Maybe you know nothing about audio.
Heck, maybe you know nothing about technology. How on Earth can you figure out what you even need for a kitchen sound system, let alone fit one yourself?!
We’re here to tell you it’s not as hard as you think.
All you need to do is figure out what you want, what you’re willing to pay and match that to your situation.
Here’s how it’s done.
What Kind of Sound System Are You Looking For?
The Basic Bluetooth Speaker
Chances are since you searched for ‘sound system’, you’re looking for something with a bit more oomph than a single Bluetooth speaker on your kitchen tabletop.
However, depending on a few other factors (which we’ll come to), this might actually be the best option for you.
Today’s Bluetooth speakers can offer great sound quality and a surprisingly immersive listening experience.
If you decide that this is enough and you just want your favourite playlist to shuffle your feet to as you cook up another spag bol, then go for a good name.
Bang & Olufsen, Sennheiser, and JBL are some popular brands that get our approval.
High(er) End HiFi
If you’re no good at DIY and are on a budget that can’t stretch to include an electrician (at minimum) and perhaps a handy person who’s got the gumption to drill into your walls and/or kitchen cabinets as you peer ‘round the door just waiting for something to go wrong, then the simplest solution is the best.
However, if you’ve got your heart set on modern, sleek, recessed speakers booming your favourite tracks from your walls or ceiling, then you’ll need to fork out some cash for the fitting process.
There’s no way around that :(.
If, however, you choose wisely, keep it simple, and are a dab hand at DIY, you might just get away with doing the whole process yourself.
From here on out we’ll assume that, simplest solution be damned, you’re going after a fully-fledged sound system.
Here’s what that would entail.
To DIY or Not to DIY?
How Good Is Your DIY?
A small caveat before we get started: even the most confident DIY’ers are going to want to get a certified electrician involved if they decide they want to wire into anything directly.
If you’re going for the bog-standard “plug into a plug” approach though, then have at it.
Confident DIY’ers can, if they want to, install the whole sound system themselves.
Depending on the brand and products you choose, installing speakers in your kitchen can actually be quite simple (find the full installation guide here). Most come with a cutting template, meaning it’s difficult to go wrong.
If you can’t access your ceiling from above (likely), then you’ll probably want to install directly into your kitchen cabinets.
(If, at this point, you’re recoiling in horror, definitely consider a professional for mounting these into the ceiling).
Are You Willing to Pay For Professional Installation?
If you’re installing fresh while building work is still going on, then you’re probably enlisting the help of someone else to install your sound system too.
But, if you don’t want to shoulder the responsibility of drilling into your wife’s beautifully handpainted kitchen cabinets, get a professional involved.
Even if only to have someone else to point at if it goes wrong (we promise it won’t, it really is quite easy), it’s essential to have someone confident with a saw and drill to get your speakers installed.
Hopefully, this person can also finish off the rough edges with sanding and extra painting so it looks like the speakers were never not a part of your kitchen.
Can You Put Up With the Associated Disruption?
Retrofitting a sound system into your kitchen shouldn’t take more than a day.
If you’ve got multiple professionals on the job, the whole thing could be completed in a couple of hours. This really depends on how many built in speakers you want in your home ceiling speaker system.
It also depends on what brand and which products you go for.
But either way, the process will move as quickly as the people you hire for the job. If you hire yourself for the job, you invite added stress and no one to fall back on when things go wrong.
On the other hand, if you trust yourself more than any cowboy builder, go for it.
Choosing the Speakers
Tabletop Vs Freestanding Vs Recessed
There is more than one type of speaker you can use for a kitchen sound system.
Freestanding speakers are possible but will either be big enough to blow you away or will look out of place next to anything but the TV in the living room.
Tabletop speakers are definitely an option but, as already discussed, don’t really qualify for the title of ‘sound system’.
So we’re left with in-ceiling or in-wall speakers.
Benefits of In-Ceiling Speakers
In-ceiling speakers come with a long list of benefits.
- They look neat and tidy.
- They use echo reflection to fill the room with sound.
- Active/passive pairs economise on amplification to keep costs low.
However, depending on the product, they can be a real pain to install.
That’s because some brands, like Sonos, require a separate amplifier tucked away somewhere to operate.
That also means routing cabling from each speaker in the system to that amplifier.
Other brands make things much simpler.
Lithe Audio Ceiling Speakers
Lithe Audio ceiling speakers have the amplifier built-in.
This means cabling is simple when you can reach a power outlet.
If there are no power outlets nearby, you still have options.
You can wire the speakers directly into the lighting circuit to power them (this is where you will need a certified, qualified electrician. Please don’t attempt this yourself.)
If you go for Lithe Audio’s Pro Series speakers, you can even fork over a bit extra for a PoE injector.
The speakers require a lot of power, so you’ll have to use Lithe’s own injector for this, but it helps expand your options if you’re having difficulty finding a nearby power source.
WiFi or Bluetooth Kitchen Speakers?
How do you want to connect to your kitchen sound system?
Bluetooth and WiFi are the two options and each has its pros and cons.
If you’re going with Bluetooth, find out what Bluetooth technology is on board as newer is better.
Speakers with AptX Bluetooth chips onboard have close to zero latency, meaning you’ll be able to connect your kitchen ceiling speakers to your TV and your favourite show will actually be watchable.
(Get this wrong, and there will be a frustrating delay (known as latency) between seeing a character’s lips move and hearing the words they’re saying.)
Bluetooth speakers are also easier to connect to and set up initially.
WiFi speakers, on the other hand, offer far more flexibility, though this comes at a higher price.
If you ever choose to expand your home stereo system across the rest of the floor or even throughout your home (or office), it pays to have WiFi speakers fitted from the get-go.
That’s because WiFi speakers will communicate with each other across your network to play music in sync together, no matter which room you’re in.
WiFi speakers also stop you from having to worry about where you are in relation to the speakers.
Since you have great WiFi connectivity throughout your home or office, you’ll be able to connect to and control your kitchen sound system from anywhere.
Putting It All Together
1 - The Product
Since they’re so easy to retrofit and have onboard amplifiers and multiple powering options, we’ll be recommending Lithe Audio ceiling speakers here. Feel free to use whichever brands and products you like.
2 - WiFi or Bluetooth?
Choose whether WiFi or Bluetooth speakers are for you and your kitchen.
3 - How Many?
According to Lithe Audio themselves, a single active/passive pair of in-ceiling speakers will be enough to fill most rooms with great sound. That means installing just two speakers. You’ve got this.
4 - The Fitting
They come with a cutting template, which makes it dead-easy to install these into a kitchen cabinet or office ceiling tile (even I managed to do it, and I’ve been known to take 4 hours to put together a flat-packed desk. Check out the video below to see me in action.).
5 - Use a Professional If You Have To
If you’re not confident in your DIY, get a professional in - maybe one who’s confident fitting downlights. The process is much the same (the hole’s just larger).
Follow the included instructions or take another look at our Lithe Audio installation guide.
6 - Relax and Listen
Once you’re done, dust yourself off and grab your favourite chilled beverage. Congratulations!
Wrapping Up: The Best Kitchen Sound System Ideas
Here’s a handy reference list of most of the options available to you:
- Bog-standard, tabletop Bluetooth speaker.
- Freestanding speakers.
- An array of smart speakers strategically positioned around the room, connected to WiFi that can play music in concert.
- Retrofit by repurposing your kitchen cabinets.
- Retrofit directly into the walls or ceiling.
- Full remodel. Necessary in most instances where the amplifier is not built into the speakers (e.g. Sonos).