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Can anybody explain why a tower speaker is superior compared to in-wall or in-ceiling opinions? Obviously, the latter two are easier on the pocket but what is it in their construction that makes them the less than stellar pick? Is it the lack of enclosure, off axis?
 

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With towers/floor standing speakers, the distance of midrange from the floor is considered. With in wall speakers, that is not the case and manufacturers do not know the surfaces where the sound will bounce off. As for the enclosure, it is also unsure what the enclosure size will be behind the speakers. There are more factors to consider though, some of which you can familiarize yourself with by the latter part of this read.
 

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Can anybody explain why a tower speaker is superior compared to in-wall or in-ceiling opinions? Obviously, the latter two are easier on the pocket but what is it in their construction that makes them the less than stellar pick? Is it the lack of enclosure, off axis?
Well...as mentioned, enclosure size for any high quality speaker is calculated for the best performance. With IW and IC speakers almost all of them are built with in infinite baffle design. Some DO come with backer boxes, but mostly those are for sound insulation to keep from bleeding to other rooms, and seldom made as a calculated enclosure.
Another problem is that many of the IW/IC speakers available are made with cheap junk drivers and sold as builder specials, where they’re made cheap so a contractor can offer them as an inclusive to a customers new home build. Also. Very few of the manufacturers publish any specs, and they’re hard to review since installing and in-installing to review other IW speakers is NOT a simple task. This means that you don’t really know if the speaker has a good XO network to deal with baffle step compensation(different for IW) and transition from tweeter to woofer.
Towers(and ** speakers) also have the advantage of placement. Toe in and spacing from wall boundaries are key to great performance. Can’t do that with IW speakers, and IC speakers are just wrong considering where the sound is supposed to come from. Triad is a company that makes IC speakers that are very high quality and can combat the issue of sound from the ceiling.
Quality towers also have an advantage of generally higher sensitivity so they’re easier to drive. They normally have much higher quality components. And with larger, and usually more drivers, the speaker can handle thermal and power loads better.
Anyway, that a few things I could quickly think of.
FWIW, IC and IW have their place, and if the right ones are chosen, can make for a very good experience. They won’t be cheap though, and high quality ones can easily rival good towers in price.
 

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The best sounding loudspseakers tend to have the smallest amount of "surface" around the drivers. The larger the flat space around any given driver is, the harder it is to make the speaker sound its best. For bass, the problem is not as bad, but for midrange and high-frequency drivers... the smaller the surfaces around the drivers, they less the radiation pattern and frequency response of the drivers is "messed-with the least" compared to larger flat areas. There are certainly ways to minimize the issue, but you have to trust that your manufacturer cares enough to do it right. Also, speakers that fire down from the ceiling are THE WORST CASE for loudspeakers. You'll get better sound from "box" speakers mounted high on a wall and aimed at the listening position for Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D. Ceiling speakers don't make sense in home theaters because of the better fidelity from non-down-firing speakers. In a theater that's 40 feet wide... OK, you can make a real strong case for overhead speakers NOT at the side walls. But in rooms in homes that are maybe 10 feet wide up to 20 feet wide or so, ceiling mounted is not the best option for immersive sound except for the single voice of god speaker for Auro-3D/Auromatic. Human hearing is WORST when the sound comes from above. I think Dolby created Atmos for theaters, then tried to justify it for home use, but their justification is very weak based on how humans hear.
 

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The best sounding loudspseakers tend to have the smallest amount of "surface" around the drivers. The larger the flat space around any given driver is, the harder it is to make the speaker sound its best.
How does that explain all of the amazing killer soffit mounted monitors, like TAD-Northwest and other bespoke boxes that are mind meltingly good speakers? The problem is that the best sounding speakers don't necessarily have that. Maybe the best mid level consumer stuff does, but that is not my experience with the leading technology.
 

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Never as good as a well-designed free-standing loudspeaker that is properly designed and manufactured. And any speaker aimed straight down from the ceiling is BAD because human ears aren't very good with overhead sound. Baffle effects are difficult to eliminate.
 

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Sorry, I miscommunicated...
I was referring to Soffit mounted monitors in professional studios, which are mounted in the walls, not the in ceiling.
Properly designed speakers when correctly mounted in the walls are going to have implementations that already compensated for the boundary effects vs. those that are not.
 
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