Whether you have a big garden or a perfectly petite patio, relishing in the fresh air on a nice, warm day is an unbeatable treat when you can do so on your own home turf. Maybe you like to dine al fresco, splash around in the pool (lucky you), or simply kick your feet up and relax in the sun. That’s all well and good, but there’s no doubt that there’s one simple, yet crucial element that could take your outdoor ambiance to the next level, and that’s music.

Sure, you could just blast your playlist from your smartphone’s speaker, but let’s be honest here. That doesn’t sound good.

If you’re really serious about your music, you’ll treat it with some respect and let it have the honour of being listened to on a set of quality speakers. That is, speakers that won’t muffle the sound, cut out at your favourite part of a song, or hiss, crackle, or pop their way through a playlist. And while finding a good pair of speakers is easy when building a sound system inside of your home, finding the same kind of high-quality audio for the outdoors can be tricky. You simply can’t use the same speakers for your living room as you do in your garden. Not only can they not withstand the weather, but indoor speakers just aren’t built to carry audio in wide-open spaces.

But don’t worry, we’re here to help you find the best outdoor speakers for your space.

Do you need to mount your outdoor speakers?

First, it’s important to consider your outdoor music-listening habits. If you just want to listen to some songs now and then — like while you’re gardening or watching over the barbeque — you could probably get away with a standard wireless outdoor speaker. But if you’re planning to host a bunch of outdoor parties, or you plan to spend full days outdoors, you’re going to need a more serious speaker setup. 

Mounting wired speakers around your outdoor living area is an ideal choice when you have the space to place them on walls or under decks. Often, these speakers are sold in pairs and have a stereo configuration with left and right inputs to help fill your space with more complex audio. The only downside is that they have a more limited range of projecting sound as they can only be tilted so far without literally hitting a wall.

If your outdoor space is further away from mountable opportunities, however, you could opt to hide your setup in your landscaping with some in-ground speakers instead. It will involve the careful burying of some wires, but it’s a great choice for dispersing audio more evenly as many ground-level speakers boast 360-degree sound.

The only caveat? Whichever option you choose for your outdoor listening, you’ll want to ensure that they are actually meant to be used outside.

Do your outdoor speakers need to be waterproof?

While on your search for speakers that are suitable for use outdoors, you’ll want to look out for keywords like ‘weatherproof,’ ‘waterproof,’ and ‘water-resistant.’ Most outdoor speakers will clearly let you know that all the electrical stuff is safely and securely housed inside a weather-resistant shell. This means it will be able to withstand the elements, including rain, snow, and extreme hot or cold temperatures. 

However, keep in mind that if you’re looking for a completely waterproof, wired outdoor speaker, you’re simply not going to find one. While a high waterproof rating is a non-negotiable standard when choosing a portable Bluetooth speaker, it is not normal to see such a rating on a mountable or in-ground outdoor speaker. This is due to the fact that they have wiring that needs to be protected, and a completely waterproof rating can only be given if a device can be completely submerged in water. That said, it’s totally normal for a wired outdoor speaker to simply be weather-resistant rather than waterproof. If you are concerned about wild weather where you live, you might opt to place your speakers under some sort of cover to offer them more protection.

Should you choose an outdoor wired speaker or an outdoor wireless speaker?

Wireless Bluetooth speakers are great and their portability makes them really convenient when you’re on the go, but if you’re just planning to post up at home for the majority of your outdoor music-listening time, it’s worth committing to a wired outdoor speaker system that’s likely to be more powerful, more dependable, and less susceptible to interference. Plus, you’ll never have to worry about recharging any devices or walking too far out of Bluetooth range with your streaming device. Those are some definite perks, especially when you’re throwing an all-day, all-night party and want to walk around and mingle with your guests.

Outdoor wired speakers also tend to be far better at filling larger spaces with an even distribution of sound, especially since you can hook up a bunch of them around the yard. Technically, you could do this with certain Bluetooth speakers, too. But, that can get pricey and you’ll still run into the same problems with battery life and Bluetooth range.

Should you get a Bluetooth speaker for your outdoor speaker setup?

We’ve already touched on the positive and negatives of Bluetooth speakers, but it should also be noted that some outdoor wired speakers also offer Bluetooth connectivity. This is a little confusing because they are both wired and wireless at the same time, but we’ll explain. Though the speakers are hard-wired to your home’s electricity, you can connect to them via Bluetooth (and/or sometimes WiFi) to stream audio content from your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or other Bluetooth-capable device. Sometimes, these speakers will also allow for hands-free capabilities through third-party voice assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, but this is not always the case.

Wired Bluetooth speakers are somewhat of a rare breed, but they do seem to offer a nice balance that allows for easy music streaming without the hassle of recharging a device every so often. They do still come with the same annoyance of potentially spotty playback, however, so you’ll want to weigh everything up before jumping in.

What is the best outdoor speakers?

Deciding on a speaker for your outdoor space is not easy, so we’ve tried to narrow down your options. We’ve compiled a list of top speakers for a wide range of people, budgets, and activities, so we’re pretty confident you’ll find what you need to enjoy the outdoors without missing a beat. 

We’ve tracked down impressive devices from top brands like Bose, JBL, and Sonos. All you need to do is pick a favourite.

These are the best outdoor speakers in 2021.

Excellent sound quality • Withstands extreme weather

These outdoor speakers sound so great and look so good, you may not even mind their premium price tag.

Bose 251

Premium sound quality and style combine from one of the most trusted and reliable brand names in luxury audio.

  • Wired:
  • Mountable:
    Yes, hardware included
  • Drivers:
    Two 2.5-inch full-range drivers and a 5.25-inch woofer
This pair of stylish outdoor speakers delivers clear and powerful, high-end sound quality thanks to its 2.5-inch full-range drivers and 5.25-inch woofers in a multi-chamber bass enclosure. 
Weighing in at almost four kilograms each, they’re sturdy, durable, and easy to mount with the included hardware. They were also made with the great outdoors in mind, boasting a water-resistant and all-weather build.
They’ve also been battle-tested by the manufacturer to withstand very rough conditions and extreme temperatures from 60 degrees down to -30 degrees Celsius, all while delivering the best and brightest sound no matter the weather.  

Premium sound • Voice control • Easy streaming

Needs to be charged • Not waterproof

If you don’t mind having to recharge it periodically, this smart outdoor speaker will provide some of the most exceptional sound and hands-free convenience you’ll find.

Sonos Move

A truly smart speaker with superior sound, designed for easy streaming both indoors and out.

  • Wired:
  • Mountable:
  • Drivers:
    One midwoofer and a downward-firing tweeter
Both battery-powered and smart, this outdoor wireless speaker has both WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity so you can easily stream and enjoy your favorite playlists with truly superior sound quality. 
With a downward-firing tweeter and one midwoofer, it delivers crisp and clear audio with rich bass, and boasts built-in Amazon Alexa for seamless, hands-free voice control. 
The speaker is weather-resistant in rain, snow, humidity, and extreme temperatures, but you probably wouldn’t want to leave it out in the elements at all times since it’s not completely waterproof. Fortunately, it’s easy to move indoors thanks to its built-in ergonomic handle. 
Though not wired, it has a reasonable battery life of up to 11 hours, but you obviously will need to recharge it often on the included indoor-only charging base. 

Easy one-handed installation • Very weatherproof

If you don’t want to hire someone to install your speakers, these could be the ones for you

Polk Audio Atrium 6

These speakers are designed with fewer moving parts to make installation and mounting incredibly convenient.

  • Wired:
  • Mountable:
    Yes, hardware included
  • Drivers:
    5.25-inch Dynamic Balance driver and 1-inch dome tweeter
Designed with fewer moving parts, this pair of outdoor speakers features a single-click “speed-lock mounting system” for easy and safe one-handed installation. 
Beyond that incredible convenience, the speakers’ internals feature a broad soundscape and acoustic design that make them sing with a full-range of sound in large areas. Spec-wise, the speakers each come with a 5.25-inch Dynamic Balance driver and 1-inch dome tweeter to maximise audio and bass across wide, open spaces. 
Best of all, the speakers’ rugged durability exceeds baseline industrial and military specs, earning them an all-weather certification that makes them pretty much immune to rain, snow, and extreme heat. 

Easy to install and mount • Good sound quality

Extra subwoofer is recommended

If you’re deciding between mid-range options, this one is highly-rated.

Kicker KB6000

These speakers are really easy to install, which is one of their biggest selling points.

  • Wired:
  • Mountable:
    Yes, hardware included
  • Drivers:
    One tweeter and woofer
These speakers are perfect for anyone with a mid-sized garden, patio, or pool thanks to audio quality between 55 Hz and 21 kHz at 150 watts of power. 
Kicker designed the KB6000s to be mounted outdoors, so audio coming out of these speakers really can fill outside spaces with ease. The sound is wide, robust, and dynamic with crystal clear mids and highs with fair enough bass, but it’s recommended to use these speakers with a subwoofer to get the most out of them. 
The speakers are really easy to install, which is one of its biggest selling points for people setting up parties or outdoor cinemas in their garden.

Easy one-handed installation • Affordable • Very weatherproof

May not have the sound quality of higher-end options

These durable speakers are the more affordable Polk Audio option, but still offer plenty of impressive features for your outdoor space.

Polk Audio Atrium 4

These were designed with fewer moving parts to make installation and mounting a simplified process, even for outdoor use.

  • Wired:
  • Mountable:
    Yes, hardware included
  • Drivers:
    4.5-inch drivers and 0.75-inch tweeters
The Atrium 4 Outdoor Speakers from Polk Audio feature the company’s ‘speed-lock mounting system’ for easy and safe one-handed installation. It was designed with fewer moving parts to make installation and mounting a simplified process, even for outdoor use. 
The speakers’ internals feature a broad soundscape and acoustic design that makes the speakers sing with a full-range of sound in large areas. Spec-wise, the speakers each come with a 4.5-inch long-throw driver and a 0.75-inch tweeter with a frequency response between 12KHz to 20KHz to maximise wide open spaces.
Polk Audio’s Atrium series also exceeds baseline industrial and military specs for all-weather conditions and environmental endurance. Each speaker was made with anodised aluminum tweeter domes with rubber surrounds that are pretty much immune to the elements, especially rain, snow, and extreme heat.

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