Boston Acoustics Voyager RK8T2 Outdoor Rock Speaker Reviewed

Boston Acoustics Voyager RK8T2 Outdoor Rock Speaker Reviewed

When you are outside you still want to be able to listen to music through a good pair of speakers. However, a lot of outdoor speakers aren't very attractive. Brian Kahn takes a look at the Boston Acoustics Voyager RK8T2 outdoor rock speaker that tries to remedy this.

Boston_Acoustics_Voyager_RK8T2_outdoor_speaker.jpgBoston Acoustics has spent a lot of time and energy building up their outdoor speaker line. A few years ago I attended a demonstration of their outdoor speaker products in the very nice and large backyard of a local installer. The installation featured several stereo zones and one multi-channel zone, all with speakers from Boston Acoustics. When my wife and I started to get our backyard ready for the summer I thought back to that demonstration and began considering what I could do to improve my outdoor listening experience.

Additional Resources
• Read more bookshelf speaker reviews by HomeTheaterReview.com's staff.
• Find media servers for the Voyager RK8T2 in our Media Server Review section.
• Learn about Klipsch's rock speaker solution.

I replaced the speakers under our patio cover with some more traditional style speakers but they did not provide coverage for the pool without cranking the volume to a point where I was worried about complaints from our neighbors. The back corners of my yard have planters which provide a place to install speakers and aim them towards the pool and the house. Due to the location, a traditional box speaker would stick out like a sore thumb. Also, as the planters were about fifty feet apart, a traditional stereo setup wouldn't work. A speaker that would lay both channels out of a single enclosure would provide more even coverage.

Boston Acoustics' Voyager series has three rock speakers to choose from: the RK5 single channel and the RK6T2 and RK8T2 which are "single stereo speakers." They range in price from $250 to $500 each and come in three styles, River Rock, Sandstone and New England Granite. I installed the New England Granite RK8T2s in my planters. The speaker is fairly large at approximately 18 inches wide, 14 inches high and 14 inches deep. The polypropylene enclosure was pretty solid and had a matte rough texture which helps the speakers blend in, although anything more than a passing glance will reveal their true purpose. The bottom of the enclosure has space for a transformer if the speakers will be used in a 70 volt system that is common in commercial installations. I simply ran a pair of speaker wires to the factory installed leads and set the speakers down in a flat area in the planters.

The Voyager rock series speakers all utilize a two-way design. The RK8T2 reviewed here features an eight inch woofer and a pair of one inch soft dome tweeters. Frequency response is given as 50 Hz to 20 kHz plus or minus three dB. Impedance and sensitivity are eight Ohms and 89 dB, respectively. It is important that your outdoor speakers are fairly efficient and easy to drive. Outdoor stereo listening will typically require more volume and power than indoor due to lack of noise isolation and containment, larger spaces and higher ambient noise, so an efficient and easy to drive speaker is a big plus.

If you will be installing these or any other outdoor speaker in an unprotected area you should take precautions to protect the speaker and connections. For example, the connections between the run of speaker cable and the leads from the speakers were made with wire nuts designed for outdoor use and filled with a conductive and protective silicon. These connections were then wrapped with an outdoor rated electrical tape providing even more protection and finally the section of the cables with the connection were placed so as to avoid being in a puddle of water.

Read about the high points and low points of the Voyager RK8T2 on Page 2.

Boston_Acoustics_Voyager_RK8T2_outdoor_speaker.jpgHigh Points
• The choice of three styles of rock themed enclosures should allow for an unobtrusive installation in most areas that call for a rock type speaker.
• The single speaker stereo design allows for uniform coverage of a larger area with half as many speakers as a traditional design.
• Sound quality was full and enjoyable rather than the thin and tinny sound produced by budget type rock speakers.

Low Points
• The single speaker stereo configuration eliminates any possibility of reproducing a realistic soundstage.
• A rock style speaker may have limited placement options; be sure that the area in your yard that you want to place the speaker in can accommodate both the speaker and the required cable run.

Competition and Comparison
There are a number of outdoor loudspeakers available from a wide variety of manufacturers, but among the "rock" speaker sect obvious competitors include Paradigm's Rock Monitor Series, Klipsch's AWR Outdoor Rock Speaker Series and SpeakerCraft's Ruckus Series.

While outdoor speakers don't really get a lot of attention from the press, including Home Theater Review, you can read about other outdoor loudspeakers in Home Theater Review's Bookshelf Speaker page.

Conclusion
The Boston Acoustics' Voyager rocks bring music to the outdoors in a low profile speaker. While most of the male guests we have had in our yard have noticed them with a comment along the lines of "New rock speakers, cool" - few of our female guests noticed them and one was startled when the "rock" she was sitting next to for some time began playing music.

The sound quality is certainly decent but you would never confuse them with audiophile type indoor speakers. Nonetheless, they produce clean, full bodied sound, even at higher volume levels. Only time will tell how well the rock speakers will hold up in the elements; they have only been out in the yard for a few weeks but have been holding up well so far despite the dogs, morning mist, sprinklers and direct sunlight. I have become a fan of the stereo in one enclosure type of speaker for background listening in larger spaces. This design provided even coverage of your listening area without having to resort to volumes that will drown out conversations or get you in trouble with your neighbors.

I am looking forward to summer in the pool and yard listening to these Voyager speakers.

Additional Resources
• Read more bookshelf speaker reviews by HomeTheaterReview.com's staff.
• Find media servers for the Voyager RK8T2 in our Media Server Review section.
• Learn about Klipsch's rock speaker solution.

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