My Amazing Low Budget Alexa Enabled Backyard Audio Solution
Stop me if you’ve seen this setup. You have an expensive stereo somewhere in your house which has the ability to play music in two zones (A/B). You’ve paid someone to run speaker wires through your walls or ceiling, punching two holes in your house. There are two medium sized outdoor speakers mounted on the back of your house. When you’re out in the back yard you blast music from those speakers so you can hear it all over the yard. It’s impossible to have a conversation near the speakers. Your neighbors hate when you’re outside because they can’t stand your music. The sound is directional, so standing to the left or right of the speakers drastically diminishes the volume of the speakers. Every time you want to change the music you have to go into the house, often dripping wet from the pool. This is not what I wanted at my house.
For years I searched for a backyard audio solution similar to what I’d experienced at resorts. Small, clear sounding speakers spread out throughout the property, allowing for music to be enjoyed anywhere in the yard at a decent volume, but without impeding the ability to talk or bothering the neighbors. What’s more, I wanted to be able to control the whole thing from my phone, but I also wanted others to be able to easily control it without having to constantly hand over my phone or have them install an app, and I wanted to be able to sync my outdoor music with my indoor music. Systems like this are available, kind of, but extremely expensive, and they require not just a stereo head unit but a large amplifier capable of supporting all of those speakers. What’s a smart home enthusiast to do?!
Here were my requirements:
- Cost: Under $250
- At least four speakers, easily concealed around my property
- Preferably wireless speakers if possible
- No large rack stereo required
- Must work with existing whole house Echo audio
- Bluetooth connection to stream music from phones or iPad
- Ability to easily be controlled from a phone
- Ability for guests to control without a phone
- Water resistance preferred for the head unit
After much searching and scheming I came up with a simple solution that has worked out great! One benefit for my bottom line was that we decided to do this project the week of Prime Day, so prices were slashed on everything we bought.
Here is the list of equipment I purchased to accomplish this:
My total all in cost for this project was $238 plus a lot of digging and cursing to install the speaker wire. The results were fantastic. I now have four speakers stashed around my yard providing sound in all of the main areas without being overpowering in any one area. The sound is impressive given the cost, and the ease of use is the best part. I’ve basically been able to build a 400w, four speaker, outdoor Amazon Echo for less than a Google Home Max or Apple HomePod. And now that the hardest part is over, I can upgrade the speakers any time when I have more money to throw around. The only drawback to this setup is that one speaker makes a bit of a buzz sound when it’s not playing music. I attribute this to the almost 70 foot run of speaker wire and interference from the electric pool components the wire runs past. It actually serves as a great reminder that the system is powered on, so I don’t mind all that much.