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September 2011

In-Ceiling Speakers – Taking a different route(r)

I am out in NY at a project that is still in the construction stage. All wire is pulled but it isn’t time for trim yet. I came out to get the lighting system fired up. When i got here i found all of our porch/deck speaker wires coming out of tiny holes instead of their brackets.

The ceiling for the covered outdoor areas are wood. Plywood then tongue and groove slats. 1-1/4″ depth with tons of nails. About half of the speaker locations had a hole large enough for me to get my hand inside so it was easy to figure out where the joists were. The other half were 1/2″ holes and took 3 times as long because i had to break out my old school tools/techniques to find the center of the stud. Ok i pretty much just used a solid piece of wire and spun it around until it hit something :). It did take 3 times as long because i wanted to be careful and of course the electrician mounted the lights and the fans up against a joist making it impossible to center speakers in some areas.

My first instinct was to break out the sawzall with a thin blade. Since the ceilings were painted and done this idea got thrown out. Second idea was a jigsaw. After counting the number of speakers (20) i decided that manuevering a jigsaw upside down was probably a bad idea. Third idea was to use a Labor Saving Device hole saw. I posted at Remote Central about it. A few people voted for the LSD product. A few for one from another company and one guy brought up the rotozip with a circle cutter. I have some experience with cutting speakers out with a rotozip. It works fine but the bit kept snapping and it was hard to keep the line straight after my arms got tired. The circle cutter might have made it easier. I didn’t think it would be a good fit for wood but it gave me an idea. A router!

I got a piece of furniture grade wood from the cabinet guys. Then i picked up an expensive hole saw and cut a template. I used a countersink bit to drill 4 holes in the template about 1/8″ from the circle cut out so that i could mount it to the ceiling. The speaker bezel/grille covers these holes. The router worked very well. I was able to cut most speakers out with 1 quick pass using a 1-1/4″ bit. The shank on 2 bits broke off when they hit nails. They were $25 each… ouch. Photos below.

Holy Hole Saw, Batman!

Had to cut in 7 pairs of Sonance Visual Performance VP65R XT in-ceiling speakers today. For an outdoor exposed porch over hang. Apx 1-1/4″ of wood. Plywood with bead board on top. it was already painted so i had to be super careful. I decided to use a router to cut the holes. The problem was creating a template for the router. I am out of town with a limited set of tools. I wasn’t getting any love from the other trades so i had to make my own jig. Found a real hardware store that had a giant Starrett 8-1/4″, $145 (ouch) hole saw in stock. Exactly the size i needed. They also had Veto Pro pac tool bags in stock. First time i have seen them for sale at any hardware store. When i saw them in the window i knew i found a serious hardware store.

Creating the template in 3/4″ plywood went well. Managing a hole saw that big is no joke if it gets away from you. At one point i had the idea to cut the speakers out with it but theres no way i could have done it. I attached my template to the ceiling and ran the router around cutting perfect circles for every speaker. The sonance speakers went in effortlessly. Sonance has always had their act together in terms of getting them installed but these Visual Performance speakers are crazy. The cover is magnetic and snaps right in place. One pain with previous models was that if you over tightened the screws your bezel would be distorted making it difficult to get the grill in. That problem has been officially resolved.

There is one last thing i would like them to address (and finally reach in-celing/in-wall speaker nirvana) and thats the spring loaded speaker cable terminals. I wish they would design them so you get a little pig tail that you connect to your speaker wire that then plugs firmly into the speaker as your putting it in the ceiling. The spring loaded terminals are fine but i hate trying to hold the speaker and push them in 1 by 1. It would be nice to have an easy “jack” to connect.

Back on topic :)… The crazy awesome giant hole saw…

Temporary Audio Wiring – Using what i have :)

I have been planning a full on custom build out of my trunk but it wont happen for a while. I decided to temporarily hook up an old amp & pair of subwoofers yesterday. I was going to go buy an “amp wiring kit” when i decided to look around in my garage and see what i could come up with. I used liberty 14/4 for power/ground/trigger. Liberty 16/4 for speaker level to the subwoofers. And finally… a decade old pair of straightwire interconnects for line level from the head unit. It took me about 30 minutes, didnt cost a penny.

This should hold me over until i get ready to finish the trunk. I promise that this is “temporary” wiring as in… “i will actually wire it properly SOON” -vs- “this is how it will be for ten years” :).