outdoor speakers

How to Install Outdoor Speakers: The Ultimate Guide

It’s always nice to have outdoor speakers in your garden or patio area where you can just relax in the comforts of the outdoors and enjoy your favourite music pieces. One nice thing about outdoor speakers is that they can blend into the outdoors to look like part of the furniture, rocks or even flower pots. Outdoor speakers designed specially for patio/under the eaves also have the ability to give your home a modern feel with their sleek and study design. It’s really enjoyable to have outdoor speakers around the home and in this guide we will show you exactly how to install outdoor speakers in your home. We have also featured some of the best outdoor speakers in our top reviews, such as the top weatherproof speakers, patio speakers, rock speakers, outdoor ceiling speakers and rugged portable speakers, so be sure to check them out!

It’s always best to shelter your speakers from the storm

There are some outdoor speakers that are all-weather resistant and designed to withstand the harsh elements of the outdoors. That being said, it’s always best to shelter your outdoor speakers from the storm and place them in sheltered areas such as the patio. This will help to increase the lifespan and durability of your outdoor speakers. If you are installing outdoor speakers to your patio or under-the-eaves,  it’s practical to put one speaker higher up to one side of the area and the other speaker on the other side – as far apart as you need in order to provide good coverage of the patio or sheltered area. It is important not to place them too far apart as this may unbalance the sound staging –  if you separate two speakers by more than 20 feet, you and your guests will end up hearing whichever speaker is closest, with little output audible from the other. While this may not be the ideal setup, you can install wall-brackets to mount your speakers and tilt them towards the correct direction you want the sound to travel. Tweak around with your patio set-up to ensure that your outdoor speakers projects sound from the ideal angle, so that your guests can enjoy good music while basking in the comforts of your home patio.

Professional installers generally recommend using one pair of outdoor speakers to cover an outdoor area between 200 and 400 square feet, which means a patio or deck measuring about 20 x 20 feet should be the maximum area served by a speaker pair. It’s worthwhile using a couple of stepladders as temporary speaker supports while you judge the sound coverage to the patio, deck or pool area from different locations. Do this before you start drilling holes for the speaker brackets and wiring.

Increasing Bass Reproduction

Outdoor bass reproduction suffers due to the lack of surfaces for bass to reflect and amplify the sound. The best way to reproduce bass with your outdoor speakers is to mount them between two or three surfaces preferably at a corner for bass amplification to go up. You can even mount your outdoor speakers at the corners of your patio to provide more surfaces to amplify the bass output. Of course, the other way to do it is to add an additional outdoor subwoofer to your overall set-up, although we recommend getting a dedicated sound amplifier to push the subwoofer under outdoor conditions, such as the SONOS connect. It’s also good practice to aim the speakers from higher up down to the pool or patio which will help to improve sound staging in that area.

Amplifier Requirements

Outdoor speakers require more power because they fire sound into infinite space, so if you plan on using the Zone 2 outputs from your AV receiver or integrated amplifier to drive them, make certain the amplifiers have sufficient power output. As a party tempo increases, playback volume tends to rise, so an amplifier with at least 80 to 100 watts per channel should be considered (be mindful to check your outdoor speaker power specifications). Avoid using sound amplifiers with low power outputs in the range of 20 to 30 watts per channel, as this would drive the amp into clipping and may possibly damage your outdoor speakers. Furthermore, consider getting a multi-channel sound amplifier so you can hook up multiple outdoor speakers and control them from one amplifier – even wirelessly.

The Neighbours

Don’t forget to be courteous to your neighbours when using your outdoor speakers. One way to isolate sound in your outdoor environment is to point the speakers from a high-up position towards your home patio or pool. Place single-point omni-directional speakers in the center of the garden rather than the side of the garden where your neighbours are likely to hear them. This will not only improve the overall sound quality of your outdoor environment, it minimises the sound that will travel outside your home boundary.

Wiring, Drilling and Wall Brackets

When considering how to install outdoor speakers, one major factor to look out for is wiring – underground wiring. For wiring runs longer than 40 feet, use 12-gauge speaker cable if you want to avoid losses from resistance. You can certainly use 14-gauge cable for distances of less than 40 feet with insignificant losses. For speaker locations away from the house at a pool or patio area, you should consider using 12-gauge direct-burial cable rather than running cable along the ground.

Here are some guidelines for drilling and mounting speaker brackets to various surfaces. With brick homes, you will need to use a masonry drill (available at hardware stores for a few dollars) of sufficient diameter to accept a concrete anchor or plug somewhat like the drywall plugs used indoors for bracket mounting. After drilling the hole, tap the concrete anchor into the hole and use stainless-steel (non-rusting) screws shorter than the concrete anchors to affix the bracket. Use some silicone seal or Goop around the screws to prevent moisture from getting into the brick. Concrete block surfaces may require using a hammer drill that both rotates and pounds the bit to penetrate the material.

If you have aluminum or vinyl siding, you’ll need to drill through the siding (go through the narrower part at the top) to the material beneath—likely wood, plywood or studs—to anchor the wood screws. The vinyl or aluminum siding by itself isn’t strong enough to support the weight of a speaker and the bracket will sag. Seal around the screws and bracket with silicone or Goop to keep moisture out.

Be very careful with stucco walls not to crack the stucco. Use a masonry drill to go through the stucco to the material beneath, likely wood, and wood screws for that material. With some cement-board or composite siding materials, a wood drill bit and screws will usually work fine. Again, be sure and use rust-proof screws and silicone seal around the screws and bracket.

Wood or log siding is the easiest of all to anchor brackets to. Just use rust-proof wood screws of an appropriate size and length.

Drip Loop

Once you’ve determined where you are going to mount the speakers, you’ll still need to drill a hole through the wall for the speaker cable. You can locate that behind the speaker to conceal the wiring. Follow the aforementioned guidelines as to drill bits and wall materials. As to the speaker cabling, you can run that inside the walls to the exit holes you’ve just drilled through the wall surface. Leave enough extra cable outside the drill hole to form a drip loop—a U-shaped jog in the cable between the wall surface and the speaker terminals that will allow water to run down the cable and drip off the bottom of the loop, rather than flowing into the speaker terminals or running back into the hole for the speaker cable. Seal the hole in the wall with silicone or Goop.

You’ll likely want to add some means of remotely controlling the volume of your outdoor speakers as well as changing discs or programming either by using an infra-red repeater that leads to your main AV receiver, an RF remote, or with an externally mounted volume control. Weather-resistant external level controllers and keypads can be obtained from various suppliers. A convenient no-hassle alternative would be to purchase an RF (radio frequency) remote control whose signals go through the walls to your AV receiver. Be sure to try one out to check its usable range (with an option to return it if the range is too limited or iffy). Depending on the wall surfaces (concrete or brick, especially), the operating range of an RF remote may be quite limited. This factor is crucial when installing outdoor speakers.