External Audio: Considerations
Updated: Apr 25
External audio requires its own set of considerations for several reasons. This post will help you understand all that is required.
Limit audio spill over to adjacent properties
This is a really important consideration if you have other properties nearby as the last thing you want is complaints when trying to enjoy music in your garden!
Choice of speaker and placement can assist here. External Mid-High speakers specially designed to be highly directional are best placed on boundaries pointing inwards. Low frequencies coming from sub-woofers are naturally hard to direct and so one method is to locate sub-woofer slightly further into the Garden as. This will limit spill over to neighbouring properties as they are not needing to be driven as loud however it is important to do this carefully as you will not want too much separation between the different types of speaker.
Requirement to cover a vast area evenly
External areas are different to internal spaces where listening positions tend to be fixed. External spaces need to have evenly distributed sound levels as you walk from the BBQ, to the seating area, to the lawn etc. In order to get the best result, it is best to have many speakers being driven less than less speakers driven more. By doing this you can blend the Sound levels around the external space rather than having “hot-spots” where the sound will vary between very loud and very quiet as you walk around.
Speakers as hidden as possible
Very often, gardens will have flower beds around the outside perimeter. These are ideal positions for directional speakers and can be hidden in bushes or flowers where speakers are mounted on spikes.
Cables can be buried or surface pinned in dense beds. Where cable runs need to run over open grassed ground it is important to take the time to bury cables deep so there is no chance of lawn mowers or depressions will be noticed and speakers can be chosen or adapted to match colouring's of the area and fixed to walls, posts or trees.
Sub-woofers can be surface mounted however for ultimate performance and discretion, specialised sub-woofers can be buried with only a mushroom shaped port showing on surface level.
Long cable run distance
Conventional amplifiers require cable lengths are kept as short as possible as the added cable length adds resistance causing a loss in power and numerous issues with the quality of the audio. External audio will very often need to trail the edge of an entire garden which can very quickly total huge lengths. Fortunately, when cable length will likely cause issue, specialised amplifiers and speakers can be used to mitigate this issue. These amplifiers and speakers make use of the same principles that allow electricity generated in power plants to be sent many miles more efficiently. They increase the voltage and lower the current before the signal is fed into the cables and reverse the process at the speaker before moving the speaker cone.
Ability to tune the audio to fit the space.
Next to walls, on a slope, rocky terrain, soil, shingle; There are so many difference surfaces and variables that may be unavoidable so the ability to tune the audio will make the world of difference when matched with a keen ear. Amplifiers with build processing or external hardware for delay and multi band equalisation across the amplified channels is essential. Simple bass, middle and treble control will do very little to optimise your experience.
Easy control over what is playing
What is the point in treating yourself to an incredible external speaker system without having simple and intuitive means of playing music! If you have an existing control system such as Control4, Crestron or indeed a Sonos system then this can all be incorporated or installed standalone. Either situation can support all popular device streaming such as Airplay or Spotify Connect.
A second consideration is to ensure WiFi reception in and around your external space is strong enough to send high quality streams across your network without hiccup. It is such a shame to have to leave your mobile device inside to play your favourite tracks. All this can be checked catered for on survey
Hopefully you found this helpful. Feel free to get in touch if you require any advice
The Micarta Team