Whenever wiring or cabling is involved, neatness doesn't have to be sacrificed for functionality. With keystone jacks, wires can be both short and hidden, improving cable management and aesthetics at the same time.
What Are Keystone Jacks?
Keystone jacks are standard-sized rectangular modules that connect wires to outlets in a wall plate or patch panel. There are many different kinds of jacks that come in the keystone format, including jacks for telephone and networking cables, coaxial and RCA cables, and even USB and HDMI cables. No matter the cable type, keystone jacks look clean and neat. Let's take a look at three different situations where keystone jacks might be the best possible solution:
A simple application for the keystone jack is the small home office. Consider the basic home office setup: a guest bedroom with a desk that holds a computer, a telephone, and a television – and each device has to be connected to the wall. One option is to connect each device to its corresponding jack in the wall: the phone is wired to the phone jack, and the TV is connected to the cable jack on the opposite wall. There wasn't a network cable in the bedroom originally, so the telecom tech installed a network jack in yet another wall. Now there are wires going from the desk to three of the four walls in the room. At best, it looks bad. At worst, it's a tripping hazard.
The second option involves the installation of a keystone outlet on the wall directly behind the desk. In this single wall plate, there is a cable jack for the TV, an RJ-11 jack for the phone, and an RJ-45 jack for the computer network. A single jack into which all three cables plug in, minimizing clutter and reducing the risk of tripping. It's a more elegant solution that instantly makes the home office look more professional.
A home theater can be a wiring nightmare. On one end of the room, there's a giant TV, a cable or satellite box, a couple of audio components, and perhaps a Blu-ray player. In each corner of the room is a mounted speaker. There are cables connecting every one of these devices to each other. The speaker cables are particularly ugly, crisscrossing the ceiling in plain view. Sure, it sounds good – but it looks horrible.
Picture instead a neat rack containing the various components sitting beside the giant TV. Behind the TV, there's a single patch panel installed into the wall. In that panel, there are keystone outlets for the cable or satellite, the components, and the speakers. The proximity of the panel to the TV means that those cables are short enough to be concealed behind the TV. Then, behind each speaker, there's a keystone plate with a very short cable that connects the speaker to the wall. The long cable runs connecting the speakers with the audio component are hidden within the wall. Suddenly, the home theater looks far more professional – sounding good and looking good.
Imagine the sheer number of cables and cords used by a recording studio. Cables connect everything: recording hardware, amplifiers, equalizers, sound modules, instruments, microphones, headphones, monitors, and every other imaginable piece of audio hardware. Everything is connected to everything else, and many times the engineer has to disconnect one thing in order to plug in something else. Wires are strewn all over the studio, each connected to some expensive piece of equipment, just asking for someone to trip over them
Now imagine a studio in which the engineer has installed sufficiently large patch bays to handle all of those cables. In the control room, the cables that connect all of the hardware run to a patch bay that's neatly concealed behind the console. That patch bay connects to a panel mounted on the console itself, so the engineer has access to all of the connections from his chair, eliminating the need to crawl behind his equipment. In the recording room, panels on the wall are conveniently set for musicians to plug in their instruments, amplifiers, microphones, headphones, etc. Those panels are connected to the patch bay behind the engineer's console, so the floors are clear, the studio is safe- and everything just looks and feels more professional.
Haphazard cables and wires can be a problem in any environment. Proper cable management, with the appropriate use of keystone jacks and outlets and panels, can eliminate most, if not all, of those problems.