Outdoor Living

Ask the Expert: 3 Tips for Outdoor Audio Design and Installation Success

Outdoor spaces have become even more important for relaxing, entertaining and enjoying with family and close friends over the last few years. It’s no wonder that one of the biggest trends we continue to see is toward adding outdoor audio sound systems. This makes it an excellent opportunity for you to consider adding outdoor audio to your service portfolio. If you have questions about how to do so, reach out to your local Central Rep with questions. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

With outdoor audio, we’re seeing a continued push for integrated systems like TruAudio and Sound by Vista that can hide in the background of a beautifully landscaped space. But beyond that, consumers want easy to use WiFi control from their handheld devices but they also want a system that integrates with their smart devices or smart homes.

Systems need to be able to connect to smart devices so that people can access their favorite streaming music services like Spotify or Apple Airplay. Even more important is this connection to a smart system like Google Assistant to use voice activation. This allows them to skip a song or request something specific without searching for their cell phone, they simply ask Google to do the action for them. TruAudio’s VSSL Smart Control Amplifier integrates with Google Assistant, Spotify and Apple AirPlay. While their UltraScape systems allows for a simple Bluetooth add-on to control from any smart device. Sound by Vista is built to entertain and made for the elements with Wi-Fi & Bluetooth Amp with weather proof enclosure.

Because of this continued push, we’ve connected with Glen Nyhuis, Central’s National Lighting Director, to learn some tips on design and installation for outdoor audio systems.

From Glen:

Outdoor audio allows for tremendous opportunity to grow your sales. It has a low-cost entry point, a high-profit margin, its fast and easy to install, and it is a really easy upsell for existing irrigation and lighting jobs.

When working with a new or existing customer, its important to learn about the opportunities that are available for the property. If you are installing or upgrading an irrigation system, are they also considering outdoor lighting and sound? Find out! Its important to discuss with your customer what their priorities are for their outdoor living space. What type of budget they have to work with and if they have any areas in their yard that they really want to upgrade such as a pool or fire pit area. When you have these conversations with them, it is an easy transition to upsell or add-on things that they may not have originally thought about, such as lighting or audio.

As with any installation, there are tips and tricks for the best design practices and outdoor audio is no different. Below you will find three tips when designing and laying out an outdoor audio system:

1. Rock Concert vs Background Music

Is your customer looking to really jam out in their yard with loud music and bumping base? Or are they looking more for the music to be part of the ambiance of their space? This is something you will need to find out when laying out speakers and determining how many you will need in their space. A general rule of thumb is if your customer is looking for the rock concert experience, you’ll want to space the speakers out at about 15 feet. If they are looking for more of a background music feel, space the speakers out around 20-25 feet.

2. Entire Outdoor Space or Just Their Favorite Area

Determine if your customer wants the system for their entire space or if its just around a specific area like the patio, fire pit, or pool. This along with budget and sound quality preference will help determine what type of system they will want to move forward with. TruAudio is available in an eight-ohm system or a 70 volt system. When wiring an eight-ohm system, you start to lose sound quality after about 100 feet of wiring, while 70 volt you can run thousands of feet of wire without necessarily losing any quality.

If sound quality is important for your customer and they are only looking to add audio around a patio or fire pit, an eight-ohm system may be the better choice. Eight-ohm has excellent sound quality, it’s more robust and clearer, however it does come with a larger price tag.

If they are looking to have sound in their entire yard and sound quality is not quite as important to them, a 70-volt system is a good choice.

3. Boom. Boom. Boom.

How important is base to your customer? Do they like to feel and hear the booming of the low notes? If so, a subwoofer should be placed around 15-30 feet from the primary listening area. If they want a more balanced sound with highs, mids, and lows, consider finding a middle zone for the subwoofer to help soften the boom.

If you are looking to install multiple subwoofers in a space, a good rule of thumb is to keep them approximately 60-100 feet apart.

Installation Checklist

And many packages can be installed quickly in just a few hours. Below you will a quick four-point checklist to go over when you are getting ready to install an outdoor audio system:

  1. Always make sure all products are there and in good shape. Inspect any equipment thoroughly before installing it. This will save you future headaches of trying to troubleshoot an issue once installed.
  2. Make sure your tap setting is correct on speakers. Depending on what system you are installing, an eight-ohm or a 70 volt, you’ll need to make sure your speakers are set appropriately. Its good to do this right away before you begin installation so you don’t forget this small step once installed.
  3. It’s important to install the amplifier in a temperature-controlled environment. It should be away from extreme heat, moisture, and dust. This will allow for it to continue running efficiently for years to come.
  4. Before you plug in the speakers, power on the amplifier and set the appropriate DSP Presets inside the amplifier. If you have your speakers and subwoofer plugged in to your amplifier and the DSP Presents are not set appropriately, you risk blowing the speakers and subwoofer. Completely devastating with a brand-new system. While many of the systems are covered by warranty, improper installation does not qualify so really be sure to wait to plug in your speakers/subwoofer until everything has been set accordingly.

Here is a helpful video from TruAudio that goes over each of my recommendations (and then some) in more detail to help you design and install an outdoor audio system easily and accurately.


Finally, rely on Central to help, whether that’s getting you Back to Basic, helping with an audio or lighting demo/installations, or sharing insight and recommendations on the newest technologies or design styles. We stay at the leading edge of the industry and we’re ready to help you grow!

About Glen Nyhuis

Glen Nyhuis has nearly three decades in the landscape lighting business. He has worked both in the field installing and design landscape lighting, as well as on the distribution side. Beyond that, he has spent many years teaching and working with contractors on how to sell lighting to their customers. Whether it’s a technical or design question, or helping source the right product for a special job, Glen is ready to help you make money and grow your business.