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audio systems basics including outdoor speakers and exterior audio

Outdoor Audio Systems

TIC Corporations has been supplying exterior audio products for decades and offers you all the choices you need to install a superior outdoor audio system.

See about commercial 25v 70v 100v distribution installation guides here

TIC SP5280
Outdoor Speaker Driver
Outdoor Audio Speaker TIC SP5280

Outdoor Speaker
Sub Woofer Driver
Outdoor Sub Woofer Speaker Transducers

Genuine TIC Outdoor Speaker
Accept no copies

Outdoor Speaker
Burial Cable
Outdoor Speaker Burial Cable Wire

TIC Outdoor Speaker Schematic Diagram

TIC Outdoor Speakers & Exterior Audio products

Originally Designed and Manufactured by TIC Corporation all TIC outdoor speaker products are weatherproof incorporating components that are specifically designed and manufactured to perform in all expected weather conditions. Our Award Winning TIC GS3 Omni-directional OmniSpeaker® outdoor speakers are probably the most renowned exterior speaker in the world being used by most civic, civil and commercial installations. You will find them in almost all theme parks.

TIC Terra-Forms® outdoor rock speakers are specifically designed and constructed of the latest aerospace grade multi layer composite materials to be particularly durable in the field. Simple in installation, yet tough and long lasting for many years of enjoyment. TIC Terra-Forms® outdoor rock speakers are unique in that they not only blend and beautify any surroundings in which they are placed but also provide many additional outdoor sound benefits.

The specially constructed two-way outdoor speaker systems for TIC Omni directional OmniSpeakers® and TIC Terra-Forms® Speaker Stones have 50 - 300 watt capacities (model dependent) and utilize waterproof components in an aluminum/ polypropylene woofer, butyl rubber surround and aluminum/ Mylar© tweeters, both are dynamically stabilized to give you clarity that is vibrant.

Simple Outdoor Speaker Installation Cable Wiring Solution
showing both Parallel & Series connections

outdoor speaker installation connectionsClick image to enlarge
Outdoor Speakers basic cable wiring connections

TIC Audio Systems Installation Basics

TIC Corporation Ed. note: the following is meant as a general guide to assist our customer’s world-wide in their basic understanding of outdoor speakers, the wiring and installation of TIC Corporations range of audio products and TIC outdoor speakers in general. Due to the many diverse conditions and requirements for individual installations and site conditions no guarantees are expressed or implied within this document by TIC Corporation.

A simple Series & Parallel diagram

Outdoor Speaker Series Parallel diagram
outdoor speaker installationClick image to enlarge

Connecting TIC Outdoor Speaker Systems

The power receiver amplifier output must be matched to the effective impedance of the TIC speaker system. Because it is often necessary to use more than one speaker system (per channel) to disperse sound to the entire area, two or more speaker systems must be wired together. Since each TIC outdoor speaker system has its own impedance, wiring them together changes the effective impedance presented to the power amplifier. The effective impedance can be controlled by the method of connecting the TIC speaker systems.

TIC Outdoor Speaker System Connections; The three possible ways to connect the TIC speaker systems to the output of a power amplifier. Common ground and only one power amplifier terminal can be used at a time. Be sure to calculate the effective impedance of the TIC speakers no matter what connection scheme you use. For best results, all TIC speaker systems installed should have the same impedance.

Series connections For TIC speaker systems connected in series, as shown, simply sum the impedances of all the TIC speaker systems. Example, if you connect two TIC 8-Ohm speaker systems in series, the effective impedance is 16-Ohms. You then use the 16-Ohm output on the power amplifier for proper impedance matching. Further. Four TIC 4-Ohm speaker systems could be connected in series for the same 16-Ohm effective impedance.

There is a practical limit to the number of TIC speaker systems that can be effectively connected in series. Example, connecting four TIC 8-Ohm speaker systems in series presents an effective impedance of 32-Ohms to the amplifier. This is a decidedly bad idea. An impedance mismatch at the power amplifier causes distorted sound because the amplifier is asked to operate at maximum voltage swing.

Paralleling Impedances connections If you connect TIC speaker systems in parallel, as shown, and all have the same impedance, the effective impedance is the impedance of one speaker system divided by the number of speaker systems. Example, if two speaker systems rated at 8-Ohms each are connected in parallel, the effective impedance is 4-Ohms. Similarly, if four speaker systems rated at 16-Ohms each are connected in parallel, the effective impedance is 4-Ohms. The 4-Ohm power amplifier output must be used for either situation.

Multi Impedance Formulae

For TIC speaker systems connected in parallel that don’t have the same impedance, TIC offers for your use the following equation to find effective impedance (Zt);

Parallel Impedances Calculation Formulae
Use the Formulae above for TIC speaker systems, wired in parallel, of differing speaker impedances

Generally; As a general rule of thumb, connecting TIC outdoor speaker systems in parallel is the more desirable approach for a number of reasons. First, when connected in series, if any individual speaker system fails, none of the speaker systems will work because the circuit is incomplete through all of the speaker systems, no sound will come through any of the outdoor speaker systems.

Second, when connected in series, speaker systems tend to interact with one another, which can result in distortion. All speaker systems exhibit a damping action, which is the result of the natural resistance of the voice coil in the speaker system against the permanent magnet located nearby. This damping action, though mechanical in nature, can result in lower signal levels through the speaker system line.

On the other hand, there is a practical limit to the number of TIC speaker systems that can be effectively connected in parallel. At some point, the amplifier will no longer be able to supply enough power to each of the speaker systems to produce adequate sound. Example, the maximum current the power amplifier can supply limits the number of speaker systems in parallel.

As a general rule, you are safe if you limit the number of speaker systems to four; 8-Ohm or eight 16-Ohm per channel, assuming the speaker systems are full range, and the power amplifier is rated at 100 watts per channel. Example, four 8-Ohm TIC speaker systems in parallel results in effective impedance of 2 Ohms, and a current requirement of greater than 7 amperes at 100 watts output.

Combining Series and Parallel; To get around the limitations of an all series connection, or an all-parallel connection, you can connect multiple TIC speaker systems in a combination of parallel and series, as shown. You can use this technique, for example, to connect four TIC speaker systems together, and still present an effective impedance of 8-Ohms to the power amplifier. In the TIC diagram, two of the speaker systems are wired in series, and the two series combinations are wired in parallel. Assuming all four TIC speaker systems are rated at 8-Ohms, the effective impedance for the array of TIC speaker systems is 8 Ohms, so you would connect the array to the 8-Ohm output of the power amplifier.

*Important Polarity Note!

Insuring Proper Polarity; When connecting multiple TIC outdoor speaker systems, it is absolutely vital that you observe proper polarity at all times. The diagrams above show the proper polarity. If you mix the polarity, the sound delivered by your sound system will be substandard. The system may sound excessively “boomy”, and output levels may be substantially diminished. It is also possible some damage to the amplifier or TIC speaker components may occur.

TIC Installation Cable Wire Guidelines

Below you will note basic guidelines for outdoor speaker cable in the form of charts for outdoor speaker burial cable runs with allowances for resistance down the line and or power / voltage drops incurred. Besides power consumption loss, resistance in a cable run has a very detrimental effect upon sound quality and output power.

While the guides below are generally useful for outdoor speaker burial cable it should also be noted that specific, local installation conditions, connections integrity and wire quality including copper quality content of the cable itself, all have an effect upon resistance down the line and therefore your ultimate performance characteristics.

Outdoor Speaker Cable based upon impedance testing 8 Ohm units

Recommended Cable Gauge (g) Vs. Length of Cable Run (m + Ft.)

±50 Ft.
±100 Ft.
±150 Ft.
±200 Ft.
±250 Ft.
±300 Ft.
18g 16 / 14g 14 / 12g 12g 12 /10g 10g

Outdoor Speaker Mains Power Systems

Power line (mains power) cable calculator

Total System Amperage Drawn Up To 4 ft. Up To 7 ft. Up To 10 ft. Up To 13 ft. Up To 16 ft. Up To 19 ft. Up To 22 ft. Up To 28 ft.
0-20A 14 ga. 12 ga. 12 ga. 10 ga. 10 ga. 8 ga. 8 ga. 8 ga.
20-35A 12 ga. 10 ga. 8 ga. 8 ga. 6 ga. 6 ga. 6 ga. 4 ga.
35-50A 10 ga. 8 ga. 8 ga. 6 ga. 4 ga. 4 ga. 4 ga. 4 ga.
50-65A 8 ga. 8 ga. 6 ga. 4 ga. 4 ga. 4 ga. 4 ga. 2 ga.
65-85A 6 ga. 6 ga. 4 ga. 4 ga. 2 ga. 2 ga. 2 ga. 0 ga.
85-105A 6 ga. 6 ga. 4 ga. 2 ga. 2 ga. 2 ga. 2 ga. 0 ga.
105-125A 4 ga. 4 ga. 4 ga. 2 ga. 0 ga. 0 ga. 0 ga. 0 ga.
125-150A 2 ga. 2 ga. 2 ga. 0 ga. 0 ga. 0 ga. 0 ga. 00 ga.
The above chart shows wire gauges to be used, if no less than .5 volt drop is accepted. If aluminum wire or tinned wire is used, the gauges should be of an even larger size to compensate. Cable gauge size calculation takes into account terminal resistance. Wire gauge recommendations based on IASCA guidelines.

Testing the AC Power Systems for your outdoor speaker sound system

There is good reason to test the 117 VAC that powers your sound system. You can spot problems such as polarity reversal that might cause excessive hum, or more importantly, you can determine if the electrical system is wired properly, and therefore, is safe. While it is rare, if the electrical system is wired incorrectly, it is possible to get a nasty shock simply by touching a metal cabinet of a sound system component, or even the metal case of a microphone. You can perform the tests on the electrical circuits using either an AC outlet testing plug or an ordinary volt-ohm meter.


Fatal Voltage and current are present at a live outlet. Be sure to follow all safety precautions when testing the outlet. Do not touch the exposed metal of the testing leads while they are inserted in an electrical outlet.

Using a volt-ohm meter for outdoor speaker power systems

Outdoor Speaker Power Systems Testing

While an outlet testing plug is very convenient, it is not necessary to determine if the electrical wiring is faulty. A Volt-Ohm meter suitable for use with 120 VAC is all you need. The tests assume a three-wire (grounded) polarized outlet, as shown in Fig. 1 If the outlet is wired correctly, the short slot on the right is the “hot” side of the line, and the longer slot on the left is the neutral side. The rounded hole beneath is earth ground. Prior to conducting the tests, set the meter to measure VAC. If your meter is not auto-ranging, select a range higher than 120 volts.

Test 1.
Insert the test probes into the hot and neutral slots. It doesn’t matter which probe goes in which slot. You should get a reading of about 117 VAC (it may range from 111 to 123 VAC). If you don’t, the outlet may not be powered, or the test probes for the meter may not be making contact inside the outlet.


If the meter reads 220 VAC when conducting Test 1, it could indicate that the neutral wire is “lifted”, and the outlet is receiving both sides of the incoming 220 volts from the circuit breaker panel. This must be corrected immediately, as a serious hazard and risk to health exists

Test 2.
Insert the test probes into the hot and ground slots. You should get a reading of approx. 117 VAC.

Test 3.
Insert the test probes into the neutral and ground slots. You should get a reading of 0 volts.


If tests 2 & 3 yield opposite results, it could indicate that the hot and neutral wires are reversed inside the outlet. This must be corrected immediately, as a serious shock hazard exists


If the meter reads 0 volts for both tests 2 & 3, it could indicate that the outlet is not connected to ground (lifted ground). This must be corrected immediately, as a serious shock hazard exists

Test 4.
If tests 1, 2 and 3 read properly, change the meter to read Ohms and select a low range (under 1k ohms). Connect the meter probes between the ground slot and the center screw used to keep the outlet cover in place. The meter should show continuity – 0 Ohms. Make sure the screw is a metal screw, not a plastic insulating one. If the reading is other than 0 Ohms, check to make sure the ground wire in the outlet box is connected to the box.

If you would like to learn more about using your volt-ohm meter, consult "Using Your Meter", published by Master Publishing. TIC Corporation would like to thank them for some of the reference material used here.

Outdoor Speaker Solutions