Today’s home building and design processes tend to be more focused on the interior of the home. People often don’t give a lot of thought to the exterior until much later in the process. That is especially true when it comes to outdoor technology. If you want to add tech to your outdoor space, it’s best to plan for it at the same time you’re thinking about indoor tech. That way, you get the correct wiring and infrastructure in place, and everything can be integrated to work together.
Distributed audio is the most requested feature that we get at Refined Systems for outdoor spaces. Whether you’re spending time on the patio, by the pool, or working on your landscape, having a great audio system serving up your favorite playlist makes your time outdoors even better.
When planning for an audio system outdoors, the first things to consider are WHAT do you want to listen to and WHERE do you want to hear it?
WHAT Do You Want to Listen To?
When asked this question, the most common answer is, “I want to play music from my phone through the outdoor speakers.” There are two ways to accomplish this — wirelessly stream the music from your phone to the audio system OR use your phone to tell a media player located connected inside what to play.
Wirelessly streaming music from your phone can be done. But it may be problematic if you don’t have good WiFi coverage everywhere in your yard. There can also be issues with wireless interference or dropouts and interruptions due to incoming phone calls, texts, and push notifications. Oftentimes, the better option is to have your technology integrator specify and install a media player that can stream your favorite music services (Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM, etc.) or access your music library. You can use your phone, tablet, or remote to tell the system what to play and not have to worry about disruptions.
But music isn’t your only option here. If you have a TV on the patio, we can route the TV audio through your outdoor audio system instead of relying on just the TV speakers. Some systems will also allow paging to the outdoor space or the ability to hear the front doorbell when you’re out by the pool.
WHERE Do You Want to Hear It?
When we plan for audio on the inside of the house, we generally specify which rooms we want speakers in and the quality of sound we desire for each space. Outdoors is no different. Even though one might think of the backyard as one big space, it makes sense to break it up into sections or zones.
Some of those areas might be semi-enclosed, like a screened-in patio. Others like the pool area have no ceiling or walls that direct or contain the sound. The characteristics of each zone will significantly influence the type of speakers that make sense for that area.
- Covered Patio: This is a perfect spot for in-ceiling speakers. While you can use the same speaker model that you might use indoors, some manufacturers offer in-ceiling speakers designed explicitly with components that tolerate humidity, are capable of withstanding extreme temperature variations, and are resistive to dry rotting and corrosion.
- Uncovered Patio: The most common choice here is to install two or more wall-mounted outdoor speakers. These will generally provide a full-bodied sound at a reasonable & economical price.
- Pool Area: If you are relying on patio speakers to carry all the way out to the pool, you are likely to drown out any conversations happening by the house when the music is loud enough to be enjoyed at the pool. This is where landscape speakers and subwoofers make a lot of sense acoustically and aesthetically. Landscape speakers look like small yard lights staked into the ground and can virtually blend into the backdrop. Their low-profile appearance allows you to distribute several speakers around the pool perimeter so that everyone is close to the music without having to crank up the volume (unless you want to!). Another advantage is the directionality of a landscape speaker’s sound. You can place them on the far side of the pool pointed away from the neighbors, reducing the chance of your music becoming a nuisance.
Breaking up your outdoor system into different audio zones provides a few advantages. Each zone can listen to the same thing (music everywhere) while setting the volume independently. Or you can have an independent source like TV audio on the patio and the kids’ Spotify playlist out by the pool. The more flexibility you build in, the better you can customize your listening experience for family and guests.
While the examples above are pretty standard, you are certainly not limited to those suggestions. Manufacturers and integrators have gotten very creative over the years with both the types of outdoor audio products and how to use them. It’s not unheard of for speakers to be incorporated into retaining walls, pergolas, or even landscape lighting. We’ve even brought the theater experience outside with full Dolby surround sound. The sky is the limit!
Call or Visit Us
If you have questions about what makes sense for your outdoor escape, bring us your plans and ideas so our team at Refined Systems can help design a system that is right for you. We can help figure out the best options that will sound great and be easy to operate. Call us today at Refined Systems and we will make sure you have a great experience.