Products featured are independently selected by our editorial team and we may earn a commission from purchases made from our links; the retailer may also receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.
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 You Need to Know Before Buying 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.
Pros: Weatherproof design, available in multiple colors, highly durable materials.
Cons: Plain design doesn’t stick out.
2. 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.
Pros: Very subtle design, ultra durable.
Cons: Each speaker is sold separately.
3. 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.
Pros: Solid durability, support for wireless streaming through the Sonos Amp.
Cons: Sonos is vague on its speaker hardware.