Outdoor speakers used to be simple.

Find something that sounds good and wire it up.

Today with music streaming and whole house audio setups like Sonos there is more to consider.

Come along with me and I will lay out everything you need to know and help you choose the right outdoor speakers for backyard bliss...

The Best Outdoor Speakers In 2018

NAME SOUND QUALITY CONNECTION PRICE
WINNER
Polk Atrium 6 9.6 Wired $$

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BLUETOOTH
UE MegaBoom 9.2 Wireless $$$

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MULTI-USE
Ion Block Rocker 8.8 Wireless $

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HIGH-END
Bose 251 SE & A1 Amp 9.7 WiFi/Wireless $$$$$

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BUDGET
Dual LU53 Outdoor 8.4 Wired $

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POWERED
Sound Appeal Bluetooth 8.9 Wireless $

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HIDDEN
Klipsch Outdoor Rock 9.5 Wired $$$$

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1. Polk Atrium 6 - Best Outdoor Speakers

The Polk Atrium 6 get’s my vote for the best outdoor speakers.

They sound outstanding!

That’s because of their large driver and a broad coverage baffle design that fills large open outdoor space with sizable, full-range sound.

These speakers have been around for a long time because they are a popular choice for outdoor listening.

Polk continues to update the design and bring these speakers into the future.

The bass response is almost too good. Really no need to add a subwoofer to your setup because these units will pump low frequencies like nobody’s business.

If boom is what you’re after, then the Polk Atrium 6 gets our vote for the best outdoor speakers for bass.

The mids and highs are also very clear but you might need to adjust the bass down a bit for your liking.

The downside is that these are wired speakers. That’s great for sound quality as they will sound better than any Bluetooth speaker out there but it does require some installation.

Many people hook these up to their Sonos system via the Sonos Connect Amp.

Just a quick tip… If you are planning to connect these up to your Sonos system be sure to get the Sonos Connect Amp and not the standard Sonos Connect unless you plan on using an external amplifier/receiver.

Otherwise, it won’t work.

As far as durability is concerned these are one of the best speakers on the market. They are industrial military grade rated to withstand just about everything you could throw at it.

That means everything from Florida rain storms to Mojave Desert heat.

These speakers require a bit of work to setup and install but you will be rewarded for the effort with fantastic, space-filling sound for any occasion.

Awesome speakers that provide plenty of bass. Way more than you would expect from a set of speakers that don't come with a subwoofer. The sound easily fills your backyard at low volumes, and the entire neighborhood at higher volumes.

Pros

  • Great Sound & Bass Response
  • Subwoofer Not Required
  • Military Grade Durability

Cons

  • Setup Required
  • Bass Almost Too Loud Out Of The Box

If you are looking for something that you can easily setup and still get great space filling sound, the UE Megaboom outdoor waterproof Bluetooth speaker is the way to go.

They don’t call it the MegaBoom for nothing. These speakers have some real thump to them.

With a built-in 360-degree 8-inch speaker, filling your yard with tunes won’t be a problem.

You can also pair multiple MegaBooms together for an even louder, stereo capable sound.

They’re IPX7 rated so you can leave them out in the rain or dunk them in the swimming pool without ruining them. They also float.

Another great thing about these speakers is that they are portable. So if the party moves inside, you can take them with you. If you want to go fishing or camping, no problem, take it along.

The range is also very good. With the Bluetooth 4.0 radio installed, you can stream up to 100 feet away.

If you’ve ever been at a party and the person with the smartphone got too far away from the speakers you can see how this is useful.

No more distortion and cracking when the DJ has to use the restroom 🙂

The battery life is also quite excellent. At 20 hours, it’s best in class.

I don’t have a lot of bad things to say about the UE MegaBoom. I guess if I had to say something…

I’d say that, while loud, the bass isn’t quite as deep as something like the Polk Atrium 6 but that’s to be expected out of a Bluetooth (i.e. non-wired) speaker.

The UE MegaBoom can handle any music genre with great precision and dimension. Syncing to your music player is super easy, takes just a few seconds. It’s portable, waterproof and sounds great!

Pros

  • Ultra Portable
  • Sounds Great For A Bluetooth Speaker
  • Long Range 100ft Connection

Cons

  • Bass Not Quite As Deep As A Wired Speakers

3. Ion Block Rocker - Best Multi-Use Outdoor Speaker

The Ion Block Rocker is a beast.

It comes in a big sturdy cabinet with an 8-inch speaker and a wide dispersion tweeter that are plenty loud enough for any party or get together.

It has many features that REALLY come in handy like:


1. A USB port for charging your phone or tablet
2. An aux cable to plug in devices that either don’t have Bluetooth or for creating an easy connection without the hassle of pairing
3. Wheels and a telescoping handle for easy transport
4. A Microphone for a quick and easy PA system or Karaoke

If you do enjoy the occasional Karaoke, the block rocker has 2 separate volume controls. One for the mic and one for the music.

This unit is very portable and I’ve personally taken it with me to a family reunion and to the drive-in movie theater.

In both instances, the sound was more than enough to satisfy.

If you need more volume for a REALLY large event, you can also pair two Block Rockers together.

They have a 100-foot Bluetooth range and the battery lasts for an absolutely ridiculous amount of time... 50 hours!

The Block Rocker, unfortunately, isn’t waterproof so keep that in mind. You will probably need to bring it inside when not in use.

It’s also big. It won’t be as ultra portable as something like the UE MegaBoom.

For a reasonable price, you can get the party started with the Ion Block Rocker.

The Block Rocker sounds fantastic and it will rock your face off! If loudness isn't your thing then you can still enjoy the clarity and deep sound at low levels, sounds amazing. Also very useful for events and parties on the go.

Pros

  • Loud!
  • Excellent Range & Battery Life
  • Karaoke Anyone?

Cons

  • Not Waterproof
  • Bulky

4. Bose 251 SE & SA-5 Amp - Best High-End Outdoor Speaker System

The Bose 251 SE outdoor speaker system with the SoundTouch A-5 Bluetooth and WiFi receiver gets my vote for the best high-end outdoor speaker system.

The speakers themselves are fantastic.

They have the signature Bose sound and are multi-angled to fill the open space in your yard.


The speaker is quite large and pumps out great sound.

It might be a bit big for some people’s taste as it comes in at 10.1 pounds per speaker making it a little more difficult to mount.

This setup also comes with the Bose SoundTouch A-5 Amp. The included A-5 receiver is what makes it my choice for the best high-end system.

Let me explain…

With the A-5 amp, you can hook multiple speakers up to the Bose system and stream all of your apps like Pandora, Spotify etc to your outdoor setup just like some of the other speakers on this list.

-But-

You can also pair up and listen to speakers in your living room, your kitchen, your bedroom etc.

That means that if you’re having a party, you can listen to the same music all throughout your house!

Not only does it allow for this functionality through its WiFi connection, unlike Sonos you can also hook up via Bluetooth.

That makes it easy for a guest to easily pair to the system so that they can DJ for a while.

I also chose Bose over Sonos for one very simple reason. Sonos doesn’t have an outdoor speaker and I’m not leaving a $600 unit outside, in the elements, that’s prone to rain damage.

I’m sure that Sonos will eventually drop an outdoor speaker but for the time being, Bose is king of the great outdoors.

FYI... these are wired speakers. Don’t let the “wirelessly stream music” title mislead you. What they mean by that is that you can wirelessly stream from your phone or tablet. NOT that the are a wireless system. You will still need to connect them to an amplifier.

Bose makes great speakers. We all know that. What makes this system stand out is the ability to hook up multiple speakers throughout the house and the additional Bluetooth pairing capability.

Pros

  • Bose Signature Sound
  • Multi-Directional Speaker Setup For Fuller Sound
  • WiFi & Bluetooth Connections For Easy Pairing

Cons

  • Units Are Heavy
  • Wired Connection Requires Installation

5. Dual LU53 - Best Budget Outdoor Speaker

The Duel 125 watt 3 way indoor/outdoor speakers is a pretty good sounding alternative to some of the more expensive outdoor units.

For around $50 bucks you get two 5.25 inch speakers that can handle up to 87dB.



For that price, you can add multiple speakers throughout your property without breaking the bank.

The bass is decent but it isn’t going to exactly shake the house. Adding an outdoor subwoofer would definitely help but that would increase the price of the system quite a bit.

It is a wired speaker so you will need to get an amp. I recommend the Lepai 168HA. It’s inexpensive and gets the job done.,,You can also plug in a wireless Bluetooth adapter in the back of the Lepai so that you can stream your music apps.

These are durable speakers and can handle the elements just fine.

If you are looking for something inexpensive (or just want to add a whole bunch of speakers to your property without spending thousands of dollars) these are the best cost to sound units that you can get.

These are great for the size! They won't crack or distort at loud volumes like some of the other budget outdoor speakers. For the price, they can't be beaten.

Pros

  • Price
  • Plenty Of Power
  • Bass Pretty Good For A Budget Speaker

Cons

  • Wired
  • Requires Installation

6. Sound Appeal - Best Powered Outdoor Speaker

The Sound Appeal Outdoor Weatherproof Bluetooth speaker comes equipped with an 80-watt class D amplifier.

That means that you don’t have to hook it up to a receiver or amp for it to work. So no drilling holes and running wires through your house.


Just plug it in, pair it and go.

They sound great! Plenty of power and with the 6.5-inch driver, these suckers are loud.

You won’t get as much bass and it doesn’t sound as good as say the Polk Atrium 6’s because it is a Bluetooth speaker and not wired.,,There’s a trade-off here.

What you get in easy setup (ie not having to run wires) you lose in sound quality.

It has a 60 foot Bluetooth range so you can be at the far end of the house without distorting the sound.

The downside is that there is no battery and to power the speakers and amp you need to plug them in at all times.

They also have a wire that you have to run from one speaker to the other. It is easier than running wire through the house but be aware that there is still one wire that you may want to hide

If you want loud, good sounding speakers that you can mount or just set on a bench or window sill without the hassle of running wires then these are the ones to get.

Install is fast and easy. They hook up to Bluetooth rather easily. You can use these for surround sound while watching games outside and cooking out, or listen to music when you have company over. 

Pros

  • Easy Setup & Pairing
  • Amp Included (No Running Wires To Indoor Receier)
  • Large 6.5-inch Great Sounding Driver

Cons

  • No Battery (Need To Keep It Plugged In)
  • Have To Run One Wire From One Speaker To The Other

7. Klipsch Rock AWR-65 - Best Hidden Outdoor Speaker

If you’re looking for something that sounds great but won't ruin your curb appeal then get these Klipsch hidden rock speakers.

Klipsch is a respected brand and has been making great speakers for years.


I’m kind of surprised that they decided to make a speaker that you can put next to your yard gnome but hey, they sound great and they won’t deface your house with unsightly metal mesh speakers.

They are equipped with a 6.5-inch dual voice coil polymer woofer and dual ¾-inch polymer dome tweeters. The sound is smooth and it has a respectable amount of bass.

If you want something that shakes up the neighbors a bit I would recommend getting a large subwoofer to go along with these speakers.

They are sold individually so you only get one speaker for the price which makes getting two rather expensive. Add in a sub and good receiver and you’re looking at around a thousand bucks.

It’s also wired. So like the other wired speakers in this review… you need to wire it.

These speakers will last a long time though and they do match whatever you got going on in your yard.

They come with a durable UV-resistant rock solid (see what I did there) enclosure. They will stand up to the elements no problem.

​These speakers sound fantastic at any volume. Do you expect anything less from Klipsch? Is the bass heart thumping...no, but you can't expect that from a smallish speaker. This guy is well hidden and sounds great.


Pros

  • Klipsch Quality Sound
  • Well Hidden
  • Durable

Cons

  • Installation Required
  • Watch Out For Yard Gnomes...
  • They Are Dirty Thieves Who Will Stop At Nothing...
  • To Rob You Of These Beautifully Crafted Rock Super Speakers!

How To Select The Best Outdoor Speakers

Outdoor Considerations

When purchasing an outdoor speaker there are things that you need to look for that differ from their indoor cousins.

First, how does it disperse the sound?

When you are listening to a speaker inside the house, you have walls that enclose and bounce the music around.

Outside is open aired wilderness. Nothing to contain the sound.

If Possible, you want to find a speaker that shoots the good vibrations in different directions like the Bose outdoor speakers pictured below.

Bose Multi-Directional

Also look for a good baffle design. Curved is better.

Speaker placement is also important.

You will get a much better bass response if you place your speakers on walls and corners with large surfaces.

Second, we want to make sure that it will hold up to the elements. Weatherproof is different than waterproof.

Weatherproof means that you can get it wet. Waterproof means that you can submerge it in water.

If you are just looking for speakers to hang from an awning in the backyard then weatherproofing will be all you need.

If you want to use a portable outdoor Bluetooth speaker in the pool, then make sure that it’s at least IPX5 waterproof rated, IPX7 is better.

The UE MegaBoom fits under this category. You can submerge the speaker in up to 3.3 feet of water for up to a half an hour.

Outdoor Subwoofers

If you’re really looking to shake the neighborhood then consider getting an outdoor subwoofer.

Subwoofers are designed to pump out low-frequency bass. Many come in 200 watts of power or more.

The downside to outdoor subs is that you will most likely need to wire it up to a home stereo system and you’ll definitely need to plug it into a power source.

That makes it more of a project but if you will stop at nothing to pump out Purple Rain by Prince then consider this 250 watt beast from OSD…

OSD 250 Watt Outdoor Subwoofer​

I recommend connecting it to the hidden outdoor rock speakers from Klipsch.

Powered Outdoor Speakers

Some outdoor units like the Sound Appeal Bluetooth speaker come with an amp built in.

The amp increases the power of the speaker so that can pump out more sound.

In the case of the Sound Appeal, it comes with an 80W High-Efficiency Class-D amplifier.

Many outdoor speakers do not have a built in amp but still sound totally fine.

Outdoor Stereo System 

If you want something that can pump out more power then consider getting a complete outdoor stereo system.

You can find systems that come with a receiver that will increase the wattage of the speakers.

If a full blown system is what you’re after then check out the Pyle PMLR24.

Pyle 200W Outdoor Speakers W/ Receiver

It doesn’t have Bluetooth built in but you can purchase a cheap $15 dongle and it will allow you stream Pandora, Spotify etc.

You can also plug in an Echo dot for voice control. We’ll talk more about that in a minute…

Wifi vs Bluetooth vs Wired

Used to be that you had to wire all of your outdoor speakers. Period.

You now have some options that allow for easier setup and greater portability.

First I want to say that you will still get the best sound out of a wired connection. You lose some richness of sound when connecting via a wireless connection.

If you’re an audiophile then stick with your standard wired connection. It will be more of a pain to setup. You will have to drill holes in your walls but if a perfect sound is what you’re after, then it’s worth it.

I highly recommend the Polk Atrium 6 if you are going wired. They sound great and if you want to you can turn them into Wifi speakers with the optional A1 transmitter.

Next up is Wifi.

Many new home speaker setups are coming equipped with a WiFi connection.

The sound quality on WiFi is really good. It makes use of the lossless codec which allows the original music file to be flawlessly reconstructed.

Bose has recently entered the Wifi Speaker arena with its fantastic SoundTouch A-5 system.

The downside is that these speakers aren’t portable and must be connected to a wireless network.

Finally Bluetooth.

You do lose some depth from the sound when streaming over Bluetooth but most people won’t notice the difference.

In the latest version of the Bluetooth wireless protocol (4.1) you now have a range of up to 100 feet from your music player. They have also enhanced the power consumption so it doesn’t drain your battery as fast.

The main selling point of Bluetooth is its portability and easy setup.

With a wired connection, you have to… well… wire it.

With a Wifi speaker connection, you have to connect it to your network and make sure you have all the passwords etc.

With Bluetooth, you just pair and go. Takes a second or two.

The UE MegaBoom is a fantastic Bluetooth speaker. If you want something that sounds great in the backyard and you can take with you to the beach or lake I’d go with that one.

Smart Home Compliant

You can hook all of the speakers on this list to an Amazon Echo or Google Home for voice control. It’s a pretty neat party trick.

If you have a receiver set up inside your home then you will need to get the Echo because Google Home doesn’t have a voice remote at the moment.

Chromecast

Another option for streaming is Google’s Chromecast dongle.

You simply plug the Chromecast into the back of any speaker and you can listen to one of the several music apps that are available for your phone or tablet.

This is an option for easy streaming to wired speakers like the Polk Atrium 6.

Final Words - Wrapping It Up

This list is a bit longer than some of my other speaker reviews because there are so many considerations when it comes to choosing the best one for your outdoor situation.

If you don’t mind wiring then go with any of the wired speakers on this list. They will sound better. Period.

The Polk Atrium 6 sounded the best in this category.

If convenience and portability are more up your alley the block rocker and UE MegaBoom are great choices.

(Note - The MegaBoom is more portable if that’s a concern).

If you want something that blends in with your nature laden sanctuary and sounds great then the Klipsch rock speakers are the way to go.

Finally, if you want a high-end system that will play all throughout your house, wirelessly then the Bose system is the best.

Related Guides From SmartHomeGearGuide

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