Speakers inside ceilings and walls save space and make a room look good. But sound gets easily transferred into the adjacent room, and that is why you need to soundproof your in-ceiling and in-wall speakers.
We all love to watch movies on a good home theater system, don’t we? Setting up a 5.1 or 7.1 home theater system for this involves a lot of speakers and wires. The speakers take up a lot of space in the room and hiding the cables is the biggest challenge.
In-wall and in-ceiling speakers are the ideal solution for this by which you can have speakers and wiring hidden inside the walls.
However, in-wall and in-ceiling speakers have certain inherent disadvantages, the first being the loss of sound quality. It is a popular notion (which is true) that the quality of sound of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers is not good because of their location.
These speakers are located in between two layers of drywall inside a cavity. The sound, which is migrating inside the cavity, will not give the listener the desired sound quality.
Sound also migrates from the in-wall speaker to the adjacent room and from the in-ceiling speaker to the room above. This is because the speakers are located very close to the exterior wall.
A friend of mine had installed speakers in the wall which had a baby’s room on the other side. He told me that he and his wife had to be very careful with the sound getting too loud and his hand was always on the remote to quickly reduce the volume whenever it would go too high during a movie scene.
If you have a similar situation in your home, then you will have to consider soundproofing your in-wall or in-ceiling speakers to enjoy your movies without having to worry about the volume.
2 Ways To Soundproof In-Wall Speakers And In-Ceiling Speakers
There are two viable options available for you or anyone who wants to soundproof in-wall and in-ceiling speakers.
Option 1 – Build Backer Boxes
The first option is to build backer boxes for your speakers. The back of an in-wall or in-ceiling speaker, which goes into the wall, is not shielded or covered. This causes transmission of sound through the exterior wall into the other room.
You will need to create an airtight enclosure so that you can contain the sound within the room itself. Your backer box should not be more than 3 inches deep for in-wall speakers and 5 inches for in-ceiling speakers. This is because most walls inside the room have 2x4 framing and the ceilings have 2x6 framing.
The procedure to build a backer box is pretty simple and here is a step by step guide to do it.
The first step is to measure the dimensions of your speaker at the back over which the backer box is going to be fixed.
Using a 2x4 wood, cut two pieces matching the length and two pieces matching the breadth of the measured dimensions of the speaker. As the speaker backer box for walls cannot be more than 3 inches, you will have to split the 2 x 4 to a width of 3 inches. For ceiling speakers, you will not have to split the 2 x 4.
Once the pieces are cut, use a nail gun or screws to fasten them and build the frame.
After the frame is ready, place it on an MDF or OSB sheet and trace out the outline of the frame with a pencil.
Using a table saw cut out the MDF or OSB along the marked lines. The cut portion will be the lid of the backer box. Fix the lid on to the frame with screws.
What you have at this point is an open-ended backer box. Drill a hole on the frame for the wires of the speaker.
Now all you have to do is put the backer box in place and fix it on the drywall. While doing so ensure that there is no air gap between the frame of the backer box and the drywall. You can seal the gaps by applying acoustic caulk and putty pads to seal the holes for wires.
How To Make The Backer Box More Soundproof
The airtight backer box over the in-wall or in-ceiling speaker will deaden the sound to a great extent. However, you can make this backer box even more useful for soundproofing.
Instead of just one layer of MDF or OSB, you can use two thin layers with damping compound sandwiched in between them.
Many home theater experts recommend two sheets of MDF or OSB with a layer of Green Glue damping compound (Amazon link) in between them. A damped box will be much more useful for soundproofing your speakers.
Option 2 – Buy Soundproof Enclosures
If you don’t want to go the DIY route, then there are options available in the market as well for ready-made soundproof enclosures dedicated for in-wall and in-ceiling speakers.
Soundproof Enclosures for In-ceiling Speakers
There are two products that I know of which have been designed for in-ceiling speakers. The first is the Dynamat 50306 DynaBox Speaker Enclosure (check prices on Amazon).
The enclosure is made by Dynamat which is the leading brand that produces sound deadening material for cars. The enclosure is filled with sound deadening materials which will help contain the sound of the speaker.
Here is a demonstration video (you can skip to 0.22 for the best part).
The second one is the Klipsch ME-800-C Speaker Enclosures. These are designed ‘for Reference Series In-Ceiling Speakers with 8″ Woofers’.
The performances of both the products or similar, so it should not make a big difference which one you choose.
In-wall Speakers Soundproof Enclosures
For in-wall speakers, there is only one product that I know of and which is famous – the Dynamat En-Wall Enclosure. These enclosures too have sound deadening materials and come with options for 4-inch and 6-inch walls.
A Comparison of Both Options
Between the two, which would be the better option to go for soundproofing in-wall or in-ceiling speakers?
In my opinion, both are good options, but with the backer box you can cut down on costs and even make it more effective than the products which have been mentioned.
With the backer box, you have the option of having two layers of material with a very effective green glue damping compound in between. You can also line the inner walls of the box with sound deadening material like the Dynamat Xtreme or the Fatmat Rattletrap (Amazon links).
However, the backer box would take up some amount of your time and effort which will be more in comparison to the readily available products.
Which option works best for you? It is for you to decide.
If you already have the speakers installed inside the walls or ceiling, then you know that the installation process requires you to cut holes in the drywall and ceiling which is not an easy task. Running of the wires internally is even more complicated.
You will have the same issues when you install the soundproof enclosures or backer boxes for your in-wall and in-ceiling speakers.
In-wall and in-ceiling speakers do make your room look neat and clean, free from the clutter of speakers and wires. However, these speakers have inherent disadvantages as far as sound quality and soundproofing are concerned.
It is better to have your speakers and wiring neatly laid out in the room instead of going for the option of having them in the walls.
If you already have the speakers installed, you probably have no choice but to go for one of the options mentioned in the article. Apart from soundproofing, a backer box or soundproof enclosure would also improve the sound quality.
So, it is definitely worth going for one of these methods for deadening sound from in-wall and in-ceiling speakers.