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What’s a backyard party without a good playlist to liven up the mood, or provide some background music while you’re eating dinner?
If you live in a house, and don’t mind a little DIY project, the best option is to install a pair (or more) of outdoor speakers. They’re larger than your standard Bluetooth speaker, so they can provide louder, clearer sound; plus, you don’t have to constantly take them in and out of your home, or worry about battery life.
The biggest difference between outdoor speaker and Bluetooth speakers is that they’re wired, which means you’ll need to connect them to an amplifier inside your house with speaker cable. In many cases you’ll need to drill them under an awning to shield them from the weather, too. Setting them up will definitely take some work (if you want to go wireless, we have Bluetooth speaker recommendations, too), but the result will be an outdoor sound system you can keep for years.
If you’re ready to take on this project, we’ve collected the best options for you below, just make sure to keep a toolkit handy.
What Are The Best Outdoor Speakers?
There are many factors to think about when choosing the right outdoor speakers for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.
Durability: The durability of most technology is rated on the IP (Ingress Protection) scale, which measures their resistance to water and dust. Outdoor speakers fall outside of that rating system, but we’ve chosen ones that are labeled “weatherproof,” which is a fancy way of saying they’re designed to handle rain, humidity, and snow.
Design: Because outdoor speakers are basically a piece of furniture, you’ll want a pair that look nice on display. Our recommendations look fairly subtle, and some are available in different colors, so you won’t mind when they’re seen and heard.
1. Polk Audio Atrium 4 Outdoor Speakers
With the Atrium 4, Polk has designed the ideal pair of outdoor speakers for people who care about audio quality in a minimalist package. The speakers have a 4.5-inch woofer to handle midrange and bass frequencies and a 0.75-inch unit to handle treble frequencies. The result is a more balanced sound than speakers with a single driver (the part of a speaker that produces sound). The speakers’ curved design also helps to spread sound a little more evenly.
Polk says the Atrium 4 are “all weather-certified,” and can withstand extreme temperature and heavy rains. Its grilles and bracket are made out of aluminum, while its internal components are made out of stainless steel and brass. All that said, it’s still a wise idea to keep the speakers under some sort of shielding (an awning that completely covers them is ideal), and make sure no speaker wire is exposed.
This is the only speaker we recommend that’s available in multiple colors (black and white), so it has the highest likelihood of matching the color of your house. Regardless of its color, the Atrium 4’s simple shape is aesthetically pleasing and inoffensive.
2. Dual Electronics LU43PW
Dual Electronics’ LU43PW have all the essential features you need in a pair of outdoor speakers at an unbeatable price.
The 8.25-inch speakers are UV treated and surrounded by a polymer enclosure that makes them rain and heat resistant. They’re attached to a pair of swivel brackets, so you can adjust their positioning, and can be oriented horizontally or vertically without any impact to audio quality.
Each speaker has a four inch woofer, 1.6 inch midrange driver, and .78 inch tweeter. This three-driver system will make your music sound clearer, smoother, and better overall than most two-driver systems, which rely on the woofer to handle bass and midrange frequencies.
You can connect these speakers to any stereo receiver or amplifier, but Dual Electronics makes its own: The DBTMA100. The small amp works with a variety of sources, including Bluetooth, so you can stream music wirelessly. The amp is small enough that you can easily mount it outdoors if you have an outlet. Just keep in mind the amp isn’t waterproof, so it’ll need to be shielded somehow.
If you want a pair of speakers for your next patio upgrade, the LU43PWs will get the job done for under $50.
3. Niles RS6 Pro Weatherproof Rock Loudspeaker
You may not be able to easily attach speakers to the side of your home, if that’s the case, we recommend Niles’ RS6 Pro.
The rock-shaped speaker is ultra subtle, and can be kept on your patio or lawn — keep in mind you’ll still need to route speaker wire from it to your stereo amplifier, so you’ll want to keep it in a spot that’s easily accessible. If you’re planning on redoing part of the outside of your home, it would be an excellent time to install this speaker.
In terms of audio gear, the RS6 also features a dual-driver design, with both a woofer and tweeter for balanced sound. There are a pair of one-inch tri-laminate drivers, which Niles say can disperse sound over a wide area. This dispersion is possible because the tweeters are mounted at a 20-degree angle, so sound is pushed in multiple directions.
The RS6′ outer shells is made out of a four layers of fiberglass that shield the internals from weather. Niles says its waterproof design passes the military standard for corrosion resistance, too. If you’re concerned about leaving speakers outside all the time, these features should bring you some comfort.
There’s only one real downside to the RS6: Niles sells each speaker individually, not in pairs, so you’ll need to get two of them to listen in stereo. You can use one of these speakers, but your music will play in mono, which may not be ideal, especially if your backyard or patio is larger. Still, if subtlety and durability are your main concerns with outdoor speakers, this is a good choice.
4. Pohupa Bluetooth Speakers
Pohupa’s Bluetooth outdoor speakers are a smart, subtle choice that’re useful even when you’re not playing music.
The speakers are fit into an enclosure that looks like an outdoor lamp, complete with a handle you can use to hang them. Each speaker has an array of LED lights around the top, which you can turn on and off by pushing a button on the back.
The biggest reason to get these speakers is their built-in Bluetooth connectivity. You don’t have to worry about stringing wires anywhere, and don’t have to limit their placement based on where your outlets are. The downside is that you will need to pay attention to their battery. Pohupa says you can get up to 12 hours of music playback with the LED lights on, and 20 hours if you use the speakers as lamps. Your listening volume and light brightness settings will impact this most.
A lot of Bluetooth speakers aren’t waterproof, but this pair has an IPX5 rating. This means rain won’t damage them.
Each speaker has a single three-inch full-range driver, which can deliver great sound. You can listen to each one in mono, or connect them together for full stereo sound. The amplifier is built into each speaker, so you don’t need to worry about that.
Pohupa’s outdoor Bluetooth Speakers are the best choice if you rent your place, or don’t want to do a big home renovation to play music outside.
5. Sonos Outdoor Speakers
No stranger to the high-quality speaker market, Sonos recently unveiled their take on the outdoor speaker. These outdoor speakers, along with their in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, are a collaboration between Sonos and speaker manufacturer Sonance. They may look like a regular set of outdoor speakers, but Sonos’ option has a couple of tricks up its sleeve.
Made with a durable outer casing, these speakers were designed to handle, humidity, water, salt spray, heat, UV rays, and freezing temperatures, according to Sonos. The company’s hardware is known for durability in general, so this is unsurprising. Another one of Sonos’ greatest strengths is audio quality, but the company doesn’t outline the types of drivers it uses in these speakers, which is a little odd.
These outdoor speakers can be used with any stereo equipment, but were designed to be used with the Sonos Amp. When connected to the Amp, you can wirelessly stream music to the speakers through the Sonos App (iOS or Android), or AirPlay 2 on Apple devices. This convenience makes them a little closer to Bluetooth speakers than our other recommendations.
While you can stream music to these speakers wirelessly, they still need to be hooked up to your amplifier with speaker cables. They also need to be hung from under an awning, or on the side of your home. Still, if you want outdoor speakers that are a little easier to use and smarter than the rest, this set is the right choice.