An outdoor speaker has to be tough. Snow nor dew nor torrential downpour should make its wires futz out. It has to be powerful, too, to fill the patio with the nuanced sounds of a carefully curated summer playlist (alt hits from the ’00s mingled with country bangers from the ’10s mixed with a few uptempo top 40 numbers). But the design of an outdoor speaker is up to you, the person whose money will fund the speaker and whose playlists will populate the airwaves. And you have some options.
A portable Bluetooth speaker will work well in most outdoor situations, since they make them loud and waterproof. You can carry one of those around with you, using it indoors and out. The other option is the more permanent, mounted speaker, which requires you run some wire and connect a receiver and possibly an amplifier. Once you do that, you won’t have to worry about it again. Here, you’ll find the best of both those outdoor speaker options. May you never have to sit through another moment of silence.
No Bounds Outdoor Speaker
Though not a monstrous speaker with oomph to fill a forest with noise, House of Marley’s portable, waterproof speaker is up to soundtracking most situations. The loop and carabiner let you attach it to a backpack, an awning, or a tent, and it’ll float like a cork, because part of it is actually made from recycled cork, along with other reused, environmentally sound materials. Hook it, hang it, pack it up, and head out.
Luci Explore Solar Light + Speaker
This speaker is especially geared towards the adventurous among us. Powered by solar energy (or a USB cord, if you’re in a rush) and controlled through an app, Luci does quintuple duty as a wake-up light, alarm clock, lantern, mobile charger for other devices, and yes, little speaker. That’ll cut down on space in the backpack.
NS-AW150 2-Way Indoor/Outdoor Speakers
When you’d like to set ’em and forget ’em, Yamaha makes a pair of weatherproof outdoor speakers that you can mount to your house. Like almost all mounted outdoor speakers, they must be wired to a receiver of some kind (the wires are included, the receiver is not). Unlike almost all mounted outdoor speakers (the ones that aren’t absolute crap, that is), they cost less than a hundred bucks. The sound quality won’t be as rich and full as you’d get for something more expensive, but it’s surprisingly solid for the price.
BOOM 3 Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker
If your two requirements for an outdoor speaker are solely that it needs to play music and that the music needs to sound damn good, your surest bet is the Boom 3. It’s waterproof. It’s Bluetooth enabled. It’ll float. It has all-around impressive sound that gets loud when you need the range. It looks nice, whether you use it inside or out. We could go on.
Atrium 4 Outdoor Speakers
$129.99 (35% off)
Similar in set-up to the Yamaha duo, Polk’s pair of outdoor speakers are a bit more expensive because they have better innards for better audio range—from bass to mid-range to treble tones. It doesn’t take an engineering degree to set them up, though you’ll need to buy the necessary accessories. Once you do, you can keep them outside all year round, as they’re “all-weather certified.”
Move Smart Speaker
With audio that sounds as if it were conducted by Hans Zimmer and design worthy of a modern art museum, the Sonos Move is a favorite portable Bluetooth speaker of ours. Take it in the bathroom for your morning shower. Cart it into the office to blast the soundtrack that gets you in your most productive headspace. Set it up in the kitchen to make dinner, then grab it and head out to the back porch for a nightcap. It has a handle, it’s waterproof, it charges on a base, and it’ll withstand extreme temperatures.
JBL Boombox Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker
For those seriously committed to having a good time under the sun or stars, JBL’s Boombox has massive sound. Bass for days. Its design hearkens back to the old-school, boombox-on-shoulder era. When the good times have drained your phone battery, it has charging ports to give you a boost. And, should it get dropped in the pool or doused in beer towards the end of the night, that’s A-okay, since it’s waterproof.
Free Space 51 Outdoor In-Ground Speakers
Say your landscaping is impeccable. It’d be a shame to plop a big white speaker in the middle of the rhododendron, or one of those speakers shaped like an artificial rock. Bose, which makes reliably excellent audio equipment, has a wired speaker in a natural-looking green that you can plant, almost literally, in the ground. It’ll cost you $450 for just one, but with its 360-degree sound, one might be all you need.
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