Ceiling Speakers: What type & how many do you need?

Where ceiling speakers, and installation, is concerned - this is a common and somewhat difficult question to answer.

There are so many variables to consider first and foremost.

These extra things to consider include the room size, layout, ceiling height and even furniture within the room.

In this article, we want to try to be as general as possible without too many deep technical details. We understand many of our customers want a straightforward in ceiling audio solution, however let's handle some basic principles first.

Ceiling speaker dispersion angle

Dispersion angle is the important feature to note in your ceiling speaker specification, this tells you at what angle the audio leaves the speaker.

The wider the angle, the larger area the speakers will cover. This is may seem to be a pretty good indicator, however it’s not always quite that simple.

The angle quoted is usually for the entire speaker and not for the tweeter where the detail of the music is generated, so at the extremities of the dispersion angle you might only hear bass and limited treble.

Positioning ceiling speaker

So now we understand a little about Ceiling Speaker dispersion angle, but another factor is that ceiling speakers, and speakers in general, usually sound louder at their centre compared to listening at an offset angle.

With this in mind, an overlap coverage is usually suggested to ensure that both the volume is equal and also so that the higher frequency detail of the audio playing is directed to the listener.

The solution is simple just have more speakers? If it was only that simple - this now becomes challenging in large rooms where limitations mean that only one of two pairs of Ceiling Speakers are possible.

The simple solution without adding more audio amplifiers is to choose the biggest speakers to give the widest native disbursement pattern.

An important point regarding this, don’t assume the bigger the speakers, the wider the angle. However, it is usually the case that large ceiling speakers have a wider dispersement.

Where you listen

Another factor to consider is to think how the listener will listen to the audio.Will they be standing or sitting? It might not sound important, but trust us, it is!

If the listener is only going to listen to audio in one fixed position, then the best placement for the ceiling speakers would simply be near to the sitting position with a single pair.

However, if the room is a living space the listener might be walking around, or maybe even entertaining guests. This changes the number of speakers and the position between the speakers.

For example, if on average a head height is around 4ft (1.2m) when seated, you then need to consider that when standing this could increase to anywhere between 5ft and 6ft (1.5-1.8m).

On the seating layout, the ceiling speakers could be placed wider apart than those within a room where the listener is more likely to listen whilst standing.

Ceiling Speaker Position (Seated)

We want to give basic guidance for the number of ceiling speakers in a room based on our experience and the speakers we offer at BuyCleverStuff.

We understand a lot of the above is difficult to put into practice. With all the variables when choosing a ceiling audio system – let us break it down again.

Breakdown of positioning

First, we need to work out an average placement spacing across our full range of speakers. Below are a few examples of the ceiling speaker dispersion angle based on an average 2.2m (7.2ft) ceiling height, and the spacing that we would recommend is as follows:

  • 90° dispersion angle / Spacing at 4.0ft (Seated) or 2.8ft (Standing)
  • 120° dispersion angle / Spacing at 4.5ft (Seated) or 3.5ft (Standing)
  • 175° dispersion angle / Spacing at 5.5ft (Seated) or 3.7ft (Standing)

As you can see the Ceiling Speaker spacing placement can vary quite a bit between, and the diagrams really help to explain this if you were in the room and listening.

The first shows a room with just the right number of speaker where the listening height is 1.2m (4ft). However the latter two show where spacing is too wide or a speaker with the incorrect dispersion angle is used.

The result of the second layout would be quiet sections between speakers and music detail lost. The examples exaggerate to help explain the worst-case scenarios.

Best practice is to fit as many as possible to ensure the room is filled with audio. However, you also need to not put too many in to provide a balanced listening experience. In addition, it means less volume required from each speaker to fill the same area.

Stereo Ceiling Speakers

Another consideration when selecting ceiling speakers? Single stereo speakers versus a pair of ceiling speakers.

Single stereo ceiling speakers are perfect for smaller, square rooms, where fitting a pair of ceiling speakers would not be possible.

Further to that, single stereo ceiling speakers are perfect for longer, narrow rooms. Think of fitting two speakers to allow for stereo sound. One in each half of the room saves shoehorning in two pairs of speakers.

With all this in mind, at BuyCleverStuff, we want to help make sure you got the right ceiling speaker system.

In our next article, we’ll explain exactly how we’ve come to decide upon defining a room space – and how you can search and filter when buying at BuyCleverStuff.

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