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Outdoor sound system - Long

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  • Outdoor sound system - Long

    I am going to purchase a really good system this Spring for use in my backyard(yes, the speakers will go in at night and kept in the shade when outside - LOL). The goal is great sound - not the loudest sound - but there will be times to crank it up... Last summer I dragged out a pair of 10 yr old floor standing Polk's and an equally old H/K receiver which was adequate, but many times wanted/needed it to be much louder and fill the backyard - friends,beer... The only neighbors are retired and are gone most of the Summer.

    The speakers will be located 70-80 ft away facing the 2 story house and can be set from 35 to 50 ft apart. All of the equipment before the amplifier is of "audiophile" quality. I do own a good number not upsampled,384/192 albums -they sound so much better and have tremendous dynamics. I am much more an audio fan than video and watch little TV.

    Now the serious part:
    The current plan is to use 4 SS-18.1's. Two on each side one stacked on top of the other - laying on their sides. Two subs on their side is 44" high and 40" wide - I can't build monuments in the backyard and all the speakers may be refinished in white (you have to know when to compromise with the wife). - so suggesting more of the same (to the members who have 4 (8?) or more of these in one room) means it time to find a different solution if in fact one is needed or available.

    I haven't seen a much better choice than the SS-18's at around $3,4000 for four high quality subs.There are dozen's 18" bang boxes all of which s*ck - lousy cabinets. Visually it would be preferable to have smaller "cube" sized subs. Staying around 1K each while getting substantial SPL from a cube would cost much more the SS-18's. Plus I can't have electric power(close to pool and small children) so all the active subs are out - unless I mod them and sell the amps on E-Bay (not that crazy of an idea). Since there are no walls to shake I am thinking to roll off the subs at 48db/octave at 32hz. My thinking is a heavy subsonic filter will protect the drivers from bottoming out while leaving more amplifier power available from 32hz and up.

    What to stack on top has been more difficult. Looking for something that can play loud while keeping excellent clarity and an open sound. I know there are trade offs but better sound wins over higher volume. Typically a horn lorded type tweeter would be used. I have yet to meet a horn loaded driver that I liked - so that leaves me with dome type tweeters.

    Has anyone listened to the Boston Acoustics BT1's ?I have only read two short reviews. They have excellent specs (each speaker can produce 117+ SPL - efficiency 93db) and BA's sound quality reputation is top notch. Each speaker has 2 8" drivers, a mid and dome tweeter. With a total of 8 8" mid-woofers there should be a good punch in the critical 200-500hz range. Using the BA's side by side on top of the subs the total size would be 40"wide and 62" high(my wife wants plants in front of the speakers - I told her nothing higher than 40" - LOL). Even though the BA's are expensive I have not found another speaker which is better suited for this situation with such compact size (Each BA is 18" H 18" W -16"d). I have two stereo power amps that well exceed the maximum power rating of virtually any speaker and will drive a 2 ohm load but still need speakers in the low to mid 90's efficiency rating to reach a decent SPL. The speakers should reach 95-100 db 60 ft away without sounding strained or compressed.
    The cost of the speakers and two large stereo power amps adds up to 12K. Still have A/C power for the amps -each requires a dedicated 30amp 120v circuit, 8 gauge speaker wire runs (6 gauge stranded is out of the question) and music sources to purchase The total is already 18K - and 20K is my absolute limit.

    Does anyone have experience in creating near audiophile sound outdoors? Are there any substantially better choices in this price/size range for either the subs or satellites? Should I give up the BA's output capability to be more open minded in the choice of a satellite ? I am open to any suggestions - of any type.

    -John Ferris

  • #2
    John, welcome.

    Craig is on vacation at the moment, but he and his brother Rock have extensive experience with creating good sounds outdoors.

    Do consider the vented VS-18.1. Two of these run wide open (no HPF) should do a really nice job outside. Four high passed sealed 18.1's is an intriguing idea, though.

    Absolutely reconsider compression horn loaded tweeters. The game has changed. :yes: