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Bringing Entertainment Outdoors


Weatherproof audio and video thrive in all climates.


Not too long ago, introducing home electronics outside the climate-controlled comfort of the house was risky, expensive, or temporary. When I wanted some sonic amusement outside, I would drag out a pair of reasonably rugged, decent speakers and try to keep the wires neat. Today, there are a score of speaker systems that can dock an iPhone or stream your playlist via Wi-Fi.


Landscaped Sound

Bringing near audiophile quality sound outside does not have to include hauling out the hi-fi gear and big speaker towers for a party or family barbecue. Besides, if that’s your plan, you had better invite your neighbors since you’ll “entertain” them as well.

The best option is to choose components that are designed to not only play outside, but to remain there regardless of the environment. While many well-known speaker brands offer outdoor versions of their products, specialists like James Loudspeaker have focused on this hostile venue with gear that withstands water, ice, and temperature extremes. (www.jamesloudspeaker.com)


James Loudspeaker is headquartered up in Napa, where its winery clients wanted to bring good sound to outdoor patios, gardens, and wine caves without hassle. And the speakers, unlike children, should be heard and not necessarily seen. So James speakers are low voltage, withstand moisture, and blend easily with landscape requirements. Full-range speakers can mix with foliage in a variety of colors, on the ground, or on posts. And sub-woofers can be buried or part of a planter box.


Adding Video

With full-range hi-fi in the backyard available, why not create a home theater, complete with surround sound? That’s not only possible today, it’s surprisingly affordable. A weatherproof flat panel will be the choice for most installations and the best place to start is with a supplier that specializes in outdoor video. SunBright TV is certainly on the short list of choices for video that’s designed for outdoor environments. (www.sunbrighttv.com)


SunBright’s founders Larry Kaiser and Tom Weaver developed video displays for major sports venues including Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field where weather, insects, and bright sunlight would make indoor gear useless. And their Thousand Oaks company is the only consumer brand that manufactures a finished outdoor video product in the United states.


Outdoor video is not inexpensive, especially compared to the flood of flat panels that are suitable for indoor use, but it is more affordable these days. For example, a popular SunBright Signature Series panel that was $4,600 is now available for $2,795. SunBright’s weatherproof panels range in size to 65-inch displays. For more ambitious installations, projection systems are an option. I have visions of creating a neat patio with a gas fire pit in my own backyard, and after considering the audio and video options available, perhaps I’ll add entertainment.     Brian Douglas


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