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The Best Outdoor Speakers for Your Backyard and Summer Parties

The best outdoor speakers are loud, weather resistant and have features that make them fit for a backyard party.

a group of speakers
Tucker Bowe

Warmer days are upon us (if they're not already here) and that means spending more time outside — even when at home. We're throwing pool parties and hosting backyard barbecues, playing lawn sports and just hanging out on the back deck — all the situations where you want to bring the music and the energy outside. And thus, you need a speaker that fits those needs.

There is a wide variety of speakers that are fit for the outdoors. The most common are ultra-portable Bluetooth speakers, which are small and water-resistant, the type of speakers you take to the beach or strap to your backpack. However, such speakers aren't the best option for a backyard party because they don't get very loud. So you end up playing music that only one party of the party can hear.

The two best types of speakers for outdoor parties, in our opinion, are either permanent outdoor speakers or larger portable speakers. Both deliver the best sound with the widest soundstage so that it reaches more area. Also, many of these speakers are able to sync with other speakers in a multi-room-like system so you can really play sound throughout your backyard.

The argument against permanent outdoor speakers

Permanent outdoor speakers, or speakers that are installed in your house and can't be moved, have been around for years and years — and they're great. However, in this new wireless age, they might not be the best option for you. They're often unsightly, unless you get in-wall or in-ceiling speakers that hide in plain sight (but that adds a high installation cost), and most require you an analog connection to amp or receiver. So they can be pricey, complicated to install, and they're not versatile.

There's a new breed of portable outdoor speakers that are powerful enough to fill a backyard with sound and rugged enough to survive a mild rainstorm. They also are super versatile thanks to Wi-Fi and advanced Bluetooth connectivity that supports multi-room audio; so you can get several speakers, pair them together and spread them though-out your backyard. Then, when you're done, you can hide them out of sight so they don't look odd chilling in your backyard.

What to look for

Size: These are all technically "portable" outdoor speakers. They are battery powered and you can move them around your backyard or patio depending on where you want sound to come from. However, some portable speakers are bigger than others and that is very much the case here. Bigger speakers are generally more expensive and more difficult to move.

Connectivity: Most outdoor speakers support Bluetooth connectivity. Others can also support Wi-Fi, which allows you to stream generally high-resolution audio as well as group multiple speakers in a multi-room sound system (a la Sonos). Some outdoors speakers can do both. And various speakers also have analog connectivity options, which allows you to wire your laptop or smartphone directly to the speaker and start playing music. The most important thing is how you intend to play music — and then finding a speaker that meets those needs.

Ruggedness: These are outdoor speakers and thus they need to be able to withstand the sun, rain, bump and occasional spilled drink. The bare minimum for an outdoor speaker should be having an IPX4 rating, meaning that it can resistant to water splashes from any direction, and thus it can survive a little time the rain.

Battery Life: This is vitally important as outdoor speakers have a finite amount of time that they can play music before they need to be returned to a charger. Generally, the larger the speaker, the bigger its battery, and the longer it will be able to play before recharging. The biggest of speakers also are able to act as portable batteries, so they can supply charge to your other devices (like your smartphone).

Special features: A large portable outdoor speaker is effectively a party speaker — and thus, many of them come with party features like RGB lighting, jacks for microphones (for karaoke) and guitars, and buttons that increase the bass of the speaker.

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How We Tested
tech roundup
Gear Patrol

We tested all of the below portable speakers in indoor environments and playing a wide-variety of music (but definitely a lot of Taylor Swift). Admittedly, all the portable outdoor speakers are a little bit different in size, features and prices — but that's because they're all designed for different types of outdoor situations around the house. We evaluate them based on sound quality, easy of use, versatility and cool features that no other speaker has.

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