How To Have Music Outside

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Origins Hiding it AllYour pool and patio is an extension of your home’s living space.  It can also be a seasonal seating addition for your restaurant.   More and more we’re taking to the outdoors, gathering around the fire pit, relaxing poolside or enjoying dinner at an outdoor bistro.  Whether you’re engaged in an intense Bean Bag Toss Tournament, sipping cocktails lakeside on Lake Norman, or just puttering in your garden, there’s one thing that could really add to your enjoyment: music.

Choices in Outdoor Speakers

Outdoor audio comes in all shapes and sizes!  Here are some things to consider:

  • • How would you like to use the system?  If you have an automated home control system, such as Control4 or Savant your outdoor entertaining space can be added as an audio zone, allowing you to select any of the available sources (streaming subscriptions, AV receiver, audio library or CD Player).  This integration also allows for signal interruption when the phone or doorbell rings – convenient when throwing a party!
  • • Where would you like to have the music play?  Your outdoor area may consist of one or multiple zones.  You may find that you enjoy the ability to play music in some areas while broadcasting the “big game” in others.  You may also enjoy having separate volume controls in each of those areas. Even if you elect not to do so right away, it is easier and more cost-effective to wire for these future upgrades now.
  • • Do you want to play the TV’s audio through the outdoor speakers?  The system can be set up so that you may select either a music source or audio from your outdoor LCD.
  • • How do you want to control it?  Of course, your smart phone makes a reliable, familiar control device.  You can also choose from simple remotes or waterproof styles, either independent to the system or integrated onto a whole house remote control.

What’s the difference between indoor and outdoor speakers?

Plenty! Outdoor speakers are designed to endure the elements and to complement their environment.  They are durable, featuring marine-grade finishes and water-tight enclosures.  Speakers intended for interiors can’t brave the brutal conditions of North Carolina’s sun, sand, snow, rain or even wind.  All-weather speakers also offer various installation locations. Speakers can be mounted under the eave or on a tree, placed as a planter on the patio, installed in your landscaping resembling a spotlight or rock (yes, they’ve come a long way! Check out the variety from Episode), or even buried underground as a subterranean subwoofer (that’ll get the ground shaking!).

System Design meets “Interior” Design

Outdoor speakers are sleek and aesthetically designed, but the most important part of designing an outdoor audio system is proper speaker placement.  Sound travels easily from yard to yard if no walls are there to obstruct it.  In fact, your pool or the lake can actually help to amplify it. So, while you may be listening at a comfortable level at your outdoor kitchen, your neighbors may be subject to a rock concert.  Speakers offer varying dispersion patterns that can be aimed and controlled within a specified area for smooth, consistent volume.  Here’s a great example from Martin Logan, Plan a Scalable System.  If you rely on having a pair mounted under the eave to cover a large area, the volume close to the source may be uncomfortable, while those at the edge of the patio can barely hear it.  This is where a few well-placed landscape speakers would serve well, allowing for background level audio to play evenly throughout your space.

outdoor-living-example-layout Martin Logan

At the core

Control of the system requires connectivity.  You’ll want to make sure your Wi-Fi is reliable and accessible. This may mean setting up a separate network (think about the conveniences of a guest network) or at least ensuring adequate antenna coverage for a strong signal from every corner of the space. 

Years of enjoyment

Your outdoor audio system will provide years of entertainment and enjoyment.  While it will endure everything Mother Nature has to throw at it, you can rest assured knowing that your high quality, professionally installed system will be supported by the manufacturer warranty and your integration specialist.

Additional Reading:

https://www.newhomesource.com/resourcecenter/articles/bring-it-outdoors-the-latest-in-sound-and-tv-for-your-deck-yard-or-patio

https://www.cepro.com/article/6_tips_for_tackling_outdoor_audio

https://www.electronichouse.com/home-theater/planning-your-outdoor-audio-and-video-system/

 

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