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    The Sounds of Summer (My Outdoor Audio Project)

     


    This summer I finally decided to put some speakers in my backyard and install all the accouterments that make a great outdoor audio system. This is my project from start to finish. What I wanted to accomplish, what I considered, and what I installed. There are many ways to get high quality sound into one's yard, this is the way that worked best for me. 

     

     

    Goals

     

    • In my backyard I have two seating areas, a garden, and a chicken coop. Here are the goals I set out to accomplish. 
    • Two zones, one by each seating area.
    • Fairly weather resistant speakers.
    • High quality sound.
    • Simple system to use for my family.
    • Robust system that works every time we go to use it.
    • Wide selection of content including local files, Tidal, Qobuz, and "any" other content such as Spotify, Apple Music, podcasts, etc... that people may want to hear.
    • A final installation that is tasteful looking, considering this is an audio system capable of producing high quality audio.
    • A project I could handle by myself without professional installation assistance. 

     

     

    Considerations

     

    I researched potential solutions for this system for months. I considered the Sonos Outdoor by Sonance speakers with a couple Sonos Amps, but just couldn't pull the trigger on it. Something about the system didn't thrill me. Perhaps it was a bunch of little things, such as lack of full Roon integration, limited local file support, and the big unknown of sound quality in my backyard. Sure, Sonos usually sounds good, but I had zero experience with these speakers and I was after something a little better than good. 

     

    Most people I talked to suggest I go with some type of wireless outdoor speakers. My response was always two questions to them. Have you seen the options for wireless outdoor speakers and you know they require a power cord right? The wireless outdoor speaker options I looked at were less than acceptable at best. 

     

    I considered and actually tested a Mytek based solution using a Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn amp. For a single zone this worked pretty well, but the cost, let alone practicality, of this for both zones was a bit prohibitive. 

     

    When it came to mounting the speakers, which ever speakers I selected, I considered placing them on my house or on stands. It seems that almost all outdoor speakers are built to be mounted on a house or structure. This didn't thrill me. I did't want two speakers sticking on the back of my house and two speakers sticking on my garage. Sure, if they were a few inches in height and width I'd be OK with it, but the laws of physics get in the way when one wants good sound. Larger speakers are needed, and I wanted more placement options as well. If I were to put them on my house, it would have to be in a location that just wasn't conducive for listening (up too high) or in a location that looked terrible (but at ear height). 

     

    I decided to mount the speakers on stands. I figured there must be tone of outdoor speaker stand options because I'm not the first guy to put speakers in his yard. I was in for quite a surprise when I started researching outdoor speaker stands. There really isn't such thing. There are a few mounting options here and there, but nothing I'd ever use. Sure, I could put up a PA system with scaffolding like Pearl Jam was playing my backyard, but let's get real. That's ridiculous. 

     

    After considering all my options, or at least the options I could find and talk to people about, I decided to create my own outdoor speaker stands.

     


    Final Decision


    I settled on a system that I knew would accomplish my goals and was manufactured by two solid companies. 

     

    IMG_1889.jpgThe speakers I selected are the Dynaudio OW-8. These two-way speakers have an eight inch woofer and one inch tweeter. I love the eight inch woofer because again, it's physics. When it comes to speakers, I encourage people to get the largest models they can. Dynaudio also offers the OW-6 with a six inch woofer, but the size and cost difference was marginal at best, so I went for the larger model. 

     

    I purchased two pairs of the Dynaudio OW-8 so I could place two near my house for that zone and two near the garage for the other zone. The cost of the OW-8 are $1,200 per pair. 

     

    I combined the source and amplification into single units per zone by purchasing two Bluesound Powernodes. One Powernode to drive the speakers near the house and one Powernode to drive the speakers near the garage. After researching all the options, I really don't think there is a more cost effective solution than the Powernode. It's a stellar tool that everyone should keep in mind for this and many other situations. 

     

    IMG_2498.jpgThe newest version of the Powernode has more power 220W (4 Ohms) / 130W (8 Ohms) than the previous version, and supports all the usual Bluesound goodies such as wide file format support, local library support, Roon and Bluesound native app support, tons of content options, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, and the critically important facts that it works every time and it's simple to use if I'm not around to be the tech support guy. 

     

    Keep in mind that the Powernode sounds great. That's a must, or else I wouldn't eve consider it. 

     

    The speaker stands that I "created" for the OW-8s are a mix and match of pieces not designed for speaker stands. But, they work awesome. I'll detail them all below. 

     

     


    Installation

     

    Installing the Bluesound Powernodes, speaker wire, speaker stands, and Dynaudio OW-8 speakers was really easy, yet backbreaking. The one big issue was manually digging an 18-24" trench through my yard to bury the speaker cable. I will never do that again without either a proper machine or hiring a company to do the work. I purchased a trenching shovel and first attempted to dig into the extremely dry backyard. Without much rain this summer the ground was rock hard. The only way I could get through the dirt was to drench it with water before and while digging. This made for both much heavier dirt and a huge muddy mess. After about 70 feet of trench digging AND refilling the trench, my hands were and are still sore. Again, that's the last time I'll ever dig a trench.

     

    41M8wlLC3YL._AC_.jpgWhy dig so deep? We have plans for a couple patios in the backyard and the contractor was talking about using some big machines to level the yard. I didn't want to fool around with a shallow trench and worry about the wires being compromised and I also ran new 10/2 UF-B direct burial power wire for my garage while I was at it. The existing power wire was buried by the previous home owner a few inches below the dirt. I found out the hard way. I figured it was time to lay a new wire that I knew was deep and the I knew was buried in a good spot. 

     

    I started the trench near a hole in the back of my house where the fiber internet, wireless access point Ethernet cable, and air conditioner lines go in/out of the house. As you can see in the pictures, the trench ran along house for one zone of speakers and perpendicular to the house for the garage zone of speakers. 

     

    The Powernode amps are located inside on the east side of the house, but this egress hole is on the west side of the house. This required seriously long speaker cables, a long power cable, and while I was at it I ran two fiber cables for another wireless access point that I installed in the garage (more on that later).

     

    IMG_1771.jpgI purchased two 250 foot rolls of Monoprice Origin Series 12 Gauge 2 Conductor Burial Rated Speaker Wire with a water resistant jacket and pure bare oxygen-free copper conductors. This is where I read all the recommendations for speaker cable length, proper burial technique (not next to power lines), etc... and threw them out the window. Not that I wanted to ignore the rules or that I knew better, I just had a a real world situation to deal with. I had a single trench in which I wasn't going to run conduit to separate the power wire from speaker wires, and I also had two 250' rolls of speaker cable that would work if cut right. Sure, I should make all runs of speaker wire the same length. The reality is that the two long runs going to the garage were cur first off each roll. What was left on those rolls was used for the speakers close to my house. I didn't measure the lengths or do anything I "should've" because I was way too tired from digging the trench. Such is life. 

     

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    Also in the trench I put one 50 meter OS2 LC to LC single mode duplex fiber patch cable and one 30 meter LC UPC to LC UPC duplex OS2 single mode Industrial/Military-Grade fiber patch cable. Why two fiber cables and no direct burial fiber cable? Great questions. I ordered the original fiber cable months ahead of time without thinking about its suitability for outdoor use. Then, at the last minute while I had the trench open, I saw a military grade cable at FS.com and ordered the to throw in the trench as well. I wanted to get the project done and wasn't going to wait for a proper direct burial fiber cable. Again, such is life. 

     

    I guess this whole trenching and cable running will be a great test of regular vs military strength fiber cables and super long speaker cables running next to power lines underground. So far, so good :~)

     

    Once the cable was run int he trench and before closing it up, I installed the entire system. I couldn't chance it with a bad cable and re-dig that trench. 

     

    The speaker stands are a thing of beauty, if you like researching parts and figuring out what will fit together that will hold a speaker mount that ships with the speakers. There were some mishaps and a bucket of parts that didn't work, but I'll spare readers the gory details. Here is how I "created" outdoor speaker stands from items not meant for outdoor speaker stands. 

     

     

    • 22' long ground screw capable of holding a pipe up to 2 1/4". 
    • 2" x 48" black steel pipe to fit in the ground screw.
    • 2" malleable iron pipe fitting / Cap for the top of the pipe.
    • 2 2" cast iron split ring hangers, 3/8 thread size, for each speaker.
    • 1/4" machine screws 5/8" length to fit the 1/4 hole in the Dynaudio mounts.
    • 3/8" carbon steel self locking thread inserts with 1/4" internal thread size to make the 3/8" split ring hanger thread smaller.
    • 1/4 power driver to put the thread inserts into the split ring hangers (impossible to do without this).

     

     

    61WKC+kLIsL._AC_SL1200_.jpg 51injhO8ICL.jpg 71NxHHR1yGL._AC_SL1500_.jpg 4ZE55_AS01.jpeg

    1CWE2_AS02.jpeg  4ZB83_GC01.jpeg 31JU90_GC01.jpeg  

     

     

     

    I screwed the 22" ground screw into the ground as deep as possible. Along the house, I put these into the window wells to hide them and the steel pipe as much as possible. Screwing these into the ground inside the window well isn't the easiest thing, but I think it was the right move. Once the pipe was firmly in place, I put the first split ring hanger around it. The Dynaudio mount attached the to the OW-8 speaker has two screw holes. I attached the speaker and mount to the single split ring hanger, then placed the second hanger in the proper position, aligned with he other speaker mount screw hole. 

     

    Once all the screws were tightened and the speaker wire reasonably hidden around the pipe, the installation was super solid. Each speaker is adjustable via the ball in the mount. The speakers near the garage seating area are exactly at ear height. This is great for me because it's where I listen to audio outdoor the most. If I'm using the the other two speakers, I'm usually walking around the yard and ear height isn't that important.    

    The way I mounted the speakers to the stands will enable me to remove them for the winter easily. I know they are rated for cold, but -25 degrees fahrenheit may be a bit much. 


    Note about the fiber / access point - The fiber I ran underground goes into my garage through the floor. I've used long runs of copper Ethernet cable in the past and been displeased with their performance, so I wanted to run single mode fiber capable of going several kilometers if necessary. This fiber terminates into fiber to PoE conversion box (UniFi F‑POE‑G2). This box requires a PoE injector that plugged into a wall outlet in my garage because fiber carries zero power signals. From the conversion box, an Ethernet cable both power and carries the signal from a UniFi access point. Here are images of the installation. 

     


    IMG_2507.jpg IMG_2510.jpg

     

    IMG_2508.jpg IMG_2509.jpg

     

    fiber-poe-conversion2-2x.jpg

     

     


    Enjoying The System

     

    I couldn't be happier than I am with the system I installed. The sound of the Bluesound Powernodes and Dynaudio OW-8 speakers is really terrific. There's definitely something to listening to one's favorite music while sitting outside, that causes one not to fret too much about the little things. That said, even when I tried to find the little things about which to fret, I couldn't. This system sounds so good it has surprised me many times. I hear absolutely no issues because of long analog speaker cables and no issues because of the power wire run along side the speaker wires. 

     

    I sit outside for hours while the chickens hunt and peck, just watching them and listening to tunes. I've even put a moue on my iPad Pro while streaming the audio through the Powernode connected to the garage speakers. It was really fun to have "big" sound outside while watching the movie. I'm sure the neighbors loved it. 

     

    My wife can use either Roon or the Bluesound app without any issues. She also uses AirPlay from her phone once in a while for a podcast. Either way, the Powernodes and Bluesound ecosystem just work, every time. 

     

     

     

     

     

    The chickens and I enjoying a little Bill Evans in the backyard :~)

     

    relax and enjoy.jpg

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    A couple shots of the backyard currently. The garage speakers are back in the nook to the right of the coop. 

     

    IMG_2540.jpg IMG_2542.jpg

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Shots of the trench

     

    IMG_1738.jpg IMG_1752.jpg

     

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    IMG_1756.jpg IMG_1760.jpg

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The hole into the house can be seen where my yellow fiberglass tool for pulling wires is sticking out.

     

    IMG_1764.jpg

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Left and right speakers by the garage. You can see everything pre-rust / rain, and the ground screw sticking up a few inches. I've since replaced that outlet on the garage with an in-use outlet. The speaker cable isn't buried yet in these shots.

     

    IMG_1772.jpg IMG_1773.jpg

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    You can see the way I attached the speaker amounts to the steel pipes and the cable running down the back of the pipe. 

     

    IMG_1774.jpg

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This is a shot of the left channel against the house. I ran the speaker cable underground to the house, then through a hole between the house and the window well. You can see the cable coming out of that hole below. 

     

    IMG_1792.jpg

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    After a few rains the cap is rusty. I like the look. 

     

    IMG_1901.jpg

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    After the entire summer, the speaker looks a little worn.

     

    IMG_2312.jpg

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The right channel by the garage is hidden fairly well by the garden, but exposed just enough to project audio at ear height. 

     

    IMG_2148.jpg IMG_2152.jpg

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The garage nook / seating area is off to the right of the coop. 

     

    IMG_2294.jpg

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The chickens and our cat Steve enjoying the sounds of summer.

     

    IMG_2290.jpg IMG_2308.jpg

     

    IMG_2389.jpg

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Items mentioned in this article and links to where I purchased many of them. 


    Bluesound Powernode


    Dynaudio OW-8


    Structron STR-S708 3" Trenching Shovel with 54" Yellow Fiberglass Handle and Cushion Grip, 28 Degree"V" Shaped Head

     

    Monoprice Origin Series 12 Gauge AWG 2 Conductor Burial Rated Speaker Wire/Cable - 250ft Gray Outdoor Compatible Water Resistant Jacket with Color Coded 100% Pure Bare Oxygen-Free Copper Conductors

     

    FLYPROFiber 50M OS2 LC to LC Fiber Patch Cable | Length Options: 0.2m-200m | Single Mode Duplex LC-LC 9/125um SMF Fiber Optic Cable Cord LSZH 50Meter(164ft)

     

    30m (98ft) LC UPC to LC UPC Duplex OS2 Single Mode Industrial/Military-Grade Armored Fiber Optic Patch Cable

     

    Anvil 8700132452, Malleable Iron Pipe Fitting, Cap, 2" NPT Female, Black Finish


    Supply Giant 2 Inch Black Pipe, Two Inch Malleable Steel Pipes Fitting Build DIY Vintage Furniture, 2" x 48" (Pack Of 5)

     

    American Ground Screw Model 2 Premium No Dig Ground Anchor - Round Post & Flag Pole Base Ground Mount - Screw in Post Stake, 22" Inch Long, (Fits Round Poles 1” - 2 1/4") Replacement Fence Post Anchor


    10/2 UF-B Wire, Underground Feeder and Direct Earth Burial Cable (150ft Cut)

     

    Split Ring Hanger Split Ring Hanger, Cast Iron, 2 inch pipe size, 3/8 thread size

     

    1/4"-20 Machine Screw, Pan, Phillips, 18-8 (304) Stainless Steel, Plain, 5/8 in Length, PK 50


    Power Driver, 1/4in Hex


    3/8 in Carbon Steel Self Locking Thread Insert with 1/4-20 Internal Thread Size, 10 PK


    UniFi fiber to Ethernet converter F‑POE‑G2

     

     

     

     

     

     




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    I enjoyed reading your home improvement DIY project as that was pretty cool.  I also like seeing pictures of other parts of the USA which made me a little sick for the neighborhoods I grew up in on the East coast.  My only constructive criticism is a smaller pipe to hold the speakers were have been less noticeable, unless you were accounting for high winds or the speakers are really heavy?  It is killer when mother nature weathers the equipment.  My back was hurting just reading about the trenching task.  I would have never even considered trenching myself LOL.

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    @The Computer Audiophile

     

    I honestly really like the way this project turned out and appreciate the sound judgement throughout.  I say this with the utmost regard for your avoidance of every single awful design trend that could've snuck in to overrule worth of the practical end result.  Of course it ended up looking like it sat in your garden and the metal caps formed a protective layer of rust.  By mid-Spring you won't even know they are there without making an effort to look.  Perfect. 

     

    For the climate conditions they'll face you did an excellent job here.  Be curious to hear if you get any use out of it this Winter and how the sound is.  Lush grass and tree leaves gently diffusing music trickling out of speakers is only half the year.  Just be aware how far and focused the sound will carry.         

     

     

     

    [90% of this post was redacted once I admitted @AudioDoctor obliterated with a few words what I could've put a lot more work into.    x-D  Bravo!]       

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    20 hours ago, AudioDoctor said:

     

    So, no Marvin Gaye?

     

    Load some up and then scroll down.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    chicken-easter.gif

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    Do you plan on storing or taking the speakers in during the winter months?

     

    It looks like foxes and coyotes are not a problem in your area.

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    6 minutes ago, lucretius said:

    Do you plan on storing or taking the speakers in during the winter months?

     

    From the article: "The way I mounted the speakers to the stands will enable me to remove them for the winter easily."

     

    6 minutes ago, lucretius said:

    It looks like foxes and coyotes are not a problem in your area.

     

    They are around, but can't get into this coop. I laid chicken wire under the ground, coming out from the coop two feet. Any animal that digs, hits the wire and gives up. 

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