Top 10 Tips For Outdoor Loudspeaker System Design
Top 10 tips for outdoor loudspeaker system design.
Distinguish for your clients the differences among outdoor loudspeakers. Most need to be protected and placed under eaves. Some can be placed anywhere and be fully exposed to the elements, but check with the manufacturer first.
The best time to design an outdoor audio system is during landscaping planning or execution. Having the ground open is ideal for speaker-wire runs. Cables can be covered with new sod, plants, or stonework and be buried deeper. There's nothing worse than having an errant spade go through the middle of a 50-foot wire run.
Make loudspeakers part of the landscaping budget. In a budget of $20,000 and up, the difference in cost between cheap loudspeakers and better ones that will last more than 10 years is negligible.
When proximity to neighbors is an issue, consider installing loudspeakers along the perimeter of the property at ground level, facing the building, instead of hanging them under eaves.
Consider the dispersion and coverage characteristics of the loudspeakers. While many loudspeakers assume the listener can be positioned between a stereo pair, this is usually not practical in outdoor applications. Using a greater number of loudspeakers and running them at lower levels will provide more even sound coverage with less chance of bothering the neighbors.
Avoid promotionally priced outdoor loudspeakers that claim to be weatherproof. All else being equal, a weatherproof outdoor speaker should cost more than an indoor loudspeaker.
When running cables underground, use PVC pipe to protect the wires and facilitate future changes, such as adding lights near speaker locations.
Determine your system's sonic architecture. If you want a background-sound type of environment, you can go with multiple pairs of loudspeakers throughout the yard or under eaves. Too many overlapping left-right combinations, however, can be sonically problematic. A safe solution is to send a mono signal to every loudspeaker, so the sound is more diffuse.
Consider alternative techniques, such as mounting loudspeakers low to the ground and aiming them up toward the sky (avoiding reflective surfaces), or mounting them high and aiming them down to where shrubbery and such will absorb sound. For stronger bass, place the loudspeakers in corners, such as the bases of walls or under eaves. Simply mounting the loudspeakers on a wall or on the ground rather than on a post can help enhance bass performance.
Weatherproof all your cabling and connections with a good silicone sealant.
Source: CAMM Inc. Terra Loudspeakers