Saturday, 19 October, 2019

In-Ceiling Speakers – The Stealth Option


Choosing to install your own in wall speakers or in ceiling speakers is a great way to obtain a performance audio system without compromising the look and feel of your living space. In the following guide we shall be providing all the information you need to consider installing your own in wall speakers or ceiling speakers. It contains a rundown of tools required for the job and the kind of skills you will need to take on the project yourself.

Planning and preparation

Planning and preparation is the key to a successful install.

It’s easy to get carried away and want to dive into the practical side of fitting your system as quickly as possible, but a well thought out preparation will allow you to foresee any potential pitfalls and avoid them before you end up with unwanted holes in your walls and ceiling. It makes sense to begin your planning before you purchase your speakers where possible, as this will allow you to make sure that the speaker you choose is compatible with the locations you wish to install them in.

Speaker placement

The essential part of your preparation will be determining the placement of your system. In most cases this means finding a balance between ultimate performance and visual discretion. This balance will be different for each individual install, as it will depend on your room and your personal taste, but there are also audio considerations to take into account.

For stereo speakers to be effective they really need to be spaced equally from your listening position, and the same applies to surround speakers loa toa 75w , whereas subwoofers can be placed almost anywhere in the room, as the bass frequencies they reproduce are Omni-directional

In Wall Speakers need to be mounted in internal walls, as outside walls are generally brick or stone and therefore it’s not feasible to mount a speaker inside them. On wall speakers can be mounted on external walls if necessary using wall anchors and brackets.

Once you have decided where you wish to place your speakers you need to investigate the structure of the wall you propose to mount the speaker on or inside. You will need to utilise a stud finder to locate where the studs or battens are in the wall, as in-wall speakers or in ceiling will need to be mounted in between two studs.

Wiring

When it comes to running wiring for your system you can either choose to run out-of- wall wiring, or you can utilise in-wall wiring. Out of wall wiring is the simpler option, as your speaker cables are run along the surface of the walls, and can be hidden by furniture or carpets, and held in place by small clips. In-wall wiring requires a bit more preparation work as you will be required to route your cabling inside your walls, behind the plasterboard and through the supporting studs.

What you’ll need

In terms of tools, you will need a stud finder, for locating wall studs, AC power cables and pipes behind your wall. You’ll need a drill and the appropriate drill bits specific to your speaker housing, and you will also need a drywall saw, a spirit level and wire strippers.

As for skills, you would need to be comfortable with cutting into drywall and patching up any visible holes or exploratory cavities. This guide will cover the basics, such as trying to locate studs or ceiling joists, but if you aren’t comfortable taking this on then an approved installer may be the way to go for you.

Beginning the install

Once you have chosen your speaker locations and completed your preparation, the next step is to make sure that the locations that you have chosen are viable. You will need to use your stud finder to check behind the walls and make sure that there are no AC power cables, or water pipes in the position you wish to place your speaker.

You will also need to be sure of where the studs or joists are, as the in wall speakers or ceiling speakers need to fit in the space between them, and preferably as close to the middle point between the two as possible. It is worthwhile tapping on the wall to try and locate the studs/joists as you can usually detect a change in the sound when you pass over one. It’s impossible to be certain what is behind the wall without drilling, but the more you can find out without having to drill, the better.

Once you have checked the wall or ceiling as thoroughly as possible visually and with your stud checker, and you are confident there are no obstacles, then it is time to make a small pilot hole through the surface in order to explore the space. You will then be able to use a piece of heavy gauge wire, or a bent metal coat hanger to prod around behind the wall and feel for obstacles. When drilling the pilot hole, use caution and drill slowly into the wall so that if you do happen to hit a pipe or hidden fitting you may be able to react in time. For maximum safety it is best to turn off the mains supply in the area you are working to avoid either drilling into live power cables, or prodding them with your exploratory wire or coat hanger.

The speaker manuals will contain the dimensions for wall mounting, and often include a template which you can use to trace onto your wall or ceiling. Use your pilot hole to make sure there is nothing to obstruct the speaker anywhere within the template area, and remember to use a spirit level to make sure your speakers are positioned in line. If your speakers are quite large, e.g. subwoofers, you may need more than one pilot hole to check the required space.

Don’t cut into the wall or ceiling until you have drilled pilot holes for each and every speaker location, as if one of the locations throws up a problem, you may need to re-think your entire layout, and if this is the case then at least you will only have to fill in small pilot holes, rather than an entire speaker sized cavity.

Fitting the Speaker

Once you have drilled all your pilot holes and have established that you have enough width, height and depth in the required location to mount the speakers, you may then begin to cut into the wall. When cutting the wall, start by drilling a hole in one corner and then use a handheld drywall saw. Cut the whole piece out at once, in order to keep the cavity tidy. If you are cutting a painted surface or plastered finish it may be best to score the outline of the cavity first, in order to minimise cracking of the surface.

Now that you have a cavity of the correct size in the wall you can wire up and install the speaker, as per the manufacturers instructions. Use caution whilst screwing the speaker frames into place, as if you over tighten them, you may bend the framework or crack the surface of the wall. If the speaker has any in-built tone controls then it is best to listen to your system and adjust them before fixing the speaker grilles in place.

Painting and finishing

It’s often necessary to paint the frames and grilles of the speakers in order to blend them into the room they are fitted in. If you wish to do this, then you need to take great care not to get paint on the speaker drivers themselves. These should be fully masked before attempting to paint the units. When it comes to painting the actual grilles, the best method is to use a spray paint, and apply several lights coats, so as not to clog up the holes in the grille itself. If you have no option but to paint the grilles with a brush then make sure you thin out the paint before application, we normally recommend diluting 5:1 as a guide. This will allow you to achieve as smooth a finish as possible. As with all elements of installation, refer when necessary to the manufacturer’s instructions if you are unsure about painting your unit.

 

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