In the world of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better and quality for this form of audio output is relative. In order to have a really good speaker, you have to have something built into a sturdy box. An in-wall or in-ceiling speaker is installed into compressed chalk – otherwise known as drywall.
One big improvement would be to improve your surface. If you’re in framing stage, this can mean put up a layer of plywood or wafer board (OSB) before the sheetrock (drywall). Or to a lesser extent, use a double layer of sheetrock. This will stiffen the surface of the “box” and give a marginal gain to the bass.
The question is, would you go to a stereo store and attempt to buy a speaker that had been encased in a drywall box? That is why we have to compromise when we make the decision to install flush-mount speakers into your walls and ceilings. You should be aware at that moment that you’re not going to have the quality of sound you’d expect from a traditional free-standing speaker.
Flush-mount speakers themselves don’t really have much more room for improvement. The manufacturers can only improve speaker components in a few ways such as improving tweeters, crossovers, wire, cone materials, etc. The costs to improve these small components top-out very quickly, and soon turn into fixed costs, such as shipping weight, literature, grill material, frames, packing material, sales rep costs, warehousing, etc.
There are some things that can be improved for greater cost, such as woofer designs, bigger magnets, exotic materials, improved baskets, larger winds, etc. But it all comes back to the problem of casing material. Once again, drywall isn’t designed to handle the vibration and impact of these improved design elements. So no matter how much you pay for your speakers, your in-ceiling speakers and in-wall speakers are always going to be inhibited by the limitations of the casing material they’re installed in.
Use a good quality speaker without spending too much money. We’ve installed a lot of equipment over the years and we’ve found that at about the $300 mark, you’ll get a really good performance versus the cost ratio. If you use an expensive $1400 a pair speaker, you may not get all of what you pay for.
As a final note, we’re all about in-wall speakers. Most of all the families out there have been more than satisfied with them! But if you’re someone who really appreciates all the nuances of your music and you’ve already spent a hefty sum on your equipment, do yourself a favor and prepare your surfaces beforehand. You’ll be glad you did.