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Author Topic:   Chronic Failure of Clarion Audio Amplifier
Bull Islander posted 06-06-2006 03:00 PM ET (US)   Profile for Bull Islander   Send Email to Bull Islander  
I have a year-old Dauntless 18. It came with a Clarion [audio amplifier and sound reproduction system] which was dead upon delivery. The replacement lasted a year and died. The replacement for that was just installed and doesn't work. At this point one would think that there is something wrong in the connection/wiring. but after a couple hours of troubleshooting power is definitely getting to the unit. And there is no explanation for anything other than the unit being defective. My troubleshooter (dear old dad) is an electrical engineer--not a professional stereo installer but very experienced and well versed in this type of thing. Could there be something obvious we're missing? Hard to believe I've had three bad units, but if so Whaler better find a new stereo vendor.

I'm growing tired of the back in forth with the dealer. I may just take my lumps and go buy a new system. If I do, how important is the water resistant vs water proof aspect? Waterproof is considerably more expensive but I am in saltwater. Would a water resistant with cover be just as good?


jimh posted 06-06-2006 07:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
End this tragedy. Get an iPod and wear earbuds.

Find something to fill the hole in the dash left by the Clarion. Take the defective Clarion out and ship it to Boston Whaler with a note not to sell that sort of junk in their boats anymore.

Or, sell it on eBay.

glen e posted 06-06-2006 08:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for glen e  Send Email to glen e     
Jim - I am always fascinated by your comment to wear earbuds - how do you communicate with others on the boat when you are throwing a dinner party or fishing with others?...I just don't get it...if boating was s solitary thing like downhill skiing I could see your point but for me good music in the background is part of the social working of boating...

and as far as clarion amp is concerned , it is my amp of choice for the 15 or 20 amp/ipod combinations I have put in boats down here in s fla..something is amiss in the wiring, I suspect...have a good car stereo expert overlook your work. We have had 1 clarion failure out of maybe 20 and we're buying them refurbished off ebay for 80 bucks...

Bull Islander posted 06-06-2006 09:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bull Islander  Send Email to Bull Islander     
I don't get the ipod/earplug advice either. Thats either a joke or a real head scratcher. In any event for the money they got from me for this boat I shouldn't have to slum it.

Just to clarify...perhaps clarion amps are great but this is a standard AM/FM CD unit. Can anyone imagine what could be preventing it from powering up if all connections check out? I suppose I could take the boat off the lift and get to the dealer but what a pain that would be to find out the unit was bad again.

Also curious if others out there have experienced good luck with their clarion units

runpasthefence posted 06-06-2006 10:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for runpasthefence  Send Email to runpasthefence     
I'm a little unclear as to what device is actually failing. What did your post say before the edit? Is it an amplifier failing? A head unit failing? Both?
Because you mention the availability of waterproof/water resistant units, it seems you're talking about a clarion head unit (radio/volume/cd controls etc) as I'm not familiar with any amplifiers that claim to be completely waterproof.
If that is the case, and your head unit is mounted in your console, your best bet would be to replace it with one of the more expensive waterproof units. Anything other than waterproof on a small boat, in salt water, console mounted will fail far sooner than if it were waterproof or if it were mounted somewhere other than the console.
There are many things that could be causing the failure. One common problem I have noticed with boats with console mounted stereos is there is sometimes a place on the console that allows the intrusion of water. For example, a gauge mount or a flush mounted cupholder mounted above the unit may cause water to leak down onto the body of the unit. Three faulty units in a row is highly unlikely.

If I were you, my course of action would be to have a professional car stereo shop look at your installation. There may be something you've missed.
If all is well, I recommend 1 of 2 things. The first being check for any intrusion of water on the console and instal a waterproof unit...Clarion makes a very nice one. The second would be cheaper, but a little more involved. Purchase a new Clarion or similar head unit (even a normal car unit would be fine), purchase a fully sealable mounting box (carried at any boat supply store for about $30-40..sometimes less), mount the unit inside the box, mount the box inside the console. Use a wired or wireless remote to control the head unit. This a probably an unlikely option for you because it leaves an open space in your console, would require drilling another hole for the remote, and you probably use the console mostly for storage and mounting a stereo inside would take away from that.

The waterproof units are stout and very waterproof. I wouldn't see the point in mounting anything else in an exteriorly mounted salt water application. Just know that a much cheaper unit can be used as well if mounted properly.
Also, there is no point in replacing anything if the wiring is faulty to begin with.

jimh posted 06-06-2006 10:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Or get a HALFLER Trans-Nova and drive some Tannoys.
runpasthefence posted 06-07-2006 06:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for runpasthefence  Send Email to runpasthefence     
I don't have any first hand experience, and of course this is just speculation... but outside of home/studio/live audio situations Hafler* and Tannoy products would prove quite useless.
That is, unless your Dauntless is the centerpiece of your living room...
Bull Islander posted 06-07-2006 09:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bull Islander  Send Email to Bull Islander     
Thanks for the input. Water intrusion could be something to consider but the unit I just tried had never been least not in my boat. The dealer claims they took it out of a brand new whaler. I am giving it back to the dealer so they can reinstall it in their boat and see if it works. If so I'll know the problem is within my wiring. If not I'll assume the factory clarion is junk and i'll proceed accordingly.
Still puzzled why Whaler, a "top of the line" brand and rep would use a water resistant model to begin with
prm1177 posted 06-07-2006 11:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for prm1177  Send Email to prm1177     
Ah. A Hafler Trans Nova and Tannoys. THAT takes me back...
jimh posted 06-07-2006 02:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If the goal is high quality music reproduction on a boat, there is no joking about my suggestion to use an iPod and its earbuds. You will be very unlikely to come close to the sonic quality provided by that reproduction system with any CD playing in a "marine" audio system.
andygere posted 06-07-2006 04:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I wonder how safe it is to pilot a Boston Whaler around with earbuds in your ears? I know it is illegal to drive a car in my state while wearing audio headphones. Does anyone know if there are laws that prohibit their use while piloting a motor boat? I know that when I'm running my boat, sound from other vessels, bell buoys, fog horns, crashing surf and the like is an important sensory input. So are warnings or instructions from other observers aboard the boat. I don't think I'd like boating around a lot of other boaters that are not taking advantage of hearing the sounds around them as the pilot their watercraft.

In addition to listening to music, there are many reasons for installing and using a marine stereo [audio amplifier and sound reproduction system]on a Boston Whaler boat. Some captains enjoy listening to their favorite baseball team play while they troll or drift fish. This translates well to other sports such as hockey, football or basketball. Others like to catch up on news,weather or world events, or perhaps catch their favorite radio program on NPR. In my area, there is an early morning fishing report broadcast on Saturday mornings, and many skippers tune in to get the latest fishing report as they ready their boats and steam out to the fishing grounds.

As with anything else that can produce loud sounds in the proximity of other people (such as marine VHF radios, outboard motors, blenders, car alarms, young children, radial-arm saws, Harley-Davidson motorcycles, low flying helicopters, jack hammers, 12-gauge shotguns, etc.) marine stereo systems [audio amplifier and sound reproduction systems]should be used with due consideration to the folks around you, if there are in fact, folks around you. Fortunately, every marine stereo [audio amplifier and sound reproduction system] I've ever seen comes with controls that allow the user to adjust the volume of the device to an appropriate output level. While it's not always the case, I think it is entirely possible for an individual to have a stereo [audio amplifier and sound reproduction system]in their Boston Whaler (or other brand of boat), and use it in a way that does not bother, irritate or offend anyone.

pglein posted 06-07-2006 05:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for pglein  Send Email to pglein     

Your editing has confused the subject. As you may not be aware, mobile audio systems often separate the head unit (aka deck or stereo) from the amplifier. This is in the interest of efficient use of space, as well as proper heat dissipation.

I would also highly recommend AGAINST piloting a boat while using ANY device that does not allow the sounds of your engine, other vessels, wind, waves, etc, from being heard, such as headphones. I also would take exception to the notion that earbuds provide the highest quality of sound. While a nice set of professional studio headphones does offer a level of clarity superior for audio editing, even they do not provide the "best" quality of sound reproduction. They do not accurately reproduce the low frequency vibrations produced by many instruments, nor do they reproduce the reverberative effect of higher frequency elements commonly found in music. Also, listening music, sports games, or even talk radio is often a social experience involving not just the disk jockey and Boston Whaler owner, but sometimes the rest of the crew as well. What's more, the specific unit you mention, the Apple iPod is not the most versatile or durable portable music player available on the market, despite being the most expensive to own and fill with music.

I do not, however, oppose the use of a portable music player in conjunction with a stereo head unit equipped with a simple stereo mini-jack audio input. This does allow one to get the highest quality sound along with the most flexibility all while eliminating the problem of "skipping" commonly associated with the compact disc format.

Bull Islander,

If your head unit was factory installed, and you have not modified the wiring, I suspect you have simply been unlucky. This is exacerbated by the fact that Boston Whaler chose Clarion as their provider for marine audio units. Clarion is the best provider of mass produced head units, amplifiers, and speakers which are designed for the marine environment. This is not saying much, as they have just one competitor; Jensen. In car audio circles, Clarion and Jensen are not seen as quality products. Clarion is the Maxum of the car audio world, and Jensen is the Bayliner.

Just for clarification, when you say that the unit "died" what exactly do you mean? Does it not turn on? Does it not produce sound? Does it not receive AM/FM signals? Does it not play compact discs? Please be more specific.

Bull Islander posted 06-07-2006 05:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bull Islander  Send Email to Bull Islander     
Died meaning when I pulled it out from winter storage it would not power on. Nothing. Same with the "new" one the dealer just gave me.
Your comments about the clarion reputation are interesting. I know that Sony, JBL, Sea Worthy, Poly Planer etc also make marine systems. Thoughts on those?

runpasthefence posted 06-07-2006 07:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for runpasthefence  Send Email to runpasthefence     
It seems like a month and a half ago we were on this same topic...
AndyGere, I think you hit it dead on. In the past I have failed to mention the great radio programming that you miss if you are exclusively using an iPod. One of my favorite things is picking up a baseball game on late summer afternoon cruises.
I'll just paste one point I made from the previous and recent post about "making loud music on a boat".
"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."
Thing is, in the Winter months, there's noone on the water to offend. That is, if they were in close enough proximity while cruising, which would be dangerous at 6-7ft.

Bull Islander,
I have always been a fan of the JBL head unit. It is the most common unit I have used for a replacement water-resistant unit. I also have one on my 15'. Sony, honestly I have very limited experience with their marine products. I am not a fan of any of their mobile products. SeaWorthy shouldn't be able to advertise under that name. Their products aren't car worthy, much less something I would use on my Whaler. I think the Poly Planar watertight unit would be another good choice for your application.
My experience with marine stereo products is you usually get what you pay for.

jimh posted 06-07-2006 09:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I do not believe there is any greater information content conveyed by "stereo" than there is by "audio amplifier and sound reproduction system." Use of the term "stereo" (short for the adjective stereophonic) does not imply much to me other than a two-channel system for reproducing recorded sound is involved.

Due to the amount of vibration and motion on a boat, I would be surprised that a CD player could give good performance while the boat was underway in any sort of a seaway. CD players are not very tolerant of high-G impacts such as often occur while underway in a small boat. In addition there is the problem of carrying around hundreds of Compact-Disc audio recordings on the boat.

The earbuds of an iPod are not a closed headphone. They allow ambience sound to be heard. They also create a very good stereo image, far better than can be obtained in any small outboard boat due to the usually very poor location of the speakers relative to the listeners.

I am not familiar with the general quality of CLARION, but I rely on the anecdotal report of our correspondent; he says three units have failed in a row and in less than a year. I do not find that much of an endorsement. I think that constitutes a chronic failure situation.

My first-hand experience with the iPod is very good. The sonic quality is excellent. The unit is portable. The convenience is outstanding.

On my small boat the noise of the motor is quite noticeable, and in order to play music at a level above the engine noise would require a rather large and expensive audio reproduction system. This equipment would also require a lot of electrical power to operate, and it could exceed the capacity of the electrical system on the boat. My motor is older and does not have a high charging output.

I guess I am out of the main stream as far as needing to listen to music while doing other activities. I do not even listen to the radio in the car much of the time. I prefer to drive in a quiet car and think to myself on various topics--often related to boating and electronics.

runpasthefence posted 06-07-2006 11:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for runpasthefence  Send Email to runpasthefence     
I guess we're doing this again...
From last time,
"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 (edit, distortion is unavoidable, however the amount of distortion produced at this volume is not a level that would make listening all), and a little louder. All of this is achieved even though the "helm" is only about 4.5' from the engine."
Also note that every passenger is in listening range.

"Due to the amount of vibration and motion on a boat, I would be surprised that a CD player could give good performance while the boat was underway in any sort of a seaway. CD players are not very tolerant of high-G impacts such as often occur while underway in a small boat."
This can be a problem on some boats. I rarely have this problem as I normally boat in protected waterways, and my JBL head unit has a well-functioning skip playback system. If I do enter some rough seas, turn on the radio...simple as pushing the SOURCE button. "In addition there is the problem of carrying around hundreds of Compact-Disc audio recordings on the boat" 1-4 at most per trip. Even if I bring the majority of my library that I actually listen to, the case only takes up the space of...well...a small cd case.

Also, THIS is where the iPod comes in. By using a simple iPod interface with a compatible head unit, multi-channel amplifier, or FM modulator [iTrip(not as desirable)] you eliminate all skip problems, maintain FM/AM radio listening ability, consolidate your music library, and still enable your guests to enjoy the audio entertainment as well.

I couldn't imagine getting settled in my 15' with some friends to cruise the ICW, and just before starting out, putting headphones/earbuds on along with turning on my iPod. What a great way to shut yourself out from what goes on around you.

This is somewhat relative. Living in Auckland NZ since mid February, I've noticed that just about EVERYONE owns an iPod. I know this because just about EVERYONE wears and listens to it while in public, walking through the city. It's a convenient way of shutting out what's around you. It presents a situation where almost nobody is approachable and almost everybody is too preoccupied with their personal iPod musical experience to do so much as acknowledge the existence of the other human being next to them. I guess it's just a far cry from what I'm used to back in Charleston.

Somewhat of a rant, but it's somewhat similar in context. Summary: iPod w/ earbuds is not a social form of musical reproduction.

andygere posted 06-08-2006 01:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I love my iPod. To date, I have not been able to pick up a Giants game on the thing, so for that, I still need some sort of radio. It seems like an installed radio is a lot more practical to use and listen to in a boat than a portable radio (stereophonic, quadraphonic or mono). I find the installed radio in my car to be quite convenient for this use, which is compelling me to begin shopping for a similar device for my boat.

I think I'll be able to hear it just fine. I have a marine 2-way VHF radio installed in my boat, and it has a crappy little speaker that is mounted in a poor location relative to my ears. Nevertheless, I can still hear the thing when I'm driving the boat, even at high rpms.

On the iPod earbuds, I think their sound quality is OK, but certainly not outstanding. I have made them much better by using some inexpensive silicon enhancements that fit the earbuds to my ear. These block out much of the background noise, thus providing much better sound quality from the tiny inexpensive speakers in the earbuds. It would be quite dangerous to operate a boat while listening to the iPod using unmodified earbuds, but just about impossible with these.

jimh posted 06-08-2006 09:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The interior of a car, particularly a modern car with its windows rolled up, probably has more sound attenuation to the ambient noise outside the car than you get from wearing a pair of earbuds like those supplied with the iPod.

If operating a car or a boat that has high sound attenuation between the ambient environment and the driver is considered to be dangerous, then I guess that just about every luxury car on the road has to be in that category. Luxury car manufacturers brag about how quiet the passenger compartment of their vehicles are, how much road noise has been eliminated. People drive in very close proximity to other vehicles at very much higher speeds in luxury automobiles whose interior compartments attenuate the ambient sound the driver can hear to a much greater degree than occurs when a person is standing in the cockpit of an open boat wearing ear buds.

I suppose if you really turn up the volume while listening to ear buds you can reach a sound level that will mask a lot of the ambient. But if you have a high-power sound reproduction system on your boat you can create a similar environment for the vessel operator. It is all a matter of setting the volume.

The fundamental problem I have with listening to music while underway in a small open boat like a Boston Whaler is the very high noise environment. It is something akin to sitting down to enjoy a good album of recorded music at home then bringing out the vacuum cleaner from the closet, turning it on, and positioning it a few feet away from you. Then throw in the wind noise, and the hull slap, and you have created quite a noisy environment. No one would listen to music under those conditions in a home. What makes it so wonderful in a boat?

You are in a noisy environment. Think about giving up the loudspeaker reproduction system while underway. Or get a bigger boat. And a quieter motor.

runpasthefence posted 06-08-2006 10:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for runpasthefence  Send Email to runpasthefence     
The noise from a vacuum cleaner and the sounds of water displacement, rushing wind, and an outboard motor are hardly comparable for me. That combination alongside one of my favorite albums, or a radio broadcast of a baseball game is something I look forward to.
"What makes it so wonderful in a boat?" Come on you really have to ask that question?

I'm not stubborn enough to limit listening to my music collection solely to extremely high quality "audio amplifier and sound reproduction systems". (Appearantly I am stubborn enough not to let this thread die).
Above all, I prefer to hear/see my favorite bands live. Not recorded live, live with ambient lighting, crowd singing back the lyrics, inter-song riffs while the vocalist gets water,the feel of those huge amplifier pouring sound into the venue...etc

This doesn't stop me from listening to them at home, in my truck, in my boat, or at the gym. I'd like to hear them live all the time. Even though I haven't built a "House of Blues" equivalent on my 15' yet, that isn't going to stop me from listening to my favorite music on my boat. But that's just my preference.

Also, I'm officially accepting donations for a larger boat with a quieter motor. If anyone has a 25' Outrage Cuddy WhalerDrive with twin 225 Etec's laying around, shoot me an email.

andygere posted 06-08-2006 04:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
Jim, I think you are missing my point. I have never stated that the acoustics of a Boston Whaler are ideal for listening to music, nor did I compare them to those in my car (which is a noisy Chevy, not a luxury sedan). Here's what I did say:
I find the installed radio in my car to be quite convenient

The operative word being convenient. An installed radio is superior to a portable in a boat. Boats have a tendency to send portables crashing to the deck, or sliding across it with force as the boat moves.

My main point, which I tried to make tongue-in-cheek, is that everyone with a stereo system installed in their boat will not necessarily play it too loud and disturb you and everyone else on the water. Your response to every question on this forum related to marine stereos seems to be "get an iPod and listen to it through the earbuds so you won't bother me". We disagree on this point, and that's fine, but I think marine stereos are a reasonable topic of discussion in this forum, especially since many Boston Whaler boats are equipped with them from the factory. I for one have gained some valuable information that will assist me when I select a marine stereo to install in my Outrage.

danedg posted 06-15-2006 10:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for danedg  Send Email to danedg     
Dear Bull,
Imagine my excitement as I installed my new Clarion Marine Receiver/CD system in the console last year. I've installede dozens of radio's, etc. over the difficult could it be?
Let's see...8 wires for speakers...only need four...
Green (or Black) for ground...check
Red for power...right
OK! Crank it up!!.....
Nothing! Hmmmmm....
What's that grey one do? Memory power? Don't want'll drain the battery when I'm not there and I'm not on shore power...
The instruction didn't say it HAD to be hooked up...let's try it anyway...
BANG! Elvis is in the Building!
Make sure that other wire is connected to 12v DC. It won't work at all without it...
davej14 posted 06-15-2006 11:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
Unless you are using the iPod shuffle or the iPod Nono you have a hard drive in your iPod. Hmmmm..... it seems to take the pounding quite well.

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