Finding the right speaker can be difficult. There are so many options, and often marketing gimmicks trump quality. With the Sonos brand, that quality has always been at the front of what the brand represents. But what if you want that Sonos quality sound, but outside? Are there options for you?
Most Sonos speakers cannot be stored and used outdoors. Some models, like the Sonos Roam and Sonos Move, are outdoor rated, but not for extended periods of time. Sonos Architectural Speakers, though, are designed specifically for outdoor use, provided you run their wires to an Amp that’s indoors.
When it comes to outdoor speaker options, there aren’t too many that represent a real Hi-Fi attempt at backyard listening. That has changed with Sonos’s introduction of their outdoor speaker option. These speakers, when paired with a Sonos Amp, can make for a great addition to any backyard. But can other Sonos speakers?
Are Sonos Speakers Waterproof, or Water-Resistant?
When it comes to Sonos speakers and waterproofing, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. While some speakers do sport the title ‘waterproof’, most likely the speaker itself can’t stand up to more than just a light sprinkle. Unfortunately, waterproofing can mean different things for different manufacturers.
While the only industry-standard we have, the IP rating, uses water ingress as the main factor, a product that sports waterproof on the label usually leaves you wanting. When it comes to consumer electronics, it would be difficult to find a speaker system that is truly waterproof.
While products like the Sonos Move (on Amazon) can stand up to some water, you certainly could not leave it outside for too long without damage. When it comes to deciding which speakers will be best for outdoor use, you need to find ones that are rated and intended to be left outside. Fortunately, Sonos has answered the calls for a Hi-Fi smart option, but more on that later.
Looking at the selection of speakers for the Sonos ecosystem, most are not rated in any way for use outside. That doesn’t mean you can’t use them outside, but leaving in the elements is certainly a no-go. Products like the Sonos Five (on Amazon) may provide stellar sound, but wouldn’t last long outdoors.
Which Sonos Speakers are Better for Outdoor Use?
Choosing which Sonos speaker is best for outside use comes down to two options. The first is the Sonos Move. We already touched on how the Sonos Move sports a water-resistant design that allows it to spend some extended time outside.
The Move is a great portable smart speaker design. It is jam-packed with functionality, including smart assistant technology, and is comparable in price to other Sonos speakers.
The best part is the rugged design. Not only can the Move stand up against some rain, but the form factor is shock-resistant — adding to the overall durability of the Move. While the Move can make a great upgrade to your portable speaker, it’s not really a big enough device to support full yard-filling sound.
Part of the issue is that water is only part of the equation. That’s why only going for water resistance is going to be a recipe for a broken unit. For outdoor use, you also need a speaker that can stand up to the heat and direct sunlight. In this way, the Move just won’t cut it for extended outdoor use. But there is one Sonos design that can.
The Sonos Outdoor Speaker
If you are looking for a truly functional outdoor speaker from Sonos, your best bet is the Sonos Architectural Speakers (on Amazon). These are the speakers that Sonos designs for outdoor use, and they can stand up to quite a bit. Not only do they deliver the same Sonos quality sound you’d expect from the brand, but they also hold up to a whole host of outdoor factors that include:
- UV Rays
- Freezing temperatures
These speakers are your best bet for extended outdoor listening. But they aren’t quite like other Sonos products you may have come across. While these speakers sport the same Sonos quality sound, they aren’t the smart speakers the brand is known for. In fact, to get them to work, you need to take things back a decade or two: While it certainly isn’t old tech, these speakers require an amplifier or receiver to power them and provide the audio signal.
So not only will you need to deal with wiring up your new outdoor speakers, but you’re going to need an amp. On that front, Sonos does offer up an amazing option with their Amp (on Amazon).
Adding this device will provide the Sonos connect and app-based functionality. It can also open up the Sonos to play other inputs like turntables and even surround sound home theatre systems. But the Amp isn’t outdoor rated, so those wires need to run from the outside speakers back inside to the Amp.
Keep in mind, even with these speakers; there is a limit to how long they can last outside. Although they have no natural predators, the speakers can be killed by mother nature: natural processes like heat cycling will wear any outdoor electronics out over time.
Can You Keep Sonos Speakers Outside Long-Term
Other than seeking out outdoor-rated speakers like the Sonos Architectural Speakers, you’ll need to employ some other strategies to keep your speakers safe long term. A good strategy is to try to keep them out of the elements as best you can. If you have an eve or somewhere that will keep the speakers out of the rain, use that as your mounting location.
While most Sonos speakers are not meant to last outside, they’re still built very well. This means that they have a better chance of lasting outside relative to cheaper brands. There is also some anecdotal evidence that says Sonos speakers, even the ones not rated for outdoor use, can stand up to some grueling conditions.
Always remember that the outside is just not a good environment for any electronics. Thermal cycling and UV light will always accelerate aging, even with the best speakers. At a certain point, the outside will be the reason they fail.