In wall stereo speakers are a great option for good sound quality without speaker cabinets on the floor or a shelf. When painted to match the room décor, in wall speakers virtually disappear.
This article will guide you through the steps of installing in wall speakers into an existing wall with drywall or sheetrock construction. Walls constructed of lath and plaster require different methods and will not be covered in this article.
Plan Your Project and Review Each Step
Review the installation steps, and examine your home’s design to determine the best approach to the project. You will probably need access to the attic, or a crawl space beneath your home to run speaker wires from the audio components to each in wall speaker. Consider your best options based on accessibility.
Determine Stereo Speaker Placement
- In wall speakers should be positioned at ear level when seated, usually about 38 to 42 inches from the floor.
- Locate any obstructions behind the walls, such as pipes, studs or wires by drilling a small 1/4” hole in the wall and inserting a coat hanger bent to a 90-degree angle. Move the coat hanger inside the wall to feel for any obstructions. If you find any, patch the small hole and find another location.
- Locate wall studs. In-wall speakers should be installed between wall studs. You can locate the studs by tapping on the wall, or with a stud finder.
Measure and Cut Holes for the Speakers
- Use the cut-out template. Most in wall speakers include a cut-out template. Tape the template to the wall where you want the speaker and trace an outline with a pencil. Use a level to make sure the template is properly aligned and straight.
- Cut the hole. First, drill a 1/2" hole in one inside corner of the template. Using a manual drywall saw, cut around all four edges of the cut-out and remove the piece of drywall. Don’t worry about rough edges around the cut, the speaker’s frame will cover them.
Plan Speaker Wire Installation
There are three usually three options for running speaker wires from your amp or receiver to the speakers:
- Run wires overhead in the attic space
- Run wires beneath the floor if you have a basement or raised foundation with a crawl space
- Run wires along the floor, behind the baseboards, through the wall and up to the speakers.
Consider your options by inspecting for accessibility where the wires will be installed.
Run Speaker Wires
- Running wires from an attic or basement: You may need to drill an access hole through the top or bottom plate of the wall and into the wall.
- Running wires laterally: When running wires laterally through the walls, cut small holes in the drywall with a utility knife to expose the studs and drill holes large enough for the wire. The holes in the walls only need to be 1” high and wide enough to expose both sides of the stud.
- Running wires behind baseboards: If you run wires behind the baseboards, remove the baseboards and cut a channel into the drywall for the wires and then replace the baseboards.
Install the Speakers
If want to paint the speaker frames and grilles to match the walls, paint them before you install them. Always use spray paint and mask the speaker components first.
- Connect the wires to the speakers. Read this article for instructions about correct speaker connections.
- Secure the speaker to the wall. Most in-wall speakers use “dog-leg clamps” to secure the speaker to the wall. After inserting the speaker in the cut-out, tighten the screws on the front of the speaker. Some speakers have a “perimeter clamp”, which uses the entire frame to clamp the speaker to the wall.
Test the System
Turn on the system and test the speakers for sound. Start at a low volume to prevent damage to the amplifier if there is a problem with any connections.