Video: Installing 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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Tara: In this video we'll show you the basics of outdoor speaker installation, from routing your wire to hooking up your speakers. While mounting outdoor speakers isn't very hard, running speaker wire to them can be tricky. If you're comfortable with tasks like installing new light fixtures and running new in-wall Ethernet cable, and you have access to the necessary tools, it might be something you can handle. Visit crutchfield.com/outdoorinfo for more details.
To show you the basic steps involved in outdoor speaker installation we enlisted the help of D.A. and Josh. They're professional installers at our local Charlottesville, VA retail store.
Planning our system
First, we unpacked the speakers and the included mounting hardware. We used a pair of speakers provided by Definitive Technology. They were a good choice for the space because they have excellent bass response, and we didn't have room for an outdoor subwoofer.
Next we selected the locations for each speaker. We opted for two spots underneath a covered deck. Even though these speakers are designed to hold up to the elements, they'll have a longer life in this protected location. We faced the speakers towards the patio so the sound would reach more of our planned listening area. To make sure our chosen locations would work, we temporarily attached the speakers to the included brackets and tested for fit. We also took this opportunity to mark our screw holes.
When you're choosing locations for your speakers, make sure you attach them to solid wood or masonry. Vinyl, aluminum, or cedar sidings may not be able to support the weight of the speaker. If your speakers are exposed, tilt them downward to allow water to drain when they get wet.
Finally, we chose a spot for our outdoor volume control. This adds a lot of convenience since we won't have to run back inside to adjust the volume.
Running the wire
First, we found a safe route for the speaker cable from the main room to an external wall below the deck. After carefully checking for power and water lines, we drilled the hole through that wall. Then we ran the wire back to the main system. Next, we routed the wire to the spots we'd chosen for our volume control and speakers.
A couple of important notes on choosing speaker wire: First, overestimate the length you think you'll need by about 10-15% to give you a margin for error. Second, be sure to buy durable cable that's rated for in-wall and outdoor installation. Look for a label of CL2 or CL3. If you need to bury wire in the ground, look for "Direct Burial" cable, and consider burying it inside conduit for extra protection.
Once we ran the wire, we installed and connected the volume control. From there it was a matter of attaching the speakers to their brackets, then connecting and securing the wire. Finally, we used caulk to seal any holes in and around the speaker wire and volume control. This extra measure keeps excess moisture and small insects from getting into the openings. The last step of course was to crank up the system and enjoy the rest of the afternoon.
To learn more about choosing and installing outdoor speakers, visit crutchfield.com/outdoorinfo. And for one on one help planning your system call our A/V Design Group at 1-800-555-9407.