Published in the June 2008 Issue June 2008

Pontoons nowadays come with some pretty sweet-sounding stereo systems. You may not sound like a gang-banger cruising down a street in Los Angeles, but considering the surroundings at the lake, the sound system still sounds pretty good. But just as with horsepower, some people aren't content with the status quo and feel the urge to upgrade to a stereo system that fits their own style. A recent discussion on the PDB Forum revolved around what kind of aftermarket stereo systems are best for a pontoon boat. A surprise answer was given by one forum member, while another member reminisced about the good ol' days.

Skallywag asked: What are the best speakers for clear, loud sound and clear, soft music? Any `tooner using the Bose round flush-mounts? Placement on these pontoons is pretty obscure for quality sound, but it would be nice to hear both channels.

krober responded: I just installed some Pioneer TS-MR1640 6.5-inch, two-way marine speakers on my boat and they sound pretty good. They don't have the loud bass you get from a subwoofer, but otherwise they sound good. They would do better with an amplifier (next planned modification) at high volume. I hope this helps.

TILEMAN4YOU piped in: Since the speakers seem to get wet quite a bit, I would say to make sure they are marine-rated. There are lots of good-sounding, marine-rated speakers out there. Bose is not one of them. I have six ultra-linear speakers on my boat and have been very pleased with them. If you have room, get the six-inch, round, three-way speakers. They sound the best. The very best sounding ones are the ones you see on the ski towers, but they require a different mounting technique for pontoon boats. Usually they are put on removable poles that stick up off your side railings.

Harleypaw brought up the green factor: It really depends on what you're looking for out of your system, and how much money you're willing to invest. You can get some good speakers for $60 a pair that will do better than your stock system. Be sure to check what the RMS power from your head unit is producing and stay close to that-most likely around 20 watts RMS. I have installed and heard lots of really good systems, but none sound any better than the MB Quart 6.5-inch marine speakers. They are pricey and require amps to push them.

lawdawg said: I just had an additional pair of Bazooka marine speakers placed in my `toon with a 600-watt amplifier. The amp helped a great deal, as the sound is much clearer at louder volume (i.e. when underway). The whole setup with running the amp, new speakers and hooking up the two speakers I already had to the existing system ran $500.

Skallywag was a little surprised with TILEMAN4YOU's response to Bose: I have always been impressed by the sound quality of Bose products. I'm curious why you don't like the Bose marine speakers. I understand I will never have what I put into my houseboat, but I can certainly have better than the factory. I really want to use the already-fabricated holes for my new speakers. Tell me more about the Bose problems, please.

First, Beepa chimed in with his experience: Being an ex-hifi salesman, I can tell you that the MOST subjective part of any audio system is the speakers. If they sound good to you, they're great!

TILEMAN4YOU then explained his point of view: This is just my opinion so it's not worth much, but I think $214 for a set of the Bose 131 Marine Speakers is very overpriced. There are so many two- and three-way speakers on the market for half that price that would sound much better. But I agree with Beepa: if they sound good to you and money doesn't matter, go for it. They will do the job. I didn't intend to mislead you into thinking I had problems with Bose. I just think they are very overpriced.

Skallywag understood: I gotcha. My real problem is placement. Original holes are one forward and amidships. The Bose product claims to provide stereo sound regardless of placement. Now, a friend has suggested that since I am building a radar arch style, six rocket-launcher rod holder for the boat, that I incorporate a provision for speakers in that. I think this is a pretty good idea. This will allow me to use less-expensive units and get quality sound. Thanks everyone for the "kewl" advice.

Beepa, I'm an old hifi guy too-back to when Fisher, Marantz and TEAC were kings. Back then, we built our own cabinets and inserted woofers, tweeters, mid-range and cross-over networks. It's still the same...all about the components.

huskertoon added to the conversation with details of his own project: I picked up a Pioneer Supertuner from Wally World. Not much more than 100 bucks. I got the model I can run the iPod from either the MP3 jack or I can plug the iPod into the back of the amplifier and run it from the tuner itself. I put Sony six- by nine-inch speakers in the couch right across from the captain's chair-great sound and bass. I have some four-inch speakers that came with the `toon in the front arm rests; I am going to change those out this year and put the Sonys there too. Great cavities, full sound and controllable bass. I would like to put some on the bimini frame, but I haven't figured that out yet. I figure that if I can put that system together for under $200, and it lasts two or three years, that's good enough for me!

TILEMAN4YOU replied: huskertoon, you got the right idea. Great head unit for cheap. It proves you can have a quality system without spending a fortune.

I am hooking up an XMDirect into my Pioneer for $50. I will be able to control XM radio directly through my Pioneer head unit and remote. The XM brain will be under the helm with the amps. I also have an iPod brain that allows me to control the iPod through the head unit too. My iPod stays under the helm where it's safe and dry.

To read this thread in its entirety, please visit the forum page at www.pdbmagazine.com and search for the "SPEAKERS" thread.

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