Written By
Published Aug 2, 2022 9:28 AM

Whether it’s a family cookout, late night talks around the fire pit, or a raging pool party, having the right soundtrack for the occasion is crucial. However, finding the best outdoor speakers for the job isn’t always easy. Sonic quality can get lost without forgiving indoor acoustics. Unpredictable elements like rain, heat, and humidity can ravage expensive electronics at a moment’s notice. Complicated installations can be a dizzying mess of brackets, screws, wires, and headaches. Perhaps we’re all just better off blaring Spotify playlists from our iPhone speakers?

Before you resign yourself completely to a summer of dinky USB powered speakers and AirPods, allow us to lend a hand. Not only are there a slew of great outdoor speakers on the market, but there are options for just about every kind of backyard setup, occasion, and listener. Whether you’re looking for a simple outdoor setup that won’t break the bank, or want to let your inner audiophile take the reins and splurge on the best sound that money can buy, the right outdoor speaker is out there.

— Best Overall: Polk Audio Atrium 4 Outdoor Speakers
— Best Budget: Dual Electronics LU53PW
— Best Design: Klipsch AWR-650-SM Indoor/Outdoor Speaker
— Best Portable: Sonos Roam
— Best Splurge: Sonos Outdoor Speakers

How We Picked These Products

The world of audio equipment is full of jargon, measurements, and specifications that can sometimes make it feel like you’re reading something written in another language entirely. However, finding the right outdoor speakers really comes down to a few key components. Equipped with the proper information and knowing the right questions to ask, this process can be simple as sitting back in your lawn chair and flipping on your favorite record. To create this list, I researched a number of the most trusted brands in sound as well as their best selling outdoor products. My own experience as an audiophile and firsthand experience with these products played a large role in the creation of this list. Here’s the criteria I used to determine the best outdoor speakers:

Price Range: An outdoor space is already a costly investment. After mulching the garden, replacing the old patio furniture, and buying a new propane tank for the grill, the thought of dropping upwards of $1,000 on speakers can seem outlandish. That’s why we only looked at reasonably priced options that most consumers should be able to afford. There are plenty of choices that can provide world class sound quality without having to break the bank.

Sound Quality: Speaking of sound quality, that’s really what this all boils down to — finding a pair of speakers that sound good above all else. What makes this whole process tricky is the way that the great outdoors can swallow sound. Inside, there are walls and surfaces that can reflect, diffuse, and color the sound, and then in turn, bounce it back onto the listener with crisp definition. But outside, things get a little trickier. There’s an inherent loss of clarity and definition that needs to be compensated for. And the way that each particular model aims to tackle this problem is crucial to their performance. A good set of outdoor speakers should be able to project crystal clear sound into any space, large or small. 

Connectivity: With such a wide variety of outdoor speakers on the market, there are seemingly endless variables to consider. A crucial one, however, is connectivity. The way that speakers actually integrate into your home audio set up can vary drastically from model to model. Besides requiring some sort of audio source (record player, computer, tablet, etc…) many need an amplifier as well. Some can be used in tandem with bluetooth products for an easy, wireless set up. 

Durability: One of the more daunting parts of finding the right outdoor speakers is the whole…outdoors part. The thought of leaving a piece of electronic equipment outside can be daunting. The elements can be unpredictable and unforgiving. However, there are plenty of options on the market that are well equipped to handle everything from torrential downpours to scorching heat waves. And with a good set of outdoor speakers, you can expect the weatherproofing to hold up year after year.

Best Outdoor Speakers: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Polk Audio Atrium 4 Outdoor Speakers

Best Overall

Polk Audio Atrium 4 Outdoor Speakers Polk Audio

Why They Made the Cut: Affordably priced, easy to install, durable, and capable of delivering crystal clear audio, you’d be hard pressed to find a pair of outdoor speakers that deliver across the board quite like the Atrium 4s. 

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: H 9.5 inches W 7.5 inches x D 6.3 inches x 
  • Weight: 3.60 pounds
  • Speaker Size: ¾-inch tweeter, 4 ½-inch woofer
  • Weather Resistance: Weatherproofed to military and industrial specifications.

Pros: 

  • Sleek design and small size
  • Full, crisp, and robust sound
  • Thoroughly weather-resistant

Cons: 

  • Lacking some bass definition

If you’re interested in an outdoor speaker set up, the Polk Atrium 4s are the first place you should turn. Polk are one of the most trusted names in home audio, and while they’re primarily known for offering mid-tier products, the Atrium 4s will please casual listeners and audiophiles alike.

First and foremost, these speakers deliver robust, loud, and consistent sound. The ¾-inch tweeter delivers sparkly and effervescent highs, while the 4.5-inch woofer handles lower midrange like a champ. There is a bit of a blindspot in regards to heavy low end, but especially at this price point, you’d be hard pressed to find anything better on the market. 

And the price tag isn’t the only thing that makes these speakers wildly accessible. While they pack a big punch, the Atrium 4s are modestly sized and lightweight. This ensures that they’ll blend in seamlessly with the rest of your backyard set up, and are a cinch to install. While these speakers are passive, and therefore must be wired to an amplifier, the installation process is streamlined and straightforward.

Best Budget: Dual Electronics LU53PW

Dual Electronics LU53PW Dual Electronics

Why They Made the Cut: While these speakers are far from perfect, their absurdly low price point and impressive sound range makes them the perfect outdoor speakers for those shopping on a budget.  

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: H 10.2 inches x W 7.3 inches  x D 7.3 inches
  • Weight: 7 pounds
  • Speaker Size: 20mm tweeter, 5 ¼-inch woofer
  • Weather Resistance: UV-resistant resin coating and ABS polycarbonate enclosure

Pros: 

  • Affordable
  • Can be installed horizontally or vertically

Cons: 

  • Prone to water damage
  • Limited bass response

The Dual Electronics LU53PWs are proof that solid outdoor sound doesn’t need to come at a high price. While these speakers are better suited for a more casual listening experience, they are ideal for intimate gatherings and lower volumes. 

Almost as impressive as the price tag is the speakers’ UV-resistant resin coating. You’ll still want to install these beneath an awning or canopy to prevent water damage, but the LU53PWs are as durable as speakers that cost almost twice as much. These speakers are 125 watts, which makes a compelling case for those searching for something on the louder side, however the quality starts to dip at higher volumes. They can be simply installed once attached to a sound source and amp. The bottom line is, if you’re aware of the limitations, these speakers provide a well rounded solution to finding the perfect pair of affordable outdoor speakers. 

Best Design: Klipsch AWR-650-SM Indoor/Outdoor Speaker

Best Design

Klipsch AWR-650-SM Indoor/Outdoor Speaker Klipsch

Why It Made the Cut: Just look at this thing! Conjuring the vibes of the infamous Playboy Mansion talking rock, this discrete outdoor speaker provides great sound while looking beyond sleek. 

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: H 17 inches x W 15 inches x D 11 inches
  • Weight: 13 pounds
  • Speaker Size: 6 ½-inch woofer and ¾-inch tweeter.
  • Weather Resistance: UV-resistant fiberglass composite enclosure

Pros: 

  • Appealing design
  • Excellent bass response
  • Lifetime warranty available

Cons: 

  • Only sold as a single speaker, not a set
  • High price point

Klipsch is one of the most well-regarded producers of high-end speakers on the market. While their catalog is brimming with sophisticated pieces of audio mechanics, their flagship item is a bit of a curveball.

The AWR-650-SM is designed to blend in seamlessly amongst any outdoor setting with its convincing enclosure designed to look like a sturdy piece of granite or sandstone. There are a slew of other outdoor speakers on the market that take a similar approach to design, but fall flat. They look cheesy, more like a movie prop than a practical piece of sound equipment. However, AWR-650-SM takes what might be a campy idea and executes it with precision and class. 

But this Klipsch speaker is much more than meets the eye. Each individual speaker is 50 watts, making them loud enough to fill just about any outdoor environment. The speakers also come with a two-way design that features dual ¾-inch tweeters. This allows one single speaker to play stereo signals with clarity. This is important to note because the AWR-650-SMs are sold individually. So, if you’re in the market for true stereo sound, it will be on the pricier side. 

In addition, Klipsch offers a lifetime warranty while most other brands usually cap warranties at a few years. That being said, you might not need it. The AWR-650-SM boasts an impressive UV-resistant coating and the construction is among some of the most durable we’ve seen. 

Best Portable: Sonos Roam

Why It Made the Cut: Not only does this pint-sized workhorse get shockingly loud for its size, but thanks to the Sonos Auto TruePlay feature, it fills each and every room with rich sound that few full-sized setups can compete with.

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: H 3.94 Inches x W 0.79 Inches x D 1.06 Inches
  • Weight: 7.1 ounces
  • Speaker Size: 
  • Weather Resistance: IP67 water-resistance rating

Pros: 

  • Portable
  • Great connectivity options
  • Auto TruePlay optimizes sound

Cons: 

  • Battery life
  • Not as powerful as installation speakers

While some of us apartment dwellers have private rooftops or patios, many of us aren’t lucky enough to have our own outdoor spaces. But that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying some top-notch tunes with the wind blowing through your hair. And that’s where the Sonos Roam comes in. 

The first thing you’ll notice with smaller speakers is a noticeable lack of bass. With the Sonos Roam, this is certainly the case, however middle and higher frequencies are delivered with sparkling clarity. While most speakers of this size get muddy even at lower volumes, the Roam is able to preserve the texture, nuance and intensity of just about every genre of music, podcast or audiobook. And thanks to the TruePlay feature, sound quality doesn’t have to be compromised as you move from place to place. Using the Roam’s built-in microphone to measure how sound reflects off various surfaces around it, the TruePlay automatically optimizes its playback to fit any environment. In addition, the Sonos design allows it to wirelessly connect to other Sonos devices in the house. 

Durable design is important for a speaker that places an emphasis on portability and outdoor performance, and the Roam does not disappoint. This is the first speaker to receive a IP67 dust- and water-resistance rating, meaning it can last up to thirty minutes submerged in up to three feet of water. We don’t recommend bringing the Roam with you scuba diving this summer, but you can rest assured that it’ll hold up against any unexpected summer rainstorms. 

Best Splurge: Sonos Outdoor Speakers

Best Splurge

Sonos Outdoor Speakers Sonos

Why They Made the Cut: These speakers contain multitudes — they are discretely designed, easy to install, incredibly powerful, and are designed specifically to project sound into outdoor spaces.

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: H 12.2 x W 8.86 x D 7.48 inches
  • Weight: 8.79 pounds
  • Speaker Size: 6 ½-inch woofer and 1-inch weeter
  • Weather Resistance: Protection against salt, dust extreme weather, UV exposure, and temperature.

Pros: 

  • Connectivity via WiFi
  • Powerful
  • Fantastic midrange response

Cons: 

  • High price point
  • Requires extra equipment

The Sonos Outdoor Speakers are among some of the most impressive that we tested. For starters, the way that they project sound into vast outdoor spaces was astounding. The low-end response was particularly impressive. Bass frequencies are usually the first casualty when it comes to consumer-grade outdoor speakers, but these are an exception. Thanks to the 6 ½-inch woofer in each speaker, lows were smooth, propulsive, and above all else, clear. The way that each frequency range was able to intermingle with one another instead of falling into a tangle of incomprehensible sound made the Sonos Outdoor Speakers really stand out. 

In addition to its sound quality, the Sonos Outdoor Speakers are uniquely equipped for the home. When paired with the Sonos Amp, which is sold separately, they can be paired with other Sonos speakers and all controlled conveniently with an app. Similarly to the Roam, these speakers have the TruePlay feature and can automatically optimize their playback to perfectly fit any environment. 

As for durability, these outdoor speakers seriously deliver. Their weatherproof enclosure is resistant to freezing cold temperatures, UV rays, water damage, and just about anything else Mother Nature could throw at them. These are the sort of speakers you can install and never have to worry about again. And speaking of installation, setting the Sonos Outdoor Speakers up is a breeze. They do require an amp, but the wiring is as simple as it gets.

The one downside here is the price point. You can get a set of these speakers on Amazon right now for less than $600, however they usually sell for closer to $800. These are perfect for listeners who are looking to make a real investment into the outdoor audio setup.

Things to Consider When Buying the Best Outdoor Speakers

Usage: Before diving into different outdoor speaker options, it’s important to determine what you’re expecting as a listener. The casual listener who just wants some background music as they grill up some bratwursts is going to have far different expectations than an audiophile looking to expand their intricate set up onto the back patio. The market is overflowing with makes and models for each and every kind of listener, but it’s important to ask the right questions and know what you’re looking for. 

Installation: Similarly to the way different models of outdoor speakers vary in sound quality, there are varying degrees of difficulty when it comes to installation. With some models, it’s as easy as running two wires into an amp. Some don’t even require any wiring whatsoever. But there are some outdoor speakers that require professional installation. Plenty of people would be happy to shell out the extra money for something like that, but if you’re trying to keep things hassle-free, consider a set of speakers that have a more intuitive set up.

FAQs

Q: How many watts is a good outdoor speaker?

The performance of each speaker, and the way wattage factors into the equation, can change drastically depending on the size of the space. However, if you’re looking to install speakers into an average size backyard or patio, anywhere between 20W (watts)  and 40W should put you in a good place. If you plan on throwing parties and want your music to contend with the crowd, consider pushing it to something closer to 50W to 60W.

Q: Does higher wattage mean better speakers?

While it’s safe to say that a higher wattage speaker will oftentimes produce cleaner sound, the differences can be negligible. Sure, you’ll pick up on differences between 30W and 100W, but as far as most home set ups are concerned, it’s better to focus on things like frequency response, durability, and price point than wattage.

Q: How do I choose outdoor speakers?

Take stock of what you’re looking for as a listener. Make note of the space where you will be installing your speakers, and research which pair are best suited for the environment. Consider that higher-end products often mean trickier installs, and extra features that a casual listener might find unnecessary.

Final Thoughts

There’s a model of outdoor speaker for just about every kind of listener, and in my experience, there are plenty of options to satisfy your every audio need without having to break the bank. With that being said, I can’t recommend the Atrium 4s enough. The slightly subpar bass response isn’t missed considering the way that the speakers perform otherwise. The mids and high end pour out with such depth and clarity, that you hardly even notice. If you’re willing to shell out, the Sonos Outdoor Speakers cannot be beat. This takes outdoor sound into a new stratosphere entirely, delivering a quality of sound you’d only expect indoors. But if you are operating on a budget, then the Dual Electronics LU53PW will certainly do the trick. Sure, you’ll be losing some complexity that comes with the more expensive models, but there is plenty to love about these speakers. 

MORE TO READ