Installation and Wiring
What's true of outdoor speakers is equally true of the wiring that connects them — it must be rugged enough to carry sufficient power over long distances while it withstands the harshest of elements year-round. Most professionals use at minimum 16-gauge "direct-burial" cable, which is designed to go right into the ground, and bury it at least 12 inches deep. (The plastic casing of indoor speaker wire isn't thick enough to protect the copper within from moisture damage.) Some communities require all outdoor wiring to be run through conduits; double-check the code in your area.

You don't want to have to dig up the wire to relocate speakers once your system is installed, so before burying the cable, test out the speakers to see how they sound in the locations you have planned.

Controlling It From Your Lounge Chair
Outdoor speakers can be integrated into an existing home-audio control system, or you can mount a separate all-weather control port on the side of the house or out by the pool. If you're piggy-backing on your indoor sound system, you'll need to invest in a zone selector with volume controls that allow you to set sound levels for indoors and outdoors separately; you don't want to blow out the eardrums of people in the living room while your buddies are having an air-guitar competition on the lawn.

Some installers recommend a separate receiver just for the outdoor setup. "It's a good way to go, because it will reduce the load on the amplifier inside," says Alan Poltrack, president of Video Installations Plus in Hartsdale, NY. "You can get a receiver for a couple hundred dollars."

Now that you've got your outdoor audio bases covered, the only challenge remaining is what you're going to listen to: Beethoven, the baseball game, or the Beach Boys for the pool party?

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