Best In-Ceiling Speakers iMore 2021
The best in-ceiling speakers combine great sound with sleek integrated designs that can, at times, make them almost invisible both indoors and out. The Sonos Architectural Speakers by Sonance however, takes things to the next level by connecting directly with the Sonos ecosystem. This allows these speakers to work in conjunction with audio apps and with whole-home audio through AirPlay 2 streaming technology. We have gathered all of the best in-ceiling speakers to help you choose the perfect speaker for your budget and needs.
- Best Overall: Sonos Architectural Speakers by Sonance
- Best Value: Pyle PDIC1661RD
- Best for Outdoors: Polk Audio RC80i
- Best Bluetooth Speaker: Pyle PDICBT852RD
- Best Design: Bose Virtually Invisible 891
- Best Drop Tile Speaker: Pure Resonance Audio VCA8
Best Overall: Sonos Architectural Speakers by Sonance
The Sonos Architectural in-ceiling speakers offer room-filling, high-quality audio, in a small, out of sight package. These frameless, flush mount speakers house a powerful 6.5" woofer, paired with a 1" ceramic dome tweeter capable of outputting up to 150 watts of audio goodness.
Deep integration with the Sonos ecosystem allows the Architectural speakers to work with various apps and audio protocols. Perhaps the most significant benefit comes in the form of AirPlay 2 compatibility. That uses Apple's audio technology to match playback with any connected speaker, enabling true whole-home audio.
Although it requires an additional purchase, the Sonos Architectural speakers sound can also be finely tuned for their surroundings, thanks to Trueplay tuning. The Sonos amp enables this functionality, which uses the acoustics and positioning within a room to determine optimal sound performance.
- Sound quality
- Sonos integration
- Trueplay tuning
- Hardwired only
- Tuning requires amp
Best Value: Pyle PDIC1661RD
Pyle's PDIC1661RD offers entry-level sound at a price to match. Inside the package are a 6.5-inch woofer and a 1/2 inch tweeter, which is plenty for installations that are good for occasional, ambient listening.
These no-frills speakers come with an easy to install spring-loaded clip installation, making them great for quick replacements. Wiring is also convenient thanks to the speaker's push-in terminals, making the complete process virtually tool-free.
- Low price
- Easy installation
- Limited design options
- Entry-level sound
Best for Outdoors: Polk Audio RC80i
Not all in-ceiling speaker installations are in living rooms or home theaters. Polk Audio's RC80i speakers are available for those looking for true whole home placement. A powerful 8-inch woofer rests underneath its grill, along with a swivel-mounted tweeter, enabling the ability to direct sound to the perfect location.
Featuring a rubber-sealed driver and rust-resistant components, this speaker can withstand damp areas such as bathrooms or covered locations outside. While it is water-resistant and not waterproof, Polk provides a little extra insurance for your investment, as it offers a lengthy five-year limited warranty.
- Suitable for damp locations
- Swivel mounted tweeter
- Five-year limited warranty
- Not completely waterproof
- Average sound quality
- Hardwired only
Best Bluetooth Speaker: Pyle PDICBT852RD
The Pyle PDICBT852RD is an in-ceiling speaker pair that offers playback from more than just your connected amp or receiver. Bluetooth capability allows these speakers to work with phones, tablets, computers, and more with just a few taps, as long as you are within 40 feet of them.
These speakers use a spring-loaded installation method, allowing them to be set up in a matter of minutes as they snap into place after inserting them into the desired spot. To top things off, these versatile speakers come with both round and rectangular stain resistant grills. This allows them to act as a set-it-and-forget-it solution that will keep their visual appeal for years to come.
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Spring-loaded installation
- Stain-resistant grill
- Requires power
- Limited range
Best Design: Bose Virtually Invisible 891
As its name suggests, the Bose Virtually Invisible 891 is a speaker that aims to disappear into its surroundings. While it may not be completely invisible, this speaker has an ultra-thin bezel and a paintable grill making it pretty much as close as you can get.
Of course, Bose is best known for its sound quality, and the 891 does not disappoint. Inside of this beauty is a large 7-inch woofer along with two 1 inch tweeters, perfect for acting as a surround sound system for movie nights, or just for jamming to the latest tunes.
- Paintable grill
- Sleek design
- High-quality audio
- Hardwired only
- Large size
Best Drop Tile Speaker: Pure Resonance Audio VCA8
The Pure Resonance Audio VCA8 is a purpose-built speaker that provides easy installation and a cleanly integrated design. These speakers are made to fit in place of traditional drop tile ceilings. This appearance allows them to fit in just the right spot, all while providing sound in just the right place above your room.
Perfect for the basement home theater, the Pure Resonance Audio VCA8 can be set into place with a drop, just like a ceiling tile, forgoing the mess of cutting and keeping down the installation time. The large panel design also allows for big sound as it features a dual cone driver, with high sensitivity that is customizable by a dial located on the rear of the unit.
- Drop tile design
- Easy installation
- Priced per pair
- Speakers not flush with housing
- Only one color option
- Limited placement
The best in-ceiling speakers are a great way to provide rich sound in locations that may not have the floor or table space. These speakers also help with keeping the focus of your home on your decor, blending in with your ceilings and walls, and keeping ugly cords and bulky speakers out of sight.
Despite their high price, we love the Sonos Architectural Speakers by Sonance for their deep integration with Sonos making them essentially future proof. Once connected, these speakers can work with audio protocols such as Apple's AirPlay 2, enabling whole-home playback. Adding in a Sonos Amp adds Trueplay tuning, ensuring that these speakers sound their best for their environment.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Christopher Close spends most of his time writing and dreaming about all things HomeKit for iMore. If you wish to join him on his quest to automate everything, you can follow him on Twitter at @itschrisclose.
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