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How to Install a Marine Amplifier

Marine Amplifier

The amplifier is the power source to your boat audio system. The amplifier modulates power generated from the boat battery. We recommend using marine amplifiers because they are specially designed to withstand exposure to water and the sun. Installing a boat amplifier can be challenging, so read this overview and consult an experienced installer as a part of your preparation.

Required Tools:

  • Power and Ground Cable
  • Wire Cutter and Stripper
  • RCA Cables

You may also need one or more of the following:  Screwdrivers (Flat, Phillips) and Screws, Drill, Pliers, Knife, Flashlight, Saw, Soldering Gun

Decide on a Mounting Location

Mount the amplifier on a board somewhere out of the way. Marine amplifiers are typically mounted in the rear of the boat, below the seats or underneath the dashboard. Make sure the mounting area has adequate ventilation and is safe as possible from water and heat.

Wiring Configuration

You will need a wiring kit for your amplifier. You may also want to use an additional battery in your boat. You should use an inline fuse for safety reasons.

Run the power supply wire from the positive terminal on the boat battery to the positive input on the amplifier. Connect the ground wire to the ground terminal on the amp and run the other end to a piece of metal to ground the amp. You can use a screw or bolt to ground the amp.

Connect the amp to your marine stereo through the preamp inputs in the head unit. You will need speaker wire to connect speakers and/or subwoofers. You can wire your boat speakers in series or in parallel. In series, each speaker you add will increase the resistance, or Ohm load, in the channel. The higher the impedance an amplifier runs at, the smaller the amount of power flow. Many amplifiers can run at either 2 ohm or 4 ohm loads, but some are stable at 1 ohm loads for optimal RMS performance.

In parallel, each speaker you add will decrease the resistance in the channel. To decide on the wiring configuration, you will need to know your amplifier’s capability (can it be wired in parallel?) and ohm rating. You will also need to know your speakers ohm rating (usually 4 ohms) and the number of voice coils. Keep in mind that you should generally limit your amplifier usage to two speakers per channel.

Summary

Test the connections and calibrate the amplifier’s sound controls. Now that everything is wired up and mounted securely, you are ready to enjoy a great sound system on your boat.

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Staff writers at Sonic Electronix are experts in their field. In addition to a complete in-house training program, these experts typically have many years of hands-on experience in their specialty. Some come from car audio installer backgrounds, while others come with extensive retail experience.
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