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Is your wireless outdoor speaker really waterproof?

Are outdoor speakers waterproof? The answer isn’t always as straightforward as you might think; nor is the question. You’ll often hear terms like waterproof and water-resistant, but what’s the difference between the two?

Fortunately, there’s an international rating system that sets a standard for electronic products and services. Once you understand this system, you’ll better understand what conditions your wireless outdoor speaker can handle.

Water droplets on a SoundLink Flex Bluetooth speaker

IP ratings explained

IPXX

A product’s protection rating is expressed by the letters IP, followed by two numbers. The first number is the level of protection against intrusion by solid foreign objects, including particles like sand, dirt and dust. The second number indicates the degree of water protection. If the code features an “X” instead of either number, it hasn’t been tested in that category.

Here’s how the ratings break down:

IPX0

The product has no water protection.

IPX1–IPX4

The product will still operate if exposed to falling or spraying water drops, or splashes.

IPX5–IPX6

The product can resist jets of low- or high-pressure water respectively. It can be considered “water-resistant”.

IPX7–IPX8

The product is protected against temporary immersion in water and can be considered “waterproof”.

IPX9

The product can withstand high-pressure and high-temperature water jets.

IEC logo

The Ingress Protection Rating (or IP code) is a system developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), a not-for-profit, non-governmental global membership organisation. Formed in 1906, the IEC is headquartered in Geneva and currently coordinates the work of over 20,000 experts in 172 countries.

Rigorous testing at Bose

Speakers in Bose’s portable range are thoroughly tested, with IP ratings that make it easy to select the right wireless outdoor speaker to accompany your adventures. For example, the SoundLink Flex Bluetooth® speaker has an IP67 rating, so it’s sealed against dust and is also waterproof. You can take it paddle boarding, drop it in the sand at the beach or leave it next to the pool without worrying. If it does happen to end up in the water, it will even float until you can retrieve it.

Bose Project Engineer, Rebecca Kowalczyk, is part of the team that developed the new SoundLink Flex. A critical part of the process was choosing the best materials, as Kowalczyk explains. “Some of the things that went into the material selections were picking things that we know are inherently rugged, so powder coating on the grille was a natural choice. We use that right now for our professional speakers that live outdoors permanently.”

SoundLink Flex Bluetooth speaker

The exterior casing of the SoundLink Flex is just as durable. “Silicone is similar: It’s just a very inert material that doesn’t react to a lot of environmental impacts or get damaged very easily, and we of course check our choices with testing throughout the development process.”

Jon Rapp using a custom shower tester to test one example of water ingress

During the design process, Bose Reliability Engineer, Jon Rapp, uses a custom shower tester to test one example of water ingress. “This is developed to try to simulate different customer use cases”, he says. “For example, we have hot, soapy water that runs up through the tester and recirculates to give the product some very stressful conditions in which liquid ingress might occur. The intent of the test is to push the product to its limits, so we can assess the performance margin over what we think the customers are going to do with it. The main goal of this test is to make the product fail and find failure modes, so that we can design those out.”

The limits of waterproofing

SoundLink Micro Bluetooth speaker under water

If you’re wondering, “Are outdoor speakers waterproof?” you can use the IP rating as a precautionary guide, as it’s based on the specific tests the product goes through during manufacturing. Remember that prolonged exposure to moisture can still cause damage, no matter the rating. For example, an IPX7-rated device can be submerged in up to one metre of water for up to 30 minutes, but if it’s left longer or sinks to a greater depth, you could still end up with water damage.

Nevertheless, all Bose outdoor speakers are built with water resistance in mind, and the new SoundLink Flex is among the most durable of all. With one of these in tow, you can enjoy worry-free listening outdoors in all seasons. Whether you’re spending a day at the beach, hiking through the rain or hitting the ski slopes, Bose has you covered.

SoundLink Micro Bluetooth speaker attached to a chair at the beach
SoundLink Flex Bluetooth speaker being removed from the water

Product availability may vary by country.

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