The Difference Between Weatherproof and Water Resistant Speakers

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Two terms often encountered when dealing with outdoor speakers are “Weatherproof” and “Water Resistant.” At first glance, they might sound like they are the same thing, but this is not the case, and it can be a costly mistake if you confuse the two. In reality, the electronics of the speakers remain pretty much the same, but it is the case housing all the parts that make the difference. Let’s look at what the two terms mean and what you can expect from waterproof speakers that bear these labels.

Shortcut: What’s the best protection rating?

The IPX rating you need ultimately depends on your intended uses; if you plan on using a speaker next to the pool, an IPX4 (Splash-Proof) rating would be required, but if you want one that can survive being submerged underwater, even briefly, an IPX7 would be ideal. However, the fairly recent IPX8 rating allows for deeper and longer submersions.

If you want a speaker that can resist water and solid particles such as snow, dust, or sand, an IP67 or IP68 is necessary. The IP68 grade is another newly-released rating, mostly used for smartphones first, but is now commonly seen on Bluetooth speakers and generally earns a speaker an ‘everything-proof’ rating.

Weatherproof Speakers

Weatherproof speakers do what their name implies: protect your speaker from the elements. The speakers function the same as normal speakers but are usually made from different materials because they will be exposed to the elements. Materials such as steel prone to rusting are replaced by stainless steel, brass, or aluminum.

Diaphragms in the drivers, usually made from paper in normal speakers, are replaced by Mylar diaphragms. Finally, the speaker housing is typically given a polypropylene finish to protect against the elements and temperature changes. Although the cabinets can be sealed with a watertight finish, a speaker rated as weatherproof is not necessarily waterproof and should not be submerged in liquids unless it has the appropriate IPX rating. For such extreme conditions, an IPX8 rating would be ideal. The IPX8 rating is fairly recent and deems the speaker capable of being submerged for extended periods in water that can be considered ‘deep.’

Water Resistant Speakers

When a speaker is listed as water resistant, this doesn’t mean that you can automatically go and submerge it in liquid and still expect it to work afterward. The level of resistance against water ingress is called the IP code and indicates just how water-resistant the speaker is.

A clear IP rating is preferred over vague marketing terms such as waterproof, which doesn’t specify how resistant the speaker is to water. IP is rated on a scale from zero to nine, with higher numbers indicating greater water resistance. For example, IPX0 (the “X” indicates the solid particle protection level) means that the speaker is not protected against water and should be kept away from moist areas.

IP Protection Ratings
IP Ratings Chart

At level 1, the speaker is protected from water drops, provided these fall vertically on the speaker. Moving to level 2 provides resistance against drops even if the speaker is tilted to a maximum angle of 15 degrees. Level 3 means the speaker can operate even if hit by water falling as a spray up to sixty degrees from the top of the speaker.

At level 4, the speaker can be splashed from any direction without harm. For protection from water sprayed by a nozzle of no more than 6.33, the speaker requires at least level 5, but more powerful jets require at least level 6. Your speaker can be immersed in at least 1 meter (3 feet) of water at level 7, and at level 8, it can probably fall in the pool and still survive.

Beyond the 1-8 numbered system is the combination of solid particle resistance and water particle resistance. In audio devices like portable Bluetooth speakers, this is generally, and ideally, an IP67 rating. The IP67 rating means the speaker can withstand almost anything you throw at it, and I can tolerate it for a long time. The IP67 rating is our favorite for outdoor and portable Bluetooth speakers since it provides a stress-free listening experience. At the same time, you can confidently use your speaker anywhere you like, knowing practically nothing will harm it.

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