Bluetooth Speakers For Outdoor Movies

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We tested two new models from OSD Audio and Dual Electronics, and added the Dual LU53PW as a budget option.

Bluetooth Speakers For Outdoor Movies

Bluetooth Speakers For Outdoor Movies

We love the convenience of a portable Bluetooth speaker. But for those who want a longer lasting, better quality outdoor audio solution for their backyard or patio, we have a good selection of weatherproof outdoor speakers. OSD Audio AP650 speakers are your best bet because they sound great, are easy to install, and can withstand harsh weather and keep bugs and dust out.

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The AP650 speakers deliver clear, full sound for any type of music. And they don’t have any ports to let in water or bugs.

The OSD Audio AP650 speakers are the best value we’ve found in an outdoor pair. Their simplicity surpasses anything we’ve heard from other models under $200 a pair. They have full, powerful sound that can easily fill up to approximately 1,500 square feet of outdoor space. The AP650 speakers provide enough bass for R&B, hip-hop and rock music. And they don’t need a lot of power to deliver loud sound, so you can pair them with small amplifiers. Because they have a completely sealed design, there is no need to worry about water, dust or bugs getting in. This pair is also better built than most sub-$200 outdoor speakers, with a thicker case and sturdy powder-coated mounting brackets.

The NS-AW294 speakers provide full sound, but they’re not the best choice for locations with harsh weather conditions.

If you want decent outdoor sound for less money, as long as you don’t live in a thunderstorm-prone area, the Yamaha NS-AW294 speakers are a good choice, as their portable design can let in water, potentially causing damage. The NS-AW294 speakers don’t sound as clear as our top picks, but they have plenty of bass and can play very loud.

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The Dayton Audio IO8XTB speaker is about twice as loud as our OSD and Yamaha picks, but we can safely say this speaker is at least twice as powerful. Not only does it deliver more bass, but its sound is clearer and smoother in the mids and highs. Whether you listen to hip-hop, rock, folk or classical music, you’ll appreciate the upgrade.

The LU53PW is a compact and affordable fully enclosed option, but the pair doesn’t have much bass, and it doesn’t sound great at very loud volumes.

Those who just want to listen to light music in their backyard and want to keep their investment to a minimum will love the Dual Electronics LU53PW speakers. While they don’t have a lot of bass and sound finicky when they’re present, they sound good for background music, podcasts, and internet radio. They are also more compact than other unpowered models we offer and are fully sealed to prevent water ingress.

Bluetooth Speakers For Outdoor Movies

The BTP525 speaker features Bluetooth and a built-in stereo amplifier to make installation easier. They sound good, but don’t take up as much space as our other picks.

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The OSD Audio BTP525 speaker is a great choice for those who just need sound in a small yard and for those who want a very simple speaker setup. All of our other outdoor speaker options are traditional unamplified; they can fill a yard with full, powerful sound, but require complicated installation and wiring. With the BTP525, the amplifier is built in and the power supply is waterproof. So all you need to do is install the speakers, run a wire between them, and connect the power to the speakers and an outdoor AC outlet. The built-in Bluetooth receiver lets you stream audio wirelessly from smartphones and tablets with sound quality similar to that of the OSD Audio AP650 pair, but not quite as loud or full.

I can safely say that I’ve reviewed more passive (ie, non-amplified and non-Bluetooth) external speakers than all other audio journalists in the world combined. This fact affects me far less than it affects the public. These speakers lack focus from sound publications. The outdoor speaker testing experience includes extensive single-product reviews and seven multi-product shoots: one for Home Theater Magazine, one for Home Entertainment Magazine, one for Sound & Vision, and four for Wirecutter. I built an audio converter specifically to perform a brand-specific hidden test. Perhaps most importantly, I have a yard and I’m not afraid to use it.

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In addition to my own brand of invisible hearing tests, I have had the help of several other listeners in the evolution of this article. They include Wirecutter senior writer and headphone expert Lauren Dragan (who also writes audio reviews for Sound & Vision magazine and holds a BA in Music Performance and Audio Production from Ithaca College) and writer Daniel Varghese:

These speakers are designed for people who are lucky enough to have an outdoor space (whether a small or full yard) and those who enjoy listening to music or podcasts. The speakers are weatherproof, so in most cases, you can keep them outdoors for years without worrying about them failing due to water damage. (They may not be able to withstand severe weather, such as hurricanes, and some models will accept water in certain conditions.) These speakers have metal grilles and fairly sturdy plastic enclosures. As a result, they usually survive any impact from the wrong volleyball, and it is difficult or impossible for bugs to nest in them. And most of them are powered by a separate amp, so don’t need to be plugged in or charged, but you do need to plug in the speaker wire.

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Few outdoor speakers sound as good as a decent set of bookshelf speakers designed for indoor use. Plastic enclosures for outdoor speakers tend to vibrate and emit high notes, while perforated metal grilles tend to block or reflect some of the sound waves from the speaker motors. I also suspect that since manufacturers know their outdoor speakers are unlikely to pass rigorous testing, they put less effort into this design than in-house models.

Because you have to run the speaker cables from the amplifier to the speakers, installing a traditional passive (non-amplified) outdoor speaker requires more skill and effort than simply putting a portable Bluetooth speaker on a patio. If you have multiple unused amplifier channels, you can disconnect the speakers from your existing home theater receiver. Most stereo receivers have a “speaker A/B” button that lets you route the sound to a second set of speakers, or you can use an inexpensive speaker switcher. You can also use inexpensive stereo mini amps from brands like Fosi Audio or Loxjie. Add a Bluetooth adapter (or buy an amplifier with built-in Bluetooth) and you can easily receive digital music files, online audio streaming services, and podcasts from your smartphone, tablet, or Bluetooth-enabled computer (as long as you keep the Bluetooth adapter close to you and sit outside location, usually up to 15 to 30 feet).

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You have to put the amplifier indoors and run the wires through the wall or attic to the outside of the house. Obviously, this operation requires some skill and experience. Most areas allow low-voltage (especially audio, video, and networking) cables to run through walls without a permit, but you’ll need to check your local building codes to confirm. Be sure to use fire rated CL2 or CL3 cables.

Bluetooth Speakers For Outdoor Movies

The alternative to all this complexity is a set of outdoor speakers with an amplifier and built-in Bluetooth. With this option, the only wires you need to run are the cable between the two speakers and the connection to the power supply. You’ll need an outdoor AC outlet nearby, and you may prefer to power off the speaker when you’re not using it.

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Another option is to have a waterproof, portable Bluetooth speaker that’s big enough to fill your backyard (or at least yours) with sound. You can find them in our guide to the best portable Bluetooth speakers.

The outdoor speaker industry is moving at a much slower pace than most of the audio industry; it’s not uncommon for models to be sold for years. In fact, many of the speakers we tested for this guide years ago are still available. However, the rise of competitive players such as Dayton Audio, OSD, Monoprice, etc., has greatly expanded the number of models.

I started the testing process by playing 10 hours of music on each speaker at medium volume. Then for a few days, I heard them in my backyard. If any speaker exhibits a serious anomaly, like deep bass notes or harsh highs that make it loud, I’d eliminate it because I know it doesn’t stand a chance of being the best.

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