Panels for your fridge to match the surrounding cupboards, invisible magnets holding cupboard doors shut . . . sometimes the best place to hide something is in plain sight. If your room or personal style doesn’t lend itself to a freestanding home speaker system, you may be looking for options that give you a that ‘invisible’ look.
5.1 Surround Sound = A Lot of Hiding!
How do you hide an entire 5.1 surround sound system? Turns out there are lots of ways! First and perhaps easiest, you can do what chameleons have been doing for centuries . . . just take on the same appearance as your surroundings! Get loudspeakers finished in the same wood as the rest of your furniture, or take it a step further and use a paintable finish.
By exactly matching your speaker to the wall behind it, you’ll make it disappear into the decor and your sense of sound will become the dominant association with the speaker. If possible, get a grille cloth that also matches your wall, or choose a speaker with a paintable grille so that you can continue the camouflage effect.
Another way to hide a home speaker system is to use a built-in wall or freestanding entertainment unit that lets you build the speakers right into it.
In these installations, the speakers are completely enclosed in the unit but sit slightly forward to remove any unwanted sound artifacts from the furniture or wall. A grille cover and a paintable surround mean that you can make the speakers disappear into the wall or unit, providing a clean, seamless look across the front of your entertainment area.
In-Wall or In-Ceiling
If coordinating your speakers isn’t going to meet with enough design acceptance, look for an in-wall or in-ceiling speaker so that you can enjoy great surround-sound without compromise.
A few considerations when you’re putting speakers in the ceiling: the best-sounding speakers have enclosed backs so that you don’t need to worry about what is behind or above the speaker. When you have a speaker with an open back, it makes the entire ceiling or wall space it’s enclosure, and that can lead to some strange sound reflections that just make your system sound bad. What’s worse – there isn’t anything you can do to correct the problem once the speakers are installed. Instead, choose speakers with a full enclosure as part of the engineered design so you know they’ll sound the way the speaker designer intended them to, no matter where you put them.
Also, be aware that sound travels! If the baby’s room is above your living room, in-ceiling speakers might make the sound too loud for sleeping. If that’s the case, look for in-wall speakers instead.
Finally, It Almost Goes Without Saying, But . . .
Gimmicky home speaker systems designed to look like knickknacks? Probably not using ‘great sound’ as a design parameter! Ditto ‘folding origami speakers’ – sure, transducers produce sound, but at 1 watt . . . it’s suitable for novelty effect at a dinner party but not for home theater playback!
High-end home theater speaker systems can be literally hidden in plain sight now – get the sound you’ve been craving without the compromise!