need help with outdoor system

hi. my wife and I just bought a hot tub, and I'm wondering what solutions other audiogon'rs have found for outdoor music systems. we want music out there and I'd like to control it from my iPad, I have a water resistant cover for it. one of my friends has suggested I just buy an iPod dock and be done with it, but I'm looking for a more sophisticated solution. I have a denon AVR that will run two zones, but I'm reluctant to punch holes in my wall to run wire outside. I've also heard that outdoor speakers don't last, but I think def tech has sine decent offerings. thanks in advance.
I've heard some terrific outdoors loudspeakers from a company called Terra Speakers. (I've no connection or affiliation with them.) Plus, they're designed and made in Maine so it's fair to assume they can handle rain, snow, cold, etc., etc.
If you have a server/DAC set up, you can run it through your AVR in zone 2 (most zone 2 configurations require an analogue input.)In my situation, I have a Wyred4Sound Music Server (that is controlled via IPad or Ipod), which runs via coax to my PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC 2 and then to my Pass Labs preamp and Burson headphone amp. Since my PS Audio DAC had two outputs, which already were being used, I bought a little Arcam r-link DAC and ran the optical output from my server to the Arcam R-link DAC and then to the receiver for zone 2, which controls the outdoor speakers. I have outdoor speakers that are hardwired (Paradigm), and I hired a professional to install the wiring in the walls/ceiling. Don't have any suggestions on wireless configuration for outdoor speakers. Another possible suggestion is that some companies make DACs now for the IPOD products (e.g., Cypher, Wadia.) If you rip your CDs in iTunes using Apple Lossless and then output to the DAC to the receiver, that would be pretty good for an outdoor set up. I currently use the Cypher R-Solo for portable headphone listening when on the road.
Given the nature of this web site, can you clarify something? Are you going for really good, audiophile type sound quality or do you just need to get music outside for something to listen to? Also, since the speakers will be outside, how much bass you want can play a big factor since its not an enclosed space.
One thing to mention, outdoor speakers are built to withstand rain, snow, etc. However, if you live in the Midwest or other areas of the country with cold winters, it makes sense to bring them in for the winter. They will last much longer. My Paradigms are on brackets that have a release mechanism and are connected via gold plated banana plugs. It takes five minutes tops to connect or disconnect them.
Just buy a high end boom box, and let it rest.
I would simply purchase something like the B&W Zeppelin and be done with it...

Try a Sonos
What about Sonos?
I have only seen these in the store, but they are an interesting option. We have stereo speakers by out hot tube, run from the main system indoors. But we actually run a mono signal to them because it is hard to get them to "image" correctly for everyone in the hot tube. This Brookstone unit is omni directional which is nice outdoors. It is not sophisticated sound, but seems like an interesting option. Just plug in your iPad to its dock and go. It can run on AC power or batteries. And it is very portable, so you move it to the deck when not in the hot tube or wherever else you might want to use it. It is wireless which is good, but also means you may get occasional static, but it seems like a very simple and versatile solution.

Brookstone Wireless Speaker and Dock
I was in precisely the same boat last year, so I'll share my experience.

Sonos is a great solution (I have 10 zones in my home), but it doesn't necessarily address your issue. Sonos doesn't make an outdoor product - I wish they did! You could install a zone player in a protected area near the tub and attach the outdoor speakers of your choice - if you have a suitable protected area with AC power near the hot tub.

Or, you could carry one of the integrated (built-in speakers) zone players out with you like a boom box. Either way, you run zone 2 of the AVR into a Sonos zone player or bridge and let Sonos relay the signal wirelessly to the outdoor Sonos unit. If you have a music library on a hard drive on your home wifi, you can control the selection of music from your iPad (via the Sonos app) as you desire.

Another solution is Soundcast - a portable wireless system made for outdoor use. This large speaker has much better bass than any integrated Sonos unit, but it isn't designed to live outdoors year round, so you gotta schlep it like a boom box.

I ended up building a box with AC outlet to house a Sonos Zone player and added a pair of Niles outdoor speakers. It's an expensive route because of the build/electrical requirements, but it is the most elegant solution I could find.

Good Luck.

A solution like martykl used is great. I have ceiling mounted speakers running from an AV receiver in the house with the music coming from a Sonos device.

The easy, less expensive, no holes in walls or ceiling solution is to just carry a Sonos speaker out there when you want music.

Enjoy your new hot tub!
Thanks guys, and to clarify, I am not expecting to get audiophile quality sound on my outdoor deck, I don't think that would be realistic considering my budget for this, which has not been established yet but is probably under $1000. What I really want is the ability to select music from my iPad. I use Jriver and Jremote downstairs in my listening room, running Jplay off of a laptop into my Vlink and DLIII Dac. Schlepping an iPod dock out there is not what I want to do, we're always getting in the hot tub in the middle of a snow storm. That's kind of the Colorado way to do it. Weather resistant speakers would be better...
First, where is the hot tube? Is it just on the deck attached to the house or is it separated from the house? How easy would it be to get wires to it?

Sounds like you just want a pair of speakers by the hot tube with Jremote to control the source. That is pretty straightforward. The most reliable way to do that, imho, is the old fashion way - run wires from zone 2 of your receiver or from a separate amp. There are plenty of outdoor speakers that will work in that setup and you can just use your iPad as a remote to your existing system.

If that is out because you do not want to run wires, then you need a wireless speaker setup, which also means you probably want AC power available to drive the speakers. Battery powered speakers in the snow in winter is probably not a good idea. Your choices of wireless speakers is also more limited.

If you can narrow it down to wired or wireless that will help the decision.

A wired solution will let you easily change speakers over time. The wireless system typically requires you to replace everything if you want to change the system.

I have had an inexpensive pair of outdoor speakers (Cambridge Soundworks) by my hot tube for over ten years with no problem. Def tech or even Bose will stand up pretty well over time. Mine are out all year round in Massachusetts and the only problem I have is if they fill up with snow. I have to take the grill off and remove the snow, otherwise the sound is not all that good :) I use an outdoor volume control, since they went in before wireless control was available. I also have speakers on my deck, so we can listen to the same thing on the deck and at the hot tube, which is pretty well separated from the deck, back in the woods. Honestly, I think that is the simplest long term solution. The wiring is a bit of a pain, but once done, you should never have to worry about it. I ran 12 gauge in ground low voltage wire in PVC out to the hot tube. Depending on where the hot tube is, you can even just mount the speakers on the house and aim them at the hot tube. Yes, you have to punch a hole in the house somewhere, but that is usually not a big deal depending on construction of the house. The bigger problem may be getting the wires from the receiver to the outside wall, again depending on construction. Obviously, I would suggest a wired system.

So, first I think you need to decide if a wired system is possible or not. If so, I think it will be the most reliable. If not, then just say so and see what you get for recommendations on wireless outdoor speakers, driven from your existing inside system.

If you want to go wireless, do you have a weather tight structure nearby with power to house a wireless receiver or is the setup fully exposed? If the weather is cold in the winter, I am not sure you want any significant wireless electronics, like Sonus, in an unheated structure.

Just some things to think about.
Here is another somewhat different solution. Bluetooth speakers have become pretty popular and can be pretty decent these days. You can use Jremote to access your files from inside to play on the iPad, hopefully using your wifi connection, or you can use files stored on the iPad, and send the audio to a bluetooth speaker. That means you have to carry the bluetooth speaker outdoors with you when you go to the hottube, but it really is pretty easy. We use one, for example, with our phone when in the car on long trips, since our phone does not easily connect to our car audio. And it works great in hotel rooms. You can get both battery powered or AC powered speakers.

I am surprised how often I go to people's homes and they have bluetooth speakers and I can just pair my phone to it and play the music on my phone. You can even put a bluetooth USB option on your PC and beam it to your outdoor speaker, depending on distance.

Hey, I am an old guy and even us old folks are doing this :)

Just another option.
Considering the price point, I think wireless speakers are out, i think wired speakers would sound better for the same money. I'm starting to get used to the idea of wired speakers run off of my Denon avr's second zone. There is a penetration next to the avr for the coax cable, we dont have cable, never will. i can run wire through there. This will be a long run, like 50 feet or so.
Now I just need to connect my music library to the Denon. I started out in iTunes, with aif and alc files, which the Denon does not read. They got in bed with Microsoft early on, I think they're doing all formats these days, but not my unit. I need to try it with flac, and I've also started ripping in wav, which I'm sure the Denon sees. The most convenient thing would be to connect my external drive via USB into my Denon, control that with the iPad, and power it with the denon's second zone. I don't think I can use Jremote for this, because I don't want to add my laptop and the Vlink into the chain. Too much stuff to move around. So I need an iPad app...that connects to the Denon... The app has to be able to see apple and PC based music formats, maybe I can get the Denon a software upgrade to enable it to do the same. Sounds like a fantasy, but my wife wants music out there, and she generally gets what she wants.
Is the Denon a DLNA device? If so, it may be possible to connect your JRiver system to it and control it with JRmmote. I would have to think about how to to do that, but it may be possible with Jriver.

Now about a simple PC laptop hooked to the Denon running JRiver and controlled by Jremote. The PC does not need to be fancy, just a simple laptop. You could have it directly access your files or run in client/server (TRemote) to your main JRIver system. You can use the headphone out or get a simple USB converter to to feed the Denon.

It may take a little thought, but I think there are several solutions, especially if the wife insists on it.

You can use 12 gauge wire to run 50 feet, no problem. I am running 100 feet to my hot tube. My wife insisted, and we made it work :)

Good luck. It is very doable.
If a speaker wiring run to outdoor speakers is available for your AVR, then IMHO Sonos becomes a good option. Set-up is straightforward:

You need a Sonos bridge (app 4" x 4" x 2" box) wired to your router. Run the Sonos set-up software to point the Sonos system to your music library. Plug a Sonos Connect (app 4" x 7" x 7" box) into your AVR as a new source. Select the Sonos Connect as your source for zone 2. Hard wire the outdoor speakers of your choice to the zone 2 output of your AVR. Control your music library via Sonos app on your iPad. You'll also get access to (and control over) Pandora, MOG, etc from the Sonos app on your iPad.

As a bonus, you get wireless access to your library anywhere you want by adding additional Sonos Zones (they make powered units both with, and without, integrated speakers) . Also, you'll have access on Zone 1 of your AVR (if you don't already have it there).

The Sonos hardware is +/- $450 and outdoor speakers are available at all price levels, so there's a fair bit of price flexibility in this approach, too.

Good luck.

@ DTC - what is DLNA? My AVR has a network card, but I have read that they are unreliable in this unit, and mine is 3 years old, and I've never used the network connection, so not sure if that is a reliable way to go.
Yup, I can connect my laptop to the AVR right now, using the vlink192, and control everything via Jremote on my ipad. Maybe I'll start out there, and upgrade to Sonos later. It's just kind of a pain to constantly hook/un-hook the vlink from my basement system...
Why do I need a Sonos bridge, can't the Connect just jump onto my wireless network? I have a wireless router. I find the Sonos stuff to be kinda expensive for what it does, I realize I get access to all kinds of internet media with the connect, but $350 to hook into my library seems might not seem so bad after a little more research tho. I tried to buy a Sony media streamer because it was cheaper than the apple TV and had composite video outs, but wound up smashing it to bits in the garage with a 3 pound sledge because it was such a P.O.S. Moral of the story - going cheaper doesn't always get the same result...>sigh<
Speakers first! I was looking at the Def Tech AW6500
DLNA is a protocol that lets one media system talk to another wirelessly. Many receivers have it, . JRiver can connect to a DLNA server. However, I am not sure that a DLNA server on your receiver (if it has that capbility) can then deliver the audio to zone 2, which usually requires an analog input. Check the specs ouf

You can get a separate USB DAC to connect a laptop to the Denon. Something like the HRT Streamer II is less than $200, assuming you have a laptop to run Jriver in the same area as the Denon. You could either load you music files onto the laptop or have JRiver access them wirelessly from their current location. You can run JRiver on multiple PCs with the same license. You can set up JRemote to access either PC using the network access keys of JRiver. I only suggest extending you JRiver system because you already have it installed and working and because it works well for me on multiple systems.
Can you run speaker wires from you existing JRIver setup? It might be just as easy to add a small amp to that setup to drive the outdoor speakers?
Looks like I need to investigate which signal on the Denon can be mapped to zone 2. I was assuming that I could just use my old Vlink (I have two) and my wife's laptop to send digital signals into the Denon's DAC, then get that out to zone 2, but I'll have to look. Did not know you could run Jriver on multiple laptops, that helps.
I could run wire from my basement system out to the tub, but there isn't any way to control volume while using Jplay. Using the AVR, I could use an app on the iPad to control the Denon's volume, and select music with Jremote...but the run from the basement office would be a shorter run. My DAC has two sets of outputs, one balanced, so I'd have to buy those interconnects along with the second amp...and I'm running conduit and wire with the AVR route anyway, so I think I'll go there and use what I have.
You can also use an outdoor volume control. Not as sexy as doing it on you iPad, but easy to do.