Marine Electronics Forum - Stereo speaker distortion

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View Full Version : Stereo speaker distortion

06-24-2010, 07:47 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, 08:33 PM
A couple of thoughts...

1) Test using a CD or iPod or something like that and not AM/FM to avoid any noise/static from an antenna - at least for testing
2) Test with engines off, to avoid engine noise
3) Turn BASS all the way down, Loud OFF and bass boost off - most distortion is from too much bass and it damages speakers quickly.
4) Try taking one of the speakers back to west marine and see if they will let you plug it into there stereo just to confirm speaker is ok. Then you know it is either your wiring or your head unit. Hopefully 1, 2 or 3 above fix your problems
5) If not, yes, you probably need to completely rewire both power to your unit and speaker wires from your unit to speakers
6) Be thing, just keep the bass down initially. You can always add a subwoofer later.

06-24-2010, 08:37 PM
Did you read my post on your other identical thread? Beefen up the power supply. It's pulling too much power! Trust me, I had the same problem.

06-24-2010, 08:50 PM
Thanks to you both...SaltyG - have tried 1,2,and3 already. No luck. I'm going to try new speaker wire as my next option - just running from the head unit to the speaker without pulling through t-top tubing etc.

bluewater...sorry about that and no I didn't so thank you for posting. Had no idea I double posted. I posted from my iPhone and must have accidentally posted twice. I can't access the boards from work so I was doing the best I could. Tried to delete the other post and don't see how to do it... But on to your suggestion - sounds like this could be the problem, but how do I get more power to the head unit? If the power is coming straight from the fuse block in the t-top electronics box, how can I get more power? Sorry if this is a silly question...

Thanks again to you both! Power increase sounds like a great idea just got to figure out how - and I'll try the speaker wire because it is easy enough...

06-24-2010, 08:53 PM
dang...sorry bluewater...should have actually READ the other respsone first. So you mean just increase the gauge (well, decrease the number of the gauge) of the power wire that comes off the fuse block now going to the head unit? If it is 18 gauge, go to 16 gauge for example? Or should I make a bigger jump than that? Would I need to increase the inline fuse size? Thanks again...we're going to beat this thing!

06-24-2010, 09:14 PM
I didn't mean to be a smart a$$. Run a much heavier wire straight to the battery and you will be amazed. My radio even sounded different at low volume.

06-24-2010, 09:27 PM
Not at all's all good. Thanks for the suggestion. And trying that without fishing through the t-top tubes is just as easy as trying new speaker wire. Will give both a shot tomorrow!

Thanks again to you both!

06-25-2010, 06:16 AM
Let us know how this works out!

06-25-2010, 06:24 AM
Sounds like you're going to do this already, but don't forget to fuse your hot coming off the battery.

06-26-2010, 02:51 AM
Salty, please let us know how it turns out, when complete I'll use your method too.....

06-27-2010, 08:13 PM
Well, you've had all weekend to remedy this problem. What's the outcome?

06-27-2010, 08:24 PM
well, you've had all weekend to remedy this problem. What's the outcome?

enquiring minds want to know

06-28-2010, 08:06 PM
Were all hanging out, waiting.............!!!!

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