We talked a little earlier this week on how to get better sound at your outdoor parties without spending a dime, but for those who are looking to invest in an actual outdoor surround sound system, check out these 10 tips on finding the right system for your home and budget and how to place them properly!
1. Save The Rocks For The Garden: When you think of outdoor speakers, many think of those new-fangled ones that resemble rocks. Although they have their place, it isn't up around your house necessarily. Most of the "rock styled" speakers are meant to give sound outside of your basic perimeter of sound enjoyment. They're perfect for supplementing when you need more sound, not the best at being your only method of tunes.
2. Check Element Resistance: Most outdoor speakers are labeled as water resistant and safe for outdoor use, but higher end models have been tested in more extreme elements (like full out pouring rain instead of an occasional splash). Read the package carefully as you'll want to get the best your money can afford when it comes to durability.
3. Point Cones Down: Although you don't want your speakers facing the ground by any means, tilting your speakers so the cones face downward slightly can help the drainage when bad weather does occur. Instead of filling them up like a cereal bowl, it should instead run right off!
4. Receiver, Amplifier or MP3?: The choice is yours on the quality and intensity of the sound you'd like to receive outside. Are you looking for something simple that you can plug your iPod into and go? Or would you prefer the most amazing sound with all the highs and lows? If the later is the case, you'll probably be looking at purchasing additional components other than just speakers.
5. The 10' Rule: How do you know how far away to place your speakers from your patio or outdoor family area? Just remember 10 feet. It's a nice simple number that no matter what speaker you're working with, should provide decent sound without fiddling with more professional methods of fine tuning. If you want to throw another number in the mix, placing speakers 12 feet apart can also be a good rule of thumb, but the other is your first focus as it related to how much sound you hear instead of which channels you hear more of.
6. Speakers vs. Volume: Although it seems easy to think that if you can't hear the music you should just turn it up, that's not always the best thing for your speakers. Experiment with the quality of sound you're receiving and determine if you need supplemental speakers (see #1 above) or better placement of your speakers to achieve the best level of sound. Blown out speakers never sound great, so stay clear of cranking it all the way up.
7. Test First, Screw Later: There's no shame in testing your sound before it gets mounted into place. If you're mounting your speakers to something that can be changed up, it's not a big problem, but if you're say, drilling into the side of your house, then you'll want to check it twice and drill once!
8. On Dealing With Batteries: Wireless speakers sound like the most amazing thing in the world and they are a pretty rad invention — there's just one problem, batteries. Although we love our wireless gadgets, we're really horrible about remembering to keep them charged. If you're like us, trying a wired version (or one with that option at least) might be a good path to follow, or simply be prepared to test them before a big party.
9. Burial Wires: If you are going with wired speakers, it's not a huge hassle to install, just make sure you're using cable that's rated for "direct burial" instead of the average stuff you can pick up at your local big box store. It won't fare well and can cause major issues to animals, your equipment and yourself in the long run!
10. Add 20%: When wiring speakers, it's best to add 20% to the measurement of how much wire you'll need. It will allow you several options, the first being the ability to move things around a bit once they're in place and also a little play so you don't stress any connections.
(Image: Installer Headquarters)