Tip: Improved Outdoor Audio for Your Home

When you spend time outside by your pool or on your deck, what audio options are you using? Speakers hanging on the back of the house? A sound dock or bluetooth speaker for your phone or iPod? A bit limiting, right? Either you’re too far away and can’t really hear all that well or you’re stuck sitting next to the music and the sound is too loud to have a conversation with the person sitting next to you. Plus your neighbor may not share the same tastes in music. Or decibel level.

The good news is there is a better solution for providing high-fidelity audio that doesn’t require excessive volume and that blends into the landscaping of your backyard.

image courtesy of Sonance

image courtesy of Sonance

The above diagram shows an example of the speaker layout in a backyard with pool. Instead of one or two sound sources, the outdoor array of speakers easily covers all areas where you and your guests would be spending time outdoors. The sound is directed towards your property and can be kept at a pleasant volume thanks to the number of speakers.

One complaint about outdoor speakers is their lack of bass, but the new trend solves that issue by ingeniously burying the sub-woofers underground to provide tremendous bass coverage. All the speakers are run off a single audio output and relayed together without disturbing the beauty of your landscaping. Below is an example of just how little of a visual impact the speakers have.

courtesy of Sonance

courtesy of Sonance

These speaker systems can be installed using a single cable from the audio source. It is always best to use direct burial wire for an outdoor system as this type is made to deal with the range of temperatures and moisture conditions present in soil. We recommend and use 14-gauge wire for direct burial as this will provide the best quality and performance over the lifetime of the sound system.

Keep in mind when installing direct burial wire that you should dig down at least six inches when creating the channel for the wire. You’ll likely be aerating your lawn annually and you want to make sure your wire doesn’t get harmed during this process.

Rock your yard this summer with a new outdoor sound system.

 

Trend: Outdoor Living

More and more homeowners are taking advantage of their outdoor space by bringing traditionally indoor activities — cooking, entertaining, even family movie night — to their backyards. Yes, even in New England’s climate, these “rooms without walls” are a growing trend in home redesign, and a great way to add tremendous value to your property as well.

No longer do you need to stop at a deck and gas grill; if you want to do it outside, there’s probably and option for you. It’s like going on vacation except it’s only steps away.

outdoor kitchen

If the kitchen is the heart of your home, it can also be the heart of your yard as well, and the sky is the limit in terms of how simple or complex you want to make it. Because of the explosion in demand for these types of appliances, manufacturers now offer an outdoor version of nearly any item you’d find in an indoor kitchen. Love pizza? Get a brick oven. Host large family gatherings? Get a 12 burner stove top with grill top, warming rack, and even a deep fryer.

Let your inner Emeril out and consider adding to your home’s charm and entertaining options with more than just an expanded outdoor cooking space; add a sink, dishwasher, granite counters, and more.

Backyard-spa-web

Want to bring family movie night outdoors? Just add a high-def TV, but be sure and use one specifically suited for outdoor conditions and is triple-sealed for weather protection. Make sure any mount you use is also meant for outdoor use and won’t rust or fall apart. These mounts are also designed to handle the added weight of outdoor sets as well. You may also want to consider a rotating mount as well to provide multiple viewing angle options as well as perform better in windy conditions.

Now it’s time to consider location. While outdoor televisions do deliver a brighter image than their indoor counterparts, you may want to consider a spot that is fully or partially shaded for a better viewing experience. Finally, think about the type of content you’ll likely be watching. Will you be tapping into your cable or satellite service to watch the game live or more likely streaming online content to binge watch shows or your favorite movies? This will be an important consideration to make as part of the installation process.

outdoor fire pit 2

But is an “outdoor room” investment worth your while in a climate like New England’s where you can only count on Mother Nature for warm weather four to five months a year? This is where the hottest trend in outdoor living — pun intended — comes into play: fire pits and outdoor fireplaces. Nothing will increase the amount of time families spend outside than adding one of  these options to the yard, perfect for those cooler evenings in the spring or fall. Better Homes & Gardens magazine just released a report saying nearly half of all millennials now have an open fire feature in their outdoor space.

Create the outside oasis that’s perfect for you and join the outdoor room trend this summer.

Planning Your Home A/V Project

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Checking out a new outdoor patio and pool for a music system in the Spring of 2013

Recently I completed a site visit along with Brian Gibson, Elite Media Solutions founder, at a nice home in the Medfield, MA area where the owners are putting in a beautiful pool and outdoor room/patio. The partially – covered patio area included a stone fireplace and outdoor kitchen. We  went there to check out a space for an outdoor TV and speakers. The customers already have a nice porch, and some other outdoor speakers we installed years ago.

The outdoor fireplace had a nice sized niche area above it for a flat panel display, all done in stone. Remember, there are specially-designed televisions for outdoor applications.  Hanging a regular TV outside, even under cover, is certainly not suggested.

As I was looking at this area and visualizing the family enjoying the pool and outdoor space, I noticed that there was apparently no plan for getting electricity and other access to the TV area for cables, etc. Whooops!   Later, we were able to communicate with the contractor and determine a solution.

This is a lesson of how it is better if we are consulted earlier in a project. Don’t wait until construction starts, as some electricians and contractors may not fully understand the project requirements when it comes to sound and video. So, don’t be shy! Get in touch with us during the initial planning stages of your project, whether it is a remodel, new space, or outdoor living area.

You will be glad you did, and you’ll likely save money and hassle down the road.

 To chat with us about your project, please call Elite Media Solutions in Wellesley, MA at (781) 237-2929. We design and install custom audio, video, and smart home automation and control systems, in and around Boston and eastern Massachusetts, including Newton, Brookline, Weston, Wayland, Waltham, Bedford, Needham, Medfield, Dover, Sherborn, Concord, Lexington, Norfolk, Wrentham, and Cape Cod.