Indoor vs Outdoor Speakers, Is there really a difference?

With the summer months underway, you may find yourself looking to accessorize your outdoor living areas.  Summer kitchens, pool patios, and man caves to name a few; all of which are the perfect setting for outdoor speakers. You may be tempted to bring out those big booming speakers you still have from the 80’s or even relocating your TV speakers to provide for outdoor listening pleasures. We get the question a lot “what is the difference between indoor and outdoor speakers.” To be fair, it is a legitimate question, because on the face, they may look very similar and often indoor speakers are far less expensive compared to outdoor speakers. Two factors must be taken into account when comparing indoor vs outdoor speakers: durability and sound quality.

What is the Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Speakers?

Sound Quality

Most quality speakers are designed with the acoustic setting in mind. That is, indoor speakers are designed to accommodate smaller, enclosed spaces, and outdoor speakers made to project across a broad area. It goes without saying then that the sound level or volume that these speakers can reach differs drastically. Outdoor speakers are going to reach a much higher volume level compared to those of the indoor speakers which are relying on walls to bounce sound off of or be absorbed into. This is particularly the case when it comes to bass. Bass on an outdoor speaker is usually built into the enclosure of the speaker, whereas most indoor speaker setups will have a stand alone sub woofer.


This brings up a separate point which relates to the design. Outdoor speakers are designed with a much different appearance, and for good reason; durability. We will touch on durability in just a second, but the consideration to make is the aesthetic appearance. Most would not want to mount bulky outdoor speakers on the walls of their living room as they surely do not look as sleek and sexy as their Bose counter parts. Same can be said for indoor speakers which are made for a home theater set up. For example the tall slender speakers, which usually appear on the side of a TV set, would be out of place outdoors nor up to the task of surviving the elements. Design is an important feature of outdoor speakers and there are a variety of styles to fit your taste, such as Bose’s popular landscape speaker or the Niles Rock Speaker.

Durability of the Speaker

As previously mentioned those tall slender TV speakers would not be in the appropriate setting sat on a pool patio. Why? Simply because those tall speakers can easily tip over in which case they are not designed survive a fall on a hard concrete patio. Nor would those tall slender speakers be waterproof. This is usually the biggest contributing factor towards a higher priced outdoor speaker. Outdoor speakers must be able to survive the harsh elements and changing seasons/temperature, whereas indoor speakers are in the constant comfort of AC and heat. This is a key point to consider, and here’s why. There are plenty of people out there whom will attempt to save a few bucks by mounting indoor speakers outdoors but yet under cover. A soffit or under a deck are the most common of locations for indoor speakers to be mounted outdoors. The biggest issue with this idea is that moisture is still in the air, even underneath those overhangs. Indoor speakers are not designed with durable cones and internal parts which are rust resistant, which will be present on the outdoor speakers.

Not only should one be concerned with moisture, but also sun light. Exposure to sunlight is a major concern especially for those in the southern states. The sun will eat right through a cheap pair of speakers. Before you know it, the cones will be completely dry rotten.

So…What is the Best Outdoor Speaker?

Even after reading this, we know there will be those few that decide to try the indoor speakers outdoors. If this is the case, hiding them from sunlight and moisture as best as possible will help to make them last as long as possible, but that is not likely to be very long. If on the other hand, you are looking for the best sound quality and durability for the money, we recommend the Klipsh AW650 or Definitive Technology AW6500. These are extremely durable speakers which will make it through the seasons and still be performing at peak performance even years from now. Additionally, there are outdoor speakers designed for different outdoor situations. Obviously none of the options mentioned above will work as four wheeler speakers or boat speakers. That’s why we have tried to cover all of our bases here on Outdoor Speaker Supply. If we are missing something you are interested in, please leave us a comment or send us an email. We are here to help!

Note that indoor and outdoor speaker wire can vary as well. Make sure you read more on the outdoor speaker wire to ensure you are wiring properly.