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Outdoor speakers without surround sound?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
I am just starting the design phase of my outdoor theater. I am considering using outdoor speakers without any form of surround or stereo -- kind of like having an old school drive-in speaker, but hopefully crisper. My concern is neighbors. I will put this on a fairly small lot (1/5 acre to 1/3 acre?) and I think that putting speakers around the screen/yard will require volume levels that will annoy the neighbors.

My solution would be to use a number of speakers spread throughout the viewing area -- all delivering a mono sound signal. This would allow me to have speakers close to the listeners that deliver relatively low volume sounds.

If surround sound isn't a priority for you, what do you think of this approach? Do you have a better suggestion?

Also, how would you wire it? I assume I would send the sound signal through an amplifier first to get enough power, but coming out of the amplifier I would only need a mono signal. However, I would want to feed this mono signal to multiple (three? five?) speakers.
post #2 of 4
Why wouldn't you want to go ahead and run stereo, if not full 5.1 (or more)?

I have a barely 1/3 acre lot and run 5.1 on my deck. Once you get around to the front of the house, you can't hear a thing. I'm on a corner, and on the sidewallk with the fronts and center pointed directly at you, you can barely hear anything. The neighbors have NEVER complained and we've been out there until 1:00am watching a double feature.

You'll be amazed at how fast sound can drop off away from the speakers. AND the sound is AMAZING. I forget the exact percentage numbers, but in a room, MOST of what you hear is reflected off the walls....outside, MOST of what you hear is directly from the speakers.

Give it a try. Wire everything up and walk around to see how loud it is outside the perimeter of your speakers.
post #3 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by emellaich View Post

I am just starting the design phase of my outdoor theater. I am considering using outdoor speakers without any form of surround or stereo -- kind of like having an old school drive-in speaker, but hopefully crisper. My concern is neighbors. I will put this on a fairly small lot (1/5 acre to 1/3 acre?) and I think that putting speakers around the screen/yard will require volume levels that will annoy the neighbors.

My solution would be to use a number of speakers spread throughout the viewing area -- all delivering a mono sound signal. This would allow me to have speakers close to the listeners that deliver relatively low volume sounds.

If surround sound isn't a priority for you, what do you think of this approach? Do you have a better suggestion?

Also, how would you wire it? I assume I would send the sound signal through an amplifier first to get enough power, but coming out of the amplifier I would only need a mono signal. However, I would want to feed this mono signal to multiple (three? five?) speakers.

It really depends on how your neighborhood is layed out. My house is at the end of a cul-de-sac. So behind my house is just acres of trees and there is no direct line of sight to neighbors. My rental house on the other hand is also on a 1/3 acre lot, but in the middle of a straight street. I wouldn't be able to do anything in the back yard without the sound bothering at least 3-4 neighboring houses. Your house will block most of the sound in that direction, but not sideways or backwards.

5.1 or 2 channels aren't really the issue, it is more about how your land is and what might obstruct the sound.
post #4 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by emellaich View Post

I am just starting the design phase of my outdoor theater. I am considering using outdoor speakers without any form of surround or stereo -- kind of like having an old school drive-in speaker, but hopefully crisper. My concern is neighbors. I will put this on a fairly small lot (1/5 acre to 1/3 acre?) and I think that putting speakers around the screen/yard will require volume levels that will annoy the neighbors.

My solution would be to use a number of speakers spread throughout the viewing area -- all delivering a mono sound signal. This would allow me to have speakers close to the listeners that deliver relatively low volume sounds.

If surround sound isn't a priority for you, what do you think of this approach? Do you have a better suggestion?

Also, how would you wire it? I assume I would send the sound signal through an amplifier first to get enough power, but coming out of the amplifier I would only need a mono signal. However, I would want to feed this mono signal to multiple (three? five?) speakers.

My audio comes from inside and then I split it. I run 1 to a radio with an aux in and the other to an fm transmitter. I have a few radios around or they can listen with headphones if they want. It's wireless and sounds pretty good. An fm transmitter seems like a step backwards but when its within 50' of the radios it works great. I've tried wifi solutions, Bluetooth, and they all have a lag. Plus it's $15 to try it.
Your also right about multiple speakers. Keeps it a lot more quiet when your not blasting it for one person's benefit. And they can all pick their own levels.
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