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Outdoor Audio Systems

Whether you are relaxing in your yard by yourself or throwing a party, having the convenience of an outdoor audio system will add to the enjoyment of your property. New all weather sound systems are easy to install in your outdoor space. Box speakers that are wrapped in protective casings can be mounted on the outside of the house or stealth speakers can be disguised in the landscape by hiding them in planters. There are even speakers that look like rocks.

If you are thinking of buying an outdoor audio system, consider the following:

  • The durability of outdoor audio components has gotten much better, so they can be left out all year. However, all systems will last longer if they are somewhat protected from the elements. Box speakers will do better if they are mounted in protected areas, such as under the house eves; and speakers hidden in the yard should be sheltered by plants, shrubs and trees.
  • It is important to determine how large an area you want your system to cover. One pair of speakers can only serve from 200 to 400 square feet, so you will need to measure the area where you want sound. The speakers should be as close as possible to where you, your family, and friends naturally gather. Be considerate of your neighbors by directing speakers away from their yards.
  • Alternate your speakers between left and right channels so that you can listen in stereo. Remember that outdoor systems donít have the reflective surfaces of ceilings, walls and floors. You will also have to contend with outside noises from people, traffic, and animals. Make sure your system can overcome this situation by having enough wattage to provide the necessary power to your speakers. Most outdoor speakers require at rated at 40 watts per channel, so your receiver should not exceed that amount. Because grass, shrubbery, and other soft surfaces absorb sound, It is better to use more speakers with lower sound levels than just a few that are turned up too loud. The quality of the sound will be much better, and you wonít risk blowing out your speakers.
  • All wiring used to connect your system to electricity must be strong enough to carry the necessary power over the distance to the speakers and be durable enough to withstand harsh outdoor elements. The best systems use at least 16 gauge direct burial cable and install it at least 12 inches deep in the ground. Check to see if local building codes require all wiring to be run through conduit. It is wise to test run your system before burying the wiring to make sure everything is where it should be for the sound you want.

Outdoor audio speakers can be part of an interior system, but you will probably want to install a zone selector with volume control so that different indoor and outdoor sound levels are available. A separate outdoor control will give you maximum convenience and save you trips inside to "turn up" a favorite tune.
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