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  1. #1

    Grounding long-run speaker wires at patch panel

    All,
    This is a home wiring question. I have read several threads on this issue, but I can't find the specific answer. If it is out there somewhere, I apologize in advance.

    I have wired my house with speaker wire, coax, and ethernet, and all the lines run to a central patch panel. These are long runs of, say 200 feet max, with many of the wires in the same conduit. There are no AC lines in the conduit. All low voltage lines cross at right angles to the AC lines.

    For the speaker wire, I used two conductor, shielded wire.

    The question: At the patch panel, should I combine and connect all of the shielding wires to ground (my water pipe)? The other end (either RCA plugs or binding posts) will be cut off and left unconnected.

    The other option I can think of would be to solder the RCA outer ring wire to the shielded wire and leave the ground unconnected at the patch panel. For the binding posts, I guess I would have to connect the shielded wire with the "-ve" wire.

    If one of these is correct or preferred, please let me know. If there is something else I should do , please let me know that.

    Thank you for your time,
    John

  2. #2
    The least wrong answer is to connect the shields together at the patch panel and run a wire from there to the chassis of the amplifier.

    I say "least wrong" because shielded speaker wire has much higher capacitance than unshielded, which is hard for an amp to drive and in some cases can destabilize the amp to the point where it oscillates. Before you hook this up, look in the owner's manual and see if it says anything about shielded speaker wire. In some cases, using shielded speaker wire (especially 200 feet of it!) can void the warranty.

    You're in a damned-whether-you-do-or-don't situation. Running ethernet in proximity to speaker wiring can cause cross-coupling, using shielding to guard against it can cause amplifier instability. It would have been best to use unshielded speaker wiring and put it a foot or more from the other cables, but it's a bit late for that.

    If you stick with shielded wire, you have to ground it; an ungrounded shield is an antenna. Not earth ground, that's irrelevant; the only ground that matters is chassis ground.

    Are there any audio equipment dealers who sell shielded speaker wire reading this? You ought to go ask some amplifier manufacturers what they think of your product and then see if you still want to sell it.

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