It’s hard to think that spring is just around the corner, what with the groundhog seeing his shadow earlier this month, not to mention the horrible weather that’s been plaguing the east coast. But it is! And if you’re looking forward to enjoying some outdoor AV on your patio, rooftop, or backyard, now is a good time to start budgeting and getting it all ready in time for fairer weather. Here are a few tips for getting the best outdoor AV experience this spring and summer.
More Speakers Are Better
There’s nothing worse than a boring backyard BBQ sans tunes. To play yours to the best of their ability, generally, more speakers are better, ensuring even coverage from any area of your space and helping to fill the infinite open space that tends to dwarf audio. Installers we’ve spoken with recommend speakers with an ingress protection (IP) rating of five or better to weather the elements. Sonance makes great outdoor and marine speakers, like the SONARRAY system ($2,500), which includes eight speakers plus a subwoofer that you can bury in the ground. All speakers should be installed facing inwards, causing sound to be contained within your back yard so as not to disturb your neighbors.
If you are hiding speaker wire in the ground, you’ll need to use direct burial wire, preferably in conduit. If not, outdoor speakers come with a variety of mounting choices for flexible placement, including ground stakes, wall-mount, and even tree-mount kits.
Make Sure Your Gear Is Outdoor-Rated
One huge mistake that homeowners make is putting gear meant for use inside, outside. For example, outdoor TVs are designed to be used and exist in extreme conditions, like extreme heat or cold, bugs, weather, etc., while also having more serious antiglare properties. Séura just launched its new Storm series of outdoor TVs (42 inches is $4,999), which use dual-layer anti-reflective and UV-coated tempered glass and the ultra-bright LED panel to compete with natural sunlight.
Accessorize It Up
Creating a new hearth of the home is more than just having good audio and video, many people are creating entire rooms–like kitchens and comfortable al fresco dens–to lure family and friends outdoors. Make your experience complete by permanently installing outdoor grills, ranges, refrigerators, and even wine coolers to keep the fun outside.
For a permanent outdoor AV installation, more than likely, the main electronics will be located inside. That means you’ll also need a remote control that will work through walls and that is also weatherproof. URC’s MXW-920 ($500), lets you control it all while floating in the pool.
Outdoor Movie Night
If you want a more portable outdoor experience this spring or summer, consider a portable projector and screen. While some people use a white sheet, you can also purchase a screen that was specifically designed for outdoor use (some are even inflatable) or use Screen Goo to reinforce exterior white walls with acrylic paint designed to turn any smooth surface into a ‘projection screen’. We like the more permanent screen installations available like Stewart Filmscreen’s AllRise (prices vary), which you can install in an outdoor bench and pops up when ready. A portable projector that has internal speakers, like Epson’s PowerLite Home Cinema 500 ($380), means no external speakers are necessary, which make portable setup slightly more complicated.
Depending on your needs and budget, you might need the help of an installer to help you get dialed in. Once you’re all set up, whip up a batch of piña coladas and enjoy the show.