No. of Recommendations: 12
I'd personally get the pre-wiring done, provided the room it's done in is actually conducive to a home theater setup. That is, a regularly shaped (square / rectangular) room with no huge windows, fireplaces, cabinetry that limit placement of speakers and the TV / projection unit. Preferably a finished basement room or a room with only one or two smaller windows that can be curtained off.

The thing I think you need to keep in mind if you pre-wire is thinking ahead to exactly where each part would be placed, and what components you'd be likely to use. For instance, if you use a big screen TV, then you'd want component video jacks on the wall that will have the TV. But if you plan on using a front projection unit that's ceiling mounted, you need those component video jacks in the ceiling instead of the wall. In either case, you need another set of component video jacks on the wall that will have the A/V receiver and other components (assuming they're all in a separate audio rack on a different wall, which will often be the case).

One wall has to be dedicated to the TV / projector screen and the left, center and right front speakers. The opposite wall has the rear center. The remaining two walls have one or two sets of surrounds. So each wall needs the appropriate left/right speaker jacks (preferably binding posts) to connect each speaker (three pairs of jacks on the front wall, one pair on the rear wall, and one pair (for 6.1 audio; two pairs spaced a few feet apart for 7.1) on the side walls. I'm leaving out the subwoofer, because placement of that isn't so cut-and-dried, and you'll probably end up just buying a long LFE cable and shoving it under the baseboards and/or the carpet.

You then need a corresponding number of speaker jacks all clustered together in one place for connecting to the A/V receiver.

In the same place you have the receiver's speaker jacks, you'll need at minimum one set of Component Video jacks (for DVDs and HD content). For flexibility, you may also want to have one S-Video jack (for Non-HD digital cable / sattelite), and a Composite Video jack (not required if you don't have any VHS tapes lingering around). You can get away without these extra jacks, though, if you get an A/V receiver that can upconvert Composite and S-Video signals to Component Video. This is becoming more common, even in receivers priced around $550 (A/V Guide Monthly just gave a stellar review of a new Yamaha receiver at this price with this capability). All of these video jacks will be connected to the receiver's video output jacks. Wherever your video source is (as noted earlier), that's where you'll mount the output jacks for connection to the video source.

Now granted, I'm still pretty new to home theater, and more experienced folks may have better ideas on how to manage all of this. But I think the key thing is to get the floorplan for the room and figure out where you at least think everything will go before the builders put up the drywall.

Other things to consider if you really want to make a room ready for home theater:

- Acoustic tile on the ceiling and insulation or heavy curtains in / on the walls to soundproof the room
- Solid doors instead of hollow-core, again for soundproofing

Hope this isn't way more than you were looking for in an answer!

- Joe -
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