Use old Lan Cable for announcement Speaker

Joe W

I've been struggling with Homeseer announcements because I've been using some RCA wireless speakers connected directly into my HS Computer using a splitter. Occasionally they would get a nasty case of interference. Sometime all day long. Very low WAF. I was really dredding the thought of pulling cable to the kitchen again to wire up a speaker.

I had an Audrey in the Kitchen with a Lan cable leading to my router in my family room. The Family room is also where my HS PC is. Poor Audrey unfortunately went toes-up a few months ago. (What's coming is obvious to everyone except me, right?) Well, I had one of those eureka moments - I used a pair of the wires in the old LAN cable to connect a speaker (I had laying around) in the kitchen. Using some radio shack 1/8 plugs and sockets, I now have a hard wired speaker replacing the wireless ones. Shoot, it tookl about an hour of splicing and soldering.

What a difference. Even without the occasional interference, the hard wired solution is absolutely clearer. It will take a few days for the W in WAF to notice.

Moral of this story, even though I've been doing this HA for well over 10 years, it pays to think outside the box.
There are some pretty good articles about using the unused phone wires that already exist throughout your house for whole house audio. I would have never thought of that one.
Rupp: I have been running my speakers over cat5 for a few years now, I would think you would have read some of my posts about that by now :p Are you slacking? ;)

I have no problems doing this at all, I use 1 pair per set of speakers, longest run is 40ft. I still run IR and other stuff over the same cat5 drop too, and doesn't interfere.
As far as phone wires, they don't even need to be unused ones. Just the unused pair. I too remember seeing somewhere where a guy even put mini phone jacks into the phone jack housing. I'll be damned if I can find the site though :lol:
Also, one of the better buys out there for voice announcements from your PC to speakers is THIS Elk Amplifier. Keep in mind you do need a power supply (12-24 volts) for it.
That't the one I was referring to.

I read this article a couple of years ago and that's what I was eluding to wen I said I would have never thought of that. Since reading that and your cat5 replies I'm all about audio over lan. :lol:
FYI: The total distance I am running this is about 60-70 feet with not noticable quality problems. This is connected directly from my PC, no amps or other gear. I'm now wondering how a microphone would work on another set of the wires, hmmmm.

Electron, are you using a live CAT5 LAN cable to run those speakers? I know there are unused wires in typical network cable.

Rupp, justonemore - Phone wire would have been an option too although I didn't think of it. I do have a six handset, 2 line wireless Panasonic phone setup with regular voice line on one, VoIP on the other.. There is lots of completely unused phone cable around...

you could use the unused pairs in a cat5 drop, but I am planning on upgrading to gigabit soon, so I will need those pairs.
we used the unused pairs in my old job for an inter-office intercom system (which worked very well). just for reference if anyone needs it, the unused wires on a typical cat-5 run would be wires 4,5,7, and 8. Blue, Blue-White, Brown-White, and Brown respectively
A typical mic signal is much, much weaker than speaker outputs (on the order of 100 times weaker) and you will have hum and other problems using Cat5 for mics. Mic cables need to be shielded to reduce extraneous noise being amplified many times with the mic signal. You might be beter off using a mic preamp that can bring the signal up to line level capabilities (0-2v p-p or so) and then sending that over the cable.

However, even with line level (ie. tape, cd, or dvd player audio outputs), longer runs without shielded cable or proper impedance matching and differential amplifiers or balanced signals will also pick up some noise and reduce quality. Many have complained that using a proper balun on these cables is expensive (you need one at each end), but if you have expensive gear that you don't want to risk harming with an overload and are concerned about signal quality and sound fidelity, you'll want the right cable or signal matching system in your signal paths - wholehouse or otherwise.