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Every Room Deserves Great Sound

Tara W. has worked for Crutchfield since 2004. She writes about whole-house music and video gear, and works on Crutchfield's video team.

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Room%20textLiving room shown with Polk Audio 70-RT in-ceiling speakers

Some rooms are nearly impossible to outfit with a traditional home theater system — whether they include an open floor plan or a less-than-ideal arrangement of windows and doors. But that doesn’t mean you have to put up with bad sound. In this article, we’ll discuss two ways — one quite simple and one a bit more involved — to work great sound into your hard-to-fit room.

Option #1: Go with a single-speaker solution — a sound bar

Don’t have space for rear speakers in the back of your room? Unable to run cables across your floor or through your walls? You can still get engaging sound with a single speaker, called a “sound bar.” These speakers connect directly to your TV or to a home theater receiver. Some deliver stereo sound, others use advanced signal processing and carefully aimed speaker drivers for surround sound.

For more information on these single-speaker solutions, watch our video on Choosing a Sound Bar.

Example system:

Polk Audio SurroundBar® 400 Component Home Theater™
Connect this sound bar to your five- or seven-channel surround receiver, and it uses special processing to create surround sound without rear speakers. This speaker is just 2" deep so it’ll match perfectly with a flat-panel HDTV.
Polk Audio PSW111
This ultracompact subwoofer is the perfect companion to a sound bar. It delivers low-end frequencies without taking up much space in your room.

Option #2: Install the speakers in your ceiling or wall

If you want full surround sound, but can’t fit traditional speakers in your room, in-wall or in-ceiling speakers are a great option. They deliver incredible sonic performance and disappear into your room with paintable grilles. These speakers require you to run speaker wire in your wall, but it’s a job you won’t have to plan alone. Call our advisors for help planning the wire run, selecting the right speakers for your room, and making sure you have the right tools for the job.

Example system:

Polk Audio 70-RT in-ceiling speakers
These speakers pack a lot into a small frame — each has a tweeter, a midrange, and a woofer for full-bodied sound.
Polk Audio MC80 in-ceiling speakers
These speakers install flush in the ceiling and feature aimable tweeters, so you can direct the high frequencies towards your seating position.
Polk Audio MC85 in-wall speakers 
The MC85 speakers mount flush in your wall.
An aimable ¾" tweeter and an 8" woofer deliver clear highs and warm, rich lows. 
Polk Audio 65-RT in-wall speakers
These in-wall speakers feature paintable
grilles that practically disappear into your
room. A 1" silk dome tweeter and 6½" woofer give you accurate sound.

What you need to get the job done (and make it look nice, too)

When you’re installing speakers in the wall, you’ll need to run the speaker cable through the wall, too. Look for speaker cable that’s labeled CL2 or CL3. This means that the cable has been tested by the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and certified for safe use when routed through the walls and ceiling of a home. Finish off the in-wall cable runs with wall plates for a polished, professional look.

For more information on running cables through your walls, check out our In-wall Wiring Guide.

Example installation gear:

AudioQuest in-wall speaker cable
This cable is approved for in-wall runs in your home, so you can safely route it through walls and ceilings.
Niles Audio wall outlets for speaker wires
This 4-post wall outlet lets you make a clean connection between in-wall wire runs and your home receiver or speakers.

Ask an expert advisor

No pressure, no commission — just lots of good advice from our highly trained staff.

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