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How to Install Built-in Home Theater Speakers

by Paul Sanders

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Built-in home theater speakers

Things You Need:

  • In-wall or in-ceiling speakers
  • Speaker wire
  • Home theater outlet
  • Drywall saw
  • Electric drill

When constructing your home theater, few things are more important to consider than the sound quality of your speakers. Style counts, too, and built-in speakers are a sleek and out-of-the-way home theater solution. If you've chosen to install in wall/in ceiling speakers for your home theater room, you'll have professional-quality home theater speakers that adds to the value of your home and produces an enviable quality of sound. Built-in home theater speakers require a bit more work than regular home theater speakers, but they conform much better to your room's existing decor. Follow these simple steps to install your built-in home theater speakers.

Installing Home Theater Speakers:

  1. Design your speaker layout. You'll want to know the optimum speaker placement before you install your built-in speakers. You may need to consider where studs and other wiring are located before committing to placing your speakers. If your home theater speakers mount directly to wall studs, then your holes should be placed accordingly.



    • Unless you're using wireless speakers, you will need to consider how to run speaker wire from your speakers to your home theater receiver. Ideally, you might run the wire through an attic or basement. Otherwise, you will need to make additional cuts in your walls and ceiling to pull wires through to the speakers. Measure and mark the speaker positions on your walls or ceiling and trace with pencil the holes you will be cutting. Don't forget to cut a hole for the home theater outlet in a wall near where your home theater receiver will be.

    • With most 5.1-surround-sound speaker systems, one speaker sits in front of the TV or in the ceiling above; two speakers sit on either side of the TV, pointed toward the couch; and two speakers sit on either side of the seating area, pointed inward.

  2. Measure the needed speaker wire length. Once you've decided where to place your home theater speakers, measure the length of speaker wire you will need to run to each speaker, leaving 12 inches of slack or more. Always use insulated wire. Bare copper speaker-wire is a fire hazard. Before installing, test each home theater speaker near their final positions with your home theater receiver to be sure everything works.

  3. Cut your speaker holes. Know what is behind the wall before you begin cutting. Use your breaker box to cut power to the area you will be working in. You can use a drywall saw (or a "circle cutter" if you're using circular home theater speakers) to cut an opening for each speaker. Be as exact as possible. If you make the holes too big, you may need to repair the wall with drywall mud or plaster and repaint the area.

  4. Run speaker wire behind the wall or ceiling from the home theater outlet hole to the newly cut speaker holes. If you are running the speaker wire through a basement or attic, secure the speaker wire to studs using ties or hooks. Connect each speaker wire to the corresponding outlet plug on the home theater outlet. Connect the other end of each wire to its speaker, paying close attention to the negative and positive connections. Most speaker wire will be color-coded to assist with this.

  5. Mount the speakers to the wall. Consult your speakers' installation instructions to see if they mount directly to the drywall or to a wall stud. Install each speaker according to the instructions. If there are any visible gaps in the drywall around the speaker, you may need to do some drywall mud repair and painting to that area.

  6. Connect the home theater receiver to the new outlet. These outlets typically use RCA connections, or even HDMI connections, to connect to the home theater receiver. This will complete the connection between your receiver and the home theater speaker system.

  7. Test your home theater system. Place a CD or the radio to test the new home theater speakers individually. If some speakers are not working or other problems arise, check the connections on the outlet or the speakers themselves.

Speaker Installation Warning:

  1. Certain building and fire codes in your area may require an inspection and other requirements for in-wall speaker wiring. Be sure to comply with all regulations in your area when you install your home theater speakers.

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