Outdoor audio configuration


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I am in the midst of planning to put an audio system for my backyard and I got some estimates from audio companies, which turned out to be a big waste of time. So now I decided to see if I can install a decent system for the setup I have and plan to expand.

I recently did my backyard with a inground pool with a 3200 square foot patio. If facing the pool from my back patio door, there is a current cut out that is the eating area and eventually will be the bbq/kitchen area. Next to that area is a circular section that has the firepit. To the left of the patio door is a sitting area and next to that is my raised sundeck with the waterfall next to it.

I currently have a 3/4 inch conduit pipe running from the basement to the electrical sub panel near the pool pump. I have access in the basement that I can also drill through the foundation to gain access to the backyard. I’m not looking to blow my neighbors but I want a system that I can hear with no issues from the pool area. I don’t need any speakers in the grass area or inside the pool house.

My question is what kind of components will I need to achieve a decent sound throughout the contained area, while also allowing me to expand the system when I make changes to the yard?

7 replies

Userlevel 6
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That's quite the setup you've got there. I'm jealous.

Is the pool house have electrical? It may make sense to put the stereo equipment there. As well, if you don't have good wifi coverage in the backyard already, you may want to put a satellite wifi out there. Something like the orbi system to cover your whole home. It may not seem important for audio, but Sonos needs good wifi, and there is no downside to having good coverage outside. Besides just general internet use, if you ever want to put a tv out there, you'll be able to stream without issue.

As far as Sonos goes, I'd first determine how many zones you want. You probably don't want to play different audio in different parts of the backyard, but you may want to only play audio near the dinning area or firepit, right? I'd say it's 3 zones. You probably can cover the dinning area and firepit with a connect:amp each. Although you could just get a connect and buy a separate amp. The 2nd option would give you more flexibility. I would definitely do the pool area with a connect and separate amp. So really 3 Sonos Connects is probably what I'd do.

As far as the amps go, this page has a lot of different options...

https://www.crutchfield.com/g_10450/Power-Amplifiers.html?tp=180&pg=1

Maybe one of the smaller ones for the dining area and fire pit, then a large one for the pool area....although the smaller ones can be connected together. I just bought the AudioSource AMP210VS myself as an upgrade over a connect:amp to power 2 pairs of speakers in my backyard. I wanted a bit more power and the 2nd source to use for tv audio. The connect:amp will just be for the speakers in the garage. Kind of like you I may want to add some more speakers back there in the future, and I'll be able to expand with this.

As far as wiring goes, you'll probably want 12 gauge speaker wire, as you'll likely have some fairly long runs. I found good prices at https://www.mycablemart.com. Conduit isn't 100% necessary for speaker wire, but I think it's a good idea. It's pretty cheap and easy to work with. 3/4 in may be too small though, as you'll have a lot of wire.

I don't know if this is the kind of information you're looking for, but hopefully it helps. Why exactly were the audio contractors a waste of time?
Userlevel 4
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Hi Jerzylife

Excellent looking pool area! Congrats! :cool:

The picture attached is a stitch of your photos. It’s a rough start but only requires a Sonos Connect: AMP (CA) and four (4) directional outdoor speakers. All four speakers can be run off the CA.

I’d suggest placing the CA in the pool house based upon what I can see as the easiest path to run conduit underground containing outdoor rated speaker wire to the speakers. Each red line indicates the un-broken run from the CA to a speaker.

The Connect:AMP can be run as wireless component via the Sonos app and/or it can be connected to a Stereo via record-out (with RCA wires) wherein audio from an attached CD or Record player is fed to it.

As Sonos is a wireless system you must have a strong Wi-Fi signal if feeding audio to the CA via the Sonos app.

I suggest direction speakers to concentrate the audio to your pool area (and not disturb your neighbors) and let areas not directly in-line (such as the eating area to the right) enjoy ambient sound for conversation.

As your profile shows that you currently have no Sonos equipment…the first link introduces the Connect AMP (CA) and the second link is useful information on setting up Sonos. I suggest reading the second link thoroughly and then come back to the Community for additional help. There are a lot of great people here to offer assistance.

You can go back to the Audio Companies you interviewed for suggestions on decent out door speakers and wiring. Be sure to read the sub link (contained in the second link below) on Connecting speakers to a Connect:AMP. The section on connecting 4 speakers is very important.

https://www.sonos.com/en-us/shop/connectamp.html
https://www.sonos.com/en-us/support/setting-up-sonos

I hope this proves to be useful. Hopefully, others will chime in with suggestions. Cheers!
Userlevel 6
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AjTrek1, I'd be concerned about trying to cover 3200 sqft off of one connect:amp. Yes, you can run 4 speakers off of them and I agree with everything you said, I just think OP would be better off with more speakers placed around the different sitting areas. For example, if you're sitting around the firepit around a winter night, you don't want to primarily hear only one channel of stereo (the one you have placed near the tree), and you probably don't need have to audio playing across the other side of the yard. If you're swimming in the summer and want audio on the pool to be fairly loud, you'll have the music rather loud in the dining area which may make conversation difficult.

And guessing by the setup, budget isn't a huge concern here.
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I would like to first thank the community for taking the time to respond and providing valuable information.

The pool house does have electrical and I can put the components there but I just wasn’t sure if it would be easier for WiFi concerns to just put the components in the basement and connect the Sonos connect with a cat 5 wire directly to my router instead of running the Sonos connect wirelessly.

I completely agree that I don’t want to create a sound system that is loud across the entire area. My main areas of concern about to audio is that I want it to be contained within the patio / pool area. There is no need to have speakers to hear in the grass or pool house area. I will be adding a covered porch the length of the black of the house and it will extend 10 feet out. I will eventually want two speakers in that area. I don’t need a setup that will allow me to play multiple audio sources at the same time, just a setup that I can control the volume of specific areas. So as previously stated, if I want to crank up the music around the pool, but people are eating, I would want to keep the music in the eating area alittle lower.

With regards to the audio contractors, I felt that I was limited to the components that they use and they would not deviate from them. Also, a lot of them use companies that only dealers can purchase, which leaves me no option to purchase the items myself and save some money on the components. Also because I live in an affluent area where some people don’t care about money, these contractors charge astronomical labor fees for one days labor.

Thank you for the nice compliments about the backyard. Though I did have to spend some money for specific aspects of the yard, I did to a lot of the work myself so money is something that is important to me. So if I can save some money by doing this myself, I will do whatever I can to get it done.
Userlevel 4
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melvimbe wrote:

AjTrek1, I'd be concerned about trying to cover 3200 sqft off of one connect:amp. Yes, you can run 4 speakers off of them and I agree with everything you said, I just think OP would be better off with more speakers placed around the different sitting areas. For example, if you're sitting around the firepit around a winter night, you don't want to primarily hear only one channel of stereo (the one you have placed near the tree), and you probably don't need have to audio playing across the other side of the yard. If you're swimming in the summer and want audio on the pool to be fairly loud, you'll have the music rather loud in the dining area which may make conversation difficult.

And guessing by the setup, budget isn't a huge concern here.



Hi melvimbe

Assuming budget is not an issue multiple speakers as you suggest might prove to be the better option:? I suggested directional speakers for the very same reason you mentioned to allow conversation with minimal audio interference. Thinking further if the OP were to consider the CA setup it would probably be a good idea to incorporate a volume switch to adjust the audio in all areas (at least in pairs). Good catch on that aspect melvimbe!

Regarding stereo separation...as you suggested Crutchfield as a vendor (another good choice) they offer the Klipsch AWR-650-SM ($300 each -USD) that according to the specs will produce a stereo effect as a stand-alone speaker. Reference sitting around the firepit on a winter night :8

Cheers!
Badge +1
i have 2 pair of the B&W outdoor speakers (http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/Speakers/Installation-Speakers/Outdoor-Marine/AM-1.html ) and have been very happy with them. They are marine grade so much hardier than many speakers sold as water resistant. I leave one pair out full time in NH and another in MA and have never had an issue with either, clearly lots of snow up here. Both are powered by Connect Amps. I am about to add a play1 to a boat house but it will be under an eve so i didn't need the fully waterproof-ness of the B&Ws.

i did not go for the crutchfield or niles approach as i planned to do all volume control, source control and such natively thru sonos. And its worked out fine.

my $0.02....
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Based on the information that has been give to me, here is what I have narrowed down my options to.

I definitely don’t want to mount speakers to the side of my house or put any on the rock area between the house and the pool so it narrows down the areas to around the pool, firepit and eating area and side sitting area.

Am I better off with satellite speakers such as ones from episode, acoustic or another company or should I just get a few of the rock speakers from Klipsch? Also should I get a burial subwoofer and what size amp should I get? If I’m doing direct burial, just get 12 or 14 gauge?

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