Hello Spring! SONXPLUS Practical Guide to Four Season Sound. 2022 Edition
Ah, spring at last! Around the house it means gardening, barbecue, a swimming pool if you like swimming and high fidelity - at least it does for me. And I guess if you read my blog, high fidelity also plays a pretty important role in your life. . . on the inside, but also on the outside.
Every year, a trend emerges in our shops as we receive more and more requests for outdoor sound products. For a long time, some manufacturers have been offering loudspeaker products for outdoor use, but often, the audible quality was of poor competence. These speakers were more often found in restaurants, church halls and campgrounds than in our yards and gardens.
It lacked bass and the treble was metallic, the voice shrill or nasal, in short more annoying than anything else to listen to.
That's all changing as the Canadian label Paradigm has set out to design goods of comparable listening quality to what it produces for indoors while being specifically adapted for our climate. The manufacturer is so confident in its capabilities that it guarantees its outdoor sound boxes for 5 years!
Nowadays, it is possible to obtain a sound comparable to that of a home at little cost. The secret, as always, is knowing what to buy and how to place the equipment on the area to be soundproofed. Follow the guide for the right way to go, which can save you a lot of disappointment.
Define the project parameters well:
- Will the area to be soundproofed be completely open or not?
As long as there is a wall present, we obtain a reflection effect that allows the use of smaller speakers to retain a certain richness of sound.
- Are we looking at an imposing space?
Large spaces require more power, while the sound disperses without constraint in the absence of a reflecting wall. So two loudspeakers in most cases will not be enough.
- Do we want a sound system only near the house or the whole garden?
For a sound system in the vicinity, we opt for speakers that can be fixed to the walls, while for the garden, we take advantage of the use of floor-standing speakers.
- Will the listening be mainly for relaxation or for partying?
For background music, we suggest a larger number of units, while for the party, larger units in smaller numbers are recommended.
- What is the risk of disturbing the neighbourhood?
There will be certain requirements that will be explained below to ensure that you do not disturb the neighbourhood without restricting your use.
- Will it be used for 3 or 4 seasons?
All outdoor loudspeakers are weatherproof, but the layout is important when snow is present. Buried speakers should not be used in such situations.
For your neighbourhood, sound coming from a multitude of small speakers at low volume will be less distracting than if you use a masterful pair such as those usually used indoors.
Consideration should be given to the purchase of a subwoofer, as this will reduce the volume of the ensemble. Remember that bass sounds tend to be lost quickly in open spaces. In order to get a good bass sound, one will tend to compensate and increase the overall volume. The result will be premature wear and tear on the small speakers in the ensemble, but more importantly, for your neighbours, it will be largely a shrill louder sound without richness and annoyance.
In order to make the right choice, it is also necessary to consider the use of the outdoor set. The use could be dynamic, such as for parties where people dance to rhythmic music. In this case, it will be necessary to favour speakers placed in such a way as to impact more directly on the listeners.
For more attentive listening, it is best to select a product that encourages this. A set of smaller speakers working in synergy and judiciously placed will give you a "magical" atmosphere so much you will be enveloped. Paradigm's Oasis series would be a good choice in this case, as we shall see later.
Consideration should be given to weather resistance such as operating temperature range, moisture resistance and ability to be in direct contact with water.
Aesthetically speaking, there are pieces designed to be seen and others to be hidden. A matter of personal taste in this case!
Finally, if you wish to remove your set from its environment during the winter, ease of installation/removal will also be a consideration as there are products with quick connectivity while others are designed to remain in place.
In some cases, the complexity of the project may seem daunting, which is why it is recommended that you seek expert advice. At SONXPLUS, we can guide you through the work, do some or all of it for you, with or without the participation of a landscaper if required.
Here is a list of products available by type (3) of installation according to the desired effect that will allow you to figure out your project.
Here you will find the characteristics and the main use that can be made of them. There are 3 main categories of outdoor speakers.
- The ROCK MONITOR decorative rock-shaped speaker, which offers a dynamic/fidelity/discretion compromise.
- The OASIS loudspeaker, which fits into the floor, is easy to conceal and offers a high-fidelity sound that can be adjusted as required.
- The semi-conventional STYLUS wall-mounted loudspeakers are ideal for dynamic sound reinforcement close to the house. It is easily removable in winter.
Paradigm Rock Monitor ranges
Decorative and efficient compromise.
These are single-box, high-performance rock stereo systems that provide two channels of L/R sound. They have two tweeters, each offset at a 30° angle, and a dual voice coil bass/midrange driver providing extremely wide dispersion, a particularly important consideration outdoors where there are no walls or ceiling to contain the sound.
The unit measures just over 12" tall and has a square footprint of approximately 11". It also weighs about 12 pounds. It is designed to drain rainwater that would enter during a storm.
For each 'rock' there are three drivers - a single 6 ½" polypropylene cone mid/bass driver on a die-cast chassis, then attached to the chassis, a pair of 1" PTD™ pure titanium dome tweeters. The mid/bass driver has two voice coils, one for each channel.
I suggest using a pair of Rock Monitors for a 20 by 20 foot area. You will need to set each speaker to mono. For smaller areas, one might be sufficient, as these are stereo speakers. The latter configuration will give you a limited spatial image, but you will get excellent sound. For larger areas, simply add one pair per 15 by 15 foot area.
For those familiar with the brand, consider that the performance is reminiscent of the Atom Monitor SE.
For more dynamic party use, look for the 80 model.
Paradigm Oasis range
Oasis speakers are designed for permanent outdoor installations. It offers the best technologies for sound dispersion and 4 seasons resistance*. Here we would consider this product to be "audiophile" grade...
* The presence of snow will not damage your oasis, hence the "4 seasons" consideration, however the snow cover will not allow use. For true 4 season use you will need to consider a back-up Stylus system for winter use.
For the Paradigm product lover, the sound will be reminiscent of the Premier range. This sound will be as pleasant as listening to your audiophile set in the house. I invite you to come to the sound room to listen to it.
The Oasis range includes patented technologies such as Reduced Edge Diffraction (RED), which provides a cleaner, more powerful midrange sound through a unique tweeter enclosure.
With irregular edges and off-centre placement, you won't get any of the standing wave reverberations that reduce performance through phase cancellation. (Full explanation to follow in an article on high-fidelity) Oasis is one of the few products that offer silky high tones that totally give the impression of being in the presence of musicians.
For the ultimate stealth outdoor experience, the Garden Oasis family of products evenly distributes sound throughout your yard by combining multiple speakers with one or more subwoofers on the ground. Not only does this reduce potential noise complaints, as the sound is less "pitched", but the products also blend into your landscaping for an easily heard, yet invisible performance.
There are two versions of Oasis speakers, the regular ones that are powered by a conventional home amplifier, and a 70 and 100 volt version to handle large spaces with up to 100 speakers! (The 70 and 100 volt is often used in commercial applications such as shopping centres)
I recommend 4 or 8 speakers for a conventional garden and the addition of an underfloor sub will be a virtual necessity. In return, you'll get a system with sound qualities that rival the very best for indoor use.
For an assured result and a project manageable by the individual, I recommend the "Essential 8.1" set. This set includes 8 outdoor speakers with a subwoofer and 20 sealed connectors. Add some 4 seasons wiring and a conventional or network amplifier and you have a project that can be done in a weekend!
Distribution plan of a typical Oasis system
The Paradigm Garden Oasis Essentials outdoor music system is designed to provide evenly distributed sound coverage in an 'outdoor' environment. The illustration below shows how a chain of satellite and subwoofers should be strategically placed to create a consistent and balanced dispersion around the outdoor environment. The satellite speakers should be spaced 6 to 10 feet apart for optimum imaging. With the sound well distributed and low to the ground, your neighbours will never be affected while you enjoy more than enough volume!
To achieve the best balance between the satellites and the subwoofer, the "subwoofer" should be placed as close to the centre of the satellites as possible. Keep in mind that this is only a suggestion and that your unique environment may dictate otherwise. If you want more bass, placing your sub close to a wall or other solid surface will greatly enhance the low frequencies. (This tip about using a wall also applies to indoor subwoofers)
A word about spinning
You will need to use wires that are designed to be buried. The standard is marked CL3 and allows these to be buried directly without using conduit. A grade of 14 would be ideal, while 16 would be too restrictive and 12 would be for intense and powerful listening.
If in doubt, ask for help in burying the wires and running them through the walls to the amplification equipment inside. This kind of work can be done by the individual, but requires attention to detail for a smooth and lasting result.
Don't hesitate though, because it's worth it and once installed it will be trouble-free for decades!
Paradigm® Stylus® speakersare designed to provide high quality sound outdoors. Their thin, reinforced PolyGlass injected enclosures are UV and fade resistant. Their aluminum grills, stainless steel and brass hardware, gold-plated binding posts and stainless steel and polymer mounting brackets are weather resistant. These types of materials are more expensive, but will stand up to outdoor abuse indefinitely.
All models come with brackets for easy wall mounting. On the back of the Stylus® speaker cabinet, there are holes spaced two and a half inches apart to accommodate many types of mounting brackets if you wish to use other than those included in the box.
All Stylus speakers feature a 1" titanium tweeter and the bass/midrange elements feature a large magnet and coil, resulting in a powerful, yet controlled sound.
Solution for small environments stereo/mono or "SM".
The 370SM and 470SM will offer a simple but effective solution. We're talking stereophony here, so you get a bass/midrange driver with two tweeters for left and right sound. The increased size of these two models will give you full performance of the audio frequency band.
The regular 470 and 370
The 470 singles feature a 7.5-inch bass/midrange driver, which allows for well rounded bass without the use of a subwoofer or subwoofer.
The regular 370 offers a 6.5 inch and contributes to an acceptable low-end ambience. Its more compact size makes it more discreet.
The Stylus series is one of the closest to conventional speakers. Adding an external subwoofer will result in an amazing performance! Available in black or white.
The 470 and 370 (SM or regular) combine dancing and relaxing use. Available in white or black, they are our best selling models.
The more discreet 270 and 170
Available with a 5.5-inch and 4.5-inch main driver respectively, their performance is still very respectable, although to enjoy the bass, they should be used in enclosed areas such as a veranda.
They are also ideal for large venues close to the walls of the house if several pairs are used. The addition of a subwoofer if desired will increase the richness. A very small 8-inch model will do the trick.
The final word
As I write this article, Quebec is probably losing steam for good and we'll have a great summer! I hope I've made you aware of the benefits of outdoor ambience when there are perfectly suitable products available these days. What's more, outdoor solutions are more affordable than ever. What more could you ask for than to be able to sit outside and listen to music? What more could you ask for than to be able to watch your TV programmes day and night? This will be the subject of a future blog, the Samsung terrace, you know?