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July 25, 2011

Outdoor Speakers: Two Factors That Make a Difference

Filed under: AV Tip of the Month — Tags: , — Alan @ 4:45 pm

With summer in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere, we’re getting more and more people with questions about outdoor speakers – which ones to use and how to get them to really sing in an outdoor installation.

outdoor speakers

You really have to choose true outdoor speakers. They have to be able to take the abuse of intense sun and heat in summer and cold weather during winter months, not to mention being waterproof. Axiom’s Algonquin outdoor speakers, for example, are built in Canada, and are tested to withstand the climate extremes of Northern Ontario (hot summers, bone-chilling winters).

Some manufacturers try to conceal the fact that a speaker is a speaker, and design their products to resemble rocks or tree stumps. This causes major compromises in sound quality, and hiding the speakers in shrubbery or a rock garden further degrades the free dispersal of sound over a designated area.

Outdoor speakers needn’t be ugly or obtrusive and, mounted up higher under the eaves and aimed towards the patio area, they’ll provide clean, clear sound to guests and partiers. Figure on using one pair of speakers for an area no larger than about 20 x 20 feet (400 sq. ft.) to achieve good coverage, and don’t mount the speakers more than 20 feet apart, or your friends won’t hear stereo. They’ll only hear sound from the nearest speaker.

It’s a good idea to tilt the speakers downward towards your chosen space so sound isn’t projected towards your neighbors’ homes. A tilting, swiveling aluminum bracket such as the Axiom Full Metal Bracket is ideal for the purpose.

Finally, you’ll get the best sound quality by choosing outdoor speakers from a specialty manufacturer with a long history of designing high-fidelity speakers.  If you buy an unknown brand from a discount department store, expect it to sound like you did.  For the kind of sound that gets guests to their feet, invest in high-end outdoor speakers and revel in their compliments.


Alan Lofft was, for 13 years, Editor in Chief of Sound & Vision, Canada’s largest and most respected audio/video magazine. He edited Sound & Vision (Canada) until 1996, when he moved from Toronto to New York to become Senior Editor at Audio magazine.
Lofft has been writing about hi-fi and video professionally for over 20 years, ever since his first syndicated newspaper column, “Sound Advice”, began appearing weekly in The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest-circulation daily newspaper. In the late 1970s, he became a contributing editor, columnist, and equipment reviewer at AudioScene Canada, the leading national consumer electronics magazine at the time. Find out more about Alan in his bio.

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