What to Look For When Buying In-Wall/In-Ceiling Home Theater Speakers: Is this a good idea?

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Hey Bubbas,

what to look for when buying in-wall/in-ceiling speakers

One of the first decisions that you’re likely to face, is the type of speaker system that you will use for your setup. We’re not talking about brand or even quantity. You will have to make up your mind about getting flush mounted speakers or traditional, free-standing speakers. There are numerous trade offs, and you will have long, impassioned, hopefully non-violent discussions on which is better, but it’s really going to boil down to how you see the layout of the room vs. what kind of audio experience you want to have. If you decide on in-wall or in-ceiling home theater speakers, there are more choices and tradeoffs to be made. Over at aperionaudio.com they have some thoughts on what to look for when buying in-wall/in-ceiling home theater speakers. They start out by a list of pros and cons for going this route.

Architectural speakers can look and sound great, but there are still a few situations where they are simply the wrong choice…If you’ll want to move your speakers around, you should always select traditional speakers. Since architectural speakers become part of the room, they will be sold with the house — so if you are renting, planning to move, or tend to drag your speakers into the garage while you work on your car, traditional speakers may be a better choice… Installing the speakers themselves is generally pretty easy, but running wires to the speakers can be tough.

You will need to prioritize if  “exceptional” sound or  your room design (and a mostly hidden speaker system) is more important to you. They are rightfully clear that you can get great quality sound from a premium in-wall system that is installed correctly. But you won’t be able to match the best traditional speaker system.  An important point is to realize that even with the in-wall/in-ceiling home theater speakers you will definitely need a sub-woofer.

If you’re determined to take “The In Wall Challenge” and see how close you can get to this kind of performance with in wall speakers, you will need to use them with a subwoofer. A speaker’s bass performance is affected by its enclosure, which in this case is the wall. Walls and speaker enclosures couldn’t be more different – speaker boxes are built to contain sound, and your walls are designed to contain you, your kids, and all your stuff. Walls also enclose an unpredictable air volume, which means the speaker can’t be tuned for its enclosure. So if you want bass as serious as the bank, a standalone subwoofer is essential.

They offer some great buying tips when shopping for your speakers. “For the front three speakers (center channel, front left & right), in wall speakers are a better choice than in ceiling speakers — simply because you can place them at the same height as your TV (and your ears.)”  You can use speakers that are SOLD as ceiling speakers, but they should be high quality, and mounted on the wall so the audio direction can match more closely the video direction. They also point out that the front set of speakers should be of the highest quality, especially the center speaker which will be responsible for the majority of dialogue.

They offer other tidbits to consider: will you use this type of speaker to spread sound throughout the house? How long will your speaker runs be and how will you split the feeds up? There are also fairly big differences in the design of the speakers themselves; there is a pretty good checklist on what to look for when buying in-wall/in-ceiling home theater speakers.

Again, a huge portion of this decision is simply a design issue – all your other considerations are going to revolve around that once you make up your mind. Is it a good idea? Putting architecture and design first will demand a little more critical install work and a few degrees of acoustic quality lost; a traditional system will allow you to plow the entire speaker budget into the exact, tailored sound you want, you’ll just need to find a way to make the physical speakers part of your room’s “look”.

original article here.

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