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 throughout 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? Outdoor 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.
A big thing to consider about outdoor sound is the harsh environment. It does not make sense to take your nice indoor tower speakers made out of wood and put them outdoors. You would have a mess after the first downpour!
Outdoor Speakers fall into two categories:
- Something portable you can easily move outside
- Something designed to resist various weather elements that is permanently installed
If you enjoy outdoor entertainment and do it on a frequent basis, you will probably want to consider a permanent installation. Done properly, you will have something that sounds great and you will not have to worry about hauling in and out every time you entertain outside.
For some people or applications where it is difficult to wire, there are options for portable weather resistant speakers that could stand a little water if it starts raining while you are outside.
A recent newcomer to the portable outdoor speaker market is a pretty cool model from Sonos called the Move. This is an all in one speaker with very good sound that runs on a rechargeable battery. The Move has full voice control from either Alexa or Google. It even features Bluetooth wireless technology.
You can run a single Move or use two for a stereo pair. Another great feature Sonos products have is the ability to group zones of speakers, allowing them to play the same song. With this feature, you would actually group several Move’s together to cover a pretty large area. Sonos also added a level of weather resistance to the Move which means it would be ok to leave out on a covered porch for a while.
JBL also has some pretty neat options for outdoor sound. They have some small portable Bluetooth speakers that are easy to move around. Their PartyBox series are quite serious outdoor speakers capable of club levels in your backyard.
Soundcast is another great option for excellent portable outdoor sound. These are fully weatherproof and will be ok if they get wet or even hit with a sandstorm. Soundcast has models ranging from Bluetooth units you can hold in your hand, to models as big as a rolling duffle bag. Some of them even have a switchable eq for outdoors or indoors. They even make a neat little optional adapter to send audio from your home stereo system out to their speakers.
Decide how many speakers you might need for great sound coverage.
In your family room, you have four walls, a ceiling, and a floor. However, your outdoor area may not have any walls or ceiling and might 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 different types of spaces, you may even need to combine different outdoor speaker designs to get the best outcome.
Covered or Screen Porch - Outdoor Speakers
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. The primary advantage to in-ceiling marine speakers is that they install seamlessly into your ceiling so they look the best from an aesthetics standpoint. We've put together the best price to performance options at the in-ceiling marine versions link.
Another great option is outdoor speakers that mount to the wall, the floor, or parts of your decking. These are box based speakers that generally have the advantage of better base and the ability to adjust their orientation so you can point them in any direction. If you go to our full list of outdoor speakers you will see a host of different outdoor box marine speakers that passed our tests.
Outdoor speakers look similar to an indoor speaker but are made out of plastic with weatherproofing and are usually rounded to allow water to run off. Typically most brands of outdoor speakers are available in a black or white finish. 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 and you may need two pairs to get good coverage.
Another option is something like the Sonos Move. One or two of these can cover a typical screened porch very well and they are weather resistant so you could leave them under an outdoor roof. You can run a single Move or use two for a stereo pair. Another great feature Sonos products have is the ability to group zones of speakers, allowing them to play the same song. With this feature you would actually group several Move’s together to cover a pretty large area. However the Move and other portable outdoor speakers require power and recharging so they are not as finished an option as in-ceiling or on the wall speakers.
Open Patio or Deck - Outdoor Speakers
An open patio or deck has no ceiling, so in this case, in-ceiling marine speakers are not an option.
One 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.
Another option is to use outdoor rock speakers along the perimeter facing back towards your house. You can also mount weatherproof outdoor speakers along the edge of your entertaining area.
Finally, you could use one or more of the Sonos Moves. In a weather exposed environment, you’ll need to bring them inside when you are done though so they are not as good an option for fully open environments.
Larger Outdoor Area - Outdoor Speakers
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 or planters, and this still remains an option that many use.
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, innovators had the brilliant idea of making speakers that resemble a landscape light. This type of design had great midrange and treble, but no bass. Fortunately, this problem was addressed with a brilliant solution to combine a big subwoofer that could be buried in the ground to provide the deep bass.
Sonance Landscape Series - Outdoor Speakers
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 landscape systems start at under $2,500 for a complete system 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?
Designing Your System
As we have been doing for over 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. So, what are you waiting for? Let us help you recreate that concert feel under the stars in your own backyard!