Selecting The Best Marine Audio Equipment
Choosing the best stereo for your boat, hot tub or other outdoor application can be a challenge. There are quite a few to choose from and there are many different features. Which one will fit your needs and the needs of other people on your boat? Waterproof speakers come in all shapes and sizes and it can be tough to know which one will fit as a good replacement for what you may have already. Without a good understanding of what is available, it’s easy to get more than you need or not enough.
Will you need an amplifier, remote control or subwoofer? We can help break it all down for you in the most simple terms. We have a great selection of equipment from well known manufacturers and also smaller companies that make quality marine audio gear. The videos on our site answer frequently asked questions and help you choose your equipment. And if you need expert advice on your particular situation, it’s just a click away.
Why Should You Use Boat Stereo Gear?
Some boating enthusiasts use car audio equipment in their boats to get the sound they want when they are on the water. It seems to make sense because car stereos are cheap, easy to find and most boats have a 12 volt electrical system, just like an automobile, so there are no electrical compatibility issues. However, car audio gear is designed to be installed in an enclosed vehicle where it will be safe from rain, splashing, humidity and salt air, so there are some important drawbacks to using it on your boat that you should know about.
Typical life expectancy for a car stereo that is is exposed to a marine environment on a boat is about 1 year. You might get more life than that, but you might also get less. Corrosion is the main problem since the copper in the circuit boards is very vulnerable. Even if the stereo doesn’t get wet, there is the moisture and sometimes salt in the air to contend with.
By contrast, a boat stereo will have circuit boards that are dipped in a liquid plastic or resin. The liquid plastic dries to form a thin, transparent, protective covering over the entire board, sealing all of the copper from exposure to the air. After this process, manufacturers will examine the boards under an ultraviolet light. The plastic is UV reactive so it will glow under the ultraviolet light which makes it easy to see any flaws in the coating which can be corrected. This manufacturing process adds years of life to a boat stereo that a car stereo will never survive.
Some marine head units are completely sealed and waterproof. They can be splashed and rained on with no ill effects. These units use rubber gaskets to seal the access doors and the chassis is made of stainless steel, or heavy duty ABS plastic rather than galvanized steel.
Many people don’t realize that car speakers, and most any other speakers that are not designed for the outdoors, are made with paper cones. Paper sounds cheap and flimsey, but the paper used in speaker cones is actually more like a thin cardboard material. Manufacturers don’t use paper because they are cutting corners to save money. Some of the most expensive speakers you can buy are made with paper because it is an excellent material for sound reproduction. A lot of time and effort goes into engineering the paper to the perfect specifications for optimal sound quality.
That having been said, it doesn’t take much of an imagination to picture in your mind what happens to a paper speaker cone when it is exposed to water. Typical car stereo speakers may not last an afternoon on a boat let alone a year or more. Marine speakers use waterproof materials like mylar or polypropylene instead of paper. These materials closely approximate the resonance properties of paper with the added benefit of being waterproof. So you get excellent sound quality and durability too. As you might expect, boat speakers are usually a little more expensive than car speakers, but the benefits greatly outweigh the cost.
Marine speakers are waterproof speakers which means they are impervious to rain, splashing and even hosing down according to standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials. However, they are not typically designed to be submerged. Submersion requires resistance to water pressure that isn’t a factor in the manufacturing process. While most boat speakers can withstand a quick dip in the water, it would be very difficult to find a manufacturer that says it’s not a problem to submerge their speakers. Besides that, they sound terrible underwater!
By and large, using a marine sound system in your boat is worth the extra time, effort, and cost. Our web site is here to make it easy for you.