OUTDOOR ENTERTAINING IS a staple of the Australian summer lifestyle. Gathering
around the barbecue with friends and family is an activity millions of us look forward to, so why not enhance that experience by transforming your backyard into an entertainment showcase?
When designing a new house or renovating an existing structure, many of us focus on the interior features. However, when it comes to the outdoors (which in many cases is the largest area of all), we tend to forget an important detail: the audio and vision experience. Many home audio manufacturers have been hip to this luxury for years, but it seems many more are starting to join the fray, offering classy products to help us enjoy the great outdoors like never before.
Good sound is an obvious addition to any leisure area. However, you can't simply plunk some spare speakers into the planter next to the pool. You need specialty waterproof speakers that will resist the elements and provide great sound for years. When it comes to outdoor speakers, there are two flavours: plastic-moulded speakers and those that look like rocks or planters (designed to blend in with the landscaping).
The rock look-alike speakers provide covert placement. They blend in perfectly with other landscaping landmarks. Look for rock speakers such as Sonance's CRK20, Rockustics Rocky Jr and new models from Niles, the RS6 series. All provide excellent performance and should weather virtually any storm.
If you have high growth in your planters and can nicely hide the speakers anyway, save some money and go with the plastic-moulded variety. They sound just as good as their rock counterparts, but don't cost as much because they skip the expensive facade. However, because you're competing with the sounds of nature (and possibly nearby air and road traffic), absolute fidelity in outdoor speakers is not critical to most people. Many outdoor speakers come with brackets to mount the speaker onto an outside wall or pole. If you are tucking speakers up under the eaves of your house or in an area where they will not get pounded by the weather, a weather-resistant speaker will do fine. Check out Boston Acoustics' Voyager Series, Definitive Technology's AW-100, Bose's Environmental series and Polk Audio's Atrium series. All of these should satisfy anybody but the most critical listener.
If you are looking for a speaker to hold out against all that nature has to offer, you'll need a speaker that is weatherproof, not just weather-resistant. Look for weatherproof speakers such as Russound's OB series, B&W's WM series, Sonance's Mariners and Jamo's I/O series (the 660 model).
WHAT OUTDOOR ENTERTAINMENT system would be complete without video? Whether it's a poolside TV for big sporting events or a TV in an outdoor bar in the backyard, there are many options available, depending on your lifestyle. If you're so inclined, you can even have a plasma or LCD TV pop-up next to the spa, as long it is protected properly. The outdoors can be a great place to get creative by integrating your equipment