Definitive Technology is a niche American audio company that produces specialty, mostly higher-end audio equipment. Their two product AW “mini” series, which is comprised of the 5500 and 6500 outdoor speakers (both released circa 2005), still currently remains the entirety of their outdoor lineup. Despite both of these speaker sets being over ten years old, they both continue to be top sellers as well as highly reviewed. And indeed, both of these speakers are still currently among our favorite outdoor speakers.
The 6500 is the slightly larger, more powerful, and more expensive “older brother” of the 5500. Otherwise, these two speakers have the same design, thus we’ve decided to review them both in one page here.
Definitive Technology AW5500 – AW6500 Specs
|Type||wired, passive, wall mount||(<-- same)|
|Nominal Power Handling||not specified by manufacturer (~50W*)||not specified by manufacturer (~60W*)|
|Peak Power Handling||175W||200W|
|Frequency Response Range||45 - 30,000Hz||40 - 30,000Hz|
|Sensitivity||91 dB/W/m||92 dB/W/m|
|Impedance||8 ohms||(<-- same)|
(depth x width x height)
|8.06 x 7.81 x 12.63 inches||9.25 x 8.88 x 14.44 inches|
|Warranty **||5 years||(<-- same)|
|Product Manual||click here||(<-- same)|
* When nominal/continuous power handling isn’t specified by the manufacturer, we assume roughly 25-30% of peak power handling to be a reasonable assumption for comparison.
** DOES apply to purchase from Amazon.com – they’re an authorized online dealer.
Review and Discussion
A theoretically ideal outdoor speakers is small, loud and powerful, and has great bass. But, it’s generally assumed that you have to give up at least one of those in the real world. That said, Definitive Technology has done a great job at creating a very powerful and bass-rich speaker that isn’t exceedingly large.
These speakers indeed boast great power specs – the only comparable competitors we’ve seen are some of the Klipsch models, all of which are bigger for that matter.
50-60W of continuous power handling coupled with a 90+ sensitivity rating mean these speakers will be plenty loud enough to fill almost any non-commercial outdoor space. Couple that with a low frequency response floor of 40-45Hz and you’ve got great, full sounding bass, which is particularly important for outdoor speakers as low frequency sound doesn’t carry as well in the open air sans walls.
Additionally, these speakers feature a passive radiator – as opposed to the much more common single-woofer sealed design or a lesser common ported design. Passive radiators in outdoor speakers are distinctly advantageous because they help produce more bass while allowing the speaker to remain sealed, which makes it much less likely for water/debris to get inside the cabinet.
Despite being older-generation speakers, we think the design is awesome – both aesthetically and practically. The rounded “reuleaux triangle” looks cool, and is unlike anything else currently on the market. This shape serves a practical purpose too: it minimizes what we’ll call material resonance. Basically, the speaker-wall materials themselves can vibrate along with the cones themselves, which can compromise sound quality. Have you ever heard something in your house annoyingly buzz or rattle when you play music? That’s what we’re talking about here. This issue becomes more problematic as speakers get bigger as there’s more material to vibrate, which is one reason why the 5500-6500’s are so great for being as compact as they are. Additionally though, this specific shape completely eliminates parallel walling, which further reduces material resonance.
Of course the other benefit of the small, compact shape (relative to the power at least) is that they’re easier to set up and fit under the eaves of your roof, or wherever else they’re going. They’re heavier, but, each is less than 10 pounds so that’s not that bad for a one time set up. The speakers come with standard mounting c brackets, but worth mention is that they can rotate horizontally the full 360 degrees – yet another advantage of their unique shape.
Like we said, these speakers are fully sealed and are built with their own patented weatherproof materials. They also have a 5 year warranty, so you know they’re built to last.
These are great speakers, but (as you probably figured) they are more expensive. Do also note that these retail as singles – you’ll have to buy two if you need a set.
Here’s what we honestly think: If you want a lot of volume and bass, and you’re willing to pay for it, either of these is a great choice, and for the marginal increase in price we say the higher-end 6500 is absolutely worth it. The only reason we’d think it’s worth it to get the smaller 5500s is if the 6500s are too big to fit where you want them to go.
This might honestly be way more power than a lot of people actually need. If you’re merely looking to fill a smaller enclosure with background/ambient music, there are alternative choices that are plenty powerful enough while being a fraction of the cost. Something to think about.
We will mention here though that the Definitive Technology speakers have become significantly discounted on Amazon, which tends to happen with older generation products. It might be worth it to snag a deal before they become discontinued, and they might be sooner than later.