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The best outdoor speakers for 2019

After considering tons of different speakers designed for use outdoors, the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 is our choice as the best outdoor speaker of the bunch. With a winning combination of great sound, great battery life, and a rugged design that is ideal for entertaining, it’s the clear standout in a sea of speakers.

There are plenty of other good choices on our list, which we chose after hundreds of hours evaluating key criteria like sound quality, portability, water and dust resistance, ruggedness, battery life, ease of use and, of course, value. We also considered scenarios like permanent, wired installations, and times when a portable speaker would be preferable. Follow below to find the best outdoor speakers for any situation.

Best outdoor speakers at a glance

Best outdoor speaker: Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3

Why you should buy it: You’re on the hunt for a speaker that offers the perfect blend of sound quality, battery life, and rugged durability.

Who’s it for: Those who don’t mind paying extra for a tough, go-anywhere speaker that also sounds fantastic.

Why we picked the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3

If you want something to really pump up your next pool party, and you’ve got some cash to burn, the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 is the ticket. The speaker improves on its less “mega” little brother, the UE Boom 2, with boosted bass response, excellent battery life, and an exterior shell that can take a beating and keep the tunes bumping.

Like most Bluetooth speakers, the Megaboom 3 has extras like an onboard speaker phone and a charging port for your smartphone, and it also has a class-leading wireless range of up to 100 feet. It’s a bit spendy for a rugged Bluetooth speaker, but its mixture of excellent sound and plenty of extras, including up to 20 hours of battery run time, makes this one of the best outdoor speakers around.

Read our full Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 review

Best outdoor speaker under $100: JBL Flip 4

JBL Flip 4 bluetooth speaker
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Why you should buy it: You want a small, powerful, waterproof speaker, and don’t want to pay through the nose.

Who’s it for? Everyone from outdoor adventurers to poolside loungers.

Why we picked the JBL Flip 4

Making an outdoor speaker both good, and affordable is one thing. Making it robust enough to deal with the demands of outdoor activities, while not compromising the first two qualities? That’s impressive, which is why we picked the JBL Flip 4.

With a fun, (or possibly frustrating) ability to be linked to two phones simultaneously, the Flip 4 is waterproofed with an IPX7 rating, so it’s guaranteed pool-worthy. Battery life, while not massive at 12 hours, is still plenty for an entire day’s worth of tunes.

Its sound won’t compete with the MegaBoom 3, but considering it’s much cheaper price point, that’s not surprising. The key is that — despite its low price — it doesn’t sound like an inexpensive speaker, as it can get plenty loud, and manages to do so without overpowering either the low or high ends. All of that for a speaker in sub-$100 territory makes the Flip 4 a very solid choice.

Read our full JBL Flip 4 review

Best outdoor speaker for pools or the beach: Ultimate Ears Wonderboom

Why you should buy it: You’re looking for tiny a ball of sound to revolve around your floating recliner.

Who’s it for: Those who don’t want to give up their tunes, even in the pool or on the lake.

Why we picked the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom

The perfect listening companion for the water-bound among us comes in the form of the softball-sized Ultimate Ears‘ Wonderboom. A floating sphere of sound that can be fully submerged in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes,  the Wonderboom is also perfect for the clumsy among us. Along with being waterproof, the speaker is shock resistant and able to withstand falls up to five feet without issue. Dual 40mm drivers take your music to a relatively powerful 86dB — about the volume of a home blender — meaning you’ll never be away from your favorite tunes, even among the excitable shouts of children in the water.

Read our full Ultimate Ears Wonderboom review

Best outdoor speaker for parties and events: Soundboks 2

soundboks 2 speaker carry
Why you should buy it: You want potent portable sound for your karaoke night, dance party, or backyard barbecue.

Who’s it for: Those who like to throw fun outdoor get-togethers, with or without a power outlet.

Why we picked the Soundboks 2:

Party lovers who find themselves without a power outlet will discover a friend in the Soundboks 2 Bluetooth speaker. The 33-pound speaker — which the company claims to be the loudest battery-powered speaker on earth — blasts a maximum of 122dB of sound, providing ample volume for even the largest outdoor hangouts (and as an added bonus, the volume knob literally goes to 11).

The Soundboks boasts a big, removable battery pack that lasts up to 40 hours on a single charge, and can easily be swapped to keep the party going. In terms of sound quality, it features both an indoor and an outdoor mode, with the speaker adding a touch of bass response outside. Two 10-inch woofers and a single 1-inch neodymium silk dome tweeter create the sound waves, and do a good job of avoiding distortion at even the highest volumes. Though it does cost a pretty penny, the Soundboks delivers the goods, easily ranking as the best outdoor speaker for your big dance party in the middle of nowhere.

Read our full Soundboks 2 review

Best HiFi outdoor speaker: Klipsch AWR-650-SM

Klipsch AWR-650

Why you should buy them: You’ve just finished landscaping your backyard paradise, but you’re missing the music.

Who’s they’re for: Those who want to jam out in their yard, but don’t want unsightly speakers getting in the way of the natural aesthetic.

Why we picked the Klipsch AWR-650-SM

If you’re looking for high-quality sound that doesn’t obstruct your view, there’s perhaps no better choice in the outdoor market than the cleverly disguised AWR-650-SM from Klipsch. Yard-ready audio devices designed to look like large rocks, the ARW-650-SM come in both granite and sandstone colors. Each speaker features dual 3/4-inch tweeters and dual 6.5-inch woofers, delivering dynamic audio to every corner of your yard. And of course, Klipsch claims each speaker is weather- and UV-resistant for long-term use.

These old-school speakers must be wired to a dedicated or dual-zone amplifier or receiver, and those looking to set up a pair for long-term listening may want to hire a professional contractor to properly install them. Still, if you’re looking for powerful sound that appears to come from nowhere — and you don’t need to take your favorite tunes with you on the go — these are a fantastic option.

Best outdoor speaker for bass: Braven Ready Elite

Braven Ready Elite review
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Why you should buy it: It’s tough as nails, and delivers a big, boomy sound in a package that’s still highly portable.

Who’s it’s for: Those who want that big bass sound in an outdoor speaker that’s nearly indestructible.

Why we picked the Braven Ready Elite

If we were picking speakers for indoors, the Braven Ready Elite wouldn’t rank at all, but we’re picking the best outdoor speakers. To compete in this space, a speaker needs to be able to overcome a cacophony of ambient sounds, something the Ready Elite excels at. It’s almost like a miniature Soundboks 2. You’d be hard-pressed to find an all-weather speaker as durable, portable, versatile, and reasonably priced anywhere.

Granted, purists may object to the lack of discrete EQ options, or the way high frequencies tend to get muddied when the volume is pushed to the max, but when you’re hanging out with friends and family in the great outdoors, we think you’ll value the Ready Elite’s powerful sound, and virtually bombproof design more than anything else.

Read our full Braven Ready Elite review

Research and buying tips

What about outdoor speakers for Sonos?

Sonos, much to the frustration of some of its loyal fans, has steadfastly refused to make its superb collection of wireless speakers compatible with anything but a stationary Wi-Fi network. You can’t connect directly to a Sonos speaker via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and none of the Sonos products include USB ports for accessing local music stored on a memory stick or hard drive. Moreover, even if your Wi-Fi is very powerful, and can easily extend into your back yard or patio, Sonos does not make an outdoor-rated wireless speaker.

The company’s Sonos Outdoor Speakers are indeed meant for outside use, but they aren’t wireless. Instead, you must install them using traditional speaker wire, and power them with a Sonos Amp, something you could do with any outdoor-rated wired speakers.

Do outdoor speakers support Alexa, Google Assistant, and/or Siri?

At the moment, very few smart speakers — the kind that give you access to an assistant like Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant — are designed for outdoor use. The JBL Link 20 is one of them, but we weren’t super impressed by its performance. We have no doubt that more will come as people grow increasingly accustomed to using their voices instead of their phones, to order up the next playlist.

Will outdoor speakers work with a TV or projector?

Yes, but we only recommend wired models for this task. Wired outdoor speakers are no different than their indoor siblings: If you connect them to an A/V receiver that is also connected to a TV or projector, you’ll get the same great sound. Bluetooth outdoor speakers could also work in theory, but there are two major drawbacks.

The first is finding a way to connect them to your source. Most TVs and projectors do not support Bluetooth audio natively, which means you’ll need to buy an external Bluetooth stereo gateway.

Also, even if you successfully pair your Bluetooth speaker this way, be prepared for some noticeable lag between what you see and what you hear. It’s not a problem when listening to Spotify, but brutal when watching actors speak their lines.

Are outdoor speakers suitable for an RV?

Portable outdoor speakers with built-in batteries are a great solution for life on an RV. Their go-anywhere design and weather-proof hardware are ideal for road trips of any length. We don’t recommend wired outdoor speakers unless your RV has a compatible sound system.

Can I use outdoor speakers inside?

Absolutely. Outdoor speakers are really just indoor speakers that have had their components ruggedized, and/or sealed against water and dust. They will perform just fine indoors, but keep in mind, it’s unlikely that a $200 outdoor speaker will sound as good inside as a $200 indoor speaker. All of that extra weatherproofing is expensive, and the manufacturer may have compromised on audio quality in favor of versatility.

What if I want my outdoor speakers to match my landscaping?

No problem! There are lots of wired outdoor speakers disguised as rocks and other landscaping features, to help them blend seamlessly into your yard. The Klipsch AWR-650-SM speakers we list above are a great example, but there are many others, too. You will even come across wireless models like this one made by Ion, but we think most people will be happier with wired models, because of their greater power and superior sound.

Can outdoor speakers be mounted?

Yes, but this is a feature most commonly found on wired outdoor speakers. Wireless models, because of their flexibility of placement, are rarely designed to be mounted to a surface.

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