Marine Electronics Forum - Stereo speaker distortion

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View Full Version : Stereo speaker distortion

06-24-2010, 07:03 AM
I bought a combo head unit and speakers from West Marine - the "step-up" version - $149 for the combo - not the $119 version. The head unit itself sells for $139. I installed this stereo and speakers a couple weeks ago as a replacement to the old head unit and pseakers. I left all the old wiring in place. Just swapped out the head unit and speakers. The speakers became very distorted at a volume level of 22 out of 45. Ok for trolling speed, not so much for underway.

Thinking this was due to the crappy speakers, I bought new West Marine Pro speakers - they sounded very good in the store with the head unit that I bought. Going all the way to 45 with almost no distortion. I swapped the speakers out tonight trying to get ready for our offshore trip Saturday and not much better. Gets to about 25 out of 45 before too distorted to listen to.

I have swapped wires on the speaker posts checking to see if it was a polarity issues. I also isolated each speaker with the balance to see if it was only one of them. No luck.

Last piece of information which probably makes this officially too long of a post... The old stereo had a wiring harness coming out of it that plugged into another harness to connect all the wires on the boat. Because there isn't much slack in the wiring on the boat, it would have been very difficult to cut off the plug on the boat side and hardwire everything inside my electronics box. There are only wires coming out of the back of the new head unit. So I used the wiring harness from my old head unit and wired the hard wired the new head unit to this harness to plug into the harness on the boat. I also used the same speaker wiring. And I think it must be said that the stereo that was on there that was replaced, had this same distortion issue.

All that said, replace speaker wire all the way to the boat side harness? (fairly easy) Remove the harnesses all the way and hardwire everything together? (may require splicing some additional wire on there - not so easy) Or is there something else I am missing...

Thanks for taking the time to read this and for any information!

06-24-2010, 07:15 AM
I bought the Sony CD10 or whatever the model is from West. I installed it the same way you did and got the same results. Everytime I would get over 25 the speakers were distorted and get over 30 the radio would shut down. I didn't know what was wrong, one of my employees walked in and said "your power lead isn't big enough for the built in amplifier in the radio" It never crossed my mind. I put a heavy power feed wire in and it sounds amazing. There's nothing wrong with the first speakers you had.

06-25-2010, 10:28 AM
Low wattage speakers will do that.
Mine is the same if I try to crank above trolling volume.
What is the unit and speaker rating?

06-25-2010, 05:45 PM

Thanks for the input - somehow I posted this twice - the conversation has taken place on the other thread - see - didn't want you to think I didn't read/value/appreciate your opinion! :-)

The head unit puts out 17W RMS x 4 channels. The speakers I now have in there only list max wattage at 210W. But I listened to them in the store and they allowed the head unit that I have to go to max volume with no distortion so I presume they are rated higher than 17W RMS...

06-26-2010, 02:51 AM
Following this in the other thread. ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

06-26-2010, 08:48 AM
If you can't get the power INTO the radio (12 volt input AND ground big enough), how could you ever expect to get it OUT of the radio? For a radio like that I would run no less than #12 wire so that you can get all the power out of it that you can. A larger amplifier on the output could always help. And with even bigger wires to the amp and speakers. Like for "200 watt" amp, you would run #8 wire the battery and #14 to the speakers, at least. Happy music-ing!

Following this in the other thread. ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

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