The days are longer, the weather is perfect and you have settled into life in the back yard. From BBQs to poolside, whether just your family or 20 of your closest friends, adding a soundtrack to your outdoor entertaining takes the experience to a whole new level.
Of course, there are several considerations when looking into expanding your sound system into the outdoors. From blowing out the next-door neighbor, to weather resistance (or pool splash resistance), picking the right speakers for your outdoor system takes a little planning. Not to worry though, there are plenty of options.
When it comes to picking the perfect solution, coverage and control are your main considerations. Keep in mind how many locations you will have speakers, how close to neighbors they will be and how loud you are going to want to be. If all the action centers around a small area and the sound is ambient to mid-level for your listening pleasure, maybe a simple portable Bluetooth speaker will do the trick. If you have an expansive back yard living space and may want the game blasting by the BBQ and music pumping by the pool, you can install a zone-based system with the same kind of control you would expect in your integrated home theater or home sound system. If you are looking for a more permanent, purpose built system that is made for your space, you will need dedicated speakers. With the wiring and specific knowledge needed to get the most out of your outdoor system, you will definitely want to consider the services of an integrator (well worth it.)
For speaker choices, outdoor systems have come a long way. Most resemble bookshelf speakers with metal mounting brackets and are designed for the outdoors. There are varying degrees of stoutness when looking at "weather-resistant," so make sure to consult your integrator about the best installation locations and choices for your area.
Most outdoor speakers are low on the low end. Bass doesn't play in the great outdoors like it does inside. If you can't live without it, there are some passive subwoofer models on the market as well as the possibility of putting an in-ground subwoofer for the earth moving sound experience. All you will see with that is a small periscope pipe sticking up out of the ground, so it is unobtrusive as well.
If you want a true rock experience, look no further than a faux-rock speaker. They come in a wide variety of sizes and finishes, ranging from shale and sandstone to coral and granite. The sound is not consistent across models, so make sure to try them out and make sure they work in your setting and meet your expectations. Doesn’t matter if you can’t see it if you can’t hear it either!
If you find yourself living in the water in the summer, you can also have custom speakers built for your life aquatic. They are often expensive and require a great deal more power than other solutions, but if you spend a lot of your days in the pool, it may be a worthwhile investment.
Regardless of how you bring your sound outdoors, consult a professional integrator. With the expense of materials and the specific knowledge required for a proper installation, they will insure that you get a system that will be perfect for you.