Having an outdoor sound system can be a lot of fun… but when you total up the cost of setting one up… from the speakers themselves, to the wiring, to the amp/receiver, to the source component, etc. etc., you’ll quickly realize that you can easily breach into four figures. For many, that’s money that should go towards the next mortgage payment rather than an extravagant sound system.
So, then… are people who are on a budget and not necessarily willing to drop an entire paycheck on a new system out of luck if they want to enjoy good sounding music outdoors?
No, absolutely not!
The speaker market has come a long way in even just the last decade – it is entirely possible to get solidly decent quality sound while spending less than 100 dollars. This article is going to show you how, and show you what the best speakers are that won’t sound like an old alarm clock radio.
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What Can You Reasonably Expect For Under $100?
We’re going to assume that you already have a receiver, stereo, etc., in place and that all you need is the speakers themselves, and maybe the wire. If you don’t? Then, to be honest, while there are quite decent outdoor speakers for under 100 dollars, keeping the total set-up bill under $100 if you want to go with a permanent/wired set up isn’t really feasible.
If you don’t have any components, or you’re perhaps averse to undergoing a full fledged set up with wiring et al, then we’d say your best bet is to go with a good wireless speaker. Yes, there are indeed fully weatherproof wireless outdoor speakers – all in one units that can easily pair with any popular viable source component such as a smart phone, an mp3 player, or even a desktop computer that’s within signal range. Check out this link to see some of the current best sellers, many of which retail for under $100.
If you do already have a system rigged up and just need the speakers, the question still remains: what can you get that will sound good enough for under $100? This is mostly going to depend on the size of the area you want to fill. We see that economy outdoor speakers generally top out at around 30 watts of operating power, and a very rough guideline is that this is enough power to sound decent at up to around 15, maybe 20 feet. If the yard, deck, patio, or whatever you’re trying to fill is bigger than that, then budget speakers are honestly going to be a waste of money because they just won’t get loud enough – you’d be better off just saving up for higher end speakers and getting maximum long-run value out of your system.
Now, it is possible to get a steal if you find a huge discount, or maybe if you get super lucky and find something at a garage sale, but we’re going to say it’s not likely. If your price ceiling is going to be $100, then you’re looking at speakers that will sound good in an area up to 300-400 square feet.
The Goal: Getting Good Quality While Avoiding Paying Too Much
The unavoidable reality is that you generally get what you pay for when it comes to (decent and reputable) audio equipment. That said, there are certainly a few things you can do to be thrifty and make your dollar go far:
1. Only spend your money where it counts
There’s a lot of apparent bells and whistles on glammed up speaker sales pages, but more importantly than anything is to get a unit/set that has decent nominal/continuous power handling. The more powerful a speaker, the louder it can get, and the better it will sound at a decent volume.
2. Don’t get something bigger than what you actually need
If you’re merely looking for ambient background music for a small area that fits a handful of people, then there’s absolutely no point in paying for 100+ watt commercial grade speakers.
3. Hunt for a deal!
Speaker prices fluctuate, and by quite a lot in some cases – we’ve seen great products get heavily discounted and fall under $100 when they’re normally significantly more expensive. We’ll show you how to effectively deal hunt in a subsequent section.
What’s new in 2018?
Not much honestly – the good thing about speakers, unlike laptops or smartphones say, is that they have a long lifespan. Many speakers that are 10+ years old remain flagship products and are often still the best choice. As of now our recommendations remain unchanged from 2017, but we’re always on the lookout for new/better stuff and update our articles accordingly. The best choice, as we always say, will often come down to the best available deal at the time (read more: how to find a good deal).
Our (Current) Picks for the Best Cheap Outdoor Speakers For Under $100
These speakers have the best overall specs that we’ve seen at the under $100 price tier. Not only that, but they’re one of the few products that come with speaker wire – most don’t, and the necessary outdoor-grade speaker wire can be a significant extra expense. If the primary goal is frugality, these are the best choice, at least for now.
These are a very close second to the 150s above, and might be a better choice for many. The IO655s have a lower frequency response floor of 45Hz, which is excellent for outdoor speakers in this price tier. Dayton also offers a slightly better 5 year warranty over Yamaha’s 2 year warranty.
Polk is one of the premier and most well known speaker manufacturers, and normally their products fall above the “economy” category. However, the lower end Atrium 4s are now routinely heavily discounted to under $100, and thus deserve mention here. Spec wise they do still fall short of Both the Yamahas and Daytons above, though, baseline specs aren’t everything, and some people swear by Polk. You might find that these sound better. They also look better in our opinion, if that’s something you care about. Polk’s atrium series gets overwhelmingly positive reviews on Amazon too, for what it’s worth.
The AP670s have only recently qualified for this article as they’ve been significantly discounted to the under $100 threshold. These are a great choice if big bass is your priority – they have a low frequency response floor as well as an ported design. For those who live in more tumultuous climates, do beware that ported speakers are more vulnerable to direct contact with the elements.
- While there are several other products that fall into the under-100$ price range, we see no point in referencing them since the products mentioned here are clearly the best and most powerful outdoor speakers we’ve seen in this price range.
- You might find a normally more expensive speaker at a discount though. We’ve seen things go for as much as 50% off in some cases! So, hunting and/or waiting for a deal might be worth it. Check out this page to learn how to discount hunt on Amazon.
- This is an evergreen article that we periodically update as newer and perhaps better products get released.
- Do beware that prices change and are thus merely approximated here – we try our best to keep our articles as up to day as possible, but always double check the actual current price with your selected vendor