How to Design a Marine Audio System

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You can transfer the quality of your car or home audio system to your boat. Marine audio is a relatively new market, but many car stereo products can be bought and used on a boat. Some car audio manufacturers also offer specialized products for boats.

Things You'll Need

  • Amplifiers
  • Car Cd Changer
  • Car Stereo Speakers
  • Car Stereo Subwoofers
  • Cassette Deck W/CD Changer Controls
  • Boat Battery
  • Survey your boat. Locate areas where audio products can be placed away from the water. Amplifiers can be placed in the engine compartment in the rear of the boat or under the dashboard. Subwoofers can go in the compartment under the seats. The radio can replace the original radio. Midrange and midbass speakers and tweeters can fit into the side panels or under the dash.

  • Take photos of the locations you choose and measure the dimensions. This will help you choose products that will fit in the areas you have selected.

  • Lay out the system. Determine where you intend to put all the components and decide how you will route the wires.

  • Contact manufacturers, such as Eclipse, Rockford Fosgate and Alpine, who offer marine audio products and ask them for retailer recommendations.

  • Use the manufacturers' recommendations to select three to five shops in your area to investigate.

  • Ask each shop about its experience with selling and installing marine audio products. Ask to see the shop's photo album. If they have one, it may include photos of installations they did on boats. Ask the salesperson or an installer about those installations and discuss details.

  • Choose speakers that have a polypropylene cone. Polypropylene is a rigid material that resists moisture. You can use at least two 10-inch subwoofers. The speakers should be designed for infinite baffle mounting. You can include four speaker separates - either four 6- by 9-inch two-way speakers or four 6 1/2-inch two-way speakers. A two-way speaker includes a midrange or midbass speaker and a tweeter. The more separates you have, the louder the system will be.

  • Select a four-channel amplifier that has a specially treated circuit board that enables it to last longer in a marine environment. Rockford, Eclipse and Clarion offer such amplifiers. The amplifier will run hot, so choose one that is stable at a 2 ohm load. Also select an amplifier that has a built-in electronic crossover.

  • Select a cassette player with compact-disc (CD) changer controls that can be commanded by an infrared remote control. This allows you to tuck the unit in a dry place, cover it in plastic and still control it. (Keep in mind that an infrared remote control needs a line of sight to the head unit.) A cassette player can take the harsh bumps better than a CD player when you want to run the boat hard.

  • Include a CD changer so that you can listen to CDs when you don't run the boat so hard. A changer offers better suspension than a CD player, so it can take bumps better in any case.

  • Include a second battery to power the audio system and upgrade the boat's alternator.

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