Best In-Wall Speakers

Updated June 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

12 Models Considered
68 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
125 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best in-wall speakers

Last Updated June 2019

More and more, the best place to go for an unforgettable entertainment experience is your own home. Whether you want ambient music that drifts throughout your entire house or the most awesome home theater imaginable, in-wall speakers could be the key to unlocking your dream. But how much do you know about them?

In-wall speakers can work with any décor, they provide quality sound, and with no cords to trip over, they can be safer than other types of speakers. You want in-wall speakers that are long lasting, moisture resistant, and large enough to offer the volume you desire.

If you’d like to learn more about what to look for in quality in-wall speakers, keep reading. When you’re ready to buy, consider one of the highly rated options we’ve listed in this article.

The easiest way to tell the difference between in-wall and in-ceiling speakers is by shape. Typically, in-wall speakers are rectangular (because each is a box that houses more than one speaker) and in-ceiling speakers are round.

Key considerations

Types of in-wall speakers

In-wall speaker requirements vary from situation to situation. If you’re relatively new to the world of in-wall audio, here is a brief introduction to the different types available.

Left and right speakers: These are the vertical speakers located to the left and right of your TV. Think of them like headphones or earbuds. For left and right speakers, you'll want full-range units that have a woofer (for low frequencies), a tweeter (for high frequencies), and possibly a mid-range speaker, too, so you can get a broad spectrum of sound.

Center speaker: The center channel is typically where the dialogue is located. Because of this, the center speaker has a special design – a tweeter positioned between two woofers – that allows you to clearly hear the dialogue. This speaker is located at ear level, directly beneath your television.

Low-end speakers: Some individuals might be satisfied with the woofers in their left and right speakers, but if you want that ribcage-rattling experience, you need a subwoofer. This low-end speaker is designed to handle those frequencies that you can feel as readily as you can hear.

Other surround sound speakers: For the additional speakers in a surround sound system, you could use the same type of speakers you used for your left and right channels. However, if you want the best, most immersive experience, you'll want a speaker with a woofer and two tweeters that face different directions for the side and rear sound.

In-ceiling speakers: In-ceiling speakers are often considered to be different from in-wall speakers, but it's important to touch upon them. If you’re considering a Dolby Atmos system in which the sound is around and above you, you’ll need to buy in-ceiling speakers as well.

DID YOU KNOW?

After installing your in-wall speakers, you can paint the grilles to match the décor of your room.

In-wall speaker features

Now that you know the types of speakers you need, there are a few other elements you'll want to consider before making your final decision.

Pivoting tweeter

One downside to having in-wall speakers is that because of the way they’re mounted, you can't have the entire speaker pointed toward the listener; it faces straight ahead. Having an in-wall speaker with a pivoting tweeter allows you to make minor adjustments so you can direct the higher frequencies exactly where you want them to go, thus providing a better listening experience.

Moisture resistance

Your speakers are going to be installed in your wall, and because of that, you want them to be durable pieces of equipment that won't need to be upgraded every few years. A moisture-resistant speaker can be placed in a humid environment, such as a kitchen or bathroom, that would damage a speaker without this feature.

Back boxes

There are varying opinions on back boxes. If you install a speaker in your wall but on the other side of the wall is a room you want to keep relatively quiet, you need a back box. However, you can run into problems with in-wall speakers and back boxes because there isn’t much room for air movement (something you need for sound) inside a wall. A back box that isn't specifically designed for your particular speaker could end up limiting the overall sound quality.

Timbre matching

Different speakers have different sound qualities. Depending on how critical your hearing is, you may or may not be able to hear the distinctions. If you’re setting up a multi-speaker system, whether in one room or throughout the house, it’s recommended that you use the same manufacturer for all the in-wall speakers in your system in order to keep the sound consistent.

Although it could be many years before you need to worry, it’s important to remember that upgrading your in-wall speakers will be more labor intensive than the initial installation.m.

In-wall speaker prices

You can pay as little as $30 or as much as several hundred dollars for a single in-wall speaker, so it's important to know what you’re getting.

Inexpensive: At the lower end, from about $30 to $60, you’re getting a smaller, two-way speaker (woofer and tweeter) that delivers OK sound. These are for budget-minded individuals.

Mid-range: From $65 to around $100, you’ll see higher-quality speakers, some of which feature a slightly larger woofer. Additionally, this price range tends to offer three-way speakers (high, mid, and low).

Expensive: As you move into the $120 to $160 range, you’re often getting a set of two (or more) speakers. Once you cross into $200-and-above territory, you’re at the bottom end of the premium in-wall speakers. These units are manufactured from higher-quality (more expensive) components that offer a cleaner sound with more accurate frequency response and less distortion.

EXPERT TIP

Because an in-wall speaker uses the wall as a baffle (the front surface of the speaker), it can be as much as 6 dB louder in the bass frequencies than other types of speakers.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

The key to having great audio is speaker placement. Where you position your in-wall speakers can make the difference between having great sound and settling for adequate sound. Following are tips to help you get the most out of your new speakers.

  • Position the in-wall speakers as close to ear level as possible. The center channel speaker should be located directly in front of you at ear level to hear dialogue. This usually means the center channel speaker is placed directly under the television. If you have pivotable tweeters (the smaller speakers), aim them directly at your desired listening location (sofa) before installing the speaker's grille. If the speakers are located in a room where you’ll spend most of your time standing, the speakers should be higher than in a room where you’ll be seated.
  • Position left and right speakers equidistant from the listener in a TV room. To provide the best experience, the two speakers should be as far apart from each other as possible, not located next to each side of your television.
  • Position your speakers throughout the room for ambient music. That way you’ll have a relatively even level of sound no matter where you stand. In-ceiling speakers are often a better option for ambient music, especially in smaller or odd-shaped spaces, such as a bathroom or hallway.
  • Position your speakers away from cornes. In-wall speakers should not be closer than two feet from a corner, and there should be no hard, flat surfaces nearby that could deflect the sound in undesirable ways. Before deciding on a final location, check the wall with a stud finder, and drill a small test hole to make sure there are no potential obstructions or hazards behind the wall. Sometimes it helps to place cardboard rectangles on your wall first to help you visualize the best in-speaker placement.

Other products we considered

As noted, the best in-wall speaker for you depends on your needs. If you'd like a few more highly rated options, consider the two-way Yamaha NS-IW760 Speaker System. This flush-mount unit features two 6.5-inch speakers along with a 1-inch tweeter, making it ideal for use as a center speaker. The Monoprice In-Wall Speakers are two three-way speakers that each feature an 8-inch Kevlar woofer, a 4-inch Kevlar mid-range speaker, and a 1-inch titanium silk membrane tweeter. The unit also features an adjustable crossover switch to help produce the highest-quality sound. The Polk Audio Speakers are two 6.5-inch in-wall speakers that offer quality sound and are manufactured to be suitable for damp or humid environments.

An added benefit of in-wall speakers is safety. With the speaker installed in the wall, there are no cables, stands, or speakers to trip over.

FAQ

Q. I'm confused by the numbers in a surround sound system. What does 5.1 mean?
A.
To keep things simple, those numbers represent how many speakers are needed for the system. A 5.1 system means there are five full-range speakers (speakers that reproduce most of the frequencies we can hear) and one low-frequency speaker (subwoofer). If there is a third number, say 5.1.2, in a home system, that designates two ceiling speakers. As another example, if you have a 7.2.4 system, you would have seven full-range speakers, two subwoofers, and four ceiling speakers.

Q. Does the shape of the room have any bearing on the setup of my in-wall speakers?
A.
Very much. You wouldn’t have the best viewing experience if you placed a painting on the floor behind your sofa. The same goes for sound. In-wall speakers must be strategically placed in order for you to have the best listening experience. The shape of the room and the spot where the listener is located are the two key factors that determine the best location for in-wall speakers.

Q. Is it difficult to install in-wall speakers?
A.
Difficulty is relative to experience. If you’re comfortable cutting holes in your walls and ceiling and running wires throughout those walls before patching them back up so the speakers are inconspicuous, then you're probably already looking forward to the challenge. However, if you have trouble hanging a picture straight, you might want to call a professional.

The team that worked on this review
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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