Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What does Marine Grade mean?
A. Marine Grade or Marine Rated products have the ability to withstand marine environments. Marine grade components can get wet (but not necessarily submerged) and can take a beating from the sun and the wind. They are able to handle high ambient temperatures and won’t fry from being splashed with a little water. Marine Grade products are made to last long term in the humid and salty conditions found at sea, on the docks or in near shore boat storage locations.
Q. Do I need Marine Grade audio components for my boat?
A. NEED? No. Highly recommended if you plan on keeping your boat for more than 1 year? ABSOLUTELY.The marine grade audio components are designed to withstand the elements and in particular salt fog and UV light. In some cases, car audio parts will be sufficient, but the price different between car and marine audio parts isn’t great enough to justify skimping on the investment. Get the marine grade components, cry once, and then go have fun without worrying.
Q.Is a Marine Grade Amplifier Waterproof?
A. No. Just because the amplifier says it is marine grade, it does not necessarily mean that it is water proof. When it comes to amplifiers, "marine grade" usually means that the PCB board is conformal coated to prevent rust and corrosion and all of the hardware is stainless steel, or coated with some sort of anti-rust finish. Amplifiers generate power and also generate heat. They have to get that heat out of the chassis. Most do it by circulating air with fans, but that also means that water can get in the amp. Usually the vents are shut off or closed with some sort of water prevention material, but it doesn't mean that you can dunk the amplifier in the water and be 100% sure it is going to work. Can MOST marine grade amplifiers get wet? Yes. Some amplifiers such as models from Wet Sounds and JL Audio are waterproof and they have demonstrations of the amplifiers working with a fountain running water of them.
Q. I don't have room for a Subwoofer in the hull of my Boat. What do I do?
A. Many boats do not have the space to mount a free-air subwoofer in the hull of the boat. If you still want bass, don't worry as you still have options. In these situations, the most popular solution is to use a loaded enclosure that is designed for a car. There are several, high-quality, low profile options out there and you can put the box under one of the seats, under the transom, or under the bow of the boat if you have a closed bow. This is an easy to way to add bass without having to cut a hole in the hull. Since it stays under a seat, away from the sun, and it should stay dry, you can get improved bass performance as you actually have an enclosure, save some money, and keep your boat's hull completely as it came from the factory.
Q.What makes Marine Speakers different from Car Speakers?
A.The difference between marine speakers and car speakers is the design of the speaker and the materials used. Most car speakers are coaxial and there is a tube that the tweeter sits on that comes through a hole in the cone of the speaker. For marine applications this doesn't work as water can get between that the pole and the cone and ruin the speaker. Marine speakers usually use bridge mounted tweeters and the cone of the speaker is solid. If the tweeter is sitting on a tube, it is usually sealed with a material similar to the cone surround the ensure water does not enter and damage the speaker internals. In addition to the design, the materials used for marine speakers are often different. Marine speakers usually have a rubber surround between the cone and the speaker's edge. The plastics used must be UV stable and not fade or become brittle with long exposure to sunlight. If there is metal hardware, it has to be stainless steel to ensure that it doesn't rust. Most speakers have a sealed motor structure in the back as well in case water does seep through. The cones on car speakers are sometimes made from paper whereas marine speakers must use polypropylene or some type of synthetic material that won't break down if exposed to moisture. Finally, the tweeters on marine speakers are usually made from more robust materials like aluminum or titanium. There are some soft dome tweeters like the JL Audio M3 and M6, but they are specially treated to withstand salt fog, moisture, and UV light.
Q.What does the IP Rating Mean? What does IPX6 rated mean?
A.The IP rating stands for Ingress Protection marking and it is a way of measuring the how well that product protects against intrusion of both dust and water. When you see an IP rating, the first digit after "IP" is the solid particle protection and in most cases it is referring to dust. The second digit is the liquid ingress protection rating and that basically answers the question, "How water-resistant is this item?" If you do not see a numerical digit for either the first or second value and instead you see an "X," that means that the particular product was not tested for either dust or water ingression. For example, IPX6 means that the device was not tested for dust ingression. IP6X would mean that the product was not tested for liquid or water ingression. The most common one we see in marine audio is IPX6. This means that it was not tested for dust ingression and the 6 for water means, "Water projected in powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects." The test uses a 12.5mm nozzle and sprays the unit for 1 minute per square meter for at least 15 minutes. The water volume is 12.5 liters per minute at 4.35 pounds per square inch at a distance of 3 meters.
Q.Is 4 Ohm better than 2 Ohm for Marine Environments?
A.It depends...but usually yes. When amps are running at 2 Ohms, they draw twice the amount of current and therefore run much hotter. There is a greater chance that the amp will cut out and shut down to protect itself. There are many other factors that also affect the amps ability to manage heat, but if you can, it is much better to run your boat's amplifiers at a 4 Ohm load versus a 2 Ohm load. Now, there are many situations where it just doesn't make sense to spend the extra money for an additional amp or 2. For many wake tower applications, it can be quite expensive to add an additional amplifier instead of just running 1 amplifier at 2 Ohms. The same is true with subwoofers. If you have good amplifiers that have good thermal management, you should be able to run your stereo as loud as you'd like, all day without any issues. We like to err on the side of caution and if we can, run as many speakers at 4 Ohms as opposed to 2. The cost of the extra amplifier is worth it if your music is constantly cutting out on you.
Q.Is a Head Unit required?
A.Yes. The head unit is just another term for a radio. The head unit is required to play music and control speaker balance, speaker fade ability, bass, treble and equalization. There are two main types of head units for your boat: DIN size boat radios and gauge style marine head units. DIN sized marine radios have a 7”x2” rectangular shape that fit a universal, standard cut out. Features include options for CD player, Bluetooth, USB and auxiliary inputs. Gauge style head units are more compact, either square or round. These units typically allow for multiple audio zones, Bluetooth, and full color displays. They do not have the option for a CD player because of their compact size.
Q.What are Horn Tweeters?
A.Horn Tweeters have a flared, horn shape that controls dispersion and offers high efficiency. This means your speakers will be able to product highly efficient, robust sound at a distance and even through wind and water noise.
Q.Do Boats Have Sound Fidelity?
A.Yes, boats are capable of having high sound fidelity but you have to have the right equipment to attain it. Speakers are the primary source where sounds come from and the older the speakers, the lower your sound fidelity will be. If you have regular standard car speaker on your water vessel, get rid of them. Replace them with marine grade speakers that are built to withstand the sunlight and the water splashes that are bound to splash onto your speakers when you are out to sea. Add an amplifier and subwoofer for a truly hi-fi listening experience.
Q.How Do You Calculate the Diameter of Tower Tubing?
A.You can get the measurement of your tower tube’s diameter by following these 3 simple steps:
- The first thing you’ll want to do is take either piece of paper or string and wrap it around your tower tube clamp.
- Now take your measuring tape and measure how much of that string or paper did you use to wrap around your tower tube clamp.
- Finally, use your calculator to solve get the results of your diameter measurement. Just make sure you remember the diameter equation: DIAMETER = CIRCUMFERENCE/ π (3.14)
Examples: Your measurement=4"/3.14= 1.25" Diameter. Your measurement=9.5"/3.14=3" Diameter.