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ContinuousWave: Small Boat Electrical
Making Loud Music On A Boat
|Author||Topic: Making Loud Music On A Boat|
posted 04-24-2006 10:51 AM ET (US)
Hey guys, my current stereo has [vulgar expression expunged] on me and I'm in the market to replace it. Right now it has a pretty bad head and two fairly crappy speakers. This setup will be going in a 14' Wahoo and the two speakers will be on the left side of the side-console. I'm lookin at a head thats rated 4x40 watts (160 total) but the speakers that I am looking at are for a considerably higher amount of power - max 80 watts each - would the RMS be too low on this head for these speakers?
This is the head - [Long URI deleted]
And these are the speakers - [long URI deleted]
They also have a 100 watt set of these speakers (50 each) but they're more expensive (buy it now) - would these be better?
posted 04-24-2006 11:07 AM ET (US)
I would go with the PolyPlanar unit. It can take a ickin and is 100% waterproof. I had one in my Montauk and you could spray a pressure washer at the thing and it would play. Liked it so much I put one in the 20' Outrage. They are slightly more than the other units but worth it for an open boat setup. Good Luck.
posted 04-24-2006 11:23 AM ET (US)
I would, but my brother and I are splitting the cost and he won't spend too much - we're gonna have to keep it around (and almost definitely under) 150. . . is it doable for that?? Whats the deal with power output ont he head vs the power of the speakers? Say my head runs 40 watts per channel but my speaker can handle 80 - will this sound bad? for this setup should I (theoretically) run a 40 watt speaker? or no?
posted 04-24-2006 08:27 PM ET (US)
What you really need to know is the efficiency of the speaker. Generally this is defined by a db level out, say at one meter from the speaker, with a specified input level. The maximum rating doesn't matter unless you are going to exceed it, which is not the case for you. Some manufacturers rate their speakers and amplifiers at maximum vs. rms (which would be lower than maximum) and they ALL inflate their claims. You will not want to run your head end amplifier much over 50% volume or you risk a distorted output that can damage the tweeter of your speakers and annoy adjacent boaters. Unless your speakers are really inefficient you will probably be OK.
posted 04-24-2006 09:03 PM ET (US)
Check out the boatfix.com web site. They are selling new Standard Horizon head units for about 20 bucks. Retail 260. It is just a cassette though.
posted 04-24-2006 09:54 PM ET (US)
It only has 25 watts per channel though. . . I'm wondering if that Jensen I showed you is any good though? Also, since the RMS on it (sustained wattage) is like probably 20 or 25, would those speakers be too powerful? I think their minimum is 25 or 30 watts sustained. . . I need some reccommendations on a good setup!
posted 04-25-2006 05:30 PM ET (US)
Come on guys, I'm sure you pro's know all about this! There isnt too much info online about small boat stereo setups so I really need your help! How much power would I need in my head to run two 50 or 80 watt speakers efficiently without draining the battery?? What are some good heads to be looking at? Speakers? I'm just a poor little noob who needs some advice! ;-)
posted 04-25-2006 07:27 PM ET (US)
Alright, I just went down onto the boat and checked what I have. I have a Jensen MCC 8230 (cassette only HOWEVER, it does have an input jack on the front which is very nice so that I can plug my ipod in) with Standard AS101 Speakers. The Head is rated at 10 watts RMS per channel, 15 Watts peak per channel, while the speakers are supposed to have a minimum of 30 Watts RMS and are capable of 100 Watts Peak. They used to work fine until the Jensen got (very) wet and no longer works. Or actually, could this have something to do with why it no longer works? Well anyway, whenever the bass is turned up on the head now, the speakers buzz and crackle. Also, a lot of times, the head doesnt work at all or the bass will not come on - againk, it got wet. I am debating whether to replace the whole setup (split with my brother) with that Jensen I showed you earlier (or any suggestions you may have) and those Pioneer speakers, or just try and ebay the same head that I have for really cheap and get a working setup again. The downside is that, having only 15 watts peak, it doesnt get very loud. What do you guys think would be more beneficial to do? The cheapest I could realistically get the other, 160 watt, Jensen would be like 90 bucks shipped - then I need speakers - about 50 shipped - thats 70 each for me and my bro. Would that even be a lot louder than the other head with the same speakers? 40 watts peak vs 15 watts peak (per channel)?
posted 04-25-2006 08:57 PM ET (US)
gt an ipod - plug it into a clarion 2 ch amp on ebay for 80 bucks - get some infinity or mb quart 6 x 9's for 100 a pair and have the best sound on the water in addtion to 5000 tunes abvailaible...
we have done this on at least 15 boats here in S fla and it works perfect ...
posted 04-26-2006 02:32 AM ET (US)
Power ratings on speakers are there to suggest what is safe without blowing the speaker. For speakers in the same size range, the speaker with the highest power rating will often have a very low efficiency. If you are buying name brand speakers, don't sweat matching the power numbers to the amp. If you buy speakers with really high watt ratings you will need a bigger amp to drive them. Ten watts rms can be really loud. Our perception of loudness is described by something called the decibel scale. It's a log scale, so if you want your tunes to sound twice as loud, you need to have ten times the watts going to the speakers. If you want a dramatic increase in loudness you should be looking at amps in the 100+ watt range.
posted 04-26-2006 06:59 AM ET (US)
AZDave! Wow! We just did that in my math class but I wasnt even thinking of that! Ha, logarithms. . . I forgot about that - so you're saying it wouldnt be that much of a difference between my current head unit at 15x4 to a 40x4 or 50x4? It would be noticable though right? If I simply wanted better sound quality, would better speakers make it sound a lot better or is my current head not very good?
posted 04-26-2006 09:52 AM ET (US)
Oops--I must have edited myself right out of the discussion! Yes, get an iPod. And wear the earbuds.
Unless your boat has extremely quiet motors like the Mercury Verado, the noise of your engine will spoil the environment for loudspeakers. And, if you turn your music up on the loudspeakers to overcome the engine noise, you'll spoil the environment for everyone else around.
posted 04-27-2006 01:24 AM ET (US)
Wahoo, I'm glad the log scale lesson found an application. You could probably hear some difference between 15 and 50 watts, but the difference may be surprisingly small. I have always found that speakers change the quality of sound more than amplifiers. Jimh has a point. You will not hear the quality of any decent stereo system with the motor running. Any earphones or buds would work better. The over the ear (isolation) headphones would probably give the best sound quality in a noisy environment. Dave
posted 04-27-2006 07:04 AM ET (US)
I mean, I see what Jim is saying but. . . I want a sound system so we can pull up to the sandbar and have some tunes. . . and not just in my head! No-one has any specific suggestions on kinds of stereos to be looking at though?
posted 04-27-2006 08:00 AM ET (US)
And what if the guy who pulled up to the sandbar next to you wants peace and quiet?
Sorry to be difficult, but I am sick of noise. It is now Spring, car windows are open, and you can't drive anywhere without pulling up next to some kid with a 4 megawatt stereo literally shaking the street.
But if you have a private sandbar, go for it....
posted 04-28-2006 04:26 PM ET (US)
that's redidulous - not all of us do our boating in some cove - if I'm running 90 miles to Bimini, I want 500 watts blasting at me at 35 mph....why is it all the posts are about environmental noise? Not all of us are 18 yeaqr old idiots...If I have 500 hp in my M5 I don't use it in the neighborhood...
posted 04-29-2006 11:06 AM ET (US)
Because of their Unibond™ hull construction, Boston Whaler boats are particularly unsuited for installation of loudspeakers into the hull. Cutting large openings into a Whaler hull and removing the interior hull foam is not a good idea for several reasons:
--it weakens the hull. The hull liner is a structural element of the boat and large openings should not be cut into it;
--it exposes interior foam to water contamination;
--it creates difficulty in routing wiring to loudspeaker.
A good listening environment is one in which the signal to noise ratio is high. Most people can very easily discern noise and distortion which is only -30dB relative to the desired signal. Critical listening can discern noise and distortion which is -50dB relative to desired signal.
Consider that at the helm on a typical outboard boat the engine noise levels will be about +95 dB SPL. To get the music a minimum of 30 dB louder, you will need a reproduction system which can play at +125 dB. This is an absurdly loud level of sound, and it is probably not even possible to create this level with a system powered by 12-volts.
In most cases on a small outboard boat with a motor operating at a +95 dB SPL, you will be lucky to get the musical reproduction to be ten decibels louder. This means the signal to noise ratio will only be 10-db, or ten percent distortion and noise.
I have never met anyone who would be happy with long term listening to musical reproduction on a system which had ten percent noise and distortion. Literally no one I know would tolerate this. So why have it on your boat?
Glen's boat is quite unique. First, it is 32-feet long, and the motors are farther way from the helm than most Boston Whaler boats overall length. Second, his engines are whisper-quiet state-of-the-art outboards. Third, he has a very elaborate sound system which can play at elevated levels without distortion. I have experienced this listening environment and can say that, for a boat underway, it is very good, but it terms of audio reproduction it is still not as good as an iPod with the ear buds. Thus, if you don't have $150,000 to spend on the boat and sound system, you can get quite good reproduction out of an iPod and its ear buds for about $300.
If you are really interested in hearing good musical reproduction on your boat, it is the best way to go.
posted 05-06-2006 08:18 PM ET (US)
What's rediculous about noise pollution? I live in the SF Bay Area and am constantly bombarded with window shaking boom boxes. I'm talking at home and on the street now. If you can't have the courtesy to consider those around you, you probably aren't mature enough to be driving. When I go out the Golden Gate to the open Ocean, the very last thing on earth I want to hear is the guy with more money than brains interrupting my peace and quiet with Mega amps of what he considers music. I absolutely love the hardrock from my youth, but I don't shove it down the throats of my neighbors. (Though they think I must love their rap, which is just crap minus a'C'). The search for solitude is getting tougher and tougher. It would be easy to move out to where only grass grows, but then I'd be far from the ocean I love. Hey, here's a novel thought, stop and think about those around you, or will manners go out with the baby boomers?
posted 05-06-2006 09:19 PM ET (US)
is this what you were speaking of?
http:/ / cgi. ebay. com/ NEW-CLARION-AMP-APA250-200W-2-CH-CAR-POWER-AMPL IFIER_W0QQitemZ5823250090QQcategoryZ18796QQssPageNameZWD1VQQrdZ1QQcmdZVi ewItem
posted 05-06-2006 10:41 PM ET (US)
Why ? when you can , Get away from all the noise, You don't,, ,Why do want to bring it out here with me ?, Cant we leave some of it behind ??
posted 05-06-2006 10:49 PM ET (US)
Please don't share your music.
posted 05-07-2006 12:29 AM ET (US)
Jim, I disagree with you on a couple of points.
There are many ways to mount speakers in our Boston Whalers Without cutting into the Unibond structure. For example http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v611/yeahtoast02/project%20Ambelina/ IMG_2423.jpg
There are many ways you can modify your Boston Whaler in order to mount a stereo system without compromising the hull's integrity.
My 15' Sport is powered by a very low tech. and very not "whisper quiet" Yamaha 90HP two stroke motor. Until about 3600rpms the decibel level is such that I can listen to my unamplified music at a very reasonable level without any distortion, and at the same speed I can talk to the person next to me in a fairly normal fashion. Up the rpms all the way to 5500rpms and the music is still distortion free, and a little louder. All of this is achieved even though the "helm" is only about 4.5' from the engine. At planing speed the only noise detectable coming from my Boston Whaler is the sound of water being displaced and the drone of a two stroke motor. This comes from proper speaker location and mounting. Distortion can be avoided with quality equipment (no SeaWorthy) and properly mounted speakers. Note that my setup only cost about $300 including AM/FM/CDplayer/MP3 head unit, 2x 6.5" speakers, waterproof case, and wired remote.
I completely agree with the iPod suggestion. The most audible and clear sound on a boat would probably be produced by such a device with a decnent set of headphones/earbuds. However, this would take away a lot of the "natural" boating sounds you normally experience. When I would go exploring in my first boat (14' Alumacraft, 15hp Yamaha tiller) I would spend hours on the waterways in the Winter. Under my ski mask I would wear headphones connected to a CD Walkman. It really works well, but the headphones/earbuds themselves can make you ears sore from their poor fitment. Side/healthnote, there is recent research supporting the idea that sound produced through devices that are directly in contact with one's ears are damaging even at moderate output levels.
posted 05-07-2006 09:32 AM ET (US)
Mick--I believe you have misrepresented my comments. I stand by my statement above: because of the Unibond construction it is difficult to mount speakers into the hull of a Boston Whaler boat. This does not preclude mounting them somewhere else, as you have done and illustrate.
For proper stereophonic reproduction, the loudspeakers need to conform with certain requirements in the position and orientation relative to the listener. I do not believe your installation meets those requirements. In my opinion, based on the pictures you have shown, your installation would:
--produce poor stereophonic imaging
If you goal is simply to reproduce music at a high sound pressure level, this is easily achieved given enough amplifier power and efficient loudspeakers, but if your goal is to obtain good stereophonic reproduction of recorded music, you will find, as I mentioned above, that this is extremely difficult to obtain in a small Boston Whaler boat.
Your objection to the use of an iPod's ear bud because they would "take away a lot of the "natural" boating sounds" is difficult for me to accept. Reproduction of stereophonic recordings of music via loudspeaker seems like it inherently takes away a lot of the natural boating sound, and does this, not only for you, but for anyone in the vicinity of your boat.
As for the ethics or etiquette of having a boat which emits a great deal of sound into its surroundings and subjects other boaters to that sound, such a discussion is not appropriate for the SMALL BOAT ELECTRICAL area. However, as you can sense from some of the comments, I believe you will find that there is a very strong objection on the part of most other boaters to having the natural boating sound replaced with recorded stereophonic music. This is another strong argument in favor of using earphones in place of speaker, in addition to all of the other reasons I presented above that show the sonic superiority of that method as well.
posted 05-08-2006 01:57 AM ET (US)
Jim-- I agree,without modification it would be hard if not impossible to mount speakers in the hull of a Boston Whaler.
I also agree that if your goal is to create a highly efficient sound system in a small classic Boston Whaler, that person may want to reassess boating/audio goals.
I also agree that the speakers in my Whaler are not positioned in a way to promote efficiency.
Personally, using my iPod to enjoy my tunes would only be an option in the Winter months. This is when I'm usually alone, bundled up, and doing extensive cruising. However, from May to September/October I am rarely alone. I usually have 1-4 people with me when I cruise. An iPod, in this case, would not be appropriate at all. That is, unless all of my guests had bought these $300 devices and they opted to bring them. My regulars enjoy having music out on the water, and I'm happy to oblige them.
In reference to the etiquette of music on the water, I think I can justify my personal actions in every situation. If anyone has any questions regarding this, I'll happily answer in a meta-thread.
posted 05-08-2006 09:10 PM ET (US)
Operating an audio amplifier from a supply of only 12-volts creates a severe handicap for the amplifier. With a maximum supply rail of 12-volts, the RMS voltage of an AC sine wave output would be
12/2.8 = 4.2 Volts
With a 4-ohm loudspeaker, this is an RMS output of
P = (E^2)/R
before the onset of severe distortion due to flat-topping of the output waveform.
Because of the very high noise level of the environment, typically above a SPL of +90 dB SPL, it is almost impossible to produce undistorted sound from an amplifier driving a loudspeaker from a 12-volt source.
As an example, in high-quality audio consoles, the preamplifiers will operate from a supply rail of ± 24-volts, that is, a 48-volt supply differential. This is necessary to avoid distortion of the preamplifier.
In contrast, the earphone of an iPod can produce very high sound pressure levels--so high in fact that there has been some litigation against Apple--and any noise in the ambient can be easily overcome with very low distortion music reproduction. Indeed, for most people, listening to Apple iPod ear bud reproducers represents one of the best listening experiences available.
Again, if your desire is to experience high quality, low distortion reproduction of stereophonic musical recordings on board a boat, you will have to go to a very great expense to exceed--nay to even duplicate--the sound available from an Apple iPod and its earphones.
posted 05-08-2006 09:14 PM ET (US)
[Deleted dead links to eBay auctions.]
posted 05-09-2006 02:12 AM ET (US)
"thunder n light'n, aint got a thing on you uu..."
see iTunes, William Clark, "must be jelly"
but high tech systems aside, to make loud noise, you need power. & bottom line, you will need a big battery or better yet, 2. ISOLATE the one that starts your engines from the one that makes noise.
Movable speakers can point fwd or back as needed.
actually, Ive had very good success using a 10kw gen set powering a karaoke setup. no kidding.
posted 05-09-2006 03:53 AM ET (US)
Karaoke set up...I believe it.
High school graduation---
If anything, Honda outboards make for great generators in situations like these...
posted 05-10-2006 06:13 PM ET (US)
OK, you guys got me exicted... I took the advice and purchased the Clarion APX280M 2 ch Marine Amp 320 watts for $120 and the Poly planar Gunwale mount speakers for $90. Now, what type of patch cord do you use for the iPod?
posted 05-10-2006 07:44 PM ET (US)
The Apple iPod has spawned dozens of website which support it. You might find asking about interconnecting it to your amplifier will be more in the topic area of those websites. The type of cable you will need depends on the amplifier you are connecting to and what type of connector it needs. I am certain you can find the proper cable at a store that sells iPod accessories. Your chances of finding a proper cable will be good there.
posted 05-10-2006 11:14 PM ET (US)
Thanks for the response. I'll wait until I recieve the amp, then make a trip to the Apple store. Nice job on the website, I really enjoy it.
posted 05-10-2006 11:25 PM ET (US)
Your head unit may be compatible with external audio devices. Most Clarion and Pioneer units have productucts available, and I'm sure other brands have this as an option as well.
It seems like the most popular option is to buy the iPod FM adapter. The unit plugs into the headphone jack on your iPod and transmitts a signal to a pre-designated FM channel. It works fine, but it just isn't as sleek.
posted 05-10-2006 11:48 PM ET (US)
My experience is that a wire (with two, male 1/8th-inch mini headphone jack ends--one on each end) gives clearer sound output than does the FM receiver option.
posted 05-11-2006 11:41 AM ET (US)
My plan was to not use a head unit, just patch the iPod directly to the amp through an RCA jack. That will work, won't it???
posted 05-12-2006 12:03 AM ET (US)
The iPod has an output designed to drive headphones. You can use this to drive an amplier. The iPod also has other outputs available, but they require a special connector. As I mentioned, there are dozens of vendors and hundreds of accessories being made for the iPod. You can probably find many different connectors and solutions to using the iPod to drive an amplifier directly.
I concur with the recommendation to not use an FM modulator.
posted 05-12-2006 12:59 AM ET (US)
There are several companies who supply a headphone/audio RCA jack wire adapter. Do a search on ebay or on Google and you should find what you're looking for.
I'll triple to notion to avoid the "iTrip" FM modulator, but it is often the best option for unamplified sound systems with head units that do not provide iPod interface.
posted 05-14-2006 09:44 AM ET (US)
This would probably be a better option as it is a marine unit. Designed for the damp marine environment and runs fine on 12 volt.
posted 05-14-2006 01:04 PM ET (US)
I like the simplicity of the 2 ch Clarion unit/ipod, but how is this suited for marine applications? How do you plan on protecting the amp from the elements? Not sure I can use this option with the Nauset's open console configuration. Any suggestions?
posted 05-15-2006 08:47 AM ET (US)
Just a suggestion on the headphones as well:
My wife was sick of listening to my music which I worked on the computer at home, so I bought a set of headphones from Sinheiser. I forget the model off hand but found them after looking through reviews at bensbargains.net. They are very small headphones but are considered a full cup" design meaning they block outside sound unlike earbuds or similar. The sound from these is fantastic and they also fold up and come with a case so are very compact. They really are great for situations where there is ambient noise but do be careful when using any headphones like this in situations where the ambient noise could be telling you something!
posted 05-15-2006 04:31 PM ET (US)
The amp I bought is Clarion marine grade. My 24 Outrage has a very large center consol with plenty of room to mount the amp. I will run the RCA lead to the electronics box where the iPod will be located.
posted 05-15-2006 05:43 PM ET (US)
not sure the amp would fit but if I were you I would check out some of the waterproof enclosures for radios. Could be what you need to mount the amp inside the console. There are waterproof cases for iPods out as well.
posted 05-15-2006 05:57 PM ET (US)
Here is a good walkthru of an iPod connected directly to an amp. The install is in a car but the same rules apply
posted 05-19-2006 12:35 PM ET (US)
Does anybody know, when hooking up speakers, does the positive wire have the stripe on it?
posted 05-19-2006 02:54 PM ET (US)
Polarity in speakers is irrelevant (as it is in all electromagnets). But if you have two or more speakers, as most stereos do, they all have to have the SAME polarity or they will phase-cancel each other (you'll wonder where the bass went). So speaker wire is marker so that you always hook all the speakers up in the same polarity, but what that polarity is doesn't matter.
posted 05-19-2006 03:51 PM ET (US)
Please use other web resources to research iPod connections and how to wire speakers.
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