This is a question we receive all the time, and one I bring up myself whenever I speak to people at Sonos? Where are the Sonos outdoor speakers?
At the moment there are none. It’s a curious issue, because Sonos is easily the most popular wireless speaker company in the world, but so far, there are no Sonos outdoor speakers. Other companies have outdoor music solutions. The Polk Omni SR2 is a wireless multiroom speaker (using DTS Play-Fi) with a rechargeable battery, so you don’t have to leave it plugged in when you’re on the back deck, but it’s not technically an outdoor speaker, don’t leave it out in the rain.
You can also use outdoor and portable Bluetooth speakers if wireless solutions are your top priority. The Soundcast Melody is an Electronic House favorite because it does a great job and producing full, deep bass and throws out a 360 degree soundfield from one portable unit. It can also cover a large area.
But if the rest of your house is all jamming to a Sonos system, then you really don’t want to settle for Bluetooth in your backyard. An easy solution is to simply carry a Sonos PLAY:1 or PLAY:3 speaker outside whenever you need one. Just understand that: 1) it’s not weatherproof (so don’t forget it); 2) it will need to be plugged into an AC outlet; 3) it will need to connect to your Sonos network, and that might be difficult through exterior walls; and finally, 4) Sonos speakers are not acoustically designed for outdoors—the openness of a backyard requires a speaker designed for such a space if you want the best sound.
The best way to use your Sonos system in your backyard is to go with a Sonos Connect: AMP and wire it to some good outdoor speakers. The Connect: AMP costs $499, and you’ll probably spend about the same amount on the outdoor speakers, plus a few more dollars on installation supplies, so this isn’t as inexpensive as a PLAY:1, but in the long run, you’ll have a better experience.
If you want to try this, here’s what you’ll need. First, the Sonos Connect:AMP, which is a 55 watt per channel stereo amplifier with Sonos connectivity built in. You could also use a Sonos Connect (not the amp version) and add a separate amp, such as this AudioControl Rialto 400(read a review here). Finally, you’ll need a pair of outdoor speakers (check out several here), an outdoor subwoofer if you want one, speaker wire rated for in-wall/outdoor/direct burial use and some caulk to fill in any gaps in holes in the wall. If your speakers will be on the ground (such as rock-style speakers), then in addition to the speaker wire rated for burial, you’ll need PVC conduit to run the wire through.
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Because your Sonos Connect:AMP contols are all wireless, the amp itself can be mounted pretty much anywhere in your house that’s convenient, as long as it can connect to the Sonos network and can reach an AC outlet. Placing it close to the exterior wall where you’ll be drilling the holes will save you a little wire.
Hooking it all up is pretty simple. Mount your outdoor speakers whereever you want them (read more tips on outdoor AV here), drill a hole for the speaker wire through your wall (without drilling through any plumbing or electrical wires of course). Again, if the wires go across your yard, then use conduit to bury and protect the wires. Then connect the speaker wires to the Connect:AMP and the speakers, and caulk up any gaps in the hole you drilled. Run the Sonos setup to integrate the amp to your Sonos system, and then you’re finished.
One of the things I like best about using a Connect:AMP to power outdoor speakers is you don’t need to install an outdoor volume control. Because the system is wireless, you have smart phone control from the start, assuming that your phone or tablet can reach your Wi-Fi network while in your backyard. If that’s a problem, then an outdoor Wi-Fi access point or wireless extender can be added.
If this sounds like more work than you’re ready for, or you want help selecting outdoor speakers, you can find a professional to do the work for you here.
Until Sonos actually comes out with an outdoor speaker, this is your best solution, and in the long run, it will perform better than a little battery-powered portable speaker anyway. Enjoy.
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