Do I Need A Back Box For My Ceiling Speakers?

by Craig Walker

When planning your ceiling speaker system you’ll probably be wondering what you can do to get the best sound quality from your speakers. 

Do I Need A Ceiling Speaker Back Box?

Compared to traditional bookshelf speakers, ceiling speakers do not (usually) have their own back box which means the environment in which they are installed can greatly affect the sound quality.

Ceiling speaker back boxes should improve the sound quality within the room as well as reducing sound leakage into rooms above.

That said, when installing a ceiling speaker in a standard UK ceiling you’ll often find the sound quality is good enough as is. Especially with an acoustic fire hood installed.

If you’re looking for background music in good quality then stick with a fire hood. If you want the absolute best possible sound then consider a proper back box.

Don’t forget also that as ceiling speakers do not have their own back box, if you test them out before installing in the ceiling then they will probably sound very quiet and “tinny”. Don’t be alarmed, the sound quality dramatically improves when they are correctly installed within the ceiling.

Back Box Options

 

  1. DIY Back Box

You can construct your own ceiling speaker back boxes using MDF.

Simply construct an adequately sized box to suit your specific ceiling speakers and affix it between your joists.

This option is often relatively cheap if you are competent and comfortable with DIY’ing it. However if you’re using an installer then it’s often overall cheaper just to buy a premade back box instead.

Ceiling Speaker Back Box

  1. Pre Made Back Boxes

If you don’t fancy making your own boxes then you can save all the time and hassle by opting for a pre-made ceiling speaker back box such as the CM-BOX from Monitor Audio.

This is a ready to fit MDF back box with mounting plates to affix it to your ceiling joists.

You even get a multi-sized cut out ring which allows the back box to be used with speakers from 6.5” to 8” without needing to buy anything else.

The CM-BOX will set you back £65 each however it does reduce a lot of labour time and effort and will allow for the best possible sound quality.

 

  1. Ceiling Speaker Fire Hoods

Another option is to use a fire & acoustic ceiling speaker fire hood.

These not only provide the required fire ratings for your ceilings, they will also improve the sound quality and reduce sound leakage above by a few decibels.

Whilst not as effective as a proper MDF back box this option is cheap and easy to install and it ticks two boxes with one product. (fire and acoustic)


Conclusion

So all in all it’s definitely worth considering a ceiling speaker back box, especially for primary music listening rooms where you want the best sound quality possible.

But for background music in kitchens, bedrooms etc. it’s often not necessary to install the back box.

A quick note on ceiling speaker fire hoods… Don’t forget that an MDF back box is not going to provide any fire ratings so you’ll still need to consider a fire hood depending on your installation.

You should still be able to fit a standard non-acoustic fire hood within a pre-made MDF box.

For more information on ceiling speaker fire hoods read our extensive guide here.