In-wall speakers seamlessly integrate into your home and provide professional, immersive sound. Whether you’re looking for big sound that doesn’t take up a lot of space, or to create a true surround-sound environment that places you at the center of the action of whatever you’re watching, in-wall speakers can help you achieve your audio goals.
As in-wall speaker technology has improved, the days of exorbitantly priced speakers and expensive installations are in the rearview mirror. However, in-wall speakers are harder to install than traditional freestanding models, and come with their own set of considerations that you should take into account before deciding on a model. Even if you’ve decided that in-wall speakers are the way to go for your home audio setup, finding the right system for your budget and preferences can be a challenge.
To help you sift through the technical jargon and seemingly endless options, we’ve selected the best in-wall speakers for just about every space and situation: from affordable speakers that are easy to install, to high-end, sophisticated systems, these are the best in-wall speakers.
— Best Overall: In-Wall Speakers by Sonos and Sonance
— Best Value: Polk Audio 65 RT
— Best Budget: Micca M-8S
— Best for Surround-Sound: Klipsch R-5502-W II
— Best Moisture-Resistant: Polk RC55i
How We Picked the Best In-Wall Speakers
We researched a wide range of in-wall speakers at a variety of prices to ensure that we arrived at the best for this list. Whether it’s function-forward speakers that get the job done without any fuss, or multi-functional smart speakers that promise to take your at-home listening experience to the next level, the products on this list are the result of keen research, professional product testing, and dozens upon dozens of verified customer reviews. When choosing the best in-wall speakers we paid special attention to the following criteria:
Sound Quality: The last thing you want to do is invest your time and money and cut a hole in your wall, only to discover that the sound quality of your new in-wall speakers isn’t any better than when you started. Although everyone’s definition of high-fidelity sound is partially dependent on their audio taste, high quality in-wall speakers will take advantage of their natural housing to provide deep bass, smooth mids, and crisp highs. Unlike their portable Bluetooth counterparts, it’s relatively easy to achieve a balanced or uniquely customized sound profile with in-wall speakers.
Installation and Maintenance: As the name implies, in-wall speakers sit directly inside the wall cavity of your home. While that means that in-wall speakers are largely for indoor use, there are lots of alternative options for outdoor use. The installation process can be lengthy and expensive, but high-quality options will minimize the time and cost associated with installation. Furthermore, since the speaker is embedded in your wall once installed, it’s not that easy to fix it if something goes wrong. Because of this, we made sure to select only high-quality speakers that minimize maintenance.
Design is always one of the first ways we experience a speaker. One of the main reasons people choose in-wall speakers over traditional freestanding speakers is because of how well they integrate into the existing aesthetic of your home. High-quality in-wall speakers feature a pleasing exterior that either seamlessly integrates into the wall or functions as a standalone decoration. No one wants a speaker system that detracts from a home’s existing design.
Value varies. Audio equipment is notoriously expensive, and we took great care to test and evaluate speakers at all price points, and to compare their price and performance to determine their relative value.
Best In-Wall Speakers: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: In-Wall Speakers by Sonos and Sonance
Why They Made The Cut: The In-Wall Speakers by Sonos and Sonance combine the audio and installation expertise of two industry giants to produce stellar sound quality, ease-of-use, and design.
— Frequency Range: 44 to 20,000 hertz
— Power Range: 5 to 130 watts
— Wall Cutout Dimensions: 6.93 inches H x 10.75 inches W
— Designed for ease of use in partnership with Sonnance
— Easily pairs with other Sonos speakers in and around your home
— Sonos Trueplay optimizes placement and sound
— Requires Sonos app for Spotify
Sonos has been a steady innovator in the home-audio industry since it first hit the market, and their products are prized for their ease of use. While you certainly can’t just plug-and-play an in-wall speaker system, Sonos offers a surprisingly affordable and highly rated professional installation service, which sets the In-Wall Speakers by Sonos and Sonance apart from the competition. Further, these speakers include Sonos Trueplay, which automatically analyzes the acoustics of whatever room they’re placed in to optimize placement and sound. Another standout feature of the Sonos Architectural line, (which includes these in-wall speakers), is how minimally designed they are. Each in-wall speaker is near flush with the wall, and has a modern, white grill that’s easy to decorate up or down.
While the Sonos App is a benefit to some, it can also be a hindrance. While you no longer are required to use the Sonos app to stream music, you are still required to use it for Spotify, which is one of the most popular streaming services. Otherwise, this is a great buy.
Best Value: Polk Audio 65 RT
Why It Made The Cut: This versatile in-wall speaker has great sound quality, and makes for an excellent addition to just about any surround sound system. Plus, it’s one the best-selling in-wall speakers on Crutchfield, one of the largest audio retailers in the United States.
— Frequency Range: 44 to 25,000 hertz
— Power Range: 10 to 125 watts
— Wall Cutout Dimensions: 12.75 inches H x 7.25 inches W
— Paintable grill
— Lifetime parts and labor warranty
— Speakers are timbre matched
— Not standalone powerful
— Requires a subwoofer for powerful bass
Polk, which recently had its 50th anniversary, has a pedigree of high-end speaker manufacturing, and nowhere is their expertise more evident than in the Polk Audio 65 RT. This in-wall speaker offers high performance at a reasonable price. If reputation isn’t enough, each individual speaker is backed by Polk’s lifetime parts and labor warranty, which greatly reduces the anxiety associated with ongoing maintenance.
What makes the 65 RT unique, especially at this price point, is the fact that it can handle the extremes on the low and high end without distorting. This is an important consideration if you’re mainly looking to watch movies. The dialogue on this speaker is crystal clear. Further, each speaker is timbre-matched, which means that each speaker in a set is identical in tone to one another. Unfortunately, these speakers lack the power to function as a home theater system on their own. If you want full-throated, roaring bass you’re going to need to purchase an external subwoofer. Still, they sound good and look good, and if the look isn’t enough then these speakers have a paintable grill so you can color match the wall perfectly and hide them in plain sight.
Best Budget: Micca M-8S
Why It Made The Cut: Simply put, the Micca M-8S is one of the few budget speakers where affordability doesn’t come at the expense of sound quality and durability.
— Frequency Range: 40 to 20,000 hertz
— Power: 100 watts maximum
— Wall Cutout Dimensions: 12.75 inches H x 8.7 inches W
— Equipped with a large, 8-inch subwoofer that produces powerful bass response
— Speaker pivots to match room
— Easy to pair with other speakers in Micca’s in-wall and in-ceiling line.
— Hardware shows through grill somewhat
— Larger than most
The Micca M-8S is evidence that great sound doesn’t have to come at a great cost, even when it’s installed directly into your walls. Whether you’re planning on settling in for a movie marathon or gearing up for your next dance party, the M-8S speakers have the necessary range and volume to provide high quality, consistent audio.
With 100 watts per speaker, many users note how realistic-sounding the M-8S speakers are, especially when running Dolby Atmos during a good action movie. To help achieve Atmos, the tweeter has a pivot, which allows you to hone in on the right positioning for your home theater, office, or wherever else you install them. Unfortunately, the bronze-colored subwoofer and tweeter show through the front grill somewhat. Although the cutout dimensions appear standard, this speaker is significantly larger than most of its competition.
Best for Surround-Sound: Klipsch R-5502-W II
Why It Made The Cut: The R-5502-W II produces rich, room filling sound and maintains clarity and balance at incredibly high volume, which makes it a great way to enhance the power and volume of any surround sound system.
— Frequency Range: 40 to 20,000 hertz
— Power: 75 to 300 watts
— Wall Cutout Dimensions: 16.5 inches H x 8 inches W
— Can be positioned as right, center, or left
— Made with Klipsch’s patented horn-loaded technology
— Excellent bass
— Quite expensive
Like most other Klipsch models, the Klipsch R-5502-WII is jam packed with technologies that are both tried-and-true and innovative. The R-5502-W II can be used as a right-, center- or left-mounted speaker. Their dual subwoofers provide clear, deep bass response.
The Klipsch speakers use the traditional Klipsch horn-loaded design, created by Klipsch himself, which increases the frequency range while minimizing distortion at high volume. They also use more recently developed Cerametallic subwoofers, which have a stiffness-to-mass ratio that increases the bass response without increasing the size of the speaker itself. If you’re particular about your audio, pair these speakers with a Klipsch amplifier, such as the KA-1000, to gain complete control over your system’s home-audio profile.
Best Moisture-Resistant: Polk RC55i
Why It Made The Cut: The RC55i is one of the few, affordable in-wall speakers that can be used in transitional spaces that may be occasionally exposed to moisture, such as a screened in porch or garage. You can even install these in your bathroom if you’d like, as you won’t have to worry about steaming them up too much.
— Frequency Range: 70- 20,000 hertz
— Power: 20 - 100 watts
— Wall Cutout Dimensions: 9.5 inches H x 6.25 inches W
— Small footprint, which makes them easy to disguise
— Great value for money since you can buy a pair for less than $150
— Only suitable for small to medium sized rooms
Let’s face it, having a speaker in the bathroom is an excellent idea—so long as your speakers can take the steam. Whether you like to listen to the news or belt out power ballads in the morning shower, the moisture-resistant construction of the Polk RC55i makes it a versatile speaker for transitional spaces.
The RC55i’s tweeter is mounted on a ball-and-socket swivel mount, which gives the user unparalleled control over the direction of their system’s audio. This is great for anyone who is hard of hearing and would like to tune their system to their needs, or enhance the extent to which dialogue overshadows background noise. All in all, they’re a great system for smaller spaces.
Things to Consider Before Buying In-Wall Speakers
Room Size, Shape, and Contents
One of the best, although challenging aspects of owning in-wall speakers is the fact that you can strategically place them to maximize sound quality in a given room. You may be familiar with the term acoustics, which is how industry professionals, musicians and audiophiles describe the impact a space and the materials it’s made out of have on sound quality. One of the biggest determinants of acoustic quality is the location of the audio’s origin point and the characteristics of the surfaces that the sound waves reverberate off of. Kilpsch, a leader in the audio industry, has a handy guide on how to improve the acoustics of your space. A good rule of thumb is that hard surfaces reflect sound waves while soft surfaces tend to absorb them, and too much reverberation can muddy dialogue and vocals. Intentionally placing your speakers to minimize excess reverberation will help you maximize sound quality.
In-wall speakers come with a variety of connectivity options, from Bluetooth 5.0 and WiFi streaming, to standard 3.5MM headphone jacks, and even the old RCA ports. You may be surprised to learn that wireless speakers aren’t necessarily more expensive. In fact, a large contingent of the audiophile community believes that transmitting audio via a wired connection is the only way to achieve true high fidelity sound. Still, you might prioritize mobility, in which case a wireless connection will be best. If you choose a wireless system, keep an eye out for the latest version of Bluetooth — Bluetooth 5.0.
In-wall speakers aren’t one size fits all, and ensuring you get the right speakers for the space you plan to put them in prevents loss of sound quality while increasing their longevity. For example, if you want to place them in a hybrid indoor / outdoor space, such as a covered porch, or a bathroom, you may need to invest in some moisture-resistant speakers, such as the Polk Audio Polk RC55i.
Q: How much do in-wall speakers cost?
In-wall speakers have a wide price range. Some cost less than $50 a speaker, such as the Acoustic Audio CS-IC83, while others, such as the Bose Virtually Invisible 791 Series II cost around $250 each. In addition to the price of the speakers themselves, you should also consider the cost of installation. Although the cost of installation can vary significantly depending on time required and the complexity of the speaker, HomeAdvisor has found that the average cost of installing two in-wall speakers is between $500-$1,000. If you choose to install speakers in multiple rooms, the price per speaker installation will become lower, although the total price will increase.
Q: Can I install in-wall speakers without extensive prior experience?
Unlike car stereo systems, in-wall speaker installations are not for the faint of a heart, and a YouTube tutorial might not cut it. Because installing in-wall speakers inevitably means running wires over relatively long distances as well as cutting perfectly sized holes in your wall, it’s best to hire a professional, unless you have expertise in the area.
Q: What is the difference between in-wall and in-ceiling speakers?
From the consumer perspective, there is no functional difference between in-wall and in-ceiling speakers. The main difference between them is that in-ceiling speakers have a slightly different tweeter layout, which allows them to be narrower, while in-wall speakers are designed to be as shallow as possible. In terms of sound quality, there’s no rule that states one is better than the other, it all depends on the individual speakers themselves.
Final Thoughts on the Best In-Wall Speakers
If you’re in the market for a versatile, high-quality, and easy-to-use in-wall sound system, you can’t go wrong with the In-Wall Speakers by Sonos and Sonance, not only does it exceed the functionality and design criteria we set out for ourselves at the beginning of our research, Sonos outperforms the competition when it comes to value, despite its high price tag. All in all, the In-Wall Speaker by Sonos and Sonance is the manifestation of both good design and unobtrusive, high functionality. For a budget pick, consider the Micca M-8S. However, if you’re looking for something for a transitional space like a pool room or bathroom, take a look at the Polk RC55i.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.