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The builder of our house put two double load-bearing studs in the middle of the media room wall where we want to install an in-wall center channel speaker. Would installing a box frame with double 2x4's for the top and bottom plate to distribute the load as shown in the picture below compromise the short or long-term integrity of the load?

The orange box in the picture is where the speaker would go.

This room in the only room upstairs in the 1 1/2 story house. There is attic space behind this wall up to the diagonal studs on the left side. Above and behind the diagonal studs is outside/roof/bricks.

I wouldn't do the work myself, but before I reach out to any contractors, I wanted to get the folks' opinions on this forum.

If it's too much of a risk/hassle, I may opt for a different option for the speaker. Such as mounting it on the wall or a shelf.

UPDATE: Well I just found out the builder has already hung the sheetrock along with mudding and tapping it! They won't allow me to fur it our at few inches as K H pointed out below. Which I think would have been a good option.

Now I am back to the drawing board. So it's either cut the drywall or go through the attic to access the studs to put in re-enforced headers (a couple of 2x10's or 8's).

I've reached out to a residential structural engineer to get his opinion. I'm waiting to hear back.

Sheetrock

Load bearing studs

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  • Surface or shelf mount certainly seems like the right solution here, if those options are on the table at all.
    – Ecnerwal
    May 2 at 17:24
  • You can have someone weld together a steel frame strong enough to withstand the load that TWO houses would place on it and insert it into the middle of those load bearing studs and it would occupy far less space than wood. I'm always amazed at the reluctance of people to use steel in home construction. May 3 at 9:50
  • My reluctance is because that's a huge hassle. I don't have a welder on retainer, and I don't have the knowledge to calculate load for steel. I do have lumber and a saw and the basic knowledge that a doubled 2x10 header will be more than sufficient. That's a much easier path to a solution that I can consider safe.
    – isherwood
    May 3 at 15:28
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    @txsun, you absolutely need a proper header. See Jack's answer for more on that. I'd be using a doubled 2x10 setup to be sure it's adequate. It's cheap insurance. Also keep in mind that there may be a point-load footing under there. The trimmer studs that carry the new header must be on it.
    – isherwood
    May 3 at 15:30
  • If the center speaker is for bass....it needn't be centered. You could move it left or right a few feet and you wouldn't hear the difference. You could even try it out before deciding. High frequencies are very directional, low frequencies...not at all. May 4 at 4:48
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A header will need to added in that area. Perhaps for the short span, it needs a triple 2X4 on their edge will work for that, 2X6 would be best. This is assuming 2X6 wall. They can be directly above the speaker or even as high as the underside of the top plate if the angled blocking does not complicate anything. Some blocking will need to be added for the joint between the foam board and OSB.

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    I wouldn't dare use 2x4 under a point-load post. Doubled 2x8 at least, since we're not consulting an engineer. Of course, the floor system above needs to be supported while the work is done.
    – isherwood
    May 3 at 15:20
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    @isherwood, 2X8 or even 2X10 would be great too, I find that bigger the pieces, the more shrinkage is going to happen. with a 30" wide opening at most which should be for any speaker. Most center speakers are much smaller than that. Since there is only a roof load, no addition floors above, I see just a header that would work over any 3' window would do the trick.
    – Jack
    May 4 at 3:00
  • This may be the way to go. I looked how the windows were framed and it looks like the builder used double 2x4's for the top plate with straps.
    – txsun
    May 4 at 3:09
  • Do follow up on @isherwood suggestion about following the point load. On outside walls blocking for point loads are not always needed, but if they are there, they need to be done under the 2 new locations where the jack studs for the headers bear. I would also go to a larger material than 2X4s like the other windows. Triple 2X6 at least.
    – Jack
    May 4 at 3:19
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I suggest shifting the speaker frame to the left to avoid interfering with the load-bearing studs. Double up and add horizontal studs to distribute the load to the studs as shown on the picture below.

enter image description here

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    If the speaker box isn't too deep, you could consider furring the wall out with another layer of stud. Looks like an outside wall so there are advantages to doing so and depending on the room, losing 3.5 inches may not be noticable. You could also preserve that space at floor level by furring a speaker in above the screen, although that's harder if the screen goes right to the top of the wall.
    – K H
    May 3 at 3:43
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    Extra depth of insulation could also help keep happy neighbours when watching shows at theater volume. You might also want to check out transducer speakers as you can set them up surface mount to look extremely subtle and they do well with mid and high range similar to a center speaker.
    – K H
    May 3 at 3:46
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    "Horizontal studs" aren't a thing, and the plates as you've drawn them aren't adequate in a load-bearing wall. This doesn't really answer the question anyway.
    – isherwood
    May 3 at 15:23
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    @txsun Actually, K H has an interesting idea. If you can add a false wall locally, then you can maintain the desired location of the center speaker, create fun in visualization, and stuffing the wall for better soundproof/effect.
    – r13
    May 3 at 15:33
  • @isherwood K H wasn't "Answer" the question but using "Comment" to offer an alternative idea to solve/alleviate the OP's problem/dilemma, I don't see anything wrong with that, why bashing?!
    – r13
    May 3 at 15:39

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