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Big, ugly speakers can ruin the look of a nice, clean home theater. Unsightly wires never look good no matter how well you organize them. A pair of the best in-ceiling speakers will minimize bulk and clean up the look of your home theater. With some measuring, cutting, and simple installation, they'll blend right into your ceiling. Your guests won’t even notice them.

If you’re upgrading your home audio for the first time, you’ll be amazed at the improved sound quality that'll come along with a pair or two of these speakers. Some of the highly preferred home theater speakers on the market are ceiling or wall-mounted. If you’ve wanted to upgrade from your sub-par built-in television speakers, but don’t want the look of big traditional speakers, these speakers are perfect for you.

Think about all of the movies you watch, all of the TV shows you enjoy, and all of the games you play. Even if you have the best possible resolution on your screen, you’re not getting the full experience if you settle for bad audio. Try some of the best ceiling speakers and take your home theater experience to the next level. Without the ugly equipment and wires.

Here is a list of 2017's top rated and reviewed in-ceiling speakers to help you choose the best products for your home theater.

Best In-Ceiling Speakers | Top 8

Our RankIn-Ceiling SpeakerPower Handling (RMS)Speaker TypeFrequency ResponsePrice
1.Atlantic Technology IC-6HT-S125 Watts2-Way45 - 22k Hz$$$
2.Bose Virtually Invisible 19150 Watts2-Way10 - 200k Hz$$$$
3.Polk RC80i20 Watts2-Way25 - 20k Hz$$$
4.Klipsch R-1800-C40 watts2-Way56 - 20k Hz$$
5.Yamaha NS-IW480CHW35 Watts3-Way50 - 28k Hz$$$
6.JBL SP8CII100 Watts2-Way32 - 20k Hz$$$
7.Definitive Technology DT8RN/A2-Way26 - 30k Hz$$$
8.Pyle PDIC60250 Watts2-Way65 - 22k Hz$

Who Is This Review For?

This review is for anybody looking to improve their home theater. A really nice television doesn’t do much good if the audio lacks in quality. This is for anyone who loves watching movies and shows or playing video games and wants a better experience. It’s for anyone who wants to reduce the bulk of their home theater and add a clean, sharp look. It’s for anyone who wants fuller audio, but doesn’t want to spend tons of money on a full surround sound setup or floorstanding tower speakers. Or for those who think that even the best soundbar speaker setup won't cut it.

After reading this review, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the wide world of ceiling speakers. It’s a great explainer that points out which speakers are right for different the many tastes and different budgets. Have you tried shopping for in-ceiling speakers before, but got intimidated or confused by the technical statistics or sheer volume of options? Keep reading to make it sound a bit more clear.

What to Look For

If you look at a spec sheet for a pair of speakers, it’s a long list of numbers that blur together. These lists can be hard to decipher. We’ll let you know which specs and details really matter and what you need to know.

  • 2-way vs 3-way - Most speakers you look at will either be 2 way or 3 way speakers. This indicates how many speaker components are in each individual speaker. A 2-way speaker typically consists simply of a tweeter and a woofer. The tweeter makes sound for high treble inputs like cymbals, high-pitched screams, or any high-frequency sound. The woofer takes care of the low bass sounds like explosions, bassy music, or deep sound effects. The two components work together to deliver a nice, balanced, complete sound. A 3-way speaker, however, has a third component. In addition to the tweeter and the woofer, it usually has a speaker for mid-range. This is for things like people’s voices. That’s not always the case, sometimes a 3-way speaker is a woofer and two tweeters or some other combination. There are many different “ways” of speakers like 4 way, 5 way, etc. 2 and 3 way are the most common ones you’ll encounter. 3 way generally gives you better sound than 2 way, but that isn’t always the case. A well designed, well-constructed 2 way speaker will sound better than a low quality 3 way speaker.
  • Passive vs active - All of the speakers on our list are passive, but what does that mean? Passive speakers require an amplifier and active speakers have amplifiers built in. In other words, passive speakers need to plug into something for an audio source. Sources like a Blu-ray player, a television, or some kind of head unit. Active speakers are powered and have a built-in audio source. Think guitar amplifiers that are one piece. Almost all home audio speakers are passive.
  • Size - This isn’t a technical specification as much as it is something to keep in mind. If you have a certain spot in mind for mounting ceiling speakers, measure it first to figure out what size is right. Size doesn’t have much to do with sound quality, but it’s an important part of installation and aesthetic.

And if you do decide to purchase an in-ceiling speaker, be sure to read through our guide on How to Install an In-Ceiling Speaker to learn how to DIY!

Best In-Ceiling Speaker Reviews

#1. Best Overall: Atlantic Technology IC-6HT-S

Atlantic Technology IC-6HT-S Best In-Ceiling Speaker

Editor's Rating:

- 2-Way In-Ceiling Speakers
- RMS Power: 125 Watts
- Impedance: 6 Ohms
- 15 Degree Angle Towards Listening Area

Atlantic Technology IC-6HT-S Quick Review

The Atlantic Technology IC-6HT-S is a professional grade surround sound ceiling speaker. If you're looking to build the ultimate home theater and want an in-ceiling speaker, this is an excellent choice. Used by professionals, this speaker is designed with a 15 degree angle that allows you to tilt it towards the listening area. This is a great choice for those who are trying to acheive that 5.1 stereo setup, since many of the ceiling speakers aren't angled and project downwards. It's made with a heavy-duty 6.5" woofer with a low resonance tweeter that offers great sound coverage. It also features a magnetically attached grill to make it simple to add or remove. 

The IC-6HT-S also features a feature called Boundary Compensation control. This limits the build-up of mid bass frequencies if it's placed too close to a wall.

Some of the product specs:

  • Outer Diameter 9 5⁄8" (244mm)
  • Cutout Diameter 8" (202mm)
  • Mounting Depth 5 1⁄16" (128mm)
  • Frequency Response 45 – 22kHz
  • Woofer 6 ½" (165mm) Polypropylene
  • Tweeter 1" (25mm) LRT™ silk dome
  • Nominal Impedance 6 ohms
  • Crossover Frequency 2.3kHz
  • Sensitivity (1 watt/1 meter) 88dB
  • Recommended Power 10 – 125 Watts RMS
  • Weight 5 lbs

#2. Best Full Range & Bass: Bose Virtually Invisible 191

Bose Virtually Invisible 191

Editor's Rating:

- 2-Way In-Ceiling Speakers
- RMS Power: 50 Watts
- Impedance: 4/8 Ohms
- Interchangeable square or circular grilles

Bose Virtually Invisible 191 Quick Review

Bose is one of the biggest names in audio for a reason. They make some of the best in wall and ceiling speakers on the market. Bose has employed their proprietary technologies to make unique speakers that blend right into the room. And they sound amazing. They have angled full-range speakers on the inside aiming sound in different directions to truly fill the room. That means it sounds good at any volume in any part of the room. One of the unique features of the Bose is that they have both round and rectangular removable grills. You can customize the look and swap them out if you change your mind.

Features:

  • Stereo Everywhere® speaker performance produces balanced stereo sound over a wide area. Unlike conventional home audio speakers, that radiate sound mostly in a single direction.
  • Articulated Array® speaker design with two precisely positioned full-range drivers (2.5") provides consistent, lifelike sound over a large listening area.
  • Proprietary ported enclosure technology ensures consistent performance regardless of space behind wall. This produces cleaner and deeper low-frequency performance. It also ensures that lower frequencies are mainly directed into the intended listening area, and not into adjoining rooms.
  • Rectangular and round speaker grilles are included in every box. So you can choose to install the shape that best blends into your décor.
  • Paintable grille frames and grilles make it easy to match your décor. Install flush to your wall for a finished, hidden-speaker look.
  • Ease of installation with enclosure that balances easily in your wall during placement. This allows convenient use of both hands to connect the speaker wire and complete the installation.

#3. Best Value: Polk Audio RC80i

Polk Audio RC80i

Editor's Rating:

- 2-Way Ceiling Speaker Set
- RMS Power: 20 Watts
- Impedance: 8 Ohms
- Frequency Response: 35 - 20,000 Hz
- Water Resistant

Price Comparison

Polk Audio RC80i Quick Review

These Polk Audio RC80i don’t only sound great, but they have a few special features that make them worth a look. They’re made of durable, water resistant material. This makes them useable in bathrooms, saunas, and even outdoors. They shouldn’t be directly where they can be affected by weather, but put them under outdoor eaves and they’ll be just fine. They also have an aimed tweeter on a swivel mount you can customize where the sound is aimed.

Some of the key features of the Polk include:

  • Pair of 2-way in-ceiling speakers timbre-matched to the Polk Audio RTi Series for seamless imaging.
  • Equipped with one 8-inch dynamic-balance, mineral filled polymer-composite cone.
  • Frequency response: 35Hz - 20kHz
  • Equipped with one 1-inch dynamic-balance, metalized soft dome tweeter with 15-degree-swivel mount.
  • Constructed of durable, moisture-resistant materials for use in bathrooms, saunas, or under outdoor eaves.

#4. Runer Up, Best Value: Klipsch R-1800-C

Klipsch R-1800-C

Editor's Rating:

- 2-Way Coaxial In-Ceiling Speakers
- RMS Power: 40 Watts
- Impedance: 8 Ohms
- Frequency Response: 56 - 20,000 Hz

Price Comparison

Klipsch R-1800-C Quick Review

Klipsch delivers great products at good prices. The R-1800-C is a perfect example of that. These are nice, well-rounded speakers that won’t break the bank. They offer the quality of more expensive speakers at a more reasonable price. The R-1800-C doesn’t have a lot of the flare or proprietary tech of some higher end speakers. But, if you’re not looking for anything incredibly fancy, these are another great choice. When it comes to value, these are some of the best wall mount speakers.

Some of the key features of the R-1800-C include:

  • Good sensitivity and power handling
  • Paintable to match ceiling
  • Packaged individually
  • Dynamic acoustic performance for both home and commercial environments

#5. Best 3 Way: Yamaha NS-IW480CWH

Yamaha NS-IW480CWH

Editor's Rating:

- 3-Way Ceiling Speaker Set
- RMS Power: 35 Watts
- Impedance: 8 Ohms
- Frequency Response: 50 - 28,000 Hz
- Swivel Tweeter

Price Comparison

Yamaha NS-IW480CHW Quick Review

These Yamahas are the only 3-way speakers in our best in ceiling speakers list. They’re also some of the best looking. Yamaha did a good job designing a speaker that looks great with or without the included aluminum grille. It has dual tweeters which makes it sound excellent for high frequencies and crisp treble. You’ll never get that tinny sound that comes with a high pitch coming through a single, low-quality tweeter. These 3 way speakers give you a full, clear sound at any volume.

Features:

  • New Natural Sound in-ceiling speaker system
  • Easy installation design
  • 8" PP mica cone woofers
  • Dual 3/4" dome tweeter with "SoundMax"
  • Swivel tweeter for wide dispersion
  • 120W maximum input capability
  • Paintable aluminum grille with protective cover included

#6. Best Installation: JBL SP8CII

JBL SP8CII

Editor's Rating:

- 2-Way Ceiling Speakers
- RMS Power: 100 Watts
- Frequency Response: 32 - 20,000 Hz
- Rotatable Tweeter

JBL SP8CII Quick Review

In terms of construction, JBL makes some of the best home theater speakers on the market. That high-end construction is on full display in the SP8CII in-ceiling speakers. These have a titanium-laminate woofer and tweeter. The high-quality materials translate into high-quality sound. Aside from fantastic build quality, JBL has a few other tricks up their sleeve. The tweeter is on a swivel mount so you can aim it wherever you want. And these speakers have what JBL calls Elliptical Oblate Spheroidal (EOS) waveguide. It’s a technology designed for studio speakers that carry the sound to fill the whole room rather than having “sweet spots.” It all comes together in a great sounding package.

 

Features:

  • Titanium laminate tweeter for excellent high frequency sound
  • Rubber surrounds reduce distortion
  • Dog-ear brackets make it possible to retrofit
  • Speaker faceplates and grilles can be painted to match room decor
  • Optional rough-in frames are available for new construction

#7. Best Volume: Definitive Technology DT8R

Definitive Technology DT8R

Editor's Rating:

- 2-Way In-Ceiling Speakers
- PEAK Power: 225 Watts
- Impedance: 8 Ohms
- Frequency Range: 26 - 30,000 Hz

Definitive Technology DT8R Quick Review

This is another speaker that’s big on construction and material quality. The DT8R speakers use annealed aluminum which is has a high strength-to-weight ratio. That means it’s very rigid without being too heavy. The result is excellent performance with long durability. High-frequency sound is pure and accurate thanks to the Mylar capacitors too. If you’re looking for great set of wall or ceiling speakers with strong construction and clear sound, these are worth a look.

Key features include:

  • Exclusive 8" composite mineral-filled polypropylene driver cones offer superior transparency
  • Annealed aluminum tweeter dome provides great transients and smooth response
  • High definition crossover network with Mylar capacitors delivers the purest high frequencies
  • Improved sound dispersion and off-axis response casts incredible sound throughout the room

#8. Best Budget: Pyle PDIC60

Pyle PDIC60

Editor's Rating:

- 2-Way Passive Ceiling Speakers
- RMS Power: 250 Watts
- Impedance: 4/8 Ohm
- Frequency Response: 65 - 22,000 Hz

Price Comparison

Pyle PDIC60 Quick Review

You may have never heard of Pyle, but they’re on our list because they are an outstanding value. The people who have them love them, just check some of the customer reviews. They’re right up there with the top rated speakers out there, but for a very affordable price. They even use titanium in the aimed tweeter like JBL. Easy installation, hassle-free connection, and full sound make these a tempting offering. It’s hard to argue these are the best budget ceiling speakers you can buy.
Key features of the PDIC60:

  • 2-Way Stereo Sound Speakers
  • 6.5'' Midbass Speaker
  • 1'' High Temperature Voice Coil
  • Directable 1'' Titanium Dome Tweeter
  • 250 Watts Rated Peak Power
  • Mounts Flush on Walls or Ceilings
  • Perfect for Custom Installations & Applications
  • Includes Cut-Out Template for Easy Installation

Installing In-Ceiling Speakers

There are a number of benefits to installing in-ceiling and in-wall speakers. For one, they look great and blend seamlessly with the rest of your room or home theater. But looks aren't the only reason for installing in-ceiling or in-wall speakers. There are many speakers that perform incredibly well and provide a phenomenal surround sound experience too. The configurations are limitless with wall and ceiling speakers and you don't have to worry about taking up floorspace or clutter from bookshelf speakers or floorstanding speakers.

But, the downside to in-ceiling and in-wall speakers is the installation. Seamless surround sound doesn't come too easy and there are a number of factors that you will want to consider before making a decision to go the in-wall and in-ceiling route (if you haven't already). But, the payoff to this type of surround sound is tremendous. In the case that you choose the in-wall and in-ceiling setup, we've documented steps for you to install your own speakers. For the DIY savvy, this should be pretty straight forward!

Tools Needed

Before we begin walking through the steps to install your in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, let's walk through the tools that you'll want to have handy. Click on the tool to buy the tools that we highly recommend for this installation:

  1. Protective Goggles ~$4.50
  2. Ladder ~$130
  3. Pencil ~$6
  4. 3M Painters Tape ~$7
  5. Philips Screwdriver ~$6
  6. Wire Cutters ~$5
  7. Wire Strippers ~$5
  8. Stud Finder (Needs to detect metal pipes, AC wires and other obstacles) ~$30
  9. Utility Drywall Knife (Box Cutter) ~$5.50
  10. Dremel (or Jab Saw) - We prefer a Dremel as they typically come with a circle cutting jig that simplifies cutting circles in Drywall. Downside is the Dremel is more expensive. ~$75 or $11
  11. Measuring Tape ~$10

1. Choosing Your Speaker Location

Choosing your speaker location is by far the most important aspect to installing your in-ceiling speakers or in-wall speakers. Without the right placement, your surround sound won't perform to its potential. And once they're installed, it's very difficult to move them so choose wisely. There are a number of configurations you can choose from. Here's a few (thanks to Crutchfield.com). Depending on the room configuration, the amount of money you want to spend and the amount of time that you want to spend installing, you can choose between:

  1. In-Ceiling Speaker Configuration: In this configuration, you'll install four in-ceiling speakers spaced evenly across the area that you will be listening. Ensure that you place your speakers in the area that you will be seated and listening/watching. No need to place your speakers at the far side of a room where you will not be listening to your music or watching TV from.
    In Ceiling Configuration
  2. In-Wall Speaker Configuration: In this configuration, you'll be utilizing in-wall speakers to create a surround sound similar to a 5.1 system. This system will provide sound that is more directed at seated listeners and watchers. It's a bit more expensive for this setup but will provide a better performing and listening experience. In this setup, there is a total of 5 in-wall speakers.
    In Wall Configuration
  3. Hybrid Configuration: This is by far the ultimate configuration of the three that we are showing here. It's the most expensive too but if you're looking for a killer system, this is our recommendation. This setup includes 7 in-wall speakers and 2 in-ceiling speakers.
    Hybrid Configuration

 

2. Preparing for Installation

using a stud finderOnce you've chosen your configuration style, next step is measuring. Evenly measure the distances of each of your speakers and use your pencil to mark the center of each of the speakers. Ensure that there are no studs or hazards behind the wall with our recommended stud finder and make sure that there is optimal space in the wall or ceiling to accommodate your new speakers. This includes wires, water or drainage pipes, and etc. Use our recommended high-quality stud finder for this step. Another thing to keep an eye out for is your central AC and heating air ducts. Take a look around to find any air ducts and try to figure out where they may be located. Once you've chosen the perfect spot(s) for your speakers, lightly outline your speakers on the wall to ensure even placement and an overall visually appealing, symmetrical looking setup.

Wiring your speakers

If your home doesn't already come outfitted for in-ceiling speakers, this will be the most difficult challenge and you'll want to make sure you consider this step when you're choosing your speaker location. In-ceiling and in-wall speakers aren't wireless speakers, so you'll need to place individual wires for each speaker and wire it back through to the location of your A/V receiver or Amplifier. Once you have determined your location of your speakers and have cut the holes, you'll need to run your wires from each speaker back to the receiver. Plan accordingly!

Drill a pilot hole

Now that you've chosen the ideal placement for your speakers and have placed a central mark to each of the speakers with your pencil, you're ready to start. First, turn off the power in the areas that you'll be installing your in-ceiling and in-wall speakers. Drill a small hole in the middle where your mark is, making sure you're extra careful just in case there's something behind the wall. If you use the Dremel to drill the hole, or a standard drill, try to set the drill bit around 1/2" so that it reduces your risk of drilling into something behind the wall. If the drywall is larger than 1/2", then increase the depth of the drill bit until it goes all the way through.

Check behind the wall

Using the pilot hole that you just drilled, stick a bent coat hanger or sturdy wire through the hole and twist it to see if there are any obstacles behind the wall. Use a coat hanger or wire that's about the same length as the radius as the speaker. Note that many walls will have insulation that you might feel behind the wall when you use your probing wire or coat hanger. You'll feel the insulation but as long as there are no hard obstacles, you should be fine. Check each speaker that you've marked.

Cutting the holes

There are many ways to cut your holes in the wall. For circles, we recommend using the Dremel. The Dremel we recommend above comes with a tool that allows you to cut perfect holes with ease using your pilot hole as the focal point. Or, use a Jab Saw or Drywall Knife to cut the outline of the speaker (use the template that came with your speaker in this case). For all cases, drywall makes a mess. We recommend using painter's plastic to cover the floors and the furniture that might be underneath or around the area that you're cutting to reduce the amount of cleanup. Also, in particular for in-ceiling speakers, WEAR EYE PROTECTION. There's nothing more irritating than drywall dust and fragments in your eyes. Believe me.

3. Installing the Speakers

installing in-ceiling and in-wall speakersYour holes are cut! Now it's time to test your measurements. Take a speaker and test each of the holes and ensure that the speaker fits. If the hole needs adjustment, take your drywall knife and cut out areas that need to be larger. Pull your speaker wire through the hole and connect the speaker to the corresponding positive and negative conductors, ensuring it matches with the positive and negative side that is connected to the A/V Receiver or Amplifier. Place the speaker back in the hole and tighten the screws. If your speakers are adjustable, or have adjustable tweeters, point the speaker or tweeter to the central location that you'll be seated or listening/watching from. Finally, place the speaker grilles back on.

Test each speaker with sound before moving on to the next speaker! This way, if something is wrong you can identify it early. And you're done! Congratulations. Now you can enjoy the benefits of a surround sound with a system that doesn't add clutter or change the look of your room or theater.

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