Traditionally, weatherproof speakers have been installed using wired connections. These speakers are often mounted under rooftop lines, in patio corners and under the deck. Speakers wired underground can have an omnidirectional design, so listeners don't have to be sitting in a particular sweet spot to enjoy the music.
Wiring and installing weatherproof speakers isn't extremely complex, but some people find the prospect of drilling into the exterior of the house and running cables through floors and ceilings to be a bit intimidating, so they contact local custom installers. Speaker cables can run through walls, attics, crawlspaces or the yard before finally being hooked up to the weatherproof speakers outside. For outdoor and underground wiring, installers use specialized, outdoor-rated cable designed to withstand the elements.
Most people who have a weatherproof speaker system use an indoor home theater or audio sound system to power the setup. By adding an additional zone to their existing setup, homeowners can hook up speakers to an independent volume and source control. If you're building a new house and have been thinking of adding an outdoor sound system, now's the time. An electronic systems contractor (ESC) will work with you and the builder to design a plan for outdoor speaker placement and cabling.
Lastly, you'll need to think about how to arrange your speakers so they'll sound most pleasant to you when you're outside. As with any new home project, you'll need to plan to get the effect you want. Make sure you:
- Position outdoor speakers as you would with your indoor sound system -- point them toward your desired sweet spot.
- Think of speaker placement like you think of lighting, in terms of where you want the light distributed and where you want to concentrate it.
- Keep in mind how trees, bushes or other foliage may impede the sound -- the environment can dramatically affect the speaker range and sound quality.
- Tilt the speakers so they face slightly down if they're mounted near the roofline.
- Experiment with your speakers before you permanently mount them and hook them up to cables.
- Consider where people will gather the most. Put speakers as close as possible to that area.
- Avoid cranking the system volume, which could distort the sound -- and disturb the neighbors.
Once your outdoor soundscape is complete, invite your friends and neighbors over for a party in your backyard, and show off your new weatherproof sound system!
More Great Links
- Babowice, Hope."Kids ask: Why does sound travel faster in water?"Daily Herald (Feb. 14, 2012) http://classifieds.dailyherald.com/story/?id=330044
- Baron, Al. Product Line Manager, Polk Audio. Personal Interview conducted Jan. 28,2010.
- Bedell, Doug. "Music Blossoms in the Back Yard with Creative Speaker Hook-Ups." Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. The Dallas Morning News. Page 3D. July 17, 2003.
- Carpenter, Jason. "Outdoor Speakers." This Old House Magazine. (Feb. 14, 2012) http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,1072838,00.html
- Consumer Electronics Association. Speaker Types Buying Guide. (Feb. 14, 2012) http://www.digitaltips.org/audio/speakerTypes.asp
- Dawson, Stephen. "Outdoor Speakers." Connected Home technology. Nov. 10, 2009. (January 27, 2010) http://www.connectedhometechnology.com/article/outdoor-speakers
- Dawson, Stephen. "Wiring for outdoor audio." Connected Home technology. Nov. 10, 2009. (Feb. 14, 2012) http://trade.connectedhometechnology.com/article/wiring-outdoor-audio
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- Encyclopedia Britannica. "Sound." (Feb. 14, 2012) http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/555255/sound
- Flynn, Michael. "More yards get wired with chic speakers." Citizen-Times.com. June 22, 2007. (Feb. 14, 2012) http://www.harmonyinteriors.com/news/chic-outdoor-speakers.php
- Newcomb, Doug. "Great Sound Outdoors." Sound and Vision Magazine. June 2003 (January 27, 2010) http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/article/great-sound-outdoors
- Ops A La Carte. "Reliability Services - Accelerated Life Testing." (Feb. 14, 2012) http://www.opsalacarte.com/Pages/reliability/reliability_prot_alt.htm
- Orfield, Kevin. "Grow Your Business with Combination Outdoor Lighting Stereo Systems." Lowe's Commercial Services. April 2008. (Feb. 14, 2012) http://www.lowesforpros.com/grow-your-business-with-combination-outdoor-lighting-stereo-systems
- Polk Audio. "Atrium Series." 2012. (Feb. 14, 2012) http://www.polkaudio.com/homeaudio/atrium/
- Puente, Maria. "Home Notes." USA Today. June 3, 2004. (Feb. 14, 2012) http://www.usatoday.com/life/lifestyle/2004-06-03-audio-rocks_x.htm
- Sabin, Rob. "How to build your own speakers: Step-by-step DIY tech." Popular Mechanics. July 22, 2008. (Feb. 14, 2012) http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/how_to/4274625.html
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "Sound travels faster in water than in air." U.S. Department of Commerce. (Feb. 14, 2012) http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/sound.html
- U.S. Department of Energy. "Speed of Sound and Air Conditions." February 2012. (Feb. 14, 2012) http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/phy00/phy00591.htm