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When designing a home theater system, sound direction should be a main concern. This means thinking about whether the speakers will be down-firing (read: overhead) or front-facing (read: in-wall). There are subtle yet important differences between the two systems.
An overhead-based system creates more of an overall sound blanket. Audio floats down from the ceiling and falls around the listener. An in-wall system is more of a direct sonic attack – in a good way of course. By positioning the speakers at listening level and all around, the sound is more direct – it becomes more of a tactile feeling than just an environmental effect.
As with all home theater setups, the size and layout of the room will play heavily into the equipment choices. However, there are some basic features to keep in mind. For speakers flanking the TV, almost any speaker can be installed here for accurate stereo sound – these can be satellite speakers. For side wall and rear satellite speakers, finding components that have multi-directional tweeters will create a more realistic surround sound experience.
Our list focuses on satellite speakers well-suited for stereo reproduction on the TV wall, as well as rear and side walls. Whether you have a small space or prefer a more minimalist design aesthetic, the best in-wall speakers keep your space free from large physical units, discreetly placing your speakers off the ground and, as the name suggests, into the wall. Sound bounces throughout the room for a more enveloping, immersive listening experience.
1. Bose Virtually Invisible 891
The Bose Virtually Invisible 891 in-wall speakers are at the premium end of the home theater design world. The 891s seamlessly blend in with the wall, yet their sound certainly makes them known.
Utilizing a 7″ woofer and multi-directional 1″ tweeters, along with Bose’s exclusive “Stereo Everywhere” technology, the 891s cover the room with wall-to-wall sonic supremacy. With solid clarity across all acoustic outputs, these speakers pump out clear vocals and stunningly real sound effects.
PROS: A design-conscious set of speakers that perform at the luxury end of the spectrum.
CONS: Installation and tuning is probably best left to a professional.
2. Polk Audio RC85i
Polk’s RC85i series is built to sustain not only the normal wear and tear of a living room-based home theater setup, but also has you covered if you want to design an outdoor theater in a screened-in porch, or maybe an overwhelming sonic experience in a sauna.
Built from rust resistant materials and using rubber surrounds, the RC85i speakers are constructed for durability and all conditions. The 8″ woofer and swivel-mounted 1″ tweeter combination on the RC85i generates beautifully crisp and clean audio, with precision directional tuning.
PROS: Versatility and quality make a winning combination.
CONS: Single tweeter construction is nice and more than accomplishes the mission…multi-directional tweeters (plural) may be better.
3. Monoprice 3-Way Caliber Series
The Caliber series by Monoprice is an impressive concoction of high-quality materials and sturdy construction, producing a beautiful HiFi experience. The combination of the 6.5″ woofer and pivoting 1″ tweeter creates “natural sound” with “airy, detailed clarity.”
PROS: Small and subtle without sacrificing on phonics.
CONS: Small woofer and lower power, these are best-suited for smaller listening environments.