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We tested two new models from OSD Audio and Dual Electronics and added the Dual LU53PW as a budget pick.
Waterproof Bluetooth Patio Speakers
We love the convenience of portable Bluetooth speakers. But for those who want a more durable, high-quality outdoor sound solution for a yard or patio, we recommend a good pair of weatherproof outdoor speakers. The OSD Audio AP650 speakers are the best choice because they sound good, move easily and are built to withstand bad weather and avoid the invasion of insects and dust.
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The AP650 speakers have a clear, full sound that works well for any type of music. And they have no ports to let in water or bugs.
The OSD Audio AP650 speakers are the best value I’ve found in an outdoor pair. Its clarity beats anything I’ve heard from other models under $200 per pair. And they have full, powerful sound that can easily fill an outdoor space up to about 1,500 square feet. The AP650 speakers have plenty of bass for R&B, hip-hop and rock music. And they don’t need a lot of power to deliver high volumes, so you can pair them with a small amp. Because they have a completely sealed design, you don’t have to worry about water, dust or insects getting in. This pair is also better than most outdoor speakers under $200, with a thicker enclosure and a sturdy powder-coated mounting bracket.
The NS-AW294 speakers provide full sound, but are not the best choice for venues that experience harsh weather.
If you want to spend a little less to get decent sound outside, the Yamaha NS-AW294 speakers are a good choice – as long as you don’t live in a place where rainstorms are common, as their portable design can withstand water to admit. . in, which could cause damage. The NS-AW294 speakers don’t sound as crisp as our top pick, but they have strong bass volume and can play really loud.
Btp 650 6.5
The Dayton Audio IO8XTB speaker is about twice the price and size of our OSD and Yamaha options, but we can safely say that this speaker delivers at least twice the performance. Not only does it deliver a lot more bass, but its sound is clearer and smoother in the mids and highs. Whether you listen to hip-hop, rock, country or classical, you’ll appreciate the best.
The fully sealed LU53PW is a compact and affordable option, but this pair lacks bass and doesn’t sound as good at very high volumes.
Those who want to listen to light music in the backyard and want to keep their investment as low as possible will love the Dual Electronics LU53PW speakers. Although they don’t have much bass and can get really loud when cranked up, they sound good for background music, podcasts and internet radio. They are also more compact than the other non-motorized models we recommend and are fully sealed to prevent water infiltration.
The BTP525 speakers have Bluetooth and a built-in stereo amplifier, making installation much simpler. They sound good, but they won’t fill as much space as our other options.
Outdoor Bluetooth Speakers 2022
The OSD Audio BTP525 speakers are a good choice for someone who only needs sound for, say, a small patio, and someone who wants speakers that are very easy to install. All our other outdoor speakers are traditional, unamplified – they can fill a yard with full, powerful sound, but require complex installation and wiring. With the BTP525, the amplifiers are built-in and the power supply is waterproof. So you just mount the speakers, run a wire between them and connect the power supply to the speakers and to an outside AC outlet. The built-in Bluetooth receiver allows you to wirelessly stream audio from smartphones and tablets, and the sound quality is similar, although not as loud or full, as the OSD Audio AP650 pair.
I can confidently say that I’ve reviewed more passive outdoor speakers (ie non-amplified and non-Bluetooth) than all the other audio journalists in the world combined – which says a lot less about me than he says about the near-total lack of attention I had to get these speakers from audio publications. My outdoor speaker testing experience includes many single-product reviews and seven multi-product reviews: one for Home Theater magazine, one for Home Entertainment magazine, one for Sound & Vision, and four for Wirecutter. We built a special audio switcher to carry out covert brand tests. And, perhaps most importantly, I have a backyard – and I’m not afraid to use it.
In addition to conducting my own brand listening tests, I have enlisted the help of several other listeners during the many years of evolution of this article. They include Wirecutter writer and headphone expert Lauren Drăgan (who also writes audio reviews for Sound & Vision magazine and holds a bachelor’s degree in music performance and audio production from Ithaca College) and writer Daniel Varghese.
These speakers are for people who are lucky enough to have an outdoor space to call their own – whether it’s a small patio or the entire backyard – and enjoy listening to music or podcasts. The speakers are weatherproof, so in most cases you can leave them outside for years without worrying about them malfunctioning due to water damage. (They may not survive severe weather such as a hurricane, and some models will let water in under certain conditions.) These speakers have metal grills and fairly sturdy plastic cases. So they will usually survive any impact from a stray vole, and it will be difficult or impossible for insects to nest inside them. And most are powered off a separate amp, so they don’t need to be plugged in or recharged, but you’ll need to run speaker wire.
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Outdoor speakers rarely sound as well as a good set of bookshelf speakers designed for indoor use. The plastic cases of outdoor speakers tend to vibrate and produce loud sound, and the perforated metal grills tend to block or reflect some of the sound waves coming from the speaker drivers. I also suspect that since the manufacturers know their outdoor speakers are unlikely to stand up to close scrutiny, they don’t put as much effort into these designs as they do their indoor models.
Because you have to run the speaker cable from the amplifier to the speaker, setting up a traditional pair of passive (unamplified) external speakers takes more skill and effort than placing a portable Bluetooth speaker on your patio table. You can power the speakers from an existing home theater receiver if you have some unused amplifier channels. Most stereo receivers have a “Speakers A/B” button that lets you route the sound to a second set of speakers, or you can use an inexpensive speaker switch. You can also use a cheap stereo mini amplifier from a brand 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 a Bluetooth-equipped smartphone, tablet or computer (as long as you keep the Bluetooth adapter close to where you will sit outside – usually between 15 and 30 feet at most).
You will need to keep the amplifier inside and run the wires through the walls or attic to the outside of the house. Of course, this operation requires certain skill and experience. Most places allow low-voltage cables (ie audio, video, and network) to run through walls without a permit, but you should check your local building codes to confirm. Be sure to use fire resistant CL2 or CL3 rated cables for safety.
An alternative to all this complexity would be to get a set of outdoor speakers with built-in amplifiers and 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 want an outdoor AC outlet nearby, and you’ll probably prefer to unplug the power supply when the speakers aren’t in use.
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Another option is a portable waterproof Bluetooth speaker big enough to fill your backyard (or at least patio) with sound. You can find them in our guide to the best portable Bluetooth speakers.
The outdoor speaker industry moves much more slowly than most of the audio industry – it’s common for a model to remain on sale for years. In fact, many speakers we tested years ago for this guide are still available. However, the number of models has greatly increased due to the rise of very competitively priced vendors such as Dayton Audio, OSD and Monoprice.
We started the testing process by breaking into each speaker with music playing at a moderate volume for 10 hours. Then I listened to them all in my backyard for a few days. If any speaker had serious anomalies – such as deep bass distortion or sharp highs that made the speaker sound terrible – I removed it, knowing that it would have no chance of becoming a top choice .
Next, I drove
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