Speakers, or a sound system, will likely be a key part of your backyard setup, especially if you plan to use your backyard hosting get-togethers and parties, spend time in your pool, watch tv, etc. The challenge is that there are many options and features to consider when choosing the right sound solution for your backyard or outdoor space.
This guide will introduce many key topics for outdoor speakers and help you understand the different options and features you must consider when picking an outdoor speaker.
Scroll below to learn more!
Table of Contents
Location: What areas of my backyard need sound?
The first step to determining what speaker setup is appropriate for you is identifying what areas of your backyard need sound. For example:
- Do you need sound for your patio or porch?
- Do you need sound around your pool?
- Do you have a lawn that you would like to cover with sound?
Next, you need to assess how big each area is that needs sound:
- Small areas may not require complex solutions to provide sound. You may get sufficient sound through a portable speaker, soundbar, or a simple 2-speaker stereo setup. What is a small area? This will vary, but one can reasonably consider any area less than feet 300 square feet as small.
- Large areas will likely need a more complex sound system setup that will require multiple speakers (and multiple zones controlled through your amplifier or receiver) to provide quality sound coverage throughout the area. This is especially true if you plan to have separate areas in your backyard to have different levels of sound.
However, as you analyze your space and where you want sound, you may find that a simpler sound solution may be appropriate for you even though there is a large area to cover. For example, your pool may cover a large area but may get enough sound coverage with one portable speaker for what you expect.
Types: What types of speakers can I have in my backyard?
There are several types of outdoor speakers that we list below. The one that is right for your backyard depends on your needs and backyard setup.
- In-Ceiling Speakers: These are speakers designed to be recessed in your patio or porch ceiling, which creates an even look with the rest of your ceiling.
- In-Wall Speakers: Like in-ceiling speakers, these are speakers that are mounted into your wall, creating a flush look with your wall.
- Surface-mounted Speakers: These are the most common type of speakers, and these are speakers that are mounted to your wall, ceiling, or overhang.
- Landscaping Speakers: These speakers are designed to be placed within your landscaping. Some forms of these are designed to look like landscaping (e.g., rock speakers), some are designed to be partially buried and can provide omnidirectional sound (mushroom speakers), and others are small speakers with a stake that can be planted throughout your landscaping (satellite speakers).
- Soundbar: Soundbars have become a popular speaker option over the last decade as an all-in-one sound option. Soundbars are typically placed beneath a TV and can be paired with other speakers and a subwoofer.
- Subwoofers: This is a special type of speaker that delivers lower frequency sounds (bass) that your other speakers may not be able to produce. These are usually designed to be placed on the floor under a covered location.
- Portable Speakers: A popular speaker option, these are all-in-one speakers that you can move from one area to another and control via a Bluetooth or WiFi connection and your mobile phone.
Audio Source: What audio sources can be played through outdoor speakers?
Next, you need to account for what kind of audio you want to play through your speakers. This can be audio for your outdoor TV, your phone, your indoor sound system, etc.
- Mobile Phone: The option to stream and play music from your phone is becoming very common in various sound system technologies. This can be accomplished via Bluetooth or WiFi options. If you want to stream music from your phone, ensure that your sound system has this technology. You will find this option in your portable speakers or sound system with a soundbar or receiver/amplifier. Or, if you like, you can directly connect your mobile phone to your sound system/speaker, if allowed, to play your music.
- Outdoor TV: If you would like sound to play from your outdoor TV to your sound system, you will need a wired connection from your TV to your receiver/amplifier or soundbar that will manage your audio equipment.
- Indoor Sound System: You may want the music/audio you are playing throughout your house to be played outside. To do so, you will need your outdoor speakers to be connected to the receiver or amplifier controlling your indoor sound system. This will require you to have a receiver/amplifier that has enough power for these outdoor speakers.
Receivers/Amplifier: Do I need an amp or receiver for my outdoor speakers?
A receiver or amplifier is required to power speakers that do not have a built-in amplifier, e.g., passive speakers. If you plan on buying passive outdoor speakers, you will need to buy a receiver or amplifier to power these speakers.
If you have a sound system with a soundbar, the soundbar acts as the amplifier for this system. So you will not need an additional receiver or amplifier for that system.
Portable speakers do not need a receiver or amplifier as these have an internal power source.
Sound Control: How can I control my outdoor speakers?
Much like indoor sound, there are various methods to control your outdoor sound. Understanding how you would like to control your sound will aid in buying the right equipment for you.
- Outdoor Receiver / Amplifier: If you have a separate receiver or amplifier to control your outdoor sound system, you will have the option to control the audio directly through this equipment and any associated remotes.
- Mobile App: Most outdoor speakers and sound systems will allow some type of option for you to stream music and other audio from your phone. You will need to ensure that the sound system you purchase has Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity.
- Indoor Home Audio: If you already have an indoor sound system established, it may be possible for you to connect your outdoor speakers to this system if 1) you have the appropriate wiring in place and 2) your amplifier and receiver can handle the additional speakers. If this is a valid option for you, you can control your outdoor speakers through the same methods that you currently control your indoor speakers.
- Outdoor TV: If you plan to connect your speakers (especially a soundbar) to your outdoor TV, you may have the ability to control the level of volume and audio played through your system through the same controller used to control your TV.
- Control knob (indoor or outdoor): If you have a wired speaker system, you may have the option to place a physical volume control knob inside and/or outside to control the volume to your outdoor speakers.
Weatherproofing: What is the right weatherproofing for outdoor speakers?
Outdoor speakers are designed with some form of weatherproofing, and this weatherproofing will usually be stated in the form of an IP rating. However, what does it mean if you see something that is IP 55, IP 56, etc.?
IP stands for Intrusion Protection. The following two digits denote the level of protection the product (your speaker) is designed to protect from objects/particles (first number) and moisture (second number).
First Number Scale
0: no protection
1: protection against objects >50mm (your hand)
2: protection against objects >25mm (your finger)
3: protection against objects >2.5mm (a screwdriver)
4: protection against objects >1mm (a wire)
5: Dust protection, but a limited amount may enter that will not interfere with the operation of the product
6: Dust-tight – no dust will enter
Second Number Scale
0: no protection
1: Protection from falling water droplets (vertical)
2: Protection from falling water droplets (15° from vertical)
3: Protection from spray water, up to 60° from vertical
4: Protection from water splashes from all directions
5: Protection from low-pressure water jets from all directions
6: Protection from high-pressure water jets from all directions
7: Can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1 meter
8: Can be submerged in water for longer than 30 minutes at a depth up to 3 meters. The manufacturer will specify the exact time limit and depth
9: Protection against high pressure and high-temperature water jets
Most outdoor speakers will have a rating of 5 – 6 for the first number. Most outdoor speakers will have a rating of 4 – 7 for the second number.
Which IP rating is suitable for you depends on where you expect to place the speaker. Speakers in covered areas can afford lower ratings, whereas speakers exposed to rain and the elements should have higher ratings. Additionally, you should expect to find outdoor portable speakers with a 7 rating for the second number to protect from those accidents of being dropped in the pool.
Placement: How close should I place my outdoor speakers be to each other?
The best speaker placement will depend on the layout of your backyard and where you would like to hear sound. Additionally, the ambient noise level is different for everyone’s backyard. So, it is recommended to test the sound from your speakers, if possible, before final installation to ensure that you achieve your expected sound coverage.
Generally, outdoor stereo speakers (left and right speakers) should not be placed greater than 10 feet from each other. This will ensure that you hear the full range of sound because some audio will only be played from a right or left speaker. Additionally, if you are trying to cover a large area, it is recommended to place more speakers instead of increasing the distance between speakers. If speakers are too far apart, you may find that you have to keep the volume at high levels to hear the sound appropriately – this may irritate neighbors.