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

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.

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What do you think?

4.5 / 5. 2

Monitor Audio Climate 60 svart
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.

Our verdict

Clear sound, good with life and rhythm.
Slightly dark tone on strings, the midrange sounds colored.
  • Type: 2-way with passive radiator bass
  • Recommended amplifier power: 20-120 W
  • Sensitivity / impedance: 88 dB / 8 ohms
  • Dimensions: 18.5 x 32.5 x 18 cm (W x H x D)
  • Weight: 4.62 kg
  • Colors: black or white
  • Waterproof: IP55
  • Other: Rotatable wall bracket, 15 ° wedge included
  • Web: soundgarden.no
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Price 249 £

Monitor Audio Climate 60 is more square and feels more old-fashioned than the other outdoor speakers. On our pair, the white color has a yellow stitch reminiscent of the original Macintosh computer. Or that they come from a home where they smoke indoors.

To help with the bass register, Monitor Audio has placed an oval, passive radiator bass on the back of the speaker. This does the same thing as a bass reflex port, by compensating for negative and overpressure when the bass rhythms beat. But without the gate distortion.

Installation is not difficult, just screw up the wall brackets, with or without the 15 degree wedge that can angle the speakers 15 degrees down. Remove the magnetic covers on the top and bottom of the speakers and secure them with the supplied clamps. Replace the covers. A hook on the back holds the cable.

Monitor Audio Climate 60 svart
Climate 60 in white. Photo: Monitor Audio

The sound of Monitor Audio Climate 60

In terms of sound, the speakers have a lot to offer. Especially in the midrange, there is a rhythmic drive that distinguishes them positively from Sonos Outdoor. The violin picks on Good News by Mac Miller have a good touch, as has the edge beat on the snare drum in Ariana Grande’s Break Up With Your Girlfriend. The bass, on the other hand, is worse. The deep, huge bass that is supposed to explode in the beginning is hardly a faint hint. It doesn’t exactly smell like a party of this, Monitor Audio is more for background music.

We also register a rather dark sound in the violins that surround Luka Sulic’s cello during Vivaldi’s four seasons. There is speed in them compared to Sonos, but Sonos in turn has more air in the harmonics. We come to the conclusion that it will be taste and pleasure, and when you let the price decide, there is no doubt that we would rather recommend Monitor Audio Climate 60 than Sonos Outdoor. However, it is not quite enough to place them in the top tier, when you hear how much better – and more – sound Focal 100 OM 8 gives for only 40 bucks more.

Monitor Audio Climate 60
Photo: Monitor Audio

Conclusion

Monitor Audio Climate 60 has a lot of engaging features. The midrange area in particular comes out with good speed, it almost squirts with violins and snare drum! There is only a little air left in the treble to completely convince in the harmonic range, and the bass is far from a powder keg. It is a little better than the smaller Canton XL.3, in many ways we are in class with Sonos Outdoor here, and at a much lower price. 6000 kroner is still far from free, and you can definitely get even better sound for the money. But the speakers radiate a joy of playing that is easy to like.

Klipsch AW-525
Klipsch AW-525

High party factor

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

Our verdict

Super efficient and easy to operate, potent bass for the size, and sparkling dynamics.
A little too woolly and grained sound for our taste.
  • Type: Two-way closed cabinet
  • Max power: 300 w
  • Sensitivity / impedance: 94 dB / 8 ohms
  • Dimensions: 20.9 x 29.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Weight: 3 kg
  • Colors: Black. el. white
  • Waterproof: Not specified
  • Other: Rotatable wall bracket
  • Web: mono.no
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Price 319 £

If you are going to have a party in the garden, a Klipsch speaker is the obvious choice. Few speakers play as loud and tough as a Klipsch, and the AW-525 outdoor speaker is no exception.

It’s made mostly for fun, and hi-fi purists might want to choose something else. The Klipsch AW-525 is not a great speaker, but still one of the most potent in this test. It is available in black and white, and the ABS-molded and waterproof case can actually be painted if desired.

A C-shaped steel bracket holds the speaker firmly, and it can be easily angled so that it points towards the sofa or garden furniture. Here you get screw terminals instead of terminal terminals, and the quality is generally very good in all joints. There is a smaller version, and a larger version in the Klipsch AW series, and the AW-525 is the middle of the three. Behind the rust-resistant grille is a 5.25-inch bass and Klipsch Tractrix horn tweeter.

The horn has a 90 x 90 degree spread of the sound, which makes the speaker very efficient, but also offers a challenge.

Klipsch AW-525
Klipsch AW-525 is available in white, but if you ask us, Klipsch should be black! Photo: Klipsch.

The sound of Klipsch AW-525

Although the Klipsch speakers are among the smaller ones in the test, they play powerful and loud enough galore. The small bass element plays far above its weight class, and the speaker does not require a monster amplifier for it to be fun.

They sound a little too woolly in our opinion, and you have to angle the speakers straight for the Tractrix horn scattering pattern to have any effect. Stand slightly on the side of the speakers, and you will not hear a treble from the farthest speaker. Something to be aware of. Bass is sufficient here, it is also well defined, but the midrange sounds flat in our opinion, and the midrange is perceived as unfocused and withdrawn. The Klipsch speakers are the best at rhythmic music and Ariana Grande sounds really bouncy and fresh, but these are not the speakers for chamber music.

Conclusion

The Klipsch AW-525 is a real feast of an outdoor speaker. But the taste in music will probably be decisive for whether to choose this or any of the other speakers in the test. There is better sound elsewhere, but few speakers in this size are able to play as fat and tough as these. If you have little space for speakers, but a large garden, the Klipsch AW-525 is a good choice.

Focal 100 OD 8

Speakers for outdoor parties

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

Our verdict

Bouncy dynamics and plenty of bass. High party factor.
The size can be a drawback and the sound lacks sophistication.
  • Type: Two-way closed cabinet
  • Recommended amplifier power: 20-150 w
  • Sensitivity / impedance: 88 dB / 8 ohms
  • Dimensions: 22.8 x 28 x 39 cm
  • Weight: 5.8 kg
  • Colors: Black. el. white
  • Waterproof: IP66
  • Other: Rotatable wall bracket
  • Price: 6390 kr
  • Web: multirom
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Price 249 £

The size definitely matters. Focal’s outdoor speaker plays tougher than most outdoor speakers, and is both waterproof and solidly built.

The speaker, which is available in black or white polypropylene with Focals Polyglass elements, can be mounted on a wall or ceiling, and comes with an aluminum bracket that can be clamped to the speaker.

They are relatively easy to set up and can be rotated 180 degrees. The logo can also be rotated, depending on whether you place the speakers horizontally or vertically. The cables can be threaded through the bracket if desired, and the terminal terminals are hidden in the cabinet, which is waterproof with IP66 certification and UV-resistant.

There is a smaller Focal 100 OD6 if you think OD8 is too big, but in our opinion this is the one to have. The speakers have an 8-inch bass with Focal’s inverted aluminum tweeter, and it works beyond expectations.

The sound of Focal 100 OD 8

The large Focal speakers sound like they look. The sound is rich, the soundscape large and there is more than enough bass in them. The treble may feel a little relaxed and withdrawn, but the midrange sounds warm and clearly focused. The party factor is definitely present, if you want to play higher.

The size gives more bass and volume, and the Focal speakers are among those in this test, which can really get your hips swinging in the garden. However, we miss a bit of sophistication, because when we switch from Billie Eilish to Vivaldi, there is a lack of air and resolution that makes the strings sound a bit coarse-grained. But look at music such as. Ariana Grande, and the sound immediately becomes more vivid and appealing from the Focal speakers.

Conclusion

Focal 100 OD8 is an obvious choice for those who want a party factor in the garden or on the terrace. They play loud with conviction, and there is plenty of bass here. They are also easy to set up, but the height of just under 40 cm can make them too large. As mentioned, there is a smaller OD6 with 6.5-inch bass, but we would choose this because it simply makes it swing some innmari.

Canton pro_xl.3 xl3
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.

Our verdict

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.
  • Type: 2-way closed cabinet
  • Recommended amplifier power: 20-120 W
  • Sensitivity / impedance: Not specified / 6-8 ohms
  • Dimensions: 15 x 23.5 x 15.5 cm (W x H x D)
  • Weight: 2.1 kg
  • Colors: black or white
  • Waterproof: Not specified
  • Other: Rotatable wall bracket
  • Web: njal.no
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Price £

Canton Pro XL.3 is a very compact outdoor speaker, but still Canton’s largest. You can choose between white or black.

The speakers are made for easy wall mounting: First you screw the wall bracket into the wall based on whether you want horizontal or vertical mounting (or what about slanting?). Then turn on the speaker easily with two included clamps. The speaker can be rotated almost 90 degrees in each direction from the center position.

The sound of Canton Pro XL.3

Singing voices – female as well as male – sound surprisingly rich, considering the compact dimensions of the speakers. Billie Eilish’s voice on the Bond song No Time To Die has a nice fullness in the chest sound area, and the piano has a warm fullness that is easy to like.

When the music takes it easy in the turns, without much bass, Canton sounds perfectly fine. The treble could well have been more distinct, it gets a little woolly – but no crisis.

The only problem is that most of the music has bass in it, and you want to be able to turn up the volume to something other than pure background noise. Especially outdoors, where the sound from the speakers drowns out more.

Canton Pro XL.3 XL3
This is how Canton XL.3 looks in black. Photo: Canton

As the Eilish song gradually escalates, the speakers fail to keep up. Instead, they kneel, and bass tones set off a distortion that propagates far up in the treble range. It shrinks metallically every time a bass note tries. Ariana Grande never offers to dance. A narrow chamber ensemble can work well, but only if the double bass takes it easy.

If you want these, you must either play very low, or use a processor that can do bass management. And send the bass frequencies to a subwoofer instead. We do not expect you to bother.

Conclusion

Canton Pro XL.3 are a pair of compact outdoor speakers. They still sound fuller than they look, but there is also the problem. Because even if they manage to play vocals well on their own, it becomes something quite different as soon as the bass guitar or drums come in. Not only does it get flat, but also distorted. The Canton speakers fail to catch up with their bigger competitors, and although these are the most affordable in the field, one can not say they offer much for the money. We simply have to say we are a little disappointed.

Sonos outdoor
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.

Our verdict

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.
  • Type: 2-way closed
  • Recommended amplifier power: 5-100 W
  • Sensitivity / impedance: approx. 90 dB / 6-8 ohms
  • Dimensions: 19.1 x 32.9 x 19.9 cm (W x H x D)
  • Weight: 4 kg
  • Colors: white
  • Waterproof: not specified
  • Other: Rotatable wall bracket
  • Web: sonos.com
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Price 679 £

Sonos is on a somewhat unfamiliar ground when they have for the first time embarked on the art of making passive speakers. They are active, wireless multi-room speakers they can. But because many customers who want multi-room at the same time want to keep the existing stereo speakers in the living room, Sonos has also always offered an amplifier with built-in streaming, in one form or another. The person who got the job there is simply called Amp.

But then someone must have thought: “Why not become a total supplier?” What is missing from the menu are then passive speakers, which can be operated by Amp. The choice then fell on speakers for wall and ceiling mounting, since multi-room customers like hidden installations.

And then Sonos has done something clever. Instead of trying to make their own speakers, something many people probably do better than them, they have chosen a manufacturer to work with. Specifically, Sonance, which is widely known for recessed and outdoor speakers in all shapes, with high quality.

Mariner-based

Sonos Outdoor is based on the Mariner series from Sonance, and fits in size between the two largest models, 66 and 86. In terms of appearance, they are almost identical, with the same type of swivel stand solution and with cable clamps at the front, hidden behind a cover.

But where Sonance’s own speakers use bass membranes lined with Kevlar / Nomex to reduce distortion, there is no such thing on Sonos speakers. Here it is cheap polypropylene membrane that applies.

The speakers are weatherproof, but without any official IP certification. We still see that the Sonance Mariner series is IP66, which means that they are completely dustproof and also can withstand strong water flushing against enclosure from all sides.

It should also be mentioned that where Sonance offers its speakers in black or white, Sonos has chosen to offer only white color. Which will probably exclude some potential customers.

Sonos Outdoor
Sonos Outdoor is only available in white. Photo: Sonos

No obvious benefits with Sonos Amp

Where Sonos’ In-Wall and In-Ceiling wall and ceiling recessed speakers enable automatic room correction (TruePlay) in the Amp amplifier, you get no such benefits with Outdoor. The only thing that happens when the amplifier detects that it is connected to this is that you are told that a Sonos Architectural speaker is connected, but no additional user functions appear in the app. But there is an impedance detection there, which connects an overvoltage protection and also allows the amplifier to drive three pairs of speakers instead of just two, as it is otherwise specified for. But acoustically, there are no benefits to pairing Outdoor with Amp.

The sound of Sonos Outdoor

That the Sonos speaker is more expensive than Sonance’s similar speakers is not so easy to understand when you see that you have used cheaper bass elements. And it’s even harder to understand when you listen to them.

So, it’s not that the speakers are doing anything particularly wrong. The music sounds clear enough, singing voices sound about as expected and it is not the case that the bass rumbles and drowns out the midrange, and adds a discoloration to the music.

The problem with Sonos is that they are so anonymous. Mac Miller’s voice is clear, but lacks punch and physique. It’s not the same touch and drive in the midrange here as with Monitor Audio Climate 60, and Sonos does not have the great spread and gigantic sound image of the Focal 100 OM 8. Violins never bite properly, there is nothing that engages.

The bass is so far full enough, and well balanced. But where is the control? Ariana Grande’s bass rhythms make the speakers flatten if you turn up the volume a bit, and a chamber orchestra does not get enough dynamics to engage. Sonos is beaten by Focal and simply crushed by B&W.

– Flat and boring, exclaims editor Lasse Svendsen. It’s hard to disagree.

Conclusion

Sonos Outdoor is a slightly twisted nut to crack. On the one hand, the speakers make little mistake, there are no unnotes here. But where is the dynamic? There is simply too little going on here, it never swings, we do not feel like dancing. The bass is tame, the midrange as well, and honestly there is also a lack of resolution in the treble.

Everything could have been forgiven, and we would probably have given Sonos Outdoor four straight stars in this field, if they then also cost about the same as the rest. But with a price increase of 50 percent, it can not be defended. Then we are instead down on a half-cheap 3-er. Sorry, not sorry.

B&W Bowes & Wilkins AM-1
Bowers & Wilkins AM-1

The best outdoor speaker

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

Our verdict

Beautifully balanced, refined and resolved soundscape, plenty of bass and sound pressure.
Requires a potent amplifier to perform at its best.
  • Type: Two-way closed cabinet
  • Recommended amplifier power: not specified
  • Sensitivity / impedance: 86 dB / 8 ohms
  • Dimensions: 18 x 31 x 21 cm
  • Weight: 4 kg
  • Colors: Black. el. white
  • Waterproof: Not specified
  • Other: Rotatable wall bracket
  • Web: hifiklubben.no
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Price 499 £

In this field, the Bowers & Wilkins AM-1 must be called a medium-sized speaker. However, there is nothing mediocre about the speaker, which has both the finest performance and the best sound in this test.

It is available in black and white, the cabinet is waterproof and solid, and it comes with an L-shaped aluminum bracket that is attached to one side of the speakers. The bracket also acts as an extended connection for the cables, which are attached to the inside of the bracket, where it is screwed to the wall or ceiling.

The bracket is elaborate, and the same can be said about the speakers. The quality impression is as expected of a B&W speaker. It is equipped with B & W’s Nautilus tweeter, and a 5-inch bass with fiberglass membrane. The back is a single large passive slave bass, in a waterproof rubber suspension, but it is not bass heavy for that reason.

Utendørshøyttalere, B&W AM-1
B&W AM-1 are the best outdoor speakers in their field. Photo: Bowers & Wilkins

The sound of Bowers & Wilkins AM-1

Balance is the word here. The medium-sized B&W speakers deliver a generous and very well-balanced sound image. After the first impression has subsided, you notice that they also have more bass than you might think. These are not the sharpest focused or most resolved speakers we have tested, but there is coherence here, all the time.

The bass hangs well even when you play loud, it may swing more of the Focal speakers, which can also play louder, but it is easy to get engaged by B & W’s outdoor speakers. They get good help from the slave bass behind, which gives Ariana Grande convincing dynamics and sound pressure. This is perhaps the most all-round speakers in the test, and clearly the best in classical music. None of the speakers in this test come close to the B&W speakers’ refined and resolved string sound, for example.

Conclusion

The Bowers & Wilkins AM-1 must be beaten by the Focal 100 OD8 in terms of volume and sound pressure, but it has more than plenty of bass for garden parties, and at the same time sounds more focused and better balanced than both Focal and the other speakers in the test. This is the speaker you should have if the sound quality is most important. The only downside to the AM-1 is that it needs a potent amplifier to shine on the patio.

Alternatives to 6 pairs of outdoor speakers

JBL L82 Classic

Let The Good Times Roll

The compact JBL L82 Classic offers so much fun for the money, that we call them the best in class.

DALI Oberon On-Wall C

Integrates with the surroundings

Dali has made its wireless technology available at a price that most people can relate to. And in a size everyone can accomodate.

SRS-XB33 & SRS-XB43

Party on the go

Sony's new generation of wireless speakers with extra bass sounds even better than before.

Belkin Soundform Elite

Belkin breaks the sound barrier

A network specialist and a high-end audio company have joined forces to create a smart speaker with hi-fi quality.

Harman Kardon Citation One MKII

Greatly improved Citation

Harman Kardon Citation One MKII sounds like a much larger speaker. Far more harmonious sound than in the first edition.

Sonus faber Lumina III

Hand-built sound quality

Sonus faber Lumina III is the obvious choice of speakers for smaller rooms

Sony HT-G700

Impressive sound

Few soundbars can simulate surround sound like the Sony HT-G700.

JERN W8000

Columbus egg in cast iron

Audioform has made a speaker that is so cheap and good that everyone can join.

Sigberg Audio Inkognito 12 onwall

Bass beast on the wall

Finally, an interior friendly subwoofer that delivers real physical bass! Sure, it will cost you but the returns include gorgeously musical bass notes and hefty low-frequency effects i movies. And best of all: you can hang it on your wall.

Samsung HW-Q66T lifestyle

The most balanced sound

If you are willing to give up Dolby Atmos and DTS: X, there is hardly any better soundbar for the price, than the Samsung HW-Q66T.