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It’s a comfortably warm Saturday afternoon. You are outside on the back deck, cold beverage in hand, the BBQ is fired up and you are officially enjoying summer. The yard looks incredible, filled with friends and family … now if only your neighbor hadn’t just fired up his hedge trimmer for the 14th time today … and the in house behind you they are having yet another animated and audible conversation while their son speeds away on his motorcycle, muffler be damned! Ah yes, the sights and sounds of summer!
 
It doesn’t have to be that way though. An outdoor space should be an oasis, a comfortable and safe place to escape the outside world. There is a way to create that sanctuary. All you need to do is erase everything outside of your space out by doing something everyone loves and that is listening to music.
 
Yup! Music can not only make you feel better and improve your mood, it can effectively mask the outside world and give you another element within your control to create the ultimate outdoor experience! However, like every other aesthetic element in that space, choosing the right look and level of performance is important. Music should blend into the space and be seamless yet immersive.
 
Music can also conceal your conversations and protect your privacy, as well as help you avoid being that neighbor who has the loud and animated conversations. There is also value in covering up the sounds of the city, erasing the sounds of traffic and the world around you. Lastly, if you entertain, nothing makes a BBQ like good company and great music.
 
Any solution you select should sound great, be easy to use or control and always be there when you need it, ready to go.
 
The most common way this is done is with 2 of more all-weather (AW) speakers. These are usually attached to walls or under soffits. As with anything in life, some are bad, most are ok and a few are spectacular. AW speakers do not blend into the space very well but are cost effective and for many people, the right solution.
 
In areas where theft may be a concern or where a cleaner look is important, a more invisible built in (BI) solution makes more sense. Typically, a set of BI speakers is installed in the soffit of the home and have grilles similar to the speakers installed in the ceilings inside the home. BI speakers don’t sound any better than the traditional solution above but they help achieve a certain desired look or security level.
 
The last option is using numerous smaller landscape (LS) speakers placed in the gardens and yard. LS speakers spread the sound more evenly throughout the yard and blend in to the surroundings. Often there is a buried subwoofer as well, which helps round out the bottom end sound. As an added bonus, LS speakers can be invisible or match the exterior lighting, even the rocks in the garden—the only limitation is your imagination!
 
Any option will require an amplifier of some sort and a source, usually a streaming service or Bluetooth. For every speaker placed in the yard, a single channel of amplification is needed. As an example, a traditional amplifier will power 2 channels of amplification or 2 speakers. However, many companies make multizone amplifiers which will power 4, 8, 12 or more zones so you can still get away with a single box to power multiple pairs of speakers. This saves space and lets you do more with less.
 
The other important consideration has to do with the zones of audio and how you will use the space. In larger spaces it is advised to have numerous zones of audio. You hear the sound clearly everywhere (vs. from just 2 speakers) but at a more moderate volume. As an example, mom and dad can enjoy their music at a lower volume on the back deck while the kids listen to their music a little louder while they splash about and frolic in the pool.
 
That’s it! It’s not hard to add music to the backyard or deck and if you do it properly, you will not only complement the space you are creating, you will complete the yard. Close your eyes … smell the BBQ … feel the cool breeze blowing through your hair, contrasting the heat of the summer sun on your skin. Everything looks perfect, your favorite music is playing in the background and it sounds as good as the garden looks… . it’s a perfect summer day!
DDA Newsletter Spring2018
Mike Freedman (photo courtesy of Bowers and Wilkins speakers via their dealer site) is Founder of Audio Insider and Director of Business Development for Hi Fi Centre, one of North America’s premier audio companies. Mike has worked for many of your favorite audio brands including Beats, Polk Audio, Tannoy, PMC, Onkyo, Sennheiser, Monster and is a founding father of Sonos Canada. He currently lives in White Rock BC, is married with 3 young kids, 2 black labs and a grumpy cat. Email Mike at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.
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