A comparison of the best outdoor speakers of 2022

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Outdoor speakers are ideal for adding rhythm to your days spent in the garden, by the pool and at the beach, or even for livening up parties on the patio. Tropicalized and waterproof, these speakers are designed to withstand bad weather and various climates. From passive speakers with an additional amplifier for the terrace to compact battery-powered models to follow you everywhere, there are many solutions for listening to music outdoors. So, which outdoor speaker should you choose? Find out in this comparative guide of the best outdoor speakers of 2022.

There are many brands of outdoor speakers on the market, such as Sonos, Bose, Marshall and B&W. Some are portable and battery-powered, while others are wired and stationary. To make your choice easier, discover all the important features to study when choosing the best outdoor speaker.

Which IP rating?

Several levels of protection and sealing certify the possible uses of an outdoor speaker. While all portable Bluetooth speakers can be taken into the garden, some models will be more suited to the hazards of the outdoors. So-called “tropicalized” models are resistant to prolonged exposure to humidity. It is possible to use them outdoors in damp weather, but they can’t be used in the rain or near a swimming pool.

For superior protection, you can opt for splash and immersion resistant speakers. This capability is certified by the international IP standard. The IP rating is always followed by two numbers and/or a letter. The first digit defines the degree of protection against the ingress of solid foreign objects, such as dust. The second defines the degree of protection against liquids. For example, the Sonos Roam speaker is IP67 certified, meaning it’s fully dust-proof and can be submerged up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. Here is a table of the different IP standards.

Ingress protection (IP)1st digit: protection against solid foreign objects 2nd digit: protection against water and liquids
1Protected against solid objects over 50mm. Protected against vertically falling drops of water
2Protected against solid objects over 12.5mmProtected against direct sprays of water up to 15° from the vertical.
3Protected against solid objects over 2.5mmProtected against direct sprays of water up to 60° from the vertical.
4Protected against solid objects over 1mmProtected against water splashed from all directions
5Protected against dust and other microscopic residuesProtected against jets of water from all directions (6.3mm nozzle, distance 2.5 to 3m, flow rate 12.5l/min ±5%)
6Totally protected against dustProtected against strong jets of water from all directions (12.5mm nozzle, distance 2.5 to 3m, flow rate 100l/min ±5%)
7Protected against the effects of temporary immersion (up to 1m) and for 30 minutes.
IP67 certified, the Sonos Roam portable Bluetooth speaker can follow you on all your adventures thanks to its resistance to weather, immersion and dust.

Portable or wired Bluetooth speaker?

Many solutions exist for listening to music outdoors. The easiest way is to use a portable Bluetooth speaker. These are a practical solution for occasionally enjoying your music during a party, a barbecue or a relaxing day by the pool. You can easily carry them from one corner of the garden to another, depending on your needs. In good weather, any Bluetooth speaker can be used outdoors, placed on the corner of the table or in a relatively shaded area. However, for use at the edge of a swimming pool, it is essential to choose an speaker resistant to splashes or, ideally, to immersion. To do this, you can use the previous table of the IP standard. Among these waterproof speakers, the reference models are the Sonos Move, Sony SRS-XB33 and Marshall Emberton BT.

With its compact size, splash resistance and 20-hour battery life, the Marshall Embertin BT portable Bluetooth speaker will accompany you all day in the garden, at the beach or by the pool.

Portable Bluetooth speakers are convenient, but you need to store them at home and charge them after each use. In addition, their power is often limited. If you need a solution that can stay outside all the time to enjoy music on the terrace, under a gazebo or around a swimming pool, outdoor speakers can be a better alternative. To adapt to all possible configurations, there are many models, the details of which you can find in the guide: the different types of outdoor speakers. For the terrace or patio, wall-mounted speakers such as the Focal 100 OD8, Elipson Rain 6 and B&W AM1 (read the B&W AM1 speaker review) are particularly suitable. The latter are accompanied by an adjustable wall bracket to easily direct them towards the listening area. They can be controlled by smartphone when powered by a connected amplifier.

The B&W AM1 outdoor speaker can be easily installed on the wall or under a roof slope to add sound to the terrace or patio.

During renovation or extension work, you can opt for built-in outdoor speakers such as the KEF CI 160QL. Placed in the walls or under the slope of the roof, the latter ensure total integration. For a swimming pool or a gazebo located in the middle of the grounds, you can use garden speakers like the Klipsch PRO-650T-LS which are easily hidden in the vegetation or along the paths. For even more discretion, there are also outdoor speakers that imitate the shapes and colors of real rocks. The reference models are the Klipsch PRO-650T-RK Rock, Earthquake Granite-52 and Sonance RK63.

Mimicking the shapes of a real rock, the Klipsch PRO-650T-RK Rock speaker can be easily hidden in the garden.

Active or passive outdoor speaker?

An outdoor speaker is said to be active when it incorporates its own amplification. All waterproof portable Bluetooth speakers are therefore active models. They work in total autonomy, for easy implementation. Thanks to their built-in battery and amplification, you can place the speaker wherever you want to instantly play music. Conversely, outdoor wall or floor speakers are almost always passive. This means that you have to run speaker cables to connect them to an amplifier, which is placed inside the house. For easier use, we recommend choosing a connected amplifier like the Sonos Amp to control the music in the garden from a smartphone or tablet.

Controllable from the garden using a smartphone or tablet, the Sonos Amp connected amplifier is ideal for powering a pair of outdoor speakers.

Note that there are a few active outdoor speakers, such as the Lithe Audio Bluetooth Garden Rock Speaker. It has an integrated amplification of 2 x 30 watts and can receive music via Bluetooth. However, a power supply is still necessary.

The Lithe Audio Bluetooth Garden Rock Speaker incorporates its own 2 x 30 watt amplification and can receive music via Bluetooth. It can be associated with the passive Lithe Audio Garden Rock Speaker (sold separately), to obtain stereo sound throughout a larger area.

What power for an outdoor speaker?

When the speaker is placed next to the garden furniture or the deck chair, any model, even of modest power, can be used. Models like the JBL GO 3, Sony SRS-XB13 and Bose SoundLink Micro are perfect for this purpose. These speakers are also ideal for traveling light and with minimal bulk.

With its compact format, the JBL GO 3 speaker can be taken anywhere for close listening, without disturbing those around you.

However, the smaller a speaker, the smaller and fewer the drivers will be. However, large drivers are essential to enjoy powerful sound and deep bass. To liven up evenings by the pool, you will need larger speakers, capable of delivering higher power. The majority of wired outdoor speakers are capable of delivering enough power for your biggest parties, provided you pair them with an amplifier that matches their performance. For example, the Elipson Rain 8 speaker has a power handling capacity of 150 watts and benefits from a large 7.8″ midbass driver to ensure excellent acoustic performance in all environments. For even more powerful bass, you can also pair it with an external subwoofer like the Klipsch PRO-10SW-RK Rock.

With a power handling capacity of 150 watts and a large 7.8″ midbass driver, the Elipson Rain 8 speaker is ideal for adding sound to a large terrace, livening up parties outdoors and enjoying genuine outdoor hi-fi.

If you want to retain the mobility of portable Bluetooth speakers while maximizing bass power and volume, it is best to opt for larger speakers like the JBL Boombox 2 and SoundCast VG7. Finally, you can also use battery-powered party speakers. Although they are more cumbersome than conventional portable speakers, they have the advantage of being equipped with very large drivers, combined with generous amplification. For example, the JBL PartyBox 310 speaker has 240 watts of power, 18 hours of battery life and two 6.7″ woofers to deliver powerful bass.

With its 240 watts of power, large woofers and 18 hours of battery life, the JBL PartyBox 310 speaker keeps the party going all night long.

Connectivity and wireless streaming

If you opt for a portable Bluetooth speaker, outdoor music streaming will mainly be carried out via Bluetooth from a smartphone, tablet or computer. Some portable speakers are also WiFi compatible to access many streaming services, web radios or AirPlay and Chromecast streaming. However, you will have to stay within the perimeter covered by the home WiFi network. To take advantage of these features at the other end of the garden, you might need to extend your network with a WiFi Mesh system. Finally, some portable speakers like the Marshall Kilburn 2 also have a mini-jack input to connect a DAP, for example. For party speakers like the JBL PartyBox 710, the range of connectors is often more extensive, with RCA, microphone and guitar inputs.

The Sonos Move waterproof portable speaker can work via Bluetooth and WiFi, with access to many streaming services and web radios.

With a passive outdoor speaker, the connection depends exclusively on the amplifier that you associate with it. Once again, choose a connected model to control the music, manage the volume and select the different sources remotely. To make the right choice, you can refer to the comparative guide of the best WiFi/Bluetooth connected amplifiers.

What is the best outdoor speaker?

We’ve sifted through the different types of outdoor speakers throughout this guide. These fall into two broad categories: portable Bluetooth speakers and wired outdoor speakers. Portable models are ideal for occasional use and to follow you on the go, whether in the garden, on vacation or at the beach. Wired speakers are intended exclusively for domestic use, by the pool, on the terrace or in a patio. They will significantly extend the listening area outdoors. To make your choice easier, we have compiled a list of the market leaders for these two categories of outdoor speakers:

The best portable outdoor speakers:

The best wired outdoor speakers:

  • Focal 100 OD8: 150W, 2-way, 8″ midbass driver, wall or ceiling
  • Earthquake AWS-802: 100W, 2-way, 7.9″ midbass speaker, wall or ceiling
  • Elipson Rain 8: IPX4, 150W, 2-way, 7.9″ midbass driver, wall or ceiling
  • Klipsch PRO-650T-LS: 50W, 2-way, 6.5″ midbass driver, ground speaker with stake
  • Klipsch AWR-650 : 50W, 2-way, 6.5″ midbass driver, rock speaker
  • B&W AM1: 100W, 2-way, 5″ midbass driver + passive radiator, wall or ceiling

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