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What are Ceiling Speakers?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2016
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Ceiling speakers are speakers which are designed to be mounted in a ceiling. The speakers use the cavity in the ceiling as a speaker cabinet, which can translate into great resonance and excellent bass tones. There are a number of reasons to install ceiling speakers, ranging from a desire to have a low-profile audio system which works throughout the house, to not wanting to waste floor space with big floor speakers. Many electronics stores sell ceiling speakers, and they can also be ordered through specialty suppliers.

To install ceiling speakers, a hole for the speaker must be cut into the ceiling, and the speaker also needs to be wired. Many companies recommend the use of high-grade speaker wire, since pulling the wire out for maintenance and replacement can be challenging, and wire which frays or breaks could start a fire or cause electrical problems. The wire is run from the speaker to the area in the house where the amplifier will be located, which can require some construction experience, depending on the distance between the amplifier and the speakers.

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The grills of ceiling speakers are designed to be painted, allowing homeowners to camouflage them with the paint used for the ceiling. The speakers may also rotate in their housing so that the sound can be precisely directed at a particular location. For people who enjoy premium sound, the ability to move a speaker to create a “sweet spot” in a room or house is critical. Small rooms can be outfitted with a single stereo input speaker, which provides stereo sound from a single unit, albeit with less quality, and rooms like kitchens and bathrooms can be equipped with moisture resistant ceiling speakers so that the speakers are not damaged.

There are several things to consider when purchasing ceiling speakers. The first is the power handling. If a speaker has a low wattage rating and the amplifier has a high rating, the speakers could potentially blow out, which is very undesirable. While the amplifier will not put out maximum power all the time, it is still important to have speakers which can potentially handle the max power, just in case someone decides to turn the volume up high for a little rocking out.

The sensitivity rating is another important issue. This is usually expressed in decibels, as in “88 db.” The higher the sensitivity rating, the more efficient the speaker. Speakers with high sensitivity ratings use less power, and they can be paired with a low-powered amp to produce a surprisingly high volume of sound. Sensitivity ratings are logarithmic, with a three decibel difference requiring half as much power. In other words, if an 88 db speaker needs 100 watts to achieve the desired volume level, a 91 db speaker will need 50 watts.

Finally, speaker buyers should consider the frequency response range. A minimal range will mean a decrease in sound quality, as the speaker will fail to transmit very low or high frequency sounds, which can translate to a corresponding lack of enjoyment of the music; classical pieces, for example, often have very subtle low bass tones which have a substantial impact on the mood of the music. The wider the range, the more sounds will be audible. For extra oomph, a subwoofer can be installed.

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