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6 tips for home A/V cable management

Tame your home theater cable tangles

Cables tied near the end with a wrap.

In a nutshell: Your home theater system should be a source of joy — both for sound and appearance. If yours looks like an explosion in a spaghetti factory, read on.

Most systems have three problem areas:

  • Scraggly wires hanging down from a wall-mounted TV
  • A snarled mass of cables connecting components in the back of an A/V cabinet
  • Loose wires snaking across the room to rear surround speakers

This article is about simple, inexpensive remedies for each of these issues. 

Loose versus bundled cables under a TV.

1. Use wire ties to bundle cables

Have more than one cable running to or from your TV, cable box, or receiver? Bundle them up with ties.

Some wire ties are reusable — like the Methra ethereal Velcro® cable wraps. They're a great option for renters.

Here are four tips for using ties effectively:

Illustrations of how to use cable ties.
  1. After routing and connecting cables, bundle at one end. This makes them easier to handle.
  2. Don’t cinch the ties too tight. They can crimp the wires and damage their insulation.
  3. Snip off any excess from the ties for a clean look.
  4. Bundle A/V cables and power cables separately.

2. Secure your wire bundles

Adhesive pads designed to work with wire ties can be attached to walls. These can help keep rear channel speaker wires out of the way by securing them to your wall’s molding.

These adhesives can also hold a cable bundle running from a wall-mounted TV flat against the wall for a neater appearance. You can also use them to fasten wires and wire bundles to the back of your A/V cabinet.

You can also attach your bundles using cable clamps.

Be sure to match the shape and the size of the clamp to the cable. Use screws rather than tacks to secure these clamps. They're more secure, and you can easily remove and reattach them if you rearrange your cables. 

3. Use raceways to conceal cables

You don’t have to run wires inside walls to conceal them. Raceways are plastic or wooden channels that conceal and protect wires and wire bundles.

Raceways attach easily to walls and baseboards. Most are paintable, so you can make them blend into the background and virtually disappear.

Raceways come in different sizes. If you’re concealing a cable bundle, make sure the raceway is big enough to comfortably fit over it.

Wires running behind a raceway.

4. Label everything

Labeling your wires ensures you can easily identify each of your cables. You'll be able to quickly swap out a component without losing track of what's what.

Crutchfield’s color-coded CableLabels are a great solution. They come pre-printed with all the most commonly used components in an A/V system.

You can also make your own labels. The important thing is to do so — even if your system’s small and relatively simple. As it grows, you’ll be glad your cables were organized from the start.

5. Organize the cables behind your equipment rack

Bundling cables can bring the mass of wires behind a rack or A/V cabinet under control. Wire ties are the best solution here.

Remember to bundle power cables and A/V cables separately. That minimizes the chance that electromagnetic interference from power cables will degrade your system’s performance.

You can also use tacks or adhesive pads to secure bundles to the back of your rack or cabinet.

6. Secure loose wires running to rear surround speakers

Wires running to rear speakers should be secured so you won't step on them or trip over them.

Running wires under carpeting isn’t recommended — especially in high traffic areas. If the wires are continually stepped on, over time their insulation can get rubbed away. It’s best to run rear channel wires along the baseboard.

Wire tacks are the easiest way to secure this wire. Or use raceways for a more finished appearance.

For more helfpul tips, see our home theater receiver setup guide and our in-wall wiring guide.

  • Alan from New Auburn

    Posted on 2/9/2021

    Not too much problem going to optical instead of 2 heavy RCA cables and HDMI. But, what to do with all the power cords. Amp, Pre-amp, CD, Blue Ray, DTV box, Roku box, TV 'One-Box" (Samsung), Sound Bar, Panamax power conditioner. Just a mass of cables. Power cords are often way to long for a more compact cabinet. with 2 wide by 3 high shelves. A source for shorter power cords would be nice. By short, I mean 2-3 feet .

  • Tim leitzes from Sunrise ,fl

    Posted on 1/19/2021

    Excellent advice and detailed instructions as only crutchfield would do. I just purchesef the sennheiser5000 from you an excellent price of equipment. No problem with hook up . To my non blue tooth amp. Works just fine thank guys

  • joey ambs from Owensboro

    Posted on 10/9/2020

    Iam wanting to hook-up my sound bar to my tv. I don't have the right connections on the ends of my cord. Waiting to get it right, Thanks for any help on the matter........

  • Brendan Moran from Cambridge

    Posted on 5/14/2020

    Very nice tips. Any recommendations on managing cables from a cabinet to the wall, so the cabinet can be moved for cleaning/access, without the cables being pulled from the units. I know you can leave slack in, but then don't really want it trailing all over the floor either. Any suggestions appreciated.

  • nelson 5076 street from marion 3597 ave

    Posted on 1/31/2020

    madison 2831 ave

  • spring 795 pkwy from frederick 5218 parkway

    Posted on 10/23/2019

    Langtown 3625 rd

  • Al from CA

    Posted on 3/1/2019

    Use the shortest cable as practical/possible, do not coil any signal cable (induction effect) and I even got quality (gold plated Audio Quest or Monster) RCA analog right angle adapters because the high quality RCA analogs would not bend easily enough to fit in cabinet rear, especially with a longer chassis on some stuff.

  • William Smith from Grifton

    Posted on 1/6/2019

    What kind of speaker wire has the best sound.

  • Mike Strandberg from Oklahoma City

    Posted on 10/22/2018

    Instead of wire ties (or zip ties), you can use Velcro strips. You can buy a whole roll from the hardware store. I get the stuff that has the hooks on one side and the loops on the other. It basically sticks to itself. You just cut the length you need and wrap. And they are reusable!

  • mike from modesto

    Posted on 4/4/2018

    Keeping power cords separate from audio leads keeps noises to a minimum. If installing for a "one time install", cheap but well supported cables will work for a decade.

  • Nick from Anaheim

    Posted on 2/4/2018

    Thanks for these tips even though they are refreshers, they are invaluable!

  • Joseph from Orlando

    Posted on 5/24/2017

    Clarification needed... when you say run power cables and AV cables separately, would the speaker wire also be run separate or would they be ran with the AV cables?

  • caterinafabian from India

    Posted on 5/5/2017

    Excellent addition for your own home theatre, sound system or even for office at home settings. Each and every device functions ten surges and also spikes safety outputs, adding in two extensive outputs for massive energy adaptors. Moreover provides 2 x USB slots for charging Handsets and also Tablets.

  • B Rosario from NYC

    Posted on 4/14/2017

    It would have been very helpful if you included images of how the "Adhesive Pads" and "Cable Clamps" work rather than just a description.

  • Divine Will

    Posted on 2/22/2017

    Regarding cable ties sharp ends after cutting. Seems to me the old trick of lightly melting the end with a bbq lighter would work nicely just like with poly rope ends. Careful of the cables of course ;) AND great tips in this article Ralph! Thank you.

  • Sparky413

    Posted on 11/1/2016

    Re: Pat from Melbourne. Yes you still have options. It's called "Smurf Tube" or trade name FNC (Flexible Non-metallic Tubing). Depending on what you are running through there, it comes in sizes of 1/2" and up. I recommend minimum of 1". You can get many cutout rings as well that will accommodate your current trim plates. The company that makes most of this is called Carlon. hope this helps you and if not, you may email and I will be more than happy to answer your questions.

  • Jonathan Riordan from Linden

    Posted on 9/21/2016

    NEVER use scissors/diagonal cutters to cut zip tie excess. Buy a pair of cheap flush-cut pliers and nip the excess all the way to the locking head. Save yourself and others from nasty cuts and scrapes. Nothing's worse than reaching into a rack

  • Pat from Melbourne

    Posted on 9/12/2016

    Hi there! Ive recently built and am using brushed plates to run cables from middle of wall to bottom. I expected sparky to put a pvc or conduit so I could easily change the cables running up and down if I wanted to - he didn't. Now plaster is up. Is there any way, or have you seen creative ways of putting something behind wall without cutting so I can easily run cables? I know I can fish wires up and down but one of the walls is an external so filled with insulation. Was thinking a flexible equivalent to pvc that I could just run down the hole in the wall and leave it there so it's not a hassle when I change? Or am I out of options?

  • Joey from Fort Lauderdale

    Posted on 8/16/2016

    Great article! Thank you