Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
#1
Old 01-19-2015, 08:43 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Missouri
Posts: 4,537
How to set up ceiling speakers in new construction

We're building a house, and while the walls are open, I want to install ceiling speakers in various rooms. Ideally, we could stream music from our phones to said speakers, and they would be zoned, so if the husband is playing music in the garage, I don't have to listen to it in the bedroom. Connecting to TVs is fine, but not really the point, we don't watch much. I don't want to spend more than a few hundred on this. We are not audiophiles, so this doesn't need to be super fancy.

However, I have no idea how to set this up.

I'm looking at these speakers from monoprice. What other equipment do I need? We aren't Apple people, so I want to stay away from anything that requires itunes.

Thanks in advance!
#2
Old 01-19-2015, 09:13 AM
BANNED
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,115
You are going to need several different amps, one for each zone. I would just have a single hard-line input for each zone, and wire that to the amp, and then the amp to the speakers.

If you really prefer a wireless system, you'll want to just go bluetooth, which is more expensive, but doesn't require an amp. Personally, I'd go bluetooth, but it's up to you.
#3
Old 01-19-2015, 09:46 AM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Posts: 4,875
What is more important than the speakers is of course the wiring. In the life of the house you will almost certainly go through a number of generations of technology. But a common thread is going to be the fixed wiring. And augmenting that once the walls and ceiling are done is painful and expensive.

I would work out every possible place you could want speakers, and run cable to those locations, and run them all back to a single location where you can install appropriate distribution amplifiers and gear. You can choose that, and change it over, anytime. You will want a closet somewhere that also has a power outlet, and for preference is also cabled so you can Internet access directly to it. Then you make this your hub for all things.

I will note that ceiling speakers are a mixed bag. Sound from above never sounds right. Thinking about in-wall installations is something to consider as well. Just running the cables so they are there if ever wanted is a very cheap thing to do right now.
#4
Old 01-19-2015, 09:54 AM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: F.O.S.O.N.E.
Posts: 19,903
I'd put ceiling speakers in a class with a 1960's hi-fi set. And recall that most houses with them used them very, very little.

While I dislike wireless anything unless it's the best option by far, wireless speaker tech has gotten steadily better and is likely to get better over the next decade. Rather than spend time and expense building old-school, deteriorating fixtures in the house, with the small but present degradation of each room's look, and the need for fairly expensive speakers, wiring, amps, distribution panels etc., on the vague notion that you will want to stream music all over the house... wire the house instead for the highest-quality ethernet ports (Cat6+). Not so you you can wire in any particular piece of gear - although you might want to, for a server stack or an office computer, or the video/audio head-end - but so you can distribute any generation of wireless APs through the house and have solid coverage without dead zones or one uber-powerful and expensive point. (I personally like Ubiquiti's Unifi pucks; look at them as a high-end consumer-grade example.)

Then you can upgrade your base wifi installation over time and use whatever audio, video, computing or convenience gear needs good, solid wireless to work.
#5
Old 01-19-2015, 09:54 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Missouri
Posts: 4,537
The cables: Just speaker wire?
#6
Old 01-19-2015, 09:58 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Missouri
Posts: 4,537
Wireless is an option, but they still need power, right?
#7
Old 01-19-2015, 10:08 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 27,489
Quote:
Originally Posted by get lives View Post
You are going to need several different amps, one for each zone. I would just have a single hard-line input for each zone, and wire that to the amp, and then the amp to the speakers.
You can do it with one amp and a distributer. Hook the amp to this as well as all the speakers and you can turn each set of speakers on and off individually. I believe with many of them (this one included), they can have two inputs and send one or the other to any of the outputs.

Quote:
If you really prefer a wireless system, you'll want to just go bluetooth, which is more expensive, but doesn't require an amp. Personally, I'd go bluetooth, but it's up to you.
I'm not sure what you mean by using bluetooth without an amp. My phone has bluetooth, but there's no way to transmit the music in my phone to the speaker wires without an amplifier. However, many home audio receivers can receive bluetooth or wifi signals.

Last edited by Joey P; 01-19-2015 at 10:09 AM.
#8
Old 01-19-2015, 10:09 AM
BANNED
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 1,481
You will need an electrical box for each speaker. This box is where the wiring comes into and is secure to. Then your speakers will be secured to the box

For every light switch (or receptacle, etc) all you see is the outside which is the switch and the plate. There is a box behind that all the electrical wiring is contained in. This is required by code, and there are safety considerations here also.

Also most likely you have 2 sets of wires. One set is the power wires to power the speaker, then the other set is the speaker wire. Unless your going with wifi speakers.

If me would have the electrician get it done.
#9
Old 01-19-2015, 10:14 AM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: F.O.S.O.N.E.
Posts: 19,903
Quote:
Originally Posted by Renee View Post
Wireless is an option, but they still need power, right?
Yes, and you plug them in wherever convenient. I ass/u/me that if you're down to prewiring speakers you've considered the minor upgrade of extra wall sockets - at least two on every available wall.

Overheads can be a good choice. But mostly, it's a good choice for light commercial and professional offices. Even in their heyday, I remember them not being used much because of the hassles, and because it's rare that everyone in the house really wants to listen to the same material on the same schedule.
#10
Old 01-19-2015, 10:21 AM
Member
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: North of 8 Mile
Posts: 3,979
I wouldn't even bother hardwiring a speaker system into a house anymore, especially ceiling speakers since they never do soundright. I'd rather have something like good quality portable bluetooth speaker for each room. You can put them on a shelf at ear level and fill the room with pretty decent sound that would be as good or better than ceiling speakers. I use a Bose Soundlink out in my garage and the patio and have since removed the speakers I previously had installed.
#11
Old 01-19-2015, 10:43 AM
BANNED
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,115
Quote:
Originally Posted by Si Amigo View Post
I wouldn't even bother hardwiring a speaker system into a house anymore, especially ceiling speakers since they never do soundright. I'd rather have something like good quality portable bluetooth speaker for each room. You can put them on a shelf at ear level and fill the room with pretty decent sound that would be as good or better than ceiling speakers. I use a Bose Soundlink out in my garage and the patio and have since removed the speakers I previously had installed.
I considered saying this too. However, maybe the OP has an interior decoration reason she wants them in the ceiling. If not, you are obviously correct, IMHO.
#12
Old 01-19-2015, 12:50 PM
Member
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: North of 8 Mile
Posts: 3,979
Quote:
Originally Posted by get lives View Post
I considered saying this too. However, maybe the OP has an interior decoration reason she wants them in the ceiling. If not, you are obviously correct, IMHO.
Design wise I'd just make a pocket in the drywall with a standard 110 outlet and place a portable bluetooth speaker in there. You could then cover it up with some sort of acoustically transparent grill material and control the on/off and volume with a remote. As technology progressed you could just replace them with newer models that almost definitely be smaller than what is available now.
#13
Old 01-19-2015, 01:09 PM
BANNED
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,115
Quote:
Originally Posted by Si Amigo View Post
Design wise I'd just make a pocket in the drywall with a standard 110 outlet and place a portable bluetooth speaker in there. You could then cover it up with some sort of acoustically transparent grill material and control the on/off and volume with a remote. As technology progressed you could just replace them with newer models that almost definitely be smaller than what is available now.
Agree. This would be easier in the wall, but still doable in the ceiling.
#14
Old 01-19-2015, 01:22 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: US
Posts: 1,446
If you do want to install ceiling speakers, you have to do some planning and a usable system will cost more than a few hundred dollars. You'll spend a few hundred dollars on speakers if you do a few rooms and you need a multi-zone receiver or pre-amplifier. The basic problem is that you need an amplifier channel per speaker (another few hundred dollars). If you want two speakers in each of three rooms, you need six channels of amplification and something to coordinate them. And you need to run the speaker wire from wherever these components will live to the rooms where the speakers will be. Whole house music systems like this aren't simple and if you try to do it yourself without learning all about it you stand a good chance of making a system which is useless.

In short, you need speakers, speaker wire (you have to use wire rated for in-wall applications), amplification (one channel per speaker), and a component which takes multiple music sources and feeds them to the chosen rooms. Or you could get a couple of bluetooth speakers, pair them with your phones, and bring them to the rooms where you want music. I think you'd be happier with the latter and you'd be spared the ugly speakers in your ceilings.
#15
Old 01-19-2015, 01:39 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 13,810
We have something like that. Control4 8-zone amp and controller. (In the words of the Far Side, "this no be cheap".)

Run the wires from the individual speakers back to the amp. make sure the gauge can handle the power.
Our speakers in the ceiling are inside plastic inserts to keep them inside the insulation/vapour barrier.

The controller works with wifi. If you don't need to control things from outside your home, a simple iPhone app will manage the system... The controller also has TunedIn Radio.

This replaced a previous system that had control panels around the house - but the individual room amp modules in the central amp started dying.

But all in all, it will cost thousands of dollars.
#16
Old 01-19-2015, 04:10 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2000
Location: The Cheese Belt
Posts: 4,766
The answer is Sonos.

Wireless configurable hi-fi.

Another option are bluetooth speakers that screw into a standard light can.
#17
Old 01-19-2015, 06:27 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Missouri
Posts: 4,537
I'm glad I asked. (Really, no sarcasm intended.)

We currently have a couple little bluetooth speakers that sound great, but dragging them around they get beat-up and stop working well. Some friends of ours have a zoned ceiling speaker system that they love and use all the time, but I think I'm convinced that such a thing is either already obsolete or quickly becoming so.

I think we'll just buy a little bluetooth speaker for each room, so we aren't moving them around, and call it done.

Thanks so much!
#18
Old 01-20-2015, 12:32 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 761
Quote:
Originally Posted by August West View Post
The answer is Sonos.

Wireless configurable hi-fi.

Another option are bluetooth speakers that screw into a standard light can.
I agree. I don't have one myself, but we once rented a vacation home with a Sonos setup and I was very impressed...it's a really nice system.
#19
Old 01-20-2015, 04:35 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Denver, CO, USA
Posts: 2,733
I did this in a house I was having built. I knew where the TV & receiver would go so I added a double-gang electrical box behind the receiver and put single-gang boxes where each speaker would go.

I then ran speaker cord between the boxes originating from the main receiver box. I included a couple feet coiled in each box to make hookup easier later. Any kind of wire works, no need to go with expensive Monster cable or anything. You can buy it in 100 foot rolls from Home Depot. It looks like 14 or 16-gauge lamp cord. Don't cheap out on the really thin stuff, it's a pain to work with and might cost a bit of sound quality over longer distances.

When the walls were put up, the installers just cut the wallboard around the boxes like any other electrical box. I could the put up speaker wallplates. myself and be nearly done. When we moved in, it's just use a bit of wire between the speaker or receiver and the wall plate and everything connects up.
#20
Old 01-20-2015, 05:16 PM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Calgary
Posts: 1,141
In new home construction the electricians will often run low voltage wire for speaker and media systems. Quite often it is on the blueprint. There are also home entertainment contractors that are brought in to set everything up. It is low voltage so it doesn't actually require a box. Some times the wires are just left behind the drywall and speakers and wall plates are installed during final finishing. When planning for wall mounted TVs, 2" conduit is often installed so multiple cords can be run down to components below.

It doesn't cost much to make sure a home is wired up for future media rooms, ethernet, etc if you already have the walls open and electricians coming anyway. Electricians have been running cat5e instead of telephone wiring for years, so many homes will already be wired for ethernet. You can often just switch out the telephone jacks for rj45 plates.

As the op has already concluded though, modern wireless is a good enough and versatile solution.
#21
Old 01-20-2015, 07:17 PM
Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Cloud Cuckoo Land
Posts: 28,735
Ooooh! This is what I DO! Or did.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Renee View Post
I'm looking at these speakers from monoprice.
You are better off in a home with dual-tweeter, stereo ceiling speakers like these. Single-tweeter speakers, carrying one channel each, require you to stay in a place equidistant from the two speakers. That's fine if you have a chair in a listening room, but if you are moving around the room you don't want to hear just the left or just the right channel. A pair of stereo speakers, each playing both channels, will fill most rooms with quality audio. Don't be cheap and go monophonic because that sounds like shit.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Renee View Post
The cables: Just speaker wire?
Yep. Eighteen gauge or heavier. And remember that with wire gauges smaller numbers are thicker--20ga is thinner than 18ga.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Si Amigo View Post
I wouldn't even bother hardwiring a speaker system into a house anymore, especially ceiling speakers since they never do soundright.
That's because you never listened to a system I designed!
Quote:
I'd rather have something like good quality portable bluetooth speaker for each room.
The problem with wireless is that there needs to be a receiver and an amp at each speaker or pair of speakers, not an amp with multiple channels in a central location. I haven't worked with that Sonos system, but they make good stuff so I'll look more.

Last edited by dropzone; 01-20-2015 at 07:18 PM.
#22
Old 01-20-2015, 07:27 PM
Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Cloud Cuckoo Land
Posts: 28,735
Oh, Renee? How many rooms are you thinking of doing?
#23
Old 01-20-2015, 07:32 PM
Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Cloud Cuckoo Land
Posts: 28,735
And Renee, be careful with what we say. I don't know about the other guys, but I'm real good at spending other people's money. And budget-wise, I think Sonos is out.

Last edited by dropzone; 01-20-2015 at 07:33 PM.
#24
Old 01-20-2015, 07:59 PM
Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Cloud Cuckoo Land
Posts: 28,735
And though my training wants desperately to spend thousands of your dollars, hardwired, multi-room audio is also out. Wireless will let you add and subtract zones effortlessly. Still looking and still having fun. Y'know, you can get free apps for your phone that will do much of what we used to charge a quarter-million for. Just the software, which is why I'm no longer in that business.
#25
Old 01-20-2015, 10:14 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 7,411
I'm not going to get into which technology to embrace - given the rate of change, I'd put in wires - they will always work, even if you decide to ignore them.

What I DO wish to emphasize is the idea of ceiling speakers.

There is no way to describe exactly how bad an idea these were for anything except PA systems.

Humans instinctively hate sounds coming from above. I think there are in-wall speakers of decent quality, but I would suggest simply running good quality cables to boxes with jacks or terminals - see "premise wiring" - you can connect whatever speakers you wish - and it there a 6-10 (now) unused connectors inside the box, future you(s) can use them for whatever technology comes down the pike.
#26
Old 01-21-2015, 11:09 PM
Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Cloud Cuckoo Land
Posts: 28,735
I agree completely, but Renee is, um, optimistic if she wants to keep this down to "a few hundred" if we go hardwired. I dislike wireless because my house is in a radio sinkhole so I like the reliability of copper. Therefore I wholeheartedly agree with multiple Cat5e everywhere.

Audio is a different story. If I understand her needs she not only wants to turn off whatever her husband is listening to in the garage but also wants the option of listening to something else. Then there might be kids with a whole new set of tastes. But I have to go to bed and will look into this tomorrow. I think it will involve line voltage over Cat5e and a smart phone.
#27
Old 01-21-2015, 11:32 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Missouri
Posts: 4,537
Sorry, I'd missed dropzone's updates. Thanks, dropzone.

Some friends of ours have a ceiling speaker system; it sounds good to my ears, and they use it all the time and rave about it. But, as I said, not an audiophile. Our current sound system consists of two of these ihome rechargeable speakers, and I am not unhappy with the sound. The only thing that bugs me is that the bluetooth has failed on one, and the battery sometimes runs out. Given that, thousands of dollars on a speaker system is simply not going to happen; sound quality isn't that important to me. I was hoping I could set up something cheap and simple, and it sounds like wireless is really the best way to do that, given our needs.

Thanks again for saving me some cash, everyone.
#28
Old 01-22-2015, 01:50 AM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Posts: 4,875
On thing you can consider that may save some pain into the future. Specify lots of power outlets. Whilst you may use cheap and nasty battery driven speakers at the moment, the likely long term quality outcome will usually involve mains power. Put power outlets along walls so you can easily plug an all in one amplified speaker in wherever you want without power cable mess.

Running lots of Cat 5e around, and reticulated back to a central point can be a good idea, it avoids reliance on radio or ethernet over power, for network connectivity, but may not be worth the effort.
#29
Old 01-22-2015, 08:44 AM
Guest
Join Date: May 2000
Location: The Cheese Belt
Posts: 4,766
Here's a relatively inexpensive system with good reviews. They are designed for recessed can lights, I have something similar set up on my porch but the model I have seems to be discontinued.

These are LED light bulbs with built-in JBL speakers.Pulse speakers on amazon
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:06 PM.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: [email protected]

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: j brake song wet dream behind ears stink fired synonym fas org weeping buda inch marking metropolis anime idle conquest knife handle finishes does susan collins have parkinsons? eggplant parmesan without tomato sauce can humans impregnate animals locate underground power lines phil spectre wall of sound god created man colt made them equal 2001 ford focus oil change how to kill a tarrasque can you still buy gros michel bananas what is rule 11 in a civil action quick change artists secrets does cocaine have a smell can you get jeans taken in