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Marine Speakers - What Do All The Numbers Mean?

When you’re investigating potential new marine sound systems, there are a lot of numbers involved. Some might have obvious meanings, some might become clear with context. And some may remain a mystery for the ages.

Don’t stress. Regardless of how number-savvy you are when it comes to all things audiophile, here’s a primer on what all the different numbers you may encounter mean.

Sound (and where it’s found)

A 2.0 system is as straight-forward as it gets. It’s a regular stereo, with left and right speakers. Easy to set up and install, and does the job when it comes to getting sound out there. There’s a ‘2’ for the two speakers, and a ‘0’ to mark the absence of a subwoofer.

Following on from that, you might get a sense of what a 2.1 speaker system entails. You’ve got your left and right channels, and corresponding speakers. And then, you’ve got the oomph of the subwoofer to round it out.

A standard surround sound system, for home cinema viewing or similar, will be a 5.1 speaker system. That means left and right front speakers, left and right rear speakers, a front center speaker, and – like the .1 part of the number suggests – a subwoofer. Depending on the source system you’ve got in play, you have even more speakers – it’s all up to the capability of the system in question.

What the watt?

When you’re looking at speakers, you’ll see reference to measurements (it’s not hard to figure out what 7.7 inches means), but also to their wattage. The high the number of watts, the higher the power of the speaker. But do keep in mind that wattage and volume don’t increase at the same rate – doubling the power of a speaker will only lead to an increase of 3 decibels.

Channel control

You may also see reference to an amplifier or source as being 4-channel, or 6-channel, or insert-number-here-channel. These channels are the available connections to different speakers or subwoofers. So a 4-channel amplifier may connect to 4 speakers, perhaps, or to 2 speakers and a subwoofer.

Protection from the elements

Another number or code you may encounter when looking over marine sound systems is an IP code. These codes are used to designate all kinds of protection from things like water and dust (and even wandering toddler fingers). In this case, the most useful information is the water rating.

For example, the Apollo RA770 has an IPX7 rated front panel. After the ‘IP’ the first number or letter refers to protection from solid matter – so since this product is worried about water, not dust, it’s ‘X’, meaning it’s not specifically tested. The next number or letter over refers to the water protection – in this case, a 7, meaning it’s able to be immersed up to 1 metre underwater and come out just fine.

There’s always more to all the rogue letters and numbers that you’ll see in the product descriptions for marine stereo systems or the separate components – but these essential details should allow you to get a better picture of how everything fits together and what those most prominent numbers and codes mean.