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Dolby Atmos ceiling speaker installation in British 1950s house

Telumehtar

Established Member
To be honest, the thought of making holes in my ceiling and routing the wires was quite daunting. I wished there was some sort of tutorial to let me know what I was in for. But most such information I found was for Americans with big houses and things like ceiling tiles.

So I just got on with it and it was easier than I thought.

Here are pictures showing the progress with a description of what I did under each one:
Dolby Atmos ceiling speakers installation

The speakers are KEF Ci160QR that I got on eBay for a bit less than retail price.

This is the tool I used to make the 196mm diameter holes in the ceiling. Well worth it as it made the hole cutting easy and relatively mess-free: Armeg AHC40-200 40-200mm Adjustable Hole Cutter: Amazon.co.uk: DIY & Tools

I was somewhat lucky because previous re-wiring and central heating installation had left some floorboards cut short and screwed down instead of nailed, and there were holes in the joists I could use to run wires through. Getting the holes in the right place was a matter of measuring to find where in the room above they would be, pulling the nearest floorboard, putting speaker down there to make sure it fit and avoided pipes, then making a small pilot hole from above. The pictures show some more details.

How does it sound? Pretty good to my ear, though the only other Atmos I've heard was at the Olympic Studios cinema in Barnes. I have no idea if Atmos bounce-sound-off-the-ceiling would have worked but intuitively I preferred the idea of real speakers. These KEFs seem good because they are supposed to sound good well off-axis, and I might get LS-50s for the front 3 speakers at some point so things will match to an extent, though I'm not sure it matters much.

My rears are higher than Dolby say they should be for Atmos, but I don't think it's a big deal.

Ceiling speakers are in line with where my feet go and just to the left and right of the sofa.

I did YPAO and found it good but all a bit subtle, so then I added a couple of dBs to the level of the overheads and it is now probably a bit too in-your-face, if impressive. I'm sure I will be doing a lot more tweaking.

But all in all I'm pleased with how well the physical installation went. Please ask questions or feel free to tell me I did it all wrong!

Edit: this is the wire I used. But [edit 2] don't use this because it is not correct: AWG 13 - 2x2,5mm² - 30m Role | DCSk HiFi Copper Loud: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics

Use this instead: Mutec-Cable -Speaker Wire 2 x 2.5mm² 50M CL2 Rated UL: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics which has CL2 rating for fire safety (fumes and flammability).

You want proper copper and thick enough wire for the length of the run but not too thick as it is harder to route.

Also it is important to use a fire hood over the speakers as the a fire will melt the speakers and allow smoke through the hole. These are readily available. I am going to try these: Fisual FH-300 Universal Fire Hood For Ceiling Speakers - In Ceiling Speakers - AudioVisual Online - Home Cinema and Hifi Specialists
 
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pinochio65

Established Member
Hi Telumehtar Thanks for all the information regarding the installation of Atmos Speakers. Very well described & useful.
Regards :- PINOCHIO65
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
The problem isn't the speakers, they can be installed easily enough. The PROBLEM is the WIRE, how do you get the speaker wire from the speaker to the Amp? That's were the struggle and the mess come in.

It means tearing up your walls and ceiling to some degree depending on the specifics of the install. But to some degree, greater or lesser, it means tearing up the walls and ceiling.

If that doesn't appeal to you, there is another method of implementing ATMOS, on top of your Front and Surround speakers, you place a small speaker pointing up. That sound then bounces off the ceiling and creates the ATMOS effect, some people say this is actually better because it creates the illusion that the sound is coming from well above the ceiling.

Kef R50 Dolby Atmos-Enabled Speaker

Reference Premiere Elevation Speakers | Klipsch

A4 – Elac

And so on.

These are workable alternative to tearing up you walls and ceilings.

Steve/bluewizard
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
...
Edit: this is the wire I used. It's proper copper and thick enough for the length of the run. I'm glad I did not use thicker wire as it would have been a pain to route it: AWG 13 - 2x2,5mm² - 30m Role | DCSk HiFi Copper Loud: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics

Small problem, though relatively small, to meet building, fire, and electrical codes, for in-wall/in-ceiling use, you need CL2 or CL3 rated wire. Though that is common and relatively inexpensive. CL2 has low toxicity when it burns, and low flammability.

Mutec-Cable -Speaker Wire 2 x 2.5mm² 50M CL2 Rated UL: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics

Still, you used quality wire, just not CL2/CL3. Though I won't tell anyone if you don't.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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Telumehtar

Established Member
you need CL2 or CL3 rated wire.

Thanks for the heads-up. It might not be too difficult to replace the wire at this stage. Though only a few feet of cable are in the ceiling and none in the walls, I can imagine bureaucratic problems at some point. Also fire hoods are important.
 
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ashenfie

Distinguished Member
wire are often pvc coated and not that good in a fire, in fact worse than the rubber it replaced in that respect. If you have concerns maybe a heat resistant conduit is the solution.

Replacing the wire could be not to hard as the floor boards can be lifted and the screwed down again.
 

Telumehtar

Established Member
I have now added Fisual FH-300 fire hoods. Some pictures : Fisual FH-300 fire hood Fisual FH-300 fire hood

It's just a (presumably somewhat fire resistant) fabric box, with one end open and extra bits of material to make flaps. I just took out each speaker, shoved the hood through the hole, pushed it into shape as much as possible in the available space, made flaps that folded inwards, and stuck them down with drawing pins. There are no installation instructions.

The speakers fit inside easily but the large "cabinet" of the inside of the ceiling is now compromised (KEF suggest at least a 35 litre space and these are 13.5l). But the hood is just fabric so it's not exactly a solid, air tight cabinet.

When I play full range music through them I think bass is slightly compromised compared to without the hoods. But I have not measured it. And as Atmos height speakers they still work just as well.

There is no real sound proofing to the room above, here. You might want to choose Hoody fire hoods for that.
 

pinochio65

Established Member
Hi, regarding installing my ceiling speakers I do not have a problem, I live in a bungalow, which has a large attic space above the living room where the ceiling speakers will be situated all ready have trunking for the cables.
PINOCHIO65
 

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