You might already have a marine stereo in your boat, but you are still looking to further enhance your audio experience. To really pump up the volume, consider adding marine subwoofers and amplifiers. Boat subwoofers produce low-frequency bass beats that enhance the sound of your music. Subwoofers are an absolute necessity if you want a commanding sound system on your boat.
1. Mount Your Subwoofer
Boat subwoofers can be mounted with a baffle (free air) or in a box. By nature of a boat’s dimensions, you more than likely will end up mounting a subwoofer in a location where a box cannot be used. If you plan to do so, make sure the subwoofer you choose is designed for this purpose. Most marine subwoofers are designed for free air mounting and baffle installations. Even if you plan on using a box, marine subs are the optimal choice for boat installations because they are designed with water and salt resistant materials.
If you do choose to install your boat subwoofers in a box, the front compartment of the boat is a practical place to mount the box. To install your subwoofers into an enclosure, merely connect the leads to the terminals and screw in the subwoofer along the diameter of the enclosure hole. See the wiring configuration section below for more information.
You can also install manufacturer enclosed marine subwoofers. Some of the most popular enclosed marine subs are bass tubes. Bass tubes are water-resistant cylindrical enclosures loaded with subs. They have various sizes, ranging from 8” to as big as 15” loaded bass tube subwoofer enclosures. Bass tubes come preloaded with subs and are either powered (do not require an external amp) or unpowered (require an external marine amplifier).
Enclosed subwoofers are popular for boats because they save space and you do not have to build a custom box. The manufacturer figures out the specific box size required for optimal performance and designs an enclosed sub accordingly. They are usually easier to install. Bass tubes come equipped with mounting straps for easy and secure mounting. After it is mounted, you will need to connect the loaded enclosure to the amplifier using speaker wires.
2. Wire Your Boat Subwoofers
You have two choices when wiring an unpowered component subwoofer to an amplifier. You can wire the subwoofer in series or parallel. To wire in parallel, simply connect the positive leads of both subs to the amp’s positive terminal. Then connect the negative leads to the amp’s negative terminal. Wiring in parallel will lower your impedance, and a lower impedance value will enhance your amp’s power capability. To wire in series, simply connect the positive leads of the subwoofer to the amp’s positive terminal. After that, connect the negative terminal of one subwoofer to the positive terminal of the second sub. Then connect the latter sub’s negative terminal to the amp’s negative terminal. You will need to connect the amp to the boat battery with a power and ground wire.
For powered subs, just purchase an amp kit for power, ground, and lead wires. Then, run the wires to the rest of your system and boat battery.
3. Test the Subwoofer and Clean up the Wiring
Now that the wires are connected, turn on your stereo and test each subwoofer out. Be sure each is powered and working properly. Turn up the bass and volume and listen for any rattling noises or other issues that can be addressed before finishing up. It’s always good to test your installs before putting everything back in place. This is so you can easily correct any mistakes you may have made along the way.
Now that your subwoofer sounds great and is mounted securely, it is time to finish up the installation! Hide and clean up all wiring using zip ties. Now place the wires in locations that are inaccessible to passenger’s feet and any water.
With the steps above, you can have your subwoofer installed on a boat in no time. Preparing and understanding your boat prior to starting this project is imperative. Every boat is different. This will affect which marine subs will work best for you.