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What Is an in-Ceiling Subwoofer?

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  • Written By: Amy Rodriguez
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 02 September 2016
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An in-ceiling subwoofer is a ceiling mounted speaker specially designed for producing low frequencies of bass. Many music enthusiasts enjoy the bass and drum vibrations provided by a common subwoofer, but they do not have the space to house a large speaker box. The ceiling installation removes the speaker from view, generating the desired sound for a smaller home.

These hidden subwoofers can vary in diameter, commonly between 8 and 12 inches (20 to 30.5 cm). The opening in the ceiling can be circular to match the subwoofer's front protective grill. As an alternative, many in-ceiling subwoofer manufacturers are designing the speaker grill's shape to mimic air conditioning vent openings. The speaker is completely hidden with this vent opening design, allowing the homeowner to integrate the speaker into the decor without compromising the appearance or style of the room.

The speaker should be controlled by an external amplifier after the in-ceiling subwoofer is securely installed. The amplifier has bass controls for altering the speaker's output, but even at high volumes, the ceiling should not shake during subwoofer operation. Adjustments to the amplifier will ensure that the emitted bass is enjoyable, preventing unnecessary and excessive vibration through the ceiling's structure.

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The acoustics within the ceiling cavity provide more space for sound vibration. A subwoofer installed within the ceiling will generate stronger bass frequencies, compared to a standard enclosed subwoofer speaker. Installers should verify that the in-ceiling subwoofer is fastened tightly to the home with screws. The constant sound vibrations may slowly loosen the screws over time if the hardware is not tightened down initially.

Hiding electronic components in the ceiling requires specific speaker wire for connecting the subwoofer to the amplifier controller. The speaker wire must be thickly insulated for preventing overheating. Overheated wires within ceiling structures can possibly cause a fire hazard. The subwoofer installer should confirm that the speaker wire does not have any exterior cracks or holes to prevent any fire hazard possibility.

In-ceiling subwoofers are not typically offered in larger diameter sizes. Unlike boxed subwoofer designs, in-ceiling subwoofer designers must consider the speaker's shape compared to the structure's supportive truss spacing. The speaker must fit in between the wood trusses without bending the subwoofer's cone shape. A warped subwoofer will produce an unappealing bass sound.

Installers will typically determine the best in-ceiling subwoofer positioning based on the room's furniture design and the owner's desires. Some listeners enjoy a sharp and loud bass, requiring the speaker to be installed directly above a sitting area. Other listeners would like a more subtle bass, and request that the speaker be installed farther away from the main sitting area.

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