Outdoor audio is one of those things that everyone does but that most people don’t do really well. The majority of pool and backyard areas are relegated to a couple pairs of weather-rated, surface mounted speakers under a porch and maybe some rock-like speakers. Connect them to an amp, and, voila! You’ve got outdoor audio. And while that certainly delivers sound, it doesn’t create a very impressive experience. Usually there are “hot spots” and “dead zones” where levels are much higher or not audible and bass is virtually nonexistent below about 60 Hertz. With outdoor living and entertaining on the rise, there should be a solution that delivers a stellar experience.
Sonance’s Landscape Series (SLS) features the LS47SAT speaker, which resembles landscape lighting, and an LS10SUB subwoofer that can be buried for discreet install.When I saw the brochure for Sonance’s Landscape Series (SLS), I was intrigued. Every installer knows that more speakers provide better, more even coverage for large areas, allowing playback at a lower overall volume. And a dedicated subwoofer is just what the backyard needs for real audio performance. Visually the speakers resemble landscape spot lighting in a brown finish that will blend right into a backyard’s décor. They also have 0.75-inch NEC threading to allow various mounting options. The sub, which is designed to be buried, looks a bit like an oil drum with a periscope. The sub is also offered in a planter style if burying subs isn’t your thing. The 70-volt, rackmountable Crown amp, which accepts balanced or unbalanced inputs, is offered in three different wattages and comes pre-loaded with custom EQ settings designed to optimize the performance of the speakers.
Sonance had a loaner system with the provision that I could have it for only one weekend–much shorter than a typical review period. A local rep came out and set up the system in my backyard, stringing the eight LS47SATs in a wide arc around my swimming pool and setting the LS10SUB roughly in the middle. Because it is 70-volts (25-watts per LS47SAT and 100 for the LS10SUB), the speakers wire in a daisy chain. I connected the 1,000-watt (500-channel) Crown CDi 1000 amp to my Kaleidescape system, allowing easy control of highquality audio.
My first impression was, “Hmm. I thought there’d be more bass…” Then I noticed that the sub wasn’t connected. Once that was corrected it was…Wow! In fact, it was actually weird to hear music sounding this good outdoors that wasn’t at a concert, and it made me aware of just how tolerant we have become of justgood- enough or something-better-than-nothing audio in outdoor areas.
One of the most amazing things was the evenness of sound coverage. As I walked around the full perimeter of my pool deck area, the sound level barely changed. Wherever I walked, every seat had terrific, full-range sound. The bass is omnipresent in a way that is difficult to achieve indoors, with none of those boomy or null areas. It just seemed to be everywhere, providing a solid lowend foundation for the LS47SAT’s small drivers. The system also put out tons of sound, and I never raised it above 70 percent, which was loud.
The speakers really shine with rock/pop tunes like Dave Matthews and Black Eyed Peas that have a lot of sizzle in the upper end and some big, steady driving low end. I also found that music featuring female vocalists like Edie Brickell, Fiona Apple, and Natalie Merchant sounded especially terrific. The female lead’s voice falls in the sonic sweet spot of the small satellite, with the sub delivering fullness and depth at the bottom end. Though, to be honest, this is just a really goodsounding speaker system, and everything sounded good, including some actual Blue (sky and pool) In Green (grass) from Miles Davis.
Sonance’s LS10SUB subwoofer looks a bit like an oil
drum with a periscope and is designed to be buried.With all of the speakers pointing toward the listening position, it does a great job of containing and focusing the sound. When you step behind that arc of audio, the level drops off considerably, meaning that you could play music at fairly loud levels without bothering the neighbors too badly.
This system would be absolutely awesome at a backyard party or wedding reception. It would also be great for hotel pool installs. With complete and even sound coverage, you dial in the right overall volume and have a perfect blanket of sound, instead of two or four hotspots blaring a cone of audio. And with eight drivers, you still get quality sound at lower volumes. For larger areas, the 1,000-watt amp can drive up to 24 SATs and two SUBs. There are also larger LS67SAT and LS12SUB for higher SPL, and coupled with the larger amps, you can scale a system as large and loud as you like.
The only drawback is the price; this system carries a luxury price tag that will likely keep it beyond the reach of many installs. But, if you are working with someone doing a massive outdoor kitchen or mega-dollar swim-in grotto pool or highend commercial project, Sonance’s SLS system will knock their socks off.
Excellent, even coverage with full range sound from small, discreet drivers; expandable for even larger spaces
• LS47SAT resemble landscape lighting and have 3.5-inch woofer and .75-inch tweeter; 25-watts. Covers 60-degree listening area from 10-50 feet
• SATs can be mounted using optional nine- or 19-inch ground stakes, tree mount or surface mounts
• LS10SUB can be buried for discreet install; features 10-inch woofer • Crown CDi 1000 70- volt amplifier features 500-watt/channel with 16 customized EQs specifically for LS speakers
• Five-year warranty