Surround sound systems can significantly enhance your home entertainment experience. But the unsightly wires can make your living space look messy.
Fortunately, several methods exist to hide those pesky wires and create a clean, visually appealing setup.
But before attempting to hide your speaker wires, it’s crucial to assess your space and determine the best approach for your home’s layout, surround sound system, and preferences.
There are different concealment options available. Like flat speaker wire, cable clips, raceways and running wires beneath rugs or along baseboards. And have you considered a wireless solution?
Read on for all the details about how to hide speaker wire.
- Basic Wire Hiding Techniques
- Creative and Decorative Solutions
- Advanced Installations
- Removing the Wires
- The Main Concepts
- Assessing Your Space
- Speaker Wire Selection
Basic Wire Hiding Techniques
Hiding speaker wires can be easy if you consider the basic options available.
1. Concealing Under Floor or Carpet
One straightforward wire-hiding technique involves running speaker cables underneath carpets or area rugs.
For best results, use flat or ribbon-style wires that can be laid flush beneath the flooring without creating any visible bumps or ridges on the carpet’s surface.
You can use a round speaker cable, but I would get a thinner high-gauge wire, such as 18 or 20-gauge. However, it depends on the location of the carpet and foot traffic.
If needed, the wires can be safely secured to the floor using tape or small staples.
For homes with hardwood or tile floors, you can tuck the wire under specific area rugs or runners strategically placed to cover the cables after installation.
Even I can lay a rug on top of some speaker wire. The tricky part comes with a fitted carpet. How do you get it under there, especially if you need to pass a door frame?
This video explains all:
2. Use Baseboards, Window Frames and Crown Moldings
Another straightforward solution for managing your surround sound wires is running them along your baseboards, window frames and crown moldings.
Not only does this method offer a discreet solution, but it’s also easy to implement. Consider using adhesive speaker wires that stick to the wall and blend in with your existing décor.
Or you can secure the wires with cable clips or raceways.
You can even paint these wires to match the color of your baseboards or moldings, further enhancing their camouflaging effect.
3. Hiding Wires in Walls
For those willing to do minor drywall work, you can hide speaker cables by fishing them through walls or ceilings. You mount the speakers on the wall, but the wiring goes into a hole and behind the wall.
This process involves installing specialized mounting boxes within wall cavities at desired start and end points.
Then, using fish tape, carefully route cables through interior walls to hide the wires and create clean sight lines.
Consider hiring a professional for this if your DIY skills aren’t great.
Fancy your chances of doing it yourself? Want to know how the pros do it? Check this out:
Creative and Decorative Solutions
In addition to fundamental wire hiding techniques, some creative decorative solutions to conceal surround sound cables are available.
4. Flat Speaker Wires
Flat speaker wire isn’t only suitable for running under carpets. You can also use flat wire to hide your surround sound wires in plain sight.
Many brands have an adhesive side suitable for sticking to walls or ceilings. Paint them to match your wall colors for an even more discreet appearance.
This short video by Monoprice is an excellent introduction to flat speaker wire if you’ve never heard of it before:
Flat speaker wire comes in the same gauges as standard round cables. So you will be OK with 14 or 16 gauge for most setups.
Even though the copper wire is flat, it has the same surface area as round wires, so there is no difference in performance.
These are the most popular brands on Amazon:
Length: 25, 50 and 100 feet
Length: 100 feet
Length: 50 feet
5. Cable Clips
Cable clips are a cheap and effective way of tidying up long cable runs. If you have baseboards or window frames nearby, use these as a natural contour.
However, simply pinning the wires with clips to a bare wall will work well if you arrange them in straight lines to tidy things up. Try and align with any furniture or ornaments nearby.
You can buy adhesive clips or models with small nails. Either will work but consider the surface you are using.
Nails will work best on wooden boards or window frames, but you can also use them on bare walls if the surface doesn’t break up too easily.
Adhesive clips should work in most locations but might fall off on damp or slippery surfaces.
You can buy cable clips in many colors to match the surface or paint them so they blend into their surroundings easily.
6. Cable Sleeves
Cable sleeves are made of flexible vinyl and can neatly group wires together while adding a touch of color that complements room décor.
You can also use sleeves to organize messy cables behind entertainment consoles or racks.
It’s a remarkably effective way of keeping the wires out of sight with minimal effort and expense.
The main problem with these is it’s a pain to add extra cables later if you install more speakers or a wire needs replacing.
Although, these cable management sleeves on Amazon have zips, so it’s easier to add and remove cables over time. Now, that’s a good idea!
Flexible neoprene cable sleeves with zip closure neatly manage and conceal multiple cables while providing easy access. Simply gather your cables together, wrap the sleeve around them, and zip it closed for a neat and organized look.
7. Adhesive Raceways
Raceways or wire channels are plastic covers that neatly adhere wires against baseboards and walls. Effective and inconspicuous, it is a cheap and easy way to hide those annoying cables.
Raceways are available in various colors to match your wall paint or flooring. These covers affix over wires along baseboards or floors to seamlessly hide them from view.
You can also paint them if they are in view on colorful surfaces.
Don’t know what I’m talking about? Then you should watch this:
8. Light Strips
Attach light strips along the wires and make them a focal point of the room. The lights hide the cables and add ambiance to your space.
You can buy long strings of small LED lights that are ideal for adding color and atmosphere to your room. And you can also control some models with home automation or a simple voice control system like Alexa or Google Assistant.
This video shows how you can wire your home theater room with LED strips:
With some planning, do you see how you can run these lights around the room and hide your speaker wires at the same time?
Of course, while hooking up LED mood lighting like in the video is cool – it’s also a fair bit of work.
An alternative is to take the easy way and buy a $15 set of LED lights from Amazon. You can easily run these around the room alongside the speaker wiring and get a similar effect.
In fact, if you get a set of lights that can change color, you can switch these to a festive red, green and blue pattern when it’s Christmas. It’ll save you some work every year!
9. Use Wall Coverings
For an easy solution anyone can do, you can use existing pictures and wall hangings to hide the cables.
If you don’t have much to work with, consider buying some that will look good in the room but also camouflage those annoying cables.
Adding a few more picture frames to the room is easy, improving the look and hiding the wires at the same time.
Learn more: How to wire your home theater system
If you want a better way to install wires where you can’t see them, consider installing in-wall or in-ceiling speakers.
10. In-Wall and In-Ceiling Speaker Installations
If you’re willing to invest more time and effort, in-wall and in-ceiling speaker installations can provide a clean, professional look for your surround sound system.
Apart from hiding the wiring, there will also be no unsightly wall mounts or speaker stands to clutter up the room.
You’ll need the appropriate tools and materials, such as a stud finder, drill, fish tape, and wire stripper. But only try this if you have the DIY skills to do a clean and professional job.
It’s essential to be cautious when working with your home’s structure and electrical systems; for this reason, you should consult a professional or have someone experienced to assist you if you are unsure.
Here are the basic steps for installing in-wall and in-ceiling speakers:
- Find the ideal speaker locations: Use your stud finder to locate the studs in your walls or ceiling, marking their positions and ensuring the space between them is sufficient for your speaker installations.
- Cut openings for speakers: Using the speakers’ mounting templates, trace the shape onto your walls or ceiling, then cut the holes with a drywall saw or a similar tool.
- Run the speaker wire: Use the fish tape to snake the cables through the wall or ceiling cavities, starting from the speaker’s location and pulling them back to your AV receiver or amplifier.
- Terminate the wires: Strip the ends of your cables and connect them to your speakers and the AV receiver or amplifier using the appropriate connectors.
- Install and mount the speakers: Place the speakers into their respective wall or ceiling openings, and secure them using the mounting hardware provided by the manufacturer.
If you’re thinking of giving this a go yourself, check this out first!
Removing the Wires
The best solution for hiding wires is to get rid of them altogether!
If you think having all those annoying wires will cause you more problems than you want, consider a wireless speaker system. It will save drilling holes in the walls.
11. Use a Wireless Sound System
Wireless home theater systems are easy to buy these days.
However, you have a few ways of achieving your goal.
- A soundbar system: Most soundbar systems are wireless these days. If you have a standalone soundbar, the only cables you will need are power and the audio output from your TV, which are relatively easy to hide. More complex systems have wireless subwoofers and surround speakers.
- A wireless home theater system: Most home theater systems still use wires. But a few options are entirely wireless, like the Enclave Audio CineHome models.
- A wireless audio adapter: You can buy wireless audio adapters to connect your amplifier and standard passive speakers. The SVS Soundpath adapter is a good option for this.
An important point to consider is that wireless systems aren’t entirely wireless.
Even though there are no wires between the speaker and the amplifier, each speaker will need power.
So, while you may not have to run speaker cables around your room, you will still have a power cable for each speaker that you may need to hide.
Wireless speakers provide more flexibility in placement, allowing you to experiment with different positions to find the perfect sound setup for your room, especially for the subwoofer.
However, you must still follow the general speaker placement guidelines for surround sound to get the best immersive effect in your room.
Quality Comparison: Wired Vs. Wireless
When comparing the sound quality of wired and wireless speakers, the gap has closed significantly in recent years.
Modern wireless speakers can deliver high-quality audio that rivals their wired counterparts. You might not convince a dedicated audiophile, but wireless audio will sound just fine for the average user.
However, it’s essential to remember that the sound quality of wireless speakers depends on various factors.
For example, the quality of the wireless signal, the distance between the speakers and the source, and any potential interference can all impact the audio.
Wired setups tend to offer more reliable performance, as they are less affected by these factors.
While there may be some differences in audio quality between wired and wireless options, the convenience and aesthetic benefits of wireless speakers often outweigh these concerns for many users.
You’ll need to decide which is the most crucial factor for you.
The Main Concepts
Before deciding which of the wire-hiding techniques you will use, you should understand a few basic concepts to ensure you do it right.
Here are some of the crucial issues to consider.
Understanding Surround Sound
Surround sound systems, such as 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos, enhance your audio experience by using multiple speakers around the room. These extra speakers create a more immersive, three-dimensional listening experience than traditional stereo setups.
The problem is that more speakers usually result in more wires, quickly making any room look untidy.
Surround sound layouts typically include a center speaker, front left and right speakers, and surround speakers placed on the sides or rear of your listening area.
Dolby Atmos speakers are best installed high in the room – near or in the ceiling – which can make hiding wires even more difficult.
So consider if you want to go this far. A simpler surround sound speaker layout may be all you need, requiring less wiring.
Or, use Dolby Atmos-enabled upfiring speakers, which sit on your ear-level speakers. Using these will make hiding the wiring much easier.
Importance of Wire Management
Wire management is not only about aesthetics but also about safety and performance.
Excess or poorly managed cables can create trip hazards, reduce signal quality, and damage your equipment over time.
By effectively managing your surround-sound system’s wires, you will:
- Maintain a clean and clutter-free room
- Reduce the risk of accidents
- Minimize interference and signal loss
- Extend the life of your equipment by avoiding damage
So there’s more to managing your wiring than keeping everything looking nice.
What are the Potential Challenges?
When hiding surround sound wires, it’s essential to be aware of potential challenges and obstacles that may arise. Some of these include:
- Limited access to walls and ceilings for in-wall wiring
- Difficulty in camouflaging wires against various wall colors and materials
- Navigating around furniture and other obstructions
The main takeaway is you should use the best method that suits your room, budget and DIY skills. Only make holes in your walls if you know what you are doing.
There is more than one way of doing things, so you can always find a different way that is a better fit for you.
Assessing Your Space
Identifying Potential Hiding Spots
Before beginning your task, walk around your room and identify potential hiding spots for the wires. Look for places to tuck wires out of sight, like alongside baseboards or trim, under carpeting or behind furniture.
Take note of areas with different surfaces like drywall, hardwood floors, or drop ceilings, as these may require other hiding techniques.
Wiring Around Different Surfaces
Working with the surface you’re dealing with when hiding wires is essential. For example, if you have hardwood floors, consider using a cable management floor track, which runs along the floor and blends in seamlessly.
On the other hand, if you’re dealing with a finished basement featuring drywall and drop ceilings, you could route the wires through the ceiling and walls.
Working with Limited Space Areas
In cases where you have little space to work with, like a small room or tight corners, get creative with your wire-hiding solutions.
Underneath carpets, tucking wires around the edges of your baseboards can help keep them out of view. Integrating the cables within the room’s décor can be a creative method, such as using wall art, paintings, or shelves to disguise any visible wiring.
Just ensure the wires are still safely out of the way to avoid tripping hazards or interference with daily activities.
Speaker Wire Selection
Selecting the right speaker wire is crucial when you’re looking to hide surround sound wires.
Getting this bit right from the start can save time and trouble.
Flat vs. Round Speaker Wires
Flat speaker wires are a great choice when it comes to easy concealment. Their slim profile makes them perfect for running along baseboards or tucking under carpets without causing a noticeable bump.
Flat wires are also often easier to paint over, allowing you to blend them with your wall color for a seamless look.
On the other hand, round speaker wires are often more durable. They may also offer slightly better sound quality due to reduced interference. However, this won’t make any difference in most situations.
But, round cables tend to be bulkier and more difficult to hide than their flat counterparts.
Understanding Wire Conductors
The conductivity of your speaker wire significantly affects the efficiency and performance of your surround sound system.
Typically, copper is used to make speaker wires as it is an excellent conductor of electricity, resulting in outstanding performance.
However, you can also get wires made from silver, which is an even better conductor but is typically more expensive. It’s not something I recommend unless you’ve got more money than you know what to do with!
If money is tight, CCA (copper-clad aluminum) wire might save you some cash and will work just fine in most setups. However, it’s best to stick with copper wire if you can afford it.
Impact on Sound Quality
The speaker wire you choose can directly impact your surround sound system’s overall sound quality.
Factors such as wire gauge, conductivity, insulation and speaker impedance can all affect the audio signal transmission from your receiver to your speakers.
But, whatever you might read, the wire gauge has the most effect on sound quality.
Speaker wire with a lower gauge number and bigger diameter will have less resistance, leading to a cleaner signal.
So thicker cable is better for long cable runs as it won’t degrade the audio signal so much. The gauge is less critical for shorter runs of 20 feet or less.
Of course, a thinner wire will be easier to hide! So if that’s your aim, go with the higher gauge.
14 or 16-gauge copper speaker wire will work well for most rooms. With typical 8-ohm speakers, you can run 14 gauge wire to 80 feet and thinner 16 gauge wire to 48 feet. Plenty long enough for most spaces.
You don’t need to worry about anything else if you buy the correct gauge for your cable length and speaker impedance.
Learn more: How to choose the best speaker wire gauge
About The Author
Paul started the Home Cinema Guide to help less-experienced users get the most out of today's audio-visual technology. He has been a sound, lighting and audio-visual engineer for around 20 years. At home, he has spent more time than is probably healthy installing, configuring, testing, de-rigging, fixing, tweaking, re-installing again (and sometimes using) various pieces of hi-fi and home cinema equipment. You can find out more here.