outdoor speaker system

Outdoor Speaker System Guide

Welcome to Bass Head Speakers – the ultimate guide for creating incredible sound from your outdoor speaker system!

Creating superb outdoor sound from your outdoor speaker system can be a challenging task due to the open space environment and weather conditions. If you’re new to this line of audio you don’t have to worry because here we’ll go through the basics (step by step) of creating incredible audio sound that will totally blow your mind away. We document various techniques and processes that we find are super useful in helping you choose the right outdoor speakers for your garden, patio or poolside environment. 

There are many different types of outdoor speakers, each possessing their own benefits and drawbacks. Since there are no walls or ceilings outside to reflect sound, good quality outdoor speaker systems are built with wide-open spaces in mind, containing features to enhance sound attributes such as high power handling and low frequency response for excellent bass. They are also constructed to compensate for wind, for background noise, and for other common outdoor noises. Passive speakers, active speakers, and wireless speakers provide buyers with multiple options to enhance their outdoor experience. 

Before getting started, lets go through 8 most commonly asked questions about outdoor speakers. If you’re a seasoned audiophile looking for recommended outdoor speakers, please out our top reviews for outdoor speakers under the categories section.  Do check out our comprehensive guides on outdoor speaker placement and installation.  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! 

The Challenge of the Outdoors…

#1 Why normal speakers won’t survive outdoors

The first thing you’d notice about outdoor speakers is their sturdy construction and all-weather resistant design. The reason for this is that outdoor speakers have to withstand the elements over a long period of time – such as rain, wind, snow, sunlight and moisture. It is not surprising that when it comes to your outdoor speaker system you really want to look for speakers that are constructed for this purpose. We do not recommend using indoor speakers for outdoor purposes. Taking your indoor audio to outdoor conditions is risky and often does not produce good quality sound under such conditions. This is because speakers that are built for the indoors do not suffer from issues such as lack of corners for bass reproduction, spatial issues which affect sound distribution, and sound staging which is more difficult to achieve in an open-environment. Blasting music from indoors so you can hear it outdoors isin’t a very good idea either as this might disturb guests in your home. Getting outdoor speakers for this purpose might sound daunting at first, but it is really easy once you’ve got the basics right.

#2 Why bass reproduction suffers outdoors

The most challenging part about outdoor speakers is the bass reproduction, which requires surfaces to bounce off in order to amplify the bass effect. This does not happen in an open environment, so outdoor speakers usually sound flat (or produce pure stereo) without the punchy effect. It is important to select outdoor speakers with a frequency range that can go as low as 20 – 200 hz, although this frequency can be accomplished by an additional outdoor subwoofer to your outdoor speaker system. 

There’s really more to the quality of bass than can be simply said. In broader terms, there’s really two types of bass sound which can either be “muddy” or “booming”. Muddy bass is simply bass that blends together with all your music, so you won’t really get to feel the individual thumping beats of the bass – it comes out as one big “chunk” of bass from your speakers. Usually muddy bass are associated with low quality speakers that have no quality distinction between low and ultra-low frequencies of bass, so all bass that comes out feel “blended”.

On the other hand, higher-quality bass or “booming” bass is the type of bass that comes in a punch. You can literally feel the bass like a heartbeat – it’s tight and powerful and creates a lasting impact. This should be the bass that you want to aim for and this should be achieved by good audio positioning with good corners for the bass to reflect and amplify on. A good outdoor speaker should have in-built features that helps to amplify bass off its surfaces designed to improve bass response in the outdoors.

#3 Should you get a subwoofer for the outdoors?

Subwoofers are specifically designed to reproduce the low frequencies found in music. The difficulty with some outdoor stereo speakers is that they are not designed to produce audio of such low frequencies, which makes popular rock music sound rather flat. It really depends on whether the outdoor speaker you plan to buy has the capability of producing low-frequency sound, but we suggest that you should get outdoor speaker sets that come with in-built subwoofers to complete your total outdoor sound experience. This is because a sole outdoor subwoofer unit requires a lot of amplification to pump out deep bass under outdoor conditions, which means that a single multi-channel sound amplifier is unlikely to be able to handle the subwoofer unit well, unless you intend to get a dedicated amplifier. Furthermore, separating the subwoofer from the stereo units means that you have to find that correct sweet spot in your backyard for the sub, which means more wiring and more hassle. We recommend getting high quality outdoor speakers with in-built subwoofer units so that your sound will be rich and full, and requires less hassle to install. 

#4 What is Outdoor Audio Positioning?

The challenge of speaker positioning with the outdoors is due to the vastly open space that the speakers have to tackle. It’s no surprise that positioning your outdoor speakers is vital to ensuring that your open environment achieves the highest quality sound. Good positioning often involves understanding open space, the shape of your backyard as well the objects surrounding your speakers. Unlike the indoors, outdoor speaker positioning can be a challenging exercise because there are far less corners for bass reproduction, ample space which means more work for the speakers to flood them with music, as well as the innate challenges of wiring your speakers to an amplifier. Audio positioning also helps to create good bass reproduction, so you’d want to place speakers in positions where the details of the music can be heard from different positions. Having a sense of where you want your sound to come from is also key. If you want to hear dynamic music with your outdoor speaker system, then positioning your outdoor speakers in the right direction at correct distance intervals is crucial. We’ll show you exactly how to do it right here with this guide on audio positioning

#5 Does wiring make a difference in sound quality?

Yes, the type of wiring that you use can affect sound quality. There are many kinds of wiring that you can use but the main types are copper, oxygen-free copper, silver, stranded, flat and burial wire types. The copper wire is favoured among manufacturers because it allows for transfer of sound signal with the least amount of interference. Copper is also cheaper than most other wiring materials so you can expect to buy them for less cost. The oxygen-free copper wire offers a lower electrical resistance than standard copper wires because removing oxygen from the copper helps to prevent dilapidation of the material. This protects the long-term sound quality of outdoor speakers. Silver on the other hand is generally used for expensive outdoor speakers and is a very good conductor – with a lower electrical resistance than coppper. Flat speaker wiring is cost efficient and is perfect for placing around doorframes and against garden walls which allows it to blend better with outdoor surroundings or wall colours. Finally, burial wiring (or underground wire) is enclosed in a thicker coating and is better insulated than other types of wires, which prevents damage from environmental elements such as rain, snow and flooding.

#6 Should I get amplifiers for my outdoor speaker system? 

Whether you should get sound amplifiers for your outdoor speakers depends on whether you are using a passive or active outdoor speaker. The general rule is that a sound amplifier is only required for an active outdoor speaker.

Passive speakers, also referred to as unpowered speakers, are units without an internal amplifier. These units lack an internal power source and draw all of their power from another component, generally an audio/video receiver or an amplifier through normal speaker wire. These speakers connect to the power source for use with a stereo sound system or a home theater since passive speakers have no independent controls for modifying sounds or adjusting the bass level. Passive speakers are also typically more affordable than active speakers are and do not weigh as much, making them easier to move around.

In contrast, active outdoor speakers have built-in amplifiers that allow users to control and adjust the volume on the speakers independently of the CD player or tuner. The speakers’ setup provides greater efficiency and output due to their built-in amplifier. Active speakers require their own power source, and high-quality active speakers are generally very expensive.

The purpose of sound amplifiers is to amplify the sound in terms of bass quality, volume and treble. Since active outdoor speakers require more power, sound amplifiers are particularly important when you’re using this type of speaker – in fact essential. Sound amplifiers are also useful because you can adjust the volume output from the source and/or increase the bass effect. For outdoor speakers, multi-channel sound amplifiers are a must have because they generate enough power (80 – 1oo watts per channel) to power up multiple speakers in an open space – a crucial but often overlooked point.

#7 Are there different types of outdoor speakers?

Yes, there are different types of outdoor speakers for various uses. For example, there are rugged portable wireless outdoor speakers that you can bring anywhere with you. Whether it’s on a hike in the jungle, a stroll on the beach or climbing through the snow-top mountains, you can bring these rugged speakers and they will never break. They can be powered by their own internal power source and connect wirelessly via bluetooth to your mp3 player or phone. Other “domestic” type of outdoor speakers include patio speakers that you can hang under the eaves of your home, as well as outdoor garden/poolside speakers. Domestic outdoor speakers can also include different “types” of speakers with different sound reproduction, such as single-point speakers which has dual right/left inputs for all-around sound projection. There’s also the traditional outdoor speaker customized for left/right inputs. We’ve also mentioned in one of our guides here on solar powered outdoor speakers, which are an exciting development in the portable outdoor speaker industry. Solar powered speakers recharge virtually anywhere under the sun and plays your favorite audio simultaneously wherever you go. 

#8 And Finally…what are some things to consider when choosing outdoor speakers?

There are a variety of questions to ask when choosing outdoor speakers and it is useful to refer to this guide here on choosing the best outdoor speaker system. The first question is probably whether there’s enough space in your outdoor setting for audio placement. It also follows whether your outdoor setting has capacity for outdoor wiring that will connect these speakers to a sound amplifier. Finally, you want to look at things such as the brand, price, sound staging as well as bass reproduction. Probably the most important of all questions is to consider whether the outdoor speakers have a durable enough construction to withstand the harsh outdoor environments. Replacing your outdoor speakers can be a difficult and time-consuming task so you want to select the best outdoor speakers that will last you for a very long time – and bring years of enjoyment and comfort to your outdoor experience.