Are you looking to completely transform your home audio experience? Here, we review the best in-ceiling speakers for home theaters and put together all the information you need.
In-ceiling speakers are compact, concealed, and leave no visible wires. The surround sound effect is just like watching a movie in a theater. Since the speakers are above you rather than standing in a corner, they form a "sound blanket" and offer a better experience than any floor-standing speaker can. People worry about having to make holes in the ceiling, but let me tell you: After you install in-ceiling speakers, you will be glad you did. Here are the my favorite speakers that I have been using for a long time without any problem (the link opens in a new window).
- relevant terminology and speaker features,
- reviews of the top four in-ceiling speakers, and
- considerations for specific types of uses.
Top Four In-Ceiling Speakers & Features
|Polk Audio RC80i||Klipsch Loudspeakers||Yamaha Natural Sound||JBL In-Ceiling|
Sizes: 6" or 8"
Best for: Small rooms and shops.
Best for: Provides deep bass to a home theater set-up.
Best for: More powerful than others, will work for home theater or larger room.
Best for: Bass lovers.
Terminology and Features
- Frequency response (Hz): The human ear can hear between 20 to 20,000 Hz. The lower frequencies have low pitch that is more bass. Most in-ceiling speakers can produce better highs but lack bass (the lower frequency). Consider speakers with a wider frequency range and lower limits.
- Power handling (watts): This measures how much power is being consumed by speakers to create sound. More wattage means more amplification and louder sound. Buy a bigger watt speaker for a bigger room.
- Sensitivity/efficiency (dB): This is how effectively the power is used by the speaker to produce sounds. A higher dB speaker plays louder without straining the amplifier. It is measured in decibels (dB). We recommend you go for a higher dB (between 80 and 90) if you like loud music or movies.
- Timbre-matching: Timbre is the distinct sound or tone a speaker makes. Matching speaker timbres involves striving to achieve the same sound from each speaker.
Polk Audio RC80i 2-Way In-Ceiling Speakers
For those on a tight budget who want value without compromising sound, the Polk RC80i two-way in-ceiling speakers deliver good quality stereo sound with a frequency response range of 35Hz to 20,000Hz.
Available in two sizes (6 or 8 inches), these speakers have cones made out of mineral-filled polymer composite and a 1-inch, 15-degree-rotatable, swivel-mounted tweeter providing good quality lows, mids, and highs with adjustable tweeter settings.
We tested them and they sounded awesome, without any distortion even at high volumes. We did not find any vibrations or distortions of any sort. They may be used in bigger rooms due to their wide dispersion design, which spreads sound evenly throughout the space. But as they are just 50-watt speakers, they are better suited for standard-sized rooms.
Model AW0080-B product specifications:
- Wall-distance toggle switch. If you install speakers close to corners or walls, you can use this feature to flatten frequencies for better sound.
- Longer-lasting rubber surround on the speaker cone instead of foam.
- Easy installation. You can install them yourself without any professional help. Just make a hole, connect the wires, tighten the screws, and the speakers are installed. The grill fits snugly over so it won’t fall, but removing it requires a good amount of force. The speakers fit well and there is no rattling or shaking if installed well.
- Available in white color with a paintable grill.
- Can be installed in a damp place like a bathroom, sauna, kitchen, or patio, as these speakers are moisture and rust-resistant.
- Can be timbre-matched with other Polk speakers including the RC series, monitor series, PSW10 or PSW12 subwoofer, and CS1 or CS2 speakers.
- Delivers good quality sound with its 90 dB audio sensitivity, 35Hz - 20kHz frequency range with its mineral filled polymer composite cones (dynamic balance).
- Backed by a 5-year parts and labor warranty.
Pricing: $139 per 2 speakers
Klipsch In-Ceiling Loudspeakers
You want performance and these speakers have got it. A perfect combination of performance, affordability, and durability, these speakers are perfect for indoor or outdoor use. We tested them and were blown away by their performance. They provide deep bass to a home theater set-up. Installed in the appropriate locations and these are the best in-ceiling surround speakers at their price.
Model No R-1800-C product specifications:
- Excellent sound, good power handling, good sensitivity, and durability.
- Paintable, moisture and rust resistant, aluminium grill.
- Large 8” polymer cone woofer with high sensitivity.
- A 1” coaxial-mounted polymer dome tweeter that provides crystal-clear highs and a wide area of distribution.
- East installation with no professional help required. Cut a hole using the provided template, attach wires, tighten four screws, and snap the cover.
- Can fit in other Klipsch series, including the IK-650-C and ME-650-C installation kits.
- Frequency response range of 57Hz to 20kHz, 40 watts (160 watts peak) and a sensitivity of 89 dB.
- One 8” polymer woofer and a 1” dome polymer tweeter.
- Covered under lifetime warranty.
Pricing: Around $80 per speaker.
Yamaha Natural Sound In-Ceiling/Flush-Mount
These Yamaha speakers are excellent for large rooms, basements, and small halls. They are budget-friendly and we recommend them over more expensive speakers like those from Bose.
They are available in an 8-inch size and have mica cone woofers with a good bass that will lighten up the environment. I had them installed in my basement (which is way larger than a standard room) where I have my snooker table and a conference area. I have had compliments from my guests about the speakers. Believe me, they sound great. They are just the perfect thing for any conference room, shop, small business, or standard room.
- They are more powerful (120 Watt) than the other speakers we review here. Get a set of four, plus any central speaker, and enjoy the surround sound.
- They are pretty easy to install, just like rest of the speakers.
- They deliver all the lows, mids, and highs perfectly. All the shriller sounds are just perfect thanks to 1-inch soft-dome tweeter.
- They have got a frequency response of 45Hz to 24,000Hz, an impedance of 6 Ohms, and sensitivity of 88 dB.
- The grill is aluminum and paintable, so your guests won’t notice them but just enjoy the incredible sound.
- Two-Way, 120 Watts
- 8" woofer and 1" tweeter
JBL SP8CII In-Ceiling Speaker
Bass lovers, this is the speaker for you!!
JBL makes some of the finest speakers, and the JBL SP8 CII is a perfect example. These are perfect for large rooms, basements, and home theaters. In fact, I gave six to my brother for his new home theater. Whenever I visit his place, it's fun to watch movies and listen to music. For those who are scared of going for wrong speakers trust me these won’t disappoint you.
These speakers have large, 8-inch, titanium-laminated cone woofers that deliver powerful sound with a good deal of bass. The woofers are surrounded by rubber, so you can listen for hours. The frequency response range is 32Hz-20kHz and impedence is 8 Ohms. They have 100 Watt power handling and audio sensitivity of 89 dB.
- The JBL SP8 CII have a 1-inch, titanium-laminated tweeter that delivers crystal clear highs.
- They are easy to install just like any other regular in-ceiling speaker. Just tighten the dog ear brackets after attaching the wire and the speaker stays well-secured in the roof tiles.
- The grills are paintable so they will blend in with the décor of the room.
- Excellent sound with good bass from its large 8 inches rubber surrounded titanium laminated cone woofer.
- Optional rough-in frames available separately.
Pricing: $239.95 for two.
Considerations Before Choosing In-Ceiling Speakers
Read on for speaker recommendations to accommodate specific spaces and situations.
- When music plays a supporting role. Speakers with smaller woofers & drivers are best to create background music for your home or business. Try Polk RC80i.
- Room size. Rooms bigger than 20 x 15 x 14 feet, or standard-sized rooms that open up into a wider area, require bigger speakers with powerful woofers & drivers. Try Klipsch R-1800-C. Smaller speakers will get distorted at higher levels.
- The amplifier or receiver they will connect to. Always check your amplifier/receiver for the number of speakers it can support. Also, match the impedance (how many watts per channel the amp supports). Speakers should be within 2 Ohms of the amp's impedence. Just look up the amplifier model you own and download its manual for the specifications.
- A home theater set-up. Make sure that all of your in-ceiling speakers are of similar quality. The center channel speaker must be of same quality as the left and right front speakers. Consider buying speakers a set of 4 or 6. It is not necessary that all the speakers be from same manufacturer, but doing so will assure a match across various models.
- Playing with 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound. We would recommend a subwoofer if you plan to play your speakers with Dolby 5.1. The subwoofer will enrich the bass. Without it, you may not get the best audio experience.
- Focus on quality. It is better to buy good quality speakers. If you make a hole in your ceiling, you want the best. Plan to spend 40 to 50 percent of your total home theater budget on the speakers. Focus on excellent quality speakers first. Later you can get a subwoofer or appropriate amplifier. Build up your system slowly.
Here's What In-Ceiling Home Theater Sounds Like
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Jake Tillerson on December 08, 2018:
Is it possible to hook up speakers in the ceiling to a player like a Kaleidescape? (https://www.kaleidescape.com/ if you need more on the specs there) I haven't dealt with built in speakers before.
Navin Naik on November 21, 2017:
Best review and very helpful advice given to make me select right speaker for my home theater. Thank you very much. Advice given is very detail, straight forward and easily understandable.
trilok pawar on August 28, 2017:
We want the 20w ciling speekar & 500w amp
SamAnderson15 on March 24, 2015:
Hi! Do you know how I can better assess the quality of incoming audio companies? I've been looking at Spectrum Cinema In-ceiling and I think the speakers are great but how do you usually test the quality of these speakers. Here, visit http://vibespeakerco.com/products/spectrum-cinema-...