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10 tips for installing outdoor speakers

Our expert shares his favorite tricks

Time spent in the yard is more enjoyable if you install outdoor speakers and bring your favorite tunes along.

Our A/V specialist Norm has more than 12 years of experience as a Crutchfield Advisor and certified installer. Here are ten techniques he’s learned that make do-it-yourself outdoor speaker installation run a little bit more smoothly.

Installer placing drop cloth on the floor

Tip #1: Use a drop cloth

Tape down a drop cloth before drilling or sawing access holes. It will catch all the dust and debris so you can keep the floor clean and reduce tidying time after the installation. You’ll be in a hurry to try out your new system when you’re done, and you’ll be glad you’re not using that time to clean up instead.

Installer drilling into wall

Tip #2: Angle your drill

If the wire needs to go straight down, angle your drill holes to guide it in the right direction. You may want the wire to pass horizontally through the wall space, so you’d drill at that angle. Every little bit helps.

Tip #3: Line up your drilling holes

In this video tip, Norm shows us how to take the guesswork out of drilling precise holes in interior and exterior walls.

Tip #4: Go fish

Here, Norm demonstrates a cost-effective tool that helps pull wire through spaces where our hands can't fit and our eyes can't see.

Installer with wall cover plate

Tip #5: Cover up access holes

Sometimes, you have to drill an access hole to pull wire through. Norm uses inexpensive metal or plastic blanks to cover any drilling holes that don’t directly terminate in a speaker. This makes them weathertight on the outside and more visually appealing on the inside of the house.

Installer applying caulk

Tip #6: Don’t skimp on caulk

Norm always uses plenty of silicone-based caulk to seal outdoor installations. He recommends filling the hole around the speaker wire, wiggling the wire around to expose any gaps, and then hitting it with a second layer. He also runs a bead along the top seam of the bracket, to further eliminate any route for moisture to get into the installation. “You can’t ‘goop’ too much,” Norm jokes.

Installer pulling cable through wall

Tip #7: Give yourself some slack

Don’t cut speaker wire until you absolutely have to. When you run wire from the speaker to the receiver location, leave plenty of slack on either end, so you can adjust as needed. You don’t want to come up short and have to start over. “Wire’s cheap,” Norm warns. “Labor is not.” Once you have everything where you want it, you can cut off excess wire and make terminal connections.

Tip #8: Norm’s handy wire stripping method

Here, Norm uses a common tool to strip insulation off of speaker wire without damaging the delicate copper strands inside.

Installer stapling cable to framing

Tip #9: Staple down the wire run

Don’t leave long wire runs tangled or hanging loose from basement rafters. Norm uses a heavy duty staple gun to “square off” each installation, making it nice and neat, and keeping strain off of the wire throughout the finished installation.

Installer working inside wall opening

Tip #10: Go with the flow

Whenever possible, Norm likes to work with the existing structure of the house. During one recent installation, he found a location where a hole had been cut in drywall to accommodate a previously installed cable modem. He ran his wire alongside it, rather than drill a new hole.

Norm makes it look easy, but we understand you might be reluctant to take on an outdoor speaker installation on your own. Call one of our Advisors at 1-888-955-6000 to get some expert advice before you take the plunge.

  • Joe from Chicago

    Posted on 5/10/2021

    In regard to the question about mounting on vinyl siding, there is actually a simple method to allow for the movement of the siding. When you drill through the siding, make an slightly oversized hole and make one that is oval shaped in the siding. If you take a look at the siding itself, the holes where the installers nail the siding up is more of a long oval to allow for the movement of the siding. Mimic the same thing and you'll be fine; 1/2"- 1" wide should be plenty.

  • Jerry from Wilder

    Posted on 4/23/2021

    We are having our home resided with new vinyl siding. While the contractor was here giving me an estimate, he saw that I had outdoor speakers mounted up high on the wall with the existing vinyl siding. He mentioned that vinyl siding is meant to move in place slightly, and recommended that I do not reinstall the speakers on the wall so that the new siding could move as intended. Do you have any recommendations on how a situation like this by chance?

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    Eric Angevine from Crutchfield

    on 4/26/2021

    Jerry - I definitely don't know enough to go against the advice of a professional in terms of siding, but it does raise a lot of questions in my mind - it seems pretty normal to want to add things like light fixtures, speakers, etc. to the outside of your home. But I don't have the contractor's experience or expertise in these matters. Hope you figure out a way!
  • Hal from lynchburg

    Posted on 3/25/2021

    Do the speaker wires have to be equal length so as to not have an imbalance in sound, resistance, etc?

    Commenter image

    Eric Angevine from Crutchfield

    on 3/26/2021

    Hal - It's pretty rare for us to be able to run wire at exactly equal lengths. You shouldn't have any problems if one is a bit longer than the other.
  • Nathan Altimari from Glenmont, NY

    Posted on 3/24/2021

    I am installing two great DENON outdoor speakers next week. They are under an eve, so in theory they will with have limited exposure, but my question is - they need to be tilted down a little toward the yard... which positions the Red/Black connectors facing slightly upwards... do I need to wrap the connections with rubber tubing or electrical tape to prevent the wires and connectors from coming into contact with water? Or perhaps they are designed to withstand that sort of thing....

    Commenter image

    Eric Angevine from Crutchfield

    on 3/25/2021

    Nathan - It's very common for outdoor speakers to be installed under eaves pointing slightly downward, and typically you won't need to take any additional measures to protect them as long as they're not getting directly doused every time it rains. The manual for the speakers should let you know the best way to install them to keep them functioning well for a long time. Hope this helps!
  • Commenter image

    Eric Angevine from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/2/2020

    Lance - Thanks for the question. I reached out to our outdoor speaker guru Norm to get the advantage of his installation expertise, so I'm going to paste his reply here in quotes:

    "Great question!

    The speaker wiring connections are designed for outdoor use. I have got some outdoor speaker installations mounted on brick at a lake house that are coming up on 2 decades of use that have not been touched since the original installation.

    Outdoor speakers are designed so when the woofer and tweeter are facing towards the listening area, automatically the wiring connections will be in the correct orientation to allow for water to drain out.

    The main idea when doing the wiring connection is for the connections to face down towards the ground or at least tilt down enough so that any rain water, etc. can drain out.

    On a side note, you also don't want the woofer facing skyward to collect water like a bird bath does.

    Hope this helps!

    Cheers, Norm"

  • Lance from Indianapolis

    Posted on 10/1/2020

    What kind of care needs to be taken when you connect the speakers? The speakers are all-weather but I would assume the wiring and connection isn't. The speakers will not be under an awning so I want to make sure that the connection doesn't get wet and short anything out. Thanks in advance!

  • Rahul saiini from Mumbai

    Posted on 9/15/2020

    Great Sir

  • Rubén D. Rodríguez from Tomball

    Posted on 6/22/2020

    Very useful tips.

  • John ONeill from South Beach

    Posted on 4/18/2020

    I'm installing 3 x Community W2-2w8t (each speaker is over 40 lbs). I need to pour a small foundation as I plan to position them 10' off the ground where there is currently grass. I'm oceanfront & we sometimes get 70mph winds. I know I should get ground contract pressure treated wood but should it be 4x4 or 6x6? How big do I need dig for the foundation? What type of cement should I use & how do I get the wood to stay still while the cement hardens? Any other tips? Thanks!

    Commenter image

    Eric Angevine from Crutchfield

    on 4/20/2020

    John - I don't feel qualified to give construction advice, but it might be worth your while to call in and speak with one of our experienced home system designers. Thanks for the question!
  • John ONeill from South Beach, Oregon

    Posted on 4/18/2020

    I'm installing 3 x Community W2-2w8t (each speaker is over 40 lbs). I need to pour a small foundation as I plan to position them 10' off the ground where there is currently grass. I'm oceanfront & we sometimes get 70mph winds. I know I should get ground contract pressure treated wood but should it be 4x4 or 6x6? How big do I need dig for the foundation? What type of cement should I use & how do I get the wood to stay still while the cement hardens? Any other tips? Thanks!

  • Jon from The Woodlands

    Posted on 4/16/2020

    I have a pair of the DT AW 5500 mounted on the house wall of a covered porch. At low bass notes I get a rattle off the bracket to wall connection. Do they offer something like a gasket I could mount between the bracket and the wall? Everything is mounted properly and tight. Thanks

    Commenter image

    Eric Angevine from Crutchfield

    on 4/17/2020

    Jon - I have never heard of a gasket designed for the purpose, but if you check in with tech support, they may be able to come up with a creative solution. Thanks for the question!
  • James from Sandpoint, ID

    Posted on 4/15/2020

    Very timely. I just used this "stay at home" period to install some outdoor speakers that I'd been meaning to install for years! Giving yourself lots of slack with the speaker cable is very important. Especially if you don't like spending a lot of time pulling wire in the crawl space under your house!!

    Commenter image

    Eric Angevine from Crutchfield

    on 4/16/2020

    James - I'm glad we could help you get that project done. Norm's tips have helped save all of us a ton of time and frustration over the years. Enjoy those speakers!
  • Wayne Fields from St Augustine Beach

    Posted on 4/15/2020

    Tip #8 - Thank you. Wish I had known this trick about 45 years ago. It's good to know going forward.

    Commenter image

    Eric Angevine from Crutchfield

    on 4/16/2020

    Wayne - Believe me, I say that every time I get another nugget of Norm's wisdom. It's amazing having access to his years of experience! Thanks for the comment, and good luck with your next installation.
  • John from Augusta ME

    Posted on 6/15/2018

    Thanks for these tips, some of which I knew but some I didn't. Clever fellow, Mr Norm! These are timely, as I plan to install some outdoor speakers in the next few months.

    Commenter image

    Eric Angevine from Crutchfield

    on 6/18/2018

    Good luck with your project, John! Glad we could help.
  • Crockett from San Diego

    Posted on 6/12/2018

    Very good tips. On the Line up your drilling holes video, it would have been nice to see where the two rods came out in the basement. Wouldn't there be headers in the way?

    Commenter image

    Eric Angevine from Crutchfield

    on 6/13/2018

    Crockett - Thanks for the suggestion on the video tip, perhaps we can re-shoot it in the future and include that view. In our case, there was nothing in the way that stopped the rods from going through, but every house is different. If you're ever installing gear you bought from us, and run into a question like that, feel free to give us a call, and we'll offer our expertise!
  • Robert

    Posted on 6/8/2018

    Great tips! I'm working on my outdoor setup this summer. Just a quick question what are those bendy drill bits and where can I buy them?

    Commenter image

    Eric Angevine from Crutchfield

    on 6/11/2018

    Robert - Those flexible rods are called insulation supports. They're meant to hold fiberglass insulation up between beams. Leave it to Norm to figure out a brilliant new use for them. He tells me they're available at just about any hardware store, and definitely anywhere you can buy insulation. Good luck with your next project!
  • Sunnny from Bartlett

    Posted on 5/31/2018

    Thanks for th 10 tips, I learned a couple of tricks I had been struggling with. bending the wire to cut the insulation was really good. unfortunately I dod not have a basement. but I worked out a way to run my wires, currently my receiver and disc player in in my closet, which is on an outside wall. I m looking for ideas on how to put my equipment out on covered deck. I cannot find where anyone has actually doe this ? any ideas ? Thank you

    Commenter image

    Eric Angevine from Crutchfield

    on 6/8/2018

    Sunny, thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, we haven't come across any method for placing standard audio components outside yet. It's definitely something we're on the lookout for, but right now, we can't recommend moving that gear outdoors. Maybe in the future someone will come up with a workable solution!