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Ceiling mounted speakers gained popularity in the 20's and 30's for use in department stores and theater lobbies. Their main benefit is inconspicuousness (mounted in a ceiling, only the speaker grille is visible from below, and it's usually painted to match the ceiling which masks from view).
Today, many people utilize in ceiling speakers to accomplish whole-house audio and intercom systems. Having your speakers mounted in the ceilings, out of the way, frees up valuable floor space and makes your audio system virtually invisible.