Review: 6 pairs of outdoor speakers

Stereo in all kinds of weather

You deserve the best sound - even outside! You need to have a pair of outdoor speakers.

Utendørshøyttalere, B&W AM-1
Ad
forfatter

When the heat gets too hot, it feels too bad to use up the days inside. Therefore, we pull out, but that does not mean that the music experiences must be left inside. What you need is to move the music out. And how can one do that, without compromising on sound? Yes, because it is of course easy to think that it is nice to have a travel-friendly Bluetooth speaker, which you move out on the terrace when you go to bed on the sun lounger. But there is a better solution. A much better solution. Namely outdoor speakers for wall mounting.

Stereo

First of all, it is important to have sound in stereo, that is, two speakers and with a long enough distance from each other to draw a large sound image. Already there, all portable small speakers fail. Well, except for those that can be linked together in pairs, such as the Ultimate Ears Hyperboom.

But you may want a more permanent solution outdoors. It is not very practical to have to move two speakers back and forth, store them in the shed when not in use, and look for them again on the next occasion. Which brings us to this test.

Sonos & Sonance outdoor
Sonos Outdoor by Sonance. Photo: Geir Gråbein Nordby

Outdoor speakers for wall mounting

These are outdoor speakers that are mounted on the wall – or in the ceiling. These are ordinary, passive speakers that are connected to an amplifier with cable. In the ordinary, old-fashioned way. These are very similar speakers for wall mounting, with one important difference: They are weather resistant, and can withstand both wind and rain. But no frost and snow, so be sure to have a place to store them when winter comes.

Almost all outdoor speakers have a very simple installation, and can easily be hooked off the wall / ceiling bracket for the winter season. You can leave the bracket with cables, just be sure to use affordable cables.

All outdoor speakers in this test came with the included wall mount. Photo: Canton

Placement

Do not underestimate the placement of the speakers. Think before you screw them up. If you want the sound to reach over a larger area, such as a large terrace or garden, the speakers can advantageously be mounted higher than two meters up on the wall. Preferably under the eaves, or in the ceiling if you have the speakers on the terrace. Then you can easily extend the season with a patio heater when the time comes!

If, on the other hand, you want sound for a small seating group, and perhaps want the most precise sound picture when you sit alone, then the speakers can be attached further down, maybe even at a sitting ear height. Then you get a better focused stereo image.

All speakers in this test have an adjustable angle along one axis. Whether the speakers are to be mounted vertically or horizontally on the wall depends on which way you want to be able to adjust the angle. A rule of thumb is horizontal mounting when placed at a high position, and vertical mounting when placed at ear height.

The Bluesound Powernode 2i is an example of a really good, small amplifier that can be recommended for operating outdoor speakers. But it must be inside! Photo: Bluesound

Don’t forget a amplifier!

Since these are passive speakers, you will need an amplifier as well. We recommend one with built-in streaming, which makes playback a breeze. It should be compact, but should still have enough power to bring some life to the camp! We can recommend the Sonos Amp, or if you want extra power and the ability to play music in higher resolution (although that’s not the main priority here), the Bluesound Powernode 2i is even better.

Note that the amplifier should not be left out. It must be placed inside, and then a place where there is internet coverage so it can stream music unhindered. The speaker cables must be affordable, the most important thing is that they are long enough…

Six different outdoor speakers

We have included a pair of speakers from each of six different manufacturers, where the median is around  £ 600. That you pay a little extra for weather resistance must be taken into account, as robustness takes precedence over the ability to reproduce the smallest details in the soundscape. It does not surprise us if you can almost halve the price and still get just as good sound from a pair of regular tripod speakers. Worth being aware of.

This is how we tested

All speakers have been tested both outdoors and indoors. When doing group tests of many products, it is important that you get connected back and forth fairly quickly between them, so instead of mounting all the pairs on wall one by one, we have put them on racks, right up to the outer wall. In this way, we have been able to switch between the pairs, and quickly connect back to a previously tested pair if there is something we have been unsure of.

We have used the same racks inside our regular test room, also right up to the back wall to be able to best simulate a wall mounting. We emphasize that the differences we heard between the speakers outdoors were also repeated indoors.

Products in this test

Monitor Audio Climate 60

The joy of playing weighs up

Monitor Audio Climate 60 has an energetic playing style that works for the most part.

Clear sound, good with life and rhythm.
Slightly dark tone on strings, the midrange sounds colored.

Klipsch AW-525

High party factor

Don't let size fool you. The Klipsch AW-525 speakers love to play loud.

Super efficient and easy to operate, potent bass for the size, and sparkling dynamics.
A little too woolly and grained sound for our taste.

Focal 100 OD 8

Speakers for outdoor parties

The Focal speaker is the best choice if you need a speaker with impact.

Bouncy dynamics and plenty of bass. High party factor.
The size can be a drawback and the sound lacks sophistication.

Canton Pro XL.3

Anonymous and unengaging

Canton follows an old speaker recipe with the Canton Pro XL.3, but here there is something gurgling.

Fuller sound than the size suggests. Compact dimensions blend nicely with the facade.
Trapped sound, twists in the bass when you turn up the volume. Flat dynamics.

Sonos Outdoor

Too expensive

Sonos Outdoor works for the most part, and does little harm. Unfortunately, it sounds boring, and the price tag is a bit steep.

Pleasant midrange on vocals, and the sound is rich enough. It is also clear enough at the top for it to work well.
It sounds pretty flat and tame. It's especially dynamics that are missing, it simply sounds too boring. The price tag is also galimatias.

Bowers & Wilkins AM-1

The best outdoor speaker

The Bowers & Wilkins outdoor speaker is very elaborate, and so is the sound.

Beautifully balanced, refined and resolved soundscape, plenty of bass and sound pressure.
Requires a potent amplifier to perform at its best.

Also check out

JBL Bar 5.0 is a simple and joyful soundbar, which does not need a subwoofer to provide enough bass.

The first active wireless speakers from Q Acoustics are easy to fit in the smart home. In terms of sound, they leave room for improvement.

Iron has polished up the concept, and an even better speaker has come out of it.

From Polk Audio comes the Magnifi Mini; a tiny soundbar that sounds like it was much bigger.

The first PC with the GeForce RTX 3080 has arrived. And it's pushing the limits for gaming 3D performance again - if ever so slightly.

Shooting0 in 4K from the air has never been this easy.

The compact RF 70-200mm with f4 and image stabilizer is an expensive but razor-sharp zoom for Canon full-frame cameras.

Behind the dull exterior lives a powerful processor and an excellent graphics card - but they can not escape.

For some, the Yamaha amplifier will lack something significant, but it's not the sound quality we're thinking about.

Mola Mola Kula is a unique amplifier. We have probably never heard this abundance of details ever!

The Asus PA32UCX with Mini-LED is for professionals, and is in short the best PC screen I have seen. But it's not perfect, either.

With Samsung's new projectors, you can get a huge picture directly on the wall at home in the living room.

Bang & Olufsen has borrowed inspiration from the 1970s and created a convincing music machine that you can take with you.

With absolutely all the features you need, the Marantz NR1711 provides great home cinema experiences in a slim and sleek form package.

This is the modern surround receiver for those who want really good sound in the home cinema, but who are sober with their use of money.

Philips ultra-wide screen puts you in the middle of the action, whether it's games, movies or spreadsheets.