speaker in plants next to person lounging by the pool

Summertime deserves to be enjoyed in stereo.

Whether you have a big backyard or a perfectly petite patio, relishing the fresh air on a nice, warm day is an unbeatable treat when you can do so on your own home turf. Maybe you like to dine al fresco, splash around in the pool, or simply kick your feet up and relax in the sun. That’s all well and good, but there’s no doubt that there’s one simple, yet crucial element that could take your outdoor ambiance to the next level, and that’s music.

Sure, you could just blast your playlist from your smartphone’s speaker, but let’s be honest here. It’s not up to the task, nor was it built for it.

Even if you’re not a super serious audiophile, listening to your music from a set of quality speakers can make a world of a difference. The best outdoor speakers are ones that won’t muffle the sound, cut out at your favorite part of a song, or hiss, crackle, or pop their way through a playlist. Though it may feel tempting to simply move your favorite Bluetooth speaker outside and call it a day, finding a speaker that can provide high-quality audio that’ll carry in wide open spaces and be safe from the elements isn’t quite that simple.

Luckily, we’ve narrowed down the best outdoor speakers for your space. Multiple speakers on our list are designed to withstand the elements, hook into wireless connectivity options, and produce quality sound in an outdoor space.

Do I need to mount my outdoor speakers?

First, let’s consider your outdoor music-listening habits. If you just want to listen to some songs now and then – like while you’re gardening or grilling your dinner – you could probably get away with a standard wireless outdoor speaker. But if you’re planning to host a bunch of barbecues or pool parties, or you plan to spend full days outdoors, you’re going to need a more serious outdoor speaker setup.

Mounting wired speakers around your outdoor living area is an ideal choice when you have the space to place them on walls or under decks. Often, these speakers are sold in pairs and have a stereo configuration with left and right inputs to help fill your space with more complex audio. The only downside is that they have a more limited range of projecting sound as they can only be tilted so far without literally hitting a wall. (Plus they could get in the way of our outdoor aesthetic.)

If your outdoor space is further away from mountable opportunities, however, you could opt to hide your setup in your landscaping with some in-ground speakers instead. It will involve the careful burying of some wires, but it’s a great choice for dispersing audio more evenly as many ground-level speakers boast 360-degree sound. As a bonus, they often become a fun talking point at a party. “Hey is that a rock speaker?”

Do my outdoor speakers need to be waterproof?

In a word: Mostly. While on your search for speakers that are suitable for use outdoors, you’ll want to look out for keywords like “weatherproof,” “waterproof,” and “water-resistant.” Most outdoor speakers will clearly let you know that all the electrical stuff is safely and securely housed inside a weather-resistant shell. This means it will be able to withstand the elements, including rain, snow, and extreme hot or cold temperatures.

However, keep in mind that if you’re looking for a completely waterproof speaker, you’re simply not going to find one. While a high waterproof rating is a non-negotiable standard when choosing a portable Bluetooth speaker, it is not normal to see such a rating on a mountable or in-ground outdoor speaker. Outdoor speakers have wiring that needs to be protected, and a completely waterproof rating can only be given if a device can be completely submerged in water. (A speaker wire exposed to the elements can prove dangerous.) That said, it’s totally normal for a wired outdoor speaker to simply be weather-resistant rather than waterproof. If you are concerned about wild weather where you live, placing your speakers under an awning or deck can offer them more protection.

How to choose a speaker with good audio quality

A speaker’s drivers will tell you a lot about the sound it’s going to produce. For instance, a speaker with multiple drivers dedicated to different sound frequencies is will a have more robust sound. If you’re not familiar with audio drivers and simply want something that sounds good, don’t worry, you don’t need to get too far into the weeds to understand what to look for.

Basically, drivers are what transmit the sound to our ears. A tweeter is a type of driver responsible for higher range tones like treble and vocals, while woofers are the drivers responsible for mid-range tones and bass. Small portable Bluetooth speakers don’t have the space to house a sizable woofer and tweeter, which is why their audio quality only goes so far. Since outdoor speakers are bigger, there’s some real estate for drivers, and therefore, booming and filled out sound.

With that said, wide open outdoor spaces don’t have walls for the bass to bounce of off, so the overall bass quality can sound less present than you might like. But again, that’s not really a knock against any particular speaker so much as it is a reality of playing music outside. And if bass is really important to you, you can always choose a speaker that prioritizes low frequencies or invest in a subwoofer.

Should I choose an outdoor wired speaker or an outdoor wireless speaker?

Since we’re talking about wires, you might be wondering if you even want to deal with wired speakers in the first place.

Wireless Bluetooth speakers are great and their portability makes them really convenient when you’re on the go, but if you’re just planning to post up at home for the majority of your outdoor music-listening time, it’s worth committing to a wired outdoor speaker system that’s likely to be more powerful, more dependable, and less susceptible to interference. Plus, you’ll never have to worry about recharging any devices or walking too far out of Bluetooth range with your streaming device. Those are some definite perks, especially when you’re throwing an all-day, all-night party and want to walk around and mingle with your guests.

Outdoor wired speakers also tend to be far better at filling larger spaces with an even distribution of sound, especially since you can hook up a bunch of them around the yard. Technically, you could do this with certain Bluetooth speakers, too. But, that can get pricey and you’ll still run into the same problems with battery life and Bluetooth range.

Should I get a Bluetooth speaker for my outdoor speaker setup?

We touched a bit on the pros and cons of Bluetooth speakers above, but it should also be noted that some outdoor wired speakers also offer Bluetooth connectivity. This is a little confusing because they are both wired and wireless at the same time, but let us explain. Though the speakers are hard-wired to your home’s electricity, you can connect to them via Bluetooth (and/or sometimes WiFi) to stream audio content from your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or other Bluetooth-capable devices. Sometimes, these speakers will also allow for hands-free capabilities through third-party voice assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, but this is not always the case.

Wired Bluetooth speakers are somewhat of a rare breed, but they do seem to offer a nice balance that allows for easy music streaming without the hassle of recharging a device every so often. They do still come with the same annoyance of potentially spotty playback, however, so you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons before jumping in.

You’ll find that the vast majority of our suggestions below are for wired outdoor speakers, whether they’re mountable or made for discreet hiding amongst your landscaping. We compiled this list for a wide range of people, budgets, and activities, so we’re pretty confident you’ll find what you need to enjoy the outdoors without missing a beat.

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