Outdoor/all-weather box speakers that are powered/active are a great option for people who are on a budget or can’t manage a set up with traditional passive speakers. You don’t have to worry about buying and setting up a receiver or speaker wire – just plug them right into a standard wall socket, pair a source such as your phone, and you’re ready to go.
The only real downside of powered outdoor speakers is that the specs tend to be inferior to similarly priced passive speakers, largely due to being much more limited in selection. But more companies are starting to make them, and we are glad that OSD Audio, one of our favorite speaker manufacturers, released a series of powered outdoor speakers with Bluetooth, the BPT525 and BTP650:
|Speaker Type||powered, wired||(<-- same)|
|Sensitivity||(not specified)||(not specified)|
|Frequency response range||38Hz-20kHz||38Hz-20kHz|
(depth x width x height)
|6.0 x 7.0 x 9.0 inches||7.0 x 8.25 x 11.5 inches|
(does include Amazon.com purchase)
|1 year||(<-- same)|
|Product Manual||click here||(<-- same)|
* Not specified by manufacturer – we assume ~30% of peak power to be a fair approximation.
** Not a pertinent spec for powered speakers.
*** Unit weight is approximated based on the shipping weight specified by manufacturer
Review and Discussion
These speakers have good specs for the price, and the best specs that we’ve seen for powered outdoor patio speakers. The larger 650s have an excellent response floor (ensuring decent enough bass without a subwoofer) and a solid (approximated) nominal power handling of ~33W. It’s slightly better than the comparable Sound Appeal BT Blasts, which cost about the same. The manufacturer doesn’t specify the sensitivity of either the 525 or 650, but even if we were to assume a more modest rating in the mid/high 80s, the specs still come out on top in the powered/active outdoor speaker category. A pair of 25-30W speakers is fine for filling a small to medium sized enclosure where they’re maybe 8-10 feet apart.
These speakers actually look really great too on par with some of the better looking passive outdoor speakers – the thin, curved bezel is a nice modern touch on a more plain looking traditional box speaker.
Regarding set up, these are about as easy as it gets with outdoor speakers. The major upside of powered speakers is that neither speaker wire or a receiver required – you just connect them to each other and then plug them right into a standard outlet with an included AC adapter (that’s weatherproof), pair any Bluetooth compatible source, and you’re ready to go. You can mount them with included swiveling C brackets, which is generally standard with outdoor speakers.
The only difference between the smaller 525s and the larger 650s, besides the latter being slightly bigger and more powerful, is that the 650s have a soft dome tweeter and polymer cone while the 525s have a hard PEI tweeter and treated paper cone. Which is better? Well, there’s honestly no straightforward answer, but, we’re inclined to favor both soft dome tweeters and polymer cones with outdoor speakers because they’re less inclined to break or succumb to elemental damage. OSD outdoor speakers have a one year warranty, which isn’t stellar, but about on par with what you’ll generally get with non higher tier speakers.
For the same amount of money, you could get a pair of passive speakers with significantly better specs. However, then you have to worry about buying a receiver and wire, which is going to cost a couple hundred dollars minimum. Not to mention some people might be worried about messing up a traditional set up, or maybe they just can’t do it for whatever reason. The convenience and savings of powered outdoor speakers are definitely an attractive advantage.
If you don’t want to break that bank, don’t want to worry about running wire, and don’t need a top notch HiFi speakers, we definitely think the 650s are a solid choice for keeping it simple and easy. They have more power and more desirable materials than the 525s and aren’t all that much more expensive, so unless you need smaller speakers for some reason we don’t see why one shouldn’t pay a little extra.
If you’re thinking about a more long term, higher quality system though, traditional passive speakers and a decent receiver are generally the way to go – you’re going to be able to get much better specs for the same amount of money as well as a selection of significantly more powerful speakers than any powered/active outdoor speaker that’s available.