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Hi all,

I could really do with some help please as my mind is going to explode due to an overload of cabling options :eek:

I'm still building my house (10 years in! :rolleyes:) and have recently put the first fix cable in for my security cams, my network and my security alarm and I now need to decide which cables to use to transmit for AV around the house.

My security cams are all in shielded cat5e and all run to a central location where my NVR will be, this in turn will be connected to one of my LAN network hubs via shielded cat6 cable.
My security alarm panel will be connected to another LAN network hub via cat6 and all sensors etc are in copper 8 core.
My LAN will comprise of 1 router and 2 hubs all connected in a ring and I then have cat6 running to every single room.

My question is what cable should I be running for my AV gear?
I started off by thinking I would use aerial cable (WF100) to every location where I may put a TV and also separate WF100 to a couple of locations where I may have a requirement for improved FM / DAB radio.
I would do this by way of 1 or more multi input / output amplifiers.
But then I thought it would be useful to also run at least 2 WF100's to for satellite as well.
Then I thought what about HDMI and hence it all started to get a bit OTT I think :unsure:.
Then I starting reading about quadplexers etc and it all got even more complicated.
Note that I am having an AV room with projector etc to which I currently have connected to one of my hubs via 4 x cat6 cables.
I am currently planning to use brush plate outlets for all my network / AV cables rather than faceplates.
I know that I could go with wireless but I would rather have stuff hard wired and only use the wireless option as a backup.

I am hoping for some experienced based advice about what cabling I should actually be putting in and what is a waste of time.

Thanks,
Mark.
 
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To be honest, any cable will go out of date as soon as you put it in.
if I was building a new building I would design in a way to run new cables.
I have “designed” new buildings with AV links and designated tie-lines but something will change 5 years down the line
i am currently doing another now.
HDMI is a domestic connector and is only good for short distances
 
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I have 15m runs of hdmi cables around the house for sky to other rooms with no problems. Good quality cables are neede though
 
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My question is what cable should I be running for my AV gear?

Coax for linear TV (Freeview / Freesat) and linear radio in the form of FM / DAB

If your property location is wired for Virgin then you might want to keep some options open for that in the future. If not, and if its u likely that VW will ever dig up the road to lay their cable infrastructure because your house is too remote then forget about that.

For Sky, you're only going to need tow downleads from the dish to the main box. This part of the system does all the receiving and recording. Any additional Sky boxes are Minis, and they're like a dumb terminal in that they have no functionality of their own (no reception and no internal hard drive). They get all their signal from the main box. The connection is mostly done by Wi-Fi - a dedicated mini network rather than relying on your house Wi-Fi - or they connect via an Ethernet port. This last is more reliable over distance.

TV/Sat + FM/DAB combined
First off, I'd forget trying to distribute the LNB signal for satellite (Freesat or Sky) with a regular multiplex (diplex, triplex, quadplex) system, especially if you multiple Freesat TVs and recorders. It's too inconvenient and you'll end up pulling your hair out. Freeview + FM/DAB though is eminently doable and easy.

There are aerial distribution amps that have a UHF (Freeview) and VHF (FM / DAB or both) combining function. They multiplex the signals. Because the signals work in different frequency ranges they can coexist in a single cable without affecting each other. The wall plates do the reverse function. They filter the signals in to two bands. One carries just TV frequencies (roughly 460MHZ to 800MHz) which appears at the TV socket. The other band carries the FM and DAB range (roughly 88-240MHz). Any radio tuner will be either FM or DAB or FM/DAB combined, so it doesn't matter that both signals are carried by the single 'Radio' socket.

You'll have three aerials; a TV, an FM and a DAB. You can either bring all three together on the roof/in the loft with a combiner such as a Triax 370683 3-way combiner, or you can combine FM & DAB (VHF Frequencies) and keep TV (UHF) separate and combine them at an amplified splitter.

Run single coax cables to each TV/radio point. At a diplex plate at each. Voila! You have TV, FM, DAB all via a single cable to each point.

There's no need for triplexer plates (TV, radio, satellite) or quadplexer plates (2 x Sat, TV, radio)


HDMI distribution. Don't bother unless you need to port a UHD signal from A to B. If you do, then HDMI won't run long enough. You should be looking at a HDBase-T solution which uses convertor boxes either end and a piece of Cat cable inbetween. [This is not an IP video distribution solution. Before you ask, no, you can't run this via the house wired Ethernet system. Treat it like a very long HDMI cable but it uses Cat cable in the middle.

 
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But then I thought it would be useful to also run at least 2 WF100's to for satellite as well.
Forget about that - the likes of Sky are already moving away from satellite services. In the fairly near future, it will all be delivered via the internet, so you just need several Cat6 or similar cables to each room.
While Freeview / Freesat are likely to continue for a lot longer, there is very little on those services that isn't already available on various other streaming platforms both free and paid for.

improved FM / DAB radio.
May as well forget about that as well - DAB is utter garbage and will never be anything else. FM will be switched off at some point, several attempts have already been made. Allegedly it might remain available until 2030, but in any case, there isn't anything on there that's not already available via other platforms.

what cabling I should actually be putting in and what is a waste of time.
Cat6 or similar.
Forget everything else. It's either obsolete already, or will be in the near future.
 
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I have to agree with @flameport regarding DAB. It is garbage. Even DAB+. Unless you have a burning desire to listen to some DAB station that you can't find via digital TV (Freeview and Freesat both carry radio-only channels) or via Internet streaming then I'd give DAB a miss. The bit rates via DAB digital radio are appalling. Freeview, Freesat, and Internet all sound far better.

FM will be switched off too if the Government has its way.

Sky's direction with its service via online streaming is something of a disappointment right now. Sky Glass has fewer channels than Sky Q, and since all is streamed (no recording facility) then you're at the mercy of Sky whether the keep stuff available to view again like you might keep a program in the planner.

Sky Glass sucks too if you have bought a nice OLED... or have a projector. There's currently no Sky Glass box. Who knows if there ever will be?

(ETA) I almost forgot, Sky Glass customers are finding a small surprise after the first year anniversary. Sky are charging Glass customers to fast forward through the adverts.

The cost? £5 per month.
 
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Sky are still installing satellite services. Then of course there are other satellites you may wish to view. So two cables from the dish location to all TV points is still valid and not expensive.

Whether DAB/DAB+ is garbage of not it is still useful to have a coax feed for it. Listening to the radio via a TV whether Freeview of Freesat is environmentally unfriendly. What will happen to FM is debatable. Norway has turned it off and lost lots of listeners, Switzerland is soon to make the same mistake.
 
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Thanks to everyone for their replies. (y)

From the above it is clear that not everyone has the same opinion but based on above I think I will...

Put ducting / access points in wherever possible in an attempt to future proof.
Have an accessible central point where I will locate my network hub and also any AV distribution amplifiers.

Also some follow up questions...

If your property location is wired for Virgin then you might want to keep some options open for that in the future. If not, and if its u likely that VW will ever dig up the road to lay their cable infrastructure because your house is too remote then forget about that.
If virgin do stick fibre into my property then would there signal be ran over my ethernet network? I already have 2 x cat6 cables running from my proposed router location to each of my hubs and between the 2 hubs. I then have 1 x cat6 and 1 x cat5e cables to each of my potential AV locations so I am thinking this will be suffice?


First off, I'd forget trying to distribute the LNB signal for satellite (Freesat or Sky) with a regular multiplex (diplex, triplex, quadplex) system, especially if you multiple Freesat TVs and recorders. It's too inconvenient and you'll end up pulling your hair out. Freeview + FM/DAB though is eminently doable and easy.
Can you expand on why it would be more complicated to send a combined LNB/TV/FM/DAB signal down a single coax as opposed to a combined TV/FM/DAB?
My first thought is that the extra work at his point would only be the 2 cables from the dish to the distribution hub.
I would still only have 1 coax to each AV point and I could decide at a later date whether to use quad / tri / di but my knowledge is admittedly limited. :unsure:


Run single coax cables to each TV/radio point. At a diplex plate at each. Voila! You have TV, FM, DAB all via a single cable to each point.
Rather than the plates I would prefer to use brush plates with the cables simply coming out of the walls as this will allow me to add other cables via the ducting if required and I have been led to believe that the plates can degrade the signal quality. Could I use some form of inline splitter?


HDMI distribution. Don't bother unless you need to port a UHD signal from A to B. If you do, then HDMI won't run long enough. You should be looking at a HDBase-T solution which uses convertor boxes either end and a piece of Cat cable inbetween. [This is not an IP video distribution solution. Before you ask, no, you can't run this via the house wired Ethernet system. Treat it like a very long HDMI cable but it uses Cat cable in the middle.
That's very useful information and I already have a spare cat5e cable from my central point to each of the AV locations so I am assuming I could use this as per your method if required?


Cat6 or similar.
Forget everything else. It's either obsolete already, or will be in the near future
So I already have a cat6 and a cat5e cable to all AV points around the house.
Does this give me a bandwidth of 1 Gbps for the cat5e and 10 Gbps for the cat6?
Will this be enough?
I thought it would but I've just been reading that cat6 is not fast enough for 8K tv but I am confused as I have also read that 8k requires only 200-300 Mbps which is obviously far, far less than the stated max speed of cat5e and cat6 but I have also read that even 4k60 requires 18Gbps.
In addition to my cat5e and cat6 should I also be adding fibre, cat7 or cat8?
A lot of conflicting info out there leaving me very confused o_O
 
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4k60 requires 18Gbps.
Approximately true for uncompressed video, which you won't be using.

Does this give me a bandwidth of 1 Gbps for the cat5e and 10 Gbps for the cat6?
Those are the theoretical data rates, 10G only being possible on shorter lengths of Cat6.
The installation should be 1 cable to 1 device, so the cable won't be the limiting factor.
 
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Can you expand on why it would be more complicated to send a combined LNB/TV/FM/kDAB signal down a single coax as opposed to a combined TV/FM/DAB?
Standard satellite signals can indeed be combined on a cable with TV and radio. But sky have gone non standard with their Q system and the Q frequencies on the cable clash with TV frequencies.
 
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As I understand it.

A coaxial cable has a limited working frequency range, sattelite signals can't be sent over affordable coaxial cables without first being subject to frequency conversion.

Traditionally LNBs of the type used in the UK had four modes (two frequency bands and two polarisations) which could be selected by the receiver. They down-converted the sattelite signals to a frequency band that sat above what TV/FM/DAB used. The trouble is this meant you either needed a seperate cable for each tuner, or you needed 4 cables.

For SKY+, sky installed double cables, but a Q box has 5 tuners and they didn't want to further increase the number of cables. Q boxes can be used in two modes.

Q in single-dwelling installations is normally installed using a "wideband" LNB. This delivers the full set of satellite signals (allowing an in-principle unlimited number of tuners) over only two cables but it means you can't combine the sattelite signals with TV/FM/DAB.

Q can also be used with a dSCR feed. In this mode the receiver can request multiple narrow bands from the LNB or multiswitch. This allows multiple tuners to be fed by a single cable and allows combining the sattelite signals with TV signals, but it makes the LNB or multiswitch mode expensive.
 
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From the above it is clear that not everyone has the same opinion
With these types of enquiries there's usually more than one way to skin a cat. A lot depends on what the home owner is trying to achieve. There could be a specific plan, in which case several of the options can be eliminated, but that depends on whether the plan is any good.

Alternatively, it's common to find that a client wants to 'keep the options open'. That's understandable but can also lead to a bit of confusion as things sometimes overlap or even seem contradictory.

If virgin do stick fibre into my property then would there signal be ran over my ethernet network? I already have 2 x cat6 cables running from my proposed router location to each of my hubs and between the 2 hubs. I then have 1 x cat6 and 1 x cat5e cables to each of my potential AV locations so I am thinking this will be suffice?
All the Virgin Media installs I have been to, and all the documentation I have seen, all points to VM boxes requiring a coax as well as an Ethernet cable.

Very few of my customers have VM, and once it's installed I rarely have any need to even look at the supply side of the signal connections, so if some of this is out of date then I'm happy for others to chime in with new info. So far though, everything I have seen and read points to fibre to the property terminating in a wall-box. Inside there's a device which converts the fibre signal to coaxial. See link to a VM FTTP installation.

Inside your home the VM coaxial cable carries TV and internet. This can be split, one leg to a cable modem which may include router and wireless features; the other leg to a VM TV recorder. I think they're currently on the V6 box for this.

Image below shows the coax feed being split two ways. (see silver 1:2 splitter bottom right of image)

VM coaxial and splitter.jpg


V6 VM box sockets.jpg


The Ethernet connection provides access to services such as catch-up TV that isn't part of VMs TV package.


Can I have Virgin Media TV boxes just with an Ethernet connection?

The simple answer right now is no. The TV recorders still need a coaxial cable connection (and an Ethernet connection for comms and streamed content).

Virgin has talked about launching an Internet-only cable TV service to rival Sky Glass. The last I heard it was meant to debut at the beginning of the year but so-far it's a no-show. On this basis then I wouldn't put all my eggs in one basket by relying purely on the house Ethernet network for whole-home distribution. It'll work for some stuff such as streaming boxes and the catch-up services of Freeview and Freesat, but not everything.

Even if VM does launch it's Sky Glass rival, I'd still provision for a coaxial connection because you can't be sure it will be a direct replacement. It could be a more limited service in some way.


(Re: LNB signal distribution)
Can you expand on why it would be more complicated to send a combined LNB/TV/FM/DAB signal down a single coax as opposed to a combined TV/FM/DAB?
It has to do with the way signals are received via an LNB versus a TV or radio aerial.

Domestic TV and radio aerials are passive devices. They're wideband too in as much as they receive all the muxes within their specified frequency range. The signal can be sent to several tuners, and each can receive an individual mux without affecting any of the other receivers in a system. LNBs are quite different.

They're an active device. In the case of LNBs for Sky/Freesat, the LNB receives frequencies from roughly 10GHz to 12GHz. This is part of the Ku-Band. As @plugwash correctly said, it then down-converts them to an intermediate frequency (IF) range suitable for delivery via inexpensive coax. The conversion process requires power from the sat receiver box.

The biggest difference compared to an aerial though is the way satellite channels are grouped when received by a regular LNB.

sat groups.jpg


The satellite receiver knows the channel allocations, and so directs the LNB to deliver whichever group contains the required channel. The switching is done by voltage (13V or 18V) to swap between horizontal and vertical polarisation. Then there's a 22kHz tone which is applied to switch to the Hi-Band frequencies.


So what's stopping satellite signals being added to a single coax system with TV and radio?
The answer is nothing at all, but only so long as there's just one sat receiver in the system. However, when you add a second, then sooner or later the boxes are going to call for different mux groups. A single LNB can't give two different groups at the same time. Whichever sat receiver is sending out the higher-voltage and/or 22kHz tone will win against the other. One sat receiver is going to lose reception. That's why you can't distribute satellite LNB signals and hang multiple satellite receivers off a single feed.

These simple domestic multiplexed signal distribution systems were thought up before the idea of recorders and multiple receivers all running at the same time.

@winston1 mentioned the newer wideband LNBs. These still make use of multiple feeds, but they receiver both lo-band and hi-band signals at the same time. They still need dual outputs though to provide the horizontal and the vertical polarisations. And as Winston1 said, the frequencies now being used clash with Freeview.

Rather than the plates I would prefer to use brush plates with the cables simply coming out of the walls as this will allow me to add other cables via the ducting if required and I have been led to believe that the plates can degrade the signal quality. Could I use some form of inline splitter?

You won't degrade a TV/FM/DAB signal unless the plate is unshielded.

If you want to use just the coax from a brush plate and then a wideband splitter then there's not much anyone can do to stop you. It should work in theory. Whichever tuner you're connecting to should ignore signals outside its tuner range. Sod's Law says that there's always going to be the odd exception where the receiver doesn't like a mixed signal. You'll have to suck it and see.
 
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A big thank you to everyone for their help with this (y)

Hopefully I now have a better understanding and my conclusion is that there are so many current options and potential future options is that the only way to be 100% sure is to have ducting everywhere that allows for additional cable to be added if required. However as I am past this stage in many parts of my build I am going to have to compromise in certain places.

So I am going to do the following......
Have 3 main "distribution" locations:-
1. Ethernet network hub in the loft, which will connect to my security alarm panel which is also located in the loft.
2 Ethernet network / surveillance camera system NVR / AV distribution gizmos in a spare first floor bedroom cupboard.
3. In the ground floor office the incoming BT / Virgin line and router / VM box etc.
These will all be connected in a ring via 2 cat6 cables. I will also add 2 coax cables from the office to the AV distribution location which will allow a VM signal to be sent.
From the AV distribution location I will then run to all of my possible AV end points, 2 x Cat cables (1 cat5e and 1 cat6 as this is what I have) and 2 coax cables (wf100 as this has been recommended as being superior to the bog standard RG59).
I will place large ducting from the loft to the first floor bedroom distribution location and from the office to the loft. This should in theory allow me to get any future cables to / from all 3 distribution locations although I may be forced to run the cable on the outside of the house.
I also already have some ducting from most first floor rooms to the loft and If I can find places to add more ducting, in particular from the ground floor rooms, then I will.

Hopefully that future proofs me as much as possible. ;)

So thanks again for everyone's help and please feel free to highlight any shortcomings the above plan may have! (y)
 

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