Best Outdoor Speakers in 2018
Make your garden sing with some outdoor speakers.
Portable speakers are great additions to your Android stable. But maybe you want something you can leave outside, and not have to lug back and forth every time you want to remind the neighbors just how much you love Journey. Or maybe you want both. So wouldn’t it be nice to have more options for audio fixtures in your yard?
We’ve rounded up the best outdoor speakers for your backyard listening pleasure.
- Acoustic Research Hatteras Northern Lights
- Acoustic Research Pasadena
- Bose Free Space 51
- Klipsch AWR-650-SM All Weather 2-way
- TIC GS-3
- Dayton Audio IO655
- Polk Audio Atrium 4
What to consider when buying outdoor speakers
The best outdoor speakers (or speakers of any kind, really) are wired. Wired audio gives you better sound and a tried and true connection – no worrying about how the layout of your home or backyard might affect the wireless signal. If you’re unsure about a wired setup, consider adding a Sonos Connect:Amp ($499). This handy little device acts as a receiver for your wired speakers, so you can wirelessly stream music from your phone or tablet without even needing a receiver.
If you do have a receiver, then consider the Sonos Connect ($349), which just plugs into your existing setup, allowing you to wirelessly stream music to your receiver.
If you do want to go wireless (as most of us do nowadays), then consider Bluetooth speakers, since they’ll offer you great sound and you can have your device near them to help eliminate interference and a choppy signal.
A third option is to get wireless speakers that operate using a wireless transmitter. The transmitter plugs into your receiver (usually in the house) and transmits your music outside. Though this type of speaker has gotten better over the years, it’s still pretty hit and miss when it comes to audio quality and signal consistency. If your receiver is turned up too loudly, your outdoor speakers will distort — even at low volumes. If you’re in a crowded part of town, you’ll get all kinds of interference.
This is why we’ve included some wired and some Bluetooth options in this roundup, so that you’re getting the best audio quality possible, especially if you’re planning on spending a ton on speakers.
Bluetooth outdoor speakers
Acoustic Research Hatteras Northern Lights
If you’re looking for some solid wireless outdoor speakers, then the Acoustic Research Hatteras speakers might have what you’re looking for.
Unlike many wireless outdoor speakers, the AR Hatteras speakers operate via Bluetooth. You can set them up on your deck or elsewhere in the backyard and enjoy music from your smartphone or tablet. The best part is you get to keep your device near without having to go inside to change anything with your stereo setup. You can also control playback right on the speaker itself.
The Hatteras is attractively designed as a high-tech lantern, which should nicely complement most backyard aesthetics. The cool factor is its “northern lights” 360-degree light, which changes colors and operates in six modes, which include various pulsating and flashing patterns, as well as solid colors.
The bass thumps, thanks to 40 watts of peak power, two tweeters, and two mid-ranges. You won’t get the true stereo sound that you would from a pair, but it’s still more than acceptable, especially for a speaker of this size.
If you want a great-looking outdoor Bluetooth speaker, then look no further. This is as good as it gets, if not a bit pricey, at around $200.
See at Acoustic Research
Acoustic Research Pasadena
Acoustic Research makes the list again with their more affordable, battery-powered Pasadena. These speakers start at around $65 each and sound great on their own — and even better when paired with a second one.
They offer Bluetooth connectivity and up to 8 hours of battery life — ideal for outdoor listening — plus it’s easy to store and charge them in the garage or house when not in use. There’s also an auxiliary jack on the back, just in case you’d prefer a wired connection or are dealing with a device that doesn’t have Bluetooth.
The best part is that you get three-way sound in a 9.5-inch-tall package. There’s a front-facing 2.5-inch tweeter, a front-facing 3.5-inch mid-range, and a rear-facing 3.5-inch woofer, offering well-balanced sound, though the bass is a bit muted.
AR is all about that lantern look, so the Pasadena resembles a more traditional lantern than the Hatteras does — perfect for the patio, though it emits no light.
If you’re looking for a solid little Bluetooth speaker that’s battery-powered, offers decent sound, won’t break the bank (around $80), and can even be hung from a sturdier wire, then check out the AR Pasadena.
See at Amazon
Wired outdoor speakers
Bose Free Space 51
If we’re talking about the best speakers of any sort, then it’d be a sin not to mention Bose in some capacity. In this case, they truly are some of the best outdoor speakers money can buy.
In true Bose fashion, these are not wireless, but once you do wire them in outside, you can set them and forget them; these speakers are designed to withstand temperatures from -40 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. One of their neatest features is that they can be in or on-ground speakers, so you can bury them up to a certain point and still receive top-of-the-line sound quality.
Bose is all about room-filling sound and when there’s no room to fill, these still provide immersive, 360 degree sound, thanks to their radial design. They are quite pricy, starting around $450 for a pair, but with outdoor speakers, you certainly get what you pay for.
If you want high-quality sound with rich bass tones, a present mid-range, and crisp-but-not-shrill highs, then Bose is the way to go — so long as you don’t mind doing some outdoor wiring.
See at Amazon
Klipsch AWR-650-SM All Weather 2-way
Klipsch is another company that makes fantastic-sounding speakers, and their outdoor AWR-650-SMs, which resemble rocks, are no slouch. They are, however, another wired option, which some folks may shy away from.
That being said, if you want HD sound outdoors, you’ll have to put up with the wires, along with the steep starting price of around $225 for each of these speakers. They feature a 6.5-inch woofer and two 0.75-inch tweeters, which deliver low, rich bass and pleasing,crisp highs, respectively. Having two tweeters also means that you can listen in stereo without having to break the bank and buy two.
Aside from awesome sound, these speakers are all about aesthetic. They come in either a granite or sandstone finish and should blend in seamlessly with your yard.
If you’re looking for a speaker that won’t distract from your existing backyard decor, sounds great, and don’t mind wiring, then check out the Klipsch AWR-650-SM All Weather 2-way speakers.
See at Amazon
TIC GS-3 omnidirectional
These in-ground speakers from TIC have a neat army green finish and feature a 360-degree speaker, making them perfect for backyards.
They’re made from ABS, which is a strong and durable plastic that has a much higher melting point than most other plastics, which makes them resilient in just about any climate. With 200W of peak power, you should have no trouble cranking the tunes outside.
At around $77, these are your best option for in-ground speakers if you’re on a budget.
See at Amazon
Dayton Audio IO655
These wall-mounted speakers come in at around $108 per pair and sport a 6.5-inch woofer each, as well as a 1-inch tweeter, so you have your lows, mids, and highs all well-covered in a compact package.
The outer plastic is made from weather-resistant ABS plastic, and the grills are made of aluminum, so they can hang out in your yard for years. Though these are inexpensive, they actually sounded as good or better than more expensive competition in the the Wirecutter’s tests. If you’re looking for outdoor wall-mounted options, these are dynamite.
See at Amazon
Polk Audio Atrium 4
I love Polk products. Its soundbars are excellent, its indoor speakers are superb for the money, and as the company gets a little older, it’s beginning to refine the designs of many of its speakers (which haven’t always been the most aesthetically pleasing). The black Atrium 4s are sexy, sleek, and designed to stay outside and last. The tweeter domes are made from anodized aluminum with rubber surrounds, and they actually exceed baseline and military specs for environmental endurance. That basically means that you can mount them and then not worry about them for years to come.
At just under $100 for a pair, you absolutely can’t go wrong with these.
See at Amazon
Looking to set up an outdoor home movie theater? We can help!
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Do you have an outdoor speaker that you find aesthetically pleasing with awesome sound? Let us know in the comments below.
Updated July 2018: Updated pricing, added the Dayton Audio IO655 and the Polk Audio Atrium 4.