Have you ever walked into someone’s living room or home theater and noticed speakers that seem to disappear right into the walls? Unlike bulky tower speakers or bookshelf speakers sitting out in the open, in-wall speakers provide big sound while remaining virtually invisible. If you’re looking for a way to upgrade your space with better audio without compromising on aesthetics or clutter, learning how to install your own in-wall speakers is easier than you might think.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you step-by-step through the full process of mounting your own in-wall speakers. From planning the ideal locations to cutting the holes and wiring up the connections, we’ve got you covered. Armed with the right tools and a dash of DIY spirit, you’ll be rocking out to your favorite playlists or the latest action flick in no time. Say goodbye to speakers plaguing your interior design, and hello to invisible audio that looks as good as it sounds!
Planning Your Installation
The first step to any successful in-wall speaker installation is proper planning and preparation. You’ll want to think through exactly where your speakers should go for optimal sound, and make sure there are no hidden electrical wires or plumbing pipes that could get in the way.
Finding the Sweet Spot for Placement
When deciding where to place your in-wall speakers, the key factors to consider are room dimensions and seating position. For the best stereo imaging, you’ll want your left and right speakers spaced equally apart at a distance of between 5 to 12 feet. The speakers should also be equidistant from your main listening position, forming an equilateral triangle layout.
Generally, you’ll want the tweeter of each speaker to be around 42 inches off the floor, which is approximately ear level when seated. But feel free to tweak this height slightly up or down based on your room’s design. The goal is to position the speakers so sound is directed right towards your ears, not over your head or into the ground.
Locating Wall Studs
Now that you’ve pinpointed the optimal spots, it’s time to find the studs. You’ll need to mount your speakers securely into the wall studs, not just drywall. Break out your stud finder and scan the areas you’ve identified to locate the wood studs and mark them off.
While you have the stud finder out, also check for potential electrical wires, plumbing pipes, or other obstacles behind the drywall that could get in the way of cutting clean holes. Nothing worse than slicing through a wire mid-installation! If you detect any hazards, adjust your speaker positions slightly to avoid them.
Picking the Right Speakers
With the locations set, now’s the time to pick which specific in-wall speaker models you’ll be installing. There are a few key features to look for:
- Swiveling tweeters – Allow you to aim sound at your seating
- Paintable grilles – Grilles can be pre-painted to match your walls
- Dog leg brackets – Allow easy clamping to wall studs
- Thin profile – Usually under 3.5″ thickness to fit standard walls
Top brands like Bowers & Wilkins, Klipsch, and Yamaha make excellent in-wall speakers that are built for easy DIY installation. Just match the speaker size and impedance to your AV receiver’s specifications.
Prepping Your Tools and Materials
Now that the planning is complete, it’s time to gather supplies and make sure you have all the right tools on hand for installation day. Having everything prepped ahead of time will make the process go much more smoothly.
Here are the essential tools you’ll need:
- Tape measure
- Stud finder
- Pencil and painter’s tape
- Safety goggles and gloves
- Utility knife
- Drywall saw
- Cordless drill
- Phillips screwdriver
- Wire strippers
- Fish tape
Don’t have some of these tools? You can often rent a basic DIY tool kit from your local hardware store for cheap.
Running Speaker Wire
Before you start cutting into those walls, now is the ideal time to run speaker wire from your AV receiver location to each side of the room where the speakers will get mounted.
Make sure you get high-quality oxygen-free speaker wire – 12 or 14 gauge is recommended for runs less than 50 feet. Using a fish tape, route the wires through walls, ceilings, crawl spaces, or basement – wherever you have access. Leave plenty of extra wire at the end to make connecting to the speakers easy.
Get Your AV Receiver Ready
With wires pre-run, go ahead and get your AV receiver or stereo amplifier all set up. For home theater, choose one with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support to take full advantage of surround sound.
Look for models with multi-zone audio support as well so you can play different music in other rooms. Popular picks are the Yamaha RX-V6A or the Denon AVR-S760H.
Cutting Speaker Holes in the Drywall
Now for the fun part – time to bust out the power tools! This is where your careful planning and stud marking will pay off. Follow these steps to cut clean openings for your speakers:
Trace Your Templates
Most in-wall speakers come with a cardboard or plastic template that indicates the exact size hole needed. Tape this template in your marked location, stab a hole through the center with a utility knife, and use a pencil to trace a cutting line around the template onto the wall.
Cut Out the Holes
Put on safety goggles – things are about to get dusty! Using your drywall saw, begin cutting along the outline, starting near the center hole you poked. Take it slow and steady to ensure straight cuts.
Pro tip: Mask off the area around your lines with painter’s tape to reduce drywall dust and debris. Be sure to cover any flooring or furniture below too.
When you’ve finished the main cuts, neatly trim off any rough edges so you have a nice clean opening. Repeat on the opposite side for the other speaker.
Check Your Work
Before moving on, test fit the speaker into each hole to confirm it slides in correctly. If needed, use your drywall saw or sandpaper to refine the opening edges.
Installing the In-Wall Speakers
With the tedious drywall work complete, you’re in the home stretch! Just wire up the speakers, mount them securely inside the wall, and start listening.
Connect the Speaker Wire
The fun part is making sound come out of the speakers. But first, we need to wire them up.
Start by stripping back 1/2″ of insulation from the ends of the speaker wire you pre-ran using wire strippers. Expose only enough copper to fit snugly into the terminals – any extra exposed wire can risk shorting.
Attach the positive wire from your AV receiver to the red (+) terminal on the speaker and the negative to the black (-) terminal. Make sure the left and right channels are connected correctly. Twist the connector knobs tightly by hand to secure the wires.
Mount the Speakers in the Wall
Now comes the satisfying moment you’ve been waiting for – mounting the speakers into the openings you cut!
Feed the connected speaker wires into the hole first, then slide the speaker into the opening. Hand tighten the dog leg clamps or screws to wedge the speaker frame firmly against the inner wall. Don’t overcrank them to avoid cracking the drywall.
If your speakers have swiveling tweeters like the Yamaha NS-IW960s, angle them inward to point at your seating position. This helps optimize the stereo imaging and directs the high frequencies right at your ears.
Testing and Adjustments
It’s time to wire up any remaining speakers and fire up your AV receiver to test your handiwork!
Start by setting the speaker volume to a low level for safety. Play some music and gradually turn it up while listening from your main seating area. Make any tweaks to the left/right balance or subwoofer crossover to blend the speakers together.
You’ll also want to fine tune your EQ settings and run room correction software to account for your room’s unique acoustics. This helps smooth out any peaks or dips in the frequency response.
Finishing Touches to Complete the Install
You did it – the speakers are mounted and pumping out tunes! But don’t put away your tools just yet. Here are some finishing touches to complete your install:
Paint the Grilles
For a seamless look, painting your speaker grilles the same color as your wall ensures they’ll blend right in. Lightly scuff the grilles with fine sandpaper so the paint adheres, then apply thin coats of latex wall paint using a paint sprayer or brush.
Snap on the Grilles
Once the paint is dry, carefully press fit the grilles over the speakers to conceal the drivers. If needed, secure them using the provided grille pegs or screws.
Treat Your Room’s Acoustics
To take your sound quality to the next level, consider adding some acoustic treatment panels on the walls. These absorb echoes and reflections to reduce any muddiness in the sound. Strategically placed panels can really make your music and movies sound incredible. For a budget option, canvas art or tapestries work too!
If you don’t hear anything at first, double check that your AV receiver is powered on and that you connected the speaker wire polarity correctly. Also try swapping the left and right connections to see if your channels got mixed up.
Buzzing or vibration sounds likely mean something is touching the speaker cones or needs securing. Try gently pressing along the edges to isolate the issue. Loose drywall or unsecured AV racks are common causes.
And there you have it – you can now impress your family and friends with your slick DIY in-wall speakers! No more cluttered equipment plaguing your living space. Just beautiful, invisible sound.
Now kick back in your new favorite listening spot and queue up those playlists. You’ve earned the chance to put your handiwork to good use. Here’s to many more musical memories in your newly upgraded space!
Recommended In-Wall Speakers
- Bowers & Wilkins CWM664
- Klipsch CDT-5650-C II
- Yamaha NS-IW960C
Top-Rated AV Receivers
- Denon AVR-S760H
- Onkyo TX-RZ50
- Yamaha RX-V6A
- Auralex Acoustic Panels
- GIK Acoustics Art Panels
- Primacoustic Paintables