Review: Outdoor Speakers Page 2

Bottom Line

Everything I said in the beginning about how hard it is to build good-sounding outdoor speakers was reinforced during this test. Even two esteemed manufacturers whose products we generally love — Definitive Technology and Klipsch — got a mixed reaction from our listening panelists.

In comparison, of the eight $300 to $400/pair minispeakers we tested for the April-May issue, four won raves from most of our panelists and two others got qualified recommendations. But of course, every one of those indoor speakers had an enclosure made from medium-density fiberboard (MDF), which doesn’t resonate the way that molded plastic cabinets typically do. Every one of those speakers used a ported cabinet to get deeper bass extension. None of them were forced to employ weather-resistant materials. Probably all of them sounded better than any of the outdoor speakers we tested.

Lauren had an interesting observation: “I think some people in the audio industry assume that when you go outside, you aren’t going to be listening intently. That may be true for many people, but for me, just because I go out on my patio doesn’t mean my ears suddenly stop working right.”

So what’s the bottom line? We really liked the Niles OS5.5, and we thought the Definitive Technology AW5500 and the Klipsch AW-525 were both pretty good. And if you’re looking for a dog-shaped speaker, the OSD Audio German Shepherd earns the strongest, most enthusiastic recommendation we can give.