Saturday, January 17, 2009

Installing ceiling speakers

We knew from the beginning that we wanted to wire the house for speakers. We planned it almost from the beginning, and made sure that each room on the first floor was wired for entertaining and just rocking out the macaroons in the kitchen.

So we ran regular speaker wire (none of that fancy expensive stuff) from each Northeast and Southwest corner of each room all the way back to a single corner in the Dining room, where we plan to have the audio receiver setup.

We made sure that when the drywall went up that the holes were punched out in the exact center of the joists so we could fit the speakers in. That dangly wire in the first image above has been there for months. It's time to go away... we just got the speakers we ordered from Ebay today.

Currently there are just a bunch of wires dangling from holes in the ceiling and a group of six sticking out of the wall in the dining room.

First thing's first.... cut a hole in the ceiling. We only got two of the speakers today, so we decided to do the kitchen set up first.

Since I really hate making a mess with drywall dust, I rigged up the hole saw with a paper plate to catch most of the dust. It's not perfect, but it helps.

We also checked before making the cuts that the studs where where they were supposed to be with a stud finder.

The speakers came with a circle template that, once we checked for studs (and used a metal clothes hanger wire bent at a 90 degree angle stuck up in the existing hole and rotated 360 degrees to make sure the clearance was there) we marked the circle with a pencil and went to town with the pull saw.

The first hole was a cinch.

We hooked up the speaker wire with some quick connections we picked up at RadioShack, slipped the whole shebang into the cut hole (tested it first for sound) and then screwed the speaker into place and tapped the perforated cover in place.

Easy Peazy.

Until we got to the second hole.

^&%$#@* &^$^#@*!

The damn plumbing pipe was 1/2 inch too low to fit the speaker in. We didn't discover this until too late. And of course, the wire hanger checked for joists, but not for plumbing.

If we moved the hole 3 inches over, the speaker would clear the pipe, and it wasn't like we had much of a choice.

So we moved the template over, and cut out the half moon piece out of the drywall.

We saved it for the patch on the other end, because, well, theoretically, the new part we cut out should exactly fit the hole we need to patch.

I screwed the half moon cutout to the 1"x3" with the board on the backside, so it would hang from the ceiling. I recessed the screws about 1/8" and made a small batch of Durabond 20 (the '20' means it sets up in 20 minutes) drywall compound to fill in the screw holes. Once this dried (and shrunk back) I filled the holes again.

The screws were too long, but wth, who's gonna see it?

I then applied some uber caulk-glue called Loc-tite Power Grab to the wood, on the underside, so it would adhere to the top of the drywall and I could avoid making new screw holes through the ceiling.

I then put the whole thing in the hole, adjusted the gap so there was an even 1/8" gap around the whole thing (I actually had to scrape away a bit to make sure the fit wasn't too tight) and let the glue set for 30 minutes.

And another batch of Durabond 20 drywall compound around the cut out, and a little sand block and a wet paper towel, I smoothed out the bumps and lines.

And my new best friend is a hair dryer.

Who knew a hairdryer would make it on to the construction tool list? But hey, it REALLY speeds up the curing time.... like from 60 minutes to ten.

Once dried, we checked to make sure the speaker fit, then added some ceiling paint.

You can't see the patch at all.

DH is rocking out downstairs with Luther Vandross and Blossom Dearie. It sounds great even from the second floor.

I've never had a system that sounds this good. The acoustics are absolutely wonderful.

I am so glad we planned for this.

Addendum by DH: We got the speakers from and I was very pleased with pricing and they had the speakers here by the end of the next day.


Jon said...

Well done! Ha - this looks exactly like the kind of fixes we're doing regularly.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see 'em! I'm curious to see what other "taste overlaps" we've got going.


Corey said...

Good tip on the hair dryer. I'll be using that trick on a few drywall spots tonight. :-)

I also like using an adjustable hole cutter for can lights. The hole cutter is just a drill bit that came with a couple of plastic pans. The pans slip in between the drill bit and the drill, thereby minimizing the dust. For your application, this probably wouldn't be wise since you have a wire in the middle that you wouldn't want to mangle. :-)

Newburgh Restoration said...

That's innovative

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the procedure and the pics - one last one of the finished product (camera pointing to the ceiling) would have been a nice final touch.

None the less - thanks. I will be doing same thing soon myself.

Anonymous said...

Good call on the final picture. I'll try to snag one of those and paste it.

The place I got the speakers on Ebay is very, VERY cheap, if you bid conservatively.


ceiling speakers uk said...

Wow! installed. This is by far the most complete guide on ceiling speaker installation.