How Weatherproof Speakers Work

Weatherproof Speaker Basics

If you've read How Speakers Work, then you know that speakers are relatively simple devices. In general, a speaker's three core elements are the drivers, crossovers and the cabinet.

  • Drivers: The drivers convert electrical energy into vibrations, producing different sound pitches. A diaphragm -- the external cone-shaped part of the speaker -- moves back and forth to help with this process. Larger drivers that reproduce lows are called woofers, small drivers that reproduce highs are called tweeters. Drivers which produce frequencies in between are midrange.
  • Crossovers: These electrical filters split up the audio signal and divide up the sound pitches via the drivers. For example, "two-way" speakers consist of a woofer and tweeter, and "three-way" speakers have the three separate drivers in one speaker cabinet: a woofer, tweeter and mid-range.
  • Cabinet: As the name implies, cabinets are the structures which houses the internal components of a speaker. The speaker cabinets (or enclosures, as they are often called) act to manage the sound waves, affecting how sound is produced.

Let's get something cleared up: Although the two terms are frequently confused, weatherproof and waterproof mean two different things. Weatherproof speakers are made specifically to stand up to outside elements, but are considered water resistant, not waterproof. If weatherproof speakers are exposed to humidity, steam, rain or sprinklers they should be fine. Keeping them sheltered will help them last longer, though.

Due to the need to withstand exposure to water, rain, sun, snow and other extreme conditions, weatherproof speakers are manufactured with special parts and materials. They're also subjected to rigorous testing that replicates Mother Nature.

But weatherproof speakers aren't meant to be submerged in water. If you need to install speakers in your pool or hot tub, you should invest in waterproof speakers instead.