With so many speaker styles on the market, it can be hard to know what kind of speakers are best for your situation. There are a lot of factors to consider, like design, space, and budget. Take a look at some of the most popular sound system options for home theaters and media rooms, and see which one matches your needs best.
These have long been the gold-standard of sound systems, and for good reason. A dedicated freestanding speaker system offers amazing sound. And since they’ve been around so long, they’ve had time to evolve to fit a lot of different niches. They come in a number of sizes and styles to match any room and any décor. The drawback? The space they occupy. A single pair of stereo speakers isn’t often a problem, but some people don’t like that look. And when you’re upgrading to a 5.1, 7.1, or 12.1 surround sound system, the amount of space required by the speakers can begin to seem considerable—not always great for smaller rooms.
Soundbars are great step up from a TVs built-in speakers, offering fuller sound and even the ability to simulate surround sound without multiple speakers throughout the room. A more extensive sound system can offer even more, of course, but in a family room or media room that isn’t dedicated wholly to the audiovisual system, a soundbar is an economical and space-efficient upgrade.
One of the most elegant solutions for dedicated home theater rooms, in-wall speakers are built flush into the walls, and can even be completely hidden, either by the drywall itself or by artwork or other décor. The sound quality, of early in-wall systems couldn’t match freestanding systems of the day, but, as we’ve written about before, modern in-wall systems sound great. Cutting into the walls and running the wires can get costly, though; it’s often best to build an in-wall sound system into the room from the very beginning. And speaker placement has to be flawless, as once it’s done, adjustments are almost impossible. But done well, the results are amazing.
Speakers can also be built into the ceiling of your theater or media room. These speakers are installed in recesses cut into the ceiling, and can, like in-wall speakers, be completely hidden behind drywall. There are a few important differences between wall speakers and ceiling speakers, however. First, even though the installation is similar to an in-wall installation, the wiring for in-ceiling speakers is usually a bit simpler, because the wires only need to be run up one wall and can cross the ceiling without needing to put holes through studs and firebreaks. The primary drawback of in-ceiling speakers, though, is that all the sound comes from above, which can sound unnatural.