What's the point of owning a boat that could host a party if you don't use it for such? More importantly, what's a party without great-sounding music? I will take the liberty of answering those questions for you. A party with no music is like a sandwich without bread: absolutely pointless.
Luckily for us, a `toon manufacturer has teamed up with an American-made audio company to ensure that future generations of pontoon boaters will never know the loneliness of being on the water without great sound.
New for model year 2013, many of the JC Manufacturing pontoons will use JL Audio for the standard audio system and offer an entirely new optional sound system using their latest marine speakers available.
The news of this partnership truly is music to the ears of many. Since two high school buddies established JL Audio in the 1970's, the company has been producing audio equipment in a class of its own. JL Audio's founders, Jim Birch and Lucio Proni (hence the "J" and "L" in JL Audio), began building homemade loudspeakers for their friends-a hobby which has grown into one of the world's most respected audio brands.
Over the years, the company grew and expanded their reach from homemade loudspeakers to a multitude of marine, mobile, home and power sports audio products. Although the company has grown in many ways, they remain committed to manufacturing in the country where they were founded, continuing to build all marine, home, and high-end mobile loudspeakers right here in the U.S.
Since the company entered into the marine category in 2005, it has maintained a steadfast commitment to improving and enhancing the quality and experience of their marine audio products for consumers to enjoy for many years. JL Audio's Marine Sales Director Don Nesbit can attest to this.
"We continue to explore what is possible and practical in real-world marine applications and already have plans for some very interesting future products," says Nesbit. "Since we design everything in-house and are not held in check by bean-counters, we tend to put a lot more into R&D than the competition, so keep your ears to the waterline. We're constantly playing with better ideas."
Since 2007, JC Manufacturing has offered customers the option to upgrade to a JL Audio sound system; however, starting this model year, most of JC Pontoon boats will come standard with a JL Audio system. The system features the JL Audio MX-Series product. The Premium option will include six newly-designed 8.8-inch speakers throughout the boat and a 6-channel amplifier.
According to Nesbit, "The advantage to these drivers is all in the output. Sound is moving air, and these speakers move a lot of air, resulting in more output. With an 8.8-inch speaker, we have nearly 200 percent more cone area than your standard 6-inch speaker and twice as much excursion."
JC Manufacturing also offers the option to install two tower speakers. This upgrade includes two speakers with a two-channel amplifier hooked up to a separate control on the helm station. This means that the teenagers can be entertained with loud music behind the boat while still maintaining an environment more conducive to conversation on the boat.
"I think the main advantage is when you look at the system with 6, 8.8-inch speakers, you essentially have 12 drivers on the boat because we are able to get that much output out of them," says Nesbit. "This really raises the bar with the entertainment level on your boat. When you walk from the bow to stern, you will have even, full-range sound the entire way. You do not have the hot spots you find on an average design."
When JC Manufacturing decided to reexamine audio in its boat designs, the company leadership immediately thought of JL Audio. The companies had been working together for several years, but this new partnership required a brand new outlook. JL Audio proved to be up for the task.
"When we decided to upgrade our premium system we went to JL Audio and asked them to give us a complete, balanced system using all JL components. They came to our plant and designed systems using their amps, speakers and wiring components," says JC Manufacturing rep Joe Sparks. "They worked with our wiring harness supplier to make sure we had the proper gauge wiring and proper connects to optimize the quality of the upgraded systems. This gave us the complete high-end package. From there, it was a logical progression to their MX-Series speakers. JL Audio supplied us with tremendous support at our dealer show demonstrating our new systems to our dealers."
JC Manufacturing went with JL Audio not only because of their technical knowledge, but because the company is committed to high customer service standards.
"Customer service is as important as building great products," says Nesbit. "Our sales and technical teams are very focused on responsiveness and attention to detail, which we feel are key to building solid, long-lasting relationships with our business partners and end-users."
Besides treating their customers right and making exciting products, the JL Audio team is made up of audiophiles who love music and find a thrill in the work they do.
"JL Audio is a very exciting place to work for those of us who love great audio," adds Nesbit. "We're always working on new technologies and applications, and we're not afraid to take risks and try new approaches. It is so rewarding to see our experience and passion come together in the marine audio products that we build right here in Miramar, Fla. Nothing beats the thrill of turning great ideas into great products that enhance our customers' lifestyles."
PDB magazine had the opportunity to take a brand new JC Manufacturing `toon equipped with a JL Audio system out on the water so we could experience firsthand what all the hype was about.
Staff member Chris Searle summed it up when he said, "This system has great sound quality, which gives you a nice musical experience. With each speaker being able to play as low and as loud as a subwoofer, the bass is even throughout the entire boat so you get clean, full-range sound even at high speeds."
We also gave the setup high marks because of exactly how well the music was distributed throughout the boat. With other brands of audio equipment, the helm station vibrates if the music is loud enough for someone in the front of the boat to hear, but not in this case.
"A pontoon boat is all about having a great time with family and friends, so a good audio system in a pontoon boat needs to be able to operate as a background music system or as an all-out party system," says Nesbit. "For this reason, it is very important to evenly distribute loudspeakers throughout the boat, dividing it into listening areas, and powering the speakers with dedicated channels of amplification. You want even and balanced coverage."
The JL Audio system made us the envy of the lake; we know this because people on two separate boats commented on how clear our music was as they floated by.
The partnership between JL Audio and JC Manufacturing is a clear sign of the changing times. It proves that the old stigma about pontoons belonging only to grandparents has gone to the wayside.
"We are really excited that JC Manufacturing made a commitment to further enhance the audio portion of their boats," adds Nesbit. "Another great benefit to the relationship is that all of our speakers are manufactured right here in the U.S."
JC Manufacturing has also seen an upside to their relationship.
"The upgrades have been very well-received and our orders for upgrades have increased dramatically after the transition," says Sparks.
The partnership also creates unity between the brands and their loyal customers.
"The guys at JC called me up a couple of days ago to tell me they had a customer decided to buy a JC based on their relationship with JL Audio," said Nesbit. "Does it get better than that?"
And it can only get better from here. JL Audio is on a mission to prove that marine sound systems are worth the investment.