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Do In-Ceiling Speakers Need a Backbox?

Do in-ceiling speakers need a backbox? Does it improve performance? The answer is, most definitely. But it’s a bit more complicated than that. If you are installing or building a home theater system, these are the things you will need to know.

Building your surround sound system is exciting, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, it could spell trouble. You could spend a load of cash and still not get the system you originally envisioned. So let’s find out why in-ceiling speakers need a backbox enclosure, starting with…

What are Speaker Backbox Enclosures?

Speaker Backbox Enclosures

But before we find out what a speaker backbox is, you will have to ask yourself a few questions. Do I want to use a load of external speakers for my system or a selection of in-built speakers?

Indeed, in-built speakers usually get a bad rep because people see them as inferior and generic. But this is not true, and it’s an urban myth. As long as your in-built speakers have a backbox, it doesn’t matter that much.

If you do not fit a backbox to your in-ceiling or in-wall speakers, the sound quality will be weaker and diluted. This will also have a knock-on effect on the sound in other rooms as waves will leak out the back of the unit. If you purchase in-built speakers without a backbox, you are selling yourself short and limiting your sound quality from the get-go.

Check out more details about speaker backboxes…

A speaker backbox is a speaker enclosure made from plastic or wood that captures and directs sound waves from the speaker. Its main function is to protect your speaker and give it reliable and durable support.

The key reason why people use in-ceiling or in-wall speakers is that they are not intrusive. The major issue is these types of in-ceiling speakers don’t usually come with a backbox. This leads to inferior sound quality, which is the opposite of what you were looking for.

You will boost sound quality by adding a backbox, as it acts as a soundproofing function with acoustic dampening features. So, back to our original question, “Do In-Ceiling Speakers Need a Backbox?” Well, if you want to keep the sound in your room without waking the neighbors or your kids, adding a backbox is essential.

When should a speaker backbox be used or applied?

This answer is simple. Any time you install an in-wall or in-ceiling speaker, without any exceptions. Failure to do so will seriously limit your home theater system dreams. There should be no reason or excuses why you are not fitting a backbox to your in-ceiling speakers.

Why would you invest in high-end audio and surround sound gear if you are going to settle for an “okay” sound? The soundproofing and audio improvements you will get from a backbox are vital to the overall performance of your home theater setup.

Sticking out like a sore thumb…

Many people like wall hanging speakers, but they can take up lots of space and appear cumbersome. They stick out like a sore thumb at a foot factory. This is why so many people are now opting for in-wall or in-ceiling speakers.

They offer a neat and tidy layout that is out of harm’s way. However, in-celling speakers without a backbox often vibrate in the wall, which can then be felt in adjoining rooms. And this is also true in regards to the sound, especially the deep bass vibrations.

If you have kids sleeping in the next room, playing late-night music through in-ceiling speakers without a backbox could wake your children. Backboxes also protect your speakers and ensure no dust gets inside. And let’s also not forget that in-ceiling speakers are safer than wall-hanging speakers.

Step-By-Step Building a DIY Speaker Backbox Guide

Step-By-Step Building a DIY Speaker Backbox Guide

There are numerous in-ceiling speakers with a backbox that come in metal, plastic, or wood. But if you have been lumbered with in-ceiling speakers without a backbox, you might want to build your own. Here is our step-by-step building a DIY speaker backbox guide.

Step 1 – Know Your Speaker Dimensions and Sizes

Before you are going to construct a DIY speaker backbox, make sure you know your speaker’s sizes and dimensions to ensure your backbox fits properly. Therefore, carefully measure the face of your speakers and the depth.

Step 2 – Use a 2 x 4 to Cut the Box

You should always aim to cut your backbox from a 2 x 4 piece of wood. But, you have to be very careful with this because wall cavities generally have only a 3-inch depth. Ceiling cavities, on the other hand, are generally 4-inch deep. This means you can cut your backbox perfectly from a 2 x 4 for your in-ceiling speaker box.

Step 3 – Building the Frame

Now you have cut your pieces from the 2 x 4 wood; you can start to assemble your frame. We would recommend that you fasten them together with screws or a nail gun. But please remember to check if your box fits in the cavity while you are building the frame and before you go any further.

Step 4 – Measuring and Building Your Back Plate

Now you need to take the frame you built and place it on a board of MDF or OSB. You will then need to trace the shape of the end of your frame to the board. You will use this for the backplate of your box.

Then you can use a table saw to carefully and slowly cut along the lines. Once completed, take your new backplate, place it on the end of your frame, and fasten them together with a nail gun or screws.

Step 5 – Optional Added Soundproof Features

If you want to increase the soundproofing of your backbox, this might be a perfect time. To do this, you have to pretty much follow the same procedure as step-4. But this time, get two thinner pieces of MDF or OSB and complete the same “cutting out” step. You will need a dampening compound such as Green Glue Noiseproofing Compound or this St Gobain Compound.

Optional Added

The idea is to add a coat of the soundproofing compound between the two backplate boards you have cut. That should create a layer of soundproofing within your speaker backbox that will keep the sound waves in the speaker going in the right direction. Your kids and neighbors will be thrilled by this option.

Step 6 – Drilling Holes in your Backbox

The last thing you need to do in the construction phase is to ensure your drill some holes for the wires that run to and from your speakers.

Step 7 – Installing Your Speaker Backbox

Now you’ve done the hard work, installing your backbox should be relatively simple. You will firstly have to cut a hole in the drywall. Just make sure that you get a snug fit with your backbox in the inner wall. If you do have any spaces or gaps, you can use an acoustic caulk filler. And that should seal the deal; pardon the pun.

Looking for Great Speakers?

Well, we have the reviews that can help you find what you want. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best In Wall Speakers, the Best In Ceiling Speakers, the Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $200, the Best Powered SpeakersBest Wireless TV Speakers, the Best Home Theater Speakers, and the Best 7.1 Home Theater System you can buy in 2023.

You may also enjoy our comprehensive reviews of the Best Party Speakers, the Best Floor Standing Speakers, the Best Bookshelf Speakers, the Best Wireless Outdoor Speakers, the Best Sonos Speakers, and the Best Ceiling Speakers For Dolby Atmos currently on the market.

Do In-Ceiling Speakers Need a Backbox? – Final Thoughts

I started this review by saying that the answer was yes. Although some audiophiles hate in-ceiling or in-wall speakers, they generally get a bad rap because they don’t have a backbox. And that’s exactly why audiophiles don’t like them.

In-ceiling speakers with no backbox usually result in a diluted and inferior sound. And also, the sound can leak into other rooms through your walls. However, they are great if you build a backbox. They are non-intrusive, look fantastic, and are always out of harm’s way. So, build a box for your speaker’s right way; your ears will thank you more than you can imagine.

Until next time, happy listening.

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About Jennifer Bell

Jennifer is a freelance writer from Montana. She holds a BA in Creative Writing and English, as well as an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Games and Simulation Design.

Her passions include guitar, bass, ukulele, and piano, as well as a range of classical instruments she has been playing since at school. She also enjoys reading fantasy and sci-fi novels, yoga, eating well, and spending time with her two cats, Rocky and Jasper.

Jennifer enjoys writing articles on all types of musical instruments and is always extending her understanding and appreciation of music. She also writes science fiction and fantasy short stories for various websites and hopes to get her first book published in the very near future.

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