Bought A House With Built In Speakers: What’s Next?

A house with a built-in speaker is the dream of any music lover. But your job doesn’t end here. Most people in this situation get confused about what to do now. 

If you hire a professional, they would charge more than $100 per hour. So, what to do now that you bought a house with built-in speakers? 

First, you have to do an inventory check and identify the types of speakers you have. Then troubleshoot and bring your speakers in a usable shape. Match and buy compatible devices for the speakers. Then connect all the devices together and connect with the network. Enjoy your favorite music. 

I am not leaving you with only a little information like this. I will discuss each step with you. Let’s get started with your sound system setup. 

Bought a House With Built-In Speakers, Now What? 

The house came with built-in speakers. That’s great. However, there are various issues to consider and resolve. I am going to discuss them step by step. Let’s get into it. 

Step 1: Figure Out Where the Speakers are Installed In the House

The very first task you should do is an inventory check. Go through each room and note down how many speakers are there. Let’s divide this inventory check into two parts. 

Which Rooms the Speakers are in?

  • Go through all the rooms one by one. You have to check which room has speakers. 
  • Also, check how many speakers are there in every room. 
  • Check if there are control panels. 
  • Check if any room has any video sources as well.
house came with built-in speakers

For example, your bedroom can have 2 speakers and no video source. And your family room has speakers and video sources.

Identify How Many Sources:

Now that you know where the speakers are in your house, look for their source. 

The source is where the previous owner kept the amp or receiver. You will now find exposed wire there. You have to find out from where the speakers originated. 

  • Sometimes all the systems can be sourced from one place. For example, your basement or closet is most probably the source. 
  • Sometimes, the speakers may be sourced from 2-3 different sources. For example, your living room and deck speaker may be sourced from the living room. And your bedroom speakers may be sourced from the basement. 

In a multisource situation, you won’t be able to use one amp for all the speakers. There are many chances. 

Identify How Many Zones

Your built-in speakers can be single-zoned or multi-zoned. With multi-zoned speakers, you will be able to play different music in different rooms.

Identify How Many Zones

For example, your kitchen and master bedroom are in the same zone. And your living room and playroom are in another zone. You can listen to Spotify from your bedroom. Simultaneously, another of your family members can hear the radio from the living room. 

It is necessary to find out beforehand. Because according to that, you will have to buy a multi-zone receiver. 

If your speakers are in a single zone, you can only listen to one thing at a time. Usually, the home built-in speaker system is multi-zoned. 

There is no automated way to find the sources and zone of speakers. You have to trace where the wires go from the speakers. And which speakers are connected together. If wireless, you have to look for their model and find out how they work. 

So, get your detective mood on and look around. 

Step 2: Identify the Type of Speakers 

After figuring out how many speakers you have it’s time to identify their types. Also, determine their purpose. Because according to them, you need to buy other supporting devices. Let’s go through them one by one.

Speaker Setup:

In a house with a built-in speaker, there are typically two types of speakers. In-wall and in-ceiling speakers. Your house can be mixed if both. Or there may be only one type of them. 

The in-ceiling speakers are the round ones up your ceiling. They are a little small. You will get sound spread all over the room evenly from these types of speakers. 

There can be in-wall speakers too. They are the square speakers on your wall. They are a little bigger than the ceiling ones. They will give you a concert-like feeling while listening to the music.

Stereo Or Surround:

If there are one or two speakers in a room, it’s the stereo music system. In most houses, you will get a system like theirs. But your living room or playroom can have a surround system.

Different Types of Sound System Setup
Source: My Electric Sparks

This means there are more than 2 speakers surrounding the room. Count how many are there. Typically it will be 5 or 7 speakers. 

Wired Or Wireless:

Identify whether your speakers are wired or wireless. Most of the house’s built-in speakers are wired. Especially if they are in-ceiling or in-wall, they must be. 

And it will provide you with better-quality music and consistency. Also, you get control over which AMP or DAC to buy. And you have to buy an AMP to connect them.

wired speakers

Some prefer wireless music systems. Because wired speakers mean clutter of wires is stashed somewhere. You can make them wireless by buying a WiFi or Bluetooth networked amp. 

Or you can buy separate wifi or Bluetooth streaming devices to make the system wireless. 

Wiring Identification:

Notice the source of the speaker. It may have exposed wiring. If it does, you will find wires in four colors.

Wiring Identification
Source: Audioholics forum

The red and black pair is for the right-side speaker of a room. And the white and green pair should be for the left speaker. Red and white ones are the positive wires. 

Here’s a speaker wire color guide for you

Red PositiveRight speaker of the room
WhitePositiveLeft speaker of the room

You will need this wiring identification for later. 

Step 3: Check If the Speakers/Wires are Working

Now your job is to check if the speakers and wires are in good condition. Because if they don’t work, you have to repair or replace them first. You will check all the speakers and wires. 

Do you already have an A/V receiver? Then you can easily hook it with one pair of speakers at a time. But if you don’t have it, no worries. There’s another way. 

For that, you will need two things. 

Go to the source of the speakers. And have your friends in each room where the speakers are from that source. 

There can be two situations. And for each situation, the checking method is different. 

Situation 1: Exposed Speaker Cables 

If you notice the speakers have bare cables you have to test them with a battery. Take the AA battery and connect it with the two exposed ends of the wire.

Exposed Speaker Cables
Source: Youtube

Connect the red one with the positive side of the battery. And the black one with a negative side. If the speakers are working, you will hear some sound from one of the speakers. Do the same with white and green pairs too.

But the sound will come just for a second or two. So carefully listen to it. Put a label on the wire. This will help you identify later to which speaker the wire is connected. 

Situation 2: Terminals with Speaker Cables

If the speaker cables aren’t exposed and have a terminal, here is what to do. Connect the copper wires with the terminals of the speaker. And then, the same as the previous method, connect the battery with the copper wire. 

If the speakers are working, you are going to hear sound for a second. 

So, it’s great if all the speakers are working. There’s a chance some of the speakers or wires might not work. Go to the next step to know what you should do. 

Step 4: Troubleshooting and Connecting The Speakers

So what can you do when your built-in ceiling speakers not working? There can be some reasons behind it.  So, now it’s time to troubleshoot and find out the solutions. 

Reason 1: Wires aren’t Connected Properly

The previous owner unplugged his own devices. During that time some speaker’s connection with the wire might have loosened up. 


You need a very thin flat screwdriver or something like that. Get a hold of one side of the speaker grill and open that up.  And take out the speakers. Check if the two conductor cables are properly connected or not. 

If not, open up the post and attach the positive and negative wires properly. Also, as you open up the grill, clean the speaker as well. 

You have to check from the source side too. If the wires are connected through the terminal, check the connection is proper. 

Reason 2: Faulty Wires

Check if the wires are torn or twisted anywhere. The faulty wire can be a reason for your speaker to not work. 


You have to change the wires. For that use a 16 gauge two-conductor cable. Also, keep in mind that the cable should be in-wall or in-ceiling certified. But it’s not that easy to change the wires by yourself. 

Using some twine you may be able to pull the old wire out. Also, you can pull the new wiring in. But the problems occur when there is turns from the speaker to the source. Or if the wires are pinned here and there. 

So it’s risky to do it by yourself. Another easy way is you can buy a flat wire to connect to the speaker. And take them all the way to the source, and glue the wire with your ceiling. Buy matching colors for your ceiling. 

If you don’t want that, just ask for a professional to change the wires. That would be way easier.

Reason 3: Faulty Speakers

Are Your speakers still not working after connecting the wires? Then the problem may be in the speakers. Let’s get real. The speakers aren’t new. So, it’s normal that some of them can be faulty. 


There’s nothing you can do if the speakers are faulty. You must bring them to a repair shop. Or buy new ones. And for that, you have to match them with the other speakers. You can consider Herdio in-ceiling speakers or Herdio in-wall speakers.

This is just one of the purposes we needed to conduct a thorough inventory check. 

Now let’s do something about the exposed wires of the speakers. You can do it by yourself. You will need some banana plugs with a red and black level on them. Let’s see how to attach the banana plug to the speaker wire. 

  • You have already identified the colors of the wire. Now take a banana plug according to that color. For positive wires, use a red banana plug.
  • There’s a crew at the end of the plug. Unscrew it only halfway. 
  • Feed the wire into the plug. And screw the plug again. 
  • Use a black banana plug for the negatives wired
  • Plug all the exposed wires one by one. 

Now your speakers are ready to connect with a receiver or amplifier. 

You are done with checking what you have. The next step is to figure out what you want. Keep reading. 

Step 5: Figure Out What Sound System Do You Want?

So, it’s time to make a decision about your surround speakers. What sort of sound system are you looking for?? Let’s discuss what are your options, and how to achieve your desired music system. 

To Make A 5.1 Sound System:

So, what is a 5.1 sound system? The 5.1 sound system means that there are 5 speakers in the room. And there’s 1 subwoofer. If your room is small or medium, a 5.1 system should be enough for you.

5.1 Sound System
Source: Diffen

Here, you will get one speaker in the center of the room. Two in front left and right. And the remaining two speakers are a little behind. Most of your video games and DVDs will be supported by this system. 

To achieve this system, you have to buy a receiver with a Dolby Digital system. For this system, you don’t need a subwoofer of more than 12 inches. Of course, you are going to need a compatible A/V receiver and a TV. 

We are going to improve the compatibility of the receivers and other gadgets later.  

To Make A 7.1 Sound System:

What is a 7.1 speaker system now? It is when your sound system has 7 speakers. And 1 subwoofer. This system is for a room larger than 15′ x 20′. 

In this system, with 5 speakers, there are additional two speakers in the back. This system will support most blu-rays, all your video games, PS4, PS5, etc. 7.1 system will provide greater precision and depth in the music. 

Is your room larger, and you only have 5 speakers in that room? You can add extra to compatible speakers two achieve a 7.1 system. Also, you are going to need a different receiver than the 5.1 system. 

Another great thing about the 7.1 system is that it will provide you with zone 2 power. With a 5.1 system, you only can cover 1 room. 

But with 7.1 you can cover 1 room, that is your playroom with 5 speakers. And two more speakers can be used in another zone. 

You will notice on most of your DVDs that it says 5.1 Dolby Digital. And now you are confused. Should you go for 7.1? Don’t worry about that. The DVD will work just fine in a 7.1 setup too. They just have unique information for only 5 speakers. 

You can Dolby atmos in your 7.1 system. What is Dolby Atmos? It’s the software you can use if your room has a high ceiling. This setup is typically used for 7.1 or higher systems. If you have a massive budget, you can set up this. You will get a great experience. 

I want to Add More Subwoofers:

We need subwoofers for a smooth bass experience and better sound. Some audiophiles like to have two subwoofers in their system. Then the surround system with 5 speakers and 2 subwoofers is known as 5.2. 

And you have 7 speakers, adding two subwoofers will make it a 7.2 sound system. Adding a subwoofer more than one will provide you with a greater and louder sound. They are suitable for a large room. 

It’s entirely up to you whether you wish for a large subwoofer or two smaller ones

Now, you may think, where should I position my subwoofer

You could place your subwoofer in a room corner. This may cause the sound to be louder. But it’s really not necessary. You can place the subwoofer anywhere in the room that goes well with other furniture. 

I Want Dolby Surround:

Dolby surround can be achieved only with two speakers. If your room has two speakers, attach a subwoofer with it. That’s it! It has a frequency bandwidth of 100 Hz to 7Khz. It is suitable for small to medium-sized rooms. 

You can run your computer, TV and MP3 player perfectly with this system. Now, consider your room and speaker requirements. And decide whether you are going for 5.1 or Dolby surround

Step 6: Figure Out the Amps and Power Requirements 

So, now you have decided all the things. And you know what to buy the additional devices. And for that, you have to match the compatibility. Let’s get into it. 

Matching Amps And Speakers:

Amp and speaker matching is a crucial factor for any house. There are a handful of things to keep in mind. 

First thing first. Decide how many amps you need. And a 4-channel amplifier can handle up to 8 speakers. If one of your zones has up to 8 speakers, it should be covered by it. 

Do your multiple zones have a total of this number of speakers? Then go for the multi-zone amplifier. 

You can use multiple speakers with one amplifier. But ensure that the amplifier watt is greater than the total watt of all the speakers. 

Also, match the impedance of the amp and the speakers. Use speakers with a greater impedance to an amplifier that can handle a lower impedance. 

So the amps are for your stereo speakers. And for your surround speakers, you need a receiver. 

Matching Receivers And Speakers:

If your speakers come from a different zone, you need a multi-zone receiver. For your 5.1 or 5.2 system, you need a 5-channel surround receiver. And for your 7.1 or 7.2 system, you need a 7-channel receiver. 

The Denon AVR-X1700H can be a wonderful option if you have a 7.1 music system. It is WiFi connected and has a voice control option too. 

Step 7: Make the Optimum Sound System

Now that you have all your equipment, it’s time to connect everything. You already have a banana plugged in and labeled your exposed wires. It is now time to connect them to the other devices. 

Connect the positive terminals of the speaker with the positive terminals of the receiver. The different speaker goes into the different slot of the surround speaker. 

There are a number of outputs in the back of the receiver.

Optimum Sound System
Source: The Home Theater DIY

It’s all written in the receiver’s output bar which speaker goes where. So, it should be easy to connect. 

Also, connect the subwoofer to the receiver. Let’s discuss how to connect subwoofer to AV receiver. 

  • There’s a cable with your subwoofer. Both edges of the cable are identical. So you don’t have to worry about which end goes to the subwoofer. And it also doesn’t matter which one to the receiver.
  • Connect 1 end with the receiver. You will find the output in the receiver that says “Subwoofer Out” or just “Subwoofer”. That is the output you are looking for. 
  • Another end of the cable goes to the subwoofer. After connecting you can plug the subwoofer in. 

Connect your stereo speakers with the amplifiers in the same way. Be very careful with the wire connection. Because the mismatch of wire connection can damage your music system. 

Now you have to connect the system to the wireless network. Here’s how to do it. 

  • If you are using an external WiFi or Bluetooth device, connect their antennas on the rare panel. 
  • You have to connect your A/V receiver to the TV. for this use an HDMI cable
  • Of course you have to turn on the receiver. 
  • On the remote control, there’s a “Setup” button. Press it. 
  • Go the the “Network”
  • Go to “Connection” and then “Wi-Fi Setup”
  • Now select the option “Scan Network”
  • Now you will notice the network you want to connect to. Select it. 

Your built-in music system is all set. And you are ready to play your favorite music. 

Precautionary Measures While Setting Up The System

Since you’ve decided to do everything yourself, consider taking some precautionary steps. Which are discussed below. 

  • Whenever working with the wires, make sure the main switch is turned off.
  • Make sure your main power source is enough to power all this equipment. Talking to your electrician first would be better. 
  • Wire colors are important. Be careful when attaching speakers to the receiver. Don’t mismatch the positive, and negative wires. 
  • While buying the receiver and other equipment, double-check if their compatibility matches with the speaker. 
  • Put your amp, receiver, or subwoofer in a safe place. So that they don’t get exposed to water. 

So, these are all you need to remember while performing the setup operation. Now start streaming music anywhere in the house

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Can I Voice Control My Ceiling Speakers?

Yes, you can voice control your ceiling speakers. With the help of Google Home Device or amazon. You can easily connect your speakers with Alexa and activate voice control. But your receiver or amplifier has to have the voice control function. 

Do Built-In Speakers Increase Home Value?

Yes, your home value will be increased if there are built-in speakers. Because for any audiophile it’s like a dream horse. And it’s difficult to attach these in-ceiling or in-wall speakers later after the construction.

What Is A Whole House Sound System?

The whole house sound system has speakers throughout multiple rooms of the house. There can be multiple speakers attached to the ceiling or wall in a room. In this sound system, you install speakers in all the rooms you spend time in. 

Final Verdict

Congratulations once again as you bought a house with built-in speakers. The things you have to do now may sound a little complicated. Also, you have to invest a good amount of money here. 

But the whole thing is worth it. So, be done with the setup. And enjoy your new musical house. Have a Good Day!

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