Installing wiring for your home theater can elevate your viewing and listening experience to new heights. However, specialized cables, connectors, and other hardware can get expensive fast. With some strategic planning and cost-conscious wiring techniques, I can build an immersive home theater audio system on a budget.

Do You Need New Wiring for Your Home Theater?

Before running cables through your walls and ceiling, first take stock of your existing wiring situation. Here are some key considerations:

If your room lacks existing speaker wiring, or it's poor quality, then installing new wires specifically for your home theater is recommended.

Choose the Right Gauge Speaker Wire

Thicker speaker cable can improve sound quality by reducing resistance, but it also costs more per foot. Here are some guidelines for selecting the appropriate gauge:

For most home theaters, 16 or 14 gauge wire will be sufficient. Buy pure copper wire instead of copper-clad aluminum and seek cables with oxygen-free copper (OFC), which increases conductivity.

In-Wall Wiring vs. Surface Mounted Cables

Fishing speaker wires through walls provides the cleanest, most discrete installation, but it also requires more work:

Surface-mounted cables are quicker and easier to install:

For most home theater installs, in-wall wiring is preferable if your budget allows. Conduit can be used to simplify fishing cables through finished walls. Surface-mounted wiring serves as a faster, cheaper alternative.

Choosing Between HDMI and Speaker Wire

There are two main methods for connecting AV components to speakers - traditional speaker cable or HDMI:

HDMI audio is convenient, reduces cable clutter, and allows volume control from the TV remote. However, it forces you to upgrade components if you want lossless surround sound formats.

For the ultimate flexibility and future-proofing, a combination of both HDMI and speaker wires is recommended. Use HDMI for short distances to front speakers, but run speaker cables to surround channels.

Save on Labor with DIY Installation

Hiring an professional installer can cost thousands, but you can save substantially by doing it yourself:

With patience and proper planning, you can tackle wiring your home theater yourself and save big. Don't be afraid to call in a professional if you get stuck or unsure.

Shop Clearance Sections and Buy in Bulk

Check clearance sections online and in home improvement stores for discounted spools of speaker wire. Buying wire in bulk means paying less per foot instead of purchasing pre-terminated cables.

You can also save on wall plates, connectors, conduit, and other parts by purchasing economical bundles. For example, Monoprice sells affordable pre-packaged home theater wiring kits with all the essential components.

Buy extra wire, wall plates, and connectors when purchasing in bulk - it avoids delays for future expansion and repairs. With some diligent deal hunting and bulk purchasing, you can outfit your whole home theater wiring project on a modest budget.


While home theater wiring projects require planning and labor, they don't have to drain your bank account. Strategically selecting thinner gauge wires, taking advantage of existing wiring, a DIY approach, buying in bulk, and shopping clearance sales allows you to save hundreds, if not thousands. Patience and safety are key. In the end, you'll enjoy your home theater so much more knowing you wired it yourself!