I've been debating installing in-wall speakers on an exterior basement wall for a home cinema, and I see problems with every solution.

Naive approach

Cut out a section down to the concrete and simply install the speaker.

The problem with this, is because I live in a cold climate the vapor barrier is on the inside of the wall, and would be cut and compromised along each place.

Vapor barrier box

The next idea was to install a vapor barrier box, allowing me to preserve the vapor barrier, and still install the speaker.

The problem with this, is that in wall speakers are expecting a wall cavity to serve as a loudspeaker enclosure (and can actually benefit from existing insulation in the wall using it to absorb the unwanted waves within the cavity). I expect it would compromise the speakers quality enough to not be worth the effort of installing.

Has anyone else solved this problem already? Or is the idea of in-wall speakers just not feasible on exterior walls?

  • all else aside, if your wall is hard, you don't want the speakers even close to the wall, they should be 1/3rd of the way to your ear from the wall (or as close as aesthetically possible to that), otherwise it will sound echoish, like you're in a phone booth or cave.
    – dandavis
    Apr 24, 2018 at 22:45

2 Answers 2


Never mess with basement walls. This is not toung in cheek. If you want to add wiring go surface mount! I say this from working with several homes below grade from the west coast to the great Lakes area. Changing vapor berriors or drilling walls cutting channels are all opportunitys to create leaks in a dry basement. I am not a high tech audiophile but have made mistakes 2x in below grade wiring that caused me to have to do a bunch of work from the outside to eliminate the new leaks I created and these were on my homes, lessons learned for me I hope you don't repeat.


I would cut your opening and line the cavity with 3/4" extruded polystyrene sheet foam (not white beadboard). Seal it up with silicone to act as thermal insulation, vapor barrier, and acoustic chamber and be happy.

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