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Technology Showcase: Outdoor Loudspeakers

Mar 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Kent Morris

Weather-resistant and weatherproof options to withstand the elements.

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Niles Audio PS6Si

Niles Audio PS6Si

Weather, in all its variables, can wreak havoc on loudspeakers. Intense heat weakens enclosures, while frigid temperatures combine with moisture to destroy drivers at their seams. Over time, metal rusts and fabric rots, eventually leaving the transducer unable to perform its task. However, manufacturers have recently introduced a new generation of loudspeakers able to withstand the worst of Mother Nature's fury. From water-resistant circuitry to innovative inert materials, today's outdoor loudspeakers are better able to endure the onslaught of wind and rain than their predecessors.

Outdoor loudspeakers fall into several categories based on foreground or background use, intended exposure levels, and need for concealment. Patio and alcove loudspeakers are typically mounted under a protective roof area, meaning they need only be weather-resistant, not weatherproof. Made of plastic or aluminum and with their drivers angled down and away from water, patio loudspeakers can deliver relatively wideband response for low-level background music in restaurants, hotels, and theme parks. True outdoor environment transducers must bear the force of weather extremes and are thus less likely to perform at hi-fi standards, but with enough quality to be sonically acceptable. In addition to traditional metal-horn loudspeakers, newly developed plastic models have appeared on the scene. These molded enclosures can be formed to look like garden rocks or injected with color to blend into a grassy lawn. Foreground loudspeakers, for use in temporary outdoor concerts, are usually weatherized versions of a company's standard product with a few manufacturers specializing in robust, completely weatherproof enclosures designed for continuous outside duty. The products here, then, represent a cross-section of contractor-friendly background patio and decorative outdoor designs, along with a sampling of concert-ready foreground boxes and a look at some of the permanent weatherproof offerings.




Atlas Sound has introduced the ATS183GL8 garden loudspeaker with an innovative two-phase installation scheme. After selecting either a deep or shallow model, the contractor can install just the base with its removable protective cover and then return after the landscapers are finished to complete the project with the addition of the loudspeaker and transformer. By dividing the process in half, damage and theft are less of a concern, and the low-visibility green polyethylene enclosure provides pleasant-looking, long-term protection for the broadband 8in. coaxial loudspeaker.

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