Outdoor entertaining at home has come a long way from throwing a party and bringing out a portable radio. Many of today's homes feature integrated sound systems that transform patios and outdoor areas into destinations for hosting guests.
Smart design when placing audio components such as speakers and controls is essential to ensuring that guests (and you!) enjoy a comfortable listening experience. Take a look at these ways to design a sound system into lounging and recreational areas while still ensuring that the aesthetics of the outdoors are preserved.
Customizing your outdoor sound experience
Take a look at the size of your yard or patio and map out the entertaining and recreational areas. Eating and lounging areas such as conversational seating spaces should have speakers mounted nearby.
Plan on placing speakers approximately 12 feet from the entertaining area and 9-10 feet away from each other. This spacing of 12 feet will ensure guests can enjoy the music without interference of outdoor background noise such as wind, traffic or neighbors. Keep the same criteria in mind around a pool or recreational spaces. For larger yards, plan on using more speakers (not just increasing the volume on a few speakers). Place speakers in equal spacing around the yard to allow for clear and consistent sound quality from all angles and to ensure guests won't get "blasted" out of their enjoyable sitting area!
Have you ever been at an outdoor restaurant that had a poor sound system installed? These spacing tips will help your guests enjoy surround sound music at a comfortable volume, while blocking out neighboring distractions.
Plan for your local climate and weather when choosing a sound system
When planning your outdoor audio system, consider the local climate and the specifics of your property. Place speakers in locations that are protected from direct moisture, wind, and impact from hail and other weather-related conditions.
If you do need to place speakers directly in the elements, look for "fully weatherproof" type components. These speakers are ideal near ground landscaping or adjacent to a pool or other moisture prone locations.
Do you like to entertain under your covered patio? Mounting speakers below the roofline eaves of your house will help shield out moisture, and if placed in the corner of intersecting walls will provide better bass sound quality. Mount speakers between 6 to 10 feet above ground level for ideal sound quality. If you mount higher or lower than these guidelines, interference from furniture, obstructions, and neighboring noise can distort the sound.
Choose speakers that blend in with the aesthetics of your outdoors
When you're lounging around the pool with family and friends, you should concentrate on entertaining and not how unsightly your speakers are. There are two forms of full weather speakers to choose from: those that are wrapped in casing and those that camouflage into landscaping, like in the shapes of boulders, planters and even seats. Both varieties can deliver great sound but will depend on the design application in which you will enjoy them. Most of my design clients prefer the box-type cased speakers under their covered porch area and prefer the masquerading type near the pool, garden and cabana locations.
Important outdoor sound system details to remember
While you may have considered where to place the speakers around your yard, don't forget about details such as providing enough power to the speakers and how you will control the volume. As a general rule of thumb, an average set of speakers provides enough sound for approximately 200-400 square feet. When choosing your outdoor speaker system, consider using an external amplifier to provide enough power. Check the installation guide packaging of your surround system components when purchasing. The larger your entertaining and recreation areas, the more speakers and therefore more power you'll need to get clear and crisp sound quality.
Lastly, consider how you will control the system without having to run back into the house. If connecting to an existing home audio system, a handheld controller may be advantageous. If you're installing a separate sound system, look to an all-weather port to be mounted under a covered area to protect from climatic changes.
Entertaining guests and enjoying music with family and friends can always be enhanced with the addition of music. When designing your outdoor sound system, use these helpful tips, from knowing the size of your yard and what areas will get sound to what type of activities you will host. The sound quality and how much your guests will enjoy the outdoor experience will largely be impacted by your sound system. Throw the best party by creating the perfect ambiance for you and your guests.
As a lifestyle expert and a LEEDS architect, Ronique Gibson has a wealth of décor knowledge that she likes to write about for her site Stagetecture.com and The Home Depot. She gives great advice about how to design outdoor spaces with your home electronics in mind. To outfit your yard with home electronics, visit homedepot.com.