The Best Outdoor Speakers for Your Backyard or Patio
Summertime brings two things that most of us really enjoy: warmer days and great outdoor concerts. There is nothing better than being outside on a beautiful evening and listening to your favorite band under the stars! Some of us are even lucky enough to be able to enjoy outdoor evenings most of the year.
Pairing wonderful music with your outdoor entertainment during the warmer months takes the entertainment experience to another level.
So, what is the best way to bring your favorite music outside? Well, of course, you will need some speakers, and there are lots of options out there. Let’s go over the possibilities. Hopefully, we can help you determine the best for your outdoor living space.
The first thing to consider about outdoor sound is the harsh environment. It does not make sense to take your nice indoor tower speaker made out of wood and put it outdoors. You would have a mess after the first downpour!
Speakers you use outdoors fall into two categories:
- something portable you can easily move outside
- something designed to resist various weather elements.
Next, you will need to think about your entertaining space. In your family room, you have four walls, a ceiling, and floor. However, your outdoor area may not have any walls or ceiling and may be 20x the size of your living room. We find that you can break down outdoor entertaining areas into a few different types, and for each type, one or two outdoor sound applications might work well. If your area comprises of different types of spaces, you may even need to combine different outdoor speaker designs to get the best outcome.
Covered or Screen Porch
The most flexible space for outdoor music is a covered or screen porch. In-ceiling speakers now come in marine versions, so if you are building or remodeling, this might be something to consider for your porch. Another great option is outdoor speakers that mount to the wall, the floor, or parts of your decking.
Outdoor speakers look similar to an indoor speaker but are made out of plastic and are usually rounded to allow water to run off. If your porch has walls on three of its sides and is under about 20 ft in length, you will probably be fine with one pair of in-ceiling or outdoor speakers. If your porch is longer and open on each end, sound is going to escape more easily easier and you may need two pairs to get good coverage. Another option is to bring a portable speaker outside for temporary use. While this is not ideal from a convenience standpoint, it may be your best bet if you are not able to run wires to your space. Just don’t forget to bring it back inside!
Open Patio or Deck
An open patio or deck has no ceiling, so in this case, in-ceiling marine speakers are not an option. One clever option we like is the Niles planter speaker, a speaker designed to blend into the listening environment while also functioning as a planter. You can strategically place 2 or 4 of these around your patio to give you pretty decent sound, all while looking like they belong in the space.
The other option is similar to what you might use on a porch, which is a typical wall or eave-mounted outdoor weatherproof speaker. You do need to remember, on an open deck or patio, there is nothing there to hold the sound in, so you might want to have more than one pair to cover your entertaining area. If you have a deck that runs along the whole backside of your home, we would suggest multiple pairs either mounted to your house (maybe under the eaves if they exist) or mounted on the edge of the deck aimed back at your house.
Larger Outdoor Area
This is where things get trickier. If you have a large outdoor entertaining area with more than one seating area, you have probably worked hard on hardscape and landscaping getting it to look great.
A few years ago, the only option was to use speakers disguised as rocks, and this still remains an option that many use. There are several brands making these, and they that come in a variety of sizes. While we have never seen anyone mistake one of these speakers for an actual rock, they can blend better into your exterior space than a conventional looking outdoor speaker.
Your backyard has no walls or ceiling, so sound has nothing to reflect off of. If you have ever been to an outdoor concert, you have probably noticed that the scale of the speaker system was far larger than the system for an indoor venue. You have two choices outside. You could get a pair of speakers that can play really loud to let everyone hear your favorite tunes. However, the people sitting close to them are not going to be able to carry on a conversation, and the people sitting far away will barely hear them. We feel the better choice is to provide an even level of sound across your outdoor space.
How can you do this without having a bunch of speakers all over your yard? Well, a few years ago, someone had the brilliant idea of making speakers that resemble a landscape light. One problem presented itself. This type of design had great midrange and treble, but no bass. Fortunately, this problem was addressed with the brilliant solution to combine a big subwoofer that could be buried in the ground to provide the deep bass.
Sonance Landscape Series
Sonance is the leader in this new type of outdoor sound technology. When you think about the concept, it just makes so much more sense. It is very easy to hide a small object that looks like a landscape light in your natural areas. By spreading them evenly around the perimeter, you can cover your entire space with sound. No one will be blasted, and everyone will get the same volume of great sound no matter where they are sitting or standing to enjoy your party!
When using this type of speaker technology, there is no limit on the size of your outdoor area that can be covered with great, even sound. These types of systems provide sound quality that will amaze you and your guests. Sonance comes from a heritage of making outstanding speakers of all types. They applied their acoustic knowledge to their line of landscape speakers. The deep bass you get out of their in-ground subwoofers is just simply amazing. Couple this with multiple pairs of small speakers and you have a system that can rival concert sound when you want to really crank it up, and alternatively, can provide a nice background level of sound that will be consistent all over your outdoor area.
The Sonance systems start at around $2,500 for their speaker systems and go up from there. Yes, this is more than a pair of speakers, but if you are lucky enough to have a nice, large outdoor entertaining area, then it’s important to think about how much you spent to create the perfect space. Why mess up both the looks and sound by using a couple of speakers that mimic rocks when you could use something that both looks and sounds far better?
Outdoor Sound and Power
No matter what type of outdoor system you choose, we strongly recommend that you don’t skimp on what will be powering your outdoor speakers!
Two things are fighting against you when it comes to outdoor music listening. The first is that your speaker wire runs are going to be far longer than the wire runs in your home. The longer the wire, the more power is lost in the wire. Some of the better outdoor landscape systems actually use what is called a 70-volt system to enable extremely long wire runs. The other thing fighting against good sound is what we stated above: lack of reflective surfaces to hold in your sound. This means that if you are not doing a landscape system with multiple speakers, you will be really cranking up your speakers. To get a good volume over all that speaker wire, you are going to need a big amplifier.
Designing Your System
As we have been doing for almost 40 years now, the experts at Audio Advice are here to help. We can take your outdoor entertaining plans and come up with the best design to meet both your needs and budget. If you’re in the Carolina’s, we’d love for you to visit our Raleigh or Charlotte showroom. So, what are you waiting for? Let us help you recreate that concert feel under the stars in your own backyard!
If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us using the form below, or chat with us.