Q: How can I get surround sound in my home theater and music throughout my home without having to look at obtrusive, space-stealing speaker cabinets?
The modern design of today’s homes won’t usually tolerate big oversized box speakers, nor should they. There are many options for hiding speakers while retaining sound quality.
In-wall and in-ceiling speakers are commonly applied for distributed audio systems, and can even be used for home theaters. In-walls, shown in Figure 1 flanking a flat-panel TV, are set into the wall and are usually detectable only by their paintable grilles. In-ceiling speakers are typically round, and by virtue of their ceiling mount, tend not to be noticed. Some better in-wall and in-ceiling speakers come with sealed cabinets behind the drivers to improve sonics. The wires for in-wall and in-ceiling speakers must be run through the wall and ceiling cavities; the most cost-effective time to do this is during construction.
Another option commonly applied in new construction and renovation is to take high performance box speakers and hide them in a cavity behind a perforated home theater screen or in a wall or cabinet behind acoustically transparent cloth. This preserves the best sonic attributes of a freestanding speaker – typically its low bass output – without having to see the box.
A newer, high-tech option is the so-called “invisible” speaker, an example of which is shown in Figures 2 and 3. These narrow-depth speakers fit between studs in a wall cavity and have a flat, wall-like surface. A transducer resides behind the panel and causes it to vibrate to produce the sound. The speaker gets finished into the wall like any drywall patch and painted with the rest of the wall to create music that seems to come from nowhere. Similarly, specialized transducers are available for mounting behind sheetrock, glass, or wood surfaces to effectively turn them into speakers.
Hiding the subwoofer – often the biggest speaker in the system – can be challenging. In-wall subs that slip between studs behind the sheetrock are available, though care must be taken not to overload the wall with bass output that can literally shake the house. Often, subwoofers are built into cabinetry or hidden behind walls. Some unique solutions, such as the subwoofer in Figure 4, retain the big cabinet that is a necessary requirement of powerful bass but allow it to be suspended or hidden on the other side of a wall, ceiling or floor. Meanwhile, the bass output is funneled into the room through a seemingly innocuous vent!
In short, there’s more than one way to hide a speaker, and EDG can help you acheive your design goals without sacrificing your entertainment values.
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