In modern homes and condos, space is a luxury that not everyone can afford. In-ceiling speakers allow you to enjoy music without clashing with your room’s theme and décor.
You want music in your kitchen? Use your ceiling space and not your counter. If you want a surround setup but have little room for a fully-fledged box speaker setup, then consider using in-ceiling speakers.
Requirements for installing in-ceiling speakers yourself
Knowledge of the Safety Code
These rules and laws are in place to protect you and protect your neighborhood. Since you are undertaking the installation of your in-ceiling speakers, you are potentially putting yourself and your neighbors at risk.
Here are some of the things you should remember and take into consideration:
Conform to building and electric codes
The materials and speakers you will be using should be conforming to standards, specifically to building and electric codes. Although it may sound stupid, it is best to consult a civil engineer as well as an electrician before starting this project. Getting injured, going to prison or worse dying can be avoided entirely if you will just follow some rules.
Usual hardware ladders are strong enough to carry a single person, but they have limits. Read about their size and weight limitations.
Your eyes cannot be replaced. Even if they could be replaced, it would probably be super expensive. Using basic safety goggles can prevent your eyes from getting damaged.
Depending on your crawlspace it might not hold your weight. If you are a big guy/gal, prepare for the worst, and I mean falling down. Always tread lightly. Make sure to bring some light.
Shut off the power strip in the place you are working. Period.
Take your time. No one is grading you. No one is forcing you to take on this project unless this is your work, and even if this is work, your priority is your life.
Again, be very careful when using a power tool. If it can drill into wood or stone, it can drill into you. Also, if you manage to drill into a fire barrier, fill the hole with a fire retardant.
Cut wires away from your body. Make sure to cut wires in a well-lit area.
Prior Cabling Experience
Unless you are a fan of DIY (do-it-yourself) projects or work in a trade requiring woodworking, metalwork, and cabling, then you will probably have zero to little cabling experience. Thankfully, there is a multitude of YouTube videos on the internet to help you learn by watching.
If possible, take on some little cabling projects first like wiring your DSL or wiring your TV and audio components before trying to wire/rewire your whole house. Full house in-ceiling speaker setups can cost lots of money and lots of time. The last thing you need is to damage your expensive components and cut wires too short or too long.
Carpenters and Sound Engineers alike thrive on the use of different tools. To install in-ceiling speakers, you may need familiarity with some of their profession’s skillsets and toolsets. The following are the more common tools you will need to successfully install speakers by yourself.
- Tape measure
- Stud finder
- Utility knife
- Drywall saw
- Power drill and driver
- Wire fish tape
- Wire strippers
- Putty knife
Choose a method
There are three usual methods that we can use for speaker installations, namely:
- Of the three, this is the simplest method.
- Starting from the wires behind your audio video component, and pull up the carpet.
- Hide and lay out your cabling in between the carpet tack strips or in between your baseboard molding’s gap.
- With the use of a pair of cables, run your cabling to your surround speakers located in two different directions.
- Pull up about 2 feet of your carpeting using pliers.
- While tucking away your cables, do not puncture your wires. Repeatedly pull and lay down the carpet so that you won’t need to re-stretch your carpet.
- Allow wires to come out from the baseboard.
- Arrange the wires to run from your surround speakers all the way to your other speakers.
- If your speakers are going to be mounted on the wall, drill some holes where you can run your cables. Use your fish tape to pull cables out of speaker holes.
- Repeat these steps until you have wired all your speakers.
Wiring via the attic
- Consult an electrician. Doing this yourself is most likely illegal.
- Plan cable routing.
- Locate wall cavities.
- Avoid cavities where the power line is running as well.
- Cut a low voltage box behind your Audio Gear making sure it is about 18 inches off the floor.
- Connect the dots after being able to determine the open wall cavities.
- Partners in these projects can save you a lot of time especially since they can tell you if you are drilling in the wrong location.
- This involves lots of work.
- Plan routing in advance.
- Install furring strips measuring 1×2 inches around the room.
- Furring strips have two main functions: a place to tuck your cable and anchor points for crown molding.
- Cut a low voltage box behind your audio gear.
- Cut out about 1 inch square in the ceiling.
- Start routing your cables around the room.
- Fish the wires repeatedly until you reach the last of your speakers.
- Install your crown moldings accordingly.
The planning stage is the most important part of the game. No basketball coach ever goes into a game without a plan, especially if the opponent is Lebron James. Although installing in-ceiling speakers is in no way a championship game, planning ahead gives you enough headroom to properly assess and strategize without wasting time in.
To give a concrete example, finding out that you have no ladder to climb to your ceiling, after buying all your tools needed, will save you a trip or two to the hardware store.
The tools listed above can help you with the speaker placement plan itself. If you are installing a speaker system for total house coverage, then you will want to put a speaker in every room, and that means assessing the conditions of every room differently.
There are also pre-wired speaker setups which may or may not work for your house, especially if you have very large rooms.
Reading the Documentation
In-ceiling speakers are similar in functionality but differ in build and requirements. Some in-ceiling speakers can handle moist conditions, while a lot of in-ceiling speakers will break or die quickly if you use them in a bathroom scenario. They may also require different power setups. For instance, more powerful speakers require more wattage.
Gathering the tools
Before going to the hardware store, make sure to have planned ahead and read the proper documentation. Complete these initial steps, and then list down the tools you may need. This comes in the form of glue guns, nails, ladders and other tools you will need for this project.
Ideally, you will only need one trip to the hardware store which will be a time and gas saver. This project may take a day or two, especially if this is your first in-ceiling installation, so do not fret if you forget something. You can always buy it the next day.
Talk to a friend or a family member and possibly work with them throughout the project. Never be alone on this kind of project. Your life is important. In case of an emergency, they can help you or call for help if an unfortunate accident happens.
Shutting off the power can be a lifesaver. There can be a lot of live wires or in your attic. Don’t die in a freak accident.
The stud finder is there for a reason. Use it. Mark the ideal locations where you will hang your speakers. Drill only if you are really sure about that position.
Although not normally present, some houses are prewired. Finding the documentation on your home’s speaker wire locations can save you a lot of work. If you or your contractors used rough-in brackets during your house building, finding speaker wire positions should be a breeze.
The attic or crawlspace is your friend if it doesn’t fall down. Carefully make use of it to identify the best route to wire the in-ceiling speakers. Make sure to avoid water pipes and other electrical wires along the way.
After marking your speaker placements, you can now cut/bore your drywall. If the speaker is round, drill two small holes located on opposite sides. If the speaker is rectangular, drill two holes in opposite corners. Using your drywall saw work from one hole to another.
Cut slowly and carefully. Check behind your drywall before totally cutting in.
Place your speakers
After the holes are cut, insert the wires through and set in place.
In the event that you successfully install, be proud of yourself. You have successfully installed your own in-ceiling speakers. In the event that you fail your installation process, don’t be too hard on yourself.
|Yamaha NS-IW280CWH 6.5″ 3-Way In-Ceiling Speaker System||$$||4.6/5|
|Pyle Home PIC8E 300 Watt High-End 8-Inch Two-Way In-Ceiling Speaker System||$$||4.7/5|
|Polk Audio RC60i 2-Way In-Ceiling Speakers||$$$||4.4/5|
|Klipsch R-1650-C In-Ceiling Speaker||$$||4.7/5|
|Speakercraft Aim 7 Two In-Ceiling pivoting Speaker||$$||4.6/5|
|Micca M-8C 8 Inch 2-Way In-Ceiling In-Wall Speaker||$||4.8/5|
|Acoustic Audio R191 In Ceiling / In Wall 5 Speaker||$$||4.3/5|
|Polk Audio MC60 High Performance In-Ceiling Speaker||$$||4.5/5|
|Polk Audio RC6s In-Ceiling Stereo Speaker||$$$||4.7/5|
|On-Q 3647640201 1000 Series In-Ceiling Speakers||$$||5.0/5|
Top Five In-Ceiling Speaker Systems
Yamaha NS-IW280CWH 6.5″ 3-Way In-Ceiling Speaker System
Yamaha is a world-renowned company producing high-quality AV gear. Just by finding its brand tagged on a product, you will be sure to get a quality product.
- 06 inches display height
- 28 inches’ width
- Wired speaker connectivity
- Polypropylene mica cone woofers
- 100-Watt max input
- Swivel tweeter
- Comes with a limited 2-year parts and labor warranty
Installation is very easy and pretty straightforward. They also disappear nicely into your room’s setup.
These speakers are passable but lack the power and features of more expensive ones. The high ends tend to drown out any noticeable mids. They also produce only a small amount of mids and lack the bass of other components. The tweeters are advertised to be moveable but they are not moveable.
You get what you pay for, and there are better functioning speakers out there. However, if a low price is very important for you, then this is a definite must if you are looking for something entry level.
Pyle Home PIC8E 300 Watt High-End 8-Inch Two-Way In-Ceiling Speaker System
Pyle is an American company that promises top-of-the-line product quality. They price products on the lower end while offering great quality products and extensive customer support.
- 5”/8.0” variants
- Treble control/focused
- Polypropylene cone full range midbass speaker
- Pivoting voice coil silk dome tweeter
- Adjustable treble control
- 250 Watts rated peak power
- 125 Watts RMS
- 3 kg net weight
- 45Hz-20KHz frequency response
- Built-in mounting hardware
Installation is a breeze, especially with the included mounting hardware. It has a classy look and feels similar to Polk audio equipment.
The sound that comes from this unit is balanced. Light highs and good mids are some of this product’s highlights. The fact that you can use your own amp for these setups makes this speaker a good replacement for your other setups.
This particular unit doesn’t seem to provide enough volume compared to on-the-wall speakers. Maybe they should have categorized this product differently. They have also used cheap plastic connectors. They also lack a megabase, so consider using your own subwoofers.
These are very good looking speakers. One of their major caveats that make this product imperfect is the distortion that happens when you turn them up. With its current price point, this is an acceptable flaw. Until you upgrade with a pricier unit, you can live with it.
Polk Audio RC60i 2-Way In-Ceiling Speakers
Polk Audio, also known as the Speaker Specialists, has been in the audio game since 1972. They have produced countless audio products, but they are best known for their home and automobile speakers.
- Out of the box they are guaranteed to be easy to install
- Weighs 5 pounds
- Dimensions: 10.8 x 10.8 x 3.2 inch
- Round shape and flush design
- Polymer composite cone with a rubber surround
- 40Hz – 20kHz frequency response
- Dynamic-balance, metalized soft dome tweeter in ball-and-socket swivel mount
- Durable & moisture-resistant materials
This speaker screams: “Easy to install, easy to uninstall”. This speaker functions well for background music such as the soft and quiet music usually found in fine dining situations.
This isn’t one of Polk Audio’s best speakers and it lacks a lot of things that you would want from a speaker.
This speaker is easy on the pocket and sounds good enough, especially given its low price. Consider skipping this speaker if you are an audiophile; these are not very good home theater speakers.
Klipsch R-1650-C In-Ceiling Speaker
Klipschorn was named after the genius & madman Paul W. Klipsch. The company, with its founding father, headed the charge of American audio engineering. It would leave a big mark on music lovers for generations.
- Dynamic acoustic performance
- 5-inch polymer cone woofer
- Large motor structure for high sensitivity.
- Coaxially mounted polymer-dome tweeter
- Mounting system
- Paintable aluminum grille
This speaker looks well built. It also very easy to install especially since it includes a supplied template. It offers a full range of sounds in a small size. Low or high volume, you shouldn’t be able to hear any distortion, and the tweeter is a blast.
This speaker functions best as a rear or side theater speaker. In terms of price, it can be found in the midrange section. It’s a definite must buy again, especially if you are extending sound coverage throughout your home.
It seems to lack bass and lacks depth on the high end.
Klipsch is a renowned name in the speaker game and they do not disappoint. They cannot compete with bigger speakers, but for their mid-range price point they are very good. These are your go-to living room speakers.
Speakercraft Aim 7 Two In-Ceiling Pivoting Speaker
Speakercraft’s motto is “We turn houses into speakers”. They are committed to providing customers with excellent performance at a competitive price. They continue to define and redefine the audio industry through 4 decades of innovation.
- Resin-reinforced fiberglass cone woofer
- Pivoting silk dome tweeter
- 5-125 watts power handling
- 875 x 5.125 inches DD (diameter X depth)
- 25 cut-out diameter
Like all the speakers in this article, this one looks good and is very easy to install. Someone called these the Polk speaker replacements since they sound a little better than Polks, and they are priced similarly as well.
Low sounds are distorted.
There are speakers that cost about half as much as this speaker and still sound a whole lot better. Avoid buying this product at its full price. Wait for the price to come down, or buy it in a deal.