Video: Choosing Outdoor Speakers
Tara W. has worked for Crutchfield since 2004. She writes about whole-house music and video gear, and works on Crutchfield's video team.
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Learn about what to look for when choosing outdoor speakers, including weather-readiness and the speaker designs best-suited for different setups. For more info, watch our videos on planning your outdoor system and installing outdoor speakers.
Tara: Outdoor speakers let you enjoy your favorite music on your patio or on your pool deck or pretty much anywhere. They're designed to stand up to weather, as well as the acoustical challenges of playing music outside. They provide much better sound than you'll get from a boom box, or from cranking up your main system and opening the windows. In this video, we'll cover the key things you need to know about choosing the right speakers for your backyard.
What makes these speakers outdoor-ready is their rugged construction. Outdoor speakers are made of tougher materials than the ones in your house, so they can stand up to everything from freezing rain on a cold winter morning, to the beating sun on a summer afternoon.
There are two main kinds of outdoor speakers. Weather-proof outdoor speakers can be placed pretty much anywhere. They can be fully exposed to the elements. Weather-resistant speakers, on the other hand, need a little protection — under the eaves of your house, for example. We actually recommend placing both types in a protected location when you can. They'll both last longer that way.
Wall-mountable outdoor speakers, like the ones shown here, are the most popular type. They're typically sold in pairs and provide stereo sound. Most include adjustable brackets, so you can aim them towards your listening area.
If space is an issue you might opt for an outdoor speaker that plays both channels of a stereo signal at the same time. They're called "stereo-input" speakers because they offer inputs for both the left and right channels of stereo music, and they're great when you're working with a small or awkward space. You can find stereo-input speakers that mount to the side of your house, or planter or rock speakers that are designed to blend in with the outdoor environment. If you choose stereo-input speakers, you may still want to use more than one speaker to provide enough sound coverage throughout your yard.
One of the biggest challenges for outdoor speakers is maintaining good bass response in wide open spaces. So you'll want to choose speakers with plenty of low-end oomph, ones that can get down to 60Hz or lower. If you choose speakers that can't go that low, you may want to consider adding an outdoor subwoofer to get good full-range sound.
For information on planning your system, watch our video at crutchfield.com/outdoorplacement. And to see the basic steps of outdoor speaker installation, visit crutchfield.com/outdoorinstall. You can also call our A/V design group for help planning your system at 1-800-555-9407.