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How to Install Boat Speakers

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by: Gary Brikowski

Installing marine speakers into your boats lets you and your crew enjoy great music while out at the sea. Installing boat speakers can be a challenging task, so you may want to read this comprehensive boat speaker installation guide before you begin.

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

Selecting Marine Speakers

There are two types of boat speakers, flush mount speakers and box speakers. Box speakers do not require any cutting or mounting holes, because they are already housed in an enclosure. Flush mount speakers require cutting or preexisting mounting holes. They should be mounted in tight, sealed holes to promote transient response. The mounting location should also offer sufficient air flow around the cone.

Decide on the Mounting Location

If you are cutting new holes or looking for places to mount box speakers, you should pick spots that will be safe and out of the way. It should also be mounted in a place that will direct the music towards your crew. If you have a lounging area on your deck, you may want to position your speakers towards this area. Amidst the various resonating sounds of the outdoor environment, you want to make sure your listeners are aligned with and in close proximity to the boat speakers. Pointing the speakers towards your crew ensures that they will be able to fully revel in the music. Once you pick a location, screw in the box speakers or cut holes based on your flush mount speaker size. For optimal performance, you must place a baffle board behind the boat speakers.

Wire Configuration

Boat speaker wire will be exposed to water, UV rays, salt and many more outdoor elements. You should use stranded, tinned copper wire because it can withstand these elements without corroding. Do not use aluminum or steel wires, because they will corrode if exposed to these elements for an extended period of time.

Check the wire's numerical type, and do not use Type 1 wire. A wire’s numerical type indicates the number of strands, and the higher the type number, the more strands in the wire. This is why you should not use Type 1 cable for wiring boat speakers. You will need to use wire with a greater strand count for boat installations. Type 2 or Type 3 is much better suited to handle the outdoor elements.

Connect the wiring in phase—match the positive stereo output to the positive terminals on the speakers, etc. You should solder the wire connections and seal all the connections with electrical tape. Run the wires to the power and ground of the second boat battery. Now that your wiring is set and you have tested the connections, place your speakers into their permanent mounting location. Enjoy the music!

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