There’s nothing interesting and relaxing like riding a boat while listening to some music. However, the sun, salt and water in the sea environment can wreak havoc on your boat’s music system, including the speakers. If you invest in marine speakers that cannot hold well in the harsh conditions of the sea, then they will demand replacement sooner.
Moreover, if your speakers are in bad shape or are no longer sounding right, then it’s time to have them replaced. With that said, here’s a detailed guide on installing replacement marine speakers.
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Installing Replacement Marine Speakers
Unlike cars, there’s isn’t one ideal place on boats where you can install marine speakers. Different boat models have different space limitations and power. Thus, each installation comes with its unique set of challenges.
However, if you are replacing the old speakers with exact new replacements, then you may use the existing mounting holes and wires. If not, be ready to make new speaker holes and run new wires when mounting replacement speakers of a different size.
If you are planning to install marine speakers, you can choose among box, flush mount and cannon speakers. With box speakers, you will not have to make any holes since they come with an enclosure. Box speakers are often found on interior cabin spaces such as saloons, staterooms and cuddy cabins.
Flush mount replacement marine speakers require fixing in preexisting mounting holes or cutting new mounting holes. Flush mount speakers are the most common types of marine speakers. They easily fit even in the smallest spaces and offer great sound.
Cannon speakers are mostly found on water sport boats. They are often aimed straight and project a loud sound to anyone skiing or wake boarding behind the boat. Whichever replacement speakers you choose, ensure they are designed for the corrosive and sea conditions. They should resist UV rays, rust and should be waterproof with sealed magnets and stainless steel components.
Here are the tools you’ll need to install marine speakers:
- Speaker wire (select a marine grade option)
- Crimp-on spade terminals (female)
- Wires strippers
- Diagonal cutters
- Power drill
- A set of screwdrivers
- Electricians snake
- Zip ties and wire looms
- Soldering gun
Upon gathering the necessary tools and supplies, proceed to replace your marine speakers. Follow these simple guidelines:
1. Choose the Mounting Location
First, decide on the number of speakers you’ll want your boat to have. If you prefer mounting new replacements on new holes, decide where you will mount them. Unless you’ll be replacing the older speakers with exact types, it’s likely that the existing mounting holes may not fit new speakers.
Thus, plan to drill new holes. You should install each pair of speakers opposite each other to enjoy the best sound quality.
Also, ensure the centerline is faced furthest possible between the two speakers. In many boats, the runabouts and deck boats come with enough space for as many as three pairs of marine speakers, especially at the seat bases and inwales.
Where possible, the speakers should face the ears of a listener for optimum sound.
Subwoofers can be mounted in the compartment under the seats, on a wakeboard tower or under the bow.
Twitters, mid-bass and mid-range speakers can be fitted on the dash or side panels of your boat. It really depends on your needs, tastes and boat.
2. Cutting Holes for the Speakers
If you desire to install box speakers, you will simply screw them onto the location you find best. However, for flush mount speakers, you’ll either cut new holes or mount them on the existing holes in case the replacement speakers and the old speakers are of the same size.
If you have to cut new holes, start with making a template of the hole based on the dimensions of each speaker. A 5-inch hole saw can assist you in making smoothly-cut holes. Then make holes for the mounting screws using a hand or power drill.
3. Wire Configuration
Upon deciding on the mounting location and cutting holes where necessary, you can now start laying the speaker wires and connecting them from the stereo unit to each mounting spot and speaker.
Remember that you’ll be using these speakers in an area full of salt, harmful ultraviolet rays, wetness and other weather elements. Thus, use copper wire that is tinned and stranded since it can withstand such harsh conditions without corroding.
Avoid using steel and aluminum speaker wires since they corrode easily upon exposure to such elements. Also, remember to check the type of the speaker wire.
Don’t use Type 1 speaker wire when planning to install marine speakers. Wires are categorized according to their numerical type, a factor that shows the overall number of strands a wire has.
A higher number means that the speaker wire has more strands. Go for wire with more strands when installing marine speakers. Type 2/3 wire is more suitable to handle harsh outdoor elements as it has more strands.
Once you have the ideal type of speaker wire, lay it within the split looms. By doing so, the wires will be protected while laying them between the music system and the new speakers.
Upon running them as required, you can start connecting the wires in phase. Ensure you connect all the terminals properly.
Speaker wires are usually labelled in different colors such as white and gray or black and this will assist you in matching all the terminals.
Failing to match the speaker and stereo system terminals will lead to poor sound quality.
If your speakers don’t have screws for mounting wires, then solder them on the marine speaker terminals. You may use silicon caulking to protect the speaker terminals.
4. Mounting the Marine Speakers
First, ensure you’ve connected all the speaker wires and you’ve tested the connections. If all is working right, you can start mounting each speaker into its permanent mounting location. Screw the speakers into the holes and ensure they are tight enough. Then turn on your boat’s stereo system to enjoy your favorite track.
After going this article, you can clearly see that it is less challenging to install marine speakers and replace older ones with new ones. With the right tools and ideal choice of marine speakers, all you will need is some patience to complete the installation process and enjoy listening to your favorite radio station or music while riding your boat for leisure, sports, or fishing.