For the most part, every home and every room is unique. Whether it’s a decorative ceiling, placement of furniture, or the location of windows or a TV, each room requires its own considerations for optimal speaker installation. Tall ceilings might mean in-ceiling speakers aren’t useful, and a brick or stone wall could preclude the option of in-wall speakers. Determining whether the speakers will be used primarily for music or for TV audio is another important factor. Here we will detail how to choose the ideal locations for speakers in each room in your home, and what type of speaker is best to provide clear, consistent music or TV audio throughout the entire room.
The kitchen requires smart placement of speakers to ensure equal distribution and sufficient volume to be heard over boiling pots and noisy fans. As one of the highest-trafficked rooms in any home, a normal-size kitchen should be equipped with at least two speakers, one over each side of the of the island or main counter. Rocky Settecasi, home systems designer for Triphase Technologies, of Carmel, Ind., suggests placing in-ceiling speakers in line with any recessed lighting to minimize their visual impact and help them blend in with the room’s aesthetics. More speakers can be used for noisier, larger kitchens, much like the speaker setup for a home gym where loud equipment is common.
Speaker placement in dining rooms can be as simple as having one in-ceiling speaker near each end of the table, or for rooms with decorative or otherwise unusable ceilings, invisible in-wall speakers can provide fantastic audio quality and volume for the whole room. Invisible is not hyperbole here—when installed properly, these speakers are not visible at all. They are installed flush into the drywall—seated ear-level is preferable—then painted over to match the wall, so your guests won’t know they are there unless you tell them.
For the bedroom, there are two considerations: where the bed is placed and if there is a TV in the room. Generally, two in-ceiling speakers or two bookshelf speakers are more than enough for a bedroom, unless it is a massive space. The optimal placement is usually in-ceiling a few feet in front of the bed, with one speaker on each side. This provides good distribution throughout the room while ensuring ideal volume and clarity while you’re resting in bed. If there is a TV, this speaker arrangement preserves the traditional experience of having the sound come from the direction of the TV.
For a family room or media room where the TV is the focus, Settecasi highly recommends a multi-channel setup, such as a 5.1 system comprised of five speakers and a subwoofer. Mounting a soundbar or in-wall speakers adjacent to the TV provides loud, accurate main sound, while rear speakers mounted either in the ceiling or in the rear wall add much greater dimension to the viewing experience and provide directional details that can’t be conveyed from only two speakers. A subwoofer completes the package with powerful bass, and is often placed wherever it fits or is least noticeable in a room. More discerning listeners can ask their home systems integrator to determine the ideal location for the subwoofer, which varies depending on furniture placement and room size and shape.
A home office is usually the best room in a home to use bookshelf or floorstanding speakers, because there is often an actual bookshelf available or free floor space where a speaker won’t be in danger of tipping over due to lots of people milling about. We recommend two speakers for quality stereo sound, located on either side of the main desk. In-ceiling speakers can also be used, but in these smaller rooms bookshelf speakers can provide superior sound and save on installation costs and worries. There are also many attractive options for bookshelf and floorstanding speakers, letting you create a decorative sound system that is as pleasing to the eyes as it is to the ears.
Bathroom designs can vary widely, but the rule of thumb is to either place one in-ceiling speaker (look for a dual-tweeter style of speaker, which can produce both the right and left stereo channels) in the center of the room, or to place one speaker above the two most used spots. For instance, a single vanity bathroom with a large bathtub on the opposite side could benefit from one speaker over the vanity and another over the tub. Alternatively, the ideal speaker placement for a two-vanity room, like the one pictured, is to have one speaker above each vanity. This provides both sides with equal sound when two people are using the bathroom, and also creates a true stereo experience for the center and bathtub areas. EH