Because of this, it seems like every speaker manufacturer out there is making some sort of in-ceiling product. Many sizes and options are available in hundreds of possible styles and colors. It should be no surprise then, that in-ceiling speakers have many practical uses, from surround sound rear channels, to background music and even discrete five-channel living room setups. So how do you know what to buy? Let’s start with some commonly-asked questions.
4 inches and smaller
- Best for providing audio in a room where aesthetics is a priority, however they won’t deliver the best audio. Middle and lower frequencies will be weak, but the speakers are easier to hide in the ceiling.
- Best all-around speaker size, can be used for almost anything, background music, surround sound and even left-center-right (LCR) applications. Often considered the best bang for the buck while not being too small or large.
- Best for audio zones that need more low end power, 8” speakers often provide better bass and the best audio range, as long as they are properly driven by a good amplifier. However, they are generally expensive and more noticeable on the ceiling, due to their larger size.
- Proper installation of in-ceiling speakers is vital to making sure they deliver the best possible sound. Most models fire downward, but some can be tilted a few degrees off-center to better project the sound. Make sure the speakers you buy can accommodate any adjustments needed for best performance.
- Whether you’re going for pure audio quality or just want speakers that are less-visible than floorstanders or bookshelves, be sure to locate them correctly. Keep them symmetrical to the room and in-line with any pre-existing fixtures, like lighting cans.
- When running wire, use at least 16-gauge, or better yet, 12. Do your best to avoid any power cables in the wall or ceiling. This can cause interference that substantially reduces audio quality.
- Use a back-box. These are enclosures that encase the back of the speaker, either partially or entirely, and in doing so, project clearer sound into the room which maximizes frequency range and volume. Most manufacturers offer them. If not, they can be made at home using basic materials. If you can acquire and install them, I recommend it, your ears will thank you.
- Don’t skimp on your wire landings, use high-quality five-way binding posts at the head-end for a clean install and a well-labeled wall plate, like this…
- When to use Rounds – When you have other round fixtures on the ceiling in the room, round speakers integrate better. Rounds are also frequently used as surround channels. There is no hard and fast rule for what shape you need to use.
- When to use Squares – Often seen as in-wall speakers, square shape speakers still have a place as in ceiling speakers. They can look good as front LCRs and look great in more square shaped rooms. Take into account the style of room and where they are going before making the final decision.
In-ceiling speakers can strike an amazing balance between staying hidden and producing good audio. It’s for that reason they’ve become so popular. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them as standard fare in every new home 10 years from now. However, if you don’t already have them, be sure and do your homework and always measure twice and cut once to install them. I hope this helped if you’re considering some in-ceiling speakers soon, happy installing!