The Best Outdoor Speakers – November 2018
Speaker technology has evolved at such a startling pace that it’s easy to forget that not so long ago, we needed a hefty receiver and CD player with a series of analogue connections just to enjoy our favorite tunes. And even if you were lucky enough to have the most advanced and powerful audio equipment around, the idea of bringing your unwieldy rig outdoors and into the elements was patently ludicrous.
But thanks to a combination of advanced audio technology and more effective waterproofing materials, it’s now completely possible to blast your favorite music outdoors—even in the rain.
Indeed, the outdoor speaker revolution has ushered in a wide range of powerful single-speakers and stereo systems that can be used outdoors, and whether you’re only looking for a simple system to take with you on camping trips, or a more advanced rig that can power your once-a-week patio parties, there’s something on this list for every type of speaker enthusiast.
We don’t generally like giving our number-one spot to relatively expensive gear, but when it comes to sonic quality, build, portability, and overall design, these Polk Audio Atrium 6 Speakers reign supreme.
Ideal for the truly adventurous who don’t want to sacrifice sonic quality even in the middle of adverse outdoor conditions, these intrepid speakers are built to exceed baseline industrial and military specifications for environmental endurance—meaning that members of the armed forces wouldn’t have an issue trusting these speakers to deliver important communications from the field.
But you don’t have to be a Navy SEAL in order to enjoy all that these speakers have to offer, since they’re equally well-suited for more mundane and less-terrifying garden parties or random outdoor gatherings.
They feature anodized aluminum tweeter domes that are capable of withstanding everything from wind to rain and even snow, and they deliver a remarkably smooth and detailed high-end that’s ideal for virtually every type of music.
These speakers don’t skimp when it comes to the low-end, either. Thanks to a frequency range of 12kHz to 20kHz, you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite bass-heavy jams without issue.
These speakers also feature a broad coverage baffle design that brilliantly maximizes critical mid- and high-frequency dispersions over large areas (something that’s critically important while listening to music outdoors, where a lack of walls tends to lead to muddled sonics and empty bass).
They even come with a streamlined speed-lock mounting system for easy, safe, one-handed installations in virtually any environment. This tool comes especially in handy when you’re on a trail and lack the basic go-to structures that can be used to secure a speaker system in the home or even in your backyard.
And since every piece of exposed hardware on these units is crafted from grade-A stainless steel and brass, you’ll never have to worry about rust.
Claiming the runner up spot on our list is a speaker that may very well be far more in line with your budget. But don’t let its small size or exceptionally low price fool you. This tiny-yet-mighty speaker is powerful enough to power most outdoor gatherings, and its incredibly well-crafted weatherproof body means that you won’t have to worry about the tunes cutting out if it gets wet.
There are multiple ways in which you can connect to this speaker, including via Bluetooth, an SD card insert, and an AUX cable if you’re working with non-Bluetooth devices. We highly recommend using the Bluetooth connection if you can, however, since the advanced technology in this unit means that it automatically reconnects to the last device used—a beneficial trait when you have multiple Bluetooth devices in the home but only really want to use one for audio.
And for such a small speaker, this Zosam packs an impressive low-end punch. Even while listening to especially bass-heavy dubstep, these speakers delivered the low frequencies with a surprising amount of richness and clarity.
And it doesn’t skimp on the upper register, either. The highs are well-articulated without being too shrill (a common problem for speakers of this general size), and the midrange frequencies are bold without being too obtrusive.
And perhaps most importantly, this speaker is incredibly durable. It features a super-resilient Ipx6 build that protects every element of the speaker from dust, sand, and the accidental splash of water (although we wouldn’t recommend intentionally submerging this unit in a pool).
And since the shell is made entirely of iron and rubber, you won’t have to worry about dropping or striking the speaker when you’re on the go.
This speaker also features a very useful, 2200mAh battery that can deliver up to ten hours of continuous playback on a single charge.
If you’re even remotely familiar with state-of-the-art audio technology, you’re familiar with Bose. This industry leader has rightfully earned a reputation for delivering truly awesome audio products that are oftentimes unrivaled when it comes to sonic depth and clarity.
The Bose SoundLink Micro Bluetooth Speaker defends this hard-won title well, by offering incredibly detailed sound in a super-portable and rugged package.
The first thing you’ll notice about this little speaker is its (truly) little size. This is, without a doubt, one of the most supremely portable Bluetooth speakers on the market—without even having to take into consideration its unique weatherproof design.
Much like the more famous and industry-standard Bose speakers and sound systems on the market, this Bluetooth speaker offers a balanced sound that’s ideal for true audiophiles who don’t want their music to be “colored” by inaccurate bass boosts and treble accentuations.
This speaker features an Ipx7 waterproof rating, and its rugged exterior means that it can easily fend off dents, cracks, and scratches—making it ideal for adventurers who don’t want to worry about their gear getting damaged on longer, more intense excursions.
The SoundLink Micro’s battery can last for up to six hours (a more than respectable length of time given the speaker’s unusually small size), and there’s even a built-in speakerphone that can be used to take calls or use Siri (or Google Assistant) when you’re on the go.
Similar in both size and price to the Zosam Portable Bluetooth Speaker, this sleek Bluetooth speaker was built for those who can’t get enough bass. In fact, there’s a specific “bass” button that can immediately enhance the low-end of your tracks using professional-grade DSP technology.
Of course with such a small speaker, one would be forgiven for assuming that such a marked bass boost would lead to slightly less top-end clarity, which is unfortunately the case for this small speaker. But if your music library is especially bass heavy, you almost certainly won’t mind this sonic sacrifice, since it’s nearly impossible to accentuate the bass in a speaker this size without hindering the other frequencies.
This speaker also boasts an impressive amount of headroom. You can turn the volume up to its highest setting without experiencing any true distortion, and even at high volumes a slight tilt between the stereo drivers contributes to a notable resonance boost and frequency spread.
And just like every other speaker on our list, the Vtin is fully waterproof, thanks to an Ipx5 rating that allows this daring box to withstand even heavy rains.
There’s also a wide range of connectivity options—from standard 3.5mm aux cords to the latest Bluetooth technology and an included micro USB cable. This device is also capable of lasting for up to 15 hours on a single charge—making it one of the more resilient speakers we tested in terms of battery life.
If you’re looking for a speaker with a slightly more balanced sound, we highly recommend checking out this Anker Soundcore 2 unit, which delivers surprisingly accurate sonics without skimping on the bass.
This speaker’s dual neodymium drivers offer truly exceptional power and quality for such a small package, and an advanced digital signal processor ensures that a resonant and powerful bass stays intact even at any volume.
Much like the Vtin speaker, the Anker Soundcore 2 comes with an Ipx5 rating that safeguards it from rain, dust, snow, and the occasional spill—meaning you won’t have to worry about leaving it outdoors even for extended periods of time.
But where this speaker truly shines is in its incredible battery life—thanks to a massive 5200mAh li-ion battery that can last for a whopping 24 hours on a single charge.
Last but not necessarily least, we have this incredibly cheap but surprisingly powerful speaker, which delivers a more-than-respectable 10W of sound alongside rich bass through two drivers and a passive subwoofer. It even comes with a helpful rope for traveling and hiking, and it more than easily fits inside most packs.
Of course at such a low price point, you shouldn’t expect the incredible top-end clarity that you can find in some of the other models listed above, but for adventures in which you’re more concerned with your surroundings than the intricacies of the music you’re listening to, this rugged speaker more than does the trick.
It features a rechargeable battery that delivers up to ten hours of playtime on a single charge, and its Bluetooth 4.2 technology means that you’ll be able to connect in seconds to everything from smartphones and laptops to tablets and desktops at a distance of up to 99 feet. You also have the option to use a 3.5mm audio cable for solid connections, and a built-in mic acts as a hands-free speakerphone.