Nature Sounds: The 6 Best Outdoor Speakers

A barbecue, a patio party, drinks by the pool, or an intimate evening soaking in the hot tub all have one thing in common: They are all better with music. Setting the mood – be it one of revelry or romance – is all about ambiance, and sound is the best way to do create it; but unless you want to leave your backdoor open and blast your stereo to the complaints of the neighbors and the chagrin of anyone who dares venture inside, you’re going to need some outdoor speakers to get that music where it belongs.

These kind of speakers come in many forms. There are the kind which are weatherproof and meant to sit out in the garden or hide unobtrusively in shrubbery like a peeping tom. Then there are those that are meant to operate under an overhang or the eaves of your house which usually produce a higher quality of sound, but aren’t quite as steadfast and hardy as their fully outdoor equivalents. You’ve also got the modular indoor/outdoor variety which work on a sunny day, but must be brought in at the first hint of weather. Whatever your backyard setup or the grounds of your estate require, one of our 6 best outdoor speakers will keep you groovin’ all night long.

All-Terrain Sound Personal Speaker

All-Terrain Sound Personal Speaker

Pro: Can go anywhere
Con: Only produces enough sound for one person

One Man Band: There’s a lot of beautiful waterproof speakers but not many can stand up to the elements the same way as the All-Terrain (AT). Rather than being an outdoor speaker for your white wine garden soirees, this is for those weekends when you drop your lace doilies and lace up your hiking boots for a trip into the great unknown. This can take multiple impacts onto concrete from a dozen feet up without missing a beat. The industrial strength clip snaps onto a backpack or a bicycle with ease while the large battery offers 14 hours of continuous playback before it needs a charge. Fully bluetooth compatible and easy to sync with any smartphone or tablet, the AT isn’t great for wide open spaces and is far too small for use in a yard, but for taking tunes to the beach, up the mountain, down the river, or through the woods, this is nigh unbeatable. [Purchase: $70]

Dayton Audio IO655W

Dayton Audio IO655W

Pro: Comes equipped with mounting brackets
Con: Not very rugged

Most for the Money: These are probably the most basic high-quality outdoor speakers you can get, but don’t confuse the word “basic” with “simple,” “weak,” or “boring” because they are anything but. The body is plastic, but it is well made and well sealed to keep out most weather, though try to throw a little shade at the IO655W since they’re not meant to be completely exposed for days, months, or years at a time. The woofer is a long-throw 6.5 incher backed up by a strong 60oz magnet that can churn out an impressive baseline. For your higher ranges, a 1 inch dome tweeter adorns each speaker and throws out 350 watts of noise. Sure, they aren’t easy to hide, but they are also unobtrusive and can easily be mounted on a wall beneath a nice canopy to do their work without being an eyesore. They even come with their own mounting brackets for easy installation. [Purchase: $87]

Russound AirGo Outdoor

Russound AirGo Outdoor

Pro: Uses Apple’s AirPlay
Con: Requires AirPort Express

Air Ware: AirPlay speakers are generally not for the rough and ready user, but rather for the more refined person who likes their music like they like their couches: indoors. They don’t typically understand why someone would need a sofa on their porch and they don’t fathom why anyone would put an AirPlay speaker outside, but Russound went ahead and made an outdoor speaker for the Apple fan who likes to soak up the sun with a soundtrack. This is technically a dock for an Apple AirPort Express that allows you to stream music wherever you are. Using the power of the Express this is not only a speaker, but can double as a partial Wi-Fi hotspot since it can repeat any nearby signals from your wireless router. To use it, just install an AirPort Express into the weatherproof shell of the AirGo and get ready for the single large speaker to throw out some noise. The dense body is mobile, but can also be left outside come rain, shine, or even heavy winds. [Purchase: $105]

Klipsch CP-4

Klipsch CP-4

Pro: Blends easily
Con: Limited bass capability

The Middleman: It’s hard to strike a good balance with outdoor speakers since getting sound to carry in the great out of doors is an immense challenge. The CP-4’s are the best way to go if you’ve tried something cheaper and were disappointed, but aren’t ready to spend a fortune on a truly complete outdoor system. Though the speakers are small, they carry a long-throw sound capability that belies their tiny stature. A .75 inch aluminum tweeter hits highs that can soar on the wind and can stand up to rainy days without degrading. The 3.5 inch woofer won’t give you rattling bass, but rather delivers a cleaner, crisper sound suited to either instrumentals or vocal performances. The black or white aesthetic is as clean as the noise they produce and fit in with almost any decor. You can also paint the exterior if simply must have them blend with your home’s exterior lest the Cavanaughs from down the lane scoff at you. If you are really ready to hunt with the big dogs, you can also try the Klipsch AW-650, which is probably one of the best outdoor speakers for truly clear sound that you can buy. [Purchase: $190]

Bose Free Space 51

Bose Free Space 51

Pro: Extremely weather resistant
Con: Hideous

Ground Pounder: It would be charitable to call the appearance of these speakers “practical.” The truth is that they are easily the ugliest girl at the party, but they must be forgiven, because when it comes to outdoor noise and survival in the elements, these perform like champions. The design is not meant to appeal to the eye since they are going to be sunk into the ground anyway. It is meant to be stuck down like a retracting sprinkler and then forgotten about until it’s time for the beats to come out and play. The speaker port peaks out from directly under the dome and gives you 360 degrees of sound that sounds nearly stereophonic even if you’re at an odd angle from the speakers themselves. Inside is a 4.5 inch driver which throws out bass you can feel but doesn’t skimp on offering sweet, smooth highs and solid mids. The discreet style and bombproof protective exterior makes them ideal for any setup, but best for those who are expecting high winds and hard rains. [Purchase: $449]

Polk Audio Atrium Garden Speaker System

Polk Audio Atrium Garden Speaker System

Pro: Easily concealed
Con: Expensive

Noble Noisemaker: Discretion is the better part of sound production according to the Polk Atrium outdoor speaker array. The two tiny 3.5 inch mid-ranges complete with 1 inch voice coil handle all of your highs and middle sounds with pinpoint direction that allows you to spread the love over a small or large area depending on how you position the speakers. They are backed up by the 10 inch behemoth subwoofer disguised as a flowerpot that kicks out 200 watts of bass in a downward direction to spread the sound out across a wide area, using the Earth itself as a sounding board. Each speaker is equipped for long-throw sound capability so that you don’t need to be nearby to get the best effect. The small speakers are discreet and easily concealed, while the sub comes with its own camouflage. You get a surprising amount of bang for your buck, but will still be spending an impressive number of bucks to get banged. [Purchase: $600]

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