Cleanest multi-room setup via Cat6a advice

Anynameyouwish

Novice Member
Hi all

I'm just about to begin work on a total refurb and extension to my house and so am taking opportunity to embark on my first notable home AV project and could do with some specific cabling advice and product recommendations particularly around 4K HDMI and USB over Cat6...

My aim is to have the cleanest, least cluttered and most cost effective setup possible - ideally no boxes/adaptors on view anywhere. To do this I'm currently planning the following and have been working to assumption that this will all be achieved by pulling Cat6a to all relevant rooms and terminating via as few wall plates as possible

A Central AV cupboard under the stairs powering 3 rooms around the house and containing:

Wired and Wireless Access Point to Sky Fibre Broadband
Router
Sky Q main box (hard wired to Internet)
Sky Q mini box x 2
Sonos Amp (driving single pair of sonos sonance in ceiling speakers in kitchen/diner)
Small form factor Gaming PC with 4k DP output via graphics card (hard wired to Internet)
Small form factor Work PC with HDMI output via graphics card (hard wired to Internet)
Xbox (hard wired to Internet)
Philips Hue Bridge (hard wired to Internet)
2 x Samsung One Connect boxes powering 2 UHD capable QLED TVs connected via 15m runs of Samsung One Connect fibre cable (Formal living room and Upstairs bedroom)

*Family living area will have 4k TV but WILL NOT be utilising a Samsung One Connect and therefore will require more numerous direct connections i.e HDMI/Wired Internet.

End goal for all rooms:

- Locally controlled Sky Q in 4K and ideally further future proofed for Family Living Area
Locally controlled Sky Q in 1080p in Formal Living Room and Bedroom
- Access to Gaming PC in living area and bedroom with ability to locally plug in USB peripherals i.e wireless keyboard, wireless mouse, gamepad, webcam (ideally at least one USB 3.0 connection available)
- Access to Work PC in living room with ability to locally plug in USB peripherals i.e wireless keyboard, wireless mouse, webcam, USB powered second screen ( all USB 2.0)
- Sound will be provided by Sonos surround sound system inc. Beam and two Sonos One rears in all rooms

Any advice much appreciated! :)
 
Last edited:

Otto Pylot

Member
As far as the CAT-6 cabling goes, you should use solid core, UTP, CAT-6 (non-CCA/CCS and not pre-terminated ethernet) cabling. The cabling can be terminated with punch down keystone jacks to extend an ethernet connection or teminated with HDBT to extend an HDMI connection. All of your cabling should be installed in a 1.5"-2.0" flexible conduit with pull strings. That is the ONLY way to future proof your cabling for A/V.

The most reliable connection for HDMI is a single cable, source to sink, with no wall plates, adapters, extenders, etc in-between. That means that you will have either use a brush plate or a recessed cable plate for a cleaner look. Distance is the achilles heel for HDMI. Especially 4k HDR, so plan your cable runs carefully. I use solid core CAT-6 to extend my ethernet connections for hard wiring my two HTS's and the satellite extender for my mesh WiFi system. A simple punch down keystone jack gives it a nice finished look. I use white wall plates and white CAT-6 ethernet cabling connecting to the wall plate. The solid core is blue but who cares, it's behind the wall.

4k HDR is really finicky with its connections, and if your cable runs go longer than about 10m, issues can occur, hence the use of conduit (for swapping out/upgrading your HDMI cables) and a single cable, source to sink. It's also easier to control bend radius because cables with sharp bends will develop issues over time, if not immediately.

I'll let someone else address your other concerns.
 
D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
How are you going to manage the heat in your under stairs cupboard? With the amount of kit you are talking about in such a small space; you are going to effectively have a 4KW heater running 24/7. Additionally it’s a fire risk, directly under your main means of escape from upstairs. Finally how are you going to manage all of the cabling in such a small space?
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
'My aim is to have the cleanest, least cluttered and most cost effective setup possible' - hiding kit away and keeping a 'clean' look is relatively simple.

I would start from the premise that you want an easy to use system capable of delivering great video and audio within your budget and with minimal kit on show.

Centralising kit is quickly becoming the 'old' way to do things - it can still work very well but as we move to Bluetooth and App. control, Smart TV's which deliver a huge proportion of our content via streaming, higher and higher bandwidth video and audio from gaming consoles, dealing with HDR in addition to resolution discrepancies between old and new kit and younger family members who don't use 'conventional' TV delivery options it is good to not start with 'centralisation' being a must have.

Try not to plan around just the kit you have now - you can be assured if something fails you will be getting a very different piece of kit to replace it in a year or two.

Joe
 

Anynameyouwish

Novice Member
'My aim is to have the cleanest, least cluttered and most cost effective setup possible' - hiding kit away and keeping a 'clean' look is relatively simple.

I would start from the premise that you want an easy to use system capable of delivering great video and audio within your budget and with minimal kit on show.

Centralising kit is quickly becoming the 'old' way to do things - it can still work very well but as we move to Bluetooth and App. control, Smart TV's which deliver a huge proportion of our content via streaming, higher and higher bandwidth video and audio from gaming consoles, dealing with HDR in addition to resolution discrepancies between old and new kit and younger family members who don't use 'conventional' TV delivery options it is good to not start with 'centralisation' being a must have.

Try not to plan around just the kit you have now - you can be assured if something fails you will be getting a very different piece of kit to replace it in a year or two.

Joe

Great advice, thanks Joe. I've tried to apply that way of thinking to my current plan whilst trying to adhere to budget contraints. I realise my plan to centralise and in particular, utilise the Samsung One Connect boxes certainly works for my needs now but is likely not a good long-term solution. I feel like having well planned Wifi Accress points, mutli-room audio via Sonos and pulling at least two to four (possibly up to 8) Cat6a cables to as many rooms as possible (installing via conduit with pull strings as suggested by Otto Pylot above) is a senisbile future proofing approach - would be good to know if you think otherwise or if there's more you think I need to consider?

Also, do you have any advice on a cost effective way to deliver long-distance USB 2 and/or USB 3 access points over Cat6a aswell as any recommendations for good value HDBT units for (one for 4K via SKy Q and two for 1080p via Sky Q)?

Many thanks!
 

Anynameyouwish

Novice Member
How are you going to manage the heat in your under stairs cupboard? With the amount of kit you are talking about in such a small space; you are going to effectively have a 4KW heater running 24/7. Additionally it’s a fire risk, directly under your main means of escape from upstairs. Finally how are you going to manage all of the cabling in such a small space?

Fair points, the cupboard space, altough under the stairs will be located under the top end of the stairs so will be relatviely spacious. I'm also having all surrounding partitions upgraded to fire safety standards. The two PC's will be the main source of heat and I don't plan to have those constantly powered up and rarely at the same time.

As far as the cabling is concerned, good question! and one I would really appreciate advice on :)
 
D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
Sorry, didnt mean to sound combative in my previous post, its just that I do a lot of smart home installs and these are common problems. Heat builds very rapidly in confined spaces and often requires some form of external extraction to try and keep it under control.

Stairs initially seem like great places for a central hub, but getting cabling in is not always as easy at seems. 20 Cat6 drops can end up with a bundle / braid thicker than your wrist and that all needs to be managed somehow,

As @Joe Fernand says, centralization of AV gear is not the way that many people do things today and with the advent of new HDMI standards and shorter certified HDMI cables then localised AV is definitely the way to go.

Centralized AV just leads to another level of complexity and failure that that is often not needed or beneficial.

I would suggest you start with a house plan and decide where you want Cat6 drops (which are normally in pairs). As a starter for 10 you will want a minimum of 2 behind every TV and normally 4 to where you have a selection of AV Gear (AVR, Console, Miniboxes, Sonos, PC, Blu Ray Player etc). Then figure a couple in each bedroom (besides behind any TVs). Add in at least a couple of Wireless Access Points, CCTV ? then work out how many cable drops that is. Given that 20 is about wrist thickness you start to get an idea about cable management. Now if they are all in a confined space, then you are going to want to be able to pull the end-point out to cable them (we call this a service loop. So wherever your cable end-points are (normally a patch panel or comms cab) at at least 2 -3m of additional cable so that you can manage your cabling. Now you have a big fat snake of 20+ cables that you have also to manage.

As you can see, just your cabling alone has got a little more complicated, very fast. Planning is the key to all of this. You need to understand all of these things (if you want to do a decent job). Others may do it differently, but this is how it is done professionally.

It is all very doable you just need to plan properly and understand what your problems may be, before you start down this route.
 

Anynameyouwish

Novice Member
Sorry, didnt mean to sound combative in my previous post, its just that I do a lot of smart home installs and these are common problems. Heat builds very rapidly in confined spaces and often requires some form of external extraction to try and keep it under control.

Stairs initially seem like great places for a central hub, but getting cabling in is not always as easy at seems. 20 Cat6 drops can end up with a bundle / braid thicker than your wrist and that all needs to be managed somehow,

As @Joe Fernand says, centralization of AV gear is not the way that many people do things today and with the advent of new HDMI standards and shorter certified HDMI cables then localised AV is definitely the way to go.

Centralized AV just leads to another level of complexity and failure that that is often not needed or beneficial.

I would suggest you start with a house plan and decide where you want Cat6 drops (which are normally in pairs). As a starter for 10 you will want a minimum of 2 behind every TV and normally 4 to where you have a selection of AV Gear (AVR, Console, Miniboxes, Sonos, PC, Blu Ray Player etc). Then figure a couple in each bedroom (besides behind any TVs). Add in at least a couple of Wireless Access Points, CCTV ? then work out how many cable drops that is. Given that 20 is about wrist thickness you start to get an idea about cable management. Now if they are all in a confined space, then you are going to want to be able to pull the end-point out to cable them (we call this a service loop. So wherever your cable end-points are (normally a patch panel or comms cab) at at least 2 -3m of additional cable so that you can manage your cabling. Now you have a big fat snake of 20+ cables that you have also to manage.

As you can see, just your cabling alone has got a little more complicated, very fast. Planning is the key to all of this. You need to understand all of these things (if you want to do a decent job). Others may do it differently, but this is how it is done professionally.

It is all very doable you just need to plan properly and understand what your problems may be, before you start down this route.

Thanks again! Based on what you and Joe are telling me, I'm now thinking that I will continue to move forward with the central cupboard idea for now as in theory, this will work with my current setup and achieve the look I've long been after and have had in my mind since we decided to buy the property! i.e. no localised boxes / visible cables but at the same time will ensure I add all the Cat6 drops and Wireless Access points I need / could potentially need in future....

Same question to you as I posed to Joe, are you able to recommend cost effective products/methods for delivering both 4k HDR and 1080p from Sky Q / PC Graphics card and USB 2/3 over Cat6 up to 20m?

Thanks so much!
 
D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
In short, I would suggest that you talk to Joe about HDMI over IP solutions, but whether it is cost effective only you can decide. I think you will need to be looking to budget at least £2k to cover connectivity and sources for all of the sources and end-points that you are looking at maybe more. Again talk to Joe to firm up prices. Also remember that by the time you look to install it, it will probably be obsolete as it is unlikely that it will support the HDMI 2.1 Standard and the high bandwidth requirements of Ultra High Speed HDMI.

With regard to the cabling for the HDMI over IP my experience is this really should be a certified install for each lobe and properly tested. You may get away with it being untested but that is on you.

Graphics cards maybe even more problematic as they often do not use standard EDID and can become a headache to make work.

My advice is NOT to go down this route but if it is what you wish to do, then Joe is your man. Unless you are comfortable and familiar with this type of technology, I would not advise as a self-install, so you may need to figure in installation costs.
 

Anynameyouwish

Novice Member
In short, I would suggest that you talk to Joe about HDMI over IP solutions, but whether it is cost effective only you can decide. I think you will need to be looking to budget at least £2k to cover connectivity and sources for all of the sources and end-points that you are looking at maybe more. Again talk to Joe to firm up prices. Also remember that by the time you look to install it, it will probably be obsolete as it is unlikely that it will support the HDMI 2.1 Standard and the high bandwidth requirements of Ultra High Speed HDMI.

With regard to the cabling for the HDMI over IP my experience is this really should be a certified install for each lobe and properly tested. You may get away with it being untested but that is on you.

Graphics cards maybe even more problematic as they often do not use standard EDID and can become a headache to make work.

My advice is NOT to go down this route but if it is what you wish to do, then Joe is your man. Unless you are comfortable and familiar with this type of technology, I would not advise as a self-install, so you may need to figure in installation costs.

Thanks again - you've really got me thinking on the HDMI over IP piece now :) Perhaps direct single cables source to sink is worth the extra thought when it comes to the HDMI connections. That being the case - are you able to recommeend any good value HDMI cables (15m max length for each should do it) that will cover my requirements? Do you think it will be possible to replace/upgrade these later via conduit with pull strings?
 
D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
Yes I would recommend looking at the RuiPro 4k or better their 8k cables/ I have a 15m Ruipro 4k in my kitchen that runs in 40mm flexible conduit, so that it can be replaced. RuiPro are recognised as one of the best Hybrid Fibre cables on the market and are used by a lot of installers and people hereon AVF. Sorry to say it, talk to @Joe Fernand as he really is your man or if you want technical advice on RuiPro talk to @Otto Pylot as he is probably the best SME on These kinds of cable.

I think that using Hybrid Fibre cables directly, although slightly harder to install is an infinitely better solution for your needs.
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
System planning - agree with mushii. Time spent now makes a big difference further down the line.

15m HDMI cable - to cater for 4K UHD the RuiPro4K is our preference.

UHD over LAN - happy to talk over some options if you wish to investigate that route.

Joe
 

Anynameyouwish

Novice Member
Thanks @Joe Fernand and @mushii - I'll take a look at the RuiPro options for HDMI

@Joe Fernand do you have any thoughts recommendations on the USB Extenders?

I've had this recommended which looks like it could fulfill USB 2.0 requirements, although would prefer to avoid having the receiver box on display if possible...

 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
We have used a few of the Lindy extenders over the year’s - the trick a always to test thoroughly and ensure it is easy to replace.

Our UHD over CAT Extenders support USB.

Joe
 

Seb Briggs

Distinguished Member
Remember if not installed correctly then it’s not cat6 , as the standard is more than just the physical cable
 

Otto Pylot

Member
FWIW, I used Sewell product # SW-30625 for all of my solid core CAT-6 cabling.
 

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