A built-in speaker system for your home theatre may include some odd installations. To install a subwoofer on a ceiling is something you could do to enhance your home theater, but it isn’t something you see every day.
Installing a subwoofer on the ceiling is not as difficult as you first might think. It is possible to get professional results yourself without paying someone to do it for you to follow these guidelines.
Also read: Can You Wall Mount a Subwoofer?
Why Choose To Install A Subwoofer On A Ceiling?
There a few considerations to make when deciding where you want to place the subwoofer in your home theatre system.
While sound experts do not necessarily recommend hanging speakers from the ceiling, some speakers are specifically designed for ceiling installation.
If you have a space that’s on the smaller side, or perhaps you want to protect your speakers from pets and children, in-ceiling speakers might be a solution for you. In this article, we will discuss different ways of installing a subwoofer on the ceiling.
Pros and Cons of A Ceiling Install For A Subwoofer
There are a few considerations to make when deciding whether in-ceiling speakers are for you. If you have pets or small children, having in-ceiling or mounted speakers keeps them out of harm’s way.
Smaller rooms can benefit from ceiling-mounted speakers as they conserve floor space and prevent unnecessary clutter. Hidden speakers are also more aesthetically pleasing.
All wiring runs from the amp or receiver through the wall and ceiling cavities and is concealed from view.
A downside to an in-ceiling subwoofer is that they are passive speakers due to design. It means an enclosed battery does not power them. They will need to be wired to an amplifier.
If the speaker breaks after being installed in the ceiling, they must first be taken out of their fixed positions to be repaired, which can be a lengthy process.
In-ceiling speakers can suffer some loss in sound quality due to their size and their location. Some sound will be lost as it reverberates in the cavity above rather than into the room.
Sound can also travel through the hole and create noise pollution in other areas of the house.
While speakers on the ceiling can be directed towards the listeners from the ceiling, hearing sounds at the ear level will be more natural and effective.
Although manufacturers will often consider and design speakers that at least partially compensate for this issue.
Types Of Installation
It is possible to install speakers on the ceiling in several ways:
Ceiling Mounted Subwoofers
You can mount a subwoofer; however, you’ll need to observe specific safety considerations. It can be dangerous to mount a subwoofer on the ceiling, so you must exact extra care to guarantee that the speakers are firmly affixed and will not fall.
It would help if you weighed your speakers before mounting them so you can buy mounts that can support them and cope with the vibration the speaking will put out. Speakers should be placed at least 30cm from the wall. (1)
One of the more popular solutions is an in-ceiling subwoofer. The design of these speakers is observing ceiling installation. So, they tend to be more compact than a freestanding subwoofer.
You can place these directly into the drywall following the manufacturer’s instructions. You can find a detailed description of how to do this below.
In-Ceiling Subwoofers: Attic Installation
It is possible to use a standard subwoofer as an in-ceiling speaker if the room you intend to install the speaker is beneath an attic. Using this method means that you won’t lose out on sound quality due to a loss of box volume.
While in the attic, to make sure that you do not drop the subwoofer or accidentally put a foot through the ceiling, you can create a structure, such as a long piece of ply you can safely place the speaker onto and maneuver across rather than carrying it.
However, you should make sure that the subwoofer itself is not too heavy for ceiling installation. Alternatively, the speaker can be attached to 2x4s, which you can connect to the rafters themselves.
You can then use a drywall saw to cut a suitably sized hole into the ceiling below and screw in an air vent to allow the sound to come through but conceal the speaker. (2)
How To Install A Subwoofer On A Ceiling – Step-By-Step
Before starting your installation, you will need the following equipment:
- Box cutter
- Drywall saw
- Masking tape
- Stud finder
- Coat hanger
- Cordless drill
Finding The Best Placement
Placing speakers are best achieved when they are equidistant from where the audience will sit and should not more than ten feet and no less than five feet apart.
This placement ensures that sound in the room will maintain the stereo effect. It’s essential to consider the impact reflected sound will have on the listening experience, so speakers should be placed with consideration to the walls.
One way to accomplish this task is to ask someone to hold a mirror against a wall until you can see where you have marked where you want your speakers to be installed.
If the mirror’s reflection is too high, then the speakers are too close to the wall. If the reflection is too low, they are too far away, and the wall will not reflect the sound.
Bass speakers should be installed at least three feet away from a corner because the echoes produced by sound waves hitting the walls can create a bass sound that is too loud and over-pronounced. (4)
Balancing Out The Sound
Bass is essential to a balanced sound experience. A subwoofer increases the richness of sound, and without a subwoofer, you will not have lower sound frequencies in your sound system.
The sound reproduced by a subwoofer highlights instruments such as bass guitars, pipe organs, and kick drums. Subwoofers also allow listeners to feel the lower sound frequencies, namely between 20 to 200 Hz. As a result, the width and depth of the sound stage intensify the result. (3)
Factors such as furniture placement and the size of your room will affect how well a subwoofer performs.
When sound reflects off walls and furniture, sound waves can collide, creating specific effects.
Standing waves occur when two waves meet their reflection resulting in a wave that does not appear to move. This form of wave’s impact is that sound that is not well defined and can be “boomy.”
Bass nulls happen when two waves interfere with each other and cancel each other, which can cause a “dead spot.”
Preparing The Area And Installation
Once you have finalized the decision for where you would like to install your speakers, it is essential to check for any obstructions such as pipes or wiring.
One way to do this is to create a small hole in the drywall and use an unraveled coat hanger bent at a right angle.
You can turn the coat hanger in the hole and see if it hits any obstructions around it. You can also check to cut a hole large enough to fit your phone camera through the ceiling and use its flash function to see what is in the ceiling cavity.
A mirror can achieve the same effect but may require that you make a larger hole to see the reflection.
Use a box cutter or other similar knife to score around the template, then use a drywall knife to cut a hole into the desired speaker location, following the outline in one direction.
Be sure to wear goggles to protect your eyes from dust. Gently push the subwoofer into the hole in the drywall, make sure that you don’t use too much force; otherwise, you may crack your ceiling. Screw the frame into the drywall and cover it with the provided grilles.
A backer box will insulate sound from being transmitted through the back of a speaker. You can construct a shallow airtight container around the speaker enclosure that will reflect sound into the room.
Make sure that the width of the box is narrow enough to sit within the ceiling cavity.
To boost the box’s performance, you can use two with a layer of damping compound in between them rather than using one piece of MDF. You could also buy ready-made soundproof enclosures for your speakers. (5)
Installing Your Speakers
Installing your speakers is inexpensive and relatively easy if you follow instructions and take care. An in-ceiling or mounted subwoofer is a matter of practical choice, and while you may not get the highest quality sound, you will save space and maintain your room’s aesthetic.
Undoubtedly a subwoofer installed on the floor will produce the best sound.
- How to Hang Speakers from the Ceiling. Phillip, Jason. https://www.wikihow.com/Hang-Speakers-from-the-Ceiling Accessed 14/04/21.
- How to Install a Hidden In-Floor or In-Ceiling Subwoofer. Heyne, Cliff. https://www.audioholics.com/diy-audio/hidden-in-floor-in-ceiling-subwoofer-installation Accessed 14/04/21.
- What is a subwoofer? How a bass-focused speaker can give your home or car sound system a boost. Jacob, Ennica. https://www.businessinsider.com/what-is-a-subwoofer?op=1&r=US&IR=T Accessed 14/04/21.
- The DIY Homeowner’s Guide: Installing In-Wall and In-Ceiling Speakers. Altunian, Garry. https://www.soundandvision.com/content/diy-homeowners-guide-installing-wall-and-ceiling-speakers Accessed 14/04/21.
- How to Install In-Ceiling Speakers, Thies, Eric. https://hub.yamaha.com/how-to-install-in-ceiling-speakers/ Accessed 14/04/21.
- In-Wall and Ceiling Speakers Placement Guide. Ceiling Speaker Store https://ceilingspeakerstore.com/blogs/how-to-guides/in-wall-and-ceiling-speakers-placement-guide Accessed 14/04/21
Jason is a home theater expert with over 10 years of experience in setting up home cinema rooms and systems. What started out as a hobby soon transformed him into an authority in the audio-visual field. He is passionate about providing readers with accurate and up-to-date information on the latest audiovisual technologies and their applications for home theaters. Read more about Jason.