Installing the Best Looking and Sounding Marine Audio System

Anyone that knows their way around cars and boats can go to an electronics store, buy a stereo and some speakers and install them up on a boat, right? Making that install last is a whole other question. Finding the right stereo system for the harsh environment of a boat is no easy task. Now you need to combine that with getting a pair of indestructible but nice-sounding speakers, flush-mounting it in a protected yet accessible spot, running the correct wire to power, breakers and radio along with matching it to a good antenna. I hope you’re prepared for a job that will require all of your patience and skill.

Probably the single, most important element of a marine audio system is its resistance to water damage for obvious reasons. Boats live on water so you really cannot expect to avoid some exposure to water in that environment. It also offers other dangers to an audio system such as humidity, wind, salt, corrosion, chlorine, sun, and so on.

For a quality marine system install, it is the design of the system which is so critical for the components and installation. When designing a balanced sound system, look at a few requirements such as the source, speakers, subwoofers, amplifiers, installation more carefully. Here are a few simple steps to help you with your install:

  • Look over your boat and find areas where audio products can be safely placed so that they do not get wet. Most people put their amplifiers engine compartments in the rear of the boat or sometimes under the dashboard. Put the subwoofers in the compartment under the seats. You’ll have your new stereo unit replace the old, original one. If you have any room in the side panels of the boat or under the dash, then put any and all of your mid-range and mid-bass speakers and tweeters in there.
  • Draw a schematic of the system layout. Think about where you will be putting all of the audio components and where you will route the wires.
  • Make sure you buy audio speakers made with a polypropylene cone. It a cone made from a rigid material which is known for resisting moisture. It’s best to use two 10-inch subwoofers designed for infinite baffle   mounting . Another available option is to include four speaker separates such as four 6- by 9-inch two-way speakers or four 6 1/2-inch two-way speakers. Two-way speakers are great because they include a midrange or mid-bass speaker and a tweeter and the more separates your system has, the louder it will be.
  • Find yourself a good four-channel amplifier. Look for one specifically made for the marine environment. It will have specially treated circuit board enabling it to last longer around water and moisture. Companies like Rockford, Eclipse and Clarion make some nice models. Choose one with a built-in electronic crossover and runs stable with a 2 ohm load because it will be running very hot.
  • Select a stereo head unit that can be controlled by an infrared remote control allowing you to keep the unit safely stored in a dry place, covered in plastic and still handy. Remember that for the remote to work properly it still needs to be in a line of sight to the unit. So part of it still needs to be exposed.

    It is also a good idea to have everything hooked up to a second battery, as well. This battery is used to power the audio system and upgrade the boat’s alternator.