadvantage is that you will have limited input from end-users and floor-plans (which may still be under development) and will not be able to use an existing model home for review. Existing project: This is when you are coming in after the model home is built and while production homes are under construction. It gives you the advantage of working from finished floor plans, and getting input from builder sales agents and even end-users that can help you fine-tune your system plan and offering. The main disadvantage is that it will be more difficult to retrofit a demonstration system in a model, and you will not have an opportunity to influence any room options. Review the builder’s product: Make sure you obtain complete plans for all home models, as a builder may have many of them. You will want to prepare a complete AV system plan (multi-room and home theater) for each. Also, make sure you review builderprovided plan options. Some builders allow their homebuyers to select different entryways, staircases, and even number of bedrooms. Your audio system plans should be flexible enough to accommodate these changes.

Getting input from builder sales agents and even end-users that can help you fine-tune your system plan.

Blueprints, Floor and Electrical Plans
Multi-room system design: The purpose of reviewing these plans is to determine the best locations for the following three multi-room system layers and the home theater location. Note: while blueprints and electrical plans will contain the most technical detail, the importance of floor plans cannot be overemphasized. More often than not, builderprovided floorplans illustrate room-use situations, which provides valuable information on furniture locations (some plans even depict furniture), which is not easily discerned from other types of building plans. The floor plan may be the most accurate information source on how the room will actually be used. Front end (source and amplifier component location): Note: if both a multi-room system and home theater are being prewired, this may be the same location. As mentioned in Sections 2 and 3, often home designs will feature a pre-determined media center, identifiable by shelving and housing (alcove, niche, etc.) and proximity of AC and low-voltage wallplates (especially coaxial F-connector plates for cable television).

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Centralized consolidation point: Since the premise will also have a structured cabling system, the audio consolidation point will be either in or near the structured cabling consolidation panel. This panel will be where the premises’ video, telephony, network, and security wiring all converge. If a larger-scale audio system requires its own panel, it should still be directly next to the structured cabling panel. Tech tip: keep audio in its place. It’s a good idea to use a second, dedicated structured cabling enclosure for audio cabling and consolidation. Remember, speaker wires carry AC current which can potentially interfere with communications and networking cabling. Some installers use one enclosure for networking (Category-rated cabling and distribution modules, LAN components, etc.) and a second for entertainment applications (shielded coaxial video cabling and modules for satellite and CATV, and audio wiring). Back end (room/zone locations): While these may differ between different home models, within the same model they can be similar. It is essential to consult with the builder/architect/designer to get the best idea of where furniture may go. For example, in a bedroom or family/living room there is usually a bed/sofa orientation dictated by windows, entry, AC outlets, and other features and consequently where speakers and volume controls should be placed. Home Theater location: While the room will likely be predetermined, it’s critical to learn the ideal orientation of the home theater (viewing area related to seating, etc.). Remember, speaker placement in home theaters is a performance decision dictated by the geometry of the viewing area, as opposed to speaker placement for music listening which is more of an aesthetic decision.

The floor plan may be the most accurate information source on how the room will actually be used.

Design Tools
Along with building plans, there are PC-based AV system design tools available that enable contractors to “drag and drop” components and systems into a presentable document for planning, proposals and estimating. “D-Tools” is a prime example (and contains Leviton Integrated Networks product data). While optional, these programs are highly desirable business assets for audio/video system integration use. Design note: preparing a PC generated professional-looking system plan and proposal. It’s easier than it looks, and can make a proposal look a lot more finished. Many builders’ floorplans can be copied from their developments’ websites, or a floorplan from a flyer can be easily scanned and saved as a digital file. Using drawing software such as Microsoft’s’ Visio, it’s easy to build an audio component placement and wiring plan over the floorplan (you can convert product photos of speakers, volume controls and other audio components into icons and attach “connection points” to them). The end result will be an audio system plan layered over the builder’s own floorplan.

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Power Requirements
Calculating system impedance and power requirements in unmatched systems: Once a system is “mapped out” on paper, it is important to review the quantity of devices comprising the system in order to make sure power and impedances are matched (impedance-matching calculations will not be a factor when using the Leviton Integrated Networks centralized impedance-matched systems). Remember, the entire system impedance (volume controls, wiring and speakers) must present a load of no less than four Ohms minimum and no more than eight Ohms maximum to the amplifier. Remember the guidelines on power from Part 2: For residential applications, the available Peak power in each room/zone should be no lower than 50% of the speaker’s rated RMS wattage specification, and no higher than 150% of the speaker and volume control’s RMS specification to ensure an adequate safety margin. In other words, a speaker rated at 60 Watts RMS should have at least 30 Watts RMS amplifier power available, and can safely operate with 60-90 Watts of Peak power available (the speaker can, in fact, safely operate with even higher peaks, but this leaves sufficient “headroom” for dynamic listening). Because impedance and other factors further complicate the issue, dividing the amplifier’s power rating (which rises as impedance drops) across a number of rooms/zones is not precise but does serve general planning purposes. The “right” amount of power to use will depend on the scale of each system (how many speaker pairs are being driven). A general planning rule is to assume that at least half of the amplifier’s rated Peak and RMS power will be available to each room/zone at any given time in a two room/zone system, a third to each area in a three- room system, a quarter in a four-room system, and so on. Furthermore, as a safety margin you should always match the speaker or volume controls RMS rating (continuous and more conservative) with the amplifiers Peak rating. As an example, if you are dealing with a 100 Watt RMS/200 Watt peak amplifier, and follow the rule that the Peak power in each room should be no greater than 150% of the RMS rating for speakers and volume controls, that breaks down as follows: Number of rooms/zones 2 3 4 Approximate Potential Peak amp power in each room/zone (each channel) 100 W 66 W 50 W Approximate minimum speaker/ volume control RMS rating (each) 66 W 44 W 32 W

The “right” amount of power to use will depend on the scale of each system.

In rooms using two pairs of speakers (to cover a larger area, for example), both pairs of speakers will usually be paralleled off a single control , which will lower overall impedance and increase the amplifier’s available power to that room. Maintain the same power handling requirements for four speakers as you would a pair (in other words, do not “lighten up” on power handling just because you are using four speakers instead of two). Tech note: calculating power often means adding apples and oranges! To ensure an adequate safety margin, always compare the speaker and volume controls RMS rating (continuous, minimum and more conservative) with the amplifier’s available Peak power rating (more dynamic and “real-world”).

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Location Strategies
When applying system components to a floor plan, remember that multi-room speaker placement will be guided by aesthetic considerations (including furnishings and décor), while home theater speaker placement will be dictated by performance needs (front and surround-sound). Speakers (indoor and outdoor): Refer back in this manual for placement guidelines based on room geometry and composition. Using that information along with the floor plan for each individual room/zone, select at least two ceiling or wall locations (and alternates in case the walk-through identifies any installation conflicts). Indoor locations: Most rooms can be adequately covered by two properly-placed speakers, especially rooms under 400 square feet, as well as rooms with a very defined listening area (such as bedrooms). For larger rooms, multiple speakers will ensure thorough coverage (follow the power rating guidelines). In combination areas, remember that each area should have at least one dedicated speaker pair – one pair for the kitchen itself, and one for the family area, for example.

Most rooms can be adequately covered by two properly-placed speakers, especially rooms under 400 square feet.

Regardless of design or materials used , all outdoor speakers should be shielded from direct exposure to the elements, if possible.

Outdoor locations: First, consider the primary area of use. If there is a deck or spa, the speakers should be located where their sound can be directed toward that feature. Second, consider long-term environmental effects. Outdoor speakers should be mounted under an eave or overhang whenever possible to shield them from direct exposure to rain, sun and snow. Electrical considerations: Always cross-check the floor plan with the electrical plans, especially when planning ceiling speakers, for proximity to lighting fixtures and junction boxes. For planning sound locations in kitchen and bath areas especially, electrical plans will show ventilation fans, heaters and other potential problems that floor plans will not. To avoid heat and interference problems, keep speaker locations at least 12 inches away from any motors or other AC-powered units, and lighting fixtures. As a general practice always stay away from electrical wires whenever possible! Volume Controls: Be sure to plan controls for easy accessibility based on room entry and room use. Often, the lighting control location will be a tempting spot for a volume control (again, cross-check the floor plan with the electrical plan). But remember that dimmers are a potential source of interference—it is better to avoid getting close to them (if you must mount an audio control near a dimmer, consider using a type which does not route the audio signal through the control such as Leviton’s Decora Digital Volume Control or an equivalent. In any case, low-voltage volume controls must be isolated from line voltage devices (switches, dimmers and fan speed controls), either with a separate mounting bracket or a rated divided box. As with speakers, it’s always good practice to select an alternate location just in case. System distribution components: In keeping with the star network topology used in all structured cabling systems, the right location for audio distribution components is back at
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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

the wiring consolidation point and in a structured cabling panel. These components include simple speaker-level connecting blocks (where a left/right amplifier output is divided into separate rooms/zones, combination speaker protectors/impedance matchers, and IR-routing products. Cabling: This is the one element requiring a thorough integration with the electrical and floor plans. As with communications and network wiring, audio cabling should not be run in close proximity to AC wires. Rather, it should be kept at least 8 inches away (and if it must cross an AC line, it should do so at a 90-degree angle). However, it is also important to remember that signal and speaker-level audio cabling is AC wiring because the audio signal uses alternating current measured in cycles per second, or Hertz. While speaker wire operates at lower current and voltage levels than Romex, it also generates an electromagnetic field (EMF), which can cause interference. For that reason, speaker wire should be kept away from both 120VAC wiring and communications cabling (such as Category 5 UTP). Planning speaker wire runs: Remember that: • Each room/zone will require two runs of twin-lead (positive and negative conductors) or one run of four-conductor speaker wire, one for stereo LEFT and one for stereo RIGHT. That is four conductors total. The two speaker wires/per room will run from the central consolidation point to the volume control box, where it “splits,” with a single speaker wire running to each individual speakers. • There must be two twinlead or one 4-conductor speaker wire runs and a Category5/5e run from the “front end” amplifier location back to the central consolidation point, in order to power the multi-room system. These will terminate in back of the entertainment center or AV receiver using a Quickport wallplate and four speaker binding posts (two for LEFT, two for RIGHT). • You should avoid firebreaks and insulation and only use internal walls for speaker and audio wiring. You can also use attics and crawlspaces or basements. Other wiring: Plan on running Category-5/5e from the central consolidation point to each volume control location, for any future repeater or signal transmissions applications, or if planning a “localized” system with dedicated room amplifiers. Home Theater variables: Home Theater is the exception to the star topology rule, as that application is dedicated to a single room. However, the home theater entertainment center will invariably need to communicate back to the centralized multi-room system, which should be planned for in planning the layout. Remember to carefully review the floor plans to determine likely seating locations for placing front and surround speakers, and review the electrical plans to find the AC outlets and cable-TV jacks that will indicate likely television placement and corroborate the seating arrangement assumptions.

Speaker wire should be kept away from both 120VAC wiring and communications cabling

The Walk Through
Working from the marked-up floor/electrical plans (or a separate audio system plan based on them), calibrate the plan with a walk-through of the production home model frame. If you are getting involved with an existing home development project after the builder’s model home is constructed, you will want to use the model home as a guide for room use and furniture placement. Marking locations: Use the walk-through as an opportunity to mark-off primary and alternate locations prior to rough-in. Take careful note of any challenges likely to come up during installation. Estimating the bill-of-materials (BOM): Use the walk-through to finalize a complete billof-materials (BOM) for a production home.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Part 5: Developing the Bill-of-Materials
Based on the audio system plan, the next step is to prepare a complete bill-of-materials which will include products from three categories and a fourth category of cabling and labor:

Bill of Material Considerations
Control and distribution components • Volume controls and color-change kits. • Centralized distribution components, including impedance matching and basic connection blocks • AV media distribution, including Leviton’s Decora Media System (DMS), which converts composite audio/video signals to Category-5 cabling. In Leviton Integrated Networks Spec-Grade systems, the DMS is recommended for interfacing the PC to the AV center for playing MP-3 music and internet-based entertainment on the distributed audio system. (The DMS “receive” unit connects to the AV receiver as an AUX input.) This category also includes any IR distribution for using infra-red remote controls) Speakers and mounting accessories • Indoor speakers and rough-in kits. Remember, for both practicality and security reasons during a rough-in you will not be leaving many products behind. Speakers, for example, will be installed after the drywall is completed. You should plan on a rough-in kit for each speaker pair, to reserve the location and make it easy to locate wiring afterwards. • Volume control and wallplate “mud-rings.” For the same reason as with speakers, plan on sufficient mud-rings to reserve low-voltage control and wallplate locations. • Strike- and nail-plates. These will protect low-voltage wiring in situations where you can’t wire through the center of a stud, make sure your BOM includes strikeplates (also called nailplates) to prevent the drywallers and other contractors from driving nails or holes through your audio wiring. Installation accessories • Wall plates. There are many different types. Nylon plates are tougher and more flexible than plastic, and are recommended. Midway plates are about 25% larger than ordinary plates, and are useful in covering-up any installation problems (make sure you match them with other Midways). Leviton also makes blank inserts useful for “future proofing” installations, as well as wall plate extenders that are useful when a volume control needs some extra depth. For low-voltage connections, Leviton offers the Quickport snap-in mounting system in two styles: • Decora inserts (2-, 3-, 4- and 6-port Quickport inserts that fit into a standard Decora wall plate) • Traditional QuickPort (2-, 3-, 4- and 6-port wall plates). Covers • Protects the Strauss™ volume control in outdoor applications. Leviton has several weather-resistant cover options. Most installations will have a simple wall-mounted volume control and can use the basic Leviton 4998 cover. Some patios and decks may call for a freestanding volume control (attached to a railing or post, possibly, or the side of a gazebo). In this case, the volume control may be in an outdoor, conduit-mounted box, and will be encased in a special Leviton outdoor box cover with door (or equivalent).

Remember, for both practicality and security reasons during a rough-in you will not be leaving many products behind.

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Connectors • Leviton makes a multitude of Quickport snap-in low-voltage connectors, but the two that will comprise 99% of your audio installations are: • Speaker binding posts (the standard connector for amplifier interfacing) •
Home Theaters do not use volume controls or centralized distribution. However, the types of products are the same.

RCA connectors (used for line-level audio and video, such as connecting SUBWOOFER OUT on an AV receiver to a subwoofer wallplate elsewhere in the room).

TVSS (transient voltage surge suppression) outlets • Along with protecting speakers, it is also important to protect sensitive AV components. All Leviton Structured Media Centers have a provision for TVSS outlets. The same outlets can be installed behind a home theater system or entertainment center to provide additional protection for AV receivers, DVD players, etc. Cabling and Labor • This should be based on both the plan and walk-through, to accurately anticipate any additional requirements. Since you will be running speaker wire and other audio wire through internal walls and not external walls to avoid insulation and firebreaks, plan the lengths accordingly. Home Theater BOM There are a few differences: Home Theaters do not use volume controls or centralized distribution. However, the types of products are the same.

BOM Examples
Leviton has provided a sample Spec-Grade Bill-of-Materials with typical quantities. By using this format and pluging-in your product/cabling prices and labor rates, you can estimate a job based on your audio plan, and then you are ready to proceed to the prewire rough-in stage.

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© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

BILL OF MATERIALS Leviton Spec-Grade Sound
Type PN Dash
Color option(s)

Description

Quantity

Price EA Total COST

Total RESELL

Application Notes

1. Control & distribution
Strauss VC VC color change kit System matching module audio board A/V media converter A/V media converter A/V media converter A/V media converter SGVST SGVCK SGAMP 48211 48210 48210 48210 48210 00W 0IA 000 06A MCH SRU MSU MRU W IA 0 0 0 0 0 0 Decora slider volume control with transformer-free technology Ivory & almond color change kit for Strauss Module with Impedance-matching and AutoSurge protection (RMS) Passive audio module Decora Media System hub w/pwr supply DMS Send & Receive units w/pwr supply DMS Send unit only w/pwr supply DMS Receive unit only 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Decora slider volume control with transformer-free technology Ivory & almond color change kit for Strauss Distributes whole-house audio from structured media panel Passive audio module

Brings PC-Based audio signal to AV receiver/entertainment center

2 SG speakers
In-wall speaker in-wall rough-in kit In-wall speaker in-wall rough-in kit Ceiling speaker ceiling rough-in kit Outdoor speaker SGI65 PCI65 SGI80 PCI80 SGC65 PCC65 SG099 00W KIT 00W KIT 00W KIT 00W W W W W 6.5-in in-wall speaker 6.5-in in-wall rough in kit 8-in in-wall speaker 8-in in-wall rough-in kit 6.5-in ceiling speaker 6.5-in ceiling rough in kit Environmental/Oudoor weather-resistant speaker 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.5-in in-wall speaker 6.5-in in-wall rough in kit 8-in in-wall speaker 8-in in-wall rough-in kit 6.5-in ceiling speaker 6.5-in ceiling rough in kit Environmental/Oudoor weather-resistant speaker

3. Installation products
screw-on wallplate screw-on wallplate designer wallplate designer wallplate midway wallplate midway wallplate special metal wallplate wallplate accessory outdoor cover outdoor cover outdoor cover Quickport jack plate Quickport jack plate Quickport jack plate Quickport jack plate Quickport accessory Decora Quickport insert Decora Quickport insert Decora Quickport insert Decora Quickport insert audio video audio Quickport audio connector Quickport audio connector wallplate accessory Surge receptacle Surge receptacle 80401 80409 80301 80309 80601 80609 84003 6197 6196 4998 5977 40702 40803 40804 40806 40859 40850 40753 40754 40756 40830 40830 40830 40833 40833 80414 8280 5280 00* 00* 0S* 0S* 00* 00* 000 00* VFS 00* 0** 0B* 0B* 0B* 0B* 0B* 0B* 0B* 0B* 0B* B*E B*Y B*R B*E B*R 000 000 000 W,I,A W,I,A W,I,A W,I,A W,I,A W,I,A,E 0 W,I,A zinc W CL W,I,A W,I,A W,I,A W,I,A W,I,A W,I,A W,I,A W,I,A W,I,A W,I,A W,I,A W,I,A W,I,A W,I,A W,I,A, GY I, W, R, B, GY,W,A Decora 1 gang plate Decora 2 gang plate Decora 1 gang snap-on plate Decora 2 gang snap-on plate Decora 1 gang oversized plate Decora 2 gang oversized plate 1 gang metal surge protect label plate Decora device wallbox extender FS Box-type Decora device weather-resistant cover Decora device weather-resistant cover Decora device weather-resistant easy-mount cover Quickport 2 port plate Quickport 3 port plate Quickport 4 port plate Quickport 6 port plate Quickport blanks Decora 2-port inserts Decora 3-port inserts Decora 4-port inserts Decora 6-port inserts black RCA yellow RCA red RCA black binding post red binding post Decora blank insert plate Hosp. grade surge receptacle w/ alarm Industrial grade receptacle 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Standard Decora plate

Midways are larger plates that can cover installation problems Used to identify AC surge outlet (below) Used in patio and deck free-standing locations Used in outdoor wall-mounted locations (typical) Used in patio and deck free-standing locations

Four-way speaker plate (LEFT red & black, RIGHT red & black) used to interface amplifier to multi-room audio distribution module

amplifier connector amplifier connector

For protecting entertainment center (AC device) Sub Total Product

Installation (labor & cabling)
Labor (estimated) Wire & Cable Wire & Cable Low-voltage/hour Low-voltage/foot Low-voltage/foot

structured cabling, voice/data, multimedia, security & communications Cat 5/ multimedia Speaker & AV special

Rate Per foot

Hours 0 Total feet 0 0 0 Labor total Product total SYSTEM TOTAL Total number of rooms/zones in project #DIV/0! PER ROOM/ZONE PRICE

Project Totals:

0 0

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Part 6: Pre-Wire/Rough-in
Rough-In is the stage where the system infrastructure is laid into the premises, as a “backbone” for all controls and speakers to be installed later.

Scheduling
Rough-in is usually during a time-sensitive stage in the construction cycle for two reasons:
• It must be done after the premise is framed but before the walls, ceilings and other access ways are “closed up,” and • There are usually a number of other contractors working on the same project at the same time, and often in the same space. You will want to communicate clearly and frequently with any other incumbent contractors to make sure the job goes smoothly. • The best time to wire for audio is during the structured cabling prewire • The best window of opportunity is before drywall and insulation, but after AC wiring and HVAC is in place.

The best time to wire for audio is during the structured cabling prewire.

Tools and materials
• All standard tools, which include drill and bits, pliers, strippers, etc. • Special tools and items • VOM (Volt/Ohm Meter)—used in checking electrical continuity. • Measuring tape and carpenters’ level for ensuring straight mud-rings. Note: a crooked mud-ring will yield a crooked wall plate and an unhappy builder and ultimately customer. Take the time to do it right during the rough-in! • Drill extensions. Although most useful in retrofit installations, drill extensions can save time and make frame installations easier when reaching for hard-to-access areas • Strike- or nail-plates • Speaker rough-in kits • Mud-rings for mounting low-voltage devices • Cable and cable management products, including wire-ties and wraps

Review of standard low-voltage wiring practices
• Low-voltage wiring is not as damage-resistant as Romex; handle it carefully. • Only install UL-rated CL-2 or CL-3 cabling • Speaker cable, or wire, is measured in gauge. The smaller the number, the heavier the cable. 14 gauge (14 AWG) wire, because it is easy to manage, terminate, and has low impedance, is considered standard for multi-room. However, ensure that the speaker wire is UL Class 2 or 3 (CL-2 or CL-3) rated for in-wall use. CL-3 rated cable has an extra insulating (usually grey) sheath around the two insulated (red and black) wires, and the designation “CL-3” will be printed on the cable. Note that the main advantage of using a smaller cable is that it is easier to terminate. If you want to use heavier “audiophile”-type cabling, you may need to terminate it using special adapter tips in order to fit the cable into volume control connectors and amplifier terminals. Note: in a plenum application (such as an air return), installed speakers and cabling must be rated for plenum use (cable for this purpose will be designated CL-3P). This, however, is rare in residential applications.
© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved. 39

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

• Leviton recommends independent 1-inch holes drilled 1-1/4 inches from the edge of the stud for running low voltage cable. If you must drill a shallower hole, use a strike-plate to protect the wiring • Never run low-voltage cable in the same drill holes as AC wiring. Run low-voltage wiring in a separate stud space whenever possible. Maintain at least an 8-inch distance when running parallel to AC. If you must cross an AC line, do it at a 90degree angle to minimize interference • Although it is tempting to locate audio controls near lighting controls, the latter is a strong source of interference (especially Triac-equipped digital dimmers). If you must use a volume control near a lighting control, consider using Leviton’s Decora Digital Volume Control or an equivalent product that does not run any audio signal through the control itself • Remember that speaker wiring is also AC wiring—keep it separate from communications cabling • Avoid damage to UTP wiring and low-voltage cables in general by never exceeding 25-pounds of pulling force • Maintain at lease a 1-inch bend radius for UTP wiring, and 3 inches for RG-6 quadshield, shielded audio cables and speaker wire. Use sweeping bends instead of sharp turns that can damage cables • Use appropriate cable management products (such as Velcro straps, tie wraps and other mounting accessories) for securing audio cable. Never use staples. • If running cable in conduit, leave a pull cord to access it later. Do not fill the conduit past 40% of its capacity • Install cabling in inner wall spaces to avoid wall insulation and firebreaks • Keep cabling away from sources of heat such as hot water pipes and HVAC ducts • Keep speaker cabling away from potential interference sources such as range hoods, bathroom fans, central vacuums, etc. • If you must run external wiring, use conduit.

Use appropriate cable management products (such as Velcro straps, tie wraps and other mounting accessories) for securing audio cable.

The techniques for managing communications and video wiring are applicable for multi-room audio—avoid “pinched” cable bundles and sharp cable bends, and always use approved cable management ties instead of stapling cables.

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© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Wiring the Premise

At the volume control locations, make sure you leave enough of a service loop for later access and termination.

Review of audio wiring topology (working from the front end, or entertainment center): 1. From the entertainment center, TWO two-conductor speaker wires or one fourconductor MUST run to the central distribution point (usually a structured cabling enclosure), for connection later to the distribution module. A Category-5 UTP cable SHOULD be run from the entertainment center to the central distribution point for future control and signal applications (the UTP does not need to be terminated at either end; leave an appropriate service loop at each end for future access and termination). The speaker wires will be terminated at the entertainment center with a stereo binding-post QuickPort wallplate or equivalent. 2. From the central distribution point, TWO two-conductor speaker wires or one fourconductor (LEFT and RIGHT) MUST run to each volume control location to ensure that BOTH left/right channels reach each room. A Category-5 UTP cable SHOULD be run from the central distribution point to each volume control location for future control and signal applications (the UTP does not need to be terminated at either end; leave an appropriate service loop at each end for future access and termination) or for local room-based amplification. At the volume control locations, make sure you leave enough of a service loop for later access and termination. 3. Each speaker location in the room will get a SINGLE two-conductor speaker wire coming from the volume control location in that room. It is not necessary for the speaker wires to run together, and not always desirable—try to keep each speaker location’s wire length matched to within 25% of the other to ensure that each speaker’s volume matches the other (if this results in excess wire on one speaker, it can be run up and down a stud in the prewire). Remember to leave an adequate service loop at the speaker location for later access and easier termination.

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Tech tip: plan some extra locations up-front. Especially in a new project where end-user preference is still unknown, it may be desirable to plan a second volume control location (this is most valuable in master bedrooms). This is easier than it sounds: simply pass the TWO twoconductor wires through the first location and make a service loop, and then route them onto the second (final) location for later “splitting” to the speaker locations. Make a note of the both locations for later access, and use an “old work” box for mounting the control in the drywall. Make sure you “zig-zag” the paired wires between the paralleled studs for easy access later.

Wiring methodology:
1. Working from the central consolidation point, drill 1-inch holes in the center of each stud through which the audio cabling will pass. If you must drill the holes off-center and closer to the drywall side, use a strike- or nail-plate to protect the wiring
A digital camera is extremely handy for “remembering” what’s inside the wall later.

2. Maintaining the minimum bend radius, pull each room audio cable “bundle” through the holes and to the volume control location. If you are pulling UTP cable along with speaker wire, do not exceed 25 pounds of pulling force. A cable-pulling assistive tool is very useful here 3. Make sure the ends of the wires pass through their respective mud-rings and speaker rough-in kits, so that volume controls and speakers can be easily connected later. The exception is if you are planning alternate volume control locations: both locations will be loops inside the wall, and you will use an “old work” box later for mounting the control—make sure you “zig-zag” the paired wires between the parallel studs for easy access later. Each speaker rough-in kit will have individual instructions for a particular model speaker; make sure you follow them. Make sure the mud-rings are straight to avoid problems later a. Use only approved cable management products to secure audio wiring – NEVER staple it b. Leave a service loop at each wire termination point. This ensures you’ll have enough wire to work with later 4. Label each wire end for easy identification later 5. Install mud-rings or boxes for volume controls after you have completed the wiring run to those locations (exceptions are multiple control locations, which will be marked for later access and will get an “old work” box). 6. Install any required wall or ceiling rough-in kits for mounting speakers after you have completed the wire run to those locations. Arrange the wires appropriately for the particular kit. 7. Document your work for trim out. Make a note of any changes from your original plan. A digital camera is extremely handy for “remembering” what’s inside the wall later. Tech tip: don’t install speaker rough-in kits that may place the speaker too close to a stud or floor joist. If a speaker is too close to a stud or floor joist, the doglegs on that side may not swing OUT properly—be careful not to get the mounting location too close.

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© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Installing a rough-in kit during prewire “saves the space” for later installation.

Tech tip: how to make sure you can get at speaker wires later? When you wire for extra or future speaker locations (especially in home theater center channel and surround applications), the best way to ensure future wire access is to make it easy to reach inside the wall. Many installers “zigzag” the wire between the studs where the speakers may go, from outlet height to ceiling (or zigzag inside the ceiling itself). This makes it a lot easier to find the wire later. Tech tip: watch those wire “bundles.” Remember that speaker wire is not shielded. If you have an excess anywhere do not get tempted to coil it—this can form an inductor and affect the sound quality. Trim excess lengths accordingly (leaving short service loops is OK).

Document your work for trim out. A digital camera is extremely handy for “remembering” what’s inside the wall later.

Wiring outdoor speakers:
Outdoor speakers will be surface-mounted instead of in the wall. Make sure the exit path for the wire leaves room for the speaker and its mounting bracket, and make sure that the wire and speaker/bracket assembly will be mounted away from direct exposure to the elements (such as under an overhang).

Wiring the home theater:
The home theater wires using the same procedures and practices as multiroom sound, with several differences: Central consolidation point—the home theater speakers “home run” back to a two or three-gang plate behind the entertainment center or wherever the AV receiver will be located. Home theater speakers do not connect back to the structured cabling enclosure. Center channel location—this will be an option, wired through a floor (outlet level) wallplate and then up the wall in a zig-zag pattern to provide an option for future center installation in the wall. Leave a generous service loop at the floor location for termination.

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Give the end-user the flexibility to install the center speaker in a variety of locations.

Subwoofer location—the subwoofer will also wire back to the entertainment center or home theater receiver, but using shielded audio cable and/or UTP. Alternate surround locations—because furniture placement may vary depending on the homebuyer, it is an excellent idea to have two or even three surround locations wired (back wall [preferred], side wall and ceiling).

Preliminary Premise Wiring Check
At this stage, it is preferable to check for cable continuity to identify any shorts or other potential problems. This can save you considerable time later once the walls are closed up. Preparing the wiring: To accommodate standard volume control and distribution connectors, strip away about 1/4-inch of insulation from each conductor (the two speaker wires and the four volume control wires). If using CL-3 (sheathed) cable or CL-3P (plenum sheathed) cable, you will first remove the outer insulating sheath (usually grey) before stripping the inner wires. Gently twist the copper strands slightly to smooth down any stray ends. Checking continuity in speaker wiring: First, return to the central consolidation point. Each individual speaker wire will have two conductors (PLUS and MINUS, usually copper and silver or red and black). 1. Gently tie the two bare ends of each wire together to deliberately make a “short” 2. Go to the volume control location and set the VOM to the “resistance” mode. 3. Take the other end of that wire and attach one of the probe tips from the VOM to each wire. 4. If the wire is intact and current is flowing through the connected ends at the other end of the run, you will get a reading 5. If you do not get a reading, first check the connection at the other end (it may have come apart) and then inspect the cable run to find the cause. Pay particular attention to any bends or kinks in the cable, and look for missing insulation. Dressing the wires: Re-wrap the stripped wire ends with electrical tape to protect them during the dry-walling stage.
Reading

It’s essential to check for cable continuity, to identify any shorts or other potential problems before the walls are closed up.

Twist pair together to create a short VOM

Checking continuity on speaker and volume control wire runs.

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© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Part 7: Trim-Out
Trim-Out is the phase when all installed system components are connected to the cabling infrastructure laid in during rough-in.

Scheduling
Trim-out may occur in multiple stages: • Speaker, control and distribution component installation • System configuration and amplifier connection Much of this will depend on the builder/homebuyer loop and when the installer is actively engaged by the end-user. Tech tip: don’t leave audio components in an unsecured location! You will want to wait until the house is lockable and most other contractors are done before installing high-value components such as speakers and controls.
You will want to wait until the house is lockable and most other contractors are done before installing high-value components such as speakers and controls.

Tools and Materials
Tools: Aside from standard tools, plan on having the following useful items: • Set of jewelers’ screwdrivers (essential for connecting volume controls and distribution blocks to speaker wire) • Diagonal cutters (“dikes”) • Multi-gauge wire-stripper • VOM (Volt/Ohm Meter) • AA, C or D 1.5 Volt battery (for the testing phase) • Alligator clip-equipped insulated test leads Materials: Refer to the BOM section of this manual for a complete list. Generally, except for cabling, mud-rings and speaker rough-in kits, almost everything is installed during trim-out. Make sure the premise is secure before undertaking this stage. Speakers and volume controls are often “target” items on jobsites, as they have high value and are easy to remove.

QuickPort Insert and wallplate.

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Preparation
It is a good idea to walk the premises before starting and inspect all mud-ring/speaker rough-in kit locations to make sure the wire is still accessible. If the wires are not accessible, correct the situation. Some installers prefer to lay out speakers and controls in each room/zone, to avoid confusion when working with assistants.
An advantage of specifying ceiling speakers is that they need painting far less frequently than in-wall types.

Installing and Connecting Speakers
If you start with the speakers, you can use the connected speaker to check continuity in each room as you work back to the central consolidation point (structured cabling panel location). Preparing speakers: If the speakers need to be matched to the ceiling or wall, this is the best time to paint them (the speaker’s white color should match the majority of ceilings and walls, making this step optional). Refer to the instructions published with the speakers if painting is required. In general, use a template to protect the baffle area (woofer and tweeter) so that just the frame gets painted. If the grilles are fabric, avoid heavy painting, as this will absorb the sound. With metal grilles, make sure you remove any screening material on the inside of the grille (many grilles have a foam layer behind them, which will also absorb paint). Tech tip: painting speakers. An advantage of specifying ceiling speakers is that they need painting far less frequently than in-wall types. If you are painting speakers, remove any cloth or foam inserts behind the grille itself—they can become clogged with paint and affect sound quality. 1. Remove any excess construction material from the rough-in kit area. 2. Using the template provided with the speaker, outline the size hole to be cut (if any) to conform to the speaker mounting requirements. Make sure the hole is no larger than the template requires; otherwise, the mounting “doglegs” may not have enough surface to grab. Make sure both speaker holes are even and straight. 3. Using a jig or drywall saw, cut away any excess ceiling or wall material. You may want to start the hole with a drill. 4. If you are planning on putting any insulation on the wall or ceiling area behind the speaker, this is the best time. Insulation can reduce some “booming” and smooth bass response, and also help reduce in-wall or ceiling “cavity” sound. You can use standard wall insulation for this purpose: R-11 rock wool or fiberglass “blanket” insulation works extremely well (observe all precautions when handling the material). There are also speaker “back-boxes” on the market designed for this purpose, but always check for a UL fire-ratings for in-wall, ceiling and plenum use. 5. The speaker will have a set of “doglegs”, which swing out behind the wall when the front accessible screws are turned to lock the speaker in place. Make sure the doglegs are in the “tucked” position (close to the speaker). 6. Take the wire from the rough-in, and remove the protective electrical tape from the ends. Gently twist the copper to make sure there are no loose strands (these can cause shorts).

The wired speaker fits the hole using the rough-in kit.

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© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

If using sheathed CL-3 cable, it will have a RED and BLACK wire inside the (usually) GREY outer sheath. Connect the RED wire into the RED terminal and the BLACK wire into the BLACK terminal, by pushing the terminal button, inserting the wire into the hole, and releasing the button. If using other cable, check for a distinguishing mark on one of the twin leads: either the wire may be copper (RED) or silver (BLACK), or the insulation on one side will be ribbed or otherwise marked (use the marked side for RED and the other for BLACK). Note: the important thing with speaker polarity is to ensure that each hook-up is consistent. It is actually immaterial which color refers to which lead, as long as they are the same in each room. 7. Making sure any excess wire is tucked back into the ceiling or wall cavity, gently slide the speaker into the hole. If you use an electric screwdriver, use the lightest torque setting and slowest speed possible – do NOT over tighten the doglegs as they easily can be broken off. Take a screwdriver and tighten each of the front, or baffle, screws until they resist (do this in opposing order, like changing a tire). Check to make sure the speaker is secure (this means the doglegs are in the correct position). Tighten the screws further, but not so tight that the speaker frame deforms. 8. Repeat the process for the other speaker. Do not put the grilles on until you have tested the system (you will need to remove them if there are any problems). Tech tip: check and double check—and watch those studs! It’s really easy to forget to connect the wires to the back of the speaker before installing it! It’s also easy to miss a mounting dogleg that may be in the OUT position and prevent the speaker from lining up properly. If a speaker is too close to a stud or floor joist, the doglegs on that side may not swing OUT properly—be careful not to get the mounting location too close.

It’s really easy to forget to connect the wires to the back of the speaker before installing it!

Checking your work
Let’s briefly cover what is meant by “observing speaker and amplifier polarity.” Both the amplifier and speaker, being AC devices, require a “return path” for current. When the speakers receive the AC music signal, they must move in tandem: a base note should make both woofer cones move outward first, then inward, for example. This is called being in-phase. The amplifier, the speaker, and the volume control have a positive and a negative terminal. The important thing is to make sure all positive terminals are connected to each other, and all negative terminals are connected to each other.
Sound from one speaker Absorbed by the other speaker

In Phase

Out of phase

Speaker phasing

If they are not, it will not cause damage but will greatly impair performance, as the system would now be out-of-phase. With one speaker moving inward while the other is moving outward, the net effect is severe cancellation of bass frequencies. If you run into a situation where one room lacks deep bass and the vocals sound odd and distant, you likely have wired the room out-of-phase. The situation is very easy to correct: simply turn the system OFF, remove the volume control, and reverse the wires going to one of the speakers.
© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved. 47

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

If you suspect any wiring problems, you can easily and quickly check speaker polarity and continuity before connecting the volume control. 1. Simply go back to the volume control location and identify the two conductors going to each speaker. 2. Taking one of the two-conductor wires, separate the conductors. 3. Take a 1.5 Volt battery (size AA, C or D are useable) and connect the speaker wire BLACK (or minus) lead to the MINUS, - or negative battery pole. 4. Momentarily touch the RED lead to the battery’s PLUS, + or positive pole. 5. If both wires are connected, you should hear a loud “tick” coming from the speaker. Do not leave the battery connected for more than an instant, as sustained DC voltage can damage speakers by causing their voice coils to overheat. 6. If you suspect that you may have reversed some wires in the room, this method can also be used to check polarity (whether or not the speakers are in-phase). If the system is in-phase and correctly wired, each speaker cone should move the same way when the battery is applied to either side. If not, the room is out-ofphase.

Installing Outdoor Speakers
Outdoor speakers are a prime target for jobsite thieves.

Remember to install outdoor speaker under an overhang or anywhere where they are not directly exposed to rain or sun. Make sure the wire exit hole is sealed-up to prevent moisture from entering the frame. It is a good idea to position and mount the brackets before attempting to connect and install the outdoor speakers. Tech tip: hang onto those outdoor speakers until the end! Outdoor speakers are a prime target for jobsite thieves. A lot of installers prefer to install the brackets and tape their business card to them, inviting the homebuyer to make the call and get their speakers—it also provides an up-sell opportunity.

Installing and Connecting Volume Controls
The volume control has multiple connections: it takes in both stereo channels from the amplifier, and sends them off to both speakers. This alone requires eight separate connections (four inputs and four outputs). 1. Make sure any construction materials are removed from the mud-ring/mounting ring or J-box where you intend to mount the control. 2. Identify the four speaker signal twoconductor wires. Two wires will be coming from the amplifier (actually from the centralized distribution module in a Leviton system), and two will be connected to the room’s speakers. 3. Remove the protective electrical tape and twist the copper to smooth any loose strands. This is especially important with volume controls, as the small, dense connection blocks make it easy for loose strands to connect and short.
48

The volume control wires using a modular connector.

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

4. Make sure that only 1/4-inch of insulation is removed from the wire. Removing too much insulation can leave exposed wire outside the connector (and jamming it in will cause “bunching” inside the connector). Ideally, the bare wire should disappear into the connector’s hole, leaving no unexposed wire. 5. Take the volume control’s removable connection block (standard on the Leviton Strauss control). Loosen each of the eight connector securing screws. 6. Observing the connecting scheme outlined on the control, take each two-conductor wire and insert its ends into the corresponding pair of holes. 7. Once both wire conductors are in their respective holes, keep gentle pressure on them to keep the wire buried up to the insulator, and tighten their corresponding screws until they can’t be turned anymore. 8. Repeat the process for the other three two-conductor wires. 9. Snap the wired connector back on the volume control’s circuit board. The control is now ready for use. 10. Install the control into the mounting ring or J-box using the two long screws provided, and install the wallplate. Make sure the control is right-side-up. Tech tip: watch those volume controls! It’s all too easy to mount volume controls upside down—check the orientation before buttoning-up your work. There is usually a logo or icon on the front to help identify direction.
It’s all too easy to mount volume controls upside down—check the orientation before buttoning-up your work.

Connecting the Distribution Module (for multi-room audio distribution)
As mentioned earlier, a Leviton Integrated Networks Spec-Grade system is centrally wired through a System Matching module with AutoSurge technology. This will ensure correct system impedance matching and extra speaker overdrive protection. The System Matching module is installed and wired during the trim-out phase. 1. At the centralized wiring point (in the main structured cabling panel or in a dedicated audio panel), identify the paired two-conductor wires or single 4-conductor wire going to each room (they should have been labeled in the rough-in stage). Note that the System Matching module has similar connectors to those used on the Leviton Strauss volume control, except that each one has four connectors instead of eight.

The main amplifier connects to the System Matching module, as will each room.

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

2. Remove the protective electrical tape from the wire ends. 3. Connect each room’s two-conductor wire pair to the System Matching module using the same procedure as the volume control. The two-conductor wire pair coming from the amplifier/entertainment center location (LEFT and RIGHT) will connect to the INPUT on the System Matching module. 4. Once connected, snap the module into the structured cabling panel’s mounting holes. Gently pull any excess wire away from the module and use a cable management wrap to dress the wire bundle. The System Matching module is now ready for use. Tech tip: make the wiring easy on yourself. It’s a lot easier to remove audio connectors and wire them off the device itself (volume control and module). It is usually easier to connect the wired connector(s) to the device first, and then mount the device as a final step. Finally, it’s really easy to create electrical shorts on densely-populated audio connectors using finely-stranded speaker wires—always check for shorts!

It’s really easy to create electrical shorts on denselypopulated audio connectors using finely-stranded speaker wires— always check for shorts!

Making the Amplifier Connection
Back at the entertainment center or “front end,” identify the two-conductor wire pair (or single 4-conductor run) going to the System Matching module at the consolidation point/ structured cabling center. The last step involves connecting those wires to a wall platemounted set of binding posts, so that by using that wallplate the amplifier can be connected to the entire installed system. 1. Clear any excess construction material away from the mud-ring/mounting ring or J-box. 2. Remove the protective electrical tape from the wire ends. 3. Select a QuickPort snap-in binding post (use RED for the positive wire conductor and BLACK for the negative conductor). 4. Loosen the small screw on the back of the Quickport binding post and insert the bare wire end up to the insulator. Tighten the screw. 5. Repeat the process for the other three conductors. 6. Snap the connected binding posts into a Leviton 4-port Decora insert in the following order: the two LEFT conductors on the top (RED left, BLACK right) and the two RIGHT conductors on the bottom (RED left, BLACK right). 7. Install the completed Decora insert in the mounting ring or J-box, and install a Decora wall plate to finish the job. The amplifier interface is now ready for connection.

Use wallplate mounted binding posts for all ampliffier connections.

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© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Installing and Connecting the Home Theater
Follow the same speaker installation procedures and practices outlined earlier for multiroom audio, and observe the following differences: • All speakers and connections are in the same room, which makes installation and testing easier. Make sure each speaker two-conductor wire run has been labeled: LEFT FRONT, CENTER (location only), RIGHT FRONT, LEFT REAR, and RIGHT REAR (surrounds). • Remember, the amplifier connection will be five channels instead of two channels. You will use a two-gang Decora wallplate and two inserts: a 6-port for the LEFT, CENTER and RIGHT FRONT channels and a 4-port for the LEFT and RIGHT REAR (surround) channels.
Remember, for home theater the amplifier connection will be five channels instead of two channels.

A home theater connector wallplate.

• Install a 5-channel speaker plate and terminate (that’s RED or + and BLACK or – for each of five speakers, a total of TEN connections). Follow the procedures in the last section “Making the Amplifier Connection.” • Center channel location—install a QuickPort or equivalent single-speaker wallplate (this will have one RED or + connector and one BLACK or – connector, usually a binding post), preferably near the floor at standard outlet height for the room. Cut the speaker wire at the service loop, and connect the run from the home theater wallplate location to the two binding posts from the back of the wallplate. If the consumer is going to use a stand-alone center channel (the majority of the market), they can easily connect it to the terminated wallplate using the terminals. If the consumer wants an in-wall center channel, simply remove the plate, disconnect the two wires, and splice them into the rest of the wire run going up the wall (you can use butt connectors or other suitable types for stranded copper wire). Finally, connect the other end to the in-wall center channel speaker being installed. • Subwoofer location—install two (stereo) RCA connectors on a wallplate behind the subwoofer location, and connect to either the shielded cabling or UTP run previously (shielded cable with usually require an RCA or F-RCA connector, UTP will usually use a 110 connector). Install another stereo RCA connector pair behind the entertainment center and terminate based on the style connector being used (again, shielded cable with usually require an RCA or F-RCA connector, UTP will usually use a 110 connector).

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Part 8: Set-Up and Troubleshooting
The system should be interfaced and activated with an amplifier to determine any potential problems. This is extremely important to assure the builder that the built-in audio system was delivered in perfect working order. It is also highly recommended that you leave behind documentation to that effect.

Activating the Multi-Room System
You will need a two-channel or multi-room amplifier to test the system and a sound source (this can be a portable CD/MP-3 player or PC with MP-3 files and an RCA output cable).
It is extremely important to assure the builder that the built-in audio system was delivered in perfect working order.

1. Make sure all volume controls are in the DOWN (off) position to avoid any surprises. Also, make sure the VOLUME (gain) control on the sound source is turned DOWN as well. 2. Make sure the amplifier is turned OFF. Connect the amplifier’s LEFT and RIGHT output up to the QuickPort wall plate with the stereo speaker binding posts. Observe polarity. 3. Connect the sound source’s OUTPUT to the amplifier’s stereo INPUT via an RCA cable (on a personal stereo or PC, this may be a mini-stereo plug (headphone type)-to-RCA LEFT/RIGHT adapter. 4. If the amplifier has any INPUT/OUTPUT or GAIN controls, turn them DOWN as well. 5. Turn the amplifier ON. If it enters the protection mode after turn-on, turn it OFF immediately and check the system for any shorts. 6. Raise the volume at the sound source to about 25%. If the amp has INPUT/ OUTPUT controls, raise them to 25% as well. You will now have audio streaming from the source through the amplifier. 7. Go to the closest room and raise the volume control 25%. You should hear music out of both channels. If you do, repeat the process for all the other rooms and check to make sure both speakers are playing. 8. Go back to the “front end” where the amplifier is located, and raise the sound source to 50% and the amplifier to 100%. 9. Go back to the closest room and raise the volume control. You should be able to get room-filling sound without distortion, without raising the control all the way UP. 10. Repeat the process for all the other rooms. The multi-room system is now ready for use.

Activating the Home Theater System
You can also use a stereo amplifier to check a home theater system, which is actually simpler given that there are no volume controls and the system and source are in the same room. 1. While in the OFF position, connect the amplifier to any two of the five speaker terminals on the five-channel QuickPort wall plate you installed earlier (behind the AV receiver or entertainment center location). 2. Turn the amplifier ON with the sound source connected to it. Make sure the VOLUME on the source is all the way DOWN. 3. Gently increase the volume level on the sound source. You should hear music on two speakers. 4. Repeat the process for the other installed speakers. The home theater system is ready for use.
52 © 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

Basic Troubleshooting
The primary troubleshooting tool is logic in tracking down, locating and isolating problems. For example, a problem affecting all rooms is probably occurring between the amplifier and the consolidation point (the System Matching module in the structured cabling center, for example). However, a problem occurring in only one or several rooms is probably occurring at or near the room level (between the volume control and speakers). Remember it is always easier to check (and eliminate as the trouble source) cables, amplifiers and connections before pulling out volume controls and speakers! Tech tip: the right way to troubleshoot. Remember to always work backwards in troubleshooting—the fastest way to find out what’s wrong is process of elimination while using logic to determine where the problem can and can’t be. An example: one channel out across the entire system (one speaker in EVERY room) would have to be confined between the distribution module and the amplifier. Always check the easy things first, and take nothing for granted: that includes the audio patchcords connecting a source component to an amplifier, for example. Finally, you can reverse cables to see if the problem changes. For example, if you have the LEFT channel out on the system and you reverse the LEFT and RIGHT wires coming from the amplifier and the module and the problem reverses as a result (the RIGHT channel is now out) then the problem is between the amplifier and the source. If the problem does not reverse, then it is between the connecting module and the rest of the system. The following section covers some of the problems commonly found in multi-room and home theater installations. • If there is no sound anywhere • First, make sure the amplifier and sound source are functioning (try using a pair of outdoor speakers right off the amplifier. • If the amplifier works, check the connections at the amplifier’s QuickPort wall plate. • Next, check the LEFT/RIGHT INPUT connection at the System Matching module in the structured cabling center. • If the connections seem OK, disconnect one of the room connections in the panel and hook it up directly to the amplifier. Repeat the process. If the amplifier can drive the rooms directly, the problem is between the structured cabling center and the amplifier’s connection wallplate (or in the System Matching module itself) • If only one or several rooms are without sound • The problem is between the central distribution point (System Matching module and/or structured cabling center) and the room; or, within the room itself. • To eliminate the System Matching module, repeat the procedure above with the amplifier directly at the distribution center. If the affected rooms now play sound, the problem is at the System Matching module or the structured cabling center. If not, the problem is in the rooms. • To check the rooms, bring the amplifier to each affected room. Disconnect the volume control and remove it from the box. Pull off the connector. Remove the LEFT and RIGHT two-conductor wires going to each speaker. Connect the
The primary troubleshooting tool is logic in tracking down, locating and isolating problems.

© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

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Audio System Design and Installation: Fundamentals of Audio Technology

installed speakers directly to the amplifier. Turn the amplifier ON, and gently raise the sound source VOLUME. If you hear sound, the problem is at the volume control. If not, it is at the speakers. • If one or several rooms has sound in only one speaker • Repeat the procedure just described, to identify whether the problem is at the speaker or at the volume control (or in the wiring in-between). • If the speakers make a “rattling” or “buzzing” sound • Often, debris such as dust, drywall pieces and excess wire insulation can fall into a speaker (this is most common in ceiling installations). Rather than remove the speaker for cleaning, try this approach: 1. Make sure the amplifier’s VOLUME control is all the way DOWN. 2. Using an FM tuner, get some clean inter-station noise with the FM muting turned OFF. 3. Turn the BASS control up. 4. Gently increase the amplifier’s volume until you get a mid-level “roaring” sound like a waterfall. It should not be so loud that you can hear the speakers popping or distorting. After 30 seconds of play, the movement of the cones should have bounced all the debris from the back area. If the speaker suddenly shuts OFF, it is likely that built-in protection has engaged. It should reset in a minute or two. • If a room (or rooms) lacks bass and/or vocals sound weak • This usually indicates a phasing problem. If all the rooms suffer from this, the problem is between the amplifier and the Impedance Matching module and/or the structured cabling consolidation point. Simply switch one of the PLUS and MINUS connections at the System Matching module’s input. (If you switch both, the phase problem will not go away.) If a single or several rooms suffer from this, the problem is at the room. Repeat this procedure at the SPEAKER connection at the back of the volume control. Once the room is in-phase, the bass should be restored. • If channels are inverted (LEFT sounds come out of the RIGHT channel) • The problem is that a LEFT and RIGHT connection was simply switched somewhere. If it is in one room, check the volume control and speaker wiring. If it is across the system, check the connections between the amplifier and the System Matching module. While this situation may escape notice in multi-room music, it is very noticeable and critical in home theater, where special audio effects will appear in opposition to the video action. • If the system shuts-down during operation • This usually means two things: • The System Matching module has been activated. Check the volume level, and check the amplifier’s operation. If the amplifier is producing potentially damaging current or transients, the protection will engage. • The amplifier’s own protection circuit has been activated. If you are not using a System Matching module, check all the volume controls (an impedance mismatch will send the amplifier into protection). Check for shorts in the system.

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© 2005 Leviton Mfg. Co. All rights reserved.

Leviton Manufacturing Company, Inc. 59-25 Little Neck Parkway, Little Neck, NY 11362-2591 Telephone: 1-800-323-8920 Fax: 1-800-832-9538 For answers to technical questions, call the Tech Hotline toll-free at 1-800-824-3005, 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM E.S.T. Visit Leviton’s website at http://www.leviton.com © Copyright 2005 Leviton Manufacturing Co., Inc. All rights reserved. S-739/F5

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