Nothing gets a party bumping like some good music, but there’s a big difference between the sound quality you’ll get out of a dedicated outdoor speaker and an iPhone plugged into a speaker base. Outdoor speakers need to be tough and resilient while also having enough power to really broadcast your music in a space that doesn’t have walls to hold in the sound. And while there are a lot of outdoor speakers on the market, not all of them offer you a great value for your dollar.
Fortunately, you have this HotRate guide to lean on. We’ve identified 10 of the best outdoor speakers available in 2020, and we’ve also put together a dedicated guide to help you understand the specs you should be paying attention to.
- 10 Best Outdoor Speakers
- 1. Polk Audio Atrium 4 Outdoor Speakers
- 2. Bose Free Space 51 Outdoor In-Ground Speakers
- 3. Dual Electronics LU43PB Outdoor Indoor Speakers
- 4. Yamaha NS-AW150WH 2-Way Indoor/Outdoor Speakers
- 5. Klipsch AW-650 Indoor/Outdoor Speaker
- 6. Definitive Technology AW6500 Outdoor Speaker
- 7. Bose 251 Wall Mount Outdoor Environmental Speakers
- 8. Pyle Outdoor Waterproof Wireless Bluetooth Speakers
- 9. OSD Audio 5.25” 100W Outdoor Rock Speaker
- 10. Kicker KB6000 2-Way Full Range Indoor Outdoor Speakers
- Outdoor Speakers Buyer’s Guide
10 Best Outdoor Speakers
1. Polk Audio Atrium 4 Outdoor Speakers
The Polk Audio Atrium 4 is a speaker system that's intended to be placed outdoors and left there. These aren't portable speakers by any stretch of the imagination, but they're fortunately constructed to last. Their rugged design is resistant to weather and can withstand practically any temperature extremes you can imagine, so you can just set them up and not worry about them. And the simple one click mounting process makes installation a breeze.
And what's especially great about this model is how carefully it's been designed to suit the needs of the great outdoors. The quality construction of both the tweeter and 4.5 inch woofer are designed to cut through the background noise of nature or party din, and the rubber surround is durable but flexible, so you don't need to worry about reverberation affecting the high-quality sound performance that these speakers promise.
2. Bose Free Space 51 Outdoor In-Ground Speakers
Bose has taken an innovative approach to the design of their outdoor speakers with the Free Space 51. Where most outdoor speakers are designed to be mounted on high, these are built to be firmly planted in your lawn. And while that means that they're more susceptible to the elements than they would be mounted from a tree, the rugged engineering means you don't have to worry. They can withstand up to 350 pounds of pressure, and they've been rigorously tested to make sure they can withstand extreme temperature conditions.
And while these will set you back almost $500, they're also some of the best sounding models you'll find anywhere. The unique design ensures 360 degree audio coverage throughout the surrounding area, and the centrally located port ensures that the bass performance is exceptional regardless of your environment. And the fact that these can be mostly buried underground means they're one of the best options if you want an unobtrusive and permanent outdoor speaker system.
3. Dual Electronics LU43PB Outdoor Indoor Speakers
You won't find a pair of outdoors speakers, at least one worth your time, much cheaper than the LU43PB by Dual Electronics. While the frequency response range on display here is a little narrow, they offer decent overall sound quality and tough construction that's perfect for your garage, patio, or backyard. They're a little larger than the typical pair of outdoor speakers but surprisingly light, making them a more flexible choice if you can't decide exactly where you want to mount them.
If you want a high fidelity sound system for the exterior of your house, these aren't the outdoor speakers for you, but if you merely want decent coverage for parties and other events, they've got you covered. They should be more than enough to meet the needs of casual consumers who want to bring their music outdoors and not have to drag around a portable unit.
4. Yamaha NS-AW150WH 2-Way Indoor/Outdoor Speakers
The Yamaha NS-AW150W is technically designed to serve as indoor bookshelf speakers, but their highly weather resistant build and lightweight frame actually make them one of the best budget options available for outdoor speakers. The all white design won't appeal to everyone, but they deliver decent sound for a rock bottom price tag, and they're some of the smaller and more unobtrusive speakers we've found for outdoor use. Just keep in mind they might not be as weather resistant as some of their more specialized contemporaries.
Despite the price tag, there's a nice sense of balance to the sound engineering here. The bass response has a nice sense of control contrary to the heavy thump that so many models lean towards, and there's a nice level of consistency throughout the frequency range. That adds up to a pair of speakers perfect for smaller and more intimate outdoor gatherings.
5. Klipsch AW-650 Indoor/Outdoor Speaker
The Klipsch AW650 is pricey for such a compact model, but don't let that give you pause. This a solidly built pair of speakers that 's able to withstand any weather conditions and continue to deliver high-quality sound performance for a long time to come. The peak power rating of 340 watts is incredibly impressive for such a small speaker, but they work just as well in smaller and more intimate settings due to the crisp quality of the sound. Whether you're looking to bump your music loud or listen more discerningly, the AW650 can adapt to your needs.
Just as much care has gone into the construction. The grilles are rust proof in addition to the whole casing being waterproofed, and the enclosure is also UV resistant. That means that rain, snow, or shine, you can depend on them to take a licking and still keep ticking.
6. Definitive Technology AW6500 Outdoor Speaker
When building outdoor speakers, many manufacturers cut corners, assuming that customers won't notice the difference in sound quality while outdoors. That's not the case with Definitive Technology. The AW6500 is built with the same drivers and components that go into their indoor models, and the result is a superior sound experience whether indoors or out. And the max power of 200 watts ensures that you'll be able to hear that level of quality from anywhere in your backyard.
The trick up DT's sleeve is their Balanced Double Surround System. These drivers are packed into a 6.5 inch woofer and 1" tweeter to deliver a more accurate and authentic sound stage than you'll find in more basic models. A low bass radiator is also built in to prevent vibrations from distorting your audio.
7. Bose 251 Wall Mount Outdoor Environmental Speakers
If you want the flexibility to listen to outdoor sound how and when you want, you'll definitely want to take a look at the Bose 251. These waterproof speakers are designed to be portable, so they can accompany you wherever you want to go without needing to be permanently mounted in your yard or over your porch. The composite casing of this enclosure isn't quite as sturdy as models built for permanent installation outdoors, but it is water resistant and capable of withstanding extreme heat and cold.
But if you do decide to keep these speakers close to home, you'll get access to some pretty cool tech. The Wi-Fi receiver packed in offers one of the best ways to stream music, and support is included for the TuneIn internet radio service. Just keep in mind that if you want to stream through Bluetooth, you'll need to invest in a separate Bluetooth amplifier or receiver.
8. Pyle Outdoor Waterproof Wireless Bluetooth Speakers
While there are some great wired outdoor speaker models on the market, setting it up to your indoor stereo system or getting a professional installer into your house can be frustrating. This Pyle model circumvents that issue entirely thanks to the fact these are Bluetooth speakers that let you stream music directly through your phone, tablet, or computer. And since these are weatherproof speakers, you can make them a permanent part of your outdoor aesthetic.
But all that wouldn't count for much if the listening experience wasn't up to snuff. Fortunately, they come with long throw woofers and some meaty polymer dome tweeters that combine to offer a satisfyingly thudding bass and brassy and musical mids and highs. All of that contributes to create a truly immersive surround sound experience whether you're in the tight confines of a boat or spread out leisurely on your back lawn.
9. OSD Audio 5.25” 100W Outdoor Rock Speaker
The best outdoor speakers are often frustratingly obtrusive. If you're worried about black or white speakers breaking up the continuity of your yard, take a look at these speakers from OSD. They look just like rocks until you get very close to them, allowing you to create a more harmonious environment and reduce the risk of theft. And they have the added convenience of being highly durable. The waterproof and temperature resistant shell they're made from means you can leave them outside safely into perpetuity.
The quality that comes out of these dual drivers is pretty impressive too. The 5.25 inch woofer is constructed from a dual polypropylene cone and protected by a rubber surround to provide you with a sense of rumble to the bass that isn't distorted by the vibrations. These are one of the best choices around for both homeowners and hotels or event organizers looking to add a little bit of style to their properties.
10. Kicker KB6000 2-Way Full Range Indoor Outdoor Speakers
Kicker is a name you've probably never heard of, but maybe it's time you started paying attention to them. They've gained a reputation in the past years as one of the best kept secrets in the world of audio gear, and their first stab at an outdoor speaker doesn't disappoint. In sound engineering, they've taken an interesting turn away from expected trends - focusing more on the dual drivers of their tweeters rather than on the woofer, and subsequently delivering bright highs and mids with a strong but not overstated bass.
Just keep in mind that these are still $100 speakers, so you should temper your expectations accordingly. But the sound stage here is truly unique in the outdoor category, and its sturdy marine design means you can even take it out with you on the water.
Outdoor Speakers Buyer’s Guide
Fundamentally there isn’t that much different in the design of indoor and outdoor speakers. But there are a few specific factors you’ll need to take into consideration that you wouldn’t need if shopping for speakers for the home theater or stereo system in your home. We’ll touch briefly on the general specs you should look for in a speaker, but we’ll be focusing most of our attention on the specifics you need to know when shopping for outdoor speakers. If you need more detailed general information on speaker shopping, we suggest you investigate our guide to the best bookshelf speakers of 2020.
If there’s one factor that absolutely distinguishes outdoor from indoor speakers, it’s how durable they need to be. While indoor speakers are usually designed to last long periods of time, they also don’t have to brave wind, rain, and changes in temperature. The components built inside speakers are highly sensitive, and even a little bit of damage to the interior can drastically throw off the quality of the sound they deliver. Every outdoor speaker that we’ve reviewed on our best of list is either waterproof or water resistant, but there fortunately isn’t a standardized system for measuring the amount of damage or water that an outdoor speaker can withstand.
While we’ve been careful to pick models best regarded by customers, you’ll want to carefully check the durability of a model if you decide to look for the best outdoor speakers that aren’t on our list. While most outdoor speakers will be designed to last, you may want to check the maximum and minimum temperatures a model can withstand if you live in an environment with more extreme weather and seek out a weatherproof model if you live in a rainy or snowy region.
Sensitivity and Power
Sensitivity is measured in decibels and is an easy identifier for the maximum volume your speakers can project. Power is measured in wattage and tells you how much electricity can pump through the speakers safely. We’ve listed the maximum wattage suggested by the manufacturer for our specs list. You should pay attention to both when trying to determine how powerful your speakers are. The wattage will have a larger impact on sound volume if you decide to make use of a subwoofer or amplifier to juice up the power of your speakers. Wattage also has an impact on the integrity of outdoor sound at higher volume levels and should be considered if you want the best sound quality.
With most indoor speaker systems, we don’t believe sensitivity or power should make that much of an impact on your buying decision. Any problems you have can be largely resolved by and amplifier or subwoofer. But without walls to hold in the sound, sensitivity and power are significantly more crucial for outdoor models. These are the power levels you should look for when shopping for the best outdoor speakers for your needs.
- If you’re trying to cover an area of less than 300 square feet, a 60 watt outdoor speaker should be fine.
- For spaces up to 500 square feet, you’ll want to make an upgrade to an 80 or 100 watt model.
- When you need to cover up to 800 square feet, look for an outdoor speaker with drivers capable of sustaining 175 watts.
- For larger areas, you’re going to need higher wattage, but you may be better off investing instead in multiple wireless speakers. We do have a few high wattage models on our list if you need them.
Frequency Response Range
If you’re looking for an indoor speaker, the best spec to look for is frequency response. The frequency response range tells you the frequencies that a subwoofer, amplifier, or speaker can cover, with a wider range naturally being better. Dual Dome tweeter drivers are typically used to project the higher frequencies while the drivers in a woofer provide the lower frequencies (a higher inch woofer is best for this). We go into more detail on frequency response and why it’s one of the best things to consider when shopping in our guide to the best bookshelf speakers.
Outdoor speakers typically offer weaker frequency response than indoor models, but that’s not such a bad thing. Providing consistent sound performance over an expansive stretch of land is the key consideration for outdoor models. Definitely consider the frequency response when seeking out your best model, but be sure that you have enough wattage to cover the space you need first.
Most outdoor speakers are wired, and that’s something of a double edged sword. On the one hand, a wired connection provides a greater level of consistency when trying to listen to music or have company over to project a movie on your back lawn. But that also means running wires into your home and dealing with a more complicated setup. While we think it’s worth the effort for anyone who wants to set up speakers permanently, we understand it’s not going to be the best choice for everyone.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled speakers come with their own advantages. You can stream music wirelessly through your phone or computer without having to make use of a standing source, but the signal can be a bit more inconsistent. Wi-Fi models need to be hooked up to your wireless network, while Bluetooth receivers only work within a range of about 30 feet.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Best Outdoor Rock Speakers?
We chose to highlight a model from OSD Audio. They look great and are incredibly weather resistant, but they also offer respectable sound performance, and if you need to, you can connect a pair with others to create a more expansive and immersive soundscape for your company.
Does Sonos Make Outdoor Speakers?
Yes, although they only first started rolling out outdoor speakers this year, and so their selection is limited. The Sonos Architectural series is weatherproof and designed for outdoor use, and they can connect easily to your existing Sonos system using the Sonos Amp. They’re good speakers, and if you’ve already invested in the Sonos ecosystem, they’re worth a look. But they’re a bit expensive for the average consumer.
What is a Good Wattage for Outdoor Speakers?
That really depends on the size of the space you need coverage for. A higher wattage will be necessary if you want to provide sweeping sound over your whole yard but much less effective if you just have a small patio. Check out the subsection of our guide above on power for a more detailed examination of what sort of wattage you should look for in outdoor speakers.
Are Bose Outdoor Speakers Wireless?
Bose makes both wireless and wireless models, but the model we chose to highlight, the Bose 51, absolutely is. It supports both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so you have more options for how to connect and interact with them. While they’re expensive, we think they’re one of the best models on our list, wireless or not.
Whether yo’re looking for a new pair of speakers to add to your existing backyard dual stereo setup or start from scratch, we think yo’ll find a pair of speakers that suits your needs on our list. We hope you find what you’re looking for and invite you to visit HotRate whenever you need help shopping for electronics.