Dedicated Outdoor Speakers and Home Integration
If you are going this route, good planning is paramount. As discussed, well positioned speakers sound a lot better, and poorly installed speakers can spiral into a renovation making you wish you’d never thought of music outside.
It’s an attractive idea to add some outdoor speakers to your existing system. Many receivers have an A and B set of speakers, or multiple “zones”, so you can listen to speakers in multiple spaces. When connecting outdoor speakers to a receiver / source that’s located indoors, use speaker wire that is designed for in-wall (CL2 or CL3) applications. Lead the wires in from the outside and seal the drill holes shut with some silicon. If you’re not handy with a drill however, there are some simpler solutions.
Wireless technology has become very cost effective, thus wireless speakers have become more popular. Keeping in mind that wireless speakers still have to be plugged into a power outlet, they make setup easier. Integrating with your music library or internet radio via a wireless router, you can hide a small amplifier inside your home close to where your outdoor speaker are mounted, minimizing unsightly wires.
Sonos is one of the companies that offers a solution that is hard to beat in terms of sound quality, affordability, ease of setup (with a 1 button setup), and allows you stream music from just about any source you can name – from music stored on your home network to internet radio to the tunes on your smart phone. While Sonos does not offer an outdoor speaker, its Connect: AMP is ideal for powering and streaming music to a pair of good quality outdoor speakers. The Sonos can be set up in a multi-room configuration and allows you to control playback from your smart phone / tablet thanks to a very slick app. Check out our detailed guide to Building an Affordable Multi-room Audio System With Sonos, which also features a review of the system.
If you’re planning to get a pair of great sounding outdoor speakers, a Canadian company called Blue Sound has similar ease of setup and stream-ability as Sonos, but is “designed by audiophiles”. They offer an amp called the Powernode that connects with your router wirelessly that would be excellent to power any good pair of outdoor speakers. The Powernode is powerful, plays hi res files in their native formats, and can be controlled with Windows, iOS, and Andriod devices.
Choosing your favorite outdoor speaker is done best by listening to them, and if that is not possible, going with a brand you already have confidence in is recommended. Most popular brands offer outdoor speakers, and of course we have a few options to get you started. Monitor Audio has been winning hifi speaker awards for the past decade and we just reviewed their Climate Series outdoor speakers – how timely! Check out the Monitor Audio Climate CL80 review here. Paradigm is a great Canadian company that offers a range of fantastic outdoor speakers. You can read our review of their Stylus Series 470 v3 outdoor speakers HERE. JBL has almost certainly provided sound at outdoor concerts you’ve attended, so not surprisingly they make a good outdoor speaker, and you also can read about experiences with speaker placement in this review.
For those who prefer feng shui designs over mounted speakers, there are companies who make camouflaged outdoor speakers that blend into the outdoor landscape. One company that makes good quality speakers is StereoStone, offering a selection of planters with speakers discreetly built-in, rock-shaped speakers with options for colour, size, and the type of speaker you’d prefer – they even offer subwoofers. There are some attractive options for planters that allow the sound to disperse 360 degrees from their bases. Since most of these options are not wireless, you will have to run cables underground and it is best if they’re encased in a PVC pipe.
Now that you have some ideas of how to bring your music with you, get outside and enjoy the summer while it lasts!
For another author’s take on this subject, please check out Outdoor Speaker Buyer Guide.
Below, we leave you with some outdoor speaker suggestions:
|$100||Entry level outdoor: Bluetooth, 8-10hr battery, IPX3-4, reasonable volumeEg. Scoche BoomBOTTLE,|
|$150||Sweet Spot: Bluetooth, NFC, 12hr battery, IPX4-5, loud with clarityEg. Braven BRV-1, Eton Jawbone Jambox/Mini,|
|$250||Nice gear: Larger speakers with bass and quite loud, very ruggedEg. Braven BRV-X, Eton Rukus, Big Jambox,|
|$300||High end: Great sound, very user friendly, basically weatherproofEg. Sonos, Bose, JBL|
|$450+||My whole system is serious: Home integration, high fidelity, survives hurricanesEg. Monitor Audio, Libratone Zipp, Paradigm|
Related reading: How To Install In Wall Speakers – The Ultimate Installation Guide from our friends over at Music Instruments Center.