In Wall Vs On Wall Speakers: Which Is The Better One?

Isn’t it a huge decision to install in-wall and on-wall in your home? Because once installed, it cannot be rethought. It’s a costly project and there are dozens of varieties to pick from. So which one should you go for? Is it In-Wall Speakers VS On Wall Speakers?

Well, in-wall speakers are great for confined spaces. On the other hand, on-wall speakers are great if you are a movie enthusiast. They are portable and so can be relocated outdoors while gardening. They have the best sound clarity and are durable. Whereas in-wall speakers give a decent sound output but the installation is a hassle.

This is not it. There is more. We have discussed the differences in detail by categories. So let’s go right in.

What does “On Wall” and “In-Wall” Speakers Mean?

Speakers without an enclosure that can be put inside the wall are known as in-wall speakers. The speakers have the same sound and behavior as ordinary speakers. But they are tailored to work inside the wall. 

In most cases, these speakers are encased in a rubber ring. This rubber enclosure prevents bass vibrations from penetrating your walls. This may cause degradation in your audio quality. But the tweeter on most in-wall speakers is swivel-mounted. This allows you to adjust the “best spot” to your preferred position in the room.

Again, similarly, as the name suggests, on-wall speakers are slim body speakers. These are directly hung from a wall. They are different from traditional speakers in size, design, and quality as they are upgraded versions. They have a minimized visual impact and are made in portable versions.

What is the Main Difference Between In-Wall and On-Wall Speakers? The Deep Dive!

Well, both the speakers will increase your sound quality. But there are still some key categories to differentiate the speakers in. We’ve also seen some of these sections while comparing bass reflex with a passive radiator. To know more details, let’s go to the next segment.

What Kind of Sound Quality Can you Expect?

Installing an in-wall speaker is a baffle when it comes to the audio quality. They increase bass. The bass increases to about 5-7 dB which is quite significant. This is known as the boundary effect.

Now, the question comes, what is this boundary effect?

Well, the “boundary effect” typically means the increase in bass caused by hard boundaries. For example, a wall, floor, etc.

Here’s the thing-

By using receivers or pre/ pro auto EQ, the frequencies caused by the boundary effect can be reduced. If you think that you’re facing this, then try out the best ones.

These speakers are great at flattening the effect. This effect increases lower speaker distortion by using about quarter-power than usual. As a result, they produce low bass.

Another way to resolve this boundary effect is by adding insulation. This is placed around the speakers. Now, you might be wondering, should I put insulation behind in-wall speakers?

Yes, you can consider placing R-13 insulation. It can be placed beneath the speakers to boost the sound quality. The insulation is normally pre-cut in width. So all you have to do is cut it to length and place it behind the speakers.

Now, compared to in-wall speakers, on-wall speakers deliver great sound quality. This comes with a high-end dimension. They have a high sound clarity with great crispiness. They also provide a huge bass. As a result, they sound louder and bigger as they can directly be heard without any media in between.

Moreover, there is also no distortion in the sound like in-wall speakers. This is as they are installed directly.  While playing acoustic, they deliver angled elevation that creates a theatre effect. They also deliver clear audio and soundtrack for movie sessions.

How Versatile is the Usage?

In-wall speakers are especially well-suited to use as surround speakers. Suppose you are sipping a glass of wine and enjoying your home theatre. You might spill the glass and a huge mess is created!  But wait for a second, this danger of a wine-induced disaster can be decreased. It can be so if speakers bordering the seating area of a theater can be placed off the floor and into the walls.

In a dark home theater, having speakers on stands adjacent to the seats is a formula for catastrophe. So a better option in these cases would be to use an in-wall speaker. They are often compared to in-ceiling speakers as well.

Tight areas in a home theater room are another reason for installing in-wall speakers. It saves space by eliminating the need for a separate stand for each speaker. They also provide the area with a cleaner appearance. Many brands of enclosed in-wall speakers sell direct-radiating, dipole, bipole, and surround speakers. These are all Dolby Atmos compatible.

Again, people prefer on-wall installation since they have children or dogs in the house. As a result, there is always the risk of the speaker falling off or being dented. The best method for permanently securing the speaker is to place it on the wall. You’ll also save money by not having to purchase multiple speaker stands.

Installing in-wall speakers is available in a variety of sizes and styles. These are made to complement the available area. Moreover, column-type on-wall speakers are ideal for placing in churches and schools. Small on-wall speakers are suitable for pubs, restaurants, and social clubs. While larger speakers are for entertainment venues, sports centers, malls, and commercial buildings.

Can you Upgrade your In-wall or On-wall Speakers?

This isn’t a deal-breaker, but upgrading an in-wall isn’t always straightforward. The truth here is that once you’ve drilled a hole and placed a speaker, upgrading is the last thing on your mind. A new in-wall speaker will almost certainly necessitate a larger hole.  This will necessitate sheetrock work, texturing, and painting.

For an on-wall speaker, an upgrade is comparatively easier. This is because of its design. They have very little extra wiring and power consumption. So finding the right space to install them is quite easy.

And as they don’t need and wear and tear on the wall being installed on, an upgrade becomes quite easy. But if your room has thin walls, vibration can be an issue with bigger speakers installed. So you need to keep that in mind while choosing an in-wall speaker for upgrading. Oh and if you are thinking of buying one, here’s our pick.

Can you Relocate or Reposition the Speakers?

Moving an in-wall speaker 10″ to the left is also a lot more work than moving an on-wall speaker. You’ll have to deal with sheetrock and painting once more. So make sure you choose the right spot the first time and then double-check a few times before cutting the hole. Before you reach for the saw, make sure your seating distance is accurate.

Not only this, a few in-walls allow for toeing in or moving. But you can make up for the lack of toe-in by putting your in-walls closer together. Pivoting tweeters are found in some in-wall. While this feature may appear to solve the problem, it creates one. That is by ensuring that the speaker’s frequency response will be poor regardless of where you sit.

On-wall speakers hang on walls making their installation easy. They come with holders to hang them on and can fit into any room and small space easily. They are also easy to relocate and reposition. This is because installing them doesn’t need any cutout of holes. As a result, there is no need for the extra hassle of making space using hardware.

Their sizes are also portable and convenient to move. So they can be easily relocated and repositioned to where you sit even if it is outdoors. For outdoor sessions, special waterproof versions are also available. If you are looking for a portable waterproof on-wall speaker, one of the best for you would be Product X and Product Y.

How do they Look Aesthetically?

Traditionally, we have always seen black box speakers out in sitting in the room. But a built-in speaker looks less intrusive than that. They are significantly a better option. Another plus point, your family members also can be talked into buying them as they don’t ruin the house decor.

Almost all in-wall speakers have a perforated or enlarged metal grill. These can be painted to match the color of the wall. This makes them even less noticeable. Some options are also available in the USA for people who customize paints to match the frames and grills. This makes these speakers invisible. 

On-wall speakers have a sleek design to match your wall. They use superior materials that don’t rust in contact with the wall. They come with a wooden box to protect them from dust and dirt. They can also be disassembled easily as they need frequent cleaning for being kept open. And lastly, on-wall speakers have a rubber frame. 

Although these speakers’ longevity is something that is not certain, they prevent moisture and make the speaker water-resistant. So their design is also friendly to be used outdoors.

How Much Does it Cost?

Single in-wall speakers can be bought for $50-200+ on sale online and in stores. This makes them more expensive than individual speakers in some circumstances. Benefits come with this additional cost, but it may not be within everyone’s budget. Along with this, they come with an additional installation cost of an average of $300. This can be quite high if you are on a budget.

On-wall speakers are comparatively less costly compared to on-wall speakers. Their installation cost is almost negligible as you can do it on your own. The price of the main speaker ranges between $50-500. But however, you can choose one depending on your preference.

So, Which One is Better?

When purchasing speakers, the most crucial consideration is the speaker’s intended use. On-wall speakers are best for powerful bass and loud sound. While in-wall speakers are best for low bass and loud sound. In-wall is for closed enclosure small rooms, the on-wall speaker is for come cinema and parties. On-wall can be easily relocated to any location. But in-wall fixtures are fixed in place. Again if you live in a rental house or condo, in-wall speakers are not a good option for you. This is because they need permanent positioning for installation.

For certain living room layouts or conditions, a different speaker may be appropriate. You could prefer the aesthetic aspects that come with an in-wall speaker. You might even opt for an on-wall speaker if you want simplicity. Both produce a high-quality sound experience, depending on your lifestyle and budget. 

So choosing one will depend on a lot of factors you need to consider which we have discussed already.


Here are some common questions that might have crossed your mind. So you may have a look at these:

How far should speakers be from the wall?

The speakers should be at least 2-3 feet away from the nearest wall. Speakers should be placed especially near the corners. Many speakers have bass ports on the back. When a rear bass port is too close to the wall, sound waves are reflected, causing time blurring.

Do in-wall speakers vibrate the wall?

Speakers can vibrate the walls they contact or are close to with their audio waves. The sound waves that pass through the speaker go in all directions. The sort of shell that surrounds the internal speaker hardware can be dampened. They can also be rerouted by separate channels.

How high should the speakers be off the floor?

The height should be typically 30″ to 50″ above the ground. When seated, place your center speaker at ear level. If your theater setup doesn’t enable you to raise the center speaker to this level, you can boost the sound of a low-positioned speaker. It can be done by tilting to where the sound hits your ear.


That is all from us on In Wall VS On Wall Speakers. If you have any other queries feel free to share with us. We would love to know more from you.

Till then, have a great day!

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