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Tower Speaker Wiring/Design Validation


aspen432

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Hey everyone, I'm fairly new to the site but have been doing a lot of research reading up on how people have been wiring up there tower speakers setups. I've done stereo installs in a car before but never in a boat so I just want to make sure I'm not missing anything in terms of how I plan to wire everything together before I pull the trigger on ordering all my components.

A little background on my boat situation. I purchased a 2006 23XTi at the end of the season last year. It's going to be kept at my folks place near Pittsburgh all year round and will be stored on a lift next to their dock all season, taken in and out as needed throughout a typical day mostly for wakeboarding, waterskiing, etc. The point of all this is that the boat will only be out in hour or two periods at a time maximum as opposed to being slipped into a lake in the morning and have people on it all day until it's time to pull it back out at the end of day. For this reason, I'm not going to crazy with my setup and I think I'll only need the one battery that's already in there (please correct me if I'm wrong) since the boat will be running pretty much the whole time the stereo would be on.

My plan is to keep the stock kicker speakers and amp in place but add two Exile XM9's to the tower to be powered by a Harpoon Amp (in case I ever decide to upgrade to four down the road) and put an Exile ZLD zone driver in between the head unit and the two amps so I can balance things out. For power I was thinking I would run 4 AWG into a combo power/ground (with fuses) distribution block from the single battery and then 4 AWG from the distribution block into the two amps.

So some questions...

- Is 4 AWG from the battery into the distribution block the right choice or should I go with 0 AWG and then 4 AWG to the amps?

- I'm seeing a lot of reference to using a common ground for all components so as to avoid interference noise in the system. For that reason should I have a separate distribution block that can accept the ground leads from the battery, 2 amps and the head unit? Does a distribution block for the grounds need a fuse?

- If I can do everything from a single distribution block with the fuses integrated that would be my preference...any issues with doing it that way? Any recommendations on a model?

- Does the stock kicker amp suck enough (I haven't had a chance to test it yet) that I should consider replacing that right away as well?

- My basic wiring diagram is below...anything I'm missing here?

Thanks in advance for the advice, this forum really is extremely helpful.

StereoWiringDiagram.jpg

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For two amps a distro block really isn't mandatory. You could certainly do two single power (fused) and ground runs straight to the battery too. I've only ever fused the power side. My old boat was set up that way and it worked fine.

If you really want a distro block, I really like this combo power/ground distro block: http://www.sonicelectronix.com/item_28008_Tsunami-TPFDB-4PG.html

tpfdb4pg.jpg

Whether to add 2awg and 4awg depends on the length of your runs. If you are splitting 4awg at the distro block, you've effectively got 8(ish) awg after the distro block. Which is probably fine if all of the amps are in the observer's compartment.

The one thing I would change (or add) on your diagram is make sure that you are pulling power for the headunit and the eq from the same place as the rest of the stereo stuff. As long as it's fused, you could stick your power wire and ground wire for the HU and the eq right in with the power and ground to the harpoon. Or from the distro block would be fine too.

I wired my red wire for the HU to a spare dash switch, so the turn on of the stereo isn't controlled by the key (which gets annoying after a while).

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Thanks for the feedback shawndoggy, I totally forgot the power and ground leads for the ZLD in my diagram...good catch. I didn't see it listed in the documentation but does anyone know what gauge wire should/can be used to power the ZLD? I'm assuming something pretty light...

Based on your feedback I'm now leaning on using a regular amp kit (with inline fuse on the power side) to connect my second Harpoon amp. This was the one I was eyeing based on some other posts...

http://www.darvex.com/store/pc/Stinger-HPM-4-Gauge-Amplifier-Wiring-Kit-2p74.htm

I'm doing a direct replacement of my Sony headunit with an updated Sony unit so I'm assuming the wiring harness should be the same (?) and should already have proper power and grounding through the existing wiring....hopefully.

I'm assuming no fuse will be necessary for the ZLD and that it can be run straight into the battery or should I fuse that as well?

I'm also planning on piggybacking the "turn on" lead from the existing amp to the harpoon to the ZLD...

Existing Kick Amp ----> Harpoon Amp ----> ZLD

Any issues there? Sorry for all the questions but thanks for all the help!

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anything getting power should be fused, including the zld. Probably 3-5a fuse? I'm betting it comes with a light fuse in the wiring harness.

piggybacking the turn on lead to the EQ is fine. Probably easier to splice into the run from the deck to the amps than pull a new run back from the amps, but that's a fielder's choice for sure.

14awg power wire for the eq and deck would be plenty.

That amp kit is nice. Because it's set up for a car, though, you'll probably get way too much wire of one color and not enough wire of the other color (ground to chassis on a car). Darvex sells wire by the foot and it's probably (maybe?) more efficient to buy 6' of each run. You probably don't need the speaker wire either. Can't go wrong with Stinger/Darvex though, and it's always good to have a box of spare install bits.

if you are connecting right to the batteries, I like these (for current amp and harpoon on single ring terminal):

rt44gl_33_detail.jpg

http://www.darvex.com/store/pc/XScorpion-PRO-4-8-Gauge-Dual-Ring-Terminal-133p295.htm

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Aspen while you are at this i would go ahead and run a 12 awg power and ground from your battery or dist block to power both your new deck and ZLD. I would be willing to bet your current deck draws power off the buss bars behind the throttle assembly, you don't want that. There is an inline fuse in the packaging with the ZLD, it's a 1 amp IIRC. Just run a remote turn on from your deck to the ZLD as well.

I recommend you do a 12v+ and 12v- distribution block with at least 3 - 4 awg outputs and 1 - 0 awg input. This will simplify your install and also give you room and equipment for expansion in the future, which inevitably you will.

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Aspen while you are at this i would go ahead and run a 12 awg power and ground from your battery or dist block to power both your new deck and ZLD. I would be willing to bet your current deck draws power off the buss bars behind the throttle assembly, you don't want that. There is an inline fuse in the packaging with the ZLD, it's a 1 amp IIRC. Just run a remote turn on from your deck to the ZLD as well.

I recommend you do a 12v+ and 12v- distribution block with at least 3 - 4 awg outputs and 1 - 0 awg input. This will simplify your install and also give you room and equipment for expansion in the future, which inevitably you will.

Can the fuse be near the ZLD or do you have to locate it close to the dist block?

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Can the fuse be near the ZLD or do you have to locate it close to the dist block?

It can be at the zld, no problem. Use the wired fuse that comes in the box.

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A question on sharing the same power and ground for the hu and amps. How important is that? Is it a nice to have or are you pretty much guaranteed noise if you use the stock harness to power the head unit but the amps run directly to the battery?

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It's somewhat of a crapshoot, just a best practice to not introduce noise. Doesn't mean you absolutely will or won't by doing or not doing it. Your chances of noise go down if you do it that way.

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I like the circuit breakers as opposed to glass fuses on the amps. Mine work great and a quick way to kill power to a component if you need to.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/CAR-STEREO-AUDIO-CIRCUIT-BREAKER-150-AMP-8-10-12-ga-/250747978075?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a61be815b

They come in assorted ratings and sizes.

I also run a master switch (350A rated) between the battery and dist block so that I can ensure there are no drains to pull the battery down from the stereo. That way you can have your distribution block for the head unit connected to your switch and not have to worry about having a dead battery if it sits a long while.

I was one who recently fixed a bad noise issue by wiring direct to a dist block and not having the head unit attached into the "wiring harness". It was the best $14 bucks I've spent on the boat.

Very reasonable marine rated cable at often less than 50% of your local marine store prices: http://shop.genuined...y%20Cable%20UL/

They do custom lengths and will crimp and heat shrink ends onto cables for a dollar!

Edited by WakesetterE
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  • 4 weeks later...

So on a somewhat related note I've now come to the conclusion that the previous owner of our boat decided to take the speaker wire out of the Illusion X tower in our 06 XTi (or maybe it was just never put in for whatever reason). Either way...it ain't in there. I've fished plenty of wire before and it looks like some work with fishing tape will do the job but my questions is on how the speaker wires should run through the tower. From reading about installs on here it sounds like the factory wiring (when present) runs through the tower all coming down through the port side of the boat down into the observers compartment (where the amps are currently). Does this mean that I'll have to fish the speaker wire for the starboard side of the tower all the way up and over so that it comes down through the port side? Is it easier to just have it run down through the starboard side and then run it through the hull over to the observers compartment instead? Just want to make sure I'm approaching this the right way and not getting myself into trouble on this install. Thanks.

Edited by aspen432
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Mine runs down both sides of the tower. I re-ran the factory wire and thats how it was run as well. I thought about running it all to the port side, but it was a pain in the arse, so I decided against it.

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So does all the speaker wiring run down one side of the tower (probably the port side) or down both sides?

All speaker wire should run down passenger side of tower while all tower light wiring will run down drivers side of tower.

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  • 1 month later...

After searching the forums for a topic that matched my question, this is as close as I came. I have recently acquired background noise only in the passenger side rear channel of my stereo (2 speakers). I have the Rockford stock set up 2010 WS, but recently added another Rockford amp to power new tower speakers. I used the stock connections that were pre-wired with the the distribution block connections for power, as it has 3 outputs for each. Not sure what changed, but it's obviously something I did since it only surfaced after I installed the 3rd amp. Any ideas??

Edit: This is all the time, boat off or running, any input source.

Edited by Wake23LSV
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  • 9 months later...

So how did you get the wire itself through the tower? Does it flow through if you push it or does it get stuck inside? the factory wire on mine comes down on the port side but it would be easier if it came down the starboard side since that is where my amp is. Does anyone have any objections or thoughts?

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So how did you get the wire itself through the tower? Does it flow through if you push it or does it get stuck inside?

Heavy fishing line or pull string

Cotton ball or yarn

Shop vac

Make sure to seal all holes you aren't pulling to with tape

Tie the cotton/yarn to an end of the string and feed it into a hole

Use shop vac to pull it to the hole on the other side of the run

Tape speaker wire to tail end of pull string

Pull

Edited by TyRobbins
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As for your question about batteries, I would add a second battery. You are running over a 1000 watts rms with you setup. You will probably be shutting the boat off while people are getting in and out of the water. I would always want a second battery to make sure you don't get stranded out there.

Last year I was only running just over 2000 watts rms. I ran a 5 battery system and got stranded twice. My own fault cause I would get to the sandbar and forget to change my switch from all to four. I was lucky enough to let it sit for 5 or ten minutes and the batteries had recharge enough to start the boat.

I like your choice of tower speakers.

This is my audio bank setup this year. Four 6 volts batteries. This year I'm running 4800 watts rms.

post-17461-0-09294100-1368274848_thumb.j

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So how did you get the wire itself through the tower? Does it flow through if you push it or does it get stuck inside? the factory wire on mine comes down on the port side but it would be easier if it came down the starboard side since that is where my amp is. Does anyone have any objections or thoughts?

This is what I used took 2 min.

http://www.lowes.com/pd_7529-12704-31-012_0__?productId=1100117&Ntt=wire+fish+tape&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNtt%3Dwire%2Bfish%2Btape&facetInfo=

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