Is it a friendly ghost?
By Scott Michael Bosco
It is the bane of every home audio/video enthusiast – wires! It is among the reasons girlfriends/spouses and partners point that dreaded finger and proclaim “No”, for multi-speaker set-ups. There are limited ways to conceal them – the best of which (in walls) can be the costliest if done after construction.
The idea of wire concealed, not within a plastic track that adheres to the wall, that lays on the wall (or ceiling) surface and makes itself “disappear right on the wall”, sounds too good to be true. However there is a product out there that claims this.
Sewell Direct (sewelldirect.com) offers what they call, “Ghost Wire”. An ingenious product that has taken copper wire used for audio connections, 16awg, flatten it, and adhering it to a tape with a thickness no more than .5 mm (includes peel back layer, adhesive, and conductors). This “tape” is also paintable to allow a concealed finished look.
In concept this is a prayer answered for anyone not wanting to punch through their walls and thread wire around.
Since I was planning to repaint my living room this option opened at a perfect time. I would finally be able to dismantle the plastic channels - since I didn’t want to thread wiring though my walls, and ceiling (for Atmos).
Ghost Wire is available in two, and 4 conductor options – meaning a pair of flat wire for one speaker, or 4 flat wires for a pair.
The install is simple. One simply measures the length needed. Cuts it to fit; then peels off first a small section of the protective adhesive strip exposing the flat wire. Then, carefully lift the flat wire from the sticky surface enough to fold 2 or3 time on itself. This is for the connection to an adapter (sold separately). The folded flat wire is then slid into the adapter and secured into place with screws. On opposite side of this adapter are into hole to which regular wire is fed, with its insulation off and also secured with screws into the adapter. Those wires are then connected either to your speakers or amplifier/receiver.
There are videos, supplied by Sewell on both their site and Youtube demonstrating everything.
Like I stated, “ingenious” … in principal.
However, applying those instructions to the application is reality; and that’s where it all falls apart.
Measuring and cutting the length of the Ghost Wire is easy – make it a little bit longer for problems that may arise (which I will get into) and a little bit for connection to the adaptor.
The problems start once the first adhesive backing is exposed. To understand you have realize the flat copper wire is sandwiched between two layers of very sticky material. The first is residue from the back peel away paper. The second is the backing. When peeling the copper from the backing to make the folds that become a contact point for the adapter I encountered a sticky, gooey film (see picture). Now this along with all residue must be thoroughly cleaned from the copper in order not to block contact with the adapter. I rubbed, and rubbed and some of the adhesive turned in to a horrible back mess. The company states to use soapy water. I did. I also used baby oil, and vinegar. It was a mess. The company suggested using Goo Gone. So I left my project, and found it was available in a local Waldgreens…. For $6.29. I had already spent $100 for the Ghost Wire, $46 for the adapters… and guess what, the Goo Gone didn’t work any better than what I had used before!
Ghost Wire attached to wall & ceiling prior to painting. I was able to slip it under the molding. All this was the easy part.
After peeling the copper strips from the backing they tend to curl. It's also difficult not to cause damage due to the extremly stickly nature copper strips from the adhesive.
Cleaning off the glue is the most time consuming and annoying part of the process. Applying it to the walls, and ceiling, was a breeze. Any handling of the flat wire was tricky, let alone follding, so it would slide into the adapter. The tackiness kept it sticking to my fingers; that and having to constantly wash my hands from the same stickiness, and to remove the oiliness of the Goo Gone.
Note the amount of adhesive between the backing and the copper - it's a horrible film that also coats the front of the copper which needs to be completely cleaned off.
The adapter even with it’s small screws worked well. Cutting and stripping normal wire to connect the speakers to the adapter was breeze and made me long for regular stuff.
Before painting over the Ghost Wire I first tested the connection by running a sound test – just in case. At that point with the ghost wire already stuck to my walls and ceiling ripping it off would have cause some damage to the wallboard, but finding out it might not working after painting an entire room would have been too upsetting. Thankfully, I found that 2 of the 4 runs weren’t working and it was due to glue residue – so another session of rubbing off the glue was needed. One had to be trimmed and re-cleaned, and folded due to the thin flat wire breaking off from the cleaning motion. This is why I suggested to make your lengths slightly longer - just in case.
Sewell states the surface of the tape is paintable. It is, but needs two coats to cover completely. The roller seemed to slide over it and smeared for the first run.
I guess you can say it’s “Predator” invisible. Meaning it’s there and can been seen when the light hits it right. I can understand it not blending into to the ceiling as much as the wall since the ceiling has a surface. But I had hoped, once painted, it would show less. It is advised to spackle over the tape, but I feel that would be to messy, and uneven. Probably mud, used in covering joints in wallboard would be smoother, and better.
I quickly found this process is a must when using the Ghost Wire in right-angles. One instructional video supplied by Sewell clearly demonstrates how this is done. It’s easier that it sounds but the end results are horrible. What should be obvious, but not mentioned, is that folding the Ghost Wire in this suggested manner thickens its presence 3-fold and you something that looks like this…
Another issue I found is that the Ghost Wire, for some reason, simply lost its power to say stuck to the wall. Amazing, considering I how I had to fight the adhesive in the cleaning process.
I contacted Sewell during the install for advice and to make sure I hadn’t missed something. My first call was a bit of waste. The “tech” I spoke to was nice enough only because he agreed to everything I said. “Yeah, it's kinda sticky,” Yeah, it’s kinda difficult.” Actually, I was pissed the more I worked with it and decided to call again but they had left for the day. I left voice mail and just decided to leave it. To my surprise the phone rang in about a half hour. It seems after listening to my voice mail a secretary had passed on my concerns/complaint to a higher rep. In the conversation that commenced I learned it was the same person who appears (arms & hands only) in their instructional videos.
He was extremely polite and agreeable. So much so he admitted it could have been designed better and that they were aware of the difficulties with the glue. I told him the product, which in concept is great, is more akin to being “beta” in design, a test product. He agreed, which “kinda” left me shaking my head.
In our discussion he stated the company had it in mind for professional installs. I told him the glue slows down the process so much it gets in the way of the install and that would add extended hours to the set-up, especially if an entire surround system was done. This intern would infuriate the client having to pay the installers more.
He agreed. I suggested that perhaps a non-stick film, perhaps blue, could be used that isolates the copper protecting it from the glue. He liked that idea.
It’s nice to be acknowledged, and deal with someone who is agreeable, but really… It quickly becomes annoying since it amounts to lip service. I told him how disappointed I was in the product and would appreciate some form of compensation. Because I had not purchased the product directly from Sewell (it was from Amazon) there was nothing he could do, in terms of a refund.
I offered to not post my review if they had any plans to improve or “fix” the inherent problems with the product. He spoke further - he did offer “something else” from their site as a form of compensation – but there was nothing I needed. I gave him my email so we could open, and keep open the discussion, and offered my input in changing and improving the product. I also agreed not to post my negative review while the conversation was open between us. I would rather write about the product in positive way and show the company is willing to stand behind their product, and the consumer. He said he would, and we would be in contact.
THAT WAS 2 MONTHS AGO.
I’m sorry to post a negative review, but I’m not just a reviewER, but a consumer. A consumer who paid for a product that should not have been released until thoughtfully manufactured, and tested.
Like I stated more than once, it is an ingenious concept – it just needs to be finalized out of the “beta” stage.
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