One of the hottest lifestyle trends right now is outdoor living, and there is plenty that can be done to expand your entertaining options beyond your home’s four walls. But no matter how nice your space, you can’t really entertain outdoors until you have some audio and video to liven up the party.

Whether you opt for an inexpensive stereo receiver, use your surround system’s Zone 2 output or enjoy a Macked-out whole-house A/V system, options for getting your music outside are more plentiful than ever.

For A/V gear, the outdoors is a far different world than cushy indoor living. Whether it’s surviving the cruel desert sun, bearing up to unrelenting snows, living rust-free in the coastal salt air or just gutting it out in the toxic death clouds of LA, anything that is going to remain outdoors permanently has to be designed for it. Chances are your favorite speaker manufacturer has a model for the task. Just don’t expect it to look like a speaker. Because, God help you if you have a party and have to endure the indignity of someone pointing out that that plastic encapsulated monitor with sweet-sweet music pouring out of it is actually a speaker. It’s far less shameful to choose a model that disappears ninja-like into your landscaping. Rock speakers are very popular, as are models that resemble planters. Several manufacturers have even created models that resemble landscape lighting. Others can be buried in the ground or mounted to the underside of a wood deck.

When placing speakers outdoors, resisting the urge to skimp out and use a single pair of speakers is key. Imagine your backyard as a Super Wal-Mart for a moment. Minus the long lines, the forlorn wails of hundreds of children and the incessant calls over the PA, of course. The point is, Wal-Mart could put a single speaker in the center of the store and play it loud enough that everyone could hear the desperate calls of sales at the meat counter. However, it would be barely audible to some and soul-witheringly loud to others. Far better to have many speakers spaced out all playing a controlled and comfortable level. Same goes for your backyard. Trust me on this; more is almost always better. Your friends and neighbors will definitely thank you.

Now, load up a playlist on your iPod, grab a beer, and get outside and start living!

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