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Review: Bose 251 Outdoor Speakers

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Outdoor speakers lead to a whole new shopping experience as the consumer is now facing a completely different sound environment to work with. Speakers need to press a little harder to fill an open space, and this is when their qualities shine or fall apart. Lucky for Bose, they have a lot of experience with shining.

The Bose 251 Outdoor Speakers, part of a line that has been on the market for close to a decade, have done nothing but shine on through the years as they remain on most top lists for outdoor selections. Speakers that can not only fill a space, but fill it evenly and reach a good distance while still leaving a small footprint on the wall. Because of that last part, they are commonly used by businesses such as Casinos and theme parks to cover areas like pools, foyers, gardens and so forth.

We managed to get our hands on a pair (2 speakers) to test out for a few months to see how well they accompany the two environments we placed them in. One being a private backyard pool area that covers around 3,500 square feet of space, and the other the back of a building that exposes itself to an open field of space. Both test environments powered by a Yamaha RX-V379BL receiver, providing a highly affordable AVR solution while supplying up to 130 watts per channel.

We felt that both locations provided more than enough space to put two small speakers to an absolute test with. So the question at hand now is, did they make it or break it?

The 251 speakers offer a strong clarity and full range. Their highs can cut through a large amount of space, and provide a solid amount of bass as well. The bass doesn’t reach as far as the highs do since the highs move a lost faster allowing them to reach further as the bass dissipates mostly at about 2/3rds the distance. They sound good for typical house/family party atmospheres at high levels and also could be used to relax to your favorite acoustics and meditate your day away with. They aren’t audiophile quality speakers, but they do rate as outdoor loudspeakers that can come decently close.

They install easily with the included versatile mounting kit that allows you to place them on a wall, underhang them from a protruding ceiling section or a horizontal surface such as a shelf or railing. This allows you to build them into nearly any environment.

They can handle waves of torture from weather, standing through any conditions, let them be dry or wet. Hurricane? Sure, as long as the wall they are attached to is still there when it’s over. Heatwave in Arizona? Also ok, as they can withstand temperatures of up to 158° F. Now, we couldn’t put these through a hurricane to test them out, but we did spray them down with a hose using a handle attachment that produces a decent pressure. We covered them in mud and sprayed them down clean. They continued to work just fine after that. The 251’s can also withstand colder temperatures of up to -40° F, however we were unable to test that as well due to the season and location of testing.

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Looking at the backyard scenario, the two speakers covered the large area pretty efficiently, There were a few dead spots where stereo effects were questionable, but volume and quality were still there. We didn’t find a need for more than two speakers, which is great due to their price. Bass was noticeable throughout the entire environment; although softer once you reach the far wall. Making enough noise in the pool and setting up speakers in a few locations to mimic human discussion as if there was a large group of people enjoying the amenities, drowned out the speakers slightly, but did not mask them completely. Also, we weren’t taking the speakers to their max volumes to achieve anything. The volume was loud, but there was still plenty of headroom.

The field scenario produced different results, however still managed to perform quite well. There was a lot of open space back there, so it would be difficult for any two speakers to perform flawlessly. The area around the building was obviously sound-rich, and the closer parts of the field were covered as well. However, as you move further into the field, the sound of the speakers begins to dissipate and you lose your bass. Making your way to the tree-line, you can still hear the speakers in the distance. You obviously lose lyric clarity and all bass, but you aren’t going to get that far anyway without large loud-speakers and external subs (typically meant for small concerts or parties). You could of course run wires into the distance and attach speakers within the field to be used as your delays or spot fillers (think of a parking lot outside of a theme park, where every 4th or 5th light post has a speaker installed to it, for music and announcements).

So these speakers are perfect for backyards and foyers, where the distance of throw is no more than about 50-75 feet. Beyond that, you are going to lose something, or you will want additional speakers to fill in the distance or dead spots with. In most cases, someone looking for these, would be shopping for something to put in the backyard, making these a perfect pick. Other good uses would be large outdoor seating setups for restaurants or multi-speaker setups like the above example of a theme park parking lot. Examples like that can go on forever, but the main focus is “the backyard”.

You may even want to set up a projection screen in the backyard for outdoor family movie nights and use these as your mains as you float around the pool relaxing to it. Although, that would be better with more than two speakers. You can get away with it, but movies are always better with a 5 channel setup vs stereo. These speakers would definitely bring the movie to you if you did that.

It’s important to note that nobody would be researching into these speakers for the use of loudspeakers to reach far distances with. At least they shouldn’t be. We only created the field scenario to put them to a full test and have the ability to walk the distance to determine what their limitations truly are. Something you can’t always do in a backyard (at least not here in the city).

Their design features a very rugged outer shell design, made up of mineral and glass-filled polypropylene. Just holding one in your hands, you can tell how they would be able to stand up to such extreme weather conditions. Both the construction and their performance live up to the price tag for the most part. Keep in mind, you are still paying for the fact that they are “Bose” in the end. Bose has a long history of maintaining a heavy price.

They come available in both white and black, and inside the box you find the mounting kit with all the needed screws to get the job done with. You will of course have to supply your own wire and everything beyond that.

Price is the only thing that holds em back from a perfect score. As mentioned, they do live up to the price tag for the most part, but Bose is known for being expensive. In some cases, the product doesn’t come close to the price they ask for. In this case, you are getting a solid deal. There are other speakers on the market by other companies like Yamaha’s NS-AW570WH Speakers that offer a solution at a better price, but they may or may not live up to the strength of these (we haven’t tested them out). If you are a Bose fan and are pretty determined to stick to the name, you won’t be disappointed with the 251’s.

Our Conclusion

These speakers are great. They are loud, they can throw quite the distance for their size and have a great range. The bass is present and demanding, and you can get a lot out of just two speakers in a large area. They can withstand a lot of torture, which means they will last a long time hanging from your walls and still be waiting there for you after a big storm. They are pricey, but they are Bose. The Nike brand of speakers, but also comes with a reputation worth bragging about. They look good and fit in just right with multiple mounting options. Price is the only thing that keeps these from getting a perfect score. Beyond that, the Bose 251 speakers are a perfect buy.

9 / 10 stars           

Amazon-Buy-Now

Downloads:

Bose 251 Outdoor Speakers – Owners Manual: Link

Additional Images:

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Specifications:

Dimensions/weight

  • Each speaker: 13.5″ H x 5.75″ W x 8″ D (8 lbs)

 

Temperature resistance

  • Sun, high humidity (rain and snow), salt and fog
  • Temperature extremes (-40° F to 158° F; -40° C to 70° C)
  • Permanent outdoor installation

 

In the box

  • 2 Speakers
  • Mounting hardware (8 screws and 8 plastic anchors)
  • Self-adhesive rubber feet
  • 4 Knobs
  • 2 Brackets

 

Warranty

  • 251 speakers carry a five-year limited warranty.

Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.

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About Author

Mike E

An audio specialist with over 20 years of audio engineering experience. When not sitting behind a sound board, he enjoys spending time with his family, including his two youngest sons, as well as rock/mountain scrambling, rappelling and taking his Jeep into hard to find areas (until it has to be dug back out from the dirt).

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