In-ceiling Speakers

Best Atmos Speakers for your Home Theater


Most people discover Dolby Atmos after they’ve already set up a home theater. Unfortunately, this is far too late for most of us to install the in-ceiling speakers that Dolby recommends. Instead, we are stuck looking for solutions that will give us the height speakers we want without us having to climb up in our attics. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite and best atmos speakers. And, for the few that can install in-ceiling speakers, we’ve got some options for you as well.

In-Ceiling Atmos Speakers

We don’t have access to the ceiling in our home theater, but maybe you do. If so, you can actually install the type of speakers that Dolby recommends. When we look for in-ceiling speakers, we want something that has enough bass to crossover into a sub and a flat frequency response.

Monoprice AlphaSeries In-Ceiling Speakers

Our favorite recommendation is the Monoprice Alpha Series in-ceiling speakers. We prefer a 6.5″ woofer cone as it is large enough to give good bass and still crossover into the tweeter well. At less than $90 a pair, these are definitely affordable. We’ve recommended these speakers to multiple people and they’ve all reported back positive results. Note: You want the non-angled version. Dolby recommends that your Atmos speakers point directly down rather than aimed at your couch. If you want to save a little more money, you can pick up the Monoprice Caliber Series in-ceiling speakers. These are about $30 less a pair but still sound pretty good.

Whenever you install in-ceiling speakers, you need to worry about sound transmission to other parts of the house. We always recommend that you have a backer box for your in-wall/in-ceiling speakers. While you can build one if you are handy enough, Monoprice sells backer boxes for their Alpha and Caliber Series speakers (they work for both). Honestly, this is one of the reasons we like the Monoprice in-ceiling speakers so much. At just over $30 for a pair, you’d probably spend more on materials if you built your own. For $60 per speaker including the backer-box, the Monoprice offerings are one of the best in-ceiling speakers out there.

Best Alternative: Pyle In-Ceiling Speakers

If you are looking for another option for in-ceiling speakers, the Pyle flush-mount in-ceiling speakers are a good choice. At the time of this writing, these are a couple of dollars more than the least expensive Monoprice offerings. For Atmos, we doubt anyone could tell the difference between these and the Calibre Series Monoprice speakers. When you are shopping, get the one that is on sale. Unless you plan on getting the backer-boxes. In that case, get the Monoprice speakers.

Best Non-In-Ceiling Atmos Speakers

Not all of us can cut holes in our ceiling and install speakers. Instead, we need to look for other options. While you could just use an on-wall speaker and mount it very high, there are speakers out there designed with Atmos in mind.

SVS Prime Elevation Speaker

One of the first to offer an Atmos speaker alternative to in-ceiling was SVS. The Prime Elevation speaker is angled so that it can be placed on a wall but still maintain the angle it needs for Atmos. They can also be mounted on the ceiling for other Atmos placement options. This is a great speaker for those that can’t install in-ceiling speakers or have non-flat ceilings. At less than $400 for a pair, they aren’t cheap but they are still one of the best options out there.

Alternative: Klipsch R-41SA Speaker

The Klipsch R-41SA apes the design of the SVS Prime Elevation speakers but adds a twist – it can be placed on top of your floor speakers. This allows it to double as an Atmos module. While we are dubious about the effectiveness of the upward-firing Atmos modules, for some, they are the best option to add Atmos. We’ve heard these speakers used as Atmos modules and they performed better than all the others we’ve heard. If you get these Klipsch, you have the option to mount them to the wall if the upward-firing doesn’t work. Unlike the SVS, they can’t be easily mounted to the ceiling. The list price for the Klipsch is slightly higher than the SVS speakers but they often go on sale.

Best Atmos Module Alternative: Elac Debut 2.0 A4.2

If you really want an Atmos module speaker, you can save some money by going with the Elac Debut 2.0 A4.2 modules. The Elac speakers don’t have any wall mounting hardware so if you’ll have to get creative if you decide the upward-firing isn’t working for you. At a list price of $100 less than the Klipsch or SVS, you can save by getting these. Like the others, they often go on sale further increasing your savings.

There are other Atmos modules out there but we don’t normally recommend them. There are a lot of factors that go into how effective an Atmos module can be, and the quality of the speaker isn’t the deciding factor. Where you sit, the shape of your ceiling, and many other factors play a bigger role. If we were buying an Atmos module, we’d get the Klipsch. That way we’d at least have the option to wall mount them.

Conclusion

One question that might be running through your head is, “But you didn’t ask which speakers I own!” You are correct. In most situations, we would care about the timbre match of your speakers and try to ensure that all your speakers sound similar. That’s not the case with Atmos speakers. There are a lot of reasons for this. Suffice it to say that the sounds coming from your Atmos speakers are so unique as to not need to match your other speakers. If you are considering Atmos, you could spend a lot more money on speakers that match your other speakers. But we doubt you could hear the difference between those expensive speakers and those we’ve listed here.


2 Comments on Best Atmos Speakers for your Home Theater

    • Vaulted ceilings are hard. The angles can be very different so there is no universal in-ceiling solution. There are in-ceiling speakers with built-in angles, but you have to match them to your ceiling. If you can find something that matches, go with that. If it were me, I’d opt for an on-ceiling solution with a mount that can be tilted to the proper orientation (straight down). If in-ceiling is the only option, and you can’t find a speaker with the proper angle, I’d probably opt for an in-ceiling with a tweeter that can be aimed. I don’t think that would make much difference over a standard in-ceiling, but it would make me feel better about the speaker. There are some speakers with adjustable angles, but if you look closely, they have openings that would allow sound to travel through the speaker and into the ceiling (and the other way as well). You would need to build a backer-box for one of those. I’m also not confident that the angling mechanism wouldn’t make noise (rattle or “port” noise).

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