Mini-Review: Definitive Technology AW5500 Outdoor Speakers

Definitive Technology AW5500Not long after I started this blog I described my plan for delivering Whole House Audio. To summarize, at various locations on the property we pair a Logitech Squeezebox with semi-pro powered audio monitors. The Squeezeboxes can be synchronized, delivering the ability to play music across the entire property, with independent control of level at each location. Or we can play different things at different places, all under control of the Logitech Media Server’s web interface, or apps on our handheld devices.

Even though the Squeezebox is no longer made, this remains a pretty sweet setup. In the summer of 2013 I added a pair of Definitive Technology AW6500 outdoor speakers under the eave of the garage, providing music into the back yard. In truth, I had planned to install these on the front porch but they proved too large for that site. Rather than return the speakers, I deployed them in the back yard where they have been serving us nicely.

Since we installed the first pair of AW6500’s I’ve seen them turn up in a few other places, at the homes of various people with the resources to select any gear they wanted. The Definitive Technology outdoor speakers have never failed to impress, which is why I still had them on my Amazon wish list last fall.

Over the holidays I received a pair of the smaller Definitive Technology AW5500 model. These were recently installed on the front porch. I purchased a fifth (!) Squeezebox Classic, used via Ebay, to be the signal source for that zone.

Definitive Tech AW5500 on porch

Since we don’t hang out on the back deck very much in the winter, I’ve borrowed the existing Dayton DTA-100 digital amplifier to power the music on the front porch for now. The back yard is a much larger space, and I’d eventually like to get something more powerful to drive the larger AW6500’s. It’s not that I want to achieve neighbor-annoying, cop-attracting volume, just that I’d like to have some headroom. We might just end up doing a movie night on the back deck, which would definitely require more oomph.

Like their larger brethren, the AW550 are a two-way design with a large passive radiator. The 5.25” woofer and 1” dome tweeter are mounted on one side of the three-sided enclosure. The passive radiator is on the rear surface, which has the effect of using the wall behind the speaker to reinforce the low-end output. Every little bit helps when driving the acoustic load this is The Great Outdoors.

Definitive Technology AW Series Mounting

The AW5500 can handle 175 watts RMS. They deliver 91 db @ 1m when driven by 1 watt RMS. The 50w/c Dayton amp drives them sufficient to address anything but a full-bore party.

On some of the warmer days over the past few weeks we’ve undertaken some work in the front gardens. Such an effort requires music to make the work pass more swiftly. In the past I’d have to haul out some gear from my office to put music in the front yard. Given this new installation, anything we’d like to hear is now instantly available. Zero setup or tear-down required.

These smaller outdoor speakers may not have quite the low-end extension of their larger kin, but they still sound better than any of the other makes that we’ve tried. I do admit that prior to the purchase of the Definitive Technology products I was much more cost conscious. While there are dozens of low-cost outdoor speakers on the market, even some from respected brands, those that we have tried previously were less than satisfactory.

In 2013 we bought the Definitive Technology AW6500’s. Over a year later we have again parted with currency to install their smaller, AW5500’s on the front porch. What greater testimonial can there be? Highly recommended.