Commonly Asked Questions on Outdoor Speakers
#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 outdoor speakers you really want to look for speakers that are constructed for this purpose. 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 reproduction, 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. 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 can be accomplished by an additional subwoofer.
There’s really more to the quality of bass than can be simply said but 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 subwoofers equiped to complete your total outdoor sound experience. The best outdoor subwoofers have excellent material construction designed to withstand the harshest of environments and basically whatever you can throw at them. It is also important to get subwoofers that are crafted to accommodate large amounts of input power required to re-create the lowest bass notes without distortion at high volumes.
#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.
#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 outdoor speakers?
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 of outdoor speakers that recharges while under the sun and plays your favorite audio simultaneously.
#8 What are some things to consider when choosing outdoor speakers?
There are a variety of questions to ask when choosing outdoor speakers. 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.