An outdoor music system is a great idea for homes with large gardens and areas for outdoor entertaining. You can set up a place to play music for a pool party or an outdoor screen for movies. All good outdoor entertainment systems need strong, clear speakers to project the sound consistently. However, this is easier said than done without the right equipment.
You could set up a battery-powered PA system and risk power outages, or you can wire up some speakers with outdoor speaker wire. Outdoor speaker wire is tough, weatherproof wire of a high quality that brings a consistent source of power to your speakers. This way you can play music and other entertainment for as long as you need to outdoors. It hooks up between the media player and the speaker for reliable sound projection. Feed it from a system in the house through the garden to conveniently placed speakers.
Making sure that this outdoor speaker wire really can go outdoors. You will find that there are some products sold as outdoor models that are actually not as suitable for outdoor use as promised. Some won’t have the flexibility or length to handle a speaker system that stretches out into the garden or decking areas. Others have flaws in the weatherproofing that mean that they aren’t necessarily the safest option around. Check customer reviews online before deciding on a final product.
Don’t choose a spool of wire based on the specification alone. Some will sound great on paper but will then disappoint when it comes to setting up the speaker system. That is why it is so important to check the user reviews of previous buyers. You will find that some products don’t have that level of reliability expected or may have faulty connections. Others may be far too complicated to figure out due to a lack of instructions or color-coding. Then there are those warnings from users not to use the wire outside at all.
Each of the products below can offer some if not all of these benefits. Yet, they also tend to have a few potential downsides to consider. Compare your options carefully to find the right product for your needs.
This first option over 100 Feet of wire with a typical spool system. Many users are happy enough with the high strand count of the copper clad aluminum wire – which is 0.254mm 41. There are also promises that the clear jacket is waterproof, insulating, strong and flexible. Buyers tend to agree here. But, there are some cases of users not getting as much as they expected on the spool.
Should you use this outside? This has potential in the right areas, such as if it is buried. But, there are limitations with the transparency and the use of CCA over the sometimes preferable OFC wire.
There are some features here that immediately stand out compared to the Mediabridge option above. There is a higher gauge, a better strand count at 66 x 0.16mm and the upgrade to OFC wire. There are also the same connectivity and installation benefits as the model above with the quality and the color-coded wire. This time the wire is white, so there is less risk of sun damage.
Should you use this outdoors? This wire is preferable because of the improved protections and quality. You do have to pay more for the privilege, but it is worth it in the end.
The next two products both come from the same range, so share very similar features, as well as their pros and cons. Here we are back to that cheaper CCA wire again, which can cause issues with durability. The white wire reaches 500ft so there is more than enough to go around.
Should you use this outdoors? This product typically offers good sound quality and reliability at a low cost. The problem is that it doesn’t have the strength and quality of some of the OFC options.
This option is immediately noticeably different with the shorter 100ft length and the black jacket. This may be preferable for those with smaller distances to cover. The 3.5 x7 diameter has black and white color coding and many of the same basic features as before. This means the same quality of wire over this shorter distance.
Should you use this outdoors? The pros and cons are pretty much the same as the product above. The tough jacket definitely has its benefits but there are corners cut in quality to lower the price tag.
The third of our choices from GearIT is a lot different in terms of the features, quality, and purpose. The first major difference here is that there is the OFC wire instead of the CCA wire. Then there is the fact that this is rated as a direct burial option. This can limit applications and add to the work during installations. The wire runs for 250 feet, making it a good compromise between the smaller and larger spools.
Should you use this outdoors? This outdoor speaker wire could cause problems for those that want a simple installation process. Yet, the tough wire and the higher clarity are both important selling points.
This next option ticks a lot of the right boxes for buyers. Here there is the preferred OFC wire instead of the CCA wire. There is also a lot of it with a decent strand count of 41. Generally, the quality and protections are pretty good. However, consumers need to be aware that this is sold as a direct burial wire, which might not suit the purpose for everyone.
Should you use it outdoors? There are more protections here than some other wires. But, it is best to keep this a direct burial option. If this is too inconvenient, especially with 500ft, look elsewhere.
This next product is an alternative to the one avoid for those that want a higher gauge. You get that extra sense of reliability for a little more money. Otherwise, the main features are the same. There is the pure OFC wire with the direct burial application. There are also many of the same protections, such as high resistance against UV, chemical damage, low temperature. Yet, there are also the same issues.
Should you use it outdoors? The same ideas apply here. There are issues for those that want something short and with manual labour. But, there is no denying the quality and worth of the wire after installation.
The AmazonBasics range is one where you never really know the quality of the product you get. Some products are too basic for long-term use. Others have impressive features for the price point. This 12-gauge wire is a little of both. There is a high-quality 200ft wire with helpful extras. But, it doesn’t go far enough for everyone.
Should you use this outdoors? It is understandable why some people are cautious to use this product with those rating issues. It is unclear just how durable it will be. But, there is a lot of affordable, high-quality wire here.
By this point, the pros and cons of the CCA outdoor speaker wire products are very similar. There are some helpful features here in the color-coding, jacket and basic ease of use. There is also an affordable price tag for this smaller length. But, there are still issues with the fragility of the aluminum beneath the copper.
Should you use it outdoors? There are issues here in that the wire seems fine for outdoor use – but users need to be careful with the connections. In the right situation, and with some care, it could still prove useful.
This last option is another that is CL3 rated for use in the wall or as an outdoor speaker wire through direct burial. There is 500ft of this OFC and there is a much higher strand count of 105 One of the most interesting features here is the cardboard box with the patented wind rather than the spool. This is meant to help users avoid kinks and tangles. It also looks better than a spool.
Should you use this outdoors? The simple answer here is yes, but only if you are prepared to bury the wire. Otherwise, there isn’t enough protection. The quality and clarity provided do make this all worth the effort.
Things to look out for when choosing the best outdoor speaker wire for your system
There are many features to look at when choosing the best product for your needs. These spools may all look the same at first, but they can have a very different specification. Think about the following when choosing a product for your home.
1) the length of the wire2) the materials used3) the strand count4) the weatherproofing5) the flexibility6) the ease of use.
The length of the wire: This is important because many brands have similar wires of different lengths on their spools. This could be as low as 50 or 100ft and as high as 500ft. Don’t go too short and restrict access but also don’t go too long and cause trip hazards.
The materials used: There are two types of material used in these products. The first is CCA wire (Copper Coated Aluminium) This is cheaper and lighter, which means a more affordable spool. Yet, there are durability issues and some question the reliability. The alternative is the more expensive OFC wire (Oxygen Free Copper) This is pure copper, which should mean improved clarity and quality for longer life.
The strand count: The more strands there are in the wire, the better the outcome for clarity and reliability in your outdoor speaker wire. Some cheaper options will have fewer strands. The specifications should indicate the number of strands per wire.
The weatherproofing: If your wire is to stay out of the ground, it needs to be functional in all weathers. That means protection from sun damage and waterproofing. Not all high-end wire does this, which is where some use direct burial methods.
The flexibility: The wire needs to unroll from the spool without creating any kinks or tangles. It also needs to be flexible enough to be fitted and laid in the right place. Some can be quite tough if the jacket is too thick. A thick, stiff jacket is also a problem when cutting and stripping wire to connect to the speaker.
The ease of use: Speaker wire shouldn’t be complicated to use. But, it helps if brands add some extra features to shorten the installation time and eliminate confusion. Examples here include the foot markers on the wire and the color-coding.
Finding the best outdoor speaker wire for your needs
The best products for long-term outdoor use tend to be those that embrace the OFC wire instead of the CCA. This means a stronger, clearer wire that will hold up for longer. When there is also a high strand count, plenty of weatherproofing and a good gauge, you have a decent product. Direct burial options can have their uses in the right situation. CCA can still work well for those that are careful and want to save some money.
In the end, you need to think about the location of your speakers, your expectations for sound quality and your views on manual labor. This will shape your decision on the product you choose. Choose carefully because there are so many small variables in one brand. Take your time and pick something user-friendly and reliable enough for you.