Looking for OUTDOOR speakers (1 Viewer)

bhelms

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Hi all! I finally finished rewiring my pool. Due to some space constraints I could only pull a pair of 18 ga. wires for L/R audio, but based on past experience that will work out fine. This circuit is fused and will be driven off the "B" channel of my Sony 5300 receiver. I'll probably use an IR/RF remote repeater to give me pool-side control of the system. I'm now looking for a pair of decent speakers to complete the installation. Ideally they would sit atop my pool fence, thus fully exposed to the elements in season. (They would be mounted only for the 5 months of my active season and stored for the entire off season.) I will fasten some type of easily detachable bracket to fit the speaker mounts to the 1.25" dia. pipe that is the top edge of the fence, and I could design some type of cover to provide some protection from the direct sun and rain if necessary.

So I am looking for something with reasonable audio quality (no PA horns, etc.!) designed for this purpose. Years ago I built small enclosures with high quality 6 x 9 (car) 3-way speakers in them and they sounded great. Lasted 10+ years before finally succumbing to the elements. Now I'm too engaged with other projects to undertake another fabrication project, so I'm looking for something commercially available and ready to mount. Something along the lines of those 6 x 9s or a bit larger would be nice. I'm not attracted to the "rock lookalikes" that would probably be fine for just background music. I want something I can "crank" a bit when I want to. (No neighbors to complain!) I know deep, solid bass is unrealistic mostly due to size, and in part to the lousy damping factor those 18 ga. wires impart. But overall good tone otherwise at a somewhat wide range of volume levels is definitely part of the objective. I won't say money is no object, but the price won't necessarily be the deciding factor. I might spend several hundred $$ for these.

So what do you recommend ??

TIA and BRgds...
 

jayn_j

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bhelms

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"Wannabe Retiree"
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Tks all for your replies - plenty to look into. I did see some "cheapie" outdoor speakers at CC once and was not very impressed, but obviously I only saw/heard a limited selection! Time to check out all the links...
 

bhelms

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OK - So I did some "listening around" in the past week or so. Nothing sounded great. Ok, but nothing that "moved" me. Mostly kinda "boxy" sounding. That included entries from BA, Polk, another I can't remember. The Bose speakers were the best of the bunch, but at $360/pr. - forget it!

So, charper1 - I pulled the trigger on a pair from the OutdoorSpeakerDepot you turned me on to! I went one step better than the pair you linked, primarily because the ones in that great promotion were white only and I really wanted black. (Black sold out, but white is probably a better choice in the sun!) So I picked the next pair up at $145 shipped. A good bit more than you paid, but returnable if I really don't like them, and will carry the full 5-yr. warranty. I'll probably derive some kind of quick disconnect mount so I can take them indoors when not really in use, like during the week. And I will come up with some nifty sun shield. Right now I just throw a towel over my boom box. I can surely do better than that...!

So I'll report back after I have a chance to fire them up...!
 

charper1

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Let me know what you think; we love ours. I also had thought about black; BUT after seeing a friends pair - they really are too much of a contrast against the house AND the attract dust like a mother. IMHO mount them above you seating and angle them downward if you can. I think this should extend the life by reducing the wear to the surface .
 

bhelms

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Tks, charper1 - will do! In my case these speakers will be mounted to the top rail of a 4' chain link fence that surrounds the pool, just as I did with those homemade jobbies I mentioned in the O/P. (Come to think of it, "jobbie" is appropriate for them! They looked - intentionally - like mini outhouses, with the sloped, shingled roof and all. They were intended to see the worst of the weather in-season, and survied for quite a while!) They will indeed be tilted down toward the water, but only maybe 10-15 deg. (I chuckle at "seating". In my case, that's "seated" in my floating lounge chair, holding a magazine and some kind of adult beverage with an umbrella in it !!!) These new ones will also be in full exposure when mounted, but I might only mount them when I'm actually in the pool or back yard. So a "quick disconnect" mount is to be devised. As a minimum I will come up with some kind of ventillated cover to protect them from direct sun/rain when not in use. The whole fence and all the related electrical stuff (light post, conduit, switch/outlet boxes, etc.) are all painted a dark forest green. I might eventually paint the composite cabinets to match, and black will be the better "base coat". And if/when I do that I will want the metal speaker covers to be dark (black) rather than white. In any case, protecting them from the effects of direct exposure to sun/rain is a paramount concern for me...

Got the UPS tracking number already this AM, so maybe I'll even have them by the weekend...!
 
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drumboy3317

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Sep 14, 2008
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how'd they do?

Did you receive and install the AP640s? How do they sound. I'm looking for some speakers for a large outdoor porch.
 

bhelms

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charper1, drumboy3317 (Welcome, BTW!) and others - I did receive and finally install the AP650 speakers. Note that these are 1 model above the ones charper1 originally linked. I went with them primarily because I wanted black and the 640s were sold out in black.

http://store.outdoorspeakerdepot.com/apprspp.html

The 650s have a small bass port (about the size of the tweeter) but otherwise seem to spec. out about the same. The cabinets have a swivel bracket mounting, most appropriate for mounting under an eave. But they also have two bolt holes on the rear that take the same knobs as the bracket mount, so I made a simple hook out of some matching coated fence wire, looped one end around that knob in the top hole (about 3" down on the back) and the other end over the horizontal fence rail, and...voila!...instant mount! I may come up with something more sophisticated, but this works fine and is very easy to take down. As a result of this mount, the speakers are in a vertical position which is probably the better way to use them. And as gravity would have it, the weight distribution causes them to lean slightly forward so they are tilting down toward the water maybe 15 deg., exactly as intended! The binding posts on the back take either the direct wire (as I did them Sat.) or a banana plug, which I will provide for "quick disconnect". I have them currently running out of the "B" speakers on my Sony 5300 receiver, through about 75' (!) of 18 ga. wire to each one (best I could do without a lot of contortions!) through conduit, to a pole mount, and from there along the fence rail to the speakers themselves. Inside the house there is a 3-amp fuse in series with each of the 4 wires.

I have yet to figure out all the setting possibilities on that receiver! The A/B/A+B speaker switch on the receiver essentially allows me to have 2 separate pairs of speakers for the fronts and choose accordingly. That means that in most configurations the other 4 speakers are live as well (center, sub, and surrounds). I configured the sound field to give me just 2 channel stereo, then by choosing "B" only I get sound through those outdoor speakers only. But I can't say yet if that is full range audio since I have the receiver configured to treat all the speakers except the sub as "small", and I am crossing at about 85Hz. So I may not be getting all the frequency range to these speakers in this configuration.

For my tests this weekend I played only the outdoor speakers (tho' I can have the sub in the house active as well, and that was very interesting!) I played a variety of sources but concentrated on my SACDs set for 2-channel only. Since that signal is coming from the multichannel inputs it might still be SACD, but downmixed. I have one SACD that is 2-channel only, so that will be a good comparison when I can get to it. But with speakers this size, CD vs. SACD might be moot.

First impressions are positive! They are bright, clean, and have a good "attack" even with that light gauge wire! My only disapointment is that they are volume limited. It is easy to crank them too high, and since they are out in the open (no walls to contain/reverberate the sound) then they are challenged to meet my max. level desires. But in fact that would be a level I would rarely want to use when I am anywhere near the speakers, so I am not that unhappy about that one characteristic. The bass is limited, but that could be a result of the crossover setting. I'll have to set the fronts to "large" and see what difference that makes. But I really don't expect much more from a speaker of this size. If I want more bass, then an obvious option is to run the house speakers at the same time, at least the sub, and leave the doors open! (No neighbors to complain!) One thing I was not happy with is that when I am in the A+B mode, the outside speakers are quite low in volume as compared with the indoor ones. That could simply be a result of their efficiency as compared with the Paradigms, and/or that vast length of light gauge wire. But there won't be too many occasions when I want both running at the same time. An obvious option there is to simply provide a separate amp for the outdoor speakers, and that would solve the crossover issue as well.

As luck would have it, it was raining a good bit on Sat. afternoon while I was conducting my listening tests. That didn't seem to matter to these speakers at all! The water rolled right off and there was no evidence that anything was entering through the grilles. I have some concern about the exposed banana jacks (they are in a recessed area, where the speaker line-level switch is also located), but that should be easy to fix when I contrive some type of all-weather covers for them, as mentioned in a post above.

So bottom line - for about $145 delivered these are a good speaker for my purpose and should serve me well. At this point I have no desire to look for something better. (For higher sustained volumes I would probably want something that can handle more power.)

Sidebar - I was able to use some of my IR repeaters so I could take my remotes for the receiver and CD player out to the pool with me and have full remote control of the audio system, a first for me! I shielded the IR transmitter somewhat from the sun, and in the house I had 2 IR receivers both getting the same signal, one to control the audio receiver and one to control the CD player. (I put the remote controls in fresh ziplock bags for protection - ask me how/why I learned that trick!)

I think this is a good choice, and the A640s at considerably less money would perhaps be an even better value, but as always...YMMV...!
 

drumboy3317

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Sep 14, 2008
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Thanks

Hey, thanks. Good in-depth report. I may try to go with the smaller pair you recommend plus some sort of a subwoofer - it's a screened porch with roof. I suspect the regular speakers would give me the highs and mids I'm looking for and the subwoofer the bass. Probably a subwoofer in a poly cabinet so it won't fall apart with regular moisture.
Thanks, again.
 

bhelms

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UPDATE - They AP650s sound better in "Large" mode...

Well I finally got to tweaking some system parameters last weekend and set the front speakers to "large", which directs more bass to either the A or B pair, the outdoor speakers being the latter. (I don't know the crossover point or equalization yet - I didn't adjust either.) Immediately that had an impact on the sound from the AP650s and they sounded a good bit better. Surprisingly this did not hurt the max. volume level at all, if anything improving it. I have more playing around to do, but so far so good!. Here's a picture of them hanging on my fence. Other items of interest to SatGuys regulars appear in there as well, tho' harder to spot...! Have a great weekend all!
 

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Cool D

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Nov 2, 2008
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Patio speaker sound

After a little research and a lot of review reading, I'm going w/the AP640's as well. Thanks for helping me make a decision.

As for the lack of clarity of the sound at high volume levels, a likely culprit is your speaker wire. There are 2 electrical rules at play here.

1) resistance increases over distance. This simply means that the longer your wire is, the more difficult it is for the original signal to be reproduced at your speaker. The answer is to use larger wires for longer distances. Larger in electrical terms means smaller #s. For example 16 gague wire is larger than 18g and 14g is larger than either of those, etc.

2)The skin effect. Electricity likes to travel on the surface of wires, thus the term 'skin effect'. Therefore the more strands of wire you have in a single cable, the less resistance you have. For example a 14g house wire has a single strand or wire to conduct the electricity where as a 14g speaker wire has many strands to conduct the electricity. Both wires are the same size but the speaker wire has less resistance because it has more surface area or 'skin' for the electricity to travel on. Speaker wires contain different #s of strands.

None of this really matters much at short distances, but when you get into long distances, it becomes very important and the longer the distance the more important it becomes.

So your answer in short is to try using a larger wire (smaller #) w/a high strand count.

PS
A simple way to figure out if this is the culprit, is to bring the speakers inside, connect them to your existing hose speaker wires (which will likely be much shorter) and see if they perform any differently.
 

bhelms

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Tks. I am an EE by training so I know a fair amount about what you're saying. Skin effect will be miniscule at audio frequencies. It's very much a concern at RF, but not so much at 20kHz and below. Anyway even if it were an audible issue, the impact would be most noticeable at the treble frequencies, and those are quite clear with the AP650s (below the overload level), at least to these aging ears. There is truth that stranded wire will have less skin effect vs. solid (also frequency dependent), but the real difference will come only in "Litz" wire (each strand individually insulated). Otherwise stranded performs much like "bulk" (solid) wire. You might find the following interesting and germane:

Skin Effect and cable impedance

The problem I hear is likely to be more related to loss of damping factor by use of the light ga. wire. I used 18 ga. over an approx. 75' run where 12 ga. would have been a minumum for serious audio presence. But it's in conduit and I had a size constraint. The higher resistance adds to "ringing" especially in the lower frequencies that would normally be "damped" in a lower impedance circuit. (The effect is where a bass drum beat sounds more like a "boom" rather than a "thud".) This can certainly add "muddiness" to the sound, but that would be present at all volume levels. The issue I have is with the apparent volume limitation, which is essentially the power handling limitation of the speakers themselves in an open area.

The experiment I will try next is to connect my Paradigms outside. I have every expectation that, even with the light ga. wire, they will sound significantly better at louder volumes. But they also cost ~5 times more. For the price the APs are a good value for the intended purpose, and I have no issues with them. The AP640s should be essentially the same as the 650s. I just need to be more practical about the max. volume level!

Welcome to the forums, BTW...
 

HD MM

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The wife bought me those Polks last year. Hope to finally hang them this spring.
 

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