Outdoor entertaining is almost a year round sport here in the Carolinas. It seems like we have perfect outdoor weather for about 75% of the time. Nothing adds to your outdoor parties like a great music system. With advances in streaming technology through companies like Sonos, you now have the whole world of music at your fingertips. The big issue for really good outdoor sound is the true meaning of the “great outdoors”.
When we say great, we mean big! Filling up your back yard with sound is a whole lot harder than your living room purely due to the volume. In the old days we’d put out a pair or two of outdoor speakers against the side of the house, which worked pretty well for a small space. As outdoor entertainment areas got bigger and more elaborate, it became a big challenge to cover the area with even sound. The normal outdoor speakers, which are basically an indoor speaker in a plastic box were not really designed to throw out even sound from 50 feet away. Jeff Coombs, was quite an innovator and founded James, our first company to offer a true landscape speaker system. His idea was to use lots of speakers to cover a larger area and to design them to sound good even from 50 feet away. Jeff has a great outgoing personality and I fondly remember going around with him spec’ing out systems in 2007 when they first came out. Jeff and James had a falling out a couple of years ago, and recently Jeff has landed at Sonance, the very first in-wall speaker company Audio Advice sold, almost 25 years ago now.
Today a few of us had the pleasure of hearing his latest creation, the SLS system. Since joining the Sonance team, Jeff has introduced several new outdoor speaker designs, all using lots of small satellite speakers that look like landscape lights. These come in small, medium, and large sizes, with matching subwoofers that get buried in the ground. The fit and finish is just first class, with very evenly dispersed, great sound. One of the reasons they sound so good is the special EQ settings built into each amp which is specifically set up for the system.
However there have been requests from some customers to have an outdoor system that not only filled up a large space well, but could flat out rock, while staying relatively invisible. I can tell you, having an outdoor system that rocks, is a ton of fun. I've got one myself with the biggest outdoor JBL speakers which are the size of a small refrigerator (I still can’t believe my wife let me get away with them). This morning, the guys from Sonance were by and connected up the new SLS High Output System! They set them up on our back loading dock. Every single person who walked out to hear it was just grinning ear to ear. It plays as loud if not louder than my huge JBLs, has equally as good tonal balance, more even sound balance as you get further away, and best of all can be made pretty much invisible! The SLS system will have no trouble providing you with a rocking system that will make your next outdoor get together a huge hit and make you want to go outside to listen to music on an everyday basis! The SLS is $11,250.
For those of you satisfied with more moderate volumes, Sonance has several other options that can cover very large areas with full sound. These all include the landscape light looking satellites in three different sizes, any one of three sizes of in ground subwoofers (and a free standing one that looks like a very nice planter), plus a large power amp with the EQ designed to fit your system. These systems start at around $6500.
Another new addition to the Sonance line up from Jeff is the SR1 system. This is at the other end of the spectrum from the SLS offering a complete package for right at $2500. You get 8 small speakers that look just like landscape lights and a sub that gets buried in the ground. Connect this system up to a 100 watt receiver or amp and it will cover about 2000 sq. feet of outdoor area. It includes 8 small satellites and one sub and is an incredible value for $2500 to cover the average back area.
We’ll have some of the Sonance landscape systems set up soon at both of our locations. Our local rep has an SLS system with him he can carry out to your home with one of us to do a personal demo, but I’ll warn you, if you hear it, you will want it!