Video: Planning Your Outdoor Speaker System


Tara W.

Tara W. has worked for Crutchfield since 2004. She writes about whole-house music and video gear, and works on Crutchfield's video team.

More from Tara W.

Get tips on planning your outdoor speaker system, including where to place your speakers and the other items you'll need to complete your setup. For more info, watch our videos on choosing and installing outdoor speakers.

Video Transcript

Tara: The great outdoors presents a different listening environment than your typical room. Inside your home, there are walls to reflect and contain sound. Outside, of course, it's wide open, and there are usually background noises like wind, traffic, or barking dogs. The guidelines we'll offer in this video will help you overcome some of the acoustical challenges that you'll find outside. Then we'll talk about all the gear you'll need to create an outdoor system.

First determine what your main listening area will be. Plan on placing your speakers roughly 12 feet away from that listening area and roughly 8 to 10 feet apart from each other. For example, if you want to listen to music on your deck, you can place one speaker at either end.

What if you need to cover a larger area? Think more speakers, not higher volume. Cranking up the volume could result in uncomfortably loud music in parts of your listening area. For example, if you wanted to cover your patio and pool deck, we'd recommend placing four speakers at the corners. Depending on your space you might opt for traditional speakers, stereo input speakers, or a mix of both. To get good stereo sound with traditional speakers alternate left and right channels. For more info on choosing speakers see our video at

We recommend placing your outdoor speakers in a protected location whenever you can, like under the eaves. Some models labeled as "weather-resistant" require that kind of placement. If you do need to put a speaker in a fully exposed location, like on the ground by the pool, be sure it's fully weather-proof.

To cover the broadest listening area, you can mount your speakers up high, above six feet but not higher than ten feet. This will help disperse the sound over more of your yard. And one last tip. If you want to get more bass out of your speakers, place them near a wall of corner.

To create a full outdoor speaker system there are a few things you'll need. First, you'll want enough speakers to adequately cover your listening area. Second, you'll need plenty of power to drive the speakers. You can use a separate amplifier although most home theater receivers these days can power an extra pair of speakers in one or more additional listening zones. Third, look for speaker wire designed for outdoor use. It's labeled CL2 or CL3. This kind uses durable jackets that can stand up to the elements. For some installations you may also need wire that's designed to be safely buried in the ground labeled "direct burial". Fourth, think about outdoor volume controls. This isn't a must have but it adds a lot of convenience, since you won't have to run back inside to turn up your favorite song.

For information on choosing speakers watch our video at and to see the basic steps of outdoor speaker installation visit You can also call our A/V design group for help planning your system at 1-800-555-9407.

  • Sam from Chicago

    Posted on 5/11/2015 11:12:56 PM

    looking for wireless in ceiling outdoor complete speakers setup with great sound for medium to large yard area.

  • Dave Bar from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/12/2015 10:08:56 AM

    Sam, we sent your inquiry to our sales team for the best answer. They'll be contacting you via email soon. For immediate help, you can contact them via phone or chat.

  • Mike from Ny

    Posted on 7/13/2015 8:30:13 PM

    What is the most powerful system for outdoor use. I want to play grateful dead and I want to hear it like a mile away, kick ass loud and clear

  • Brian Austin from Columbia, SC

    Posted on 7/14/2015 9:31:05 AM

    I have questions on wireless speakers.

  • Dave Bar from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/14/2015 9:52:06 AM

    I'm with you, Mike, but I honestly don't think a typical home or outdoor speaker system is designed to play that loud. Maybe a P.A. system is more what you need. My advice would be to check with our advisors to see what they recommend.

    Brian, I would also suggest giving our advisors a call to see what wireless options are available.

  • Larry Rogers from Frankston

    Posted on 8/10/2015 5:56:44 PM

    I'm planning to have to install an HD projector and project it on the back of my 5th wheel so I can watch football games from my deck behind the RV. I'll be using the Directv Genie system. What would a good sound system to use? Good sub and and stereo would be adequate but I'm an RV park and would not be able to secure it. I'm okay with some setup and tear down but hopefully not all every component. Open to your recommendations. Thanks, Larry

  • Dave Bar from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/11/2015 12:30:25 PM

    Larry, we sent your question to our sales team for the best answer. They'll be contacting you via email soon. For immediate help, you can contact them via phone or chat.