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Upgrading the Old Girl

Easy ways to amp up your marine experience Back to Pulse

Every now and then, we need to upgrade the old girl.

Your boat, that is, not your wife (we’ll save that for another blog).

Here at Fusion, we’re passionate about getting you the best audio experience possible out on the water. Unfortunately, that car stereo or “marine stereo painted white” and cheap speaker system was not made to last in the marine environment and the technology has advanced past your CD collection.

So before you next take your boat out, do the old girl a favour and give her sound system a bit of an upgrade. Your other old girl will love you for it!

Here’s how:

It all starts with the stereo

Factory stereos, or even stereos older than a couple of years, simply don’t have the capability of today’s headsets.

For the best experience possible, get a stereo which allows you to stream music through Bluetooth – or better yet, Wi-Fi – so you can make the most of your music streaming subscriptions without having to compromise on audio quality. It might seem like this is being a bit pedantic, but once you hear the difference in sound quality between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, you’ll never look at the old girl the same.

Streaming music through Wi-Fi means that the original sound quality of your music is preserved through a higher bit rate (this is tech speak for more information being sent from your device to your stereo). While Bluetooth can still play your tunes, the intention was never to play high quality sound, meaning your music is compressed when it is transferred, resulting in quality loss. If you’re an audiophile and you value quality music and pay for high quality music files or premium streaming services, the last thing you want is to introduce file compression.

Go mobile

You know how it’s so easy to fall into the habit of doing something, regardless of how much better it can be done?

That’s often the case when it comes to controlling your music. It’s easy to become used to the fact that switching tracks requires a walk down to the stereo to fiddle with some buttons, or digging around to find that pesky remote. Once you experience how much better your music experience is controlled through mobile, you’ll kick yourself for being complacent!

Beyond just changing the track from the phone in your pocket, mobile integration can mean some other pretty epic things – over-the-air software updates, independent volume control of every audio zone across your vessel from your fingertips, EQ, and more. Music is there to enhance your experience, not detract from it – and going mobile enhances it even more.

While you’re at it, think about your audio experience beyond the boat. Many boaties will take a portable speaker with them, for when they get out to the beach or take the kayak for a whirl. Chances are, this could do with a bit of upgrading too. Not to blow our own trumpets or anything, but Fusion’s award-winning StereoActive is a pretty good way to level up your experience here—its unique design means it can be attached to any surface (yep, even your kayak!) and soak up as much sun, sand and water as you like without any dramas.

Looking beyond speakers

Often when you’re out on the water, it’s not the biggest speakers that will provide better sound, it’s adding in things like amps and subwoofers and making sure your system is properly tuned.

Not all speakers are made equal and not all speakers have the dynamic range to produce the kind of sound necessary to hear the words, kick drum, and electric guitar solo of your favorite Eagles song while motoring along at full throttle. Adding in a subwoofer, however, won’t just allow you to hear more bass—it will take the bass workload off your speakers, and enable them to focus on what they do best (reproduce the mid and high notes).

The same goes for an amp. To double or triple your volume output while maintaining quality is not possible by simply upgrading your speakers. However, by adding even a small amp, you can easily increase the output of your system, without compromising on quality.

Amps and subs may seem like they’re a bit technical, and stepping into the audiophile realm, but rest assured that they’re actually straightforward to install, and will significantly enhance your audio experience.

Of course, they won’t work at their best unless they’re set up to do just that – so making sure you’ve got a system that uses DSP is the best way to go with any upgrade. DSP, or Digital Signal Processing, comes in to correct the frequency response of a speaker. For every song that comes on, DSP can quickly apply an algorithm to correct the frequency response of your speakers. It basically adjusts your speakers to suit the requirements of each song, creating the ultimate in high-quality audio experiences for you, the listener.

As much as you love the old girl, she needs a bit of a do-over every now and then. The suggestions above are ‘low hanging fruit’—there’s so much more which could be done if you have the time and the inclination. After all, you spend so much time with her, you want her to be performing as well as possible!