GasElectricDual Fuel
Main Content

Outdoor Speaker System Buying Guide

Outdoor speakers are great for entertaining, but the wrong products or improper installation will ruin the experience with overpowering sound. Learn everything you need to know before installing an outdoor speaker system in your yard.
Outdoor Speakers Buying Guide Video
Outdoor Speakers Buying Guide
Outdoor Speakers Buying Guide Video Outdoor Speakers Buying Guide Video
Still have a question?

Getting Started

Have you ever been to (or hosted) an outdoor event at a home or business where a pair of speakers are mounted under the eaves of the building about 20 feet apart? If so, you most likely didn’t spend any time near those speakers, and neither did anyone else. In this configuration, music is a hindrance to social interaction, not an enhancement as it is intended. This is largely due to the way in which sound is being distributed, as well as the quality of the speakers and amplification.
In the past, the "two speakers under the eaves" solution was the standard, and was a good way to get music or other entertainment to the patio, deck or backyard. Because of this design, the speakers had to be played very loudly in order to get the sound to project further than a few feet. This meant the system was operating full tilt, sometimes all day long. It’s similar to driving a car at full throttle for 8 hours—there will be issues both in terms of product failure as well as the overall experience. There’s a reason outdoor concert venues employ multiple speaker locations; adding speakers and placing them in a way that “surrounds” the entertainment area allows the music to be played at a more moderate, enjoyable level. The result? Music that adds vibrancy and fun to a gathering, rather than a shrill, annoying noise cannon that makes conversation all but impossible.
Think about layout in terms of simple lighting; people generally don’t have a single (or even just two) light source in a larger room (kitchen, dining room, living room, etc.). By distributing the light among many different sources, a room is transformed from a shadowy, difficult-to-navigate space into a comfortable, functional living environment. The same is true for sound; nobody would use a single speaker (or even a pair) to fill a 2,500 square foot home. The volume would have to be at its highest level to even hear it in remote areas, and would be barely intelligible at that point, forget sound quality of any kind.
The first step in choosing the right outdoor speakers or speaker system is determining the space you will be filling with sound. There are few hard and fast rules to this process, but a good rule of thumb is to allow 10-12 feet between speakers for the best coverage. Speakers should generally be aimed toward the yard, patio, or deck; this allows you to enjoy music with minimal impact on your neighbors (the fact that you can also play music at quieter levels will also factor into this effect). There are four basic types of outdoor speaker options:
  • Conventional “box" speakers
  • In-wall or in-ceiling speakers
  • Rock (or architectural)
  • Package systems

Conventional (Box) Speakers

This is a fully contained, usually plastic cabinet speaker which can be mounted under eaves, on deck posts, etc. These are what most people picture when the subject of outdoor sound is brought up. Most of these are weatherproof (not waterproof), which means they will hold up well even under extreme weather conditions. They have a rugged construction and are usually offered in either black or white. (Many can be painted to match trim or house color, but we suggest using a professional for this procedure.) While they are designed to weather the elements, these speakers aren’t infallible and any protection from precipitation will prolong the life of the speakers. These are the simplest type of speaker to incorporate, and are available in many sizes, shapes, and sound quality levels.


  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to install
  • Rugged, long lasting construction


  • Limited installation locations
  • Can be obtrusive, unsightly, especially as time progresses
  • Sound quality is limited by the size of the cabinet and location
White Speaker Mounted to Exterior of Brown House

In-wall or In-ceiling speakers

These speakers are what the name suggests: speakers that are installed in a wall or ceiling (or eaves, in many cases). These can be used in many locations, including the side or eaves of a house, a gazebo or three season room ceiling or wall, or even recessed into a bench or another architectural feature (James link here). They are similar to conventional box speakers in that they are sold individually and are weatherproof. They will generally last longer than those box speakers, mainly because the majority of the speaker components are inside your home’s structure; only the grill will show. The grill can be painted to match the surroundings and “disappear” more easily. This helps maintain the elegance of a space while still allowing music to be enjoyed. They are offered in multiple sizes, the most popular of which are 6.5 and 8 inch options. The installation of this type of product requires more effort than the box speaker, and will require some basic tools and patience.


  • Discreet, easier to hide without detrimental effects on sound quality
  • Last longer (generally) based on design


  • Require more time and skill to install

Rock Speakers

Rock speakers, which are designed to resemble, well, rocks, are nearly identical to conventional box speakers, with one exception: they are placed at ground level. They are often found in landscaping, gardens, etc and are surprisingly convincing, especially if used with a variety of other stones and architectural fixtures. The sound quality can also be quite high, mainly because of the size of the “cabinet” and the drivers it can employ as a result of this additional space. They come in different colors, the two most common are granite (gray) or sandstone (brown) as well as many different sizes and functions. They are very easy to install, although care must be taken to use the correct wire for connections. There are different types of speaker and interconnect cables, some of which are designed to be buried, which is usually the method employed with rock speakers. These speakers are also designed to withstand heavy weather and will generally last for years with little or no maintenance. However, like the other speakers mentioned above, they are not waterproof and should not be in standing water or submerged under any circumstances. These are not for every environment, however. Make sure you like the look of the speakers as well as how they sound.


  • Are unobtrusive, and can be easily camouflaged
  • The capacity for higher sound quality due to larger cabinets
  • Easy to install

Architectural (Custom) Speakers

While this category isn’t new, it has gained substantial traction over the last few years, as people are interested in incorporating high quality sound into their outdoor environment but want to maintain an aesthetic that doesn’t include electronics. In other words, they want to hear great sound but they don’t want to see “where it’s coming from” at all. The ability to design and integrate speakers to fit into specific spaces and material (wood, metal, tile, etc) types has revolutionized the industry to the point where “you dream it, we’ll make it” has become a reality.
These speakers are literally designed for their decorative purpose or location. They can be made to look like brick, stone, or any wood type. They can be used in marine applications, as well as built into the stonework of an outdoor kitchen. The possibilities are endless and only bound by imagination. While incorporating these products to fit and disappear into their surroundings is important, sound quality is also critical, and maintained using high performance parts and component design.


  • Can be designed to be nearly invisible to the eye
  • Extremely high sound quality


  • The most expensive option
  • Can’t be moved and used in a new location (usually)
Black outdoor speaker installed amongst landscaping

Package Systems

Package systems consist of multiple satellite speakers and one or more subwoofers. They are often (but not always) packaged with a multichannel amp designed to power the speaker system. They generally come in configurations of 4, 6, or 8 satellites with one or sometimes two subwoofers. The subwoofers are usually designed to be partially buried, so only a small portion of the speaker is visible. The speakers themselves can be used with stakes or mounting posts attached to a structure (if desired). The cable used for this type of speaker is the same type (burial) mentioned earlier—it is designed to be buried and run long distances for this purpose. It is imperative that this type of speaker cable is used for this application.
The most effective configuration for this type of speaker system is to surround the “space” (backyard, pool, patio, etc) with speakers pointing toward the interior of that space. If multiple subwoofers are employed, they should be spaced apart from one another to make them spread low frequency effectively (this is particularly difficult outdoors). There are two types of systems that fit this description, 8 ohm and 70 volt. They look and perform similarly, but each has its own advantages, depending on the application. Our team of experts would be happy to assist you in determining which is the right one for you.


The entire system is dependent, as are all the speakers mentioned above, on amplification. While the amplifiers for outdoors and indoors are more or less the same in function, when considering an amp for outdoor use, there is no such thing as too much power. Each speaker (and subwoofer) requires power of some kind, and the amplifier provides it in the form of channels; this is simply the term used to describe the output to one speaker. A two channel amp would power two speakers, and so on. The amount of "space" that needs to be filled is dramatically larger outdoors than it is in a living room or basement home theater, and as such requires more raw power to get to a volume level (without distortion) that is adequate. The amperage, or current, of the amplifier is critical and the higher, the better. Volume is just one of the factors to consider, another just as critical factor is sound quality. A lower power (current) amplifier will sound weak and thin, especially when asked to drive multiple speakers at high volume for any length of time. The result is often distortion and/or amplifier failure. Unfortunately, this failure generally occurs in the middle of the Independence Day party and you now have to resort to your phone’s speaker to entertain your guests. Many receivers have multiple zone outputs, which might do the trick for one pair of smaller speakers, but for anything more advanced, a separate dedicated amplifier is the only realistic option.


  • The best option for sound quality
  • The most balanced and well-distributed sound
  • Keeps the sound in your yard, not your neighbor’s


  • Most expensive option
  • Wire must be buried
  • More amplification required


Now that you have speakers set up and are ready for some outdoor rocking, you need a way to control what is being played. To do this, you need a source of some kind. A source is simply a component which “plays” content. These types of products include CD players, turntables, cassette decks, and streaming devices. The last option has exploded in popularity over the last decade, and is by far the most popular way to listen to music. Streaming devices are made by many different manufacturers at multiple price and performance levels. One of the benefits of using a streaming device is they all allow control from a remote location, usually through a smartphone, tablet or laptop. This means you can control not only the musical selection, but the volume level as well.

In Summary

There are a variety of devices with which you can build an outdoor speaker system including rock speakers, in-wall speakers and custom audio systems. You'll need to ensure you purchase enough speakers to adequately project sound throughout your space, as well. Once you've decided which devices are right for your home, you should also consider the installation location. The right outdoor speaker system will produce clear, high-quality audio that also won't drown out conversation when you host an outdoor event.

What Our Customers Say About Us

The delivery of our new bed was flawless and accomplished with knowledge skill, dexterity, and efficiency. The delivery team was respectful, friendly, clean dressed, and mindful of all personal...
Kevin R. - Chicago, IL
May 11, 2023
I initially called and received very helpful advice without an expectation that I would buy from ABT. I did purchase a microwave, sent to us from half way across the country without a delivery...
Alan C. - Needham, MA
June 8, 2023
My experience with ABT was great! You were the only place that I contacted that had the range in stock. It was delivered a week before the expected date.
Darryl W. - Saint Clair Shores, MI
May 15, 2023
Best price and kept me informed about delivery.
Alexander F. - Lewes, DE
May 16, 2023
Item arrived on time, works great. Very pleased with the whole transaction.
Tim G. - Mccleary, WA
May 15, 2023
I was truly impressed with how quickly my order was filled and sent out. Great prices and fast shipping will have me coming back. Thanks!
Josh W. - Mead, WA
May 19, 2023
Excellent very thorough and extremely polite gentleman to install my new washer!!
Aleka/dennis N. - Niles, IL
May 16, 2023
Easy to order. Support if you need it. Good communication on delivery.
Barbara B. - Little Elm, TX
May 15, 2023
Excellent service. The follow up and being on time was perfect. The install went well
Daniel A. - Miami, IL
May 19, 2023