View Full Version : Audio setup advice for Outback

11-07-2011, 10:08 AM
Hey, wanted to post this for some ideas from those of you with a lot of stereo experience. I'm planning on installing my new tower this winter, and it came with a pair of twin speakers. I'd like some ideas for an amp, new receiver, and subwoofer/amp combo.


Tower speaker specs (4 total);

6 1/2" coaxial mid/woofer
3/4" soft dome tweeter
Nominal Impedance: 4 ohms
Frequency Response 35-22kHz
Power Handling (continuous) : 60w
Power Handling (peak): 180w
Efficiency: 92dB

I'd like to amplify the tower speakers, and leave the boat speakers running off the receiver alone. I'm thinking a 12 inch sub under console with a remote level switch for the amp. And my only requirement for the deck is that it has iPod connection. If money allows I'd also like to upgrade the stock boat speakers.

I'm on a somewhat tight budget for the stereo, not Pyle and Boss tight, but a budget nonetheless. I'm looking for something that'll sound good at the sandbar. Anyone have any input on good reputable equipment on the cheap that'd work for my setup?

11-07-2011, 11:33 AM
Given that the 60 watt Polk tower speakers will be run highpass you can put more than 60 watts each to them. 90 watts each in our experience is about the safe maximum...and only if you take care of your stuff. You can do this with a number of two-channel amplifiers.
A source unit is not rated by the same standards that external amplifiers are. Figure any source unit that is rated at 4 times 50 watts to be about 16 real watts per channel best case. If you had a small and enclosed pickup truck cabin for example, you might be able to run HU power to four satellite speakers in combination with a 'sub lite'. But the second you go with a 10 or 12-inch subwoofer in an open field boat, you are going to have to drive the in-boat coaxials with external amplifier power.
Look to the JL Audio "J" series of amplifiers. A great mix of quality and economy. They have three monoblock, two and four-channel amplifiers in that series that should fit your application well.

Earmark Marine

11-07-2011, 12:35 PM
Lots of guys, myself included, run Polk speakers in boat They have good power handling, marine certified, and are on the more affordable side - especially if you shop eBay. Shopping on-line will save you a ton compared to the local shops typically.

Amp wise, a lot of personal preference there but as David is suggesting amplify everything in the boat or you'll be disappointed. And overpower everything. Underpowering will actually cause more harm than good. You can get overwhelmed by the amount of research and suggestions offered (been there!) but having a good base of knowledge before you start is the key.

11-07-2011, 12:47 PM
Thanks for the quick reply, did some searching and came up with this list:

JL AUDIO J2-360.2 Amplifier; ($140)
110 watts RMS x 2 at 4 ohms (180 watts RMS x 2 at 2 ohms)

This would mean 90W to each of the four tower speakers if wired in parallel right?

JL Audio J2 320.4 Amplifier; ($150)
60W x 4 @ 4 ohm / 80W x 4 @ 2 ohm

With the added power I imagine I'd have to upgrade the boat speakers. Can anyone fill me in on the number of speakers and sizes inside a 2000 Outback LS?

175 watts RMS x 1 at 4 ohms (250 watts RMS x 1 at 2 ohms)

Comes with remote level control.


Open space mounting. Is this preferred, or should I look at shallow mount subs and enclosures?

All for a total of $600, plus install kit.

11-07-2011, 01:00 PM
I read another post of a budget install using Kicker components, here's the breakdown;

Kicker ZXM700.5 R 5-Channel Marine Audio Amplifier 750 Watts. ($300)
4-CHANNEL RMS Power Rating:
2 Ohms: 85 Watts x 4 Channels
4 Ohms: 70 Watts x 4 Channels
4 Ohms Bridged: 165 Watts x 2 Channel
MONO RMS Power Handling:
2 Ohms: 420 Watts x 1 Channels
4 Ohms: 210 Watts x 1 Channels

I like it that this covers the tower and sub both, less wiring and less components to mount. However, I'm not totally up to speed on the ohms measurements, would this only deliver 42.5W to each of the 4 tower speakers if I wire them parallel? Or will I have to run 4 sets of wires up tower in order to get 70W?

Kicker 11SKM10 10" 300W 4 Ohm Marine Subwoofer + Box; ($160)
10" 4 ohms KM Series Marine Loaded Subwoofer Enclosure
Peak Power Output: 300 watts
RMS Power Output: 150 watts

Nice package, would be easy to mount. Would this be a better deal than the open air subwoofer?

RMS Wattage at 2 Ohm x 4 Channels: 90
RMS Wattage at 4 Ohm Bridged x 2 Channels: 175
RMS Wattage at 4 Ohm x 4 Channels: 60

60W to 4 in boat speakers.

For a total of $635. Anyone have any input on Kicker over JL? Or any other brand route they'd recommend?

KG's Supra24
11-07-2011, 01:04 PM
Another option, just going to throw it out there since I just listed mine .. :)

Buy my Krypt 6.5" HLCD and the JL amps to power them ... $650 or reasonable offer

Put the 4 Polk coaxials in the boat. Power them with the JL J2 .... 140

Then your choice on sub but personally I would go with an enclosure. Oh I have a 10" Kenwood Excelon sitting in the garage .. :shock:

That would give you HCLD's on the tower for sound at a distant and a solid in boat setup and still a decent price. Having everything amped is def the way to go. Ok, enough pushing my own ... David won't like the 6.5" HLCD route but its an option for those on a budget. I think you will find many that agree on an enclosure.

KG's Supra24
11-07-2011, 01:09 PM
Are you wanting a lot of thump from the sub? I think you will want to be looking at 300+ rms ratings, that is my personal preference, though.

11-07-2011, 01:16 PM
MB Quart ONX4.80/500, 5000W 5-Ch Amp; ($280)
2 ohms: 120 watts x 4 chan. + 375 watts x 1 chan

Would this allow me to amplify 4 tower speakers at 60W each, and 4 boat speakers at 60W each if all wired in parallel? Sure would simplify things if I could use one amp for 8 speakers plus the sub!

Sorry, throwing lots of questions out there. Just getting stoked here, only have a couple more weeks overseas, ready to get the boat in the garage and get to work!

11-07-2011, 01:25 PM
Try to buy from an authorized or local dealer in your area whenever you can. With an 'un'authorized dealer you can never be 100 percent sure of the origin of the product and whether or not it has authentic serial numbers. You may not have a warranty at all per the warnings on certain manufacturer websites and will certainly have no technical assistance.
Authorized dealers may be bound by the Miniumum Advertised Price but in reality their actual street price is often as low as the unauthorized internet dealer.

Earmark Marine

KG's Supra24
11-07-2011, 01:27 PM
Running multiple amps doesn't really hurt anything or make it much more difficult to wire. All the wire still has to get to the same places. Multiple amp setup is likely more efficient as well.

11-07-2011, 01:35 PM
KG, sounds like a heck of a deal! I think I'm going to stick with the Polk speakers that came with the tower though. Probably keep with Polk inside boat as well. What kind of Jl amps are you trying to sell off, and would you separate from the Krypts?

I'm looking for enough thump out of the sub that I can at least hear some low's while underway, I had an older 10" JL sub in the enclosed bow of my American Skier but it wasn't powerful enough to hear once planed out.

KG's Supra24
11-07-2011, 01:42 PM
I'd be selling JL G1300's but right now I'd like to keep them in reserve to sell with the Krypts.

11-07-2011, 02:06 PM
David, thanks for the advice, it's much appreciated. Right now I'm just feeling out a good combination that isn't going to put a big dent in the boat budget. Once I figure out a plan for components I'll probably try to re-purpose as much as I can by buying used, or refurbished equipment.

KG, I gotcha. Right now none of us are good enough behind our boat to justify HLCD's, we're too focused on staying right side up on the board to pay attention to tunes!

Just looking for a good setup for cruising and jamming at the sand bar.

11-08-2011, 12:24 PM
I have the 6.5" Polks in Monster Tower Double Barrel cans on my tower. Although the RMS rating is 60W, they will need more if you want to hear them. I have a two channel amp run in parallel powering mine, so each speaker is getting aroung 110 watts RMS. At riding speed and length, the rider can barely hear the music and the folks in the boat are complaining about the music being too loud, and you can't talk to the person sitting next to you. Its kind of a catch 22 situation with these type of speakers. If you want to hear the music while riding, HLCD speaker are the only way to go, but that is significantly more expensive. Also, you will be blasting everyone on the lake with your music and you become "that guy". I have decided that on my next boat, I am skipping the tower speakers.

My 2001 Outback has (6) 6.5" speakers inside the boat. For a sub, I built a sealed enclosure under the drivers side dash with a 10" Infinity Perfect sub (very tiny enclosure requirements, 0.6 cu. ft.) and am running about 275 watts RMS to it and it thumps quite a bit. You can hear it quite well when the boat is underway.

I hope some of this helps.

11-08-2011, 12:51 PM
Also, you will be blasting everyone on the lake with your music and you become "that guy". I have decided that on my next boat, I am skipping the tower speakers.

Thought about that before. Just have a clean/simple in-boat stereo. No tower speakers. Let the rider have a waterproof ipod of some sort. How much easier would that be>>>

Doesn't do much for party cove and projecting up onto the beach when you're anchored. All depends on what's important to you...

11-08-2011, 01:03 PM
Awesome, thanks for the heads up. I also had that issue with my last boat, it was a direct drive closed bow so there was no escaping the tower speakers for the passengers in the back seat. I had 4 6x9's on the tower with 250W RMS to each, never really used them for anyone on the rope because the passengers in the back seat would get blown out. We're on a pretty small lake anyhow, can't be "that guy" when you're in the home owners association! This upgrade is more or less just for cruising and jammin at the sand bar.

I'm thinking the MB Quart amp will do the job, with 60W RMS going to all four tower speakers, and four of the six cabin speakers. Along with 250W RMS to a sub.

Do the HLCD speakers remedy that issue with the way they project, or is it the same deal for back seat passengers getting blasted?

KG's Supra24
11-08-2011, 02:01 PM
I went from coaxials to HLCD and thought the coaxials were louder in the boat. HLCD does more sound projection. I originally had decided the 6.5" HLCD was the answer for me as I was concerned what friends would be blasting while I was riding. Since then, I've decided I want LOUD. Ha.

11-08-2011, 03:45 PM
All midrange and high frequency speakers have a few common behaviors. The polar pattern will be such that you will get a lot of off-axis radiation in very close proximity that will narrow considerably as you raise the frequency and also as you increase the distance. So when the speakers are just a few feet overhead, regardless of type, you can't avoid the in-boat impact. An HLCD will have somewhat of a narrower dispersion pattern versus a dome tweeter for example. But in the final analysis, an HLCD is simply much louder, which is essentially why it projects farther, and will just be louder in the boat when played louder for the rider. There are a few things you can do like raising the height of the speakers if you have those options, mount the speakers on the rear crossbar so they are closer to the rear and tilt the tower speakers up slightly so that they project out versus down when the boat is squated and pulling. Past that the best way to make loud tower speakers more tolerable in the boat is to go with a larger tower speaker/pod that has a much warmer balance. Its often the overly aggressive high frequency stridency that is more taxing in the boat than the amplitude.

Earmark Marine

11-09-2011, 10:55 AM
Sorry to thread jack... but I am thinking of adding tower speakers and another amp to run them and my 12" sub. Am I gonna run the battery down after 30 min? Is a second battery needed for just one additional amp?

11-09-2011, 11:27 AM
There are quite a few variables.
The amount of actual power you have, how loud you play it as a percentage of the maximum potential, the amplifier topology (whether Class AB, G/H or D), the inherent efficiency of your system design and installation execution, type of program material, EQ settings, the amp/hour capacity of your battery(s), how you charge your batteries when the boat is in storage and the condition of your batteries. Results may easily vary by +/- 100 percent with seemingly the same equipment. With an honest 1000 watts of Class AB power with a single group 24 battery in good shape you could assume the average play time at rest at close to max volume to be an hour.

Earmark Marine

11-09-2011, 11:36 AM
Thanks.. I think :) I should be able to "cifer" that soon as I figure out my "gosintas"

Sounds like a second battery is in order!