Boats are more popular than ever, and in today's high stress world, nothing helps you relax like being out on the water. Whether it's on a bass boat heading down your favorite river, a ski boat out on the lake pulling a tube, or on the boat of your dreams saltwater fishing offshore, a day spent boating is a day well spent. And the only better than being on a boat is being able to listen to your favorite music while you are boating!
The Popularity of Boat Audio
While boating has been popular for literally thousands of years, marine stereo systems are a much more recent invention. They are growing in popularity, and a good sound system really elevates your overall boating experience. There are several reasons for this, with the biggest being advances in stereo technology which allows you to listen to your favorite music in the best possible quality. Years ago, the quality of radios and speakers was not what it is today, and advances in technologies such as water resistance and waterproofing are increasing the lifespan of these products.
The other big reason for this increase in popularity is that a marine audio system eliminates the need for a portable speaker. Relying on a portable speaker means that you will have to remember to bring it along in the first place, and it will need to be charged beforehand. They take up space which is already at a premium on a boat, and will eventually run out of power and will have to be recharged, which is a huge inconvenience. Because they are not a permanent fixture, they are easy to drop, damage, and misplace, and they will lack the overall quality sound of an actual marine stereo system.
Marine Stereo System Components
Just like any good quality home or automotive sound system, marine stereo systems are made up of three major components, a radio, speakers, and an amplifier.
Radio – A boat's radio is basically its audio control center. In the past, a radio would have been a device that acted as a receiver for radio stations that connected to the speakers and allowed you to control the volume, but as the years progressed, they also offered the capability of playing cassette tapes and CDs.
A modern boat radio gives you the capability of connecting to a device through Bluetooth and will also have a USB port to directly connect to the device of your choice. The USB port not only allows you to connect to a device, but also acts as a charger for smartphones and other devices. Modern radios are more powerful than ever and will give you multiple options to control and mix your speakers to get the sound you want.
Speakers – a boat's speakers are responsible for producing the actual sound you are hearing, and there are several styles available that can be combined to create the exact sound you are looking for. The most noticeable speakers that make up a boat stereo system are often tower speakers. These are speakers that utilize water resistant and water proof materials to produce a high quality sound with a good mix of lows and highs. They are often mounted in groups on a boat's tower bars where they are safe and out of the way, unlike a portable speaker which will need constant charging and always seems to be in the way.
Other types of speakers that make up the best marine stereo systems include tweeters and subwoofers. Tweeters are smaller than the other types of speakers mentioned and are used to produce higher pitched sounds, while subwoofers are larger speakers that produce lower pitched sounds. Tweeters do not take up much space and really add to the instrumental and vocal quality, while subwoofers supply the sound system with bass and are one of the most popular upgrades for any sound system. All of these types of speakers enhance the sound quality of a marine stereo system and when combined together, will give you the best sound available. Which speakers you choose and how you mix and match them will depend on your personal tastes and style.
Amplifiers – An amplifier receives the output signal from a boat's radio and amplifies or makes it larger, and sends it to the speakers for your ears to enjoy. A good quality amplifier or "amp" will help you get the most out of your radio and speakers. While an amp may not be a necessity for a basic sound system found in a small boat that only has a few speakers, it is a must-have for any serious boat owner who might be entertaining friends and family on a larger vessel where a passenger might be more than just a few feet away from the speakers and where the quality of the sound will really matter.
Boat Audio to Fit Your Needs
If you are looking to install, replace, or upgrade your boat's stereo system, you might be wondering, what is the best marine stereo system for me? Well, that will ultimately depend on your particular needs and goals as a boat owner. Do you have a big boat, or a really big boat? Do you use your boat a few times a year, or are you on the water all day and all summer long? Will you only be using your boat to fish on the river, or is your boat the social center of your weekend and the hangout place for family and friends? There are really two types of boat stereo system setups, the classic setup and the party setup, but anything in between the two is a possibility.
The Classic Setup
The classic setup covers the basics needed to produce a quality sound without any unnecessary accessories. It includes a set of marine speakers and a radio, which makes it a good setup for smaller boats, fishing boats, and boats that don't get the chance to be used often. Speaker styles such as tweeters and subwoofers aren't normally utilized with a classic setup to keep things simple, and as long as you use a quality speaker, the sound quality will be perfectly fine.
A good set of marine speakers will be waterproof and can be mounted anywhere, with tower speakers being a popular choice. The best marine speakers manufactured by brands such as Garmin Fusion with their Signature Series, the Wet Sounds line from Crutchfield, and others can be found online at Garage Bagger Stereo, which carries the best quality audio equipment in the world.
The other half of a classic setup is an excellent high quality radio. As your audio system's control center, the radio should have all the essential functions that you would expect with today's technology, including Bluetooth capability and a USB port. Some of the best radios out there made by brands like Garmin, Crutchfield, and Rockford Fosgate can be found at Garage Bagger Stereo, and just like with speakers, if you want a quality sound, it is essential to use a quality radio. If the classic setup works for you and meets your needs, then look no further, but if you are looking for more, the party setup might just be for you.
The Party Setup
The party setup starts with the basics of the classic setup and adds the audio equipment you need to get the results that you want. Starting with a good radio and set of speakers is an excellent first step, but if so want the best possible sound and entertainment quality possible, then additional stereo equipment will need to be added.
Speaker upgrades are a must, and a set of colored LED light up speakers makes an excellent first choice. Brands such as the Garmin Fusion Signature Series, and the Wet Sounds line from Crutchfield will not only provide excellent sound quality, but will also give your boat an aesthetic upgrade that will make your boat a real head turner. If you are looking to upgrade your bass, try adding one or more subwoofers from a brand like Triton Marine Subwoofers. And if you are looking to hit those high notes, installation of tweeters such as the Euphoria XPERT series from DB Drive will make sure that you have access to the full range of the musical spectrum.
With a radio, tower speakers, tweeters, and a subwoofer or two, you will need a high quality amplifier such as the SounDigital Evo Powersport series or the Euphoria XPERT amps from DB Drive to be sure the optimal amount of power and signal is getting to those speakers from your radio so that your marine stereo system can reach its full potential. The good news is that all of these equipment brands can be found at Garage Bagger Stereo.
Garage Bagger Stereo
So what is the best marine stereo system for your vessel? It entirely depends on what you as a boat owner want, and it is completely customizable. If you wish to listen to a high quality version of your favorite songs on your old fishing boat, or you want to create a party-like atmosphere with the absolute highest quality sound and visual experience possible, Garage Bagger Stereo has the equipment for you.
Check them out to find the best brands on the market. If you have any questions, they are just an email or phone call away and can answer any questions you have and help you create the marine audio system of your dreams. Take confidence in knowing that you are purchasing the best equipment available, install your new parts, or have your favorite local shop install them, and hit the water knowing you have the best marine stereo system for your vessel.