Optimize the Sweet Spot of your Outdoor Speakers for Better Sound

When entertaining outdoors, what you really want is smooth, even sound throughout the entire listening area. To achieve this goal, Niles makes two basic types of weatherproof outdoor loudspeakers: conventional stereo and stereo input (SI). Conventional stereo is the two-speaker, the left and right setup that we all know and love. Not as well known is stereo input. These loudspeakers provide blended stereo sound from a single enclosure. When designing outdoor systems, it really helps to understand the advantages of each and what all the options are. Why settle for so-so when you can have a system that really rocks?

Scenario 1: Stereo sound for a patio with a central, fixed listening area

Stereo sound for a patio with a central fixed listening area

  • In this application, the setup is a typical patio with a relatively fixed listening area: a table and chairs where people gather. Since most of the listening will be in this one area, the best solution is a pair of Niles OS Indoor/Outdoor Loudspeakers mounted on the wall wired to play stereo sound. Since the listeners are in the “sweet spot,” they are positioned to enjoy the best possible stereo imaging. The sound will be spacious with a realistic soundstage of music filling the area.

Scenario 2: Blended stereo for a patio with multiple listening areas

Blended stereo for a patio with multiple listening areas

  • What happens if you step out of the “sweet spot?” This setup has multiple listening areas: people mingling at different spots on the deck. Sometimes, these listening areas are not located in the stereo “sweet spot” described in Scenario 1, so the listener’s ability to hear the stereo image is diminished because of their proximity to just one speaker. One speaker becomes dominant, masking the sound of the other.
  • The solution is a pair of Niles stereo input (SI) loudspeakers. SI loudspeakers produce blended stereo sound from a single cabinet by utilizing two properly positioned tweeters and a dual voice coil woofer. The stereo imaging and spaciousness may not be as good as the “sweet spot” using conventional stereo loudspeakers, but you get even coverage of stereo-like sound. There are SI versions of all Niles outdoor loudspeakers — OS, Rocks, and Planters — so you have plenty of designs to choose from.

Scenario 3: Background music for a patio with multiple listening areas

Background music for a patio with multiple listening areas

  • In setups where the music is mainly played in the background or where people are constantly moving, consider wiring the loudspeakers for mono (non-stereo) sound. In this scenario, each loudspeaker plays a combination of both stereo channels, eliminating the sweet spot limitations of stereo. Of course you’ll lose the stereo effects in the music, but for background listening it’s a reasonable compromise.
  • To wire for mono sound, the zone preamp outputs of the multizone receiver are connected to a separate power amplifier using two “Y” adapters. This effectively combines the left and right channels into one. Or you can use a Niles 12-Channel Systems Integration AmplifierTM. It provides a simple way to configure channels for stereo or mono (L + R).

If you have questions or would like to create a system for your home or business, call and talk with one of our sales representatives at 1-866-224-6171 or visit the Whole House Audio/Video System Design page. We look forward to hearing from you!

2 comments on “Optimize the Sweet Spot of your Outdoor Speakers for Better Sound

  1. Chuck Emde on said:

    I want to install an outdoor audio system with four pairs of speakers in 4 different locations. I would like to control as many of the locations independently as possible. I need a receiver/CD player with iPod adaptability with enough power to generate good volume for a large outdoor area. I love the size of the micro systems, but worry about power. Can I use a micro receiver/CD unit and boost the power with an amp?

  2. Electronics Guru on said:

    Chuck Emde:

    We recently got a new line of products that would be perfect for your application. I am referring to Sonos wireless products, which are similar in size to micro components but have the features and performance of larger components. The cool thing about a Sonos wireless system is that there can be literally dozens of zones, each controlled independently via remote or iPhone/iPod Touch or computer or each zone can be synced together!

    The Sonos system can be integrated with your current speakers and gear and you can add more power with dedicated Sonos amps and speakers. Check out our blog about the Sonos system for more information. Of course we offer traditional non-wireless (wired speakers to amp/receiver) and would be happy to create some options for you to choose from. We have solutions from Bose, Niles and other trusted brands and can have installers do all the work for you.

    Contact our custom install guys at 1-866-224-6171. Frank is the primary custom tech, but you may also talk with Nathan or Tim. They can sort things out and get you hooked up.

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