I love music. I’m listening to it on headphones while I work, through my car stereo when I drive, and if I had my way, it would be on most of the time I was home as well. I finally decided to figure out a way to set up an “always available” speaker system for my backyard patio. Weatherproof, multiple speakers, and bluetooth connectivity were my requirements.
My music lives in two places: On my computer. On my phone.
The majority of my music collection is actually stored in the cloud. I use an Xbox Music Pass to download and stream all of the songs I want to my devices.
(I use my phone WAY more than I use my PC for this.) I then connect my phone to a Bluetooth speaker of some kind, and we’re off and running. I have blown through more types of Bluetooth speakers than I care to admit. Here’s a short list (they’re all great, my problem is that they’re each only ONE speaker.)
Nokia JBL PlayUp ($149)
This one is awesome because of the sound and the ability to pair it with your phone using NFC. Just tap your phone on the front of the speaker, and you’re all set. It also has the best sound of these three. It also charges using the same micro-USB charger you use for your phone, which is incredibly convenient.
Logitech Bluetooth Wireless Speaker ($149)
This was the first bluetooth speaker I ever bought, and it is excellent, but big. It’s also powered by a battery, but can take a bulky AC adapter too. Big sound, but also a big package. Easily more than 12” long.
Outdoor Technology Turtle Shell Wireless Boom Box ($129)
As a golfer, I’ve always laughed at the scene in Caddyshack where Rodney Dangerfield cranks up his stereo and annoys the entire course. But I’ve also played with plenty of guys who play some tunes quietly in their carts. You almost have to get in the cart to hear it, but it’s a nice distraction after you three-knocked the previous green. This little speaker is very small, and it’s also weatherproof, which means I’d don’t need to panic if it starts raining when we’re on the course.
I thought this was about your patio setup??!?!?!
It is. So to accomplish all three of my goals, I decided to go with a custom setup. It involves 2 outdoor, weatherproof speakers, 100 feet of speaker wire, and a Bluetooth amplifier. Here’s what the final product looks like (pardon the missing lightbulb):
To do this, I started with a reasonably priced set of Yamaha Outdoor Speakers. They were $69 at Amazon, and have “make your neighbors call the police” volume if you are looking for that.
I added 100 feet of 16-gauge speaker wire for another $10, which was more than enough for this project. (I used about 50 feet.)
Finally, I picked up the core of the system, a Bluetooth amplifier. I spent a lot of time looking around for the right one, and finally settled on one from Grace Digital for
$169 $84. (As I write this article, the price on Amazon has dropped to $84, and they refunded me the difference. This is why I shop at Amazon.) This little amp takes two speakers, has HUGE range through walls and distance for Bluetooth, and is also really small.
The amp, however, is not weather or waterproof, so I wanted to find a permanent way to use this any time. If you look at my installation photos, you’ll notice I have a very convenient overhang that I mounted the speakers on. That overhang is my bedroom, where we have a large set of bookshelves and cabinets running the entire length of the wall. I picked up a 16” long drill bit for $10, and made a hole from the overhang into those bookshelf cabinets.
I can then run the speaker wire from the amp, which is inside, to the speakers, which are outside, and still enjoy the strong Bluetooth range of the amp on my patio below. To fill that hole in once all of my wires were in place, I used some insulating foam sealant from Home Depot for $7.
Total cost of the entire project? $180. About the same as the Bluetooth speakers I’ve been collecting over the years, but more versatile, more powerful, and a nice permanent addition to my outdoor space. Come on over sometime, and I’ll have a beer waiting for you.
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