Ceiling Speakers - Audiostance

The 10 Best In-Ceiling Speakers

Ceiling speakers blend seamlessly into your home decor or architectural design. Unlike regular speaker systems, they can also be set up so that sound can be added to every room in your home for just a few hundred dollars per room. We’ve compiled a list of what we believe are some of the best ceiling speakers currently on the market, whether you’re looking to improve your home audio or elevate your business.

Polk Audio RC80i In-Ceiling-In-Wall Speakers

Polk Audio RC80i In-Ceiling Speakers

The Polk Audio RC80i’s 8″ driver and swivel tweeter provide a wide sound profile with bright treble and deep, immersive low-end.

Our Top Picks

Klipsch CDT-5650-C II In-Ceiling Speaker

Best For Home Theatre

Klipsch CDT-5650-C II

  • 63Hz – 23KHz
  • Paintable
  • 50-100W @ 8 Ohms
  • 94 dB/2.83 V/1 m sensitivity

The Klipsch CDT-5650-C II is a reliable choice for home theater purposes due to its efficient design and high-quality sound. It features a 6.5″ driver, 1″ titanium tweeter, and a swiveling Tractrix® Horn, which provides clear highs and defined low-end. With adjustable dispersion and attenuation switches, it offers precise sound tuning. With a sensitivity of 94dB, it’s also a very efficient speaker.

sonos in ceiling speakers

Best For Music

Sonos In-Ceiling

  • 44-20kHz
  • 130W @ 8 Ohm power handling
  • 89 dB/2.83 V/1 m sensitivity

The Sonos In-Ceiling speakers are well-suited to music enthusiasts due to their crystal-clear sound, balanced frequency response, and immersive audio experience. Featuring Trueplay functionality for room-specific adjustments, they offer top-quality sound regardless of installation location. Their wide soundstage and precise imaging make them versatile for music and home theater setups. Easy installation and compatibility with Sonos Amp enhance their appeal for music lovers looking for high-quality sound.

Polk Audio RC80i In-Ceiling-In-Wall Speakers

Best For Moist Environments

Polk Audio RC80i

  • 50 Hz – 20 kHz
  • 5.25 lbs in weight
  • 20-100W @ 8 Ohms power handling
  • 90 dB/2.83 V/1 m sensitivity

The Polk Audio RC80i is a moisture-resistant ceiling speaker suitable for environments like bathrooms and saunas. Its easy installation and excellent sound quality, accompanied by rich bass response, make it a practical choice for various rooms in your home, adding durability to its list of features.

We’ve selected the following speakers based on their audio performance, ease of installation, and overall build quality. These are our selections for the best ceiling speakers currently available on the retail market.

Model
Sensitivity
Power Handling
Impedance
90dB
20-100W
8 Ohms
89dB
10-100W
4-8 Ohms
89dB
130W
8 Ohms
94dB
50-100W
8 Ohms
89dB
400W
8 Ohms
90dB
10-225W
8 Ohms
90dB
50-140W
8 Ohms
90dB
20-100W
8 Ohms
89dB
20-125W
8 Ohms
85dB
20-100W
8 Ohms

In-Ceiling Speaker Recommendations

1. Polk Audio RC80i

Polk Audio RC80i In-Ceiling-In-Wall Speakers

Technical Specifications

Speaker Drivers:1 x 8” driver with 1 x 1” tweeter
Frequency Response:35 Hz-20 kHz
Sensitivity:90dB
Recommended Amplification:20-100W @ 8 Ohms
Cut-Out DIameter:9.38″
Size:9.37″ Diameter, 3.25″ Height
Weight:4.3 lbs each

The Polk Audio RC80i is a popular choice of in-ceiling speakers with several model variations in the range. They focus on budget without sacrificing performance and are frequently available at affordable prices. The moisture and heat-resistant coating makes them ideal for use indoors and in protected outdoor areas in bathrooms or saunas.

Drivers & Sound Quality

The RC80i has an 8” woofer with a 1” tweeter. They feature a mostly balanced and natural timbre. It is versatile enough to be used for music and home theatre. They have a natural-sounding low-end and offer a broad soundstage and fairly precise imaging, immersing you in the movies you watch. They have a sensitivity of 90dB, providing sufficient volume for most room sizes. The frequency response range extends from 35 Hz to 20 kHz, creating deep lows and detailed highs.

Installation & Amplification

The RC80i comes with a template to make the stenciling process easy. They also have dog-ear locking tabs to make for an easier installation process. The grilles can also be painted to match your decor.

They can be powered with a 20-100W amplifier at 8 Ohms, which, given the 90dB sensitivity, provides enough volume for most installation types.

Polk Audio doesn’t specify the exact speaker gauge per distance other than the minimum of 18 gauge. We would recommend anything over 30ft should be a 12 gauge for the RC80i.

The Polk Audio RC80i is an excellent choice for multi-room coverage. The Polk Audio RC range includes in-ceiling and in-wall speakers of all sizes to find the right speaker for each position in the room. The moisture-resistant coating is a big plus for bathrooms and outdoor installations. You can purchase the RC80i/PSW505 subwoofer combo for home theatre surround sound for added bass.

Pros

  • Neutral timbre
  • Wide soundstage
  • Precise imaging
  • Moisture resistant

Cons

  • Limited low-end bass

2. Bose Virtually Invisible 791 Series II

Bose Virtually Invisible 791 Series II in-Ceiling Speaker

Technical Specifications

Speaker Drivers:1 x 7” driver with 2 x 1” tweeter
Sensitivity:89dB
Frequency Response:40Hz – 16kHz
Recommended Amplification:10-100W @ 4-8 Ohms
Cut-Out Diameter:8.625″
Size:10″ Diameter, 4.4″ Height
Weight:4.8 lbs each

The Bose Virtually Invisible 791 Series II is a pair of in-ceiling speakers designed for a discreet installation, focusing on flush mounting.

Drivers & Sound Quality

They have a 7” woofer with two 1” center offset tweeters to deliver a near full-range response. These tweeters are angled 45 degrees in the opposite direction for a more precise sound. The Virtually Invisible 791 Series II has a mostly balanced sound signature, with vibrant midrange and treble. They offer a broad, immersive soundstage experience and precise imaging suitable for music and home theatre setups.

They have a frequency range of 40Hz – 16kHz, which offers good low-end extension. A few upper treble frequencies fall outside of this supported range.

Installation & Amplification

Each speaker is compatible with an amplifier or receiver rated between 10-100W at 4-8 Ohms. The speakers are rated 6 Ohms and deliver 50W IEC continuous power handling. The Invisible 791 Series II has a sensitivity of 89dB, which is industry standard. They can get sufficiently loud when powered with 100W, although they fall short of other speakers.

The provided template lets you cut the ceiling board for installation easily and accurately. The installation process is simple, with dogleg clamps assisting with the mounting. They have a magnetic grille that can easily be removed and reattached. The Invisible 791 Series II features a slim profile, allowing discreet installation.

Further installation instructions are included in the manual, which makes it viable for DIY installations.

Lengths up to 20ft18 Gauge
Lengths 20ft to 30ft16 Gauge
Lengths 30ft to 50ft14 Gauge
Lengths 50ft to 90ft12 Gauge

The Virtually Invisible 791 Series II is perfect for most living spaces. The easy installation means these speakers shouldn’t be difficult for seasoned DIY enthusiasts. The Virtually Invisible 791 Series II is popular for TV, music, and movies. Bose Stereo Everywhere means no matter where you sit in the room, you can enjoy a stereo sound.

Pros

  • Dual tweeter design for improved imaging
  • Good for both music and movies
  • Discreet profile

Cons

  • Fairly expensive
  • Drop off towards the end of the high frequencies

3. Sonos In-Ceiling Speakers

sonos in ceiling speakers

Technical Specifications

Speaker Drivers:6-1/2″ woofer and 1″ tweeter
Sensitivity:89dB
Frequency Response:44-20kHz
Power Handling:130W @ 8 Ohm
Cut-Out Diameter:8.25″
Size:9.13″ Diameter, 4.84″ Height
Weight:5 lbs each

The Sonos In-Ceiling is a compact, lightweight speaker that puts quality audio performance ahead of features. They are best suited to those with existing Sonos speakers.

Drivers & Sound Quality

The Sonos Architectural In-Ceiling speakers deliver crystal-clear sound for music, film, spoken word, or ambient listening. They use Trueplay functionality, which adjusts the tonal qualities of the speakers according to room shape, size, and the obstacles within to deliver top-quality sound at all times, no matter where the speakers are installed. These in-ceiling speakers are balanced-sounding with a frequency response ranging from 44Hz to 20kHz with a slight deviation (+-3dB). They feature a unique woofer and tweeter combination rather than a single full-range driver.

They offer immersive audio with a wide soundstage, creating a spacious audio experience. As with most Sonos products, these speakers have precise and detailed imaging, giving them additional versatility. The imaging and soundstage performance make them reliable for home theatre installations, while the balanced sound profile makes them popular for music.

Installation & Amplification

Sonos has taken care here to make these as straightforward to install as possible, allowing anyone with basic DIY skills to perform the process themselves. However, suppose you’re not comfortable installing them yourself. In that case, a professional Sonos installer can be hired through the Sonos website should you prefer a qualified technician to do the job for you.

They have a sensitivity of 89dB and a power handling of 5W to 130W at 8 Ohms and have slightly more volume than both the Bose Virtually Invisible and the Polk RC80i.

Pros

  • Balanced timbre
  • Can reach high SPL (Sound pressure levels)
  • Wide soundstage
  • Precise imaging

Cons

  • Non-paintable speaker grille
  • No cabling included

4. Klipsch CDT-5650-C II

Klipsch CDT-5650-C II In-Ceiling Speaker

Technical Specifications

Speaker Drivers:1 x 6.5” driver with 1 x 1” tweeter
Sensitivity:94dB
Frequency Response:63Hz – 23KHz
Recommended Amplification:50-100W at 8 Ohms
Cut-Out Diameter:8.3″
Size:9.5″ Diameter, 4.5″ Height
Weight:7.0 lbs each

Klipsch offers a variety of in-ceiling speakers, with the CDT-5650-C II being one of their most popular models. It is an extremely efficient speaker that produces high-quality sound without breaking the bank.

Drivers & Sound Quality

The Klipsch CDT-5650-C II features a 6.5” speaker driver with a 1” titanium tweeter and a swiveling 100-degree Tractrix® Horn. The CDT-5650-C II woofer can also be shifted 15 degrees to adjust the sound dispersion to your liking. This feature is rarely found, with most models only allowing tweeter adjustments. It uses Klipsch’s Controlled Dispersion Technology™ to direct highs and lows to the preferred listening area.

There are treble and midbass attenuation switches, so you can fine-tune the sound depending on the room or installation. A 0db or a -3db attenuation is available for both treble and mid-bass. With the switches located on the front of the speaker, you can easily make adjustments even when the speaker is installed.

The sound is high quality with good low-end definition and clear highs. It features impressive dynamic sound with a spacious soundstage and precise imaging. Since Klipsch offers a wide range of in-ceiling and in-wall speakers, you can create a complete home theater or distributed speaker system throughout the house.

Installation & Amplification

The Klipsch CDT-5650-C II has a sensitivity of 94dB (1W@1m) and power handling of 50-100W at 8 Ohms. This high sensitivity rating is responsible for the impressive sound pressure levels that this speaker can reach.

It is extremely simple to install. It comes with a template so you can stencil the exact shape before cutting and has detailed install instructions on the Klipsch website in case you lose the template. Installing the CDT-5650-C II is as easy as positioning the speaker and tightening the screws till the dogs lock in place. Once fitted, you can angle the tweeter and speaker driver to your desired listening position. The installation process can be even easier if you purchase the IK-650-C kit.

The speaker grilles on the CDT-5650-C II can be painted to match the ceiling or decor.

While the CDT-5650-C II has a good low-end presence, if you plan to install the Klipsch CDT-5650-C II as part of a home theatre system, consider adding the Klipsch R-12SW Subwoofer to thicken the bass.

Pros

  • Defined bass
  • Adjustable woofer for increased dispersion
  • Can reach high SPL (Sound pressure levels)

Cons

  • A bit on the expensive side
  • Low-end could extend deeper

5. Pyle PDICBT286 8”

Pyle 8” Flush Mount In-Wall-In-Ceiling Speaker Kit

Technical Specifications

Speaker Drivers:1 x 8” driver with ½” tweeter (4 x speakers total)
Sensitivity:89dB
Frequency Response:40Hz – 20kHz
Recommended Amplification:Mini digital amplifier supplied
Cut-Out Diameter:9.4″
Size:11.2″ Diameter, 3.9″ Height
Weight:5.12 lbs each

The Pyle PDICBT286 is an affordable in-ceiling speaker commonly sold as a kit, including two or four speakers, a mini amplifier, your choice of grille, and speaker cables.

Drivers & Sound Quality

The PDICBT286 features 8″ woofers and 1″ tweeter that produce a relatively balanced sound. There are limitations to the low-end, which does not have as much depth as the RC80i provides. Given the affordability of these speakers, you should set realistic expectations.

The imaging and soundstage of these speakers could be improved, with a fairly narrow sound that isn’t as precise as more expensive options. Still, the sound quality is decent, and it can still be used as a music and home theatre speaker.

It performs best, however, when used for background audio and less intensive audio purposes where the shortcomings of the soundstage and imaging are less noticeable.

Installation & Amplification

The Pyle PDICBT286 kit features a total of four speakers, producing a total of 250W peak across them. They are powered using the included mini amplifier. They have a sensitivity of 89dB, and although Pyle rates this speaker system at 250W, the true output of the whole system isn’t more than 100W peak. They can achieve moderate volume levels.

The mini digital amplifier is Bluetooth enabled, allowing you to install everything in the ceiling without drilling holes for signal cables. The amplifier features Bluetooth version 4, which is becoming outdated and is something to consider.

The Bluetooth digital amplifier has a range of 30ft, though obstructions can reduce this. When installing, get the amplifier against the ceiling board, if possible, and away from any electrical components. This will reduce any interference.

Pyle supplies you with circle and square speaker grilles so you can select the right shape for your needs. Including both shapes will help those installing them inside the wall rather than the ceiling. However, we recommend dedicated in-wall speakers for the best performance.

The speaker grilles are white but can be painted to match your decor.

The speaker kit comes with four lengths of speaker cable. Consider purchasing an extra speaker cable should you wish to install these speakers further apart. Remember that the mini amplifier isn’t the most powerful, so increasing the distance will reduce the amount of power each speaker will receive.

This speaker kit is best suited for installs where your primary application is background music. This system will work best for restaurants, cafes, and small retail stores. This system is recommended for background music at home but lacks in a home theatre setup.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Affordable
  • Bluetooth amplifier included

Cons

  • The bass could be deeper
  • Limited soundstage and imaging

6. Definitive Technology Di 8R

Definitive Technology Di 8R In-Ceiling Speaker

Technical Specifications

Speaker Drivers:1 x 8” driver with 1” tweeter
Sensitivity:90dB
Frequency Response:25Hz – 30kHz
Recommended Amplification:10-225W at 8 Ohms
Cut-Out DIameter:8.75″
Size:9.75″ Diameter (with grille), 3.88″ Height
Weight:4.8 lbs each

The Di 8R In-Ceiling Speaker is part of Definitive Technology’s Disappearing™ Speaker Series. The Disappearing™ Speaker Series features a selection of speakers that are designed for discrete installation.

Drivers & Sound Quality

The Di 8R features an 8” woofer with 1” tweeter. Definitive Technology’s BDSS™ technology delivers maximum efficiency across the entire frequency range for a clear and balanced listening experience. At the same time, the pivoting 1” tweeter allows you to direct the sound exactly where you need it.

It also features an Environmental EQ switch. If your room has many hard surfaces like glass, stone, or hardwood, setting this switch to “- (minus)” will compensate for these reflections. If your room is “dead” (in other words, there are loads of soft surfaces absorbing a lot of sounds), then setting the Environmental EQ to “+ (plus)” offers a treble boost to brighten up your speakers.

These speakers perform best in their definition and clarity, and the bass has sufficient depth and balance. The overall imaging of the Di 8R is above average, providing decent soundstage performance. They are suitable for both music and home theatre use.

Installation & Amplification

The Di 8R has a power handling of 225W at 8 Ohms. This relatively high power, combined with the efficient 90dB sensitivity, allows these speakers to reach high sound pressure levels useful for covering larger room sizes.

The Definitive Technology Di 8R has a template to stencil the hole before cutting. It also features a cable clamp on each terminal. Stripping a ½” shield off the cable is enough to fit through the terminal. Once in place, tightening the screws will enable the tabs to swivel into place and lock the speaker into position.

The Di 8R can be painted. However, Definitive Technology provides strict instructions when painting the grilles, so check out the user manual before attempting to paint.

Overall, this speaker can work as a home theater or music speaker. It is versatile in its design, while the pivot tweeter allows for improved imaging—a good choice for larger rooms that require more power.

Pros

  • Wide, immersive soundstage
  • Detailed imaging
  • Environmental EQ switch
  • Low depth requirements
  • Flush mounting

Cons

  • Quite pricy
  • Somewhat large cutout size

7. Yamaha NS-IC800

Yamaha NS-IC800 In-ceiling Speakers

Technical Specifications

Speaker Drivers:1 x 8” driver with 1” tweeter
Sensitivity:90dB
Frequency Response:50Hz – 28kHz
Recommended Amplification:50-140W at 8 Ohms
Cut-Out DIameter:9.7″
Size:11.14″ Diameter, 4.7″ Height
Weight:4.2 lbs each

The Yamaha NS-IC800 features one of the market’s lowest-profile, flush-mounted speaker grilles. It blends seamlessly with the rest of your ceiling when color-matched.

Drivers & Sound Quality

It features an 8” woofer with a 1” tweeter, which can be swiveled to your desired location, improving the imaging. The speaker cone is resistant to moisture, and the sealed back protects against moisture and dust. The tweeter on the NS-IC800 is fluid-cooled to deliver optimum performance, even at higher volumes.

The soundstage and imaging of the Yamaha NS-IC800 are above average, and while they won’t blow your mind, they may still impress. They have a frequency response range between 50Hz and 28kHz and lack low-end extension, providing a punchy and tight bass.

There is sufficient detail and clarity in the midrange and treble to make this speaker viable for music and home theatre applications.

Installation & Amplification

The Yamaha NS-IC800 has a power handling rating of 50-140W at 8 Ohms, with a sensitivity of 90dB. They are moderately efficient and can reach good volume levels, though they fall middle of the pack compared to other ceiling speakers on this list.

The speakers have a template so you can stencil the hole accurately before cutting. They also feature a large mounting clamp with a non-slip tread to ensure the speakers fit tight against your wall or ceiling.

For an optimum listening experience, install the speakers between 6 and 10 ft apart, an equal distance from the focal point, such as a TV or HiFi.

The speaker grilles can be painted to match decor, wall, or ceiling color.

Yamaha doesn’t specify which gauge of speaker cable to use. However, I wouldn’t use anything less than 16 gauge on the NS-IC800, going to a 12 gauge for more than 30ft runs.

The Yamaha NS-IC800 is suitable for a variety of applications. They are suitable for home theatre and music. They are a versatile solution for both homes and businesses.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Angled teeters
  • Decent performance across sound qualities

Cons

  • Clarity could be slightly better
  • Low-end depth could be wider

8. Micca M-8C 8”

Micca M-8C 8” In-Ceiling Speaker

Technical Specifications

Speaker Drivers:1 x 8” driver with 1” tweeter
Sensitivity:90dB
Frequency Response:40Hz – 20kHz
Recommended Amplification:20-100W at 8 Ohms
Cut-Out Diameter:9.4″
Size:10.75″ Diameter, 3.6″ Height
Weight:4.55 lbs each

The Micca M-8C is part of the M Series from Micca, which features both in-ceiling and in-wall speakers for those wishing to install a full home theater system. Micca M-8C is one of the more affordable products on this list, but it is important to note these speakers are sold as singles.

Drivers & Sound Quality

The M-8C features an 8” woofer with a 1” tweeter. The tweeter can be angled towards the listener by using the pivot feature. The bass extension from the woofer is average, which can be expected from a budget option.

Similarly, the soundstage and imaging have a modest performance, with the soundstage being fairly narrow and the imaging lacking the precision found in more expensive ceiling speakers. They retain decent detail and clarity that surpasses the quality found in similarly priced competitors. They have a frequency response range between 40Hz and 20kHz.

Installation & Amplification

Micca provides a template so you can stencil the correct size before cutting. Once in position, tightening the screws will swivel the tabs to fasten the M-8C securely into position. The speaker grilles are paintable so that you can match your ceiling color or decor.

The Micca M-8C 8” has a power handling of between 20-100W at 8 Ohms, with a sensitivity of 90dB. The overall volume capabilities of the M-8C are suitable for both small and moderate-sized rooms. By including more speakers, you can also cover larger room sizes.

The Micca M-8C is best suited as a simple stereo left/right system or a full home theatre surround sound system. Part of the M Series range includes box-shaped and circular designs depending on where you wish to position the speaker.

Pros

  • Good value for money
  • Decent volume capabilities
  • Sound quality is sufficient for its price

Cons

  • Installation is not as easy as some other models

9. Pyle Pro PDIC60T

Pyle Pro PDIC60T In-Ceiling Speaker

Technical Specifications

Speaker Drivers:1 x 6.5” driver with 1” tweeter
Sensitivity:89dB
Frequency Response:65Hz – 22kHz
Recommended Amplification:70V amplifier or 250W at 8 Ohms
Cut-Out Diameter:7.875″
Size:9″ Diameter, 4.62″ Height
Weight:6.09 lbs each

Pyle’s PDI range features circular and box-shaped speakers. The PDIC60T is their budget in-ceiling model. You can pick up four speakers for around $150, allowing for affordable large installations.

Drivers & Sound Quality

The Pyle Pro PDIC60T features a 6.5” woofer with a 1” tweeter and operates with a frequency response range of 65Hz to 22kHz. The bass is limited in depth but still present in the mid-bass range. The 1” tweeter can pivot to point toward your primary listening position.

There is limited soundstage and imaging with these speakers. The soundstage, in particular, is narrow and lacks immersion, while the details are also sub-par for home theatre and critical listening. Instead, this speaker is well suited for background music and announcements, making it a popular choice for businesses.

Installation & Amplification

The PDIC60T has a sensitivity of 89dB with a power handling of 250W at 8 Ohms or a 70v amp. Each speaker has a 70V transformer, which can be removed to run the speakers on a regular amplifier or receiver. If you’re using a 70V amplifier, go for a 14 gauge up to 100ft and 12 gauge if you need to run anything longer.

Pyle provides a template for accurate installation holes. When installing, it’s as simple as placing your PDIC60T into the ceiling and tightening the screws till the tabs swivel into place and secure the speaker. Use a 16-gauge cable for up to 20-foot cable runs.

The Pyle PDIC60T is a versatile speaker that works well for large restaurant installations, office installations, etc. You can use a 70V amplifier and the speakers for announcements and background music. Consider installing a delay unit for this kind of installation.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Decent audio for music purposes at its price

Cons

  • Not paintable
  • Narrow soundstage
  • Limited imaging

10. Yamaha NS-IW280CWH

Yamaha NS-IW280CWH 6.5 In-Ceiling Speaker System

Technical Specifications

Speaker Drivers:1 x 6.5” driver with 2 x ¾” tweeter
Sensitivity:88dB
Frequency Response:65 Hz – 28 kHz
Recommended Amplification:20-100W at 8 Ohms
Cut-Out Diameter:9.7″
Size:10.28″ Diameter, 5″ Height
Weight:3.37 lbs each

The Yamaha NS-IW280CWH 6.5” is versatile and can be used for most applications. The sound quality is suited particularly well to home theatre use and music listening.

Drivers & Sound Quality

The NS-IW280CWH features a 6.5” driver with two ¾” tweeters. Both the woofers and tweeters can be pivoted to direct the sound exactly where you want it. Only two speakers we feature in this article can pivot both the main driver and tweeter.

It has a very good soundstage performance with a lot of width and detail. With a frequency response spanning from 65 Hz to 28 kHz, it captures most of the spectrum of musical tones, though it lacks some low-end bass and will benefit from including a subwoofer when used for home theatre. The 180-degree dispersion angle ensures an even sound distribution. It has a natural timbre and reliably reproduces instruments and vocals, offering clear and detailed treble, rich midrange, and powerful bass.

Installation & Amplification

The Yamaha NS-IW280CWH 6.5” has a template to stencil your hole before cutting. Once the speaker is positioned, you can angle your speaker driver and tweeters to the desired location—the grille clips into place.

The grille on the NS-IW280CWH is paintable in case you need to match paint or decor.

These speakers have a power rating of 20-100W at 8 Ohms, with a sensitivity of 85dB. Their SPL is similar to that of the Bose Virtually Invisible 791 Series II, which has a similar design. Use a speaker cable no less than 18 gauge or 12 gauge for installs longer than 30ft.

The Yamaha NS-IW280 is well-suited to both home theatre and music purposes. It has both good soundstage and imaging. The ability to pivot both the woofer and the tweeter is a feature that few other ceiling speakers offer.

Pros

  • Loads of volume
  • Great mids & highs
  • Affordable
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • The bass could be improved

Buyer’s Guide – What To Know When Selecting Ceiling Speakers For Your Home or Business

The best way to make an educated purchase is to understand what makes a ceiling speaker good quality. Comparing the technical specs can provide useful insight into how these speakers compare on paper. Here is a brief overview of each of the primary product’s features, along with how they may influence your in-ceiling speaker choice:

Ceiling Speakers For Home Theatre VS. Music

Ceiling speakers can be used for various purposes but have two primary uses. One is in the installation of a home theatre system, where the speakers will be used in conjunction with additional speakers such as bookshelf speakers or tower speakers and a center channel speaker. The other is for music-only applications. This may be music entertainment for home use, while for businesses, ceiling speakers are often used for an ambient backdrop.

Ceiling speakers for home audio require the ability to reproduce immersive and detailed sound. Here are some of the most important things to look at if you’re looking for home theatre speakers.

Good Imaging

Sound design in movies is an art, yet we often miss the nuances of the production when we use speakers with weak imaging. Imaging relates to the directionality of sound. It’s similar to how, in a movie theatre, you often feel as though you can pinpoint the direction of each sound, resulting from high-quality imaging. Speakers with good imaging will allow you to pinpoint the direction of certain sounds more easily.

Immersive Soundstage

Soundstage is another important component of creating an immersive experience. Similar to imaging, it refers to the perceived position of sound. However, soundstage is more related to the overall width and depth you experience. Good soundstage performance will provide an additional sense of immersion.

Deep Bass

Most ceiling speakers cannot provide sufficient bass for a comprehensive home theatre system alone and should ideally be paired with a dedicated subwoofer. Still, opting for ceiling speakers with more bass can improve the overall home theatre experience, even when used with a subwoofer. Bass has a lot of influence in the immersion of action scenes particularly.

Intelligible Dialogue

Home theatre ceiling speakers must provide a clear and detailed dialogue reproduction. Action scenes can become chaotic and involve a lot of different frequencies from effects; having a good dialogue presence will ensure that other sounds do not drown out the dialogue. This is also where timbre matching becomes important.

When installing ceiling speakers for music purposes, there are some shared traits with home theatre speakers. There are also, however, unique considerations to keep in mind that play less of a role in home theatre ceiling speakers.

Clarity & Detail

Ceiling speakers used primarily for music should have good detail, particularly in the midrange and treble. It should also have clarity that provides for intelligible vocals and instrumentals. Avoid muddy-sounding ceiling speakers, which produce insufficient clarity.

Balanced Sound

A balanced sound will provide the most accurate representation of the production. It creates a smoother sound where frequencies compete less with each other.

Good Soundstage

As the soundstage is important for home theatre setups, it is also an essential part of music. It allows the sound to envelop you, creating a sense of immersion. It creates a sound where you can more easily tell the position of instruments in the mix.

Wide Frequency Response

A wide frequency response range is more important for music since installations where music is the focus may not have a subwoofer. Without a sub, you rely on the ceiling speaker to cover those lower frequencies. A wide frequency response can provide more depth to the low-end and additional nuance in the treble.

If you’re installing ceiling speakers for offices or businesses, you can buy more affordable options suited for background music and public announcements. Soundstage, imaging and detail are less relevant for these speakers, but the speakers should still sound good without distortion.

Sound Quality

Sound quality is the most important consideration when buying ceiling speakers. Consider speakers with a wide sound capable of producing sufficient bass and clear and detailed highs. Balanced sound profiles are most sought after, as they provide the most accurate representation of the production. However, there is no right and wrong in tuning, and bass-heavy speakers are still highly sought after.

Avoid speakers that tend to distort at volume or those tuned in a way where a particular frequency range noticeably overpowers the rest of the frequencies. The imaging, soundstage, and presentation of dialog are additional considerations.

Timbre

Timbre is a term used to describe the tonal qualities of speakers. With in-ceiling speakers, timbre is essential to consider as they often integrate with other speakers in your home. When pairing different speakers together, choosing speakers where tones complement each other is beneficial. Speakers with the same timbre create a more immersive and seamless experience, especially in dialog panning, where mismatched timbre becomes easily noticeable. If your existing home speakers have a bright, warm sound, buy an in-ceiling speaker with those qualities.

You can often find detailed technical input from audio enthusiasts across the internet where they discuss timbre matching and how well specific speaker series are timber matched. Still, there are debates around timbre matching and its importance. Ultimately, you should consider how they will integrate with your existing speaker setups. Certain speaker types are more prone to noticeable timbre mismatching.

Driver Size

A speaker driver is a primary factor in deciding how a speaker sounds. The term refers to the part of the speaker that moves air, projecting sound. Ceiling speaker drivers range between 4″ and 10″, with 6″ and 8″ being the most commonly found sizes.

Because larger drivers can move more air, they tend to have the ability to offer lower frequency coverage and offer more volume. Larger drivers are associated with better bass and more volume and can often provide wider frequency response.

Consider that larger drivers take up more space and are also usually heavier. They can also be more challenging to drive, requiring a higher output amplifier. Ceiling speakers with smaller drivers have the advantage of being more versatile and easier to install.

Speaker Sensitivity

Speaker sensitivity refers to the efficiency of a speaker in turning power into volume. Sensitivity is typically represented as a dB reading, indicating the amount of volume the speaker has at a 1-meter measuring distance, with 1W of power.

Speaker sensitivity indicates the speaker’s volume potential, and you can use the power handling and sensitivity to calculate the kinds of volume the speaker can produce. A good sensitivity ranges between 87 and 90 dB, with >90 dB considered highly efficient speakers with better volume capabilities.

You should consider ceiling speaker sensitivity with your existing amplifier. If you have a low-powered amplifier, you should opt for higher-sensitivity speakers, as they may struggle to reach sufficient volume.

Impedance

Impedance refers to the resistance of electrical energy between the speaker and the amplifier. You must accurately match your impedance with your amplifier, which can be influenced by how you wire your speakers. Impedance changes depending on how many speakers you wire together and which wiring method you use. No impedance value is inherently better than the next. You can read more about impedance matching below or in greater detail in our in-ceiling speaker guide.

Frequency Response Range

Frequency response range refers to the frequencies that the speaker can produce. This is represented in Hertz (Hz) or Kilohertz (kHz). The lower the starting number, the more low-end extension and bass the speaker can produce, and speakers with a higher starting number may still sound punchy but will lack the depth from lower frequencies. The second number represents how far into the upper frequencies the speaker can extend, and this relates to how many treble frequencies the speaker can produce.

The average human can hear frequencies between 20Hz and 20kHz, so why opt for a ceiling speaker that extends deeper? Subsonic frequencies may not be audible, but the soundwaves can still affect your listening experience, with the ability to create more immersion.

The frequency response range is measured on an X-axis and is linear. In contrast, frequency response charts plot the level of these different frequencies and portray the speaker’s performance, while frequency response range tells you what the speaker can produce.

Audiostance Author - Matt Hallowes
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Matt Hallowes

Matt is a sound engineer and confessed vinyl junkie! His work as a sound engineer includes live production and venue installations, giving him deep insight into the audio industry, with personal experience with dozens of products. While traveling the world, Matt shares his knowledge and expertise with us!

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