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Boat Audio: How to Install a Marine Stereo into your Boat

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The first step is to decide where you would like to mount the marine stereo. Even though marine technology is waterproof and water resistant, it’s best to mount the stereo in a safe place. Try to mount it in a spot that is accessible but safe from water. If you don’t want to cut into your boat, you can use a gimbal mount to hold your boat head unit. Keep in mind that the recommended mounting angle is 20 degrees or less, though the stereo should function fine as long as you keep the mounting angle below 30 degrees. If you mount it an angle greater than 30 degrees, it might interfere with the shock protection.

If you are replacing your boat’s dash board stereo, it is likely that you will need to loosen nuts and unscrew the frame to access the wiring. You may also need to use a flat head screwdriver to pry the head unit from out of the slot. Once the head unit is hanging from the slot, unplug the wiring that connects the boat stereo to the power source and speakers, and then remove the head unit. Boat receiver wiring harnesses are not manufactured, so it will probably be a custom plug (unlike the kind of mass produced wire harnesses you typically see in car stereos).

If you are adding a stereo to a boat that has never had one, you will need to purchase or construct a stainless steel frame. Use a few nuts and screws to hold it in place. Look for a bracket that will help keep your stereo tight and secure. You might also want to get a splash cover to keep water from damaging your boat stereo.

When you put the new boat stereo in, you will have to custom splice the boat stereo’s wires to connect to the power source and speakers. Check your installation manual to figure out which color corresponds to each function. You should solder the spliced wires and use a heat gun to apply heat-shrink tubing to seal the connection. Once your connections are secure, place the new boat stereo in the opening and tighten the two nuts on the frame in the front. Secure the support bracket in the back, and plug in your custom wire harness and FM antenna. Don’t forget to plug them back into the negative battery terminal as well.

For most boats, you will need to find the ground block, which should be underneath the console. This is where the black ground wires are located. If you cannot find the ground block, you can also use the negative side of your battery. For the hot wires, use a wire test light tool to locate the lead to the battery and ignition. Connect the power and ground wire to the battery. Make sure to match the polarity.

Now that you have your boat stereo installed, it is wise to keep the cover on to protect from the outdoor elements. Marine technology is designed to last but it is not infallible.

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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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