Ever wondered how in-wall speakers stack up against floor-standing speakers, and vice versa? And how can you choose between them? This article looks exactly into that.
In every home theatre room set-up, the ultimate goal is usually to have speakers that give off high-quality output, while still adding aesthetic value to the room. These are stuff that both the in-wall and floor-standing speakers will offer you, albeit with differences.
At the end of the day, your choice between the two will boil down to your room dimensions, style, and personal preference. On this basis, this article is not to outrightly tell you which is better but to hopefully serve as a guide on your next speaker purchase.
To brief you: in-wall speakers are generally compact, almost never seen, and can be much cheaper than floor-standers which are not only larger but also provide a better bass.
In-wall vs. Floor-standing Speakers: 5 Biggest Differences
To help you easily weigh both speakers against each other, we thought a side-by-side comparison of your choices (In-wall/integrated vs. floor-standing/tower speakers) would be helpful. So, here is one.
|Feature||In-Wall Speakers||Floorstanding Speakers|
|Space & Size||Extremely minimal, some of them are hidden.||Tall, Conspicuous, takes place on the floor.|
|Mobility||Cannot be repositioned once installed.||No installation required, can be easily readjusted.|
|Style & Aesthetics||Blends well with room design||Visible; adds a lot to room design.|
|Sound Quality||Audible advantages, but give off low bass.||Good audio quality, plus greater bass response.|
|Purchase Cost||Relatively cheaper, but installation may attract cost.||Quite expensive, but tons of options are available.|
In-wall vs. Floor-standing Speakers: Factors to Consider
1. Size & Space Requirements
A very important factor that can shape your decision is the shape and size of the room (pun intended). Ask yourself: how much coverage will be needed? Am I looking to maximize space? If you own a small theatre room, the in-wall speakers – being very compact – are a great choice. They almost disappear into the walls and also do not leave cables hanging around your room.
In size, in-wall speakers are relatively small when compared to floor-standing speakers. The floor-standing speakers are one of the largest options that you can find in the audio market. While some can be short, others can get as tall as you.
Also, floor-standing speakers boast of multiple drivers and typically include a woofer; making it suitable for large home theatre set-ups. To get the same coverage from an in-wall speaker, however, you may need to install more than 3 of them in good locations;
Despite their versatility, floor standers too can’t just stay anywhere – for optimum performance, it is best to give them a breathing space and avoid them being corner-crammed or too close to an adjacent wall.
When installing or arranging any speaker (as the case may be), the location of the speaker room is crucial to optimizing its sound output.
Sadly, in-wall speakers don’t give room for repositioning; unlike the floorstanding speakers whose positions can easily be played around with. Once installed, in-wall speakers are pretty much rigid UNLESS you are planning on getting an acoustically transparent screen.
An acoustically transparent screen is usually made of a woven material, and what it does is that it blocks your speakers, but allows sound to pass through without being seamless. Another factor to take into account regarding in-wall speakers is that they could become a permanent fixture of your home if you decide to sell them.
On the other hand, floor-standing speakers offer more flexibility as you can easily stand on the floor, on a bookshelf or mount them on the wall. You get also get to carry your speakers along, should you change locations.
3. Style & Aesthetics
One key question to ask yourself is, “How do I see myself using this room?”
Some users find the idea of having floor-standing speakers as not necessary and absurd – they want them to be out of sight. If you prefer architectural speakers, the in-wall speakers would be your best bet because most of them are often discrete and compact. Some can have their grilles painted so they disappear into the wall, though.
If, however, you are keen on having a visible statement piece, you’d be better off with floor-standing speakers. It will surprise you that most of them are built with high-quality pieces of furniture, which – in a way – can serve as ornamental or even sculptural assets to your room.
Your choice should also lean towards floor-standing speakers if you like your speakers conspicuous and do not find their being a focal point distracting while watching your favorite TV series.
4. Sound Quality & Bass
Identifying your ideal audio experience can hand you a walkover at this. Do you want it cinematic, the stereo-kind? Would you like your speakers to give you some bass? Or do you already have a dedicated subwoofer?
We ask these questions because while In-wall speakers generally produce low bass and loud sound, floor-standing speakers can offer you powerful bass and loud sound.
If you are looking to have an immersive listening room, the in-wall speakers can help you create a surround, stereophonic effect especially when you place them at the right angles and positions. In a typical 5-speaker setup, the best place to install your in-wall speakers is on the left and right side of your TV and at the center (below your tv/projector).
The other two speakers should be to the left and right of your main seating position. In-wall speakers also have audible advantages over floor-standing speakers: they can eliminate SBIR from the mounted wall and baffle diffraction.
As a sum up, while in-wall speakers may be able to produce the same quality as floor-standing speakers, you may need to get 3-5 of them to equal the coverage two floor-standing speakers will offer you in a large theatre room.
Cost is no doubt important. No one wants to break the bank. So if you are keen on getting an affordable speaker, the in-wall speakers should be your go-to. Their average cost is about one-third of the cost of floor-standing speakers.
However, in-wall speakers often incur additional costs for installation. Despite that they are lots of DIY tutorials on how to go about installing them, it is best to hire a professional installer for a clean wall cut – especially if you don’t find DIYs comfortable.
The ‘relatively’ huge cost of floor-standing speakers is partly due to the fact that they have multiple drivers and typically include a powerful woofer, which most in-wall and architectural speakers lack.
The overall argument is that you should determine the total cost of the sound system (subwoofer, cables, acoustic screens) before agreeing to pick an in-wall speaker over a floor stander/tower speaker.
Pros and Cons of In-wall Speakers
- In-wall speakers maximize space in a small home theatre.
- They can create a surround/stereo sound experience
- Blends naturally with room design
- Sound from in-wall speakers spread better
- Requires little maintenance and cleaning
- At the same quality as bookshelf, in-wall speakers can get pricy
- In-wall speakers come with installation costs
- Stationary – not movable once installed
- Give off ‘relatively’ low bass
Pros and Cons of Floorstanding Speakers
- Very mobile – can be adjusted as deemed fit
- Suitable for large home theatre rooms
- Numerous purchase options
- Floorstanding speakers have a higher bass response
- They are easy to move to a new apartment
- They sometimes contrast with room decor
- Requires periodic cleaning
- Quite expensive
In-wall vs. Floor Standing Speakers: Wrap-up
In-wall and floor-standing speakers often compete for the front space in many home theater set-ups today. The reason is that the gaps between both speakers are not so wide apart.
Therefore, your choice might hinge more on your personal preference, and some perks you you definitely don’t want to miss out on: like the cinematic experience of in-wall speakers and the powerful output of floor-standing speakers.