View Full Version : Tower Speakers - Need help replacing
02-10-2012, 12:45 AM
Hey guys. This is only my second post, but I spend a lot of time on the forum learning from you guys so thanks in advance. I am hoping to replace my tower speakers, but still use the stock Roswell cans that the Kicker factory speakers are in. I want to get something decent up there, but can't go too crazy yet as I want to keep my current amps. Long way of saying I am not ready for the EXILE path, just had a baby. Today I have a ZX 700.5 powering my cabin speakers(6) and a 12" Kicker sub. The two tower speakers are the stock kicker components in the roswell cans. They are powered by a kicker ZX 250.2. I was thinking i could replace the speakers with the Polk DB 651 or DB 6501. If i used the coax's instead of the components I would just leave the kicker tweeter grill on the cans and cut off the wire. Any thoughts on if there would be any issues with this change out? In particular I am concerned about size and power concerns. Also, I have been toying with the idea of adding set of polk DB 691's as a supplement to the two already there. With all polk DB on the tower would my amp be strong enough to power all 4 speakers very well? How would I need to change the amp set up to get the most power out of my tower? Thanks for any help you can provide. Also open to suggestions on other replacement speakers to consider that would fit the existing cans, either coax or component. The picture is not of my actual speakers but they look identical to these ones.
02-10-2012, 08:58 AM
There is a Kicker HLCD speaker that, I think, drops right in those cans. I'm sure David or Phil can tell you all about it. Probably what you are looking for.
02-10-2012, 09:02 AM
I think its the Kicker 6500.2. I'm sure you can find them cheaper, but you get the idea:
Another thought is to give Brian a call at Exile. He can be very helpful in fitting you to your needs without breaking the bank. I'm sure he has some stuff lying around in a box that would work for you. Can't hurt to call him and tell him what you are after. He's a true pro. Gave me great advice about where to start so I could easily add to my system when I was ready.
02-10-2012, 10:41 AM
I don't like to mix speakers of different sizes on the tower if I can avoid it. Why? Larger speakers play louder, right? That usually leaves the smaller speakers less audibly visible while they are still consuming an equal portion of your limited amplifier power. So there are more effective routes.
Your amplifier will deliver a premium in power (but not actually double) if you lower the impedance by running two pair of speakers in parallel and four speakers will certainly play louder than two.
Now here is one thought. If you can find a Kicker two-channel amplifier identical to the one you have now then you will have a great start on a lasting and permanent tower solution with 250 watts per side. That is enough power to run one pair of any larger HLCDs or substantial surf speakers in the future. You will not be limited in your future speaker selection by power limitations. This way you are not investing in anything that you will have to replace later.
Many on this forum will share how they made a short term decision and ending up spending more in the long run when they were displeased with the performance. Very small HLCDs and automotive speakers on the tower rarely last for long as they are frequently upgraded.
So form a concrete vision of what your final solution will be and build it incrementally with zero turnover of future product purchases. I know sometimes its difficult with a nickel burning a hole in your pocket now.
02-10-2012, 12:02 PM
John - Every year I post up some general suggestions on how to go approach building a system. I think the questions you bring up fall right into place with stereo upgrade 101/201 & 301.
Generally speaking, a boats stereo is going to be judged on the sum of all three music zones - Cabin / Sub / Tower. When they combined together in normal play the music provides its listener(s) real world dynamic range. If for example, your missing a sub, that range is limited., or if someone has a tower setup, but no cabin setup same problem. The same can be true if one of the zones is to dominate - 2000W sub with stock cabin and tower. See what I mean?
So the question becomes, "How do I upgrade my stock stuff, and not have to do it again and again...". It doesn't necessary mean one has to buy the most expensive stuff on the market. But it does mean that you should keep an eye on the final goal and then architect the upgrades to head toward that end result. This is important because it will save you $$$ in the long run.
When configuring systems, I always ask whats most important to you? Here's a few real world examples.
Sound at 80ft for a wakeboarder? --Go with a premium HLCD product on the tower and make sure the rest of the stereo can keep up with it.
Sound at surf range?-- Go with a direct radiating / wide dispersion tower speaker.
Sound for the family? -- Upgrade the cabin and forget the tower zone all together
There are a lot of ways to skin this cat, and a lot of brands on the market that make great product. This forum and boat owners have been in your shoes and can give great guidance.
My feeling as to your question re the tower zone is don't band-aid it together. Look at the end result that zone needs to accomplish and go down that path. If price is a concern, look at some great demo gear from others that have change / upgraded. I know many of these guys change things out every season or two. Just make sure your not buying their junks if you know what I mean.
So, I toss it back to you and ask, "What do you want to accomplish with this tower upgrade?" Those answers will choose the path thats right for you.
Hope this helps.
02-10-2012, 06:26 PM
Brian, Dave and Kane -
Thanks for the input I really appreciate it. I think I can shed a little more light and answer some questions too. I have generally been disappointed with the system since we bought the boat new in February 2009. I have had a few cars with decent systems in them (for a high school kid) and no where near the kind of quality that this boat came with out of the box so I had high expectations. I never gave it a lot of thought after initial disappointment since my wife is not a huge fan of loud music. However, since having the baby in December I find myself a bit more house bound and in search of projects, thus a pickup in my interest on the subject. I always assumed the disappointment in the system was a result of "low quality, builder grade" components. The more research I do the more I grow convinced something is just not setup right and my current system should be better. I know I have a busted tower speaker which is what prompted this thread for replacement/upgrade ideas. Since I have been looking at my system a bit closer the last few days I realized that the port side main cabin speakers and the 2 bow speakers were not playing at all. With the busted tower speaker that rarely plays and the others not functioning I only had 3 of my 8 speakers working. Also the sub always seemed disappointing/not working. After looking at the amps I decided the RCA's were not installed properly as there were 2 white ports not connected at all. I went and got all new RCA's and hooked them up properly. Additionally the sub channel fuse was blown/bent on zx700.5, so i replaced that. The good news is I turned on my stereo and all 8 speakers fired up as well as the sub. The bad news is that as soon as I turn up the stereo past a whisper the zx700.5 clicks and the power light goes from green to red. It keeps trying to restart itself but does the same thing as soon as it tries to power the speakers again. It sounds like the "short circuit protection" is engaged when I turn up the volume. I am hoping someone can confirm this is the issue and help me figure out how to solve the problem. In regards to what I want the system to be/ideal vision, I don't need something bad a$$ that can blow everyone else out of the water. More so I am interested in having a stereo that has really clean, full range sound for surfing, nice and crisp if we are just hanging out in the boat sipppin' suds and can get some tunes to the occasional wakeboarder if they want them without having to blow out everyone riding in the boat. We are 90% surf, 8% wakeboard and 2% a bunch of cr@p I would rather not be associated with. Other than that we use the boat to hit busy water on hot seattle days so we can take a dip and cool off. I also don't want to over invest in the boat as I find myself constantly mesmerized by the idea of a shinny new toy, which undoubtedly will take the form of a boat after I get my new truck. Probably 3-5 years away from a change, but still worth considering. BTW I will be going Mojo then, once they get the tweaks out. I hope this gives you guys enough info and you can keep steering me towards the right destination. Already started looking into another ZX250.2, they are cheap, so I could have that around for tower speakers 3&4 whenever they show up:rolleyes:
02-10-2012, 06:27 PM
There certainly is nothing wrong with Brian's system design approach and that works for many people.
After having a dedicated marine division since the late 90s and after installing several thousand boat systems we appraoch it differently at least in how I would describe it.
We normally treat the subwoofer as part of the in-boat zone just like a woofer in a three-way system. Why? First, because in most moderate systems its not practical to drive the subwoofer to the level that it can project to the rider at wake range. In most moderate systems the woofer and amplifier would be over-driven not to mention that the in-boat occupants that would object to that much SPL in their face for any duration. Second, when lounging behind the boat for any period at rest it takes an inordinate amount of power to drive a sub from out of the bathtub, so to speak, away from the boat when the listeners are below the deck cap down at water level. So many people go easy on the sub in this scenario to conserve battery power. Lastly, we are very focused on sound quality in the boat so we always try to maintain a very balanced in-boat sub/satellite system in respect to the product and in the tuning process. The tower speakers are often used so differently that we address this as a different and independent zone. Plus, we would prefer that boaters select larger tower speakers with a warmer balance so that they at least capture enough bandwidth to simulate fullrange. To a degree we do consider the ambient radiation from the tower speakers in the boat.
Now there are definite exceptions. There are those boaters were we design and build their system specifically to entertain others at the sandbar or dock. They usually want the entire musical range including the bass to project along with the tower speakers for several boat lengths away in a dominant fashion. Under those circumstances with a very powerful system we do have to consider the subwoofer in unison with the tower speakers. It takes four times the power to reproduce one octave lower bass at the same amplitude and it takes four times the power to double the distance at the same amplitude so with those types of challenges this isn't an approach for a moderate budget system. And in that case you are looking at a mighty big sub and enclosure, mighty big sub amplifier and a mighty big battery bank.
To me, it sounds like you have 3 issues going on.1) under powered tower speakers, 2) poorly tuned system, and 3) a short in the in-boat system putting the zx700.5 into protect mode.
My approach would be this. get what you have performing to its optimal level, then reevaluate.
For number 1, an amp change would be in order, but I would do number 2 (no pun intended) first for the tower. No matter the gear, poorly tuned is poorly tuned.
Now, for the problem with the zx700.5 going into protect mode. You are going to need to get a DVOM out and start checking speaker circuits. Also, you need to inspect real close for a possible power or ground cable shorting out at the terminal lugs on the amp. Make sure you dont have a stray strand of wire that missed the lug. Outside of shorted speaker or lead or a problem at the lugs, you could be looking at a setting/tuning issue.
02-10-2012, 09:20 PM
You posted just a fraction before I did so I wasn't able to read your comments in time.
The Kicker 5-channel is probably fine and you most likely have a problem(s) external to the amplifier. If the amplifier does require repair and its not a water-exposure issue then its still worth it versus a replacement. That amplifier will have no trouble serving your purposes as you've described them for six in-boat speakers and one subwoofer.
I'm confident that if you do find another 250.2 then you will be set for tower amplification for the long term. But I am going to recommend that when the time comes you move to a single pair of larger tower speakers rather than trying to supplement your existing pods. From a power standpoint the idea of using dual 2-channel amplifiers in the bridged mode better fits a single pair of more substantial speakers than it does four speakers. And, two 8-inch tower speakers are going to have the advantage over four 6.5" conventional automotive-based speakers in surface area, warmth and midbass extension.
For now you will have to first track down the present demons and get the existing equipment operating at its potential just as MLA wrote.
02-11-2012, 12:20 AM
Thanks guys for all of the advice. I will try isolating the short tomorrow if I don't see a stray wire or what not causing the short near/at the amplifier. I am really excited at the idea of hearing my system in whole for the first time once I get this sorted out. Might have to roll the boat down to a stereo shop for a full tune once I get it all working too. David, I like your idea about 2 big tower speakers instead 4 small ones. Just reinforces that a pair of the XM9's are what I should be holding out for. By the way at $1100 I will probably move those to the next boat instead of "trading them in". I will let you guys know if I am successful or if I need some more advice.
02-11-2012, 02:08 AM
These guys are way more qualified than I am to help you now with all the info out there. The only thing I wanted to mention is an observation based on this part of your explanation: "We are 90% surf . . ."
Check out the Exile SXT65 speakers before you change whatever you have on the tower. While I agree that getting what you have now working is probably the priority, if you do decide to upgrade you will kick yourself if you don't at least hear these before you decide what to do. Good luck!
I want edit my post just a little after double checking the specs on the ZX250.2. At 4 ohm, such as driving 1 speaker per chnl, its output is 85W rms. That is by no means, grossly under powering those Kicker components. Although they would run comfortable at 120W, I do not believe upgrading the amp at this point, would yield the results you are looking for. I agree with David, if you are ready to make the investment, then go with a single pair of larger speakers. Picking up a 2nd zx250.2 would out you spot on for most any 8" tower speaker out there.
Zone wise, I feel that the in-boat and tower need to be different zones and designed to achieve the goals that the owner wants for each. IMO, the sub is part of the in-boat zone and in most installs, stays that way. 9 of 10 customers with towers, do not want a 2K watt in-boat system to compete, keep up or be in balance with their 2K watt tower setup.
For the tow-sport enthusiasts, most are after a setup that allows them to tone down the in-boat volume when the rider is in tow. This allows the rider to enjoy the tunes without the passengers being subjected to the in-boat volume at the same time. So in those cases, an in-boat system that will keep pace with the HO tower system is not practical. There is the exception, though. There are those that funds are not a concern when designing the system. In most cases, they spend more time at the party cove. Their days on the water are less about tow sports and not too family friendly. So for them, having a 2500 watt sub projecting 6 boats over to the beer pong table is what their goals are.
02-11-2012, 11:17 AM
Not to steer this thread too far of course but to expand a little on Mike's zone comments which I entirely agree with... You always want a little extra sub capacity and the ability to control the sub is nice to have if you are turning down the in-boat speakers while really driving the tower speakers extremely hard. Obviously under those conditions the in boat occupants are getting alot of residual radiation off the tower speakers whether they want it or not. But normally that doesn't constitute a zone in itself. Its just a bit of extra capacity and a bit of control.
For bass that is musical you cannot overdrive the capacity of your in-boat coaxials. Why? Try listening to any subwoofer in isolation and without the coaxials. It will absolutely sound soggy and indiscriminant. So you are very dependent on a balanced relationship between the subwoofer and in-boat coaxials if you want pitch accuracy and tonal definition in your bass. As your subwoofer overdrives the coaxials, provided it has that ability to do so, you will increasingly lose any resemblance to musicality. So the sub is tightly tied to the in-boat coaxials as part of a common in-boat zone. If you only want disco bump at the exclusion of sound quality then its a different set of priorities. And there is nothing wrong with that when its a conscious decision.
02-11-2012, 01:07 PM
John - I didn't realize you where from Seattle. You have some great local resources close by for help if you run into trouble. or Need
- Exile is located down in portland. Welcome to stop by anytime for a refreshment. Redbull just sponsored us and dropped off a shiny refrigerator with all kinda stuff in it.
- Divine Marine is up your way. You might have seen him at the seattle boat show. I'm sure he'd give you some direct input.
- Bakes Marine is over in Issaquah (sp?) and they have an in house tech.
Sometimes the forums can go around and around in circles. I probably speak for all the audio guru's in saying you can reach out to any one of us for help regardless of the brand gear you are running.
The time is now to get all those issues sorted out because before you know it, it'll be time to DWIN and get on the water. Bakes a good service place if you need help with any of that stuff too.
and yes, I agree with all the above comments about getting that system working before you run go change it. If on of those amps are toast, I'd probably forget repairing it and just replace it with one of the amps listed in the classified section Probably be cheaper, and the forum members are all good guys.
02-11-2012, 10:41 PM
Sometimes the forums can go around and around in circles.
How else is one supposed to build up their post count?
02-11-2012, 11:17 PM
02-11-2012, 11:38 PM
Nice one! How's the bromance weekend going?
02-11-2012, 11:57 PM
Kyle fell asleep, the other 9 of us are all still in his living room.
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