Good outdoor speaker recommendations?

Posted by: samandnoah

Good outdoor speaker recommendations? - 04/05/06 02:05 PM

I've been trying to research this out on the web for a while. I feel like there are so many choices, but so few of them are available for auditioning. Sometimes I can find one in the same brand family, but usually not the exact model I'm looking for.

I realize that these are going to be outdoors, and this will hardly be focused music listening. But I'm picky enough that when I'm sitting on my screened-in porch reading and listening, I want to enjoy it. So there needs to be good tonal balance, and some usable bass to what I would hope to be <70Hz.

And when we do have guests or a party, I don't want it to sound tinny, compressed, and crappy at louder volumes. The amplification won't be a problem.

I'd like to keep this to <$200. Many of the models that have the larger woofers run closer to $300-$400. And some of these manufacturers are weasely on their specs, showing the low end of the frequency response without a +/- dB rating (or using -9 dB).

Unfortunately, Axiom doesn't make any, or I'd get the outdoor equivalents of M3tis in a heartbeat. Brands I am considering/have read up on:

- Boston Acoustics Voyager series (preferably 6 or higher)
- Klipsch AW series (horn tweeter supposed to work well outdoors)
- Yamaha AW series
- Polk Atrium series
- Niles (OS20)
- BIC Addato DV52si (particularly if modified by Ed Frias)

Note: I've omitted the Rocket OD100 because they are out of stock until summer, and I really want to get speakers sooner.

PS Interesting tidbit: during my searches at AVSForum and Audioholics I saw lots of Axiom owners commenting on outdoor speakers, but I didn't recognize many of the user names.
Posted by: HomeDad

Re: Good outdoor speaker recommendations? - 04/05/06 02:39 PM

These got a good reveiw Link
I use some Solid outdoor speakers made by B&W that sound real nice, but I believe they are discontinued, but can still be found around.
Posted by: Foghorn

Re: Good outdoor speaker recommendations? - 04/08/06 08:18 AM

The deafening silence that you are hearing suggests that nobody has really found any great outdoor speakers - although somebody recommended the Rockets on a similar thread a while back. My wife and I listened to most of the speakers you have heard and decided that the speakers that sounded best to us (which really meant that they sounded least bad) were made by Dual and cost $49. We were willing to go up to $400, but really thought the Duals sounded best. I'm not thrilled with them at home and I suspect that some of the more expensive speakers would have actually sounded better in the outdoor environment... At this point, I have decided that I will keep them until they wear out as all outdoor speakers eventually do (or so my friends who have had to replace them every 10 years or so tell me) and at that time I will take my chances by putting some M3Tis or W22s (or the future version thereof) outside under the overhang and see how long they last. If I could get 3-5 years out of them I would consider it a worthwhile expenditure.
Posted by: alan

Re: Good outdoor speaker recommendations? - 04/08/06 10:46 AM

Hi samandnoah,

It's on the list for development at Axiom but since that's in the future, you'd be ahead of the game by checking out outdoor models from a couple of our Canadian competitors--Energy, Paradigm and PSB (I'm not sure if PSB makes one).

The Boston might be decent as well, since their strength always lay in the small compact speaker.

I'm amazed at the Dual thing, but Harman International bought the Dual brand name some years ago so perhaps some of the speaker design facilities at Harman were utilized to develop them.

Posted by: samandnoah

Re: Good outdoor speaker recommendations? - 04/08/06 03:05 PM

Thanks Foghorn & Alan!

I appreciate everyone's insights. One very kind Axiomite had a spare set he was willing to sell very reasonably. I love this place!

So I'm set for now, BUT from what I've read outdoor speakers really have limited range so I may need a second pair. I'm really intrigued by the Klipsch design. I know that folks who enjoy Axioms may not be Klipsch fans, but I'm thinking that the Klipsch horn design might lend itself to this kind of outdoor use.

Alan, any thoughts that might lend credence or discredit this line of reasoning? I will definitely check out Energy & Paradigm, but don't remember seeing anything listed for them in my searches.


Posted by: real80sman

Re: Good outdoor speaker recommendations? - 04/09/06 11:18 PM

Hi Rich, when the current house was being built, I roughed in a pair of speaker wires to the outside "at deck level". This way they are accessable. I used a standard electrical box with a weather tight lid. The plan is to use the M3's off the computer when we are entertaining outside. A bit of a pain to lug in and out, but I haven't found any outdoor speakers that even come close to the 3's.
Posted by: alan

Re: Good outdoor speaker recommendations? - 04/10/06 12:35 PM

Hi samandnoah,

Horn loading of speakers is universally used for outdoor sound reinforcement (concerts of all kinds) as well as in movie theaters for the main and center channels behind the screen because of the efficiency of horns at filling big commercial spaces with high-volume sound without having to use enormous amplifiers.

If EQ'd with care by somebody who knows what he/she is doing, horn-loaded speakers can sound reasonably smooth and non-screechy (they never sound as natural as well-designed non-horn-loaded speakers) but especially with outdoor concerts and some touring bands, they are often awful--strident and aggressive.

If you want to do a simple demo for yourself of how horn loading colors and negatively changes sound quality, just have someone talk to you while they cup their hands around their mouth as if they were about to make their voice heard at a greater distance. What they are doing is horn-loading their own voice. The tonal (timbral) character of the person's voice will immediately change and will sound more nasal and sharp, which is exactly what happens to vocals and dialog with horn-loaded speakers if sophisticated equalization isn't used. If you can live with that outside, then perhaps a horn will be acceptable.

Horns will fill outdoor or indoor spaces with high-volume sound on relatively few watts but if you are looking for uncolored, natural and neutral sound, you won't get it from a horn-loaded speaker.

Posted by: samandnoah

Re: Good outdoor speaker recommendations? - 04/10/06 12:39 PM


Got it. 'nuff said. Appreciate the feedback. Thanks.

Posted by: samandnoah

Re: Good outdoor speaker recommendations? - 04/10/06 12:43 PM


I've thought about it, but decided that I needed to be honest with myself: I will *not* be good about bringing speakers back in, or I'll end up not bringing them out in the first place because it's too much of a pain. So I'm going to use outdoor speakers.

If I ever find an incredible deal on a pair of M3ti, maybe I'd risk experimenting to see how they withstand the elements. The placement is inside a screened in porch, above the top of the screens , so they won't get direct rain or sunlight. But they will clearly be subjected to high heat (this is TX after all!) and moisture/humidity.

Let me know how the M3 work outside.

Take care,