Music to your ears
Mike Sheets knows sound. He’s a sales associate at Indianapolis-based Ovation, a home-entertainment retailer that sells everything from flat-screen TVs to surround-sound systems and home-control software.
Sheets also knows that a growing number of homeowners are holding family gatherings and neighborhood parties on their outdoor patios. And what’s a party without music?
“Outside living areas have become quite the rage,” Sheets said. “Even in places like Indiana where the weather isn’t so hospitable all year round, people are spending more time in their outdoor areas. And when they’re out there, they want sound.”
Fortunately, Sheets has several suggestions for homeowners who want to bring sound to outdoor entertaining areas. Best of all, it doesn’t have to be expensive.
The frugal way
The most basic, and least expensive, way to wire your patio for sound is to purchase a mid-range stereo receiver that you place outside on the edge of your patio, Sheets said.
Run a wire from your home stereo to that outside receiver. Ideally, you’d also have a remote control that allows you to adjust the volume, change the radio station or skip songs without leaving your patio.
Homeowners can use an iPod-based stereo system for this setup, Sheets said, and can expect to pay about $150 or so for the accompanying speaker and speaker wire.
In the middle
There also are wireless options for homeowners seeking outdoor sound.
OutCast, a wireless system manufactured by Soundcast, allows homeowners to place an outdoor, waterproof speaker on their patio and then control the sound that comes from it with a remote control. There are no wires because the speaker plays music provided by a docking system that homeowners fit with their MP3 devices. With the remote control, homeowners can skip songs and control the speaker’s volume, and no one has to worry about tripping over wires. The entire system retails for about $799, Sheets said.
Top of the line
Homeowners willing to spend a bit more can hire professional installers to create a permanent outdoor stereo system for their patios.
This usually isn’t cheap: A 2007 story in The New York Times reported that it can cost homeowners about $1,000 to hire professionals to install permanent outdoor speakers. It can also cost about $500 to buy high-quality speakers that can resist difficult weather conditions.
Even the wiring from the speakers to a stereo system inside the home can be costly; such an installation requires heavy-duty speaker wires.
GateHouse News Service