So, you have the patio, the food and the company, but what about the tunes? Critical to just about every social event short of a poetry reading, music is second only to lighting in terms of creating ambiance. Since you have spent years collecting a fabulous collection of records, CDs and MP3 downloads, why not share them with your guests? Here is the lowdown on how to bring your music outdoors.
The easiest way to pump your music outdoors is to hook up speakers to the system you are using inside. Outdoor speakers start at about $50 and can run into the thousands; the selection is vast, with lots of jargon and techno-speak to make choosing a pair of speakers pretty confusing. But it doesn't have to be. A little knowledge, some careful listening and your trustworthy instincts are all you need to find a pair of speakers that'll provide a perfect soundtrack to any outdoor activity.
There are a wide variety of outdoor speakers available and will vary in size, shape and even color, but obviously, the most important aspect to consider when choosing speakers is the way they sound. If you haven't completely gone digital, bring a few of your favorite CDs to the store and test them out. Make sure the music is varied, too. Throw on a jazz and a rock disc and see how the speakers handle the variance in sound. It may be surprising, but different genres may sound better on certain systems.
Any true audiophile will tell you that the placement of speakers is almost more important than the speakers themselves. When mounting outdoor speakers, remember that the higher off the ground they are the further the sound will carry. Your system's power and your backyard setup will determine how far apart they should be.
When considering a home for your stereo speakers remember that symmetry is everything. Ideally, you want your speakers to run parallel to one another and equidistant from the wall or house. To make this a little less complicated, plan out where you want your speakers to go and use a tape measure to aid you. Always have both speakers mounted at the same height and place speakers at an angle, facing a focal point. You might recall that this is precisely how speakers are situated at a concert.
A great feature of outdoor speakers is that they are usually weatherproof. So, even if Mother Nature throws an especially nasty winter your way you can leave the right pair of speakers outside all year round. (Be sure to check the warranty to see if it covers damage caused by the elements.) That said, to be sure to get the longest life out of your speaker system, you may want to consider placing them in a covered portion of your outdoor area when possible.
"Camouflage" speakers are those that naturally blend into the surroundings. One option to consider is the cleverly designed incognito rock speakers. Not only do they blend into your backyard's natural surroundings, they are also weatherproof, withstanding even pool chemicals and salty air. Rock speakers are priced starting at just about $100 and go up from there. You can choose the color and shape of your speakers to match your decor. Some manufacturers even make speakers that resemble tree stumps. Though these speakers are pretty small, they can pump out about 300 watts per speaker.
If you have invested in a complicated, expensive system with more than two speakers you may want to leave the wiring to a professional. It may even be included in the price of your system so it may be worth considering.
However, a simpler setup can be done yourself. If aesthetics aren't all that important you can run exposed speaker wire through your house and up to the speaker. You can make the wiring look unobtrusive by tucking it under the carpet or by running it where the ceiling meets the wall. When considering how to run the wiring outdoors, sticking out of the window of the door is not an option because the wire will fray and present a tripping hazard. Inspect your cable TV wiring and see if you can piggyback onto the same indoor/outdoor route.
Bringing your tunes outdoors will help create a festive atmosphere during the summer, a romantic mood during the fall, a rejuvenating relaxation zone during the spring and help spread holiday cheer during the winter. So, put on your favorite CD and let the music play!