Axiom Outdoor Speakers
We had the opportunity to try out Axiom's Outdoor Speakers. For a speaker to do well outdoors it needs some muscle. Indoor speakers take advantage of the walls, ceiling and floor to fill a room with sound. But outdoors the sound tends to dissipate quickly, lacking the reflective surfaces found inside.
These speakers have the necessary muscle to create big sound outside. That muscle is delivered partly owing to their hefty size. These speakers are larger than the diminutive speakers offered by other manufacturers for patio and garden settings. At 13.5" x 8.5" x 8.25", they look more like bookshelf speakers and weigh in at about 9 pounds each.
We tested a pair of these speakers and drove them with an Onkyo TX-SR508. We started them out on the ground, placed upright, about 20 feet apart. Even at low power, these speakers sounded rich, though not surprisingly, not as rich as they sounded indoors. As we increased the volume the speakers came alive, perfectly suitable for a serious outdoor party with dancing. However, as we moved away from the sweet spot between the speakers and as we moved farther away, the sound dropped off rather quickly. Getting too far from being centered between the speakers left us with good sound but without the same richness the stereo effect provides.
The sound quality improved when we moved the speakers against the building. As the manufacturer recommends, mounting them to a wall yields superior performance. Ideally the speakers should be mounted using brackets and placed just below the eaves, patio ceiling or other reflective surface. Placing them against the wall creates a tremendous bass effect, making high volume operation almost feel clubby. Another advantage of placing them above the listener's heads is the sound gains the advantage of reflection from the ground and helps reduce the fast dissipation of sound typical of outdoors.
Overall, we like these speakers. We confirmed that mounting them on a wall is key to getting the best sound quality. You will have to order the proprietary brackets when ordering the speakers, at additional cost. You may want to consider using two pairs for large areas or for placement around a pool (which tends to require more volume due to the noise around a pool).
The Axiom Algonquin speakers are available in white, biscuit or a custom match color for $60 additional expense. The speakers have a maximum rated wattage of 175 watts at 8 ohms and retail for $348 a pair.