Magnat Outdoor speaker

In good weather, people naturally want to spend more time outside. Outdoor speakers are a great choice for people who prefer to be on a patio, rather than a couch. It provides endless outdoor entertainment options for birthday parties, BBQs, and random get-togethers. In a nutshell, everything is better outside with music. 

With so many different types of outdoor speakers, it can be confusing to know which one is right for you. What kind of speaker do you need, how many, and what should the wattage be? Let’s break down everything you need to know. 

Outdoor speakers set the mood

During any social gathering, outdoor speakers set the mood, vibe, and ambiance. If you want your guests to have a good time, let them play DJ off their smartphones. Nothing puts people in a better mood than letting them play their favourite songs with a cold drink in hand. Music brings us together, and if you play the right song at the right time, an impromptu dance party can ensue. I speak from experience.

You can listen to podcasts and audiobooks outside

Outdoor speakers can do more than just play music. It’s a great way to consume other content like podcasts in the great outdoors. Imagine gardening or doing yard work while listening to your favourite podcasts.  Audiobooks are another form of content that works great outside. Lay back and listen to audiobooks on a Sunday afternoon.

Choosing an outdoor speaker

In choosing an outdoor speaker, ask yourself where you plan to use it. That’s because there are two different types to choose from, portable and outdoor home speakers. 

JBL Outdoor speaker

Portable outdoor speakers

Portable outdoor speakers are meant to go everywhere and anywhere. They are usually waterproof, feature a rugged design, and by definition, are extremely portable. They come in a variety of different sizes depending on the intended use case.

For example, small portable outdoor speakers can be clipped to a bag making it great for podcast listening on long hikes. They’re also lightweight and can be carried for an extended period of time. As one would expect, these design elements come with tradeoffs. Smaller portable speakers aren’t known for being very loud, and the battery life can be limited. Nevertheless, they’re great for listening to podcasts or music outside, on the go, and with a friend. 

In contrast, larger party speakers feature a big battery and a big sound. They are designed for all-day use and have USB charging ports to charge devices like smartphones and tablets on the go. This is perfect for camping or spending a day on the beach. As you would expect, this larger size also comes with some tradeoffs. Larger portable speakers are heavier, and take up more space. 

Sonos outdoor speaker

Outdoor home speakers

Outdoor home speakers are meant for permanent installation outside your home. This could be on your patio, in your backyard, or around your outdoor theatre setup. Unlike indoor home audio speakers, outdoor home speakers are built to handle the elements. They are tested in extreme weather conditions and can withstand rain, sun, dirt, dust, and snow. 

The main thing to remember is that most outdoor home speakers are wired, passive devices. That means they do not have a built-in amp and require a wired power source. Therefore, they connect to a receiver via speaker wire to receive amplification.

Magnat Outdoor speaker

Watt requirements for outdoor speakers

In the great outdoors, there are no walls. Sound travels easily in wide-open spaces so it can be tough to estimate how many watts your speakers require. 

The wattage levels of outdoor speakers range between 60 to 300 watts. A pair of 60-watt speakers installed 20 feet apart provides good coverage for areas less than 300 square feet. On the high end, a pair of Magnat Symbol X 130 outdoor speakers provide a 200-watt load capacity. This can provide over 1000 square feet of coverage. 

When deciding what speaker wattage to get, think about your neighbors. Unless you’re trying to start an outdoor nightclub, any speaker over 200 watts will likely be heard by others nearby. I would play it safe and ensure the max volume of your speaker setup doesn’t disrupt those around you. 

Wireless or wired outdoor speakers?

Portable Bluetooth speakers provide endless configuration options for virtually any outdoor space. Users can place wireless speakers anywhere, and take them on the go. 

Look for Bluetooth speakers that allow two simultaneous Bluetooth connections. This lets two people play DJ off their phones. I also recommend selecting a wireless speaker that can pair with another speaker. Start with a single speaker, and add an additional speaker later for stereo sound. This is great for hosting parties on a backyard patio.   

Most wireless speakers are battery-powered, giving you lots of flexibility on where you place them. If you have a power source and a covered area like a patio, I recommend using a smart speaker outdoors. Being able to play music via voice commands is very enjoyable outdoors, especially during BBQ’s. Since anyone can play DJ with just their voice, your guests will love it. 

There are also a variety of party speakers to choose from. These typically have an array of lights that match the music. Some even have microphones and karaoke modes. Use the lights and karaoke features during your next outdoor party. It’s a sure way to ensure everyone has a fun time. 

JBL Waterproof outdoor speaker

Outdoor speaker water resistance

With portable audio one may assume that any speaker can be used outdoors. When it comes to water, rain, or the occasional splash, not all speakers are created equal.  Remember waterproof and water-resistant are not the same thing. This article tells you everything you need to know about the weatherproof ratings for speakers. 

Even in covered areas outdoors, speakers can be affected by the moisture in the air. Some portable speakers are designed for indoor, outdoor, or both. It’s important to know the water-resistance and waterproof protection of any speaker before you bring it outside. 

Enjoy music and content outside

If you have an outdoor space, or just want to spend more time outside, outdoor speakers are the way to go. You can find a wide selection of wired, wireless, and smart speakers at Best Buy. 

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.