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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 bring 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 much more important. So, what are the best outdoor speakers?
- This post was updated on August 22nd, 2023, to include the Polk Atrium 8, correct formatting and spelling, and answer more frequently asked questions.
- For more options, see our list of the best Bluetooth speakers. And if you need to save some money, see our list of the best Bluetooth speakers for less than $100.
Why is the Polk Atrium 8 the best outdoor speaker?
If you’re looking for true outdoor speakers, don’t overthink it. The best all-around speaker for you will be the Polk Atrium 8. The Atrium series from Polk Audio has consistently impressed, and the Atrium 8 hits the sweet spot between the larger and smaller models that give you just the right amount of bang for your buck. This speaker features a 6.5-inch mid-woofer and two 1-inch tweeters, and it’s just as straightforward a product as its predecessors.
This speaker is also completely weather-resistant, with an ASTM D5894-UV Salt Fog rating, and Polk claims it will stand up to torrential downpours and extreme heat just as well, so once you set it up, you won’t need to worry about it. Plus, the Atrium 8 comes with a new speed-locking mounting C-bracket, which gives you many mounting options depending on what you’re looking for, and the ability to rotate the speaker as needed. This requires anywhere between 10-125W per channel, so as we mentioned before, 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 play music 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 also rocking a 6.5-inch woofer and dual ¾-inch tweeters, 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 issues with stereo mixes sounding funny as your setup expands. This is a 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. 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 Wi-Fi 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 set them up, you can 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 an outdoor addition to your Sonos smart home complement, 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 provides 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 considering everything they offer.
These feature a 4-inch woofer, a 1.6-inch midrange cone, and a 0.78-inch 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. Still, 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 their loud, balanced sound—perfect for the outdoors.
- JBL Boombox 3: The JBL Boombox 3 is a solid speaker for anything from house parties to pool parties to beach parties. It has a durable IP67 rating, so you can be sure it can survive wherever you take it, and it sounds great too.
- JBL Boombox 2: This won’t exactly fit in your pocket, but you can still carry it around your backyard if you want to. With 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 want 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’ll need speakers that can handle more than a drizzle. In the case of outdoor speakers, you need something completely weatherproof or at least rated IPX7 or above.
For the full deep dive into what all the numbers and letters mean, make sure to check out our full article explaining it in detail. Still, 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, range issues, or anything that would normally be an issue with wireless speakers. 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 listening to music, but if you’re looking to add a visual aspect to your setup, wired is the way to go.
Do you need a receiver?
Since most options will be wired, you will also want to 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 will 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 will require some work on your part to ensure 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 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 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 will involve wires. However, you can always add a Bluetooth receiver to one of the inputs of your receiver. We’ve had a good experience with this one, but any will do as long as you don’t mind losing some quality and 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.
For outdoor events, the Polk Atrium 8 is a top recommendation due to its impressive performance and weather-resistant features. The Klipsch AWR-650-SM offers a unique design that blends into nature. The TIC GS-3 is an in-ground speaker that seamlessly integrates into garden settings. If you want wireless convenience, the Sonos Outdoor Speakers provide great sound and can stream audio over Wi-Fi using Airplay. For those on a budget, the Dual-Electronics LU53-PB offers good value for its price.
The wattage requirement for an outdoor speaker can vary based on the specific model and its intended use. For instance, the Polk Atrium 8 requires anywhere between 10-125W per channel. The Klipsch AWR-650-SM recommends a power of 100W. It’s essential to check each speaker’s recommended amplifier power per channel. As a general guideline, most outdoor speakers require anywhere from ts to 100 watts of power. It’s crucial to ensure that your receiver or amplifier can handle the power requirements of the speakers you choose.