Updated October 12, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

The 10 Best In-Wall Speakers

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If you want surround sound without intrusive black boxes taking up any floor space, then these in-wall speakers, which blend seamlessly and unobtrusively into any room, are perfect for you. They are available as either single models or pairs, and we've ranked them here by their sound quality, appearance, and ease of installation. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best in-wall speaker on Amazon.

10. Monoprice Amber

9. Silver Ticket Products 82W

8. Klipsch Pro-6502-L-THX

7. Polk Audio 265RT 3-Way

6. Bose Virtually Invisible 891

5. JBL Surround Premium Home

This item has been flagged for editorial review and is not available.

4. Definitive Technology RSS II Reference

3. MartinLogan Edge High Performance

2. Elac Debut IW-D61-W Custom

1. Focal 300IW6LCR 3-Way

The Case For In-Wall Speakers

However, research has taught us that sound can affect our mood, our focus, our level of energy, and our general wellbeing.

Sound is an immensely powerful thing. We’re surrounded by it every day, so if you tend to take it for granted, you’re forgiven. However, research has taught us that sound can affect our mood, our focus, our level of energy, and our general wellbeing. It can also — when used in a purposeful way — promote healing, reduce stress, and even help alleviate depression.

So, while it may at first appear to be a relatively trivial decision, maybe your choice in speakers will have a greater impact on your life than you originally anticipated. And while floorstanding speakers can certainly produce quality sound, they take up valuable space and are often visibly intrusive.

In-wall speakers, on the other hand, provide your space with a clutter-free look, a direct field of sound, and an immersive audio experience — as if you’re physically at the movie theatre, or in the crowd at a concert. Sound quality has improved in recent years to the point where these models can compete with some of the top freestanding and bookshelf speakers on the market.

With in-wall speakers, you won’t have to worry about how you’re going to hide the tangle of wires protruding from the back of the unit. If they don’t match the existing decor in your home, you can easily fix that by painting them. In fact, some often refer to this style as architectural speakers, as they improve the ambiance of the room and add value to your home. This means, arguably, that you can consider their installation as an investment, akin to renovating your kitchen or putting in a new shower.

They’re also ideal for surround sound systems; aside from clearing up space for your home theater, they will reduce the chance that the floor, wall, ceiling, or another object will interfere with your sound. You see, the sound a freestanding speaker emits often reflects off of these surfaces, causing undesirable peaks and cancellations. Detractors will point out that it’s impossible to truly know how your speaker system will sound prior to installation, since it will be encased in the wall. To prepare for this, you can purchase bass and treble tone controls along with your speakers, which will allow you to make adjustments to the sound once the system is operational.

Speakers To Suit Your Space

Many aspects of the selection process will be the same as that of a freestanding model. The two styles come with different characteristics, some of which are suited to specific applications, some of which are not. Therefore, you should know beforehand how you intend to use your speakers — whether it’s for watching television, practicing with your rock band, or playing soothing music during yoga lessons.

While it will typically require at least four-inch clearance behind the wall you’re mounting it to, some slim models will let you get by with about two inches of clearance.

Generally speaking, most in-wall speakers have a rectangular frame, though a few models come with a round design. Selecting the shape is more of an aesthetic decision than a functional one, though you should note that all in-wall units feature speaker grills. These are usually paintable, which is helpful for tailoring the unit to your existing color scheme.

Before shopping, you’ll have to ensure your space is capable of housing in-wall speakers. While it will typically require at least four-inch clearance behind the wall you’re mounting it to, some slim models will let you get by with about two inches of clearance. Just keep in mind that the depth of the mounting enclosure will affect its performance — without the proper depth, it won’t produce a full sound.

If you plan on installing multiple units, make sure you consider voice matching. This refers to the notion that different brands produce slightly different sounds, so you’ll want to make sure each speaker is the same brand to guarantee consistency.

All of the components of your speaker contribute to the quality of the sound. With a freestanding speaker, this includes the various elements of the cabinet surrounding the speaker. With in-wall speakers, a much larger enclosure acts as the cabinet, which can affect the volume and bass.

Because of this, many choose to buy subwoofers to accompany their in-wall speakers. A dedicated subwoofer will help the speaker generate a fuller, more realistic sound. These also can be in-wall models, but as subwoofers are typically significantly smaller than the speakers themselves, going with a freestanding subwoofer shouldn’t pose much of an issue.

Installation And Placement

The installation and placement process is one of the primary challenges of going with in-wall speakers over their freestanding counterparts. You can play around with latter all you like, but there’s no room for experimentation with in-wall models: you have to make sure it’s just right the first time around.

On the flip side, it’s easier for homeowners who aren’t as handy to run wires on the outside of the wall instead.

Most of you will install your speakers in a family room, a bedroom, or a home cinema. However, since they take up little to no space, the placement possibilities are far more wide-ranging. You can set up a nice system in a laundry room, a hallway, a mudroom, or even a bathroom (though if you do choose a bathroom, make sure your unit is resistant to moisture).

While hiring a professional certainly can’t hurt, you can be successful in this endeavor if you do your homework. It’s all about creating and executing a clear plan of action.

One key consideration is how you will run the wires. As previously mentioned, a quality in-wall speaker system will add value to a home — and a system that conceals wires behind the wall can be quite aesthetically pleasing. On the flip side, it’s easier for homeowners who aren’t as handy to run wires on the outside of the wall instead. Once again, it’s up to you.

Once you know your wiring strategy, you’ll need to determine the specific placement location. Preferably, you will position them at ear level for when you are seated. Find the ideal location on the wall, then check for obstructions, such as wires, pipes, or studs. You will want to install your speakers between two studs.

Once you install your speakers and connect the wires, you can sit back and enjoy the fruitful sounds of your labor.

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Daniel Imperiale
Last updated on October 12, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel Imperiale holds a bachelor’s degree in writing, and proudly fled his graduate program in poetry to pursue a quiet life at a remote Alaskan fishery. After returning to the contiguous states, he took up a position as an editor and photographer of the prestigious geek culture magazine “Unwinnable” before turning his attention to the field of health and wellness. In recent years, he has worked extensively in film and music production, making him something of a know-it-all when it comes to camera equipment, musical instruments, recording devices, and other audio-visual hardware. Daniel’s recent obsessions include horology (making him a pro when it comes to all things timekeeping) and Uranium mining and enrichment (which hasn’t proven useful just yet).

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