​Top Rated Reviews of 2019: Best In Ceiling Speakers

Thinking of installing in-ceiling speakers?

Good, but I sure hope you know what you’re doing. 

My first experience with these speakers turned into a very expensive regret. Everything I chose was wrong - the type of speakers, the placement, and the wiring. 

Eventually, I got it right, but I had to learn the hard way, so with this in mind, I decided to write this article. 

Do you want to use the ceiling speakers for your home theater or for listening to music? How much money can you spend? Are you interested in the wall mount option?

These are just some of the questions that you need to answer before making your final decision.

I want to teach you how to pick the best in-ceiling speakers for your needs and what features to look for so that you can avoid the frustration and mistakes that many go through when buying these products. 

You can read all about this (and more) in today’s article, so without further ado - let’s get into it!

In a hurry? The test winner after 20 hours of research:

best in ceiling speakers - Klipsch CDT-5650-C- II

Why is it better?

  • ​Exquisite sound quality
  • Excellent dispersion
  • Adjustable woofer position
  • Built from top-quality materials
95/100
our score
sourses

27

Researched sources

282

REviews considered

20

hours researching

31

products compared

Last Updated: November 1, 2019

By Barry Allen: This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information regarding best in ceiling speakers available for those who are interested in enhancing their audio experience in home environment. The best 5 available have changed, and information has been added to assist individuals in finding the in-ceiling speakers currently available on the market. The FAQ has also been updated.

Top 3 In-Ceiling Speakers On The Market

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Picking out the best in-ceiling speakers for 2019/20

As I’ve mentioned before, installation of these speakers can be a risky process since the result will be a permanent fixture in your ceiling. 

This is why you need to be 100% certain that you’ve picked the right type of ceiling speakers for you.

In the following paragraphs, you can read about which features you need to pay attention to when making your purchase.

Two-way or three-way

I know what you’re thinking:

 “What in the world does two-way/three-way mean!?

Bear with me; I’ll explain it in a bit.

It’s actually not that complicated. The numbers two and three refer to a number of drivers within a speaker system.

By drivers, I am referring to “mini speakers” within the large speaker, each of which is made to reproduce certain sounds from the overall spectrum. 

A system that contains two drivers is called a two-way, and the one with three drivers is a three-way.

What’s the purpose of these multiple drivers?

As you probably know, sound can be divided into frequencies that go from low to high, so each driver is designed to play a specific range of frequencies. 

For example, a three-way speaker has three drivers:

  1. a woofer that plays low-frequency sounds, 
  2. a middle driver that plays mid-range frequencies, 
  3. a tweeter that reproduces high frequencies.

Ok, so which is better, two-way or three-way?

Now this question causes a lot of debate, and never seems to get a precise answer. However, there is some common ground among audiophiles, and it goes something like this.

A high-end three-way speaker is better than a high end two-way, in terms of sound quality, but it’s also significantly pricier. 

If you’ve got enough cash to spend, go for a three-way, but if you’re on a budget, you’ve got two options:

  1. buy a mediocre three-way speaker with good, but not the top-notch sound quality
  2. buy a high end two-way for the same price and get a similar (or better) sound quality

I know that I’m giving you a partial answer right now, and as much as I hate to do that, it’s the best that I’ve got. 

Also, I’m aware that my suggestion is probably going to get criticized by many who think otherwise, but that’s just the nature of the “two-way vs three-way” argument. 

Don’t get too carried away by thinking about this issue. Instead, see what the online community has to say about a particular model, its audio quality, etc., and let that guide you through the decision-making process.

What size should you get?

When it comes to in-ceiling speakers, size does matter. More about this later on.

The most common ceiling speakers sizes that you’ll find are 6.5 inches and 8 inches. However, this does not refer to the overall size of the speaker, just the cone, so you can add an inch or two to get the full diameter of the product.

So, why does size matter?

Well, bigger speakers can push out more air which will give a significant boost to the bass, and give them the ability to cover bigger rooms with their sound.

On the other hand, smaller speakers are suitable for compact spaces, but their bass reproduction isn’t as good. The great thing about smaller models is that they are less visible than the larger ones, so they can be barely noticeable when installed. 

If you’re looking to improve your home theater or even listen to music around the house, then 6.5 should do it for you. Those in need of some more low-end power should definitely look into the 8-inch models.

I almost forgot to mention that size will also influence the price, so don’t be surprised if a bigger model costs a few extra bucks.

Installation - Which wires to use?

Besides cutting out the holes in the ceiling, the second most laborious task when installing these speakers is running the wires. Ok, running them might not be that hard, but picking the right one sure is tricky.

In case you didn’t know, most in-ceiling or wall speakers aren’t sold with wires in the package, but it’s up to you to buy them separately. People who don’t have any previous experience with this might find this task daunting, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not that bad. 

Before I say anything more, I want to point out that all the wires you use need to be approved for in-wall installation. Look for UL-rated wires with a label CL2/CL3 as those are flame resistant.

After you’ve calculated how much wire you need, it’s time to look at all the details. 

Let’s see how it's done.

First, you need to figure out the wire gauge. Basically, this is a fancy term for wire thickness, and it goes from 12 to 18 (lower number = thicker wire). 

The gauge that you’ll be needing is determined by the length of the run, with lower gauges being used for long runs and higher gauges for short ones. If your run is shorter than 50 feet, feel free to go for a gauge of 16.

Second, figure out if you want/need a wire with or without connectors. I’d recommend you get the type with connectors because it’s much easier to plug into your sound system.

Third, choose between two or four-conductor cables. A four-conductor cable will allow you to connect two speakers by running only one cable through your wall/ceiling, which can be a significant time and effort saver. 

However, sometimes it’s necessary to use two separate cables, so choose the kind that suits your particular speaker positioning and setup.

Frequency response

Before I start throwing fancy terms around, I’d like to say explain why frequency response matters.

You see, this particular characteristic has an impact on the overall quality of sound that a speaker can put out. If you’re not an audiophile, you shouldn’t care too much about it, but if you are, read these paragraphs carefully.

Frequency response is measured in Hz. This unit is very handy because we use it to determine the range of frequencies can the human ear pick up. Most people with healthy eardrums should be able to hear anything between 20Hz and 20kHz.

Ok, fair enough, but how does this translate to speakers’ sound quality? 

Let’s find out.

Different speakers have different frequency response ranges; some go from, say, 35Hz to 20kHz, while others range from 60Hz to 20kHz.

So which one should you go for?

You guessed it - you’ll want the speakers with the broader frequency response range

The reason for this is that the more frequencies a speaker can reproduce, the fuller the sound will be, and the better the listening experience.

This means that a speaker with a bottom range of 30Hz has a much better low end than a model with a base range of 60Hz.

Like I’ve said, the frequency response is about finesse, and it should matter more to audiophiles than folks who need these speakers to watch movies. 

Power handling

If you want to avoid accidentally blowing out your brand new speakers, it is essential to know what’s the amount of power that they can handle.

Power handling is expressed in Watts (W), and it usually looks something like this: 

  • 20 -100W 
  • 20 - 350W

The numbers vary from model to model, but you’ve got the picture.

Let’s take the first example - this speaker has a minimum power handling of 20W and a maximum of 100W, and you need this information when considering which receiver or amplifier you should use to drive the speakers. 

So, for this particular speaker, a receiver with 100 RMS will be a good fit. If you connect it to something with higher power output (more than 100W), you’re putting the speaker at risk. 

Pay attention to these numbers because doing otherwise might result in one expensive repair (or replacement).

Shape of the speakers

When it comes to shapes, you can choose between round and square speakers, with the former being predominant. 

Unlike size, speaker shape doesn’t matter so much in terms of sound, but it matters a great deal regarding aesthetics.

For example, round speakers tend to appear smaller even if their diameter is the same length as a rectangle speakers’ diagonal. It is, perhaps, for this reason that the majority of people opt for the round design.

Round speakers fit well into the rooms that already have some circular fixtures, such as lights or decorations. As a matter of fact, I would even say that they just integrate better into any ceiling compared to square ones. They are also more common in surround sound systems.

Squares are most often seen as in-wall speakers, but they can be installed into the ceiling as well. If you feel that such a shape would suit your room more than the circle, then go for it.

Best In-Ceiling Speakers of 2019/20

Now that we’ve learned all the important details you need to look out for, it’s time to take a look at some of the top models on today’s market. 

In the following sections, you will find detailed and carefully constructed reviews of the best in-ceiling speakers that I was able to identify, so all that’s left for you to do is read them and pick the one that resonates with you!

1. ​​Klipsch CDT-5650-C II - Best Overall

best in-ceiling speakers buying guide - Klipsch CDT-5650-C II

Our Rating: 95/100

Klipsch is a name that needs no special introduction, especially in the world of audiophiles. It is one of the leaders in the field of consumer audio and offers a wide variety of high-end speakers. 

What does all this mean for CDT-5650-C II?

It means that high expectations are placed upon it. Fortunately, this model lives up to those expectations, and in this review, I’m going to explain what makes these speakers so good.

The design

Klipsch CDT-5650-C II is a 6.5-inch speaker, which is a perfect size for use at home. It is a two-way speaker, and its drivers include a 1” titanium tweeter, and a 6.5” cerametallic woofer

Now, the materials that these components are made from, do two several important things: they decrease the overall weight, improve flexibility/strength, and make the sound quality exquisite. 

They are one of the main reasons why this product is so pricey, but also why its quality is so high.

The overall diameter of the speaker is 9.5”, and its height is 4.5”. The speaker is covered with a white grille and is not available in any other colors.

Just like most ceiling and wall mount speakers, this model has a very simplistic look, which is (in my opinion) a positive thing.

Installation of these speakers should not be an issue. You’ll get a template in the package that’ll guide you through the process, or you can take a look at the detailed instructions on Klipsch’s website.

The performance

The real gem here is the woofer’s ability to shift 15 degrees in any direction, and thus let you direct the sound wherever you need it. The company calls this Controlled Dispersion Technology, and it is what makes Klipsch stand out from the crowd.

To put it differently, good dispersion means the sound covers the room even if it hasn’t been ideally positioned or directed towards the listener. This clever technology will make speaker placement much easier as you won’t have to worry about making it perfect.

The sound that comes out of the speaker is hi-def, with clear highs and a very solid low-end. The speakers have attenuation switches for treble and midbass which gives you the ability to fine-tune the sound

Also, this model has a frequency response of 60Hz-23kHz and can handle power up to 100W.

Pros

  • ​The titanium tweeter and cerametallic woofer reproduce a clear sound
  • Attenuation switches for treble and midbass
  • Woofer can be shifted 15 degrees in any direction
  • Excellent dispersion

Cons

  • You get only one speaker for the price

Verdict

Overall, Klipsch CDT-5650-C II is a great purchase for a first-time buyer who wants to get a top-quality product that justifies its price with the performance.

If you want to equip a room with ceiling speakers, you will need to buy several of these, which isn’t going to be cheap, but will be worth it. 

Could it be better? 

Yes. The low end could use a slight boost, and if you’d like that, you can get a subwoofer from Klipsch too.

2. Polk Audio RC80i - A Close Second

best in ceiling speakers buying guide - Polk Audio RC80i

Our Rating: 93/100

Here we have actually one of the most popular in-ceiling speakers on Amazon right now, and it earned its fame due to its combination of quality and affordability. 

The manufacturer also offers various speaker combinations so it shouldn’t be hard to find the one that you like. 

Ok, it’s time to dissect this model and see what it’s all about.

The design

RC80i is a two-way speaker, and its construction includes two main components - a 1” metallic soft dome tweeter, and a woofer. The dynamic-balance woofer features a mineral-filled polymer cone and a composite driver basket, and it’s available in two sizes ( 6.5” and 8”). 

The tweeter also comes with a 15-degree swivel mount so you can direct it to wherever you need it. This will allow you to set the direction from which the high sounds come, and this can make a huge difference when watching movies.

Appearance-wise, RC80i looks very simple with just a plain white grille so that it can blend in with your ceiling. The high-quality casing makes the construction of the product feel very sturdy and long-lasting.

It’s important to note that this model can be installed in moist areas like bathrooms or saunas as it has a moisture-resistant construction. A quick disclaimer: moisture-resistant does not equal to water-resistant, so install them in a location where they will not get splashed.

The performance 

These speakers have a frequency response of 35Hz-20kHz, and they can handle power from 20 to 100W. Their highs are crisp, the mids are clean, and the bass is more than decent. The thing that this model lacks the most is the mid-low frequency. 

Of course, you can’t expect a fantastic low end without a subwoofer, but unless you need a pair of party speakers, you’ll be satisfied with RC80i.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, you can use these speakers in combinations with various others. For example, a pair of 8” with a subwoofer, or an 8” and a 6.5”. This opens the door to many different applications, and it’s up to you to decide what you need.

Pros

  • ​Available in different sizes and combinations
  • The rubber cover makes it moisture resistant
  • Comes at a very competitive price
  • Includes a 15-degree swivel mount

Cons

  • The bass reproduction isn’t the greatest
  • The sound is a bit unidirectional (suboptimal dispersion)

Verdict

So, who are these speakers for and how to best utilize their potential? 

I would recommend RC80i to people looking to install speakers throughout their house because they are affordable and can reproduce a high-quality sound.

You’ve got it; you’ll get hi-def audio and won’t spend a fortune on it.

Besides this, folks who want in-ceiling speakers in their bathroom, indoor swimming pool, or any other wet area shouldn’t think twice about this model. The chances are that you will not find a better product for the purpose.

3. ​Micca M-8C - The Budget Solution

best in ceiling speakers buying guide - Polk Audio RC80i

Our Rating: 88/100

If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, look no further than Micca M-8C. These speakers are a part of Micca’s M series, which aims to provide the world with quality in-ceiling and in-wall speakers at the lowest price possible. 

Just how much cheaper these speakers than the rest? We’ll learn about that in a minute. 

The real question that you want to be asking is - are they worth beating up your ceiling for? I’d say that they are, but I’ll leave the judgement up to you once you learn more about them.

The design

Same as the previous two models, M-8C is a two-way speaker system. It features an 8” poly-woofer with a 1” soft dome tweeter, so this is nothing out of the ordinary. 

Now, what’s good to know is that the tweeter can pivot, meaning that it can be configured in many ways. For instance, you can have it in stereo mode or even create a custom configuration (if you know how to do it). 

The overall diameter of the speaker is 10.7”, it’s 4.2” deep, and it is covered with a paintable white grille. 

The installation is simple, but some users experienced some problems with the mounting tabs, as they shifted when they tried to screw the speaker into the drywall.

The performance 

The sound that these speakers reproduce is shockingly good, and I mean in general, not just in their price range. The highs and mids are delightful, and the bass is so satisfying.

If you want more low ends, you can buy a wall mount subwoofer from Micca and pair it with these speakers.

Remember to direct the pivoting tweeter towards the listener because this will make a significant difference. Another benefit of such a tweeter is the improved sound dispersion which is vital for a satisfying listening experience.

The downside of M-8C is that the high end might sound a bit shrieky at times when played at very high volumes. This could be due to the fact that the tweeter is made from silk, but I can’t say for sure.

When it comes to power, each speaker can handle up to 100W, so that you know which receiver to pair it with.

Pros

  • ​Sold at a price that’s hard to beat
  • The pivoting tweeter enables custom configuration
  • High-quality sound reproduction
  • Can be paired with in-wall subwoofers

Cons

  • High-end frequencies can sound shrieky at times
  • Reports of installation difficulties

Verdict

I sincerely doubt that you will be able to find a speaker of this quality at such a low price (several times lower than other brands with similar quality). Note that the amount that you see on the website is the price for only one speaker.

When it comes to applications, there’s nothing that M-8C cannot handle. Install it in your home theater for a full surround sound system, or in any other room in your house. In case you need more bass, get one of Micca’s subwoofers, and you will be all set.

4. ​Acoustic Audio CS-IC83
- Great Choice For Home Theater -

best in ceiling speakers roundup - Acoustic Audio CS-IC83

Our Rating: 85/100

Do you want to equip your home theater with a surround sound system? Or perhaps, you’d like to cover your entire house/apartment with in-ceiling speakers (for a reasonable cost)?

Well, Acoustic Audio CS-IC83 might just be what you need.

But why this particular product? 

I’ll tell you why. This is the only brand that offers not one, not two, but five in-ceiling speakers for a very low price. Of course, the quality is there as well; otherwise, I wouldn’t put them in my article.

The design

The first thing that you need to know is that, unlike the previous three products, CS-IC83 features a three-way design. If you remember from earlier in the article, this means that one more driver is present within the speakers. 

The main components of the speakers are:

  • 13mm poly dome tweeters
  • Poly-Mica midrange drivers
  • 8” propylene woofers

Like many other speakers of this kind, CS-IC83 also have a paintable white metal grille used to protect the inner components. 

The speakers can be installed in both ceilings and walls, and this can be done using regular tools that most households have. They have low-profile housing which makes installation that much easier

When cutting out holes for the speakers, make sure that they aren’t too small, because a very tight fit might warp the screen cover.

One other advantage of this set is that it can be installed outdoors too, thanks to its all-weather design. Patios, pools, decks - you name it, and CS-IC83 has got you covered.

The performance 

In terms of performance, the speakers have a frequency response from 40Hz to 20kHz, while the recommended power for each is from 20 to 350W

I’ve mentioned its three-way design, but what does this mean regarding its audio quality?

Frankly, not much. As I’ve said before, a high-end two-way speaker will have a better sound than an affordable three-way, which is definitely the case if you compare CS-IC83 to my overall winner of the roundup, the Klipsch’s model.

Don’t get me wrong, Acoustic Audio’s speakers do reproduce a sound of excellent quality, and 90% of the population should be entirely happy with it. They will do wonders if you use them as a 5.1 surround sound system (which is what I highly recommend them for).

There is a noticeable lack of deep, throbbing bass, but this is not of enormous importance when watching movies or playing music in the background. Also, the fact that you’ll get five speakers for this price is more than a good reason to acquire this set.

Pros

  • ​You get five speakers for a very good price
  • Perfect for a home theater surround sound system
  • The installation is simple

Cons

  • Considerable lack of low ends
  • The grille might need extra grip (it falls off sometimes)

Verdict

All in all, Acoustic Audio CS-IC83 offers excellent quality for the price. Of course, you need to understand that the audio reproduction is far from top-notch, but it’s still, nevertheless, very good. 

Again, I’d like to point out the benefits of getting five separate speakers in one package. I believe there’s no need to tell you about all the possibilities that you have with such an offer.

5. Polk Audio RC65i 
- A Fan Favorite -

Our Rating: 82/100

Here we have yet another Polk Audio product, and this can surely tell you just how relevant this company is in the current market. When it comes to sound and power, the RC65i is a step down in regards to RC80i, but it is still a fantastic product

It’s also crucial to mention that RC65i is an in-wall speaker, not an in-ceiling one. This will probably throw off some readers right away, but I’d advise you to read the entire review before making your judgement.

The design

Unlike the in-ceiling circular design, this pair of speakers sports a rectangular look with rounded edges. If you take off the grille and look at their front side, they look just like regular desktop speakers (but without the box). 

When it comes to drivers, RC65i are two-way speakers that have a 6.5” woofer and a 0.75” swivel mount tweeter. The smaller size of the drivers is the main reason why this model doesn’t pack as much power as the RC80i. 

The speakers’ dimensions are 2.9 x 8.7 x 12.1 inches (D x W x H), so they are not that bigger than most in-ceiling speakers that I presented today.

One installation tip - if you’re placing these speakers high up on the wall (above 6 feet) - flip them upside down. 

The speakers can be installed in both ceilings and walls, and this can be done using regular household tools. They have low-profile housing which makes installation that much easier. 

When cutting out holes for the speakers, make sure that they aren’t too small, because a very tight fit might warp the screen cover.

One other advantage of this set is that it can be installed outdoors too, thanks to its all-weather design. Patios, pools, decks - you name it, and CS-IC83 has got you covered.

The performance 

Thanks to the swivel-mounted tweeter, RC65i has a very good dispersion. Their frequency response is 60Hz-20kHz, while the recommended power goes from 20-100W.

The sound that you get out of them is balanced and clear, but not the highest quality. As you’ve probably guessed, it lacks some bass, and you’ll need an extra subwoofer if you want a deep low end.

All this means that these speakers are suitable for movies and your everyday TV shows, but not ideal for audiophiles. 

Also, given that you only get two 6.5” speakers in the package, the sound coverage is surprisingly thorough. This is thanks to the dynamic balance woofer and its ability to create excellent dispersion.

To put this into perspective, they are able to cover a large living room without any problems.

Pros

  • ​Two speakers for a competitive price
  • Swivel mounted tweeter provides great dispersion
  • Decent sound quality

Cons

  • Not for audiophiles (lacks bass)
  • Hard to remove the grille
  • Mounting parts are not the best quality

Verdict

If you, for some reason, prefer in-wall to in-ceiling speakers then RC65i would be a good pick for you. The price is more than reasonable, and the sound quality is satisfactory.

You have to understand that you won’t get top-level audio from these speakers, but unless you are a hardcore audiophile, I’m sure that you won’t mind.

Best In Ceiling Speakers - Frequently Asked Questions

Below, you’ll find some frequently asked questions about in-ceiling speakers. The answers will hopefully resolve any dilemmas that you might have. 

It can’t hurt if you check them out!

Q: How many speakers are enough for one room?

A: For an average-sized room, two speakers should be more than enough. Bigger rooms will require more, with very big spaces needing around four speakers (one in each corner) to get full sound coverage. Very small spaces like most people’s bathrooms or kitchens should be fine with just a single speaker.

Q: How far apart should I set the speakers?

A: This question doesn’t have a precise answer because it depends on the purpose of the speakers. 

If you’re installing speakers for background music, make sure that they are plentiful (at least four in one room) and you should place them in the corners. Every speaker should be on the same distance from the walls of the corner.

For a home movie theater, two speakers should do the job. Place them above where you’ll be sitting so that every speaker is close to one end of the seating area.

Q: How much money should I spend on ceiling speakers?

A: If you’re an audiophile who wants the best possible audio reproduction, the more money you spend, the better quality you’ll be able to get. High-end models can be bought from $100 to several hundred per speaker.

On the other hand, if you’re installing speakers for a home theater and background music, feel free to look into some more affordable models (under $100). 

Don’t be fooled into thinking that cheap speakers will sound like trash. This is not the case, as many reputable brands specifically design models to be affordable and still have excellent audio quality.

You can find such models in the roundup!

Q: Can I install ceiling speakers in my bathroom?

A: Yes, but only if you buy the type that is moisture resistant.

Q: Is a subwoofer necessary?

A: No, it isn’t, but it is highly recommended. No matter if you want to enjoy films or your favorite tunes, having a subwoofer will make a world of difference.

It will provide you with low-frequency sounds (bass) that ceiling speakers struggle to reproduce simply because of their size.

Q: How often should ceiling speakers be replaced?

A: The only instance where replacement is needed is if a speaker blows out or gets damaged. Other than that, you’re good to go for an indefinite number of years. 

Speakers weren’t always this durable, but new technologies that big brands use definitely create some durable speakers.

Another reason to replace your speakers is, of course, if you get tired of them and want to upgrade to a newer/better model.

After it's all said and done, we recommend:

best in ceiling speakers - Klipsch CDT-5650-C- II

Why is it better?

  • ​Exquisite sound quality
  • Excellent dispersion
  • Adjustable woofer position
  • Built from top-quality materials
95/100
our score

Congrats! You’ve made it to the end of this article. 

You’ve seen just how tough the competition is and how many great products there are, but there can be only one winner. After lots of consideration, I decided to crown Klipsch CDT-5650-C II as the kind of this roundup.

The reason?

Incredible sound quality; one class higher than all the others.

In case you think that this one isn’t for you, feel free to try one of the remaining products, as they’re all very, very good.



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