In-Wall Speakers Mounted Within Outside Walls - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 34 Old 01-16-2011, 11:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Can't use floor standing speakers but having a tough time finding on-wall speakers I want. Started to consider in-wall speakers since the selection is much better but just finished reading a thread that said not to install in-wall speakers within a wall that's also an outside wall of the house.

The issue had to do with cutting through the wall board would also mean cutting through the inner vapor barrier, which will eventually cause moisture from the air inside the house to get into the wall and mold.

If I find a set of in-wall speakers "with sealed enclosures", that I like better than any of the on-wall speakers I've looked at so far, can I build a wood enclosure that will fit around the speakers sealed enclosure, and hang them on the wall?

And considering the speaker would have a sealed enclosure to begin with, would either the wood enclosure, or the fact that I'm hanging them on the wall, affect the sound quality?

Update per Post #13...

I have a wood frame house with vinyl siding so I want to do what I can to keep the noise from reaching the next door neighbor since their bedroom is on that side of the house.

If I purchase an in-wall speaker that has it's own sealed enclosure, can I install Dynamat inside the wall cavity without affecting the sound quality?
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post #2 of 34 Old 01-17-2011, 05:33 AM
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I don't have an answer for you per se but I have been also going through the on wall versus in wall debate as I will be starting a project soon. We are going to have our familry room/HT room remodeled and having all the walls replaced with new dry wall. I have been trying to educate my self on in wall versus on wall since I have never owned either. At this point I am leaning towards the Anthony Gallo Strada speaker which is an on wall speaker. The reviews are very positive and they look cool...though the look is not for everyone. Good luck in your quest to find the right speaker
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post #3 of 34 Old 01-17-2011, 06:52 AM
 
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I have not bought any yet, but Axiom has some great looking in-wall, on-wall, and in/on-wall speakers. The in/on-wall speakers are hybrids, with part in the wall and part on the wall.

Here is the link to the section with their in, on, in/on speakers:

http://www.axiomaudio.com/wallspeakers.html

I am probably going to replace my side surrounds and rear surrond (going form 6.1 to 7.1) soon with the M2 inwalls. Still debating about it, though.
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post #4 of 34 Old 01-17-2011, 09:57 AM - Thread Starter
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From what I've read, (a) there is a much better selection of in-wall speakers than on-wall speakers and (b) in-wall speakers in general sound better than on-wall speakers.

After months of researching on-wall speakers, while spending only a week with in-wall speakers, (a) is definitely true. I have no idea about (b) and that may not be true in a few years as on-wall speakers continue to improve. But from what I've read recently, the bottom line seems to be... select on-wall speakers only if you can't use in-wall speakers.

I appreciate the suggestions, but remember I'm not asking for speaker recommendations. As far as the depth of an in-wall speaker, it doesn't matter. Even if it will only go into the wall 1 inch... the inner vapor barrier is directly behind the wall board. So any cutting of the wall board will also cut through the vapor barrier.

At the moment, I'm only trying to find out the consequences of taking a high end set of in-wall speakers, those that already have sealed enclosures, and converting them to on-wall speakers by covering the enclosures with an outer shell made from wood or mdf material.

Thanks
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post #5 of 34 Old 01-17-2011, 10:21 AM
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Vapor barrier boxes for speaker in wall installation are commercially available for the application you describe. Building a vapor barrier box yourself is another option.
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post #6 of 34 Old 01-17-2011, 10:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevensctt View Post
Vapor barrier boxes for speaker in wall installation are commercially available for the application you describe. Building a vapor barrier box yourself is another option.
I guess you can say I wasn't thinking outside the (vapor barrier) box

Several threads I read didn't mention it and one flat out said not to install speakers within an outside wall. Just found another thread that clearly goes along with your idea so at least I know it can be done. Thanks.

Don't necessarily want this thread to stop though, so if anyone does know the answer to my initial questions, I'm still interested.

Thanks again.
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post #7 of 34 Old 01-17-2011, 11:50 AM
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Building a box for an in wall speaker will drastically alter the sound of that speaker. On wall speakers are designed for that application and the crossovers are set for an on wall installation.

Doing the vapor barrier change and properly sealing it will not affect the rating of the vapor barrier. It will slightly change the insulation rating since the insulation will be compacted.

Yes, there is more of a selection of in wall speakers available but this does not mean that they are better for every application.

Also, the farther out a speaker is from a wall, the better the sound staging will be. In general.
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post #8 of 34 Old 01-17-2011, 12:52 PM
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To directly answer your initial question, of course you can build a wood enclosure for in-walls and then hang them on the wall. I would expect some impact to sound quality although not sure that it would be drastic as described above.

I do think that you should consider on-wall speakers instead as these are designed for the application, plus consider the appearance aspect. Even though the selection is greater for in-walls, most of the major speaker manufacturers offer on-wall speakers as this is a very popular choice. On-wall L, R and Center framing a wall mounted flat screen is a nice design look.
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post #9 of 34 Old 01-17-2011, 12:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevensctt View Post
To directly answer your initial question, of course you can build a wood enclosure for in-walls and then hang them on the wall. I would expect some impact to sound quality although not sure that it would be drastic as described above.

I do think that you should consider on-wall speakers instead as these are designed for the application, plus consider the appearance aspect. Even though the selection is greater for in-walls, most of the major speaker manufacturers offer on-wall speakers as this is a very popular choice. On-wall L, R and Center framing a wall mounted flat screen is a nice design look.
Thanks for replying Steven. I certainly haven't eliminated anything at this point, but at least I'll have a better understanding of my options along with their pros and cons. Even if I end up with in-wall speakers, I could always make enclosures to mount them on the wall, and if I feel the sound quality isn't what it should be, I can always remove the enclosures and reinstall them inside the wall. It would be worth the effort considering I put aside $4,500 for the LCR's alone and have no plans on purchasing another system for a long time.
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post #10 of 34 Old 01-17-2011, 01:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ifor View Post
Building a box for an in wall speaker will drastically alter the sound of that speaker. On wall speakers are designed for that application and the crossovers are set for an on wall installation.

Doing the vapor barrier change and properly sealing it will not affect the rating of the vapor barrier. It will slightly change the insulation rating since the insulation will be compacted.
Since the selection of in-wall speakers is better, and now I know how to manage the vapor barrier issue, I'm more inclined to stay with in-wall speakers which have their own sealed enclosures. Thanks.
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post #11 of 34 Old 01-17-2011, 10:20 PM
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why not get inwall speakers that have an engineered enclosure and sink them into the wall with the vapor barrier sealed around it?
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post #12 of 34 Old 01-17-2011, 11:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ifor View Post

why not get inwall speakers that have an engineered enclosure and sink them into the wall with the vapor barrier sealed around it?

I knew my prior two posts were going to confuse things so I just went back and edited them for clarity. But to answer your question... that's exactly what I plan to do if I end up with in-wall speakers. Thanks.
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post #13 of 34 Old 01-17-2011, 11:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Just one more issue before I start concentrating on the available in-wall speakers...

I have a wood frame house with vinyl siding so I want to do what I can to keep the noise from reaching the next door neighbor since their bedroom is on that side of the house.

If I purchase an in-wall speaker that has it's own sealed enclosure, can I install Dynamat inside the wall cavity without affecting the sound quality?
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post #14 of 34 Old 01-18-2011, 02:57 AM
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the engineered enclosure will take care of the sound issue for the most part.

Dynamat won't change anything since it is made for deadening metal (like in cars), although they do make a product called the Dynabox, but I really think that this will be way overkill.

you "ll have to contend with the walls "singing" rather than the sound coming through the speaker enclosures.
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post #15 of 34 Old 01-18-2011, 09:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ifor View Post

Dynamat won't change anything since it is made for deadening metal (like in cars), although they do make a product called the Dynabox, but I really think that this will be way overkill.

you "ll have to contend with the walls "singing" rather than the sound coming through the speaker enclosures.


Both those comments confuse me... per Dynamat's website:

En-Wall significantly reduces wall vibration, projects more clear sound into the room and reduces unwanted noise transfer through walls. En-Wall combines Dynamat Xtreme, DynaXorb and the SoundSnake to damp, diffuse, and decouple in-wall speakers. En-Wal encases in-wall speakers creating an optimal acoustic environment for delivering premium sound quality.
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post #16 of 34 Old 01-18-2011, 11:15 AM
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would not think sealing off the area your placing the speaker in the wall would be an issue,, if you take a little time yoru work may exceed the builders,, if you look at many homes the vapor seal is so poorly done around the windows ya wonder why they even tried,,

there are many good in wall and ceiling speakers now available but they are not in the low budget area,, we have a nice set in the living room which really sounds good, think the cost was in the $800 area for both of them,, yes the bass is limited to around 40 hz which is fine for the music the wife listens to,, if I want bass I can head to the HT for real couch shaking suff,,

would never recommend placing speakers from a tower or other type unit into the wall unless you can shove the entire unit in the hole,,

would read as many professional reviews (yes some get distorted) and then narrow your search for what the pocketbook allows,, here is a link to Home Theaters for a review of 23 in-wall speakers to help ya get started,,

http://hometheaterreview.com/equipme...eaker-reviews/


Derry

Common sense is not common,,

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post #17 of 34 Old 01-18-2011, 12:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Derry, when you referred to sealing off the area in the wall, were you also taking en-wall into consideration? I don't have a problem spending the money for en-wall, but if it's not going to do any good, or hurt the sound quality, then that's another story.

Knowing I couldn't use floorstanding speakers I expected to do a substantial amount of reading, but never thought it would be this invlolved. You would think a healthy budget for speakers would make it easier, but in reality the reverse is true. Thanks for the info.
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post #18 of 34 Old 01-18-2011, 01:48 PM
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JUst make sure the speakers you plan on using aren't designed for an infinite baffle. If they are and you enclose them you will severely alter the sound.
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post #19 of 34 Old 01-18-2011, 03:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 65Cobra427SC View Post

Both those comments confuse me... per Dynamat's website:

En-Wall significantly reduces wall vibration, projects more clear sound into the room and reduces unwanted noise transfer through walls. En-Wall combines Dynamat Xtreme, DynaXorb and the SoundSnake to damp, diffuse, and decouple in-wall speakers. En-Wal encases in-wall speakers creating an optimal acoustic environment for delivering premium sound quality.

this is for an inside wall. an outside wall already has plywood and insulation over an inside cavity. this is also suggested for an infinate baffle design, so it will change the sound of the speaker.

just look for an inwall speaker with an engineered enclosure (not an add on), cut and reseal the vapor barrier and your done. don't worry about anything else.

like i said before, you would have to look at sound proofing the whole room if you are playing your volume loud enough to bother the neighbors.
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post #20 of 34 Old 01-18-2011, 04:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks all... already started working on a list of in-walls I might be interested in.
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post #21 of 34 Old 01-19-2011, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by ifor View Post


just look for an inwall speaker with an engineered enclosure (not an add on), cut and reseal the vapor barrier and your done. don't worry about anything else.

like i said before, you would have to look at sound proofing the whole room if you are playing your volume loud enough to bother the neighbors.

Cutting into a vapor barrier and not resealing it properly can open a whole new can of worms on a newer home. I was in construction for many years and I have seen the damage moisture can cause in an external wall when the vapor barrier wasn't properly sealed. If it was me I wouldn't do it. Also remember, in the winter the front of that speaker is going to be warm and the back will be ice cold. You have two temperature extremes fighting each other not to mention when warm humid enters that enclosure and it will, your going to get condensation, not good for electronics.
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post #22 of 34 Old 01-19-2011, 10:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Chicagorep View Post

Cutting into a vapor barrier and not resealing it properly can open a whole new can of worms on a newer home. I was in construction for many years and I have seen the damage moisture can cause in an external wall when the vapor barrier wasn't properly sealed. If it was me I wouldn't do it. Also remember, in the winter the front of that speaker is going to be warm and the back will be ice cold. You have two temperature extremes fighting each other not to mention when warm humid enters that enclosure and it will, your going to get condensation, not good for electronics.

Of course I planned on resealing the vapor barrier properly (I'm anal so I'm sure it would be done right) but the temperature difference is an interesting point. I would think there is something I could do to eliminate that issue, but then the question becomes... Will I have enough depth in the wall to eliminate the issue AND install the speaker? I doubt that since the 2x4's in that wall are only giving me 3.5" of depth to begin with. I could frame the speaker to move it outward by an inch, but (a) is that going to give me enough space to prevent the temperature differential, and (b) is that going to create other issues?
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post #23 of 34 Old 01-19-2011, 10:18 AM
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post #24 of 34 Old 01-19-2011, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Do you have fire blocks?

I assume you're referring to the horizontal 2x4 sections of wood installed between the vertical studs in a wall. I noticed several in an unfinished section of a wall in the laundry room which implies I do. On the other hand I was previously able to use a fish tape to run speaker wire from the attic down the outside wall I've been referring to, and to a speaker outlet box at the bottom of the wall, which implies I don't. If you want, I can try and figure it out using a stud finder.
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post #25 of 34 Old 01-19-2011, 12:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 65Cobra427SC View Post

Of course I planned on resealing the vapor barrier properly (I'm anal so I'm sure it would be done right) but the temperature difference is an interesting point. I would think there is something I could do to eliminate that issue, but then the question becomes... Will I have enough depth in the wall to eliminate the issue AND install the speaker? I doubt that since the 2x4's in that wall are only giving me 3.5" of depth to begin with. I could frame the speaker to move it outward by an inch, but (a) is that going to give me enough space to prevent the temperature differential, and (b) is that going to create other issues?

An inch will help only slightly on the really cold days and I know you get them out there, it won't help at all. Hold your hand in front of a receptacle or switch located on an outside wall and I guarantee you will feel a cold draft, that's even with standard insulation around the electrical box.
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post #26 of 34 Old 01-19-2011, 01:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 65Cobra427SC View Post

Of course I planned on resealing the vapor barrier properly (I'm anal so I'm sure it would be done right) but the temperature difference is an interesting point. I would think there is something I could do to eliminate that issue, but then the question becomes... Will I have enough depth in the wall to eliminate the issue AND install the speaker? I doubt that since the 2x4's in that wall are only giving me 3.5" of depth to begin with. I could frame the speaker to move it outward by an inch, but (a) is that going to give me enough space to prevent the temperature differential, and (b) is that going to create other issues?

i don't think i've seen an outside wall that was 2x4. all of the ones i've been around and worked on, including Canada, have been 2x6 walls for the outside. i would be very surprised to see a 2x4 outside wall. especially since they are load bearing.

i am sure you will be fine. just seal it properly.

i also wouldn't worry too much about the cold, your walls don't freeze on the inside, neither will your speaker.
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post #27 of 34 Old 01-19-2011, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by ifor View Post
i don't think i've seen an outside wall that was 2x4. all of the ones i've been around and worked on, including Canada, have been 2x6 walls for the outside. i would be very surprised to see a 2x4 outside wall. especially since they are load bearing.

i am sure you will be fine. just seal it properly.

i also wouldn't worry too much about the cold, your walls don't freeze on the inside, neither will your speaker.
CA has the most stringent energy codes in the country hence 2x6 walls you see. The rest of the country is different story. Inside walls don't freeze because there is a layer of insulation keeping the cold out. If the OP removes that insulation to install a speaker enclosure that layer of protection is gone. He should worry about the cold, it happens in PA.
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post #28 of 34 Old 01-23-2011, 10:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Not to intentionally bump this post but I just wanted to thank everyone for your input. After thinking about my situation more, I decided not to use in-wall speakers. I'm just not willing to chance an installation in PA... and we are at sub-zero temps at the moment. Somewhat a shame considering on-wall is now my only option, but I'll make the best of it. Thanks again.
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post #29 of 34 Old 01-24-2011, 06:24 AM
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65Cobra, you won't be sorry. YOu avoided a ton of regrets.
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post #30 of 34 Old 03-05-2012, 11:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derry View Post

would not think sealing off the area your placing the speaker in the wall would be an issue,, if you take a little time yoru work may exceed the builders,, if you look at many homes the vapor seal is so poorly done around the windows ya wonder why they even tried....
Derry

I know this is an old thread, but when googling "in wall speaker vapour barrier affect sound" this came up and i found some of it useful.

I wanted to contribute by showing what i did. i pre-wired a media room for 7.1 surround in my new house being built, and there are 3 in wall speakers going in exterior walls. I've read on other threads that in walls don't sound as good, can have wall vibration issues, etc, but wifey wanted the clean look so not like i had a choice right (whip lashes in background).

I was in a real time crunch and had stupidly not thought about vapour barrier issues, and I had no time left to order backboxes which are available and meant for this purpose. I also didn't like the idea of the back boxes anyways because of their smallish size, thinking how the fact that a smaller sealed box would most likely affect the lower sound range. My in walls are 3 ways with an 8" woofer - bought from Monoprice - yes they are cheap, but the reviews appear to be genuine and are very good. I'm not a high end audio snob, nor am i wealthy enough to be one, lol. I appreciate good equipment but also know that good design and mediocre speakers can often sound surprisingly good.

so i went to a big box hardware store to look and see what is available, and found the pink rigid foam board - seemed like a good idea because:
  • it is closed cell foam, so it can form part of the vapour barrier
  • it is rigid, so you can build a (somewhat) sturdy box with it.
  • it is super easy to work with, all i needed was a blade and straight edge
  • it is insulation, so the room will be better insulated than other options
  • finally, it's pretty cheap, used 4 2'x8'x1/2 inch sheets at about $8 each along with 4 tubes of pl300 foam board glue for sealing.

after completing, both my construction supervisor and the insulation guys gave it the thumbs up saying it would be a sufficient vapour barrier and should be no code violations. the insulation guys are going to overlap the foam board and goop it with accousti-seal and tuck tape.

my big assumption here is that by creating a very large box, there should be minimal or no effect on the lower bass notes. i am fully aware that i bought "infinite baffle" or "open air" in wall speakers and wanted to minimize any change in it's performance.

added some pics to show how it was done...I hope this helps someone struggling with the same issues. no idea if anyone has ever done it this way, but hey i like to be creative and save $$

will try to remember to post a follow up to mention if it seems to affect sound in any way...

on another note - they were going to use the wall cavity where my center channel is going as a duct for cold air return - saw problems with that - air pressure, resonances from furnace and dust so i insisted they move it..
LL
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