Right between Mount Carmel and the Mediterranean Sea, my penthouse stands proud. It has a big porch overlooking the ocean, and there’s a huge wall on that porch. That wall gave me an idea the moment I first saw it:
Turn this whole place into an outdoor home theater.
It was right before EURO 2021 began. I have a large group of family and friends, so I envisioned all of us watching the games on that giant wall. So, I started by measuring the wall: a little over 300″ diagonal.
I then got a 300″ screen, a projector, a powerful sound system, an Xbox Series X (so we can play FIFA on half-times), beanbags, seats, a charcoal grill, a fire pit, and some nice palm trees to finish the laid-back setup.
This is how it ended up looking:
Clean, lean, and mean.
We’ve enjoyed that outdoor home theater thoroughly ever since the Euro. From video games on the Xbox, to sport events, to Netflix movies, that setup proved to be a big improvement in life quality. I love it:
Outdoor Home Theater Gear
Want to build something similar yourself? Here’s the gear I chose for my setup, and what I would do differently if I had to do it again.
300″ Projector Screen
I picked a 300″ canvas projector screen from Amazon. I bought it purely based on the good reviews, and the relatively low price. It proved to be great. It’s quite heavy, and it’s windy where I live (the ocean is right next to us), so I had to bolt it to the wall for it to stay secure. Oh, and I bought a screen because the wall is made of tiled bricks. If it was a blank wall, I wouldn’t use a screen at all, and project on it directly.
By the way, white screen work best when it’s completely dark. If there’s ambient light, white screen might reflect it and the image may appear too “washed”, in which case a grey or silver screen would be better.
1080p Projector (Get 4k instead)
I bought this cheap Chinese projector from Amazon, again, based on its low price and phenomenal reviews. It can throw a 450″ image on the screen, although I needed “only” 300″ for the wall I got. Figured we’d be alright. It works perfectly, especially for such a crazy low price.
However, if I were to do it all over again, I would be ordering a projector with true 4K@60hz, to enjoy those movies and next-gen Xbox games the way they deserve. I’d get the Optoma UHD38 or the BenQ TK700STi.
I’ll probably get one of those next spring (it’s rainy now, so not going to be using the projector until March, when it gets nice again). I’ll move the Chinese projector inside, to project on a wall inside one of the rooms.
To stay up to date and learn about projectors, check out ProjectorCentral.
Sound System: RCF Evox 8 v2
My cousin in law has a sound equipment rental company, so he’s the first person I called when I needed good sound to power my cinema. I invited him over, and when he stepped outside, the first thing he said was:
“Get an RCF Evox.”
I asked him what that is.
“It’s an active column. For people in the professional sound industry, RCF is our hidden gem. And their Evox is perfect for your setup, you’re going to enjoy it a lot. If I were you that’s what I would get.”
So, I got an RCF Evox 8 v2:
After some time with it, I realize my cousin in law wasn’t exaggerating.
The Evox is phenomenal.
It’s a very compact and portable array of speakers. On the bottom there’s a 12″ high excursion woofer for the bass, and inside the top column there are 8 full-range 2″ drivers, all peaking at 1400W. It has a nice 120° horizontal coverage, so when placed in the right angle, it does fill the entire porch with crisp, accurate sound. Butter to the ears.
The Evox 8 really is everything I could ask for. The combination of sound quality and portability is astonishing. Of course, having multiple units in different locations of the porch would provide a nicer cinema surround experience, but it would not be practical at all. The high humidity coming from the sea, and the sunshine, means the speakers had to be as portable as possible, to drag them back in the house after each use.
That’s why I love the Evox so much.
I use it all the time. I store it in living room, and often stream music from my phone using a Logitech Bluetooth Audio Adapter. If you decide to use it indoors, make sure the volume knob on the back of the Evox is all the way near the bottom, cause that thing could easily blow your ears off inside a house. It’s meant to be used in open spaces.
Whenever I play a movie or a game outside, I’ll use the Evox. Whenever I host a party or have guests, I’ll drag it out and play music on it. It’s really a versatile, all-around solution. My cousin in law was right. The Evox also showed me what a troll I am. I developed a cute little hobby, where, in the middle of the night, I’ll play clicker sounds from The Last of Us, and point the Evox to a big apartment complex facing my porch:
All in all, the RCF Evox does sound terrific. It’s a slick unit that throws sound wide and well, clear and clean. It’s easy to transport – with its built-in handle and compact size – and is arranged in an intelligent vertical column, so it just disappears wherever you put it. To me, the Evox is an example of perfect human engineering. It’s clear RCF has put a lot of thought into it. It’s even made of Baltic birch wood.
If you want to know more about the sound, again, fidelity is top-notch. The vocals are clear and defined, with excellent, full range sound that carries evenly over large spaces. The bass is alright, not too strong, which I prefer. The Evox has a high amount of output for such a compact system. For an outdoor home theater, one Evox will be enough. Get two units if you have more than 1.5 acres of land to fill with sound.
The highs of the Evox really are tremendous. The lows are fine – accurate and warm, but not nighclub-boomy. If you’re a bass addict, maybe you’ll want something with a stronger bass. To me, it’s perfectly punchy.
Again, a word on its amazing portability. The Evox is so easy to carry, as there’s no bunch of pieces to lug around. There’s no tripod stands or bass cabinets, etc. The system is powerful and portable. That’s it. It takes very little space and weights about 50lbs. If you want, you can slide out the top column and store it in the back of the bottom woofer, and the pole is easily stored away. There’s also a nice bag for cables.
The Evox is a smart idea. The way the array is arranged is just so portable, and as I said, makes the unit disappear into the background no matter where you place it. It’s so easy to set up, and the sound is nothing short of amazing. No distortions. Crisp sound at all levels.
Also, its simplicity means less chance of failure. People normally say that Toyotas last longer than German luxury cars, because it has less “tech” inside, less “sensors” and stuff that may fail the system. Similarly, the Evox is simple. No pins in the connection, no built-in mixer (unless you pick the Evox JMIX8). Just pure, compact power.
Me, I keep the Evox assembled at all times. It’s either outside in the porch, or inside in the living room. It just looks cool too.
I don’t see the Evox 8 on RCF page anymore, but they do have the 12 (a bigger unit), and the J8 (a newer, cheaper version of the 8). Whatever Evox you buy, expect the same RCF quality. Their build quality is robust, portability is outstanding, and sound quality is world class.
Your Outdoor Home Theater
That’s it, folks. If you have the space, time, and money, I highly recommend building your own outdoor home theater. Get yourself a nice projector, the biggest screen you can put up, and an amazing RCF to nitro-boost everything. You’ll enjoy every second.
Oh, don’t forget the retro popcorn machine. I’m getting one soon ;)