Paul has been passionate about playing, recording, and listening to music for over 35 years. Born in the U.K., he now lives in Florida.
I've been an audiophile for over 35 years. As far as I'm concerned, outdoor speakers are a must for those music lovers who like to listen to their favorite sounds outside, whether they are relaxing in private, or hosting a social gathering in the yard, around the pool, or on the patio.
Speaker designers are faced with more challenges when designing an outdoor speaker, compared to an indoor type, however. Mainly because they are expected to deliver the equivalent sound quality, while at the same time making the speakers resistant to all that Mother Nature can throw at them.
The mounting and placement of the speakers can also be crucial. You should experiment with the locations and angles in order to get the fullest and clearest sound quality. They should be mounted on a surface that is able to take their weight, which doesn't have underneath dangers, such as electrical wires, or plumbing.
Most speakers are available in black, or white colors. Some (usually the more expensive) are sold singly, while others (usually the more affordable) are sold in pairs.
The Top 4 Outdoor Speakers
- Best High Fidelity: Definitive Technology AW5500 All-Weather
- Best Affordable Speakers: Dual Electronics LU43PW
- Polk Audio Atrium 4: Powerful and Smooth
- Waterproof Granite Rock Patio Speakers: Waterproof and Rugged
I explain my choices in detail below.
Best High Fidelity: Definitive Technology AW5500 All-Weather
For those seeking high fidelity audio anywhere around their home, Definitive Technology are a reliable choice. These Definitive Technology AW5500 speakers are cleverly designed and exceptionally well constructed. I've used AW speakers for years.
Definitive Technology AW5500 Pros:
- Projecting the sound, especially the bass, can be a real problem outdoors, but these speakers use high excursion active drivers pressure-coupled to racetrack-shaped Low-Bass Radiators to deliver an awesome amount of depth.
- I've used AW speakers for over two years and the water-tight seal has not been compromised in any way. That's pretty good considering that they're placed in a position which gives them full exposure to the elements.
- They're rugged and far superior when it comes to withstanding harsh weather than the cheaper outdoor speakers I've owned previously.
- I like it that the galvanized steel brackets have been designed so that you can rotate the speakers a full 360 degrees.
- They're available in black or white (I have the black).
- They look great.
Definitive Technology AW5500 Cons:
- Not the cheapest speakers. I think they're worth it, but may be too much for some people.
Summary of Specifications
• One 5.25-inch BDSS cast basket bass/mid driver
• One 5x8-inch pressure-driven low-bass radiator
• One 1-inch pure aluminum dome tweeter
• Frequency response: 40 Hz - 30 kHz
• Wired connectivity
• 175 watts output
• 8 ohm impedance
• Dimensions: 12.7 x 7.8 x 8.2 inches
Best Affordable Speakers: Dual Electronics LU43PW
Those with a limited budget may wish to consider investing in these Dual Electronics LU43PW outdoor speakers.
Dual Electronics LU43PW Pros:
- I installed four of these at a relative's house a couple of years ago and they still sound as good now as they did then. These speakers are tough and can take a battering by the elements.
- Versatile. You can mount them just about anywhere.
- Choice of black or white. You usually buy them in pairs.
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Dual Electronics LU43PW Cons:
- The best thing about these speakers is their toughness and affordability, but if you are fussy about sound quality, I would recommend passing on these speakers. You can do better for audio fidelity, but it will cost you more money.
Summary of Specifications
• Woofer 4" (100mm) Polyelite PVA Surround
• Midrange 40mm polypropylene
• Tweeter 20mm Piezo Dome
• Frequency Response 100 Hz-20kHz
• Power: 50 watts RMS - 100 watts (IPP)
• Dimensions: 8.25 inches x 5.25 inches x 5.25 inches
Full Sound with Environmental Endurance: Polk Audio Atrium 4
The Polk Audio Atrium 4 range offers excellent value for money for those seeking a high quality sound output in the mid-price scale.
Polk Audio Atrium 4 Pros:
- Excellent value for money. They are a great product for the price.
- The rubber surrounds work well at protecting the aluminum tweeters.
- Sound quality is amazing for speakers in this price range, they put out a large and full sound.
- Easy to mount. They use a speed-lock system.
- These Polks are available in black, and white colors, and are usually sold in pairs.
Polk Audio Atrium 4 Cons:
- I'd give them 4 out of 5 for sound quality - but to get five out of five, you'd have to pay twice as much in my experience.
Summary of Specifications
• 1 - 4-1/2" Diameter (11.43cm) Mid/woofer, Dynamic Balance® Mineral Filled Polymer Cone with rubber surround
• 1 - 3/4" Diameter (1.91cm)
Dynamic Balance® Anodized Aluminum Dome Tweeter with Neodymium motor structure
• Frequency response: 75Hz-25kHz
• 8 ohms impedance
• Recommended amp power: 10-80 w per channel
• Dimensions: 8-5/8" H x 5-11/16" W x 6-11/16" D
(21.91cm H x 14.45cm W x 16.99cm D)
New Wired Outdoor Garden Granite Rock Patio Speakers: Waterproof and Rugged
These New Wired Outdoor Garden Granite Rock Patio Speakers are designed to enhance a yard or pool space and are tremendous fun. They typically come in sets of 4.
New Wired Outdoor Garden Granite Rock Patio Speakers Pros:
- They're a great talking point for outdoor social events. Whether it's in the yard, on the patio, around a bonfire, or beside the pool, these speakers are fun.
- You wouldn't think so, looking at them, but they put out a surprisingly loud and clear sound.
- Waterproof and rugged. The cabinet bodies are constructed from silicone. The steel grills are rust resistant.
New Wired Outdoor Garden Granite Rock Patio Speakers Cons:
- They don't look that real. I had to paint a set I installed to make them look more like actual rocks.
Summary of Specifications
• Ferro Fluid Cooled Soft Dome Tweeters
• Woofers: 4.5" Poly Mica 8ohm Drivers with Sealed Voice Coils and Butyl Rubber Surrounds
• Peak Power Handling: 125 watts
• Height 8" x Width 7.5" x Depth 6.75" per Speaker
• Frequency response: 94dB with 80-20,000 Hz
Top 5 Tips For Outdoor Speaker Placement
- Put the speakers at eye level or slightly above so that the sound travels further. The output is less likely to be blocked by yard furniture, fences etc. Avoid going higher than ten feet, however, as the audio may become tinny and weak.
- Depending on the robustness of your speakers, you should consider their level of exposure to the elements. Some speakers are completely watertight, but less protected speakers should be placed under eaves, or overhanging roofs.
- Remember to consider stereo effects when positioning speakers and assigning channels. Left and right channels should be at separate sides for a full, stereo sound.
- Speakers should generally be positioned about ten feet apart and about ten feet away from the listening area.
- If your listening area has any weak spots, consider filling them by buying more speakers, rather than trying to overcome the problem by turning up the volume. It's the best way to create even, high quality audio coverage. (It is more difficult outside in an open space, indoor speakers have the walls to reverberate against and contain the sound).
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2015 Paul Goodman
Vijay Anand on March 26, 2018:
Anyone is aware of - All weather outdoor loudspeakers for open area with highest Sound and Wattage, Rugged, and/or Waterproof with smallest footprint?
Mark Johann from New Zealand on February 28, 2015:
200 watts is fine with me and I do like your idea of garden speakers form like a rock as design. Wow!