The owner of this Sportsman Masters boat was happy with the existing JL Audio equipment in his boat, but he wanted to share his music with those outside of the boat. We knew that to accomplish this goal; we would need to mount some speakers higher on the boat. Typically, this would be done with the addition of some tower speakers.
JL Audio Tower Speaker Upgrade
This became a more challenging project when the client told us he wanted to use the JL Audio M6-880 tower speakers. If you haven’t seen the M6-880 towers, they are massive. They offer the most output of any of the JL Audio tower speakers. As you would guess, with the size comes some weight. This weight was a concern for the install because for the speakers to mount to existing tower bars on the boat, they would need to be oriented horizontally. We had some concerns about the strength of the JL Audio tower mounting brackets in this orientation, so we reached out to the team at JL Audio to get their advice. They were also concerned and advised against using the brackets in that way. Back at the drawing board, we came up with a great way to mount the speakers that would not only be extremely sturdy but also limit how low the speakers hung from the canopy.
Tower Speaker Installation
Our plan was to use half of a set of tower speaker brackets and through-bolted them to the canopy of the boat. This would not only provide the most sturdy mounting possible, but it would also limit how low the speakers would hang. With the mounting mechanics solved, the last task before the work could begin was addressing the cosmetic aspects of the installation.
The rear pair of tower speakers (Oh yes, we will be installing TWO pairs of these!) would be mounted in the existing spot for the rear rod holders. The rod holders had a round base that left some scarring on the fiberglass roof. To cover that scarring and also provide additional strength, we designed and cut aluminum plates. These plates would be used on the top and bottom to act as washers and trim. We used our CNC plasma table to cut out the aluminum precisely.
The final cosmetic part of the puzzle was what to do with the half-circle holes in the mounts. We wanted to fill those holes but also needed to leave a path for the speaker wiring to exit the speaker. The solution was a couple of laser-cut pieces of acrylic. We designed and cut the pieces with our laser cutter. The pieces were glued together and, along with the aluminum plates, painted a silver metallic color that matched the JL Audio tower mounts.
We had all the necessary parts to successfully mount the tower speakers under the canopy. We used the existing two mounting locations for the rear rod holders and added two new spots up front. We carefully measured the front locations to make sure they were symmetrical. We measured four times and drilled once! When bolting the speakers in, we added thread sealant to the bolts to ensure they didn’t come loose.
JL Audio Marine Amplifier
Once we had the tower speakers mounted and the wiring run to the cabin, we began the process of installing the amplifier that would power the tower speakers. The first step in this process was to reconfigure the existing signal distribution to the amplifiers that were in the boat. Because we were adding additional speakers, we wanted them to be able to be on their own channel of the JL Audio Media Master radio. We routed the signal cables from the radio to the new amplifier and then mounted and wired up the amplifier. While working on the wiring in the new amplifier, we also took time to tidy up the wiring for the other JL Audio amplifiers.
Tuning and Delivery
The JL Audio MVi amplifiers this Sportsman uses have built-in Digital Signal Processors (DSPs). The onboard DSP allows each speaker output to be digitally controlled with functions like equalization, crossovers, and time alignment. It takes a skilled technician to tune a DSP, and we at Pinnacle have the skills! We knew outside of the boat the speakers were going to be very loud, regardless of where they were being listened to from. So our focus was to make sure that they sounded their best at the helm of the boat. To successfully do that, we used our JL Audio MAX microphone array, set up at the captain’s seating area, to tune the amplifiers. We used the time alignment feature to make sure that the output of all of the speakers arrived at the captain’s location at the same time. We also used the equalizers in the amplifier to remove any unwanted peaks in frequency response from all of the speakers. What this resulted in was an incredibly dynamic and coherent experience from the captain’s seating position. The output was incredible, and the system produced impressive bass you could feel in your chest!
Once the tuning was complete, we cleaned the boat up and had the client pick it up. He was impressed with the output and clarity of the new speakers.
Not long after the client got the boat back, he called us about making it “a little bit louder.” His idea was to add an additional set of towers between the rod holders on the back of the canopy. After carefully measuring the available space, we determined that it was something we could do. He brought the boat back once again, and using a pair of stock JL Audio tower mounts, we were able to clamp the speakers to the rear bar. We once again adjusted the DSP settings in the amplifier to maximize the output of the speakers and returned the now ridiculously loud boat to the client.
If you would like your boat to be ridiculously loud, we can help! If you just need a radio and some speakers, we can do that too! Give us a call, stop by or contact us here for more information about our marine audio systems.