If you have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, and you use iTunes, it's as easy as 1-2-3.
First, you need a pair of patio speakers. Ideally you'll mount them up under eaves or an overhang that allows them to be somewhat protected from the elements. Speakers that mount flush to the wall can be subject to vibration, so try to mount them on brackets that give them a little breathing space.
Bonus: not only will that reduce vibration, it will also help the overall sound of the speakers.
Next, you need a way of transmitting sound to the speakers. If you've got speakers already wired to a receiver, pick up an Apple Airport Express Wi-Fi Base Station (around $99 at the Apple Store) and connect it to your internet connection wirelessly or by using an ethernet cable. Follow the prompts to get it set up, and then attach it to your receiver via an Audio cable.
Tip: If you're having trouble setting it up plug-and-play style, download Airport Utility to your computer and follow the prompts. It'll get you back on track in no time!
Set Airplay up on your network so that it is able to see the sound system you're using to transmit to the patio. You'll find it helpful to name the network according to location - eg Living Room, Patio, Sarah's Bedroom - so that you can easily select the right system when you're transmitting.
Once you have Airport up and running, download the "Remote" app from Apple and install it on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. This free application will turn your device into a wireless remote for your iTunes library.
Launch iTunes and select the network name you gave your patio speakers. On the iPad, you first select the double-screen icon to indicate which network you want to join, and then you click on the Volume icon to control where the speakers are playing - on the system that iTunes is hardwired to, or on the system that you have networked in with your Airport Express.
That's it! you're up and running, with all your music and playlists at your fingertips. No need to wait for someone to go in and flip the record - you've got your entire digital library at your fingertips, and you can create awesome soundtracks for your patio speakers that will play for the length of your party.
How do you power your remote speaker systems? Tell us in the comments below!