The owner of a Lake City marine repair business recently stopped by to talk about upgrading the audio system in his flats boat. He currently had a radio and speakers in the boat, but their performance was anemic. We talked about possible speaker upgrades, a new radio and adding and amplifier. We always like to mention the benefits of adding a subwoofer too, which the client seemed open to. Happy with the discussion, the client setup a time to drop his boat off.
The first step to building a great audio system in this boat was to upgrade the radio. For this project we used a Kenwood marine radio. The radio will give the client the ability to not only play CD’s, listen to the radio, play audio from a USB drive but also to stream audio from his phone via Bluetooth. While the radio is a marine radio and designed to survive life on a boat, we added an additional bit of protection with installation of a waterproof radio cover.
The most important part of this job was providing the client with crystal clear music and high volume levels. Our go-to speaker for this sort of project is the JL Audio MX marine coaxial speaker. Fulfilling a request for some lighting from the client’s wife was easy with the addition of the LED illuminated series of JL Audio MX speakers. These speakers have the great JL Audio sound and also feature blue LED lighting. Adding the lighting required a bit more work because we also have to run not only speaker wires, but also lighting wires, to each speaker. The lighting for the speakers was powered by an unused rocker switch that we repurposed for the lighting.
After the speaker and lighting wiring was done it was time to install the speakers. Unfortunately we found that the off-brand speakers the client previously had in the boat were a bit larger than the new JL Audio speakers. To fit the new speakers in the old holes we made custom adapters out of marine-grade HDPE plastic. The rings were machined to give the JL Audio speakers a larger lip. The center of the ring was recessed to allow for the speaker to fit down in it, for a cleaner look. Finally the outer edge of the ring was chamfered for a more finished shape. We mounted the speakers into the adapter rings using stainless steel hardware.
When the client dropped off the boat with us it was with the understanding that we would research options for a subwoofer. After looking around the boat while we were working on it, we found that a single 10″ JL Audio marine subwoofer would fit in the very center of the front storage area. The client agreed to this spot, so we began the work to mount it. Normally if the fiberglass is thin in the areas we plan on mounting subwoofers, we will make an additional support baffle. The fiberglass in this area of the boat, though, was plenty thick for mounting the subwoofer.
JL Audio Amplifier
Powering the whole system is a JL Audio MX series 4 channel amplifier. This little amp offers an impressive amount of power in a small package. We fabricated a mounting plate for the amplifier using the HDPE. This plate was attached to the side of the console using existing mounting holes for another piece.
Great-Sounding Boat Audio
Once the equipment was mounted and all the wiring was tidied up, it was time to set the level adjustments and crossovers on the amplifier. When we first powered on the system we were blown away. For the modest amount of equipment this boat had, it sounded incredible! When the client’s wife picked it up, she too thought it sounded great. If it is time to get that boat of yours ready for the water, give us here at Pinnacle Autosound a call or contact us here.