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I am putting new carpet down and want to run my rear 5.1 speaker wire under the carpet. I know that I will want to replace it once a year (I am weird like that), so I thought I'd get a few of these:

Corduct 15 ft Cord Protector

The idea is that I could keep the wire as short as possible. It should be easy to replace the wire, too. My idea is to take some very long string, tie something metalic to it that will fit through the channel in the cord protector, then take a magnet to the metal object and drag the string through to the other side. I would then tie my speaker wire to the end of the string and pull it through.

Does this sound like a workable approach? The above-linked cord protector looks reasonably thin, so I don't think it'd be too noticeable if stepped on through the new thick padding and thick carpet I will soon be getting.

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    I gotta ask...why would you replace your speaker wire once a year?
    – DA01
    Jun 24, 2011 at 0:37
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    I would love to see the results of any study demonstrating degradation in signal quality over time through speaker cable. Over very long periods of time I could see this being possible, but really?
    – Rory Alsop
    Jun 24, 2011 at 8:17
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    @oscilatingcretin just keep in mind that a lot of audiophile myths that involve 'upgrades' or 'gold plated' or 'replace often' are perpetuated by companies that sell you said products. ;o)
    – DA01
    Jun 24, 2011 at 16:40
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    The answer on speaker wire is that it does not degrade. However, the exposed ends can oxidize. The solution is to leave some slack at each end, and cut back to clean copper every once and a while. (i.e. when the wire is noticably corroded) Jun 24, 2011 at 17:21
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    They make Contact lubricants if you're worried about corrosion.
    – Tester101
    Jun 24, 2011 at 18:52

4 Answers 4

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You'll end up with two lumps in the carpet that can't be easily removed. You'll also have holes in your carpet at each side for the wire. So unless you're going for the college dorm look, I'd recommend against this. If you do it anyway, the only way to get the wire through this is to attach it to the existing wire and use that to pull it through. I doubt the magnet idea would ever work, and trying to push the wire through would just fold on itself since it's not rigid enough.

As for the way I would do it, the easy way is to pick up a box of nail clips and tack the wire down around the baseboard. With these, you can pull the nail slightly and spin the clip 180 degrees to easily add or remove a wire behind it. After enough time and especially enough furniture, you tend to forget they are even there. You can also have a nicer look with some wall mounted conduit.

The excessive option is to open up the floor or below ceiling and run flexible conduit through the floor, preferably with the ends in the wall behind a modular plate with the appropriate connectors installed. If you happen to already have a wall and/or ceiling exposed, running conduit would be a great idea, I only consider it excessive if you're pulling down an existing wall to install it.

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  • "the only way to get the wire through this is to attach it to the existing wire" A Fish Tape is the preferred way to pull cable (so you don't have to install wire, so that you can install wire).
    – Tester101
    Jun 23, 2011 at 19:50
  • Presumably the first install would be using the opening in the bottom of the protector. Fish tape could dig into that opening and going somewhere else.
    – BMitch
    Jun 23, 2011 at 19:59
  • Doesn't sound that way from the question. he wants to use magnets and string to pull the cable.
    – Tester101
    Jun 23, 2011 at 20:02
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    I like the idea of the nail clips. I think I am going to go that route instead of under the carpet. Also, I think the magnet idea would work. A magnet would pull a light string through the channel. I would then attach wire to the string and pull the wire through. I am getting 5/8-inch padding under my carpet, too, so I am wondering if using the Fish Tape would be fine for running it under the carpet without a cable protector. Jun 24, 2011 at 0:32
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    @oscilatingcretin: You should not run any type of wiring under a carpet.
    – Tester101
    Jun 24, 2011 at 12:02
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Even with just 18awg speaker wire (no conduit) run underneath the thickest carpet, it will be noticeable when you step on almost right away, and within a few weeks you'll clearly see the outline of exactly where the cord runs. It's much better to run the wires through walls, ceiling, or under the floor, or an easy way, is behind the baseboard (you need to take the baseboard off anyways to put down carpet).

Also I don't really get why you'd replace the wire once a year. Do it right the first time, and put wire in that will last for a few years. However, if it's due to some audiophile sound quality thing where you theorize that you can hear a 0.000000000000001% drop in quality because the wire is "old", I'm going to drive down there and smack you (see my recent response to a speaker wire question here).

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    Oh good, I thought I was the only one who enjoyed smacking audiophiles. Maybe their's a club for us. :)
    – BMitch
    Jun 23, 2011 at 19:41
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    I think I got downvoted for that comment :)
    – gregmac
    Jun 24, 2011 at 2:41
  • 's okay - I upvoted you again:-)
    – Rory Alsop
    Jun 24, 2011 at 8:18
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Run a router with a straight cutting bit down the back of of you baseboards.

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    I thought about that only after I installed brand new baseboards just a few weeks ago. I really would have liked to go that route =\. I think I am just going to run it between the baseboards and carpet since I definitely don't feel like pulling away the baseboards that have already been caulked and touched up. Jun 24, 2011 at 18:57
  • You put the baseboard in before the carpet?
    – DA01
    Jun 24, 2011 at 21:56
  • Yep. I knew I would be caulking and retouching up the paint after the fact and didn't want to do that over expensive carpet and didn't feel like all the extra work of covering the carpet. Plus, I didn't want to wait three weeks for the carpet since I already had the baseboard cut, painted, and ready to install. Jun 25, 2011 at 16:01
  • I used to lay carpet. We always had the owners install the baseboards first. We would recommend using a spacer to get the proper height off of the floor.
    – Evil Elf
    Jun 27, 2011 at 16:47
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If the goal truly is to easily swap/change your speaker wires, and you don't want to run proper conduit in the walls/under the floor, how about the pragmatic college solution: Get a rug.

Lay the carpet, set up your system, run your wires to your speakers, then measure the size of rug that would cover most of the speaker wires. Done!

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