Using bookshelf speakers in the ceiling for Atmos

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ar surround

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I recently installed a pair of bookshelf speakers in the basement ceiling as the Front Heights for my conversion to Atmos. I would like to share what I did as a number of members probably have some old bookshelf speakers available to handle the height speaker application. Also, if I messed anything up, it can be posted in this thread so that others can learn from my mistakes. I used a pair of circa 1989 Boston Acoustics A60 acoustic suspension speakers. I doubt that I would have done this installation with new speakers.

My criteria for the chosen speaker:
1. Larger than what is normally used for ceiling speakers so that they are not overwhelmed by my huge mains, center and surround speakers.
2. Acoustic suspension speaker. A ported speaker won't work in this application.
3. Close in timbre to my circa 1980 Acoustic Research vertical series speakers. These Boston Acoustic speakers are well matched to the AR's. I've been using them with the AR's since 1989.
3. The basement ceiling is under 8 feet high, so the speaker can't be on the ceiling. Part of it must be in the ceiling.
4. Speaker angled towards the listening area given that it has no adjustable tweeter like certain ceiling speakers.

Step 1:
I made sure that there were no interferences with ductwork in the basement ceiling before I started cutting holes. That limited the locations where the A60's could be placed in the ceiling. I also checked for electrical wiring to make sure I didn't cut through them.

Step 2:
I prepared a full size drawing of the speaker, support and dimensions of the cutout in the sheetrock ceiling.

Step 2:
I located and cut the hole and then did a test fit of the speaker.

Step 3:
I installed the support for the speaker. This is a 2x4's between the floor joists.
I put Sonic Barrier on the support to help decouple the back of the speaker from the support. It also acts as a gasket to further maintain the acoustic seal when I screw (gasp!) the speaker into the support.
I pulled the speaker wires from the speaker location to the amplifier location. Note that I cut the holes for both speakers first, as doing so greatly helped with snaking the speaker wires through the ceiling.

1 Hole cut in ceiling.jpg


Step 4:
I added insulation behind the speaker mainly as a placebo for Mrs. Surround who was concerned about hearing the speakers through the above floor.

2 Added some insulation.jpg


Step 5:
I removed the drivers and polyfill from the speakers. (During this step, I also replaced the old NPE capacitor in the crossover with a new NPE and F&F bypass capacitor.)


3 Drivers and stuffing removed.jpg


Step 6:
I moved the speaker to the installation location and I connected the wires from the amplifier to the terminals on the back of the speaker.
I used three 1-5/8" long screws to attach the speaker to the support. Note the O-ring used as a gasket for each screw. Again, this is a precaution to ensure the integrity of the acoustic seal. (Once you put screws through the speaker forget about selling them to anyone in the future!)

4 Screw with gasket.jpg



Step 7:
I carefully reinstalled the polyfill making sure that it filled the entire interior of the speaker as it was before removal. Performing this step properly is critical to maintaining the characteristics of an acoustic suspension speaker.


5 Stuffing replaced.jpg


Step 7:
I reinstalled the drivers making sure that the gaskets were replaced properly thereby maintaining the acoustic seal.

6 Speaker installed.jpg



And here is the view of the room with the new Front Heights installed along with my under-construction model railroad circling my surround sound system:

7 Overall layout.jpg
 

ummagumma

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That looks great!

I would have used large metal washers to spread the load around the screws inside the cabs: Particle board isn't known for being particularly strong? But hey maybe it's fine.
 

ar surround

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That looks great!

I would have used large metal washers to spread the load around the screws inside the cabs: Particle board isn't known for being particularly strong? But hey maybe it's fine.

That's a really good idea. I will have to make that change. One should probably use two washers on each screw: a smaller one to match the diameter of the screw followed by a bigger one to spread the load. Thanks, ummagumma.
 

ummagumma

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Or you could use a metal plate, or a board? would be even stronger, I think?

Also someone, on some forum, had a pair of ceiling mount speakers crash down after some years, because the glue holding the backs on the cabinets eventually failed.

So I would consider a secondary type of support, like a chain or an angled metal shelf
 

ar surround

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Or you could use a metal plate, or a board? would be even stronger, I think?

Also someone, on some forum, had a pair of ceiling mount speakers crash down after some years, because the glue holding the backs on the cabinets eventually failed.

So I would consider a secondary type of support, like a chain or an angled metal shelf

Aluminum L-shaped angles screwed into the outside of the speaker and through the ceiling wallboard into the floor joists would work.
 

ar surround

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You could do chin ups on that!
Looks great well done. Far better than other ATMOS set ups I've seen.

Technically, my arrangement is a combined Atmos / Auro 3D using some compromises. It started out as just an Atmos 7.1.4 setup, but then I started reading about Auro 3D. And then I realized that the Marantz AVR I recently bought supports both formats. I pulled the couch back about a foot which gives me the Auro recommended 30 degree angle to the height speaker tweeters for low ceilings. I also pulled the mains further into the room to substantially reduce the differential distance between the mains and the front height speakers.

The rear height speakers are placed in the unified layout as recommended by Dennon / Marantz:

Unified Layout.jpg


Given all of the interferences in the ceiling...mainly ductwork...I found it to be more practical to install the in-ceiling height speakers where possible, and then adjust the placement of the floor level speakers and couch accordingly.
 

ummagumma

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I never even noticed the train layout! Nice!

You could pump some pretty cool train sound FX through your surround system, too :)

Actually I think Neil Young did a bunch of R&D for train FX and remote controls etc, when he owned Lionel?
 

MidiMagic

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I recently installed a pair of bookshelf speakers in the basement ceiling as the Front Heights for my conversion to Atmos. I would like to share what I did as a number of members probably have some old bookshelf speakers available to handle the height speaker application. Also, if I messed anything up, it can be posted in this thread so that others can learn from my mistakes. I used a pair of circa 1989 Boston Acoustics A60 acoustic suspension speakers. I doubt that I would have done this installation with new speakers.

My criteria for the chosen speaker:
1. Larger than what is normally used for ceiling speakers so that they are not overwhelmed by my huge mains, center and surround speakers.
2. Acoustic suspension speaker. A ported speaker won't work in this application.
3. Close in timbre to my circa 1980 Acoustic Research vertical series speakers. These Boston Acoustic speakers are well matched to the AR's. I've been using them with the AR's since 1989.
3. The basement ceiling is under 8 feet high, so the speaker can't be on the ceiling. Part of it must be in the ceiling.
4. Speaker angled towards the listening area given that it has no adjustable tweeter like certain ceiling speakers.

Step 1:
I made sure that there were no interferences with ductwork in the basement ceiling before I started cutting holes. That limited the locations where the A60's could be placed in the ceiling. I also checked for electrical wiring to make sure I didn't cut through them.

Step 2:
I prepared a full size drawing of the speaker, support and dimensions of the cutout in the sheetrock ceiling.

Step 2:
I located and cut the hole and then did a test fit of the speaker.

Step 3:
I installed the support for the speaker. This is a 2x4's between the floor joists.
I put Sonic Barrier on the support to help decouple the back of the speaker from the support. It also acts as a gasket to further maintain the acoustic seal when I screw (gasp!) the speaker into the support.
I pulled the speaker wires from the speaker location to the amplifier location. Note that I cut the holes for both speakers first, as doing so greatly helped with snaking the speaker wires through the ceiling.

View attachment 70290

Step 4:
I added insulation behind the speaker mainly as a placebo for Mrs. Surround who was concerned about hearing the speakers through the above floor.

View attachment 70291

Step 5:
I removed the drivers and polyfill from the speakers. (During this step, I also replaced the old NPE capacitor in the crossover with a new NPE and F&F bypass capacitor.)


View attachment 70292

Step 6:
I moved the speaker to the installation location and I connected the wires from the amplifier to the terminals on the back of the speaker.
I used three 1-5/8" long screws to attach the speaker to the support. Note the O-ring used as a gasket for each screw. Again, this is a precaution to ensure the integrity of the acoustic seal. (Once you put screws through the speaker forget about selling them to anyone in the future!)

View attachment 70293


Step 7:
I carefully reinstalled the polyfill making sure that it filled the entire interior of the speaker as it was before removal. Performing this step properly is critical to maintaining the characteristics of an acoustic suspension speaker.


View attachment 70294

Step 7:
I reinstalled the drivers making sure that the gaskets were replaced properly thereby maintaining the acoustic seal.

View attachment 70295


And here is the view of the room with the new Front Heights installed along with my under-construction model railroad circling my surround sound system:

View attachment 70296
Wow! I'd like to see the map of the layout.
 
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