JBL Speaker

In the world of portable Bluetooth speakers, some are waterproof, others are water-resistant, and some devices are weatherproof. This begs the question. Is weatherproof also waterproof? 

With so many weather-related terms, it’s no wonder some people get confused. This guide will help explain the relationship between water, weather, and speakers. First, we’ll take a look at the IP water resistance rating system. Afterward, we’ll look at waterproof speakers and permanent outdoor options. 

The IP Rating system explained

If you’ve ever looked at the specs for a portable speaker, you’ve probably seen an IP rating. This can look like IP65, or IP67. What does that really mean? To start, IP is short for ingress protection. The IP rating system is an international standard usually with a two-digit grading system. Therefore, it gives customers an indication of a device’s resistance to various types of unwanted intrusion. 

Intrusion as it relates to the IP rating system has a threefold definition. First, it signifies the level of protection from a user. Second, it relates to the level of protection from solid foreign substances such as dust and dirt. Finally, it signifies the level of protection to water and moisture in general. 

Sony speaker

Why do we have an IP rating system?

While the IP rating system may be hard to understand at first, it has tremendous benefits. First, it tells consumers precisely how safe it is to use electronic devices in certain environments. This could range from a backyard patio, a sandy beach, rainy weather, or in a pool. 

Second, it provides a clear definition of terms such as waterproof. The IP rating of a product illustrates where and to what extent a device can resist moisture. Products are tested in lab conditions to determine their performance under various conditions. 

How do you read the IP rating system?

Generally, an IP rating consists of two digits. The first digit will be between 0 and 6. This indicates the degree of protection of solid objects. Therefore, a 6 designates the highest level of protection. 

The second digit in the IP rating will be between 0-9 and denotes the quality of resistance to moisture. This varies between intensities, angles, depths, and pressure of exposure. The most stringent moisture resistance test is full water immersion. Again, a 9 designates the highest level of moisture protection. 

In certain cases, you might see an X instead of a number (i.e. IPX7). The X denotes that a numerical rating has only been tested for one of the two intrusion types. For example, IPX7 indicates a moisture resistance rating of 7, but no assigned rating for solid objects like dirt or sand. 

What is the best IP rating a device can get?

IP69 is the highest IP rating a product could receive. This is most often seen in specific road vehicles because it designates protection against high-pressure, high-temperature jet sprays and wash-downs. 

With outdoor speakers, the highest IP rating is usually IP67. This offers protection against full immersion for up to 30 minutes at depths up to 1 meter. By definition, this would be fully waterproof. However, an IPX7 designation would also suggest being fully waterproof as well. 

Bose Speaker

How to shop for a waterproof speaker 

Many audio products today are classified as waterproof but they can vary in their design and use cases. When shopping for a waterproof speaker, there are 3 important considerations to make. 

3 things to consider when choosing a waterproof speaker

1. Where are you intending to use the speaker?

Do you want to take it with you on the go or use it primarily at home? Some waterproof speakers have handles that make them easy to carry around. This is great for a trip to the beach or on a camping trip. 

2. Do you need to attach the speaker?

Your second consideration is whether or not you’ll need a way to hook the speaker to your clothing, bike, or backpack. Some smaller waterproof speakers include a fabric hook to clip on a carabiner. This makes it easy to clip on for hiking trips or long trail walks. No matter the weather, it will resist water and moisture. 

3. What environment are you using the waterproof speaker in?

Third, consider the environment you intend to use it in. Some waterproof speakers are marketed as rugged. It’s constructed with materials such as rubber and hard plastic. Therefore, these materials allow them to be used in harsher environments without having to worry about dents and scratches. 

Rock speaker

How to shop for outdoor speakers

In most cases, outdoor speakers are wired. They usually connect to a receiver where the volume and audio inputs are controlled.  If you’re looking for outdoor audio, there are some things to consider. 

First, decide how many you need. While most outdoor speakers come in a pair, there are multi-packs available. The amount you need generally depends on the area you plan to cover. Just know that you can always add additional speakers later on. 

Second, decide where you plan to mount or place outdoor speakers. The placement usually depends on the wiring. In any case, they can be mounted directly to a wall. This makes it easier to run wiring in a neat and orderly fashion. 

Finally, decide on the style of outdoor speaker that matches your area. They range in shape, size, and features. If you’re looking to blend it into your outdoor environment, consider outdoor rock speakers. These look like granite landscaping rocks and are perfect for outdoor entertainment spaces.

How weatherproof is your speaker?

Outdoor speakers are an excellent choice for people looking to place them in a permanent location. Generally, these are marketed as all-weather. This means they are constructed from UV and rust-resistant material. Rest assured, they won’t be affected by the sun or rain. 

Portable speakers are great because they are battery-powered and can be used in multiple locations. This gives users a lot of flexibility in various weather conditions. 

No matter what type of speaker you get, it’s important to know how it will perform outdoors in the elements. For the most part, the IP rating should tell you everything you need to know. Most portable waterproof Bluetooth speakers can be submerged in water. Conversely, outdoor speakers are designed to withstand both sun and water exposure from a fixed, permanent position. 

Whichever speaker you decide, Best Buy has everything you need to get the best audio experience outdoors. 

Andy Baryer
Andy Baryer aka “Handy Andy” is a technology journalist, gadget reviewer, and DIY/how-to content creator. Known as the handyman of tech, Andy enjoys fixing poor wireless networks, building smart homes, and cooking with the latest kitchen gadgets. He’s a competitive whistler, a budding woodworker, and loves gardening in his home-built smart garden.