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Best bang for your buck - stereo self-install


dashbrdhulagirl

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dashbrdhulagirl

We have a 96 Sunsetter VLX, and we'd like to do some upgrades on the sound system. We have 4 speakers in the boat that are okay for now, but we'd like to upgrade the rest of the setup...we want two tower speakers, a subwoofer, amp and the receiver with bluetooth capability. What's the best bang for our buck? Good quality but budget friendly. Something fairly to easy to install. We aren't out to be the loudest on the lake or hosts of the party. Just want a system that has all working parts and good sound quality for our crew to enjoy.

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20 minutes ago, dashbrdhulagirl said:

We have a 96 Sunsetter VLX, and we'd like to do some upgrades on the sound system. We have 4 speakers in the boat that are okay for now, but we'd like to upgrade the rest of the setup...we want two tower speakers, a subwoofer, amp and the receiver with bluetooth capability. What's the best bang for our buck? Good quality but budget friendly. Something fairly to easy to install. We aren't out to be the loudest on the lake or hosts of the party. Just want a system that has all working parts and good sound quality for our crew to enjoy.

I just bought an 01 Wakesetter VLX and want to do the same thing. Have a few other items on the project list that are higher priority but curious to see the feedback here, and what setup you go with.

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In my opinion, I would equip my boat with all JL audio. I currently have all wetsounds in mine from the factory and I am not happy with that system at all. On top of that they are extremely over priced. As soon as my warranty runs out I will be replacing with JL audio. They make quality equipment that sounds better. Amplifiers are their specialty. If you dig around here enough you will find many people ripping the Wetsounds equipment out and replacing with better systems. JL is pricey but still half the cost as wetsounds and leaps and bounds better. Once again, that is just my opinion.

Edited by Wakezilla22
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dashbrdhulagirl
26 minutes ago, Wakezilla22 said:

In my opinion, I would equip my boat with all JL audio. I currently have all wetsounds in mine from the factory and I am not happy with that system at all. On top of that they are extremely over priced. As soon as my warranty runs out I will be replacing with JL audio. They make quality equipment that sounds better. Amplifiers are their specialty. If you dig around here enough you will find many people ripping the Wetsounds equipment out and replacing with better systems. JL is pricey but still hard the cost as wetsounds and leaps and bounds better. Once again, that is just my opinion.

Thanks for the info! I got a quote from a local installer who uses JL Audio. I know they do amazing work, but I just can't fork out that kind of cash at the moment. I will look into JL Audio though to see what my options are for a self-install at home. 

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35 minutes ago, dashbrdhulagirl said:

Thanks for the info! I got a quote from a local installer who uses JL Audio. I know they do amazing work, but I just can't fork out that kind of cash at the moment. I will look into JL Audio though to see what my options are for a self-install at home. 

How much was the quote? I've been trying to figure out if I have this done professionally or DIY. Thanks!

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dashbrdhulagirl
46 minutes ago, ChadFulton said:

How much was the quote? I've been trying to figure out if I have this done professionally or DIY. Thanks!

It was around $4500. If you email me ([email protected]), I'll find it and send you a copy. It was a bit hard to read since I don't speak stereo, so I'm not sure exactly what all we were getting. We had actually taken the boat into the shop for something else and they asked us about upgrading, so they put together an estimate just for us to keep in mind. We only paid $10.5K for our boat, so I have a hard time justifying paying nearly half that for a system. I don't know that we'd get our investment back on resell for a boat that old.

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Also take note that wetsounds amps are Robert Zeff designed / built. 

So may go take a look at Arc audio amps. 

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29 minutes ago, dashbrdhulagirl said:

It was around $4500. If you email me ([email protected]), I'll find it and send you a copy. It was a bit hard to read since I don't speak stereo, so I'm not sure exactly what all we were getting. We had actually taken the boat into the shop for something else and they asked us about upgrading, so they put together an estimate just for us to keep in mind. We only paid $10.5K for our boat, so I have a hard time justifying paying nearly half that for a system. I don't know that we'd get our investment back on resell for a boat that old.

Emailing now! Yeah that sounds steep... We got ours for 20k and hard to justify. I'm hoping to find a cheap off-brand system that I can install myself and sound better than the totally nonfunctioning ones I have. Not looking to win any audio contests, just want to be able to enjoy our own music on the water.

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your best bang for the buck is going to be to phase it. I’ve always done interior and sub, then come back to towers

lots of people add towers before their interior is up to snuff. I don’t know about you, but I spend way more time driving than riding. 
 

I really like the old pdx-v9 5 channel for in boat. 100x4 rms into good interiors, and 500rms into a sub. 
 

ive often bought prefab Amazon sub boxes that I can make fit (build mock-up to test fit) and have often bought used quality subs to get going. Love a deal on a good used jl sub. By the time it blows up, I’ll be past the original money outlay and be able to afford a new one. 

You can buy 2 pair of the old model wetsounds speakers at a discount on sonix electronics.  I went this way, but a good 100w rms car speaker can be had cheap too

I also highly recommend the wetsounds 420eq. Amazing to be able to reallY control what’s going on. 
 

I’m running a pdx-f6 to a pair of wetsounds pro 80’s (also used), and have been happy with the setup. 
 

my main driver on head unit is good Bluetooth control, and easy volume access. If you do t run radio frequently, it works to skip a head unit and go 100% Bluetooth. 
 

I like the non Bluetooth eq, with the wetsounds Bluetooth knob , as this gives you play/pause/skip control that the eq with built in Bluetooth does not. 
 

good luck. 

Edited by dhcomp
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If you have time to plan it out and DIY, Watch the crew classifieds, I have had excellent luck upgrading my boat stereo buying amps and speakers from crew members who are upgrading.  I did buy the tower speakers new and the bluetooth adapter new, three used amps and four speakers all were used and work great

EC1478D8-0362-463A-8DF4-3756A54ED33A.jpeg

Edited by Bozboat
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I just went through the process of upgrading the whole sound system in my 01 Sunsetter VLX. I researched and researched and researched this stuff. I think the best option for a Bluetooth receiver is the wetsounds 420 eq. I know it’s not cheap, but the simplicity and quality of the unit is worth it. I was able to get it as an open box new item on eBay through Crutchfield. It’s so nice to have the ability to change the zones up.
 

I know you said your inboats were fine for now, but I went with Infinity kappa 6.5s. I got 6 of them. I found a deal on Walmart.com for a pair of them for $105!! The retail on them is about $350. The sound is amazing!! I couldn’t be happier. I drilled holes in the bow fiberglass for one pair. I know some people say bow speakers are a waste, but it definitely makes a difference and I’m glad I did it. I left the windshield speakers in and cut the wires. I don’t like the sound being bounced back in your face so I didn’t feel it was worth replacing them. I replaced the back 2 speakers by the vdrive. I had to drill a hole in the bottom where the seat folds out on the passenger side. And I drilled another hole on the bottom of the observers compartment for the 6th speaker. I can’t say it enough how great they sound! Very very satisfied with them.

For amps, I went with JL audio. I got the m600/6 for the inboats. It’s about middle of the road price wise for a 6 channel amp. I got the mx300/1 for the sub. It was about $220 after I got it as an open boxed new item on eBay. I mounted both of them to Trex boards in the observers compartment. I JB welded the Trex boards  to the fiberglass first, then screwed the amps to the boards.

For the subwoofer, I went with the infinity kappa 10. I ended up getting it for about $150 on Walmart again. I didn’t get a box and just cut a hole in the kick plate under the drivers side dash and screwed it in. I wasn’t sure if it would be sturdy enough, but even with amp cranked up and volume opened up its solid. Hardly moves at all. It sounds great and saves room for not having a box under the drivers feet. 
 

I know that’s long, but that’s everything I did. It turned out great and sounds amazing. I didn’t do tower speakers now. That’s phase 2. You can find some really good deals on eBay for open box new items. And even some audio websites have open box new for cheap. 

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I've been wanting to try the Sonic Electronix NVX amps.  They are the cheapest marine rated amps out there that are worth anything (I think).  Please don't go with BOSS audio or the equivalents of that.  You can go with a car audio subwoofer, just make sure it has a rubber surround, and preferably not a paper cone, especially if you are planning on using a ported box.  Tower speakers I'd go with Wetsounds Icons or Revs, depending on goals and expectations.  Don't know what @Wakezilla22 is smoking but its some strong stuff.  I'll even agree JL is better in a lot of areas, but nowhere near the differences he's claiming.  Receiver I would go away from the traditional DIN style head unit to a more premium marine head unit of your choosing (Wetsounds, Fusion, JL, etc).   You could also just forgo the head unit and use a bluetooth adapter with splitters and use your phone exclusively to control the music and volume.  This would be your cheapest option.

Edited by LSVRIDER1
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I don’t worry about running marine on stuff that is tucked away. Or speakers. If my amps get wet, I have bigger problems. 
 

most decent car audio speakers are paper free, so you are good for occasional splashes. 
 

some of the 2008 variety fosgate speakers from the factory weren’t even marine. 
 

 

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4 minutes ago, dhcomp said:

I don’t worry about running marine on stuff that is tucked away. Or speakers. If my amps get wet, I have bigger problems. 
 

most decent car audio speakers are paper free, so you are good for occasional splashes. 
 

some of the 2008 variety fosgate speakers from the factory weren’t even marine. 
 

 

Most car audio subs that are worth a damn have paper cones...

And amps don't have to get wet to be exposed to the much increased humidity while on the lake.  Speakers are one thing, but I wouldn't skimp out on a car audio amp.  Go marine there.

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14 hours ago, LSVRIDER1 said:

I've been wanting to try the Sonic Electronix NVX amps.  They are the cheapest marine rated amps out there that are worth anything (I think).  Please don't go with BOSS audio or the equivalents of that.  You can go with a car audio subwoofer, just make sure it has a rubber surround, and preferably not a paper cone, especially if you are planning on using a ported box.  Tower speakers I'd go with Wetsounds Icons or Revs, depending on goals and expectations.  Don't know what @Wakezilla22 is smoking but its some strong stuff.  I'll even agree JL is better in a lot of areas, but nowhere near the differences he's claiming.  Receiver I would go away from the traditional DIN style head unit to a more premium marine head unit of your choosing (Wetsounds, Fusion, JL, etc).   You could also just forgo the head unit and use a bluetooth adapter with splitters and use your phone exclusively to control the music and volume.  This would be your cheapest option.

i hate having to use the phone as you described or use phone because of 420BT, i like the 420 Sq (ebay $210 new from an unauthorized dealer)  and the WS BT rocker switch transceiver ($99 ebay)  especially with 14 Axis and older Malibu boats that have traditional RS bays on dash.  i want to BT sync the phone ( which the RS does itself at power up of the RS) and put it down, push buttons on BT RS exclusively as it provides all controls necessary: power on/off(with remote power out to turn on EQ and amps), play pause, phone volume,   track advance and repeat (NO HU NECESSARY)

kind of nice to put phone on private and never pick it up for the rest of the day.   I only pick up the non blue toothed phone to film

i also scored i think on the axis site for $250 a HT6 (and an fa10 sub) that i run the 6 revo6 ($735 new on ebay) in-boats with 110w per to each 100/200 speaker on their own dedicated channel,  instead of the 6 speakers on 4 channels with sub bridged on 5/6 like the factory sp2 on the original 50/100 in boats. the $250 also included the lousy little xs fa10.  a shop built me  a 3 piece starbright sub wall to allow it to perform better than in the flimsy foot well. hooked it to an sd4 ( bought new on ebay fairly cheap) on 1/2 bridged at 685w, way over powered but Ron at wetsounds told me to do it and moderate gains and bass boost and frequency accordingly and it hits awesome for a 8-10 year old small free air sub

bought two new rev8 towers on ebay for $440 that had a Susan b komen? promotional black and pink and white camo wrap on them where WS donated them for an auction to benefit the cancer foundation  (has the pink cancer ribbon symbol in them as part of the camo wrap 🤓😂) but wife is a girl owner of boat and she likes them

moral of the story that BEFORE COVID you could find new cheap wetsounds stuff to do your entire system.  i even purchased wetsounds RCA’s cheap on ebay ( boy are they tight on and off the rca input/outputs)

$ 2950  app. for two new rev 8’s with rgb rings, ht6 used, new sd4, fa10 sub used, new rgb ring for sub, new 420 SQ, new BT RS, 3 Wetsounds 18? foot RCA’s and 2 Exile? one into two RCA splitters for the hT6,  a EQ rgb under dash acrylic mount,  the good old days 

Edited by granddaddy55
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14 hours ago, LSVRIDER1 said:

Most car audio subs that are worth a damn have paper cones...

And amps don't have to get wet to be exposed to the much increased humidity while on the lake.  Speakers are one thing, but I wouldn't skimp out on a car audio amp.  Go marine there.

Really depends where you boat too. Coastal, or high humidity, you may have issues down the line. I boat in California, and Tahoe, and am 10yrs and 1200 hrs with no issues. Air is dry here. 

 

 

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gary_tenison

I did my 2001 Sunsetter LXI last summer...came out great. See my log for some good info, especially about getting your gains set correctly - 

post is  - New Stereo for my 2001 Sunsetter LXI

You will really need a signal processor because the speakers under the front window will have huge frequency peaks at 640Hz, 2.5KHz, and 6.4KHz or thereabouts due to proximity to windows and reflection issues. 

 

Edited by gary_tenison
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  • 2 weeks later...
dashbrdhulagirl

Thanks for all the info! Sorry for the late reply. I guess I didn't get the notifications for all the replies.

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