Can't concentrate on your latest Netflix binge-watch because of the secret shame of tangled cables creeping out from behind your TV? You're not alone. Most people have a jungle of unruly cords taking over their living rooms. But it doesn't have to be this way: Start 2022 on the right foot by getting those TV wires in order and hiding them so you can actually relax during TV time.
Tidying up the cables behind your home theater system makes it not only more attractive to look at, but also easier to use and maintain. I've written about the other ways you can improve your setup here, but tidying cables can have one of the biggest impacts. You don't need to be an IT engineer to make your cables neater, and neither do you need a big budget. All you need is a little time and a couple of inexpensive items. If you want to give your TV that showroom finish you've been craving here are five simple tips.
Of all of the solutions here, the cheapest and easiest way to tidy your system is to use cable ties. They allow you to create order from the chaos that's behind there, and it's easy to go back and change if you add new components. There's a couple of options as far as the ties you can use. Forget the one-use plastic ones, though: Go for reusable velcro bands or wire ties.
When running cables together, try to keep AV interconnects and electrical cables separate. This prevents electrical current interfering with analog signals in particular, such as those which travel along speaker wires. Use the ties to fix the cables along the natural boundaries of AV furniture and walls.Velcro cable ties See at Amazon
If you want to go the extra step in organizing you can buy printable tags so you can tell which power cable is which, for example. This is especially handy if, like me, you're constantly plugging in a lot of new equipment. Some receivers, like those from Denon, come with stickers that can help you sort out what's what.Cable labels See at Amazon
Do you end up looping your too-long cables and stuffing them under the unit or up the back of the TV? Maybe you need to buy shorter runs. You can buy power, HDMI, RCA and speaker cables that are as short or as long as you need. If you're buying new HDMI cables, you may want to invest in ultra high speed (HDMI 2.1 certified) cables for future proofing for standards like 8K, but they're not necessary for most devices. You can also get white cables, which will be able to hide better against your off-white walls.
Read more: Best HDMI cables for 2021Monoprice white HDMI cables See at Amazon
If you decide to wall-mount your TV, then hanging wires are going to be obvious from the get-go. If you're lucky enough to own your own home and have sheetrock walls, you could pay an electrician to install a power socket or HDMI ports in the wall for you. But that's expensive, and if you rent your home or you're mounting the TV on a brick or concrete wall, it's not an option. An exterior solution, namely a cable raceway, is a more economical choice.
A cord or cable raceway is basically a flat PVC tube that attaches to the wall and is able to be both cut to length and painted to match your interior. The front of the "tube" clicks on and off, so it's easy to add or move cables if you need to. Entire cable concealing kits are available in a variety of colors.Cable raceway See at Amazon
A couple of years ago Samsung TVs came with a single, semitranslucent cable which was harder to spot on your wall, but newer Samsung TVs don't have that option anymore.
While cable ties and raceways are great for keeping cables organized behind your TV, what happens when you have to run cables elsewhere in the room? Surround speaker wires are probably the most common example.
For my own system I use a 16-gauge Monster XP speaker cable to connect my surround speakers to my receiver. Monster tends to get a bad rap for being overpriced, but I like the XP range as it is economical, well-constructed and also available in white.
Whichever brand you choose, you can run the cables along skirting boards and door frames and attach them using inexpensive, nail-in cable clips.
If you have a large, cathedral-like room it may not be possible to run cables along the walls, so invest in a good rug instead. While it's unsafe to run power cables under rugs it's ok to cover things like speaker cables or Ethernet, but try to run them in the least trafficked area if you can. For maximum hardiness, you could run a rubberraceway by itself on the floor if necessary.See the Tiphede rug at Ikea
For someone who deals with tech all day, I was unreasonably excited to buy myself a clamp-on power strip for my desktop. The main thing it did, and which it can do for your TV unit too, is to lift the connections off the ground and tuck them neatly out of sight. The Tripp Lite model I chose only has six outlets, but you'll probably need more than that. For example, my (admittedly large) TV system uses two eight-outlet power strips.
If you want a larger selection of outlets you can either opt for a clamp that will attach to your existing strip, or you can go the whole hog and grab a component-level power conditioner.Component-level power conditioner $375 at Crutchfield
For more, check out 7 quick TV tweaks that will enhance your movie night, 9 TV picture settings to change today and 3 methods to fix muffled dialogue. Plus, why you should buy the biggest TV you can afford and when to upgrade your HDMI cables.Receive expert tips on using phones, computers, smart home gear and more. Delivered Tuesdays and Thursdays.Tech TipsTVs Audio Notification on Notification off How To