Outdoor audio can offer many different experiences — from providing theater-like sound on a patio to poolside music to environmental ambiance. We talk to top integrators to get their tips in creating the strongest systems for all kinds of uses.
“Outdoor entertainment is huge right now, but many clients aren’t even aware of landscape audio or its benefits beyond just blasting the backyard with a few outdoor speakers,” says Aaron Cowden, partner/CEO, Fusion AV, an Origin Acoustics dealer. “High-performance audio should be a part the outdoor spaces where you and your family will spend the most time this summer.”
Planning and conducting site surveys are keys to ensure smooth installations and quality performance, he adds. “There should be even sound as you pass through a space or sit in various spots around a pool. And with proper location selection, the client will be able to play the audio louder without disturbing neighbors. Origin’s design services can help you avoid certain pitfalls and make sure the system will sound the best it can in the space. Utilizing 3-channel amps versus traditional 2-channel gives you the ability to tune the different channels and dial in the subwoofers rather than dumping them on the same line as the speakers.”
See It, Hear It
Snap One, featuring Episode and Triad brands, has seen a major increase in dedicated outdoor viewing areas, requiring strong outdoor audio systems to support the experience, says Matt Kemp, senior director, audio product management. “Outdoor screen theaters with 5.1 or 7.1 configurations are very popular and require reliable Wi-Fi and careful planning to produce the right sound in the right spots. When people want to escape without leaving home, a backyard or poolside theater is perfect; as customers extend their entertainment and comfort systems to their outdoor spaces, strong Wi-Fi, ease of control, product reliability, and future-proofing aspects are important pieces of the plan. Our growing portfolio of outdoor audio, video, lighting, security, and control solutions make it possible to bring the high level of performance customers love inside their home to their favorite outdoor oasis.”
Increased interest in outdoor audio has been fueled by the pandemic impact, and is now seen as a way to enjoy outdoor gatherings and events, he notes. “Adding music to these situations provides ambience, connection, and joy. Music, podcasts, audiobooks, and more are all tools we use to reduce stress, increase happiness, and find connection with one another, so adding reliable audio to your outdoor spaces brings those benefits out into the sunshine for anyone and everyone to enjoy.”
As clients maximize their residential spaces to include outdoor systems, scalable outdoor audio systems ensure that any size space, from a small patio to a sprawling yard, a pool to an outdoor kitchen, and anything in between, can have beautiful sound quality for music, sports, podcasts, and more, Kemp says. “Outdoor televisions extend the family room to the great outdoors, and smart control integrations make security and comfort a breeze, giving customers full visibility and control of their property and peace of mind anywhere, anytime. A robust outdoor network ties together every variation of outdoor system, providing a strong foundation for solutions that work for your client’s unique needs and lifestyle.”
Integrators should find out what their clients’ “perfect world” looks like, Kemp says, to determine how the client wants to live in outdoor spaces and which experience really matters most to them. “Then you can design a clean, controlled, and personalized system to bring that vision to life. Some clients may want a full control system while others may love a simpler 70-volt audio system, which enables integrators to create beautiful, scaled audio with ease of installation without needing an established control system. Outdoor audio allows clients to put audio right where they want it and empowers integrators to install with confidence.”
One of Snap’s favorite systems is the Episode Terrain Landscape Speaker System, he notes. “This low-cost landscape system, designed to bring stunning sound to the outdoors, includes four 4-inch satellite speakers, stakes, and an 8-inch burial subwoofer, perfect for use with a standard multichannel or 2-channel amplifier. A two-way speaker design and DVC subwoofer allow this system to play lower and louder, while a simplistic wire management system makes installation easy. Plus, Terrain can be expanded up to an 8.2 system and is also available with a hardscape sub instead of burial, so it has the scalability and adaptability that integrators need across their portfolio.”
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Reliability is everything, he says. “Episode is high performance with value, incredibly reliable with an IPX5 rating, and easy to install. Plus, our Smart Skills videos, webinar trainings, knowledgeable sales and training teams, web resources, and more give our partners the experience and confidence to tackle their projects and drive profitability. With online and local shopping, just-in-time inventory, an abundance of resources for sales and integration training, and support, Snap One is a true partner to help our partners drive success in their business.”
At Fusion AV, Cowden notes Origin’s good/better/best lineup. “This is the most effective way to present landscape solutions to customers. For the budget conscious, the AS41/AS51 systems are excellent solutions that can be driven off a traditional 2-channel amp. The LS series is a step up in quality and allows you to utilize the DSP3 channel amps from Origin to separately dial in the left, right, and sub channels. They are available in 4-inch and 6-inch speakers with 8-, 10-, and 12-inch subwoofer options. For best-in-class, high pressure sound performance, the ambisonic lineup can’t be beat. The technology gives the same high performance sound you can experience at some of the best Las Vegas pools.”
Karen Mitchell is a freelance writer based in Boulder, CO. She has written about the AV industry from both sides now — residential and commercial — for several years and still finds it most intriguing and fast paced.