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View Full Version : Stereo Guys Ė I need some recommendations


c_pohja
01-29-2009, 10:32 AM
Here is a good winter time problem for everbody!!

I need some help with the stereo on my lake Powell house boat. This year I have been tasked with upgrading the stereo system on my (timeshare) house boat. Here is a little background info. Currently we have a Sony head unit with 4 JBL marine 6.5ís powered by the deck. We continue to blow speakers every summer and everybody is tired of replacing the speakers. I need some recommendation on speakers that can handle the elements and not blow out. I am also considering adding an amp to help with the blow out problem. Will this help, or will it just blow more speakers? We donít need anything SUPER loud, but reliable.

What do you think???

JimN
01-29-2009, 11:05 AM
Here is a good winter time problem for everbody!!

I need some help with the stereo on my lake Powell house boat. This year I have been tasked with upgrading the stereo system on my (timeshare) house boat. Here is a little background info. Currently we have a Sony head unit with 4 JBL marine 6.5ís powered by the deck. We continue to blow speakers every summer and everybody is tired of replacing the speakers. I need some recommendation on speakers that can handle the elements and not blow out. I am also considering adding an amp to help with the blow out problem. Will this help, or will it just blow more speakers? We donít need anything SUPER loud, but reliable.

What do you think???

If you're turning the volume all the way up, it has to sound like absolute crap. Distortion is probably what's killing the speakers and an amplifier is what you need. The fact that you're cranking it up and blowing your speakers says that you want more volume and the only way to get enough is to add an amp. Running it wide open is like starting your car or truck and mashing the pedal to the floor, waiting for parts to fly through the hood.

Install an amp, do it correctly, maybe put in some larger speakers, turn the bass down and if you need more bass, block the bass to the small speakers and add a subwoofer or two. Small speakers can't do bass at high volumes, especially if they're outside.

c_pohja
01-29-2009, 01:25 PM
Ok,

Thanks for the quick response. This is a shared boat with 18 different owners, many of whom have no idea how to take care of things like this and hence Iím sure run the speakers WAY to load (although nobody will admit to it):mad:. So an amp will be the way to go. This brings me to the next dilemma.

The stereo in this boat is on the flying bridge on the front of the boat. The helm controls (gauges and such) are all run on 12v power off of the motor starting batteries at the back of the boat next to the motors. This is also how the head unit is powered. To install an amp I will need good 12v power to the amp, in my MC (and other vehicles) I have a direct wire to the battery with heavy gauge wire and an inline fuse. How important is the direct wire to the battery and how important is the gauge of the wire? To pull wire to the battery we are talking at least 100 ft of wire and a REAL PITA (removing rivits along the whole side of the boat to get the the run) . The easy way would be to grab power that is already up there, but what are the issues with that? I am thinking a small 4 channel amp like this JL Audio M-Series M4500 Marine 4-channel amplifier ó pushing 4 Polk Audio db651.

Educate me a little if you donít mind:D

flipper
01-29-2009, 01:46 PM
Depends on the wire size that's running up there, and available amperage up there. Could be any where from no problem at all, to poor sound quality, to blown fuses, to fire.

JimN
01-29-2009, 01:48 PM
Ok,

Thanks for the quick response. This is a shared boat with 18 different owners, many of whom have no idea how to take care of things like this and hence Iím sure run the speakers WAY to load (although nobody will admit to it):mad:. So an amp will be the way to go. This brings me to the next dilemma.

The stereo in this boat is on the flying bridge on the front of the boat. The helm controls (gauges and such) are all run on 12v power off of the motor starting batteries at the back of the boat next to the motors. This is also how the head unit is powered. To install an amp I will need good 12v power to the amp, in my MC (and other vehicles) I have a direct wire to the battery with heavy gauge wire and an inline fuse. How important is the direct wire to the battery and how important is the gauge of the wire? To pull wire to the battery we are talking at least 100 ft of wire and a REAL PITA (removing rivits along the whole side of the boat to get the the run) . The easy way would be to grab power that is already up there, but what are the issues with that? I am thinking a small 4 channel amp like this JL Audio M-Series M4500 Marine 4-channel amplifier ó pushing 4 Polk Audio db651.

Educate me a little if you donít mind:D

I did car audio for about 20 years- nobody admits that they blew up the speakers. It's always, "I don't know what happened- it sounded fine when I left". Same thing with amp adjustments- when they came back all messed up, I would ask who changed them, not if.

18 different owners sounds like a nightmare. It's time for an owners meeting to set some rules.

As far as power cabling, adequate wire size, terminations and protection are absolutely necessary. Think about using skinny speaker wire to jump start a car- same problem will occur. If the amp draws more that the cable can supply, the wire heats up, the voltage drops, the current draw increases and if the protection is in the wrong place (no more than 12" from the battery + post), it can burn down. Literally. Also, if you run a positive cable, you need a negative of equal gauge. No, you can't grab power from an existing cable. Period. What is there was sized for what was installed and maybe one additional gauge, not an amplifier. Get an exact measurement for the power cable run and look at this table to get an idea of what you'll need. If you think more power will be added later, use a heavier cable to avoid running it again.

http://www.the12volt.com/info/recwirsz.asp

Re: the 100' run- do you have access to the speaker cabling, does the boat have an empty raceway where speaker wires can be run without being next to power cables and RF sources, like power wires for motors, antennas, etc? The cables will need to be supported along the way, too. There's also a good chance that you'll have noise issues with a 100' run and a little noise suppressor will not work. If I was doing the installation, I would probably run a heavy cable from the motor to the area where the amp will live, use protection at both ends and use the cables only for charging the battery. If long periods of listening without the motor running will occur, use more than one battery, connected with the terminals parallel and use batteries with huge storage capacity. If you would be under way for long periods with less time using the batteries, they will be charged normally and if you spend any time at a dock, you can install a shore power setup. You could also install an inverter and use a regular battery charger/maintainer, but this would have to be turned off when the boat isn't in use.

flipper
01-29-2009, 01:55 PM
Jim, is there any way to limit the volume so the other yahoos don't blow up all his work?

Naste Craft
01-29-2009, 01:56 PM
Get some wetsounds......

JimN
01-29-2009, 02:17 PM
Jim, is there any way to limit the volume so the other yahoos don't blow up all his work?

There is but the other owners won't like not being able to get more out of it. It involves explosive charges and..... Oh. A way that's NOT lethal. Locking the amp away or not telling where it is, hiding a level control or the meeting I mentioned. Some measure of responsibility has to be required and a condition checklist for each group or user should be used. It won't blow up just sitting there, so if someone goes there and finds everything toasted, either they blew it up and want to blame someone else or the last person using it did it and lied. Neither will make it a long-term situation for all of the owners because pointing fingers at each other works like, well, Congress. It's not productive.

Setting the levels properly and using a cover that makes changes impossible would be the best way. At the meeting, whether it's everyone face to face or virtual, like www.gotomeeting.com, an explanation of how the system works with a form that everyone gets a copy of would help. Also, make sure everyone reads, understands and accepts the terms of the agreement. I assume everyone will be paying for this, right? Blowing it up just doesn't make sense if it has a cost. Maybe a maintenance fee for the boat and system would be in order. As long as the stereo doesn't eat it up completely and make other upkeep impossible, it would reduce the bickering and repairs.

c_pohja
01-29-2009, 05:21 PM
Jim N

Thank you for all of the good information!!! Although not the answers I wanted to hear, this option is what I assumed would need to be done. The amp will live very close to the head unit (easy speaker wire/RCA access) and we will go through the pain of running a power cable back to the battery. The battery is actually 3 large batteries in parallel so that should not be an issue. These batteries are also charged by the motors when running and also the onboard generator when running. The boat does have a full inverter setup with 110 power for everything but the helm controls (and stereo).

The 18 owner group is actually a very good group of owners. Most of the group has been together for over 15 years and this is the second boat we have put on Lake Powell. The upgrade to the stereo will be paid for out of the annual maintenance fees everybody pays. This will actually be one of the smaller projects for the year. (two new fridges will be the big one). I can mount the amp in a very inconspicuous place so people messing with it should be minimal (out of sight out of mind).

A couple more questions:
Is there any way to do any of this with 110 power? Like a 110 to 12v converter? I have 110 power very accessible and moving the stereo to 110 and the inverter system would be nice.

Can anybody make a recommendation on some speakers and an amp? Money is not necessarily an factor, but it canít be ridiculous. I would like to get gear that will last under the condition (if not abused)

Thanks again!

JimN
01-29-2009, 07:17 PM
Jim N

Thank you for all of the good information!!! Although not the answers I wanted to hear, this option is what I assumed would need to be done. The amp will live very close to the head unit (easy speaker wire/RCA access) and we will go through the pain of running a power cable back to the battery. The battery is actually 3 large batteries in parallel so that should not be an issue. These batteries are also charged by the motors when running and also the onboard generator when running. The boat does have a full inverter setup with 110 power for everything but the helm controls (and stereo).

The 18 owner group is actually a very good group of owners. Most of the group has been together for over 15 years and this is the second boat we have put on Lake Powell. The upgrade to the stereo will be paid for out of the annual maintenance fees everybody pays. This will actually be one of the smaller projects for the year. (two new fridges will be the big one). I can mount the amp in a very inconspicuous place so people messing with it should be minimal (out of sight out of mind).

A couple more questions:
Is there any way to do any of this with 110 power? Like a 110 to 12v converter? I have 110 power very accessible and moving the stereo to 110 and the inverter system would be nice.

Can anybody make a recommendation on some speakers and an amp? Money is not necessarily an factor, but it canít be ridiculous. I would like to get gear that will last under the condition (if not abused)

Thanks again!

If 110V is so easily used, why use 12V equipment at all?

JohnE
01-29-2009, 07:34 PM
Jim,

Any reason they couldn't use a 120V amp with the existing head unit?

JimN
01-29-2009, 08:14 PM
Other than the possibility of a really bad ground loop, not really. It would be best to test it with a ground loop isolator and if it sounds normal, go ahead.

TX.X-30 fan
01-29-2009, 08:53 PM
I need to borrow your ground loop isolator for my HT.

brucemac
01-29-2009, 08:55 PM
I need to borrow your ground loop isolator for my HT.

check your splitter?

JimN
01-29-2009, 08:56 PM
I need to borrow your ground loop isolator for my HT.

I must have forgotten what you use- satellite, right?

TX.X-30 fan
01-29-2009, 09:07 PM
I must have forgotten what you use- satellite, right?




Yes Jim, and yes bruce I have a splitter on it. Never looked at the splitter.

brucemac
01-29-2009, 09:11 PM
i'd see if it's the splitter. easy enough to check. i had a bad ground loop issue in my last house (remodel home theater) and it turned out to be a $5 splitter. i was pulling my hair out until we figured it out. i read your post and thought it may be worth a check. good luck!

JimN
01-29-2009, 09:17 PM
Yes Jim, and yes bruce I have a splitter on it. Never looked at the splitter.

Make sure the satellite feeds go through a grounding block where it comes into the house (usually grounded to the electrical supply meter box drop to the panel, or to the panel. If the house has a basement, it can also be grounded to a water supply pipe before the meter.

TX.X-30 fan
01-29-2009, 09:52 PM
Make sure the satellite feeds go through a grounding block where it comes into the house (usually grounded to the electrical supply meter box drop to the panel, or to the panel. If the house has a basement, it can also be grounded to a water supply pipe before the meter.



Funny you said that I went out and the ground to the electrical panel was on the ground. Put it back on with high hopes. :mad: I need to go through the interconnects to the amps that's where I find the hum. I have some good interconnects Nordost and not much extra room back there to play with.

Thanks, both Bruce and Jim.

KnoxX2
01-29-2009, 10:24 PM
As far as the Houseboat goes, why couldn't he just put a Optima Battery up by the head unit and use a battery charger that is connected to 110 to maintain the battery. Just a thought!

JimN
01-29-2009, 11:04 PM
For the price of a battery and charger, a decent receiver and DVD player could be bought.

c_pohja
01-30-2009, 10:33 AM
This whole system is installed on the flying bridge on top of the house boat. The deck is in a standard marine case installed in the dash of the bridge and the speakers are in a fiberglass faring. I have attached a picture (only one I have access to at the office) so you all can get an idea of why 110 gear is not really an option. The boat lives on a buoy at bullfrog marina and the top is exposed to the elements year round.

I like the idea of a second battery; only issue is I know that standard battery chargers pull a lot of power off of the inverter system, which means we would have to run the generator longer each day.

Good thoughts, thanks everybody!! Right now looks to me the best option would be a 110v AC to 12v DC converter to run the amp, keep the deck running on the current 12v setup. Keep the gain on the amp set at a decent level and hide it from people so they don't screw with it and hope!

Thanks,

c_pohja
01-30-2009, 10:35 AM
P.S. Not my speed boat!!

JimN
01-30-2009, 11:07 PM
That doesn't look like the run would be 100', to me.

Since someone was asking about a power amp in another thread and I remembered one that a friend mentioned, let me talk to him and get the specs. He said it runs cool, doesn't draw a lot of current and sounds good, with good output. I should be able to get the brand and model tomorrow. I had forgotten about it until a few minutes ago.

SteveO
01-31-2009, 09:17 AM
Nate made a good suggestion earlier. A pair of tower speaker in the area where the partying occurs and the loud volume is needed may be a good addition. Not sure that you need the horn loaded speakers(Wetsounds, Bullet, NVS) since you are not fighting the exhaust sound and at the end of an 80' rope. If the volume is cranked so those on the beach can hear it, the internal 6's will never do the trick.

JimN
01-31-2009, 09:33 AM
Nate made a good suggestion earlier. A pair of tower speaker in the area where the partying occurs and the loud volume is needed may be a good addition. Not sure that you need the horn loaded speakers(Wetsounds, Bullet, NVS) since you are not fighting the exhaust sound and at the end of an 80' rope. If the volume is cranked so those on the beach can hear it, the internal 6's will never do the trick.

Almost any good speaker that's closer to the action will help because of the decreased distance, but horn loaded have a tighter dispersion pattern, which increases the SPL at any power level. A pair at each corner of the canopy would really help.