The season for backyard barbecues and pool parties is upon us! But with the summer sun us Aussies on Boxing Day, who wants to crowd their ears into a pair of headphones or jam silicone buds down their ear canals? Instead, here are four easy ways to bring your playlist poolside.
Reuse Old Computer Speakers
The simplest (and free) solution is just to crack a window and crank up the volume on your indoor speakers. But if muscling a pair of 500W speaker cases into your rear windows is too much work (there is a heat wave on after all), there is a more direct -- and equally easy on the wallet -- approach to bringing your music outdoors: Plug a pair of old external computer speakers into your laptop or tablet and bring it outside with you. They may sound tinny compared to your living room stereo system, and you'll need to make sure the components are sufficiently protected from splashes and excessive heat/sun exposure, but it certainly beats having to drop your hard-earned cash on a boombox.
Pump Up the Jambox
In fact, a full-on boombox is a bit overkill for a pool party -- you really only need the speakers themselves. And for $150 - $300, the Jawbone Jambox, Big Jambox or Mini Jambox sounds like a winner. These ~85 decibel stereo speaker boxes connect to your phone, tablet, or computer via Bluetooth and work up to 45 metres away from their source. That way, any misdirected cannonball splashes will at the very worst only soak the speakers, not your $1200 laptop.
Couching Rock, Hidden Speaker
On the other hand, say you're looking for a more permanent solution than portable speakers but don't want your home's eaves and overhangs crowded with AV equipment. In that case, hide your outdoor speakers the same way you hide your spare keys: In a fake rock, tree stump (don't try to chop firewood on it in Winter), or planter.
These wireless speaker systems offer high fidelity sound without the need for audio or power cables and blend seamlessly into your yard's landscaping -- assuming you live in an old quarry or a recently cleared grove. And while these speakers are decidedly more expensive than a Jambox, they are much more affordable (in both terms of money and installation effort) than their mounted, wired brethren.
To achieve the best quality sound from your outdoor speakers, you're going to need to invest a good amount of time and cash to it. Wired outdoor speakers, such as Polk Audio's Atrium line, are purpose-built to stand up to just about anything Mother Nature can muster, deliver superior audio quality compared to the previous options, and can be integrated into your existing home stereo system.
To do so, you'll need an amplifier with at least 50W of power per channel at 8 ohms (preferably 100W), a selector box for flipping between the indoor and outdoor speaker sets, 20 per cent more speaker wire than you think will be needed to connect them (remember, it's always easier to cut off extra wire than splice on an extension), and of course the speakers themselves.
Installing these speakers is a very different process than doing so indoors. For one thing, outdoor speakers don't have walls and a ceiling to bounce their audio off of as indoors do. As such they should be installed closer together, no more than 10 feet apart. If you've got the cash and the time, though, it's the best way to listen while you relax.