The Best In-Ceiling Speakers – November 2018
The portable speaker has come a long way since its humble inception. Instead of shoddy boomboxes, we now have a series of advanced Bluetooth audio units that can be tossed in our bags and taken on the go.
But even the best and most powerful portable sound system can’t rival the sonic quality of a truly great in-ceiling speaker system, given the almost universally-larger speaker size and added quality that comes with a lack of portability.
With this in mind, we’ve ranked some of the best in-ceiling speaker systems available—taking into account everything from affordability and style to sonics and overall clarity. Enjoy.
It’s never a good idea to base your tech decisions on which piece of gear looks the coolest, but this speaker succeeds in looking almost as great as it sounds. Available in a variety of sizes ranging from 2.25 inches to 8 inches, this robust speaker is ideal for everything from screening movies to the most detailed listening sessions.
Although the smaller-sized iterations of this famed speaker are nothing to scoff at, the 8-inch version seems to deliver noticeably better bass, while retaining all of the most important elements of the high-end frequencies.
This 2-way speaker features a gorgeous and powerful 8” woofer alongside a 1” soft dome tweeter, which offers the perfect integration between both extreme ends of the frequency spectrum when you’re listening to music or movies that have a great deal of dynamic range.
Thanks to a smooth, 6dB crossover network, this speaker delivers incredibly natural sound that’s clear and balanced but seemingly rich at the same time. It’s designed for optimal performance in a wide variety of home entertainment applications, and is incredibly easy to install without the need for third-party adapters or special tools.
You also have the option of painting the speaker in order to make it blend seamlessly in with any decor, and if you buy through Amazon, you have the option of adding a four-year protection plan for just $2.30 (which we highly recommend).
Deciding between this speaker and the Micca M-8C for our top spot was a tossup, since these speakers are both incredibly similar in terms of sonics and price.
The one tiny area in which we found this speaker to be lacking (but only very slightly) was in midrange definition in the 6.5-inch version, which is its flagship size for most applications. This will hardly be a noticeable issue for most listeners, and what this speaker lacks in midrange definition it more than makes up for in the low-end—which is surprisingly warm for a speaker this size. It really comes down to personal preference.
This speaker’s signature model features a 6.5″ mica polypropylene cone woofer with a rubber edge and a 16.5oz magnet, which delivers clear, distortion-free sound.
The 20mm silk dome tweeter is ideal for listening to music that’s rich in vocals or high-end-heavy instrumentation, and 88+/-2 dB sensitivity means that even subtle changes in dynamics come through extraordinarily well.
You’ll also enjoy a wide frequency response of 67 Hz to 20,000 Hz, along with a crossover rate of 12dB per octave and a power handling capacity of up to 40 watts.
Another area in which these speakers truly shine is their durability, thanks to both solid construction and moisture-resistant materials that can be used in bathrooms, saunas, or even outdoor eaves.
There’s a reason why Yamaha is one of the best-known brands in the extremely competitive world of audio gear and technology: They make undeniably great products. But these products often come at a higher price, and these speakers are no exception.
Still, if you’re a true audiophile with the cash to spend, we highly doubt you’ll regret making this purchase. Offering truly transparent sound, these speakers offer a maximum frequency response of up to 28,000 Hz, and an RMS output power of a whopping 140 watts.
An incredibly slim profile design means that they can be easily implemented in virtually any wall or ceiling without affecting the decor of your living space, and sealed back covers prevent dust and moisture from damaging the speaker (a useful feature if you’re considering installing speakers in your bathroom or an outdoor area).
One of the key variables when to comes to the superior sonic quality of these Yamaha speakers are the polypropylene mica cone woofers that deliver virtually no distortion and incredibly detailed high- and mid-range frequency responses. They also feature a unique grain-finished acoustic baffle with a spiral pattern that contributes to a remarkably natural sound dispersion.
If these speakers were priced just a bit lower, they would have shot to the top of our list. Still, if money is less of an issue, we would highly recommend giving these fantastic speakers a shot.
Edging up to a slighter higher price point, we have the world-renowned Klipsch in-ceiling speaker, which, depending on your budget, is well-worth the heightened cost.
This speaker boasts a 1” titanium tweeter that delivers exceptionally powerful and clear sound, alongside a 6.5” pivoting Cerametallic woofer that brings a booming-yet-restrained bass.
Controlled Dispersion Technology® (CDT) ensures that the sound from these speakers reaches every corner of the room regardless of its shape or size (up to a point, of course), and there are dedicated treble and bass attenuation switches that can be used to boost or reduce certain parts of the frequency range in order to adapt to your specific room.
This feature can come in handy if you want to place your speaker closer to a corner or side wall, which can lead to an artificial and misleading bass buildup. The pivoting woofer can also be useful in this regard, since you can point the sound away from corners and “bass traps” in your room.
These great-sounding speakers are a favorite among patio partiers who want to enjoy top-notch sonics in their yard. As some of the most weather-resistant speakers on the market, these cones can resist everything from rain to snow, and can be placed in high-humidity areas like the bathroom without issue.
And although their price might seem a little steep, keep in mind that you’re buying a pair of speakers instead of a single speaker, which is rarely the case for more high-end, in-ceiling units such as these.
Available in both 6.5-inch and 8-inch configurations, these speakers are timbre-matched and extremely balanced—thanks to an 8-inch dynamic-balance woofer that provides a fuller bass and a 1-inch soft dome tweeter that provides a surprisingly amount of depth even at higher frequencies.
These speakers also come equipped with a specialized rubber seal that both aids in its sonic response and prevents virtually any type of moisture from degrading the hardware.
They’re also easy to install straight out of the box—always an added plus for those who may not be technically savvy.
Next up, we have another quality Polk unit, which provides excellent ambient performance and comes with a protective covering that keeps the underlying mechanics safe from harm.
While these speakers lack some of the low-end definition of the RC80i’s, they’re perfectly suitable for more casual listening (especially outdoors), and can still deliver enough low-end definition to power most action movies and low-end rumbles.
And although these speakers may be slightly less articulate when it comes to sonics, they’re incredibly easy to install, and feature a drop-in installation design that works flawlessly with most ceiling templates and cutaways. This design helps ensure that you won’t have to endure the obnoxious vibrations that can accompany a poor speaker installation, and you’ll be able to easily move them around to different locations in your home.
These speakers also come with swivel tweeters for greater high-end accuracy and more realistic stereo imaging.
We couldn’t round out our list without mentioning another fantastic—albeit slightly less expensive—pair of Yamaha speakers. This particular model is available in both 100-watt and 120-watt variations, and can be purchased as a 2-speaker, 4-speaker, or 6-speaker bundle.
They come loaded with 6.5” Polypropylene mica cone woofers that deliver a rich and detailed bass response, and a dual 3/4” dome tweeter that features state-of-the-art SoundMax technology. These speakers also feature swivel-tweeter technology to aid in dispersion, and come with an incredibly cheap 4-year protection plan if you purchase through Amazon.