10 Best Outdoor Speakers | April 2017

10 Best Outdoor Speakers | April 2017
Best Mid-Range
★★★
Best High-End
★★★
Best Inexpensive
★★★★
We spent 33 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Take your music beyond the confines of your living room with a set of outdoor speakers. Each of these models will deliver crisp, clear sound at your next barbecue or garden party, or whenever you want to tune in while enjoying the fresh air, and can be permanently installed outside without suffering damage from rain, snow, or the heat of the sun. Skip to the best outdoor speaker on Amazon.
10
For the ultimate in flexibility, the Ion Audio Solar Stone has no need for power cables or speaker wires. Instead, it plays audio via Bluetooth and recharges its built-in batteries by absorbing the sun's UV rays through its upper panels.
  • up to 48 hours of use per charge
  • pairing is finicky
  • must be manually turned on each time
Brand ION Audio
Model Solar Stone (pair)
Weight 24.4 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0
9
The Yamaha NS-AW350 deliver an acoustic-suspension design, resulting in clearer sound with controlled bass response, and are magnetically shielded to limit noise and signal interference. However, the wall mounting instructions are confusing.
  • also suitable for indoor use
  • available in black or white
  • front grills come loose over time
Brand Yamaha
Model NSAW350B
Weight 14.1 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0
8
The Definitive Technology AW6500 has an integrated galvanized steel bracket that allows for 360-degree rotation, so listeners can orient the sound in any direction. A rugged PolyStone enclosure ensures durability in the elements for years to come.
  • pressure-coupled low-bass radiator
  • five-year warranty
  • a bit expensive for just one speaker
Brand Definitive Technology
Model NECA
Weight 10.6 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
7
Designed with water-resistant outer casings, the Bose 251 Environmental can hold up to blistering heat or bitter cold without sacrificing sound quality. The pair's multi-chamber bass enclosures provide additional booming power.
  • articulated array design
  • extremely wide sound field
  • depth of bass is a bit lacking
Brand Bose
Model 24644
Weight 10.1 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
6
The unique polyhedron shape of the Boston Acoustics Soundware allows it to be placed out of sight on the floor of your outdoor deck or patio while still projecting its sound upwards. It's fully sealed to prevent weather damage through all seasons.
  • can also be wall or corner mounted
  • customizable paint-ready exterior
  • not especially loud
Brand Boston Acoustics
Model SoundWare White
Weight 6 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0
5
For dynamic bass at a reasonable price, look to the OSD Audio AP670. Each one is equipped with a pair of gold-plated, spring-compressed connectors for lossless playback, but their ported design is slightly less protected against the elements than fully-sealed models.
  • sturdy abs polymer frames
  • can mount vertically or horizontally
  • warranty does not cover water damage
Brand OSD Audio
Model AP670BLK
Weight 19.2 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0
4
At less than $100 for a pair, the Dayton Audio IO655 is a great deal considering their sound rivals that of more expensive models. They're fully sealed, and therefore should hold up to whatever Mother Nature has in store without issue.
  • easy to mount and lock in position
  • metalized mylar dome tweeters
  • limited bass output
Brand Dayton Audio
Model IO655W
Weight 16.5 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0
3
The TIC Corporation GS-3 features an in-ground mounted design, with a rugged, impact-resistant ABS shell that delivers true omnidirectional output and impressive volume thanks to its 150 watt driver, 8" woofer and 2" tweeter.
  • great value for the money
  • blends in nicely with gardens
  • strong bass when properly buried
Brand TIC
Model GS-3
Weight 9.9 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0
2
The Klipsch AWR-650-SM features a two-way, 6.5-inch dual voice coil polymer woofer and two dome tweeters, delivering a robust sound from both left and right stereo signals. Its rugged housing comes in granite and sandstone finishes to complement almost any yard.
  • discreet stealthy design
  • durable and uv-resistant
  • can be wired for mono output
Brand Klipsch
Model AWR-650-SM
Weight 14.2 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0
1
The Polk Audio Atrium 6 have been constructed with anodized aluminum tweeter domes and sturdy rubber surrounds, making them almost completely impervious to outside elements. They deliver impressive clarity across the audio spectrum, and are available in black or white.
  • speed-lock mounting system
  • exceed military weatherproof specs
  • protected against salt and corrosion
Brand Polk Audio
Model AM6088-A
Weight 15.6 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

Hidden And Protected In Plain Sight

Outdoor speakers, at their core, work much the same as any other speaker set you might buy for the home. The only primary difference is in their durability.

Most speakers resonate through silks and other fabrics in their tweeters and woofers, and those materials can erode very quickly when exposed to the elements.

You ever worn suede in the rain? I think there's a whole Seinfeld episode about it, but if you don't know the reference, just rest assured that it's a bad idea.

We're talking mold, staining, corrosion–the works. You don't want that to happen to your clothes, and you certainly don't want that happening to your speakers. They'd begin to sound terrible, and they'd eventually stop working altogether.

So, what the manufacturers of outdoor speakers do differently to protect their products is twofold. First, they work with soft, petroleum based products to create more durable fabrics for sonic reproduction. They also create more durable, water resistant housings so that any part of the speaker susceptible to inclement weather is protected from the elements.

After that, a designer might take some unique steps toward camouflaging the speaker so you can set it up in your yard without calling attention to it. These designs come in everything from rocks, to plants, to lanterns–whatever you need to get your space just the way you want it.

How's It Hanging?

It's safe to say that you don't want the first thing your guests to notice about your yard to be the speakers.

Even if you spend a lot of money on them and the system to which they're tethered, the ideal scenario is one in which you've been outside for some time, and your friend turns to you:

"By the way," he says, halfway into his second glass of wine, starting to wonder how you've done so much better in life than he has, "where's that music been coming from? It sounds great."

"I'm glad you asked," you finally get to say.

Then you show him. Whether the speakers are hidden in a rock somewhere or artfully hung like the Bose units in the image there, you can saunter over, maybe with a nice Cuban cigar (are they legal after this?), and rub it in a little.

"Number three on the Ezvid list, I see," he says.

You're stunned. He's seen right through your research!

"Well, they were listed as the most expensive set," you defend. "What do you have?"

"Number one. But I suppose it's a matter of taste."

And you know he's right. It is a matter of taste when you're talking about speaker sets with this kind of quality. Not one unit in our top five really lags behind the pack in any category, so, for you, the question of taste is vital.

How will the speakers whose features you like the most fit in with your current style? Are you willing to redesign the space around the sound system (I totally would be)?

Answer those simple questions and you'll be well on your way to a choice.

Speaker Of The Home Plate

When was the last time you went to a good old-fashioned baseball game? Probably not for a good thirty years or so, because there isn't much about the game anymore that could be considered old-fashioned.

Back before baseball was a commercial firstly and a commercial secondly and a sport only in the kindest terms, the primary revenue stream for the teams was attendance.

It was up to an announcer to make sense of everything for those in attendance, and though it wasn't exactly play-by-play announcing, it was full of useful information for the fans.

Those announcers were broadcast throughout the stadiums of their days by these stadium speaker horns, which were essentially the first outdoor speakers.

The thing about them is that they're fine for projecting a thin, tinny reproduction of a human voice, but they're miserable for music.

Until companies started to reinforce their speakers for more rugged use over the past 20 years or so, most folks just pointed their speakers out the window, or, if they were in college, just put them on the roof.

Now, thankfully for the sake of the neighborhood property values, that's no longer necessary.



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Last updated on April 25 2017 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.