Listening to Rocks
Niles RS6 Outdoor Speakers
By Grant Clauser
While it's not necessarily the time of year to be thinking about outdoor audio—at least in CR's neck of the woods—plenty of customers are ready for some tunes by the pool or the yard, and as a reseller, you've got to be ready for them.
Unfortunately, most outdoor speakers look like the kind of thing that you'd see hung from a pole at the community pool and sound like the high school intercom. Niles' new RS6 series of outdoor loudspeakers were designed to look like ornamental rocks—they call them GeoRealistic—and sound like music. Is it too much to ask for rocks that sound good?
First, I should point out that these speakers arrived at our offices in the heart of winter with snow, below zero temperatures and flu season in full swing. Needless to say, I didn't actually take them outside for a listen. But I did the next best thing, I set them up in the largest room I could find and dumped water on them.
For starters, these speakers actually look like rocks, not like styrofoam pretending to be rocks. Some people place fake rocks over their speakers, but these speakers are built right into the enclosure. They're sturdy enough to stand on (I did) and hurt when you drop them on your foot (I did that too). They come in three styles: Gray granite, tan sandstone and white coral. The coral ones are my favorite since they look the most like the thing they're trying to imitate. They won't go over big here in Philadelphia, but they'd be perfect for Palm Beach, or Palm Springs, for that matter.
Making speakers that not only sound good, but also withstand the elements is a challenge. The RS6 series meets this challenge with fiberglass construction and double seals on the tweeters, woofers and enclosure covers. Water (rain, snow melt...) drains right away rather than puddling up in the cabinet.