Are you looking to use your in-ceiling speakers in the wall, instead of in the ceiling? Since they serve similar purposes and are built similarly, you may be wondering if they are interchangeable.
Can you use in-ceiling speakers in the wall? Yes, in-ceiling speakers are able to be used in the wall, and they will produce very similar sound to in-wall speakers. The major difference you’ll notice is the size.
In-wall speakers are typically larger than in-ceiling speakers. Using ceiling speakers in a wall instead of wall speakers may actually hide the speakers better as a result of their size. But there are pros and cons to think about when considering this setup.
The Size & Shape of In-Ceiling and In-Wall Speakers
The biggest difference between in-ceiling speakers and in-wall speakers is the shape and size of the two (our sizing guide), which directly impacts the sound that they produce. We have another article on whether you need an amplifier for your ceiling speakers, and you’ll want to reference that too, but for now, let’s look at what sets in-ceiling and in-wall speakers apart.
In-ceiling speakers like the Polk Audio RC80i (on Amazon) are circular, and they are manufactured to fit nested neatly into your ceiling. Ceiling speakers are made to stay out of sight, since they are installed above your head, and at a glance, they can appear to be recessed lights.
They are fairly small, with the most popular size being 6.5 inches in diameter. This size helps them blend in with your decor, but it can provide a less-powerful, narrower sound field, due to a small enclosure size.
Meanwhile, in-wall speakers like the Polk Audio RC85i (also on Amazon) are rectangular and are placed inside the walls. They can fit on any wall and be placed anywhere within a wall: high, low, in the middle – you name it. You can easily customize the placement to create the best sound for your space.
The speakers are very similar to the typical size and design of left and right channel speakers, so they are able to be used like so. They can also be used as rear speaker channels throughout the room, supporting a more robust surround sound system (which we have another article on here).
Using In-Ceiling Speakers in a Wall
Although in-ceiling speakers can, in fact, be used in a wall, there are a few drawbacks of using them in this way.
In-ceiling speakers are focused on providing high-quality sound that comes downwards from the ceiling to provide more height to your sound experience. High power and a broad soundscape are not their strong suit.
In-wall speakers are designed to provide a more powerful, room-filling sound, so if you are wanting a highly immersive sound experience, you may not be blown away by the sound of your ceiling speakers in the walls.
Less Powerful Sound
Wall speakers are installed with the woofers pointed parallel through the room, which makes them horizontal-firing and allows sound to travel across the room. In-ceiling speakers are installed with the sound pointing downwards from the ceiling and are downward-firing.
With these issues in mind, it is cost-effective to use your in-ceiling speakers in the wall, and the downfalls may not be a big deal when compared to buying a set of new in-wall speakers for a few hundred dollars.
In-Ceiling vs. In-Wall
If you’re weighing the two and figuring out what exactly they are all about, each of these types of speakers have their pros and cons. The right decision for you depends on your expectations and goals. When it comes down to it, they each combine both style and functionality to shower the room with a pleasant and enjoyable sound.
Pros and Cons of Using In-Ceiling Speakers
In-ceiling speakers are more hidden and help provide a new dimension to your sound, just make sure you don’t disrupt the sound flow by insulation or other extraneous materials (our guide). However, they have a thinner sound field and more speakers are needed to produce a great sound.
- Invisibility – In-ceiling speakers do not improve the quality of your sound system, but they are best for keeping your speakers out of eyesight. In-ceiling speakers are not made to be looked at but to be listened to. In-ceiling speakers are compact and smaller when compared to wall speakers.
- Multi-Dimensional Sound System – In-ceiling speakers help provide a new dimension to your sound and create a better sound system. In-ceiling speakers help you get the same dimensional sound that is heard in the movie theaters in your home.
- Thin Sound Field – In-ceiling speakers are small, and since they are typically compact in size (around 6.5 inches), they have a weaker sound field with less powerful drivers.
- More Speakers Are Needed – It’s best to get several speakers when choosing to purchase in-ceiling speakers, since they have a narrower sound field. More speakers can mean a greater hassle when wiring and hole drilling, but it can pay off with more robust sound.
Pros and Cons of Using In-Wall Speakers
In-wall speakers have the benefit of more and larger drivers to provide a larger sound stage, and they can be placed on any wall. With the large sound stage, however, they are a little bulky when compared to ceiling speakers.
- Broader, Better Sound – Since in-wall speakers are larger, they have room for extra features and sound technology. In-wall speakers give the large sound stage needed to fill the room and perform better as a whole when compared to in-ceiling speakers.
- Flexibility – These speakers are perfect for any kind of wall, so they are flexible in placement. They can be installed in the sides, the back, or the front of the room.
- Large in Size – In-wall speakers are large, which can make placement a problem for smaller rooms. You don’t want their size to take away from the structure of your space or ruin the vibe of the room by drawing attention.
While wall speakers are made to sound great in the wall, and ceiling speakers are made to perform great above your head, ceiling speakers can be successfully moved to the wall to add more side to side sound in your room.
Maybe you have a large number of ceiling speakers that you want to play around with the location of, or you want to completely move all of your ceiling speakers to the wall. If you love your current ceiling speakers, you may even be considering purchasing more to use within a wall at a lower price than in-wall speakers.
While they are not identical, you may not notice too much of a difference when using ceiling speakers in the wall, especially if you don’t have any in-wall speakers to begin with. And you can add more dimension to your sound at a fraction (or none) of the cost of in-wall speakers.