Taking The Sound Outdoors

Posted by Pin Point Mounts on 7/31/2014

Outdoor life abounds during the warm weather months, with family activities and cookouts with friends and neighbors. Music is always a great addition for such events, and the manner in which you set up your speakers will have a significant impact on the quality of sound you project. Some issues as the stereo soundstage and imaging really don’t come into play to the same degree they do indoors. If you have a central patio area, it’s practical to put one speaker higher up to one side of the area and the other speaker on the other side, as far apart as you need in order to provide good coverage of the patio, deck or pool. Don’t go overboard, though. If you separate two speakers by more than 20 feet, you and your guests will end up hearing whichever speaker is closest, with little output audible from the other.

Before Drilling Holes

Professional installers typically recommend using one pair of outdoor speakers to cover an outdoor area between 200 and 400 square feet, which means a patio or deck measuring about 20 x 20 feet should be the maximum area served by a speaker pair. It’s a good idea to use a couple of stepladders as temporary speaker supports while you judge the sound coverage to the specific area from different locations. Do this before you start drilling holes for the speaker brackets and wiring.

Retaining Bass

Your outdoor speakers won’t have the usual boundaries common to indoor rooms, like walls, ceiling and floors, which help reinforce the deep bass, so try and avoid mounting them on a post where there are no helpful boundaries to beef up the bass. Under the eaves, or, better yet, in a corner where the outdoor surfaces of the house meet, will supply some supportive bass reinforcement. An outdoor speaker mounted between two intersecting surfaces under the eaves will increase its audible deep bass output by two times or more.

AMP Requirements

Outdoor speakers have to work harder because they fire into infinite space, so if you plan on using the Zone 2 outputs from your AV receiver or integrated amplifier to drive them, make certain the amplifiers have sufficient power output. As a party tempo increases, playback volume tends to rise, so an amplifier with at least 80 to 100 watts per channel should be considered. Don’t use some ancient stereo receiver from the basement storage room with 20 or 30 watts per channel, as the power demands for outdoor playback will likely drive the amp into clipping and damage the speakers.

The Neighbors

Don’t forget nearby homes or your neighbors when you’re deciding on the speaker locations. Aiming the speakers from higher up down toward the patio or pool area and away from neighboring yards or houses will help focus the sound in your immediate area.