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Best outdoor speakers
When you’re listening to music inside the house, there are certain aspects of a speaker you don’t have to worry about. For example, unless you’re bringing it into the shower with you, chances are you’re not too concerned about whether or not the speaker is waterproof. How loud a speaker gets without distorting might not be an issue either, because in close quarters a speaker probably won’t be on max volume most of the time unless you’re having a party. However, all of that changes when you take it outside. Things that don’t matter as much in the house suddenly become a lot more important. So, what are the best outdoor speakers?
Editor’s note: This post was updated on April 7, 2022, to include in-line FAQs and expand the Buying guide section.
Why is the Polk Atrium 6 the best outdoor speaker?
If you’re looking for true outdoor speakers, don’t overthink it. The best all-around speaker for you is going to be the Polk Atrium 6. The Atrium series from Polk Audio has consistently impressed, and the Atrium 6 hits the sweet spot between the larger and smaller models that give you just the right amount of bang for your buck. To get some of the specs out of the way, these speakers have a 5 ¼” dynamic driver and a 1″ aluminum cone tweeter to handle the highs. This newer model claims to have improved bass response, something Atrium speakers (and most outdoor speakers) have struggled with.
These speakers are also completely weather-resistant so once you set it up you don’t need to worry about it. Whether it’s raining cats and dogs or your neck of the woods is experiencing extreme temperature shifts, you can have the peace of mind that you won’t need to replace your speakers afterward. Plus, it comes with a new speed-locking mounting C-bracket, which gives you a multitude of mounting options depending on what you’re looking for. These require anywhere between 10-100W per channel so as we mentioned before, just double check that your receiver is up to the task.
The Klipsch AWR-650-SM has an insanely cool design
If you’re looking to turn your patio or yard into an oasis, then one thing you might want to consider is that your speakers can’t be seen. That’s where the Klipsch AWR-650-SM comes into play. These speakers rock (I couldn’t resist). These speakers were made to blend into nature, so you can have music playing without anyone knowing where the sound is coming from. Of course, that won’t come cheap as these are just around $600 for the pair, but you get what you pay for. These speakers aren’t just weatherproof, they’re also UV resistant. They can handle most normal weather conditions.
They’re rocking a 6.5-inch woofer and dual ¾-inch tweeters as well, which require a recommended power of 100W. Again, these also have a bass-reflex side-fitting port to help push a little more air in the low end. One thing worth mentioning is that these don’t just look like sandstone rock, they’re also pretty heavy weighing around 5.9kg each. So, just don’t pull something trying to lift these.
For an in-ground speaker check out the TIC GS-3
If you don’t want to fuss around with something you need to screw into a wall or sit on a shelf, check out the TIC GS-3 outdoor speaker. This is an in-ground speaker, and it’s painted a muted green, so it’ll blend in nicely if you want to stash it among your garden plants.
This weatherized speaker connects via weatherproof coaxial cable, and it’s wired to play nice with satellite speakers, so you shouldn’t run into any issue with stereo mixes sounding funny as your setup expands. This an 150 watt omnidirectional speaker, which means it should work from just about any convenient position. Basically, if you’re looking for something to subtly blend into your backyard or garden, this could be just the ticket, and if it isn’t TIC makes a ton of different varieties of this speaker for similarly reasonable prices.
Go wireless with the Sonos Outdoor Speakers
Unfortunately, if you want to go wireless, you’ve got to reconcile yourself to the fact that it costs those primo outdoor speaker prices. The Sonos Outdoor Speakers offer great sound, a simple, but refined design, and oh yeah, they can stream audio over wifi using Airplay.
These speakers connect to Sonos’ existing smart home lineup, using the Sonos App to add outdoor (and indoor) speakers to your home sound system. That means once you get them setup, you’ll be able to control these outdoor speakers using Airplay, the app, and your voice, and keep them synched up with whatever’s playing inside. Additionally, these are also built to work with Sonos Amp, the company’s smart amp, which will tailor the speakers’ output to match the environment they’re in. Again, these speakers aren’t cheap, and neither is the Sonos Amp, but if you’re committed to getting a an outdoor addition to your Sonos smart home compliment, you probably already know the score. Sonos also sells indoor architectural speakers made for walls and ceilings that you can link up to the same system to keep the tunes bumping inside and out.
If you don’t want to commit to a fixed set of speakers, the Sonos Move is a viable alternative to the Sonos Outdoor Speakers. It offers a relatively portable design that can withstand the great outdoors, thanks to its IP56 waterproof build. The Sonos Move also offers great sound quality that can fill a room, or bring life to your backyard barbecue. Plus, it is compatible with AirPlay 2 for audiophiles who want to escape the quality limitations of Bluetooth.
Save money with the Dual-Electronics LU53-PB
If you don’t want to spend too much, these speakers by Dual-Electronics are one of, if not the best value in outdoor speakers. You shouldn’t expect to get Polk-level sound quality from these, but for only around $50 for the pair, it’s hard to go wrong—especially when you consider everything they have to offer.
These feature a 4″ woofer, 1.6″ midrange cone, and a 0.78″ tweeter, which separates out everything nicely. One thing worth noting is that these have an all-weather resistant coating that will protect them from the average rainstorm and high temperatures, but the speakers themselves aren’t entirely weatherproof. So we wouldn’t recommend leaving these out in the open to bear the brunt of extreme weather. As long as these are somewhat covered in a gazebo or covered porch, you won’t have a problem.
The best outdoor speakers: Notable mentions
- Bose 251 Wall Mount Outdoor Environmental Speakers: These are a great choice for wall-mounted outdoor speakers. They’re easy to install, water and temperature resistant, and have a loud bass response.
- Bowers & Wilkins AM-1: With a minimalist design, these weather-resistant speakers will definitely get your party started with its loud, balanced sound—perfect for the outdoors.
- JBL Boombox 2: This won’t exactly fit in your pocket, but you can still carry it around your backyard if you wanted to. With a 24-hour battery life and IPX7-rating, it is worth considering if you want an outdoor speaker with some portability in mind.
- Polk Atrium 4: If you’re looking to save about a hundred dollars, consider getting the entry-level option from Polk’s Atrium line of speakers. It features a smaller cabinet and less powerful woofers than the Atrium 6, though it can still deliver great sound outdoors.
Hold up! Something’s different:
Some of our picks’ frequency response and isolation charts were measured with our old testing system. We’re still ironing out our standardized speaker tests with the appropriate support equipment to update our testing and data collection. It will take a bit to get everything fleshed out, but we will update this article (and many others!) once we’re able with improved sound quality measurements and performance plots. These will be made obvious with our new chart aesthetic (black background instead of white).
Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.
What you should know about outdoor speakers
Definitely. As we mentioned above, once you’re looking for outdoor speakers you’re going to need to take waterproofing into account. I’m not sure if you’ve gone outside recently, but every once in a while water falls from the sky. So you’re going to need speakers that can handle more than a drizzle. In the case of outdoor speakers that means you need something that’s either completely weatherproof or at least rated IPX7 or above.
For the full deep dive into what the numbers and letters mean make sure to check out our full article explaining it in detail, but for the purposes of this article, all you need to know is that that means the speaker is dustproof and can handle being submerged in up to a meter of water.
How to connect to outdoor speakers
Sorry Bluetooth fans, a good chunk of outdoor speakers fall are wired. That means that they do require some installation, but once you get the wires in place you won’t have to worry about connection drops or range issues or anything that would normally be an issue with wireless speakers. Plus, wired speakers are a guaranteed zero latency setup if you want to hook up a projector and watch a movie in the yard.
That might not be the case with some wireless speakers which could result in the audio of a movie not matching up with the lip movements of the actors. Of course, this is nothing to worry about if you’re only going to be listening to music, but if you’re looking to add a visual aspect to your setup then wired is the way to go.
Do you need a receiver?
Since most options are going to be wired, you’re going to want to also invest in a solid receiver. Something that will act as the control center for your setup. If you have the means to get a few extra features like a receiver that’s compatible with Dolby Atmos support or has an excellent amplifier built-in, then, by all means, do so. However, that isn’t entirely necessary to get your speakers working initially.
One thing you should also do is get plenty of speaker wires. Why? Because unless you get a waterproof receiver, you’re going to want it indoors. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that normally water and electronics don’t play well together. Having the receiver indoors, or at least in a sheltered area, means that you won’t have to go crazy unplugging things and running inside every time there’s a rainstorm.
Does that mean you need an amp?
For most outdoor speakers, the answer to this is yes. Luckily, most receivers already have a built-in amplifier that should adequately power most speakers. Still, it’s going to require some work on your part just to make sure that the receiver you have is up to the task. Most speakers will have a recommended amplifier power per channel. For example, the Polk Atrium 5 speakers require anywhere from 10 watts to 100 watts of power. So if the built-in amp on your receiver can handle that, there’s no need to get anything else.
Of course, you might also want a separate multi-channel amplifier if you’re going to have outdoor speakers and indoor speakers connected to the same receiver. The more speakers you connect, the harder it is for the built-in amp in your receiver to power them all. This is when you’d want to offload some of that work to a separate device.
How to make your outdoor speakers wireless
Other than the Sonos speakers on this list, chances are your setup is going to involve wires. However, you can always add on a Bluetooth receiver into one of the inputs of your receiver. We’ve had good experience with this one, but any will do as long as you don’t mind losing some quality and/or audio latency with video.
This might seem weird to mention in an article trying to explain what the best outdoor speakers are, but one question to ask yourself is, “Do I really need any of this?” Outdoor speakers are usually more pricey, and if you’re like me and live in a relatively cold climate where you can only enjoy sitting outside for a few months out of the year, then maybe just picking up a really good Bluetooth speaker will be enough to get the job done for you.
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Frequently asked questions about outdoor speakers
None of the speakers on this list have any virtual assistant integration. However, there is a DIY solution. Amazon Echo, Google Home, and other smart speakers usually have a 3.5mm output jack, which you can use to connect to the receiver of your outdoor speaker system, allowing you to control playback with your voice.