Outdoor speakers buying guide
Bring your music outside with the right speakers
hen the weather warms up, most of us find more and more reasons to be out in the yard. Whether you're digging into yardwork, reading a book, or hosting a BBQ, outside time is more fun with your favorite tunes on hand.
Fortunately, there are plenty of outdoor speakers that can help you take your tunes outside. This guide will show you a number of different options, so you can decide which ones will look and sound best your unique outdoor space.
Two types of outdoor speakers
There are two types of speakers we generally expect to see in an outdoor environment. You may want to permanently mount outdoor speakers under eaves, in the yard, or around a swimming pool.
On the other hand, there are plenty of portable wireless speakers that are made for outdoor use.
Permanently installed outdoor speakers
If you want to enjoy detailed, immersive sound on a deck or porch, or in a small backyard, passive stereo speakers — the type that get power and signal from a home receiver — are the best option. Outdoor stereo speakers are similar to indoor speakers, with two big differences:
- They can stand up to the elements. Many outdoor speakers are weatherproof, meaning they can withstand direct assaults of rain, sun, and cold. Other speakers are weather-resistant, so they require some protection from rain and ice.
- They come with mounting brackets. In the shipping box with the speaker, you'll find a special outdoor mounting bracket that attaches to the side of your house.
Speakers that mount to the side of your house offer robust stereo sound for your outdoor space.
Most outdoor speakers also have paintable grilles and enclosures, so you can match them to your color scheme.
Outdoor speakers and Sonos
Lots of people ask for Sonos outdoor speakers. Sonos doesn't make one. But that shouldn't stop you from adding an outdoor zone to your Sonos network.
Choose a pair of regular outdoor speakers made by another manufacturer. Run speaker wire from them to a CONNECT:AMP located inside your home.
If you decide to run indoor and outdoor speakers with a multi-zone home theater receiver, the Sonos CONNECT lets that component play content from your Sonos network, as well.
Patio and garden speakers
If you want to listen in an area that’s farther from your house, look for speakers designed to sit on the ground or mount on in-ground stakes.
A company called Acoustic Landscape™ offers packages of stake-mount speakers. You can add up to 8 satellites to expand your outdoor listening area to include gardens, patios, and pools.
They’re weatherproof for permanent outdoor installation without any cover or protection. They’re a better option than simply blasting music from the side of your house way out into the yard. Your neighbors might not appreciate that. And the music won't be too loud for people sitting closer to the house.
Environmental speakers blend into their surroundings. Can you spot the rock speaker in this photo?
Some of these speakers are even designed to blend into their outdoor surroundings (like these "rock" speakers). Others are compact and rounded, so they don’t take visitors’ eyes away from your beautiful landscaping.
Some environmental speakers are designed to be partially buried in the soil. The Bose FreeSpace® 360P II, for example, uses a unique design to broadcast music in a 360-degree pattern from the top of the speaker, while the rest of it hides out of sight.
TIP: Get the right speaker wire
Remember: when installing outdoor speakers, be sure to wire them with cable that is UL approved for in-wall use or direct burial.
If you need to add sound to a large outdoor space, stereo speakers might not make sense. After all, if you’re in one end of the pool or yard and closer to the left speaker, you’re only going to hear half of your music. That’s when you need to get stereo-input speakers.
This Polk Audio Atrium 8 speaker has inputs for both left and right channels, which allows stereo playback from a single speaker.
These speakers have inputs for both left and right channels.
Use four-conductor cable for stereo-input speakers. These cables contain wires for both left- and right-channel inputs in a single casing.
70-volt speakers and amps
If you want music to play in several discrete outdoor zones, a 70-volt system is a smart choice. Designed primarily for commercial use, 70-volt systems can drive several speakers with a single amplifier. They're more efficient and often easier on the budget as a result.
70-volt outdoor speakers — like this JBL Control® HST — are great for larger residential installations and commercial use.
Need help designing and choosing a 70-volt system? Check in with our commercial design team.
Portable wireless speakers
Portable wireless speakers usually operate via Bluetooth®, so you can stream music wirelessly from your smartphone or tablet. Some have built-in Wi-Fi®, so you can stream music from networked computers. If you select a speaker with Wi-Fi, be sure your home network reaches outdoors to where you’ll be using the speaker.
If you don't want a permanent installation, a wireless speaker like the Soundcast VG7 is good choice.
Not all portable speakers are weather-resistant, and none are designed to be left outdoors permanently. Be sure to read the specification on our website to determine if the speaker is water- or weather-resistant, and always bring them inside when not in use.
We can help you choose
Have questions about choosing the right outdoor speakers? Call, email, or chat with us today.
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