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Thread: Are Cockpit Speakers Necessary?

  1. #1
    Moderator Christian Williams's Avatar
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    Oct 2012
    Los Angeles
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    Are Cockpit Speakers Necessary?

    New gear has changed my mind about cockpit speakers--unfortunately too late to stop me from ripping big holes in the cockpit and installing permanent speakers of low quality and disappointing sound.

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    Maybe if the sound were better I'd use them more. But not sailing in good air. Generally music seems right while lazing along in 8 knots, or in the slip when Manhattans are being poured. The boat is stable then, no need to have everything nailed down.

    If that's the case, this bluetooth JBL portable speaker, mentioned several times recently, really does fill the bill. Waterproof. No wires. Battery life almost 10 hours. Recharges off a wall socket. No holes in the boat. Well under $100.

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    And the sound is really good, no kidding. There's a speaker on top, and one under the base. They work in concert to again illustrate the advances in speaker design and miniaturization we have all noticed, and can easily apply to our boats.

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    Also: there's no worse audio quality than that of a small flat-screen TV as may be found in the kitchen, or the saloon of a live-aboard sailboat. One of these solves that, too: merely plug in with a $5 two-channel stereo cable.
    Thelonious II, E381 hull 513 (1984) Universal 5432
    Table of Contents for Thelonious Blog here

  2. #2
    Principal Partner
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Port Angeles, WA
    Hey! It's an eighty's boat. It's susposed to have those speakers. Looks funny without them.-
    Bob Morrison
    1987 E-34 Hull #15
    "Terra Nova"

  3. #3
    Curator of Broken Parts toddster's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
    Oregon - The Gorge
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    I thought I would be clever and install speakers in the holes that I had to cut in the liner to access deck hardware. But I couldn't figure any way to get decent speaker placement out of it.
    s/v arcturus E29 #134

  4. #4
    Sustaining Partner
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Don't know what it is exactly about those portable blue tooth speakers but they seem to drive me nuts after awhile. Did a five hour delivery this past week with one lashed to the binnacle. Not loud enough for the helmsman , too loud for everyone in the cockpit. Seems to me that most of them sound best at a volume level thats usually too high for any conversation.
    Maybe its just an old guy thing but I'll take my transom mounted JL Audio speakers over a portable anyday.
    1987 34-2
    Universal M25XP

  5. #5
    Sustaining Partner alcodiesel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Norfolk, VA
    I have gone through several Bluetooth speakers and for my money this is terrific. Great sound:

    it sits in a cup holder or hangs on a cleat. I also downloaded an equalizer app on my phone to tailor the sound. I put the phone in airplane mode and just connect the blue teeth thing- no calls when sailing please!
    Bill McLean,
    '76 E27 #879, Atomic 4
    Norfolk, VA

  6. #6
    Contributing Member III
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    Sep 2018
    Riverside, CA
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    I've found that location of the wireless speaker is important in getting good sound. This is usually an area where the sound can better dissipate from speaker like facing it toward corner or wall (bulkhead). I wouldn't use wired speakers unless the boat already had the cutouts and I didn't want to patch them.

  7. #7
    Glenn McCarthy
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    I've got 3 speakers in the cockpit. 2 Stereo, 1 VHF radio from the unit mounted in the Nav Station to monitor 16.

    Also in the Chicago Mackinac race, we turn it onto the finish line race committee as each boat has to report that they are 5 miles from the finish, to hear how we're doing! Lots of fun listening to that each year.
    Glenn McCarthy, Chicago
    1976 Ericson 35 MkII "Eleven"

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