How to create a DIY outdoor sound system

With outdoor living more popular than ever, there’s never been a better time to set up an outdoor sound system in your own backyard. 83% of Americans who’ve recently completed landscape updates have turned their backyard into entertaining spaces, Market Watch reports. Whether you plan on hosting plenty of garden parties this summer or just want to relax in the sun with some music, creating your own DIY outdoor sound system can enhance all your outdoor activities tenfold. Although it does take some planning and preparation, you’ll find the process of setting up speakers and a microphone fairly easy.

Consider the landscape

Start by considering the layout and size of your yard in order to figure out the kind of outdoor sound system setup you want. Where will your guests primarily be? Do you want people to hear the music from anywhere in your yard? Or do you mainly want to listen to music by the grill, or on the patio, or in the pool? Do you have any areas of your garden you want to avoid? Answering these questions will help you figure out where exactly to position your speakers.

If your backyard is on the smaller side, you’ll have limited options, which makes it an easier decision. For example, if your guests are likely to spend most of their time on your deck, then you can use regular outdoor speakers attached to either the deck or your house. On the other hand, if you have a particularly large yard, you may want to install several speakers so that the sound will be able to adequately carry throughout the entire yard.

However, it’s important to be mindful of your neighbors and not be a source of disturbance or noise pollution. Additionally, you’ll need to think about how exactly you’re going to link the speakers to the speaker wire. Do you spot any paths, walls, plants, or trees in the way? It’s important you make sure there’s adequate room for the wire for every speaker you place in your backyard — otherwise your sound system won’t work. 

Setting up a microphone

If you’re planning to have live music or a karaoke session in your backyard, you’ll need to set up an outdoor microphone. There are a number of different microphones to choose from, but a handheld microphone will do the job well. Opting for a wireless handheld microphone can be even more convenient. It gives you and your guests the ability to move around the yard freely without compromising the sound quality. There’s also no cables to worry about getting in the way or tripping over, so it’s also a safer option. You may find it easier to invest in a wireless microphone and speaker set. 

Types of speakers

Unlike indoor speakers, outdoor speakers are specifically designed to withstand the elements, including, sunlight, heat, wind, rain, and dust. You have a selection of outdoor speakers to choose from to suit a range of budgets. For example, in-ground speakers can be positioned partly in the ground, so only the top is visible. You can then hide them away behind any shrubs, rocks, or foliage and still enjoy fantastic sound.

Alternatively, you can get outdoor speakers that disguise themselves as rocks, logs, lanterns, or other garden ornaments. If you have a nice, decorative garden, these speakers will effortlessly blend into their surroundings. Bear in mind, these speakers are slightly trickier to install — you’ll need to dig shallow trenches for the speaker wire. An easier option may be outdoor speakers that can easily be installed under the eaves of your house or patio overhangs. These types of speakers are naturally more protected from the weather and you just have to run the wires through your house.

Although these speakers are more conspicuous, you can paint them to blend in with their surroundings. And, if you appreciate a low and full bass, consider investing in an outdoor subwoofer. These are essential for creating acoustic depth and improving overall bass response, which can be lacking with some outdoor speakers. Outdoor subwoofers are built to withstand the outdoor elements and some of them are designed to be discreetly placed in the ground.  

Wire issues

Once you’ve decided on your speakers and microphone, you’ll need to figure out the length of wire you’ll need running from the amplifier to the speakers. If you’ll need roughly twenty feet or less, 16 gauge wire will do the job fine. If the distance is any longer, you’ll need thicker gauge wire (such as, 14, 12, or 10 gauge wire). You should also make sure your wire is adequately protected by conduit. For example, conventional PVC piping doesn’t typically protect the wire from extreme heat or rain. This won’t be necessary, however, if you’re using a direct burial cable to install in-ground. 

Testing your setup

Make sure you test the sound before you install your set up. You may need to adjust the location or height of your speakers. For example, the sound may come across as weak if you position them too far away. And simply turning up the volume can cause distortion. Additionally, take the time to check the precise locations you’re placing your speakers are in good condition. For example, uneven or damaged surfaces won’t work well and could cause trouble later down the line. If you need to drill any holes in exterior walls for the speaker wire, make sure you seal them with silicone to avoid creating air leaks and maintain the effectiveness of your insulation. Once you’ve installed your speakers, all you need to do is connect your receiver or amplifier. Smart home automation systems can allow you to control all your audio equipment effortlessly from your smartphone.

Installing your own DIY outdoor sound system will take all your backyard activities to the next level. With this simple guide, you’ll soon create a great outdoor surround sound experience for both you and your guests. 

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