Outdoor sound systems are fun. Whether you’re playing Bach or the Beatles, hip-hop or country, incorporating sound adds an enjoyable dimension to almost any space. That’s why more and more pool and hot tub dealers are offering sound system installation for their customers. Learn More.
WIRED OR WIRELESS
While wireless speaker systems provide ease and convenience, the nature of outdoor applications heavily favours permanently installed systems that run on low-voltage wiring for several reasons. For one, even wireless speakers need to be wired to an AC outlet when their batteries run low. Second, most wireless components are not made for outdoor applications. Third and most importantly: Wireless speakers simply don’t sound good enough.
||“When you’re powering something off of a battery, it can be very difficult to get quality audio because of how power-hungry speakers are. Ideally, you want quality speakers powered by legitimate amplifiers. They perform at a level beyond what a typical Bluetooth speaker would.
Speakers can be wired one of two ways. Everything can be run with low impedance, where each speaker has a home run back to an amplifier, or you can run a 70-volt system and daisy chain the speakers one after the next. In both cases, wiring for speakers is almost always done using direct burial cable instead of conduit and junction boxes. Which method you choose depends largely on the size of the space and the quality of the audio you desire. The daisy-chain setup pushes all sound through a transformer, which doesn’t provide as much power to each speaker, preventing the speakers from performing at their optimum level.
It’s important to realize outdoor audio is very different from indoor audio. Indoor systems exist within contained and controlled spaces. By contrast, outdoor systems are not contained and are therefore subject to uncontrolled variables, such as noise from traffic or wind.
This fundamental difference influences the way speakers are designed from the very start, as well as how they are located within a given area. Your installer should be testing sound systems in an outdoor environment before installing them in your backyard. That way they can make adjustments that fit an outdoor environment instead of an engineering room.
Due to the distinct differences, it is rare that you would create a system that is connected to your indoor audio set up. Most installers will recommend they remain separate.
AESTHETICS AND DISTANCE
In the world of outdoor audio, the two biggest considerations are the physical aesthetics of the speakers and their ability to adequately cover the desired space.
||To achieve a nice aesthetic that doesn’t look like a sound system, there are speakers that look like rocks, landscape lighting or are built into hardscape materials like flowerpots. Many people see their backyard as an extension of their house so they want a look that fits into their overall design scheme.
Once you settle on a look, the next consideration is the size of space you want to cover. That will dictate the size of the speaker, the power it requires, the drivers it has and other characteristics, like how much bass the system is capable of.
Your dealer will then determine the best location for the speakers so they can achieve the aesthetics and the coverage for the best performance.
In the system design phase, speaker selection is largely about distance and direction. Some speakers are built to be much more dynamic and cover a great spectrum of frequency. By contrast, if you’re installing a system for sound masking, you’ll use speakers that are less dynamic with small drivers. Speakers that are designed for music might be three-way speakers with subwoofers. They’ll be designed to perform on a much broader range of frequency.
Thanks to advances in speaker technology, improved aesthetics and more-flexible amplifier components, outdoor audio is only growing in popularity. Whether you want to listen to music or simply mask ambient noise, there are components now available that can meet a wide spectrum of audio preferences.