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When it comes to throwing a gorgeous outdoor dinner or cocktail party, there's a lot more to it than just the food and drink. The entire ambiance is crucial when it comes to setting the mood for your guests—we're talking cafe lights, candles, and of course, music. Too often, we just play tunes from our phones or drag our indoor speakers outside and then forget about them when a sudden rainstorm comes—both with disappointing results.
Instead, go with an outdoor speaker. It can be overwhelming to find a model that's just right for you, but they're out there! Looking for something super portable and durable to toss in your beach bag? Or are you on the hunt for a speaker that's semi-permanent and blends right in with your garden decor? Either way, we have some great options that will make your next outdoor event—or a laid-back lounge session by the pool—a success.
Here, the best outdoor speakers.
Best Overall: Bose Free Space 51 Outdoor Speakers
These might be the coolest looking speakers we’ve ever seen (they barely even look like tech gear!). The soft green hue fits seamlessly into a backyard setting, and, and cutouts in the bottom hide wires so no messy cords lying around and they’re built to withstand rain, snow, and ice. This makes them perfect for people who would rather leave theirs out all year long (or, let’s be honest, just forget about them).
The rounded shape gives the speaker 360-degree sound coverage, so once they’re connected to a stereo receiver, everyone on the patio or in the pool can hear tunes easily. For serious sound aficionados, a central port increases the ability to play low-frequency tones well, while the domed top plays high-frequency notes perfectly so you can rock out to whatever you’re into.
Best Waterproof: JBL Xtreme 2
When products say “waterproof” we usually think of them as able to withstand a little rain or splashing, but this portable speaker is basically aquatic. So, if it accidentally falls off a pool float or is left out in the rain, don’t panic—it will survive and thrive. Bluetooth capabilities allow you to hook it up to any device you choose, and the battery lasts a full 15 hours for a whole day of fun outdoors.
If you have other JBL speakers, you can connect this one to them as well for big sound (you can connect up to 100 speakers… who has 100 speakers?). And if you’re partying on the beach and suddenly need a bottle opener, the carrying strap has one ready for you. This speaker is clutch.
Best Budget: iHome iBT158 Smart Bluetooth Speaker with Alexa Built-In and Color Changing LED Lights
Full stop, this speaker is a millennial's dream. It comes with everything you’d want and expect like Bluetooth capabilities, a weather-proof exterior, and 360-degree sound, but then it has a few fun extras that we’re pretty excited about. One of these, is that it’s compatible with Amazon Alexa and voice control, so if you’re hanging at the beach you can play music or ask it anything just like you would at home—and you have up to 17 hours of power to use.
On the cosmetic end, it has embedded LED lighting that can be swapped for five different colors, making it ideal for enjoying post-sunset tunes. Alexa, order me this speaker now.
Best Design: MoMA Design Store LED Lantern Speaker
Who says you can't have it all? With this LED Lantern Speaker, you get the design and function of a dimmable lantern with the perk of a wireless speaker.
The speaker, which is available in two colors, can connect to any mobile device thanks to an accompanying app, and will sit pretty in your backyard for outdoor entertaining. Plus, it's small enough to take on-the-go during picnic season.
Best Indoor/Outdoor: Sonos Move Battery-Powered Smart Speaker
If you're looking for a speaker that works just as well indoors as it does outside, then this Sonos model is for you. The sleek design fits in seamlessly with any decor style and the long-lasting battery—which plays music up to 10 hours at a time—means that the party will keep going without any hiccups.
Alexa is built into the device, making it super easy to stream music, podcasts, weather, calendar updates and more. Move it from room to room or take out on the patio—you won't know what you did before you had it.
Best for Travel: Ultimate Ears WonderBoom Wireless Speaker
This awesome Bluetooth speaker is teeny-tiny so it can travel anywhere easily, especially because of the clip it comes with that attaches to your bag or bike. You can go on adventures without fear as well—this baby is virtually indestructible. You can drop it from five feet no problem and drench it in water without worry. It even floats!
One of the greatest features is the ability to skip, play and pause songs directly from the speaker sans device, so there’s no need to get up in search of your phone or iPad. Plus, it charges with a USB for up to 10 hours of nonstop (big bass) beats and it has a wireless range of up to 100 feet—which means your iPhone doesn't need to go anywhere close to the pool.
Best Sound: Polk Audio Atrium4 Outdoor Speaker
These speakers have been around for a while but continue to be a cult favorite for a few reasons. First off, they’re inconspicuous and cute (only 7.5” x 9.5”) but pack a giant punch in terms of sound thanks to 4 ½” woofers. Use them to turn your backyard into a concert hall or to get quality sound indoors too. Next up, easy installation—putting in speakers can seem like a giant pain but these ones come with Polk’s Speed-Lock system, which lets you attach the brackets to any surface and then just click the speakers into place.
Did we mention they’re weather resistant and totally affordable? We get the hype.
Best Splurge: Bose 251 Environmental Outdoor Speakers
If money is no object and you’re looking for speakers to deliver the kind of sound that will impress everyone who stops by, then look no further. Admittedly, they’re on the pricier side, but they play sound evenly, clearly and LOUDLY while withstanding any element thrown at them weather-wise.
Because they’re wireless, you can stream your Spotify or Pandora playlists too (we suggest the yacht-rock channel). At only eight pounds each, they’re easy to install anywhere and they work for indoor use too if you plan on moving them back and forth. So really you’re buying indoor and outdoor speakers. We can justify that.
Best for Blending In: Klipsch AWR-650-SM Outdoor Rock Speaker
When wall-mounting isn’t an option, it’s important to have speakers that blend in seamlessly with your outdoor space, because let’s get real—you want to hear speakers not see them. The Klipsch Outdoor Rock Speakers come in granite and sandstone colorways to camouflage into any backyard landscape and are weather-proof so they can stay there year-round when you inevitably forget that they’re there at all.
They pack 50 watts of power so they truly rock (sorry, we had to) and are able to fill an area with big, crisp sound. An added bonus—they come with a lifetime warranty.