In this article, we're going to comb through the 10 best in-ceiling speakers of 2021, because in recent years they have gone from unobtainable accessories encountered on MTV Cribs to a tangible reality.
For the majority of us, ceiling speakers probably aren't something we've really given a lot of thought to unless are job descriptions have necessitated designing a PA system for business premises or installing a home theater set-up in your bat-cave
Table of Contents
- View The Best in Ceiling Speakers Below
- In-Ceiling Speakers Buyers Guide
With audio and electronic technology developing in leaps and bounds and the steady reduction in fabrication overheads, installing ceiling speakers in your home or work-space has become a viable way to get awesome indoor audio without sacrificing the floor-space for a free standing model.
So whether you have a constricted floor space or just simply want to rid yourself of messy wires, or bulky bookshelf speakers that spoil your decor modern in-ceiling speakers make for a fantastic addition to your sound-system set up.
View The Best in Ceiling Speakers Below
Back Boxes - Ceiling speakers usually require 'back boxes'. Some will already come with them. Back boxes vastly reduce sound leakage from the back of the speaker and truth be told, sound quality will be poor without them. Back boxes also seal speakers from damp and moisture. They're usually inexpensive to buy.
1. Klipsch CDT-5650-C II
The need for a fixed location is effectively a thing of the past with the CDT-5650-C II thanks to their high/low-frequency handling Controlled Dispersion Technology mechanism. They feature a 6.5” pivoting ceramic/metallic composite woofer, which has 360-degree rotation, as well as the ability to shift 15 degrees in any direction, putting you the user in complete control of aiming your sound optimally.
The 1” titanium compression driver can pivot 100 degrees, its high-performance sound is pushed through one of Klipschs innovative symmetrical patented TrackTrix horns helping to direct the sound in a much more accurate manner than other tweeters. This upgraded model also sees the addition of Klipschs popular tried and tested Linear Travel Suspension to the tweeter to further enhance the high-end frequency response.
They are reasonably priced and fairly simple to ceiling mount, however, the installation kit is sold separately.
+ Fully adjustable positioning.
+ TrackTrix horn.
+ Reasonably priced.
+ Wide dispersion.
Why We Liked It - They have fantastic treble and mid-bass attenuation and can literally be placed anywhere in your ceiling with the aim of the audio adjusted to suit your set-up.
2. Polk Audio RC80i
For a terrific 2-way class option that gives Klipsch a run for their money, is this set of two from the highly popular folks at Polk Audio.
Each speaker utilizes an 8” dynamic balance, mineral-filled, polymer-composite cone, with a high-grade rubber surround. The mid-bass driver is coupled with a 1” metallic, soft-dome tweeter with a 15-degree swivel mount, together they serve up super-wide sound that is well balanced, no matter where you are listening from (even off-axis.)
The moving parts are kept in alignment by its strong basket design, it also features rotating cams to secure the speaker in place when suspended from your ceiling. The cams also aid in a swift and simple install, and once fitted they virtually disappear due to their extremely low-profile build. They are of a hardy construction and all parts are made from water-resistant materials and rust-resistant hardware, this renders them great ceiling speakers for saunas, outdoor eves, pagodas, etc. making them a very versatile choice.
+ Swivel mounted.
+ Competitively priced.
+ Water and rust-resistant.
Why We Liked It - When it comes to affordable audio speakers Polk are producing some of the highest rating best-sellers on the market, somehow they manage to manufacture quality models that rival the best in their class, but with a much more forgiving price-tag.
3. Micca M-8C
Next up a very low priced options, which lets face is the only prudent option for some of us especially given the fact that we will likely want 2, 4, or even 6 or more in ceiling speakers depending on the size of the room we want to be amplified.
The M-8C is a great 2-way class in-ceiling option it has a dedicated woofer/tweeter combination in its driver array which gives it a wide frequency response and great flexibility in configuring the audio whether its subtle soundscapes or high impact booming bass you are after.
The woofer measures 8 inches in diameter and features a high excursion design allowing for maximized dispersion. The tweeter is around an inch and has a soft but rigid and durable dome to handle those high frequencies like a boss.
They effortlessly install with and can be painted to further blend in with their environments.
+ Ideal driver combination.
+ Great extended low end.
+ Easy installation.
Why We Liked It - They are well-built from carefully selected components, and feature a foolproof design concept. The entire range is pretty impressive. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes and styles and the price is great value for money.
Wiring Ceiling Speakers - Wiring ceiling speakers will require some thought and planning. You might need to install an amp box nearby your speakers, as you can't have very long wires between your speakers and an amp unit - this is a fire risk. Also, wires and amp boxes will need to be thoroughly damp and waterproof.
4. Acoustic Audio CS-IC83
If you find yourself shopping with a large speaker count in mind, you may not be interested in singular speaker models or the 2-packs we have already reviewed, so for something that is a bit more of a bulk buy option take a look at this fantastic 5-piece set from Goldwoods Acoustic Audio range.
They have an affordable price tag around the same as some of our top contenders' 2-way models but these bargain beauties serve up a 3-way class system setup. Each of the speakers consists of one 8” woofer, one midrange driver and one tweeter with 3-way passive crossover circuitry.
The woofers are seated in high-grade butyl surrounds for dampening, the cone is formed from highly rigid polypropylene and benefits from forward-thinking spiders. The Midrange driver cones are Poly-Mica and the 13 tweeters has a soft dome design to cope with the demands of higher frequency registers.
They handle beautifully and produce well-balanced audio. They are simple to mount in your ceiling and have some pretty meaty power handling capabilities (20-350 watts per speaker).
+ 5 x 3-way classification speakers.
+ Premium design ideas incorporated.
+ Bargain value.
Why We Liked It - They are a fantastic bulk pack, they offer premium sound in a small package, they are a sensible center channel audio solution that won't set you back too much.
5. Polk Audio RC65i
These are essentially just a step down in size than RC80i. The dynamic balance woofer on this one is smaller at 6.5”, but employs a wide dispersion design that can fill bigger spaces. They share the same core electrical components and design features but let us just summarize them in-case you need a reminder.
The cones are polymer composites, they are mineral filled and feature top-notch rubber surrounds to dampen any unwanted resonance. The dedicated tweeter is a traditional soft dome and is swivel mounted to facilitate adjustable positioning.
They are very simple to install with its handy rotational cams and of course like the larger speakers reviewed they are ideal for internal or external mounting as they are all of the components are made utilizing state of the art durable, moisture-resistant materials.
+ Swivel mounted tweeter.
+ Wide dispersion.
+ Water resistant.
+ Affordable price
Why We Liked It - They serve up surprisingly loud sound and their smaller size means they ring up as a penny saving alternative to the first premium packed pair.
6. Yamaha NSIC800WH
Now for a quick look at a formidable entry from Yamaha. They are a pair of premium level 2-way class coaxial speakers. They produce amazing audio that is well rounded with a seamless crossover and make for one of the best in-ceiling speaker on the current market.
The dual setup utilizes an 8-inch blue polypropylene mica cone woofer paired with a tiny fluid-cooled soft dome tweeter. The cooling makes the tweeter far more efficient and adds to the longevity protecting it from overheating, extending the high-frequency response into ultra high reals, and ultimately providing the crisp tops tasked of it. The tweeter is swivel mounted for aimed dispersion. They have a fantastic crossover, a versatile frequency response, high-quality components, and low impedance
They mount effortlessly very flush to the ceiling and feature large mounting clamps so you can be sure they are secure. The grilles have baffles which are set in a spiral shape naturally aiding the audio dispersion one step further, the grilles are magnetic, so can snap on and off to be painted and repainted in a jiff.
+ Well designed grilles.
+ Expert circuitry.
+ Affordable pair.
+ Easily mounted.
Why We Liked It - They are very precisely built and have many measures in place to help achieve best sound quality possible from a direct mount (these can be placed in walls or ceilings).
7. Acoustic Audio R191
If you thought the low price of the 5 3-way speaker set was unbeatable value for money, you might want to think again as we take a gander at the budget end of Goldwoods Acoustic Audio R series.
For almost half the price of the 3-ways, you can get your hands on 5 cheap and cheerful 2-way class speakers. They are also arguably smaller harboring a 5.25” woofer, coupled with a 12mm soft dome tweeter.
They still feature some of the impressive hardware and technology of the rest of the series, like the extended throw assembly butyl, surrounds for increased performance and durability. They also have the same low profile when mounted and are of course water resistant like their brothers in arms. The mounting couldn't be easier with handy cut-out template provided and the integrated locking mounting features incorporated into its design.
+ Wide dispersion.
+ Low profile.
+ Simple mounting system.
+ Low budget option.
Why We Liked It - The value for money that this set of 5 offers up is pretty astonishing to say the least. The Cones are of a top notch composite that we see more typically featured in products twice the price of this one per pair.
8. Yamaha NS-IW280CWH
After a nose at Yamahas top 2-way class in ceiling pair, we decided to up the ante and examine exactly what's on offer in their 3-way class models.
This set is 100 watts maximum input (the 2-way option we reviewed was 140 watt) and have more compact 6.25 dual woofers.
Each is incredibly well built, and their cones are once again composed of high quality, polypropylene and mica blend and produce pristine balanced audio with the aid of Yamahas SoundMax technology.
The mids and lows are kept clear with the superb dampening surrounds. The highs are left to the tiny dome tweeter, which is just ¾” in size but handles impeccably under pressure. The driver cones are sufficiently rigid for hours of high energy performance the magnets are high grade, and it is obviously swivel mounted for wider overall sound dispersion. They are super simple to install and provide high performance, wide frequency sound that is rich and natural sounding.
+ Compact size.
+ 3-way classification.
+ Expert crossover circuitry.
+ Patented SoundMax technology for ultra wide room filling audio.
+ Low price.
Why We Liked It - Yamaha are committed to delivering great sound quality and accessibility and it certainly shines through in their products, this pair outperform many in their class as at a fraction of their competitors retailing prices.
9. Polk Audio 255C-RT
Over to Polk Audio choice again for a look at their 255C-RT set, which is a step up from the Polk Audio RC80i. They make for very impressive 3-way class, central channel speaker. that is part of Polks esteemed Vanishing Series
They too feature Polks dynamic balance technology and many components from the RT series but they have been redesigned utilizing advancement made as the result of hours of heavy data collection. from the John Hopkins University. The vibrating surfaces of tweeters were scrutinized under a microscope in order to observe the resonances developments made whilst the cones were in motion. Under laboratory conditions and aided with laser imaging they then engineered the best combination of materials and optimal geometry possible to counteract the resonances which are primarily responsible for all high-end distortion.
They have a highly efficient dual band pass bass ports so the low registers will be clear and capably handled they work with 10-150 watts.
The Vanishing series are all easy to mount using their one-cut, drop-in installation process and they all feature a wafer-thin, magnetically secured, sheer grille with a nominal profile from its surround.
+ 3-way class.
+ Expertly calibrated.
+ Part of the innovative Vanishing series.
+ Can be wall or ceiling mounted.
Why We Liked It - The internal components are premium quality, It is a central channel option and can be wall mounted as well as ceiling mounted. The design concept employs some pretty advanced techniques that combat distortion effectively providing pretty impeccable sound.
10. Polk Audio 80 F/X RT
Polk Audio literally dominate the accessible regions of audio speakers so it is no surprise to see many highlighted in todays reviews, so we end with this delectable offering again from fantastic Vanishing series. It is from the upper end of their product lines so the price may seem a little high in comparison to Polks more accessible models but the quality speaks for itself.
It is a 3-way class, surround-sound model with a woofer working in conjunction with dual tweeters. The main driver is 8 inches in diameter and has an ultra wide dispersion. The pair of tweeters concealed in each better manage the high end frequencies, splitting the workload for better performance and audio clarity.
The surrounds are formed from a formulated blend of high-quality materials and practically every part has been refined to fit its purpose flawlessly. The circuitry is low impedance and feature advanced crossover enhancements, that further aid in the delegating of frequency signals and the processing of the audio to provide a more authentic and natural sounding representation.
They are facile to fit, with their flanged design and complementary cut out template. They have a nominal profile with their wafer-thin magnetic grilles, just like the rest of the Vanishing series speakers. They make a great addition to any system but joined by their comrades they are simply sublime as each feature across-board timbre matched blending.
+ 3 way classification pair.
+ Dual tweeters for crystal clarity.
+ Premium grade components.
+ Advanced crossover enhancements.
Why We Liked It - They are one of our top contenders for best sounding in ceiling speakers in their relative class.
Optimizing Sound Quality - The way you install your ceiling speakers is crucially important for their audio quality. You'll need to get a tight fit, using acoustic foam to plug the gaps between your wall and the speakers. The tighter and more secure the fit, the better! This will get the bass pumping whilst ensuring the higher frequencies are crip and detailed.
In-Ceiling Speakers Buyers Guide
An in ceiling speaker works in the exact same fashion as any other traditional speaker the key difference being that they come without any cabinet to house them in. If you have perused any of our other speaker articles you will have undoubtedly ascertained that enclosures are pivotal in enhancing and shaping your audio clarity and optimizing the performance of the drivers within. Whilst ceiling mounted speakers have many advantages over floor standing speakers and you can't argue their understated aesthetics they do bring with them a few problems for companies to counter with their engineering.
What to look for when buying In-Ceiling Speakers?
Something easy to install is a priority, but the main concern is audio quality. They should be lightweight, all circuitry should be impeccable to eliminate fire risks. It is ideal if they can be positioned and adjusted because if they point straight down the sound is obviously projected into any carpeting and dampened or bounced off of hard floors, which both dramatically affect the audio quality.
Mounting a speaker in your ceiling means that your ceiling space itself effectively becomes the enclosure, therefore, it is paramount that the speaker is researched, planned, and constructed with designs that consider the problems that can come with it and tackle them head-on.
How to install In-Ceiling Speakers? (do I need a professional?)
With modern generations often opting for convenience, many manufacturers have kept installation simple, implementing 1 or 2 step methods. Whilst these differ a little from one another, and some include additional safety measures they are not overly complicated and you oughtn't to need a professional. You will need a little knowledge about the ceiling space, wiring and pipes and you will also need to check with building inspectors regarding fire safety risks in some states.
The main thing to consider is how many channels you will have and how many speakers would be optimal for the space you are hoping to fill with audio. There are tonnes of handy instructional videos on YouTube many for some of the products we have compared within today's review section.
How often will I have to change In-Ceiling Speakers?
They don't need replacing very often at all, this used to be a problem with older models, but thankfully, for the most part, is a thing of the past, if you are shopping with reputable manufacturers and retailers.
You will really only need to replace an in-ceiling speaker if it becomes damaged, if it shorts or blows, or if it is terrible... One drawback with an in-ceiling speaker is you never know how it will sound until it is already mounted in your ceiling.
Audio electronics is a constantly developing field and quite frequently companies will refine or upgrade products, adding the latest technology and improvements from newer, better and more expensive lines to their maiden models. So you may fancy an overhaul from time to time if you keep your ears on the ground and follow the hype for what's new.
Technology is constantly evolving and thanks to this snowballing effect in-ceiling speakers are becoming a trendy new reality in home setups. Thanks to the stiff competition from companies hellbent on having their products take first prize in terms of quality, you can actually get your self a pretty great deal if you know what you are looking for.
We have chosen to pick apart some 2-way and 3-way class models from some of the top manufacturers around. They demonstrate some of the best available and show that despite needing 2 or 4 (or perhaps more?) the capital required is nearly as high as it once was.
Of those, we have reviewed the Polk 80 F/X RT are our forerunners but they re a pricier pair, the Yamaha 3 way class pair is an affordable alternative. With a buyers market you should have no problem finding a set suited to your desired setup and in all honesty, you won't be disappointed with any of the options we have looked at today as they all make for awesome additions.
Hopefully, you have learned some of the advantages of adding ceiling speakers to your set up from today's article, if you're still unsure overhead sound you might prefer browsing our Best In-wall Speakers article instead.
If you are working on a concealed surround sound system set up we recommend heading over to our 10 Best In-Wall Speakers article.
Did you Know
It is imperative that you know your space before splashing out on a large amount of ceiling speakers. They require a minimum clearance of 4 inches behind the speaker, this is key so check beforehand as cutting into your ceiling is pretty permanent.
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