Best In-Ceiling Speakers of 2022

by Alex.   Last Updated On September 26th, 2022.
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When you want the best audio experience when watching movies or listening to music, having in-ceiling speakers can be a great way to achieve this. Not only are in-ceiling speakers discreet and out of the way, but they can be a very versatile addition to your home.

They can be used for getting the true cinematic experience when watching movies or your favorite TV shows, with every sound booming with realism all around you. The audio quality and stereo sound capabilities from your home theater can be improved by installing ceiling speakers; whether you have only one speaker, or five speakers!

An in-ceiling speaker can also be great for playing your favorite music while you do housework, work out, or spend time with visitors. In addition, in-ceiling speakers can also be used for home-wide communication by way of Bluetooth similar to an intercom system.

This article will take a look at some of the most popular in-ceiling speakers on the market today, and compare their pros and cons. You’ll also get an in-depth view of what features you should be looking for when selecting your first ceiling speakers, as well as covering some frequently asked questions about speaker selection and the installation process.

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Reviews of the Best In-Ceiling Speakers

Sleek and stylish flush-mount style speaker in 6.5 inch diameter with polymer tweeter for high quality and smooth sound.

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Made to be a perfect addition to your home theater system, these two way ceiling speakers can help increase the quality of your stereo surround sound system. Perfect for playing music, enjoying cinematic movie experiences, or listening to ambient sounds for relaxation, you’ll love the smooth and sleek flush cover on this speaker.

Installation is extremely simple with a variety of templates included for easy sizing. Additionally you’ll find the ceiling speakers themselves have spring-loaded terminals which help them slide into place and lock in the ceiling without the need of other temporary fasteners. This also helps reduce vibrations and allows you to enjoy music of all types, including those with deep bass tones.

The flush cover gives your home or office a very sleek and discreet look. You’ll be able to paint the grille as well if you want to customize it to match the rest of your decor or ceiling color. These ceiling speakers can be installed in the ceiling or the wall, or any other flat location that is similar which makes them extremely versatile.

What We Like

Made with high quality components both inside and out

Full flush mount design for discreet installation

Installation process is extremely easy with included templates

Know Before Buying

Low price makes these a great starter set

Speaker grill doesn’t hold paint very well

Cannot be installed on sloped ceilings

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Excellent high quality sound from these 8 inch ceiling speakers that include a 1 inch directional tweeter and full moisture resistance.

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These 8 inch ceiling speakers create a high quality and highly directional great sound with excellent bass balance and treble timbre from the dual voice coil. They are the perfect addition to your home cinema, gaming room, or anywhere in your home you want an ambient sound speaker.

The Polk Audio RC80i in-ceiling speakers are moisture resistant which makes them perfect for use in a bathroom or kitchen where steam may be present. As well as on the underside of an outdoor awning in an area where rain and humidity is common.

The 8 inch dynamic subwoofer creates an excellent depth of music regardless of the genre, and the 1 inch directional tweeter helps round out high notes without any shrill or unbalanced touches. Whether you use this speaker for music, movies, podcasts, ambient music, or an intercom system, you’ll get the highest quality sound available.

Installation is quick and easy straight out of the box. This speaker features aluminum paintable grilles which can easily be painted to match your ceiling color or provide a contrast, or can be left unpainted if you enjoy the natural aluminum sleek and shiny appearance.

What We Like

Frequency range response up to 20kHz and solid mid bass

Excellent moisture resistance for bathroom use

8 inch subwoofer creates deep booming bass

Know Before Buying

Grille is paintable but easy to clog with spray paint

Installation kit lacks templates, though it is easy installation

Cannot be installed on the wall effectively

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Very discreet looking speaker that provides a powerful sound quality with the highly sensitive 6.5 inch subwoofer.

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Highly affordable and high quality speaker which is an excellent entry level in-ceiling speaker to obtain. The cone itself measures 6.5 inch while the installation hole in your ceiling will need to be 8.3 inches for proper fit. You’ll be able to install this on any flat ceilings, though sloped A-frame ceilings are not as effective for installation.

The speaker is highly moisture resistant with a rubber seal which gives you the freedom of installing it in a bathroom, shower, sauna or steam room, kitchen, or any other area where humidity and water splash may be a concern. This being said, if you are someone who like to listen to music while in the sauna room, I suggest installing this rather than bringing headphones into your sauna room.

Additionally, installation on an outdoor awning overhang is possible for music during outdoor cookouts and family gatherings.

Installation is simple and can be done in a short amount of time. The installation kit includes everything you need including templates and mounting brackets. You’ll find the magnetic grille is able to be painted in case you want to blend the speaker into your ceiling and make it discreet.

What We Like

Excellent moisture resistance for bathrooms and saunas

1 inch swivel tweeter has a pivoting dome for directional sound

Magnetic paintable grilles are easy to blend into the decor

Know Before Buying

Frequency response can reach 23kHz for robust bass

Installation can only be done on flat ceilings

Magnetic grille cover sometimes feels flimsy

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Two-way round ceiling speakers are perfect for in-ceiling or in-wall installation and can create a powerful soundstage in any room of your home.

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Designed to be discreet and stylish while providing a great sound, these round two-way ceiling speakers can be installed in a ceiling or the wall to give you the perfect directional sound possible. Easy to install straight out of the box so you can be listening to your favorite songs in mere minutes.

Powered by an amplifier, you’ll get an excellent range and depth of sound from these 300 watt speakers. They’re also fully moisture resistant which makes them perfect for use in a bathroom or under an outdoor awning or eaves overhang.

The speaker itself is a 6.5 inch polymer subwoofer with an included 1 inch directional soft dome tweeter to give you a highly versatile and easily configurable depth to any genre of music or audio you are listening to. The included grille is paintable and can be colored to blend in to your existing ceiling color for a discreet and sleek appearance.

What We Like

Powerful range of sound with both highs and lows

Extremely easy installation for ceiling or wall

600 watts of peak power from the pair of speakers

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Can reach up to 28kHz frequency response sound performance

Drivers are angled to direct sound where it is needed most

Grille cover can be very prone to clogging from paint or dust

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Bluetooth connectable smart ceiling speakers are perfect for listening to music straight from your smartphone or other wireless device.

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Able to connect your in-home WiFi system or bluetooth devices, these smart ceiling speakers from Sonance are great for indoor and outdoor listening. Moisture resistant for certain outdoor installation applications, such as under a covered awning or along the eaves of your home, as well as for installation in the bathroom, shower stall, or kitchen where steam and humidity is common.

Powered by the amp of your choice, these speakers can create a crystal clear and powerful sound quality experience for you and your family, whether you are enjoying music or watching your favorite movie. Additionally, the Trueplay tuning from Sonance helps ensure the best balance of all audio across the board including low bass and high notes.

You can easily connect these in-ceiling or in-wall speakers to your WiFi system to make adjusting and music selection quick and easy from any room in your home. Additionally, they can be paired with a variety of smart devices such as smartphones, smart TVs and other Bluetooth devices to expand your listening opportunities.

What We Like

Frequency response up to 20kHz for great surround sound

Easy to connect with WiFi or Bluetooth

Moisture resistant for use in bathrooms or outdoors

Know Before Buying

Does not include a remote control

Syncing with some Bluetooth devices can be difficult

Cannot be used for home assistant programs

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How to Choose the Best In-Ceiling Speakers

Moisture Resistance

Depending on where you plan to install your in-ceiling speakers for the best sound quality, moisture resistance may be highly important or may be a moot point.

For example, if you plan to install your speakers in a bathroom, or under the awning of an outdoor patio space, moisture resistance is highly important. This can help prevent any damage to your speaker from water splash, steam, condensation buildup, or excess humidity.

If you simply plan to install it in a living room, bedroom, or other area where moisture, steam, and excess humidity is not going to be an issue, you won’t need a speaker that has moisture resistance. However, you normally won’t pay more for a speaker with moisture resistance, so it’s normally best to just go with it and be on the safe side.

Additionally, in some cases, the moisture-proof coating as well as the rubber seal can also be purchased secondhand, though it’s best to just purchase a speaker that is resistant to moisture right from the start. The moisture-proof coating can be found in the form of a spray-on coating but this will only be effective for the exterior cone.

ceiling

Self Enclosed Speakers

There are two types of in-ceiling speakers; some without an enclosure, and some with an enclosure. The benefit of having a back box enclosure on your speaker is to help improve the bass performance and depth of the overall sound.

If your speakers are made with large polypropylene cone woofers, or you are interested in getting the best bass sound possible without hearing distortions, having an enclosure on your speaker is important for distortion free sound.

This also helps improve the direction of the sound waves in non-directional speakers, and if you compare an enclosed ceiling speaker to an open ceiling speaker, you will notice a definite difference in the sound with the enclosed speaker being much richer and more desirable to your ears.

However, the biggest issue with having an enclosed speaker is the extra room an in-ceiling speaker with back box will need for installation. Speakers that are not enclosed will only need 3 or 4 inches of installation space above the ceiling, while an enclosure will require up to 9 inches or more of extra space.

If you are installing the ceiling speakers in a single story home where there is no livable room above, this might not be a problem. Attic space is normally open and provides plenty of room for even large speaker enclosures. However, if there is a floor above with living space, you may be limited to 5 inches or less of workable space for your speaker installation.

Voice Matching

Voice matching is a term used for the different tonal qualities across speakers. Each brand of speaker will have their own specific “voice” and in some cases, mixing and matching a variety of different speakers in your home can leave your music or other audio sounding a bit different than you remember from previous sound systems.

When installing multiple speakers together, always ensure they are from the same brand and, if possible, are the same model as well. This ensures you will be getting the same voice matching across all speakers in the same room which means the best overall sound quality possible between the speakers.

Matching the voice of speakers can be done easily with two speakers, or twenty. The main thing is that you focus on the brand first, then the actual model second. Mixing different brands is fine if you restrict them to other rooms. However, having multiple speaker brands in the same room can cause problems for your listening enjoyment.

Dolby Atmos

When you are installing speakers specifically for the best surround sound (not stereo) cinematic experience when watching movies, look for speakers that can be configured for Dolby Atmos decoding sound quality.

This style of surround sound quality audio will make an average movie immerse you into the moment with a deep and realistic sound stage unlike any other you have heard before. It’s not uncommon to feel like you are in the middle of the action when watching movies as every sound is well timed, clear, and realistic.

The best speakers on the higher end of the spectrum will almost always be able to take advantage of Dolby Atmos decoding, so if you are looking for exceptional sound quality when buying in ceiling speakers, don’t overlook Dolby Atmos.

Wireless Connections

There are a wide variety of “smart” speakers on the market today, and the best ceiling speakers are no different. If you are looking for a great way to listen to your favorite music directly from your smartphone without using a bluetooth headphone (or you can also play music with your headphone and speakers), consider purchasing smart speakers for your ceiling installation.

Additionally, these can be coupled to work with various smart home assistants, and can double as an intercom system as well. In fact, there are even some in-ceiling speakers which can be configured to work with Amazon Echo and Alexa for the best and most versatile voice assistance possible.

Smart speakers still offer the same audio quality as normal speakers, and can be found with both mono and stereo sound for the best audio performance. Whether you are purchasing a single speaker or a pair, consider looking for a ceiling speaker that can be integrated with Bluetooth or WiFi.

Like the 7.1 home theater setups, smart speakers are also great for any home theater. Smart speakers uses a wireless or universal remote control as well. Some smart speakers can be controlled independently from their amplifier with a remote control to intricately adjust the tonal resonance you get while playing music or enjoying movies, though this ability will depend on the brand of speaker system purchased.

Speaker Depth

The depth of the in-ceiling speaker is an extremely important consideration when you install ceiling speakers and should definitely be something you look into first and foremost. The depth will be the amount of space required to install the speaker above your ceiling, without obstructing the floor above it.

If you live in a single story home with no living space above, this might not be a big issue for you. But if there is a bedroom above, or another living space, the available open space between the ceiling downstairs and the floor upstairs may not be large enough for the installation of an in-ceiling speaker.

Even if you have a limited amount of space to work with, there are ultra slim speakers available on the market. However, these may cost two to three times more than a standard depth in-ceiling speaker of similar or identical quality. For some this may be worth it, and for others this might be a cost they are unwilling to pay.

Speaker Size

In addition to the depth of the speaker, the overall size is important to consider as well. This is the diameter measurement and will determine exactly where you can install your speaker. The most commonly found sizes of in-ceiling speakers are 6.5 inch and 8 inch.

While there doesn’t seem like much of a difference between the two on paper, actually seeing a 6.5 inch and 8 inch side by side is very noticeable. The 6.5 inch speakers are great for installation in a variety of smaller rooms and areas such as in bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoor awnings.

Larger 8 inch speakers can be perfect for getting big cinematic sound in your entertainment room, a gaming room, or other large space in your home or business. Both 6.5 and 8 inch speakers will provide excellent sound, and can both come either with or without an enclosure depending on your needs.

Speaker Shape

The most common shape for in-ceiling speakers is round, but oval, square, and rectangle can also be found. In most cases, round is the easiest to find and is the shape preferred by most especially when installing around round inline lights or halogens.

Square or rectangle is a suitable option if you are installing them in a room with very sharp angles, or if other built-in lighting, ceiling vents, or decorative molding is also rectangle or square in shape.

In general, the shape of the speaker will not have anything to do with the sound quality so it comes down to your own personal preferences. If you prefer the look of a square speaker of a round one, there is nothing stopping you from getting the square one instead.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many ceiling speakers does a room need?

In most cases, ceiling speakers will be sold in pairs. You can either use them as a left and right pair, or set them up as a left pair, and purchase another as a right pair. The configuration will depend on the size of the room as well as the sound quality experience you are hoping for.

In larger rooms, it’s not uncommon to have 4 individual small speakers in certain areas of the room. You will normally get a better depth of sound from four smaller speakers than you would from two larger ones.

You also need to keep in mind the power requirements of multiple speakers to play music throughout the entire room. Many amps can power up to 4 mono speakers easily for a great listening experience, but for more speakers or larger stereo speakers, higher quality or multiple amps will be required. That also means you will need to ensure there is plenty of space in the ceiling for the extra installations.

"A new in-ceiling residential surround sound speaker. Multiple speakers are mounted throughout the house, providing background audio entertainment."

Do I need mono or stereo ceiling speakers?

In larger rooms, such as a bedroom or living room, installing two mono speakers is a better option. Most house speaker systems are specifically designed to work with a left and right channel configuration along with an amplifier.

However, if you are installing your in-ceiling speaker in a small room such as a bathroom, a single stereo speaker is your better option. It not only helps save on space, but will still give the same sound quality as two or more mono speakers will provide.

Which speaker cable do I need for my ceiling speakers?

In most cases, for most in-ceiling speakers, the best cable to use is a standard 2-core 16 gauge cable. This is a very common industry standard cable which can be found in spools of 75 and 150 feet lengths to ensure you have more than enough cable available to connect multiple speakers together throughout your house.

Once you reach lengths of around 100 feet, you may need to upgrade the quality of cable to something a bit higher. This should be a 4-core 14 gauge wire and would be best if installed in a parallel configuration for the best sound quality.

Additionally, some speaker systems will include a cable that the manufacturer recommends. However, in many cases this included cable will not be long enough for most uses. You can instead match the cable type and purchase a longer length from a local store in order to get the best installation in your home.

Do my ceiling speakers need fire hoods?

If you are installing a ceiling speaker in a single story house where there is no habitable area above the ceiling speaker, a fire hood is not necessary. However, if there is a bedroom or other living space above, installing a fire hood is normally required under most building codes.

Even if you don’t need a fire hood by law, you can install one to use as a speaker hood. This will help improve the sound from the speakers and reduce the amount of sound leakage. This means you get a much better quality of sound with a better directional improvement.

Can ceiling speakers be painted?

Yes. Almost all ceiling speakers include a grill or slotted cover which can be painted any color that matches your ceiling. You can also change it to a bright and contrasting color if you want it to stand out or leave it unpainted in the finish it came from the manufacturer with.

If you decide to paint your ceiling speaker cover, be sure you layer the paint on in very thin levels so you don’t block the grille holes or slots. This can lead to an obstructed and poor quality acoustic audio from a single speaker which disrupts the natural sound.

Some of the biggest issues people have with poor sound from their ceiling or wall speakers is due to obstruction on the grille. This can be due to paint being stuck in the holes, or may even be due to dust and dirt covering the holes. While it seems minor, even a few holes covered can distort or dampen the sound coming out of that speaker.

Conclusion

While there are many choices for in-ceiling speakers on the market, the best one we could find was the Polk Audio RC80i 8 Inch 2-way Round In-Ceiling Speakers. Not only are these Polk Audio RC80i speakers powerful and well balanced for all types of superior sound production, but they are easy to install and will last for years to come.

Regardless of the in-ceiling speakers you decide to purchase, they will all help save on floor space and be a great addition to almost any surround sound setup. Most ceiling speakers are round in shape, but square and even triangle can be found if you are looking for something a bit different to compliment your home theater system.