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Author Topic: When to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker?  (Read 5224 times)

Mike Maly

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When to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker?
« on: March 10, 2017, 05:43:56 pm »

Just curious if anyone knew of a textbook rule of when to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker? More of my own curiosity than anything else...

Thanks in advance.


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John Rutirasiri

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Re: When to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker?
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2017, 06:04:46 pm »

Ceiling speakers with back cans must be used when installed in plenum (return air/air handling) space.

Best regards,
John R.
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Keith Broughton

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Re: When to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker?
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2017, 06:25:24 pm »

Ceiling speakers with back cans must be used when installed in plenum (return air/air handling) space.

Best regards,
John R.
It is something to take up with the local fire inspector as well but definitely in a plenum.
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Mike Maly

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Re: When to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker?
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2017, 06:45:47 pm »

Ceiling speakers with back cans must be used when installed in plenum (return air/air handling) space.

Best regards,
John R.

Thanks John!


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Mike Maly

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Re: When to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker?
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2017, 06:45:59 pm »

It is something to take up with the local fire inspector as well but definitely in a plenum.


Thanks Keith!


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Ivan Beaver

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Re: When to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker?
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2017, 07:17:58 pm »

A back can also helps to keep "critters" away from the speaker-as well as various types of trash.
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Len Zenith Jr

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Re: When to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker?
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2017, 08:45:22 pm »

Also needed if any type of blown in insulation will be applied above them.
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Mike Maly

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Re: When to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker?
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2017, 11:43:26 pm »

A back can also helps to keep "critters" away from the speaker-as well as various types of trash.

Good point Ivan.


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Mike Maly

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Re: When to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker?
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2017, 11:43:40 pm »

Also needed if any type of blown in insulation will be applied above them.

Also a good point Len.


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John Rutirasiri

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Re: When to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker?
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2017, 01:00:42 am »

Also, if you're installing in earthquake-prone areas, you'd want back cans as they typically have built-in attachment points for safety cables.

John R.
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: When to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker?
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2017, 09:29:34 pm »

Just curious if anyone knew of a textbook rule of when to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker? More of my own curiosity than anything else...

Thanks in advance.


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One important thing that most people miss, is to always run the wire from the speakers straight up from the speakers-a least a couple of feet-and then run over and down to the next one.

DO NOT lay the wire on top of the ceiling-especially a drop tile one.
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Glen Kelley

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Re: When to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker?
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2017, 12:21:52 pm »

One important thing that most people miss, is to always run the wire from the speakers straight up from the speakers-a least a couple of feet-and then run over and down to the next one.

DO NOT lay the wire on top of the ceiling-especially a drop tile one.

Yes, please! And use the correct hangers to support the wire -- not just strapped to conduit or HVAC straps... I have had contractors back out to fix this more times than I can count. That and missing safeties on the back-cans. :o
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Joseph D. Macry

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Re: When to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker?
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2017, 11:54:34 am »

Aside from plenum requirements, a backcan helps limit unwanted noise spreading above ceiling to other rooms.
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Craig Hauber

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Re: When to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker?
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2017, 12:50:17 pm »


DO NOT lay the wire on top of the ceiling-especially a drop tile one.

Yes, please leave that area clear for the HVAC, CCTV and Telco guys!

But seriously, I can't remember the last time I've installed speakers without integral steel back-cans!
A few times I've had to forcibly remove tops of old plastered-in cans to fit EVID's before.

All we do now on pre-wire for new-builds is place the steel rough-in rings for the finish contractors to go off of.

I've found that "canned" speakers sound better because the manufacturers are working with a known size and can port and tune accordingly.  Open-backed residential home stereo speakers have always mystified me in that how can they spec the LF frequency response when they have no idea what size space or insulation (if any) is going to be behind the speaker?
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: When to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker?
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2017, 01:22:19 pm »

Yes, please leave that area clear for the HVAC, CCTV and Telco guys!


The reason for not laying the wire on the ceiling grid is safety for fire fighters.

If there is a fire, they will often take the axes and rip  through the ceiling to find the source.

If an axe grabs a speaker wire and the guy pulls on it, the whole ceiling could come down on him.
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Craig Hauber

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Re: When to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker?
« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2017, 01:26:36 pm »

The reason for not laying the wire on the ceiling grid is safety for fire fighters.

If there is a fire, they will often take the axes and rip  through the ceiling to find the source.

If an axe grabs a speaker wire and the guy pulls on it, the whole ceiling could come down on him.

I was making a joke Ivan.
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Craig Hauber
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: When to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker?
« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2017, 03:04:38 pm »

I was making a joke Ivan.
Yeah-but A LOT of trades simply lay the cables on the gridwork.

I was stating why is is a dangerous idea to do so.

Yes, it is more work to do it right, but in the event of a fire, it could cause problems.
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Hal Bissinger/COMSYSTEC

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Re: When to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker?
« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2017, 01:18:14 pm »

It's a NEC violation and for good reason. Consider generations of cable thrown up into the ceiling. That's unfortunately often the case since there are so many hacks that couldn't care less about codes and landlords who don't require tenants to remove any cable that they installed when they move out. I've seen it so bad that you can't even push up a ceiling tile. Think of what would happen during a fire when that spider web mess comes crashing down entangling a firefighter.

-Hal
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Erik Jerde

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Re: When to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker?
« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2017, 02:49:36 pm »

I've found that "canned" speakers sound better because the manufacturers are working with a known size and can port and tune accordingly.  Open-backed residential home stereo speakers have always mystified me in that how can they spec the LF frequency response when they have no idea what size space or insulation (if any) is going to be behind the speaker?

This is the exact reason I used speakers with integrated backing boxes when I did my basement.  Otherwise each speaker would have been in a different enclosure.  Now they are identical and they sound like it.
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Re: When to use a backcan on a ceiling speaker?
« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2017, 02:49:36 pm »


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