In Wall vs On Wall Speakers

Updated: Feb 15, 2024 4:56 AM

Deciding between in-wall vs on-wall speakers can be a daunting task. Both provide a sleek, modern appearance and exceptional sound quality, and both can involve costly or complicated installation to varying degrees, so knowing the most about what each offers is essential to deciding on the best speakers for you.

Key Takeaways_

  • Though purchase prices are usually comparable, in-wall speakers are generally more costly due to installation costs, even if you do the job yourself.
  • On-wall speakers have a slight advantage in terms of sound because their bass response isn’t compromised by in-wall absorption.
  • Both in-wall and on-wall speakers save considerable space and offer a sleeker look than box and bookshelf models.

You can also read about the pros and cons of bookshelf vs in-wall speakers as a third option.

Comparing In-wall vs Wall-mounted Speakers

Anyone looking for the best listening experience possible with their home audio or entertainment system would be wise to consider in-wall or on-wall speakers. Both offer audio performance customized to your space compared to shelf speakers, meaning you’ll theoretically be getting the best experience possible for your specific needs. However, there are several significant differences when it comes to sound quality, cost, and other factors you should consider.

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Most in-wall speakers feature adjustable woofers so that you can more precisely calibrate the bass response to the room after installation.

Aesthetics & Space

Both in-wall and wall-mounted speakers offer a more discreet, space-saving design compared to bookshelf and similar speakers. On-wall speakers are considerably slimmer than traditional speakers and are made to hang directly on a wall like a painting or a photograph, taking up less visual and functional space.

In-wall speakers are installed directly into your walls without a speaker cabinet and thus provide an even more integrated, modern look, though with more installation time and cost. In-wall speakers have the edge somewhat here. You may also want to check out the best in-ceiling speaker if you like the in-wall look.

Sound Quality

In-wall and on-wall speakers both tend to be higher-end pieces of audio equipment designed for more demanding audio enthusiasts (though not necessarily audiophiles). However, the bass response can sometimes suffer because they’re installed directly into your wall, making them sound a little thinner than wall-mounted models.

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Though they generally offer good to exceptional audio performance, poorly installed or calibrated in-wall speakers can produce an inferior stereo image and bass response compared to box, bookshelf, or on-wall models.

Most offer adjustable woofers so that users can calibrate their position for optimal bass response, but this basic design feature means on-wall models come out ahead a bit.

Cost

Both options tend to start at slightly higher price points than comparable traditional speakers, but in-wall speakers require a custom installation. This fact can add considerably to their overall cost.

STAT: Global sales of in-wall speakers have increased dramatically in the past five years compared to the growth of box or bookshelf models. (source)

While you can elect to install them yourself to save on labour costs, you’ll still have to spend extra money on parts and possibly tools. It’s also not necessarily a quick and easy job, depending on your space and your walls. As such, most manufacturers will recommend having a professional do the job. Either way, you’re going to shell out more than you would in total for on-wall models.

In Wall vs On Wall Speakers Questions (FAQ)

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