Buying Ceiling Speakers?

13 Questions you MUST ask before buying Ceiling Speakers

Introducing ceiling speakers into your home is a big decision - unlike freestanding speakers, ceiling speakers are designed as a permanent solution. As such  positioning, size, control, and quantity require consideration, in addition to audio quality. Our simple guide will help you navigate some of the important questions and need to-know aspects of ceiling speakers.

  1. What ceiling speaker size should I choose?
  2. How many Speakers will I need?
  3. Where do I position ceiling speakers?
  4. How much space do I need?
  5. How do I power the speaker?
  6. What Cable do I need?
  7. Do I need fire Hoods?
  8. Are speakers suitable for Bathrooms, Saunas and Kitchens?
  9. Can I paint the grilles?
  10. Can I use the ceiling speakers for TV playback?
  11. Do I need a subwoofer?
  12. Can I control with my voice?
  13. Should I Audition them first?

What ceiling speaker size should I choose?

Typically, there are two common sizes of ceiling speakers - 6.5” and 8”, the size relating to the diameter of the cone, not the size of the actual enclosure. 6.5”  is the most popular ceiling speaker size due to its practicality,  it being well-suited to small and medium-sized spaces.

Moving to an8” speaker marks an improvement in bass response. . The bigger the driver on the speaker, the more the speaker can push out air - enabling the sound to travel further.  Upsizing to 8” is therefore worth considering for larger rooms.

Please note: There is a difference in physical dimensions between the 6.5” and 8” speaker.

Speakers smaller than 6.5” can also be found, though these can often be found lacking in bass response and audio quality compared to their larger counterparts.

How many ceiling speakers do I need?

This is  dependent on room size and layout, typically ceiling speakers are sold in pairs, one playing each playing different right and left channel audio, creating true stereo sound.As a rough guide it is generally recommended that  a single pair of speakers be used in rooms   between 3 x 3 metres and 5 x 5 metres. For larger rooms,  a setup with 2 pairs of ceiling speakers would offer a more balanced audio experience. 

While speakers are sold in pairs, there are cases  where use of a single stereo speaker is  preferable. A single stereo speaker has two tweeters rather than the traditional one, which allows true stereo sound to be produced from a single unit. Whilst economical with space,  the soundstage in such a deployment is generally inferior, and so the use of a single stereo speaker should only be considered for  a small room like a bathroom, where the distance between in-ceiling speakers would need to be less than 2 metres.

Please note: Single stereo speakers require 2 runs of speaker cable, one each for the left and right channels.

Our dedicated experts are on hand to assist with floor plans and speaker placement -  Call us for help and advice - 020 8977 8633

Where do I position my speakers?

When installing speakers, an important decision to make is where to cut the holes and place the speakers, getting this right allows you to enjoy your audio.

For rooms where a single stereo speaker is being installed you should aim to place the speaker in the centre of the ceiling (where possible) for the best possible distribution of sound. 

If you are installing a pair of speakers or more, it is recommended they be installed equal distance apart from each wall and at least 2 metres apart from each other for the best stereo separation effect.

While we understand that some rooms are awkwardly shaped and will not always be easy to find the best position for them - We would recommend choosing a speaker with an anglable tweeter which would allow you to aim the audio.

How much ceiling space do I need?

Before installing you will need to ensure that you have enough space for your speaker in the ceiling void to install the speaker. All mountings are different on each speaker but the average depth you will need is 100mm.

Please note: Speakers with slimmer depths typically do not sound as good due to the air moment being restricted.

How do I power my speakers?

There are commonly two options for powering speakers.

“Active” speakers provide more a plug and play solution, these are typically speakers with a built-in amplifier and simply require a connection from the mains directly to the speaker and controllable via Bluetooth or WiFi

“Passive” speakers are much more common and require an amplifier to power them via speaker cable. There are a few popular amplifiers on the market, namely, Sonos AMP and Bluesound Powernode which allow you to control the speakers using WiFi via their apps which are available on a variety of devices. In the app it allows you to group speakers into “zones” if you have multiple amplifiers to control audio throughout your home.

What cable do I need?

The industry standard is 16/2 (16 gauge, 2 core) speaker cable which will be suitable for most installations. If your run is longer than 30 metres it is recommended a thickers cable as the audio quality can deteriorate over this distance.

For runs to high moisture or outdoor zones a 16/4 (16 gauge, 4 core) weather resistant speaker cable is recommended.

 

Do I need a fire hood?

A ceiling hood engulfs the back of the speaker to prevent the spread of fire within the ceiling void.

A fire hood is a legal requirement for any ceiling speaker that is being installed where a habitable room is above - This preserves the integrity of the ceiling in the event of a fire. 

While they are called fire hoods, they also help prevent a certain amount of sound leakage, helping reduce the sound which is heard in rooms above.

 

Can I install in a bathroom, sauna or kitchen?

While the majority of speakers will be fine in a kitchen, IP rated speakers are also available to help provide protection against dust and moisture. These are also great solutions for installing in bathrooms and saunas to help protect against steam and humidity.

Can I paint the grilles?

All ceiling speakers come with grilles, which fit over the speaker to help hide the speaker. These are commonly white, but can be sprayed any colour to match your decór. It is important to know that if or when you spray the grille, this is done when the grille is not attached to the speaker as this will damage the speaker.

Can I playback TV through my speakers?

Audio playback from your TV is possible, although you cannot connect the speakers directly to your TV. You will need to take the audio from the TV via either an optical cable output or the HDMI using ARC (Audio Return Channel, available on most recent TVs) as input into an amplifier. Both the Sonos AMP and Bluesound Powernode has HDMI inputs allowing you to pass audio from the TV via your amplifier and output the audio from your ceiling speakers.

There are some models of bathroom TVs which do have an amplified audio output suitable to connect directly to your ceiling speakers. This is model specific and would need to be checked before installation.

 

Do I need a subwoofer?

While a subwoofer is not essential for ceiling speakers, it can enhance your setup by adding extra bass. While a subwoofer will not be a requirement for all rooms it might be a consideration for main listening rooms and rooms dedicated for watching films as the extra bass produced by a subwoofer in tandem with ceiling speakers really submerse you in the experience. 

For more information on do you need a subwoofer? check out our other blog post here

Can I control with my voice?

There are a number of amplifiers which can have voice enabled. Simply connect to Amazon Echo devices or Google Assistant and follow instructions on their apps to be up and running in no time. 

Should I audition them first?

Yes, everyone hears audio differently, what might sound bright to one person might sound dull to someone else. While this can not always be done, we would recommend speaking to one of our highly trained sales team who can guide you through speakers and setups to ensure you get the best out of your budget and enjoy your audio for years to come.

We would welcome you to come try the speakers- We are based in West London (Twickenham) and have a dedicated audition room in which we have 18 pairs of speakers on audition at anyone time, allowing you to find the perfect speaker.