In Ceiling Speakers are in demand and for CE installers this is profit territory.
The past five years have seen a dramatic move toward a more design-focused hi-fi environment. The explosion of affordable, simple and stylish European furnishings, and mind-broadening television programmes, has made us become far more design conscious. We are spending more time and money on the interior and exterior finishing of our homes, especially where it concerns hi-fi speakers.
Often these large pieces of furniture take up a fair amount of space, and all too frequently tantalise little fingers with their shiny tweeters! Consequently, there has been a distinct move towards reducing large hi-fi units into a system that offers the same musical benefits whilst complimenting a stylish, minimalist home. In-ceiling speakers have become increasingly popular due to the fact that superb results can be achieved without
them encroaching on your living space. This is particularly relevant to newly-built houses and apartments, where part of the appeal is the speakers’ potential to be placed and positioned into any ceiling in any room.
In-ceiling speakers are all fundamentally the same – they are designed primarily for use with audiovisual material, although they can reproduce two-channel music with as much ease. The biggest factors affecting the performance and frequency response of the in-ceiling speaker are the size and rigidity of the cavity in which it is placed. For consistency therefore, it is worth considering an in-ceiling speaker that is fitted with a sealed rigid back box, provided of course that the ceiling cavity can take such a unit. Another factor that can affect the speaker’s performance is if it is poorly fixed, so it is worth considering how easily and firmly your chosen speaker can be fitted.
The Monitor Audio CP series loudspeakers for example, will accommodate walls and ceilings whose depth is between 9mm and 32mm. A secure fixing for the speaker/back-box is made by simply tightening the fixing clamps, and cable connections are made via gold-plated ‘push’ type terminals. Each CP speaker is supplied with a paintable grille, cut-out template, two grille membranes – one for use during painting and the other as a clean replacement – and two spare baffle fixing screws.
Just as with any conventional floor standing speaker, positioning of the in-ceiling speaker can affect how well the signal is heard. It is therefore important to consider this from the outset, since, having just been fitted flush to a ceiling, the speakers cannot then be towed into position! Ceiling speakers conventionally only fire the sound straight down, so to improve on this, many products are adopting a pivotal tweeter and/or pivotal bass unit. This means that if you cannot sit directly beneath your speaker, you can pivot it to direct the signal in the direction of your seating arrangement and thus improve your enjoyment. There are even complementary subwoofers available, which are nearly always placed in walls.
A number of different configurations are available, ranging from 4-5″ speakers to larger 8-10″ ones. While larger speakers tend to offer higher power and greater frequency response at the low end, they will obviously require a larger hole. If space saving is required, you can purchase a stereo speaker in one unit, comprising a single driver with two separate coils and two tweeters. This works by having one coil of the driver connected to the left channel, and one to the right. One of the tweeters is connected to the left channel, and one to the right. Simple. This design lends itself perfectly to applications where you only require one unit but would like to have stereo output from it, such as in a hallway, bathroom or kitchen.
In-ceiling speakers are potentially versatile, and future developments could include motorised pivoting systems that incorporate the automatic digital set-up systems normally found in high-end sub woofers. They could have remote sensors, which would allow the speaker to follow you around the room, allowing for optimum musical clarity. Another possible development would be to incorporate wireless technology in ceiling systems, making them easier to retrofit.
When thinking of investing in a system, one should consider the material/thickness of the ceiling/wall you want to place the speaker into, the actual speaker technology being used and most importantly, whether they fit easily or not.
Whichever system is chosen, the benefits of a speaker system that is integrated in the ceilings and walls of your home are clear. You can maximise your living space and have exceptional sound from a source that is hidden away. Indeed some in-ceiling speakers allow you to maintain the design and feel of an interior by having rigid plastic frames and pressed metal grilles that can be painted. This also allows the customer and installer greater flexibility when it comes to speaker positioning, given that joists can sometimes get in the way!
Michael Johnson is the Marketing Executive for British loudspeaker manufacturer Monitor Audio Ltd.