Hubby’s dream has been to have in-wall speakers and a nice sound system for our TV, and after our fireplace hack and new Samsung Frame TV, we finally had the perfect location so he tracked down very good paintable in-wall speakers. Home audio stuff can be pricey and ugly, so I’ve gotten some questions about our discreet little speakers. I decided to write a post and share everything we bought for our (fairly) affordable and stylish home audio set up. Here’s a quick peek at the installation process (cutting into our wood paneling was nerve-wracking!) and a little background about why we chose the paintable in-wall speakers, subwoofer, receiver, and media cabinet we bought – and why we like them.
Finding a Shallow and Narrow Media Cabinet:
I wanted a cabinet to store all of the stuff, so before we committed to anything I found the cabinet first. We thought about building something but it was winter when we installed this and we were just too excited to wait! Luckily we found a good media cabinet that is narrow and shallow – and looks modern.
We chose the 37″ but it comes in a 47″ width as well. It’s from Overstock and I liked that it was metal, which seems less cheap-looking to me than MDF. I can paint this down the road, but the black blends in with the dark fireplace. It has mesh doors, so electronics can be controlled through the doors and I’m glad we don’t have to open them to enjoy the TV. I placed my favorite vintage chair in front.
Hubby planned on putting together a 2.1 system (two speakers and one subwoofer) based on our open concept room design. However he wanted the option to add rear or centre speakers at a later time if we wanted, so he looked at 5.2 receivers. While shopping for cabinets to store all of the TV/audio stuff, we found that a lot of them had fairly shallow shelf depths, so this limited us on receivers. We ended up going with the Sony STR-DH590 5.2 receiver because at only 11.75″ depth, it fits a standard 12″ shelf. It has a cool feature that we can stream bluetooth music (online or from our phones) straight to the receiver. For the subwoofer, I didn’t want one kicking around beside the sofa so we had to find one that was small. Hubby wanted front firing (as opposed to down firing) because it would be contained in a cabinet and could then push the air out the front.
He liked what he had read about the quality of Polk Audio products, so he selected the Polk Audio PSW111 subwoofer. Also, it’s so cute with its little MCM-inspired legs.
Choosing the Paintable In-Wall Speakers:
To continue with the more integrated installation we went with paintable in-wall speakers as opposed to floor standing or wall mounted. This did limit us a bit, but Polk Audio has a number of paintable in-wall speaker options, in different shapes and sizes. Hubby ended up choosing the Polk Audio 65RT 125W in-wall speakers. He liked that they had built in adjustments for whether the room was soft or hard, and whether they were mounted close to the side walls. These paintable in-wall speakers come white and we painted them black – which is a super boring choice, but you can paint them almost any color. I say almost because you need to use a spray paint. The holes are so fine, you don’t want any paint globbing up in them.
Installing the In-Wall Speakers:
Installation for these paintable in-wall speakers was pretty simple, but took a little while. The receiver and subwoofer are in the cabinet near the TV – no problems there. The awesome thing about our new Samsung Frame TV is that there is only one cord leading from the TV to the cabinet. Inside the cabinet, there’s a One Connect box for the TV, which everything can be connected to. So inside that cabinet is a mess of boxes and subwoofers and receivers and cables but it’s all hidden.
The paintable in-wall speakers are situated between studs in the wall. Naturally the stud spacing on each side of the fireplace is not equal so finding a symmetrical spot was a bit more challenging. As well, for ideal placement, speakers should be ear level to where you’re sitting, and it’s best if they can be around 6 feet apart. I originally wanted them tucked into the top left and right corner but no dice. They’re a little more front and center than I had wanted (I can kiss my idea for two holiday wreaths flanking the TV goodbye lol), but the sound quality is so much better there. They’re actually a little high still, but the tweeters can be aimed, so even though they are mounted a little higher than ear level while we are sitting we have aimed them down a bit towards the couch and they sound great!
For installation, we marked off the location with tape and used a spade bit and drill to start pilot holes. There’s a template with the speakers, but it’s just a cardboard rectangle.
Then hubby used a jigsaw to cut out the rectangles – see? Nerve-wracking stuff!
Speaker wire was then run straight down in the wall, through the floor to our crawl space below and along under the floor and back up in the wall near the cabinet and out to the receiver. We recommend having a stud finder, second set of eyes/ears/hands, and fish tape to make this a lot easier – and of course this process will be different for every house, but this worked for us (gotta love an unfinished basement sometimes).
Painting the In-Wall Speakers:
The speaker grills are white from the factory but they come with instructions to spray paint them yourself. It was really simple (we used Rust-Oleum Satin Black) and they look just fine. Just use thin, sheer coats.
Overall Results of our New Sound System?
The system sounds great in the space! I really like the sound quality of these speakers. I don’t know how to describe it, but they’re really natural. They don’t sound like speakers – it sounds like the action is happening in the room. Actually, since upgrading the sound, the dogs are way more responsive to our TV. We had to turn the base down a bit because there are some songs that rattled the metal cabinet, haha (we use the TV to play music), but otherwise we have no complaints. We wondered if having everything in a cabinet would be a problem, but so far that was the only issue. Wander around any audio store and it seems this kind of stuff can still be huge and kind of ugly, so I’m happy Hubby could put together a system that an affordable and stylish home audio set up!
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