There’s nothing more exciting than adding a new piece of equipment to your entertainment center, whether it’s a new TV with a sharper display, the latest video game console, or a theater-quality set of surround sound speakers. You’ve worked hard to keep your setup at the cutting edge, and yet every new piece of gear presents the same challenge. How do you keep everything organized?

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An entertainment center is like a city. Every piece needs it’s own real estate and its own resources, and it’s up to you to make sure that there’s enough to go around. Without a doubt, surround sound systems are the trickiest inhabitants of your city. They take up a lot of room and they need to live way out on the edge of town where there aren’t any roads or power lines.

Here are a few tips for organizing and hiding your powerful surround sound system.

Consider the Soundbar

There is an ongoing debate about how well sound bars stack up against full-blown surround sound systems. True, the first generation of sound bars were meant as a cheap alternative to built-in flatscreen TV speakers, which are so bad to begin with that attaching a few tin cans would have been seen as an improvement.

Soundbar

But current generation sound bars pack a serious punch, offering crystal clear front audio in a low profile package. Samsung and Panasonic even offer sound bars with Bluetooth capabilities so you can wirelessly stream audio from your media box or smartphone. Sound bars are especially good for small rooms, where room is at a premium and a larger speaker setup can actually drown itself out.

The Art of Hiding Cords

Anyone who has set up a surround sound speakers knows just what a puzzle they can be, especially for rear audio speakers that need to be placed behind your seating area. A common mistake is to try to take the shortest path as a means to save on materials and time. This might involve running the cords under a rug or along pre-existing electrical wire. This might be easier, but in the end it does little but expose the wires to long-term damage and short-term signal degradation. A better idea is to take the time to run your cords along an external wall, concealing them behind the baseboards or beneath the carpet. This keeps the cable out of high traffic areas while giving your setup a much more professional look. Run the cable separately from any signal-carrying wire. Audio cable is made to run a long distance, but it’s highly susceptible to electrical interference. The extra time required might keep you from enjoying your new speakers right out of the box, but it’s time well spent.

Nothing to See Here

If you’re looking for speakers that can truly blend in with your home decor, several companies now offer all kinds of creative solutions. Insignia’s Outdoor Speakers simulate the look of a decorative rock and contain a built in subwoofer for some added bass during your backyard party. Looking to surprise guests at your indoor party with huge sound that seems to come from nowhere? Look no further than Panasonic’s recently unveiled rug with a built-in 6.1 sound system.

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Sure, it breaks our rule about hiding cords under rugs, though technically the cables are inside the rug.

~ Jiro