If you’re interested in setting up an outdoor sound system, then you’ve come to the right place. Makeitsoundgreat.com has a section devoted exclusively to reviewing outdoor speakers. We objectively grade and compare products by power, design, durability, wireless capabilities, and price. Our goal is to help you build the perfect outdoor sound system. We also have a variety of guides dealing with speaker placement, set up, wiring, and more, specifically for the outdoors.
If you’re currently in the market for an outdoor sound system, chances are you’ve already shopped around a bit online, and if you’re not an experienced audiophile, we’d guess you were likely overwhelmed by the large amount of technical audio jargon that tends to bombard readers on a typical speaker sales page. Here’s the straight dope: Most retailers realize that the majority of their customers aren’t expert audiophiles, and that the average customer won’t understand a lot of the technical bells and whistles features that they enthusiastically list on sales pages. There’s a goal of “upselling” you to a more expensive set of speakers that you might not actually need, or might even sound worse than a more modest speaker product depending on what your ideal set up will be. How do you know what to look for in a set of speakers? How do you get to the specs that are actually important?
This is where we come in. There are certain technical specifications for any set of speakers that are incredibly important in determining how good they will sound, while others are essentially meaningless and useless. Moreover, just because a certain pair of speakers will sound great in your neighbor’s backyard, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll sound great in yours. We’ve taken the time and effort to carefully review and compare all of the currently popular outdoor speakers on the market. We’ve scrutinized owners manuals, read customer reviews, consulted sound experts, and researched pricing to determine which products are truly the best. Check out our top five picks below for the best outdoor speakers of 2014:
Our Current Favorite Outdoor Speaker Products
Nominal Power (watts)
Frequency Response Range (hertz)
Our Rating & Full Review
TDK A33 Wireless Weatherproof Speaker
|$$||15 W||not specified||yes||8.9/10
TDK A33 Review: here
Klipsch KHO-7 Outdoor Loudspeaker Pair
|$$||75 W||65 - 20,000 Hz||no||9.2/10
Klipsch KHO-7 Review:
Yamaha NS-AW150BL 2-Way Outdoor Speaker Pair
|$||35 W||55 - 40,000 Hz||no||8.4/10
Yamaha NS-AW150 Review:
Acoustic Research Portable Bluetooth Wireless Outdoor Speaker
|$||5 W||20 - 20,000 Hz||yes||8.2/10
Acoustic Research AWSBTSK Review:
Klipsch AWR-650-SM Outdoor Rock Speaker
|$$||50 W||66 - 20,000 Hz||no||9.2/10
Klipsch AWR-650-SM Review:
What do We Look for in an Outdoor Speaker?
When we’re reviewing and grading an outdoor speaker, here’s what we care about:
Power – How loud can the speakers get? The three power metrics we take into consideration are the nominal operating power (not to be confused with peak power), the frequency response range, and the sensitivity. These are the three metrics that truly matter when it comes to power, you can learn more about these metrics in our speakers guide article.
Design – The integrity of the design will influence how a speaker sounds and performs, as well as the materials that it’s built out of. Moreover, there’s something to be said for the aesthetics of a product. You want it to look good in your backyard.
Portability & Convenience – How easy are they to move around and set up? This is much more important for wireless speakers in our opinion, which you’ll likely want to take with you on the go regularly, as opposed to a more permanent wired outdoor sound system that only needs to get set up once.
Durability – Speakers for outdoor use need to be specifically built to withstand the elements over the long run and not break down. How well can they deal with the extra wear and tear that comes with being exposed to the elements? How do they handle sunlight, water, dust, dirt, ect?
Warranty – In a way this is a continuation of the durability metric: If an outdoor speaker has a lifetime warranty — and many companies do offer that, such as Klipsch and Niles — you can be confident that the company who builds it is confident in the lasting quality of their product.
Wireless Capabilities – If you’re interested in going wireless, then you’ll want to consider the signal range, battery life, recharge options, and other important features such as Bluetooth compatibility.
Price – When it’s all said and done, how good of a deal is the product based on all of the above factors? Moreover, even if the product in consideration gets a lot of bang for the buck, are you paying for more “bang” than you really need at all?
For a full break down of our speaker rating system, go here. That will explain the full process by which we evaluate and rank outdoor speaker products
The List: The Best Outdoor Speakers in 2014
After comprehensively reviewing and comparing all of the popular products currently on the market, here are our favorites from the table above with a brief description why they get a makeitsoundgreat.com top pick. You can also follow the links to a full product review. Feel free to check back periodically as we keep this list current — we’re always reevaluating our top product lists as time goes on.
TDK Life on Record A33 Wireless Weatherproof Speaker
This is one our top picks because it brings great power and quality to the table at a very good price. It’s our favorite wireless outdoor speaker on the market. Despite being only 9.5 inches across and 2.8 pounds, this speaker has 2.1 sound with a combined nominal operating power of 15 watts. We haven’t found anything else that comes close to this at it’s price range. The A33 is fully weatherproof with an IP64 rating. It’s also Bluetooth compatible with a 50 foot range, and also has a standard 3.5mm and USB port for wired connections. The best feature that this wireless speaker has is a rechargeable battery with a six hour life, so you don’t have to worry about eating through AA batteries. You can read our full TDK A33 review here.
Klipsch KHO-7 Outdoor Loudspeakers
Klipsch is one of our favorite brands for speakers because they make high quality products with great power at very good prices. Moreover, all of their outdoor speakers are backed by a lifetime warranty. In fact, if your Klipsch outdoor speaker fails and they’ve discontinued the product, they will replace it with a newer and better model. You know that with a warranty like that, this company truly believes in it’s products, and the KHO-7′s are no exception. These speakers bring great power and quality to the table, all for a very good price. You can read our full Klipsch KHO-7 review here.
Yamaha NS-AW150B 2-Way Outdoor Speakers
The Yamaha NS-AW150B’s are in our top picks because these speakers provide excellent power and quality for a n unbelievably good price. These speakers, as far as we can tell, are currently the best bargain on the market. Power wise, they have the specs to provide great music for any low key gathering or smaller sized party, and even come with speaker wire and mounting hardware depending on how you want to set them up. If price is your main concern, then these speakers are a great choice. Read our full NS-AW150W review here.
Acoustic Research AWSBT1 Portable Bluetooth Wireless Speaker
The Acoustic Research AWSBT1 is one of our top picks because it’s highly portable, convenient, and a great price. The speaker is fully weatherproof, and even has a built in carrying handle and compartment to store your music device player inside the unit with a lock & key. You can ether hook up your music player with the standard 3.5mm socket or sync to the speaker via Bluetooth, for which it has a 33 foot range. It runs on 6 AA batteries with up to a 14 hour lifespan. It has a 1.1 sound 5 watt nominal power with an excellent frequency response range to support full sound and a strong bass – all while being well under $100 dollars. You can read our full AWSBT1 review here.
AWR650SM Granite Outdoor Rock Speaker
One cool feature that some speakers have is that they are designed to blend into an outdoor setting. It’s no surprise that our favorite “rock” speaker is another Klipsch product. AWR650SM rock speaker is a great blend of aesthetic design with premium quality and power and an unbeatable price. It also comes with a lifetime warranty that makes Klipsch outdoor speaker products such a standout in general. If you’re looking for a powerful speaker that seamlessly blends into your backyard, then we highly recommend this one. You can read our full AWR650SM review here.
image credits: Tim Geers