Tune in to Outdoor Speakers

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Tune In to the Great Outdoors
Speakers Bring Music to Your Back Yard

Photo courtesy of Outdoor Speaker Depot

So, you have the patio, the food and the company, but what about the tunes? Critical to just about every social event short of a poetry reading, music is second only to lighting in terms of creating ambiance. Since you have spent years collecting a fabulous collection of records, CDs and MP3 downloads, why not share them with your guests? Here is the lowdown on how to bring your music outdoors.

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Photo courtesy of Outdoor Speaker Depot

Shopping!

The easiest way to pump your music outdoors is to hook up speakers to the system you are using inside. Outdoor speakers start at about $50 and can run into the thousands; the selection is vast, with lots of jargon and techno-speak to make choosing a pair of speakers pretty confusing. But it doesn't have to be. A little knowledge, some careful listening and your trustworthy instincts are all you need to find a pair of speakers that'll provide a perfect soundtrack to any outdoor activity.

Speakers are classified according to wattage and the amount of wattage you need is dependent on the size of your outdoor space. Take a rough measurement of your square footage and bring this information to the store when browsing. Also, make a note of the wattage of your stereo system. The salesperson should be able to tell you how powerful your speakers ought to be.

There are a wide variety of outdoor speakers available and will vary in size, shape and even color, but obviously, the most important aspect to consider when choosing speakers is the way they sound. If you haven't completely gone digital, bring a few of your favorite CDs to the store and test them out. Make sure the music is varied, too. Throw on a jazz and a rock disc and see how the speakers handle the variance in sound. It may be surprising, but different genres may sound better on certain systems.

Jane Tip: If your salesperson seems unknowledgeable of the product he or she is selling you, be sure to ask for someone else or go to another store. You want to be sure any questions you may have are answered properly before you make a purchase.

 

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Placement

Any true audiophile will tell you that the placement of speakers is almost more important than the speakers themselves. When mounting outdoor speakers, remember that the higher off the ground they are the further the sound will carry. Your system's power and your backyard setup will determine how far apart they should be.

When considering a home for your stereo speakers remember that symmetry is everything. Ideally, you want your speakers to run parallel to one another and equidistant from the wall or house. To make this a little less complicated, plan out where you want your speakers to go and use a tape measure to aid you. Always have both speakers mounted at the same height and place speakers at an angle, facing a focal point. This is called having the speakers 7quot;toed in," and is one of the ways to achieve quality sound. You might recall that this is precisely how speakers are situated at a concert.

Also, take into consideration the items surrounding the speakers. If one of your speakers sits against the wall while the other is freestanding, the sound will most likely be unbalanced. On that note, try not to place your speakers too close to a wall or door, as the sound will bounce off of it, creating a bass-heavy hum.

Jane Tip: Although most outdoor speakers are waterproof, don't ever place them in a place where moisture collects.

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Photo courtesy of Outdoor Speaker Depot

High is good

Some outdoor speakers are designed to be mounted from the corner of the patio or pergola and will often come with the mounting brackets you'll need to complete this task. If not, you'll want to be sure to ask the salesperson what the weight limits are on the brackets you choose, and what the best placement might be for your new speakers.

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Photo courtesy of Outdoor Speaker Depot

Water? No problem

A great feature of outdoor speakers is that they are usually weatherproof. So, even if Mother Nature throws an especially nasty winter your way you can leave the right pair of speakers outside all year round. (Be sure to check the warranty to see if it covers damage caused by the elements.) That said, to be sure to get the longest life out of your speaker system, you may want to consider placing them in a covered portion of your outdoor area when possible.

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Photo courtesy of Outdoor Speaker Depot

Rock On

"Camouflage" speakers are those that naturally blend into the surroundings. One option to consider is the cleverly designed incognito rock speakers. Not only do they blend into your backyard's natural surroundings, they are also weatherproof, withstanding even pool chemicals and salty air. Rock speakers are priced starting at just about $100 and go up from there. You can choose the color and shape of your speakers to match your decor. Some manufacturers even make speakers that resemble tree stumps. Though these speakers are pretty small, they can pump out about 300 watts per speaker.

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Wiring

If you have invested in a complicated, expensive system with more than two speakers you may want to leave the wiring to a professional. It may even be included in the price of your system so it may be worth considering.

However, a simpler setup can be done yourself. If aesthetics aren't all that important you can run exposed speaker wire through your house and up to the speaker. You can make the wiring look unobtrusive by tucking it under the carpet or by running it where the ceiling meets the wall. When considering how to run the wiring outdoors, sticking out of the window of the door is not an option because the wire will fray and present a tripping hazard. Inspect your cable TV wiring and see if you can piggyback onto the same indoor/outdoor route.

Jane Tip: Inexpensive and easy-to-use surface raceways (protective coverings for wires) will keep your guests from tripping on the wiring.

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Hiding wires

For a more appealing appearance you will want to hide the wiring within your walls and once outside, underground. Many people aren't comfortable breaking into their walls to simply hide a little wire. So, if you are having a little work done on your house where your walls might be exposed, this is the time to consider installing wire for the outdoors—even if you're not planning to use it for a while. You can always cap it off in the short term.

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Burying wires

To wire underground takes a lot of planning. Before you start to dig around outside, call your utility company to ensure you aren't going to hit any other wiring or plumbing.

You will want to protect your underground speaker wire within a PVC conduit to keep unwanted critters from gnawing at it. Seal the PVC conduit with caulk for additional protection. Also, your area may be limited as to what conduits and cables you can use, so check your local codes.

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Outdoor wire control

Plan your route and mark it with spray paint. Using a shovel, dig your trench about 2'-3' deep, or as much as your local code permits. Be sure to make the trench as narrow as possible. Set aside any soil and sod on a piece of plastic to place back in the hole later.

Of course, you can always buy a stereo unit that sits outside all year round so you don't have to worry about a complicated maze of speaker wire running through your home. Enclosing it to protect from the elements may be something you are up for.

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Photo courtesy of Outdoor Speaker Depot

Bringing your tunes outdoors will help create a festive atmosphere during the summer, a romantic mood during the fall, a rejuvenating relaxation zone during the spring and help spread holiday cheer during the winter. So, put on your favorite CD and let the music play!

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Create an Outdoor Living Room.
Extend your Summer with Outdoor Heaters

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