So you want ceiling speakers in your home but you don’t know where to begin. Unlike many other ‘freestanding’ speaker products, ceiling speakers are designed to be a long-lasting audio solution and as such it’s important to think about not only what level of audio quality you desire but also how you want to control your system. This is our simple and easy guide to installed home audio featuring the top 12 things you need to know to get you started.
Typically, ceiling speakers come in pairs with one playing the left channel of audio and one playing the right channel, resulting in true stereo sound. As a rough guide, we generally recommend that for rooms that are larger than 3 metres x 3 metres you use one pair of ceiling speakers, and for rooms bigger than 5 metres x 5 metres two pairs of ceiling speakers will offer a more balanced sound.
We always recommend using pairs of standard mono ceiling speakers for rooms bigger than 3 metres x 3 metres, but for some solutions such as bathrooms and small bedrooms where space is limited a single stereo speaker is an ideal option.
Single stereo ceiling speakers have two tweeters rather than one (as shown in the diagram above), allowing for true stereo sound from a single unit. The only difference is that they require two runs of speaker cable for the left and right audio channels (you can read more about single stereo speakers here).
If you are installing a single stereo speaker you should aim to place it in the centre of the ceiling (if possible) for the best distribution of sound. If you are installing two or more speakers then the optimal placement is at equal distance apart from each wall in the room and at least 2 metres away from each other.
For unconventional room layouts you can buy speakers with angled or pivoting tweeters, and you are welcome to send your floor plans to our team of experts who can work out an ideal layout for you.
The slimmest ceiling speaker on the market requires a mounting depth of just 36mm and a cutout diameter of 196mm, however depths of up to 160mm and cut-outs of up to 250mm are also common. Our website has a unique, custom-built filtering system to help you to find a speaker that fits your size requirements.
There are two options available when asking how ceiling speakers are powered and controlled. ‘Active’ speakers provide more of a ‘plug and play’ solution, such as Lithe Audio’s range. These contain a built-in amplifier and simply require a mains connection directly to the speaker. You can control these speakers via Bluetooth or WiFi (depending on the model) directly from your device.
‘Passive’ speakers are much more common, and require an external amplifier to power them via speaker cable. The Sonos Amp (pictured above) is the current market leader although plenty of alternatives are available. This allows you to control your ceiling speakers using WiFi through the Sonos App on your device - you can even group speakers into ‘zones’ if you have multiple amplifiers. You can read more about the Sonos Amp here.
16/2 (16 gauge, 2 core) speaker cable is the industry standard and will be perfectly suited to most installations. If a speaker requires over 25 metres of cable to connect it (because it is far away from the amplifier for example) then you may consider a thicker cable as audio quality can deteriorate over this distance.
A fire hood is an enclosure for a ceiling speaker which goes over the top of the speaker and maintains the integrity of your ceiling, and in most cases also provides some soundproofing for rooms above the speaker.
If a contractor is doing your installation then they are legally required to install fire hoods. If you are doing the installation yourself, whilst not a legal requirement, we highly recommend fire hoods for the safety they provide as well as the issues you may run into with insurers should you be unfortunate enough to have a house fire. We have a range of fire hoods available for a range of ceiling speaker sizes, almost all of which also provide some level of soundproofing.
Whilst most of the ceiling speakers we sell will be fine in a kitchen we also have IP (Ingress Protected) ceiling speakers which provide protection against dust and moisture. These are a great solution for when you want installed audio in zones that may have a high humidity level such as bathrooms and saunas.
The grilles that come with all of our ceiling speakers are white and can be spray painted to whatever colour you desire, although it is important to note that you should NEVER spray the grilles whilst they are on the speaker!
Whilst outdoor speakers have been popular for some time, these usually take the form of wall-mounted cabinet speakers and those disguised as rocks which are hidden among plant pots or within borders. However, you can now install ceiling speakers into outdoor areas with the advent of dedicated models designed to resist the elements. Whilst these are not designed to be fully exposed to driving rain or snow, if installed into suitable locations such as soffits or other protected areas these can give great results from a much more discrete installation.
You can play your TV audio through ceiling speakers, although you can’t connect them directly to one another as TVs do not have any dedicated speaker outputs. What you will need to do is to take the audio from the TV via either an optical digital audio output or via HDMI using ARC (Audio Return Channel available through most recent TVs) to an amplifier with the appropriate input - something the new Sonos Amp can do. This in turn would power the passive ceiling speakers via standard speaker cable.
Exceptions to this rule are some models of bathroom TV, which do have an amplified audio output suitable for connection to ceiling speakers. This isn’t true of all models and we can often help with determining whether or not this is possible.
A selection of our amplifiers are able to be controlled using one of Amazon’s ‘Echo’ devices by simply plugging one in in the desired room and setting it up to control the amplifier. Please do get in touch to find out which of our products are capable of this feature.
As always, we are more than happy to help you with any questions you have about any of our products or planning a home audio system. You can submit a contact form here, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or just give us a ring on 03456 803 802.