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Featured image credit: Flickr/Paul Long
Bluetooth soundbars and portable speakers have been all the rage this past couple of years for good reason.
They provide decent sound quality for such inexpensive devices while lessening the distracting visual clutter of cords strung all over the place.
Some of them even provide some semblance of stereo separation similar to home theatre systems that ARE worth a good chunk of change.
But if you fancy yourself as a music connoisseur or a movie buff, then you might find both of these options to be a bit limiting.
A surround sound system or a proper stereo monitor system just can’t be beaten by a single Bluetooth speaker or soundbar no matter how expensive it is.
The only problem is those tower speakers, often used by surround sound and stereo audio monitor systems, take up floor space and require copious amounts of cords to link each one to the rest.
Not to mention that some of the designs make them look like they belong more in industrial settings than in a home.
If you’re looking to beef up your audio system but hate the visual interruption of cords and visible speakers, then you may want to look at Bluetooth ceiling speakers. They can be an excellent addition to a true surround sound system or as a standalone music streaming speaker.
If you’re in a hurry, I recommend the Pyle 2-Way 8” Bluetooth Ceiling Speakers (Amazon, #CommissionsEarned) for their sound quality and ease of installation.
The thing with ceiling speakers is that they come in such a wide range of use case scenarios at an even wider price range.
It can be difficult to find one that’s fit for the purpose that you intend to use them for.
So, I’ve taken the liberty of listing some of the points of consideration for you.
Speaker Type (Mono or Single Stereo)
There are two types of ceiling speakers – the mono and the single stereo.
The one that’s most commonly used in homes is the mono.
This type of speaker comes in twos with each one being dedicated to either the left or right audio orientation.
Having two individual speakers to install in your ceiling means that mono speakers are best for stereo separation.
This makes mono speakers a prime candidate for surround sound systems that prioritize an immersive listening experience.
On the other hand, the single stereo type comes with only one speaker. So, if your ceiling space is limited, this type of ceiling speaker might be the best option for you.
Naturally, you’d think that it would be impossible for a single speaker to produce stereo sound. However, this isn’t the case for single stereo speakers.
Single stereo ceiling speakers should have two separate tweeters dedicated to both left and right audio orientations which means you’re still going to experience some stereo separation effect.
It’s just not going to be as good as the mono speakers.
As such, single stereo speakers should be excellent standalone music streaming speakers in rooms with a small ceiling real estate.
A lot of single stereo speakers also have their tweeters on a swivel.
This allows you to physically manipulate the direction of the sound to any part of the room.
You can, for example, angle the two tweeters to two different sides of the room to bounce off the sound on the walls to give you a fuller surround sound experience.
This feature isn’t exclusive to single stereo speakers.
Mono speakers may also have adjustable tweeters.
This allows you to target the sound to specific areas of the room that you’re going to occupy while listening.
If there’s one aspect of ceiling speakers that has a direct effect on the sound quality, it’s the size of the drivers.
The standard size is 6.5-inches.
The rule of thumb here is the larger the driver size, the more powerful the bass and the louder the speakers are going to be.
Ease of Installation
You can buy the most expensive ceiling speakers available but if it doesn’t fit between the ceiling void or if it’s too difficult to install, you’re not going to have a good initial experience with your speakers.
Before you can even listen to music on them, you’re going to have to install them first.
Since you’re going to have to cut a hole on your ceiling anyway, the diameter of the mounting diameter shouldn’t be a big deal.
A more pressing physical attribute for a ceiling speaker is the mounting depth.
The ceiling speaker that you’re going to have to choose is one that should fit between your ceiling void. It’s the gap between your ceiling and your roof.
On average, most ceiling speakers need 100mm of depth but, some speakers have a slimmer profile if your roof is closer to your ceiling than usual.
However, you’re going to have to pay a bit of a premium for that feature because the speaker still has to deliver the same amount of power with very little hardware.
Moisture is generally bad for electronics, speakers included.
But this doesn’t mean that you can’t install ceiling speakers in moist environments.
Some of us like listening to our music while in the shower or while we’re cooking. So, designers and manufacturers made sure to make speakers that are suitable for these kinds of listening scenarios.
This is where IP Ratings come in.
You may have already read about this in smartphones.
It indicates whether your phone can withstand moisture and accidental splashes.
It means the same for ceiling speakers.
So, if you’re planning on installing ceiling speakers inside your bathroom or kitchen, make sure that the IP rating is appropriate.
Right now, there’s a limited list of companies making ceiling speakers with built-in Bluetooth speakers.
Luckily, there’s a workaround that lets you control wired ceiling speakers via Bluetooth through amplifiers that are equipped with Bluetooth technology.
The type of Bluetooth connectivity is also important to look at if you’re looking to minimize latency.
Most of the current Bluetooth ceiling speakers have Bluetooth 2.0 which should be good enough for music listening but can present some latency during HD video playback.
Now that we’ve got these out of the way, it’s time to see which top-rated speakers are perfect for that wireless listening experience that you’re craving for.
I’ve created a list of the best Bluetooth ceiling speakers on the market.
Pyle 2-Way 8” Bluetooth Ceiling Speakers
Pyle is a growing audio company from the United States.
They’re a relatively young company that had its start in the 1960s but has since established itself as an innovator in modern audio systems.
They manufacture the Pyle 2-Way 8” Bluetooth Ceiling Speakers (Amazon, #CommissionsEarned) which is one of the best-rated speakers of its kind.
You can directly connect with the built-in Bluetooth receiver using most modern devices such as laptops, smartphones, and Bluetooth enabled MP3 Players.
To make things more interesting, Pyle also made sure that these speakers are compliant with Bluetooth 3.0 technology for a more stable connection.
As for wired connectivity, you can use these speakers with your surround sound system using RCA cables.
This is recommended to ensure zero-latency playback that is in-sync with the rest of your audio system.
These Pyle speakers come, as the name implies, with 8-inch drivers which deliver plenty of power, up to 300-watts to be exact.
As such, it also has an impressive bass performance.
The large drivers are also powerful enough to fill a medium-sized room.
The 76.2mm mounting depth makes it perfect even for narrow ceilings.
There’s no indication that it has any sort of IP certification. To be safe, it’s better if you don’t install these in bathrooms or any other moist environments.
The Pyle 2-Way 8″ Bluetooth Ceiling Speakers are mono speakers that you can buy in pairs.
One of them is an active speaker which means it houses the amplifier and the Bluetooth receiver.
The other one is a passive speaker that needs to be connected to the active one to function.
Pyle lets you daisy chain other passive speakers with the system. This means you can seamlessly connect more speakers such as a separate surround sound system.
The asking price for a pair of these speakers is under $100 which is a bargain for speakers that have such large drivers.
However, if you click here to go to Amazon (#CommissionsEarned), you can get the latest price.
Monoprice Caliber 60-Watt Powered 6.5in Ceiling Speakers
Monoprice is a relative newcomer in the audio industry.
It was established in 2002 but they’ve been making a name for itself as a force to reckon with ever since.
Similar to the Pyle, the Monoprice Caliber 60-Watt Powered 6.5” Ceiling Speakers (Amazon, #CommissionsEarned) can be connected to any Bluetooth enabled device.
However, it’s still using the outdated Bluetooth 2.0 technology that performs with less than perfect stability.
The sound coming from the speakers is produced by a 6.5-inch driver which is the most commonly used driver size.
It’s also important to note that the Monoprice Caliber speakers each have their own 30-watt amplifiers.
This should ensure that each speaker has optimal clarity and power. Because of this, the speakers sound like their drivers are bigger than what it is.
You’re going to have to put it in a room with a good gap between the roof and the ceiling if you’re going to use these Monoprice speakers because the mounting depth is 116.84mm.
Monoprice doesn’t mention if it has an IP rating but they do indicate that they’re safe to install in high moisture environments.
So, these can be a good option if you’re looking to listen to podcasts and music while you’re in the shower.
Just like the speakers from Pyle, these speakers are mono that you buy in pairs.
Each one is dedicated to either the left or the right orientation so beware that you install them correctly.
If ever you mix them up, you’re going to end up with a movie-watching experience that’s disconcerted and sub-par.
For just over $100, the Monoprice Caliber speakers are priced pretty well.
There’s not a lot of 6.5-inch Bluetooth-equipped speakers that can compete with its high-quality dual amp drivers.
Again, click here to go to Amazon (#CommissionsEarned), you can get the latest price.
Consider Installing a Bluetooth Receiver
Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of other brands that have product offerings for ceiling speakers with built-in Bluetooth receivers.
However, there is a workaround to this problem.
You can buy a separate wall-mounted Bluetooth receiver (Amazon, #CommissionsEarned).
It is from this device that you pair your playback device via Bluetooth which will then relay the data to your speakers.
Currently, Pyle is the only retailer on Amazon but I’m pretty sure that more will come in the future.
The benefit of this device is that it adds more connectivity features including Wi-Fi, 3.5mm audio jack, and even a USB connection.
You can also control the output volume of the speakers with an analog knob.
The only con is that it’s an added step to an otherwise simple installation if you buy speakers with a built-in Bluetooth receiver.
Having this device opens you up to a richer selection of ceiling speakers.
A lot of them offer better audio quality and even better value for money. Here are some of the very best that you can purchase right now.
Polk Audio RC80i 2-way Premium In-Ceiling 8″ Round Speakers
The list of the best ceiling speakers isn’t complete without Polk Audio’s bestselling RC80i (Amazon, #CommissionsEarned).
It’s the undisputed leader in the niche. It’s a bummer that there’s not a version of it that has a built-in Bluetooth receiver.
Since we’re now only connecting to the Bluetooth receiver, all the connectivity features will only be limited by your wall-mounted receiver.
So, if you choose to use the RC80i with Pyle-branded Bluetooth receiver, then you’ll have USB, 3.5mm audio port, Bluetooth, and even Wi-Fi connectivity available to you.
The RC80i’s 8-inch drivers are some of the best in the business.
They can get loud without breaking the bass.
If you’re a casual music listener, just these can be enough to satiate your auditory hunger.
However, ceiling speakers do have the reputation for having poor bass performance and these are no exception.
If you’re the type to fully immerse yourself in the music, you’re going to need to pair these with a separate subwoofer, preferably one that can deliver bass that can make you feel like there’s an earthquake.
Ease of Installation
Just by seeing these things, you’d know they’re pretty heavy.
On paper, it’s 4.3 lbs per speaker. But remember that you’re going to have to hold that entire weight for a long period above your head while fastening it to your ceiling.
Another difficult part of the installation process would be fitting it into tight ceilings because it has a pretty large mounting depth of 236.22 mm.
It’s a huge deviation from the median depth of 100mm.
The speakers are marketed as all-weather speakers. Therefore, it should be able to withstand moisture and humidity.
So, you can install these in any room you want including the bathroom, kitchen, and even outdoors.
They’re certainly powerful enough for any of these rooms.
The RC80i is, like most of the speakers on this list, a pair of mono speakers. This ensures excellent sound separation.
The sound separation and the quality driver make the RC80i a remarkable addition to any surround sound system.
This is easily the most expensive set of speakers on this list especially if you include the price of the Bluetooth receiver into the equation.
The speakers and the Bluetooth receiver together are under $250, but for this price, you’ll have got yourself one of the best ceiling speaker setups.
If you’re in the market for Bluetooth speakers that you can install on your ceiling, you’ve got an endless list of great options especially if you choose to go with the wall-mounted Bluetooth receiver route.
For the best audio quality and versatility, Polk Audio would have been perfect. The Bluetooth receiver adds a lot of value to the setup.
However, the combination of high price and complicated installation make it a bit of an investment in both time and money.
For this reason, the Pyle 2-Way 8” Bluetooth Ceiling Speakers (Amazon, #CommissionsEarned) wins as the best Bluetooth ceiling speaker.
They’re easy to install, have great audio quality, and most importantly, very easy to use because of the built-in Bluetooth receiver.
In a way, you gain all the benefits of a Bluetooth speaker with a significantly improved audio quality.
Honourable mention for the best single stereo ceiling speakers: Polk Audio RC6s In-Ceiling 6.5″ Stereo Speaker (Amazon, #CommissionsEarned).
If for some reason, you want to install ceiling speakers in a room that doesn’t have enough ceiling real estate for two woofers, then you may want to look at the Polk Audio RC6s.
It’s one of the best single stereo ceiling speakers in the market.
It gives you stereo separation that can be just as good as two speakers because of the top-quality 6.5-inch driver and the pivotable tweeters.
However, like its big brother the RC80i, it needs a separate Bluetooth receiver if you want to use it wirelessly.