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#483735 - 04/17/10 08:28 PM Is marine grade speaker wire really necessary ?
tglee Offline
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Registered: 11/04/06
Posts: 120
Loc: PA
Iím adding two additional speakers on my boat. Do I need to be concerned with corrosion on non-tinned wire? The boat is kept on a trailer and only used in freshwater.
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#483737 - 04/17/10 08:38 PM Re: Is marine grade speaker wire really necessary ? [Re: tglee]
SALTY_DAWG Offline
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Registered: 07/25/09
Posts: 744
Loc: Lincolnshire, IL
No
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#483738 - 04/17/10 09:13 PM Re: Is marine grade speaker wire really necessary ? [Re: SALTY_DAWG]
Al Offline
Nautical Alchemist
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Registered: 01/14/03
Posts: 14996
Loc: Vagabond Wanderer from Mich.
I would. Although you are in fresh water, any chance of the wiring getting damp will tend to result in corrosion.

Some of the residential speaker wire - the clear plastic stuff - has marginal insulation, especially the cheap "made in China" stuff, and can wick moisture into the copper.

Also, Ancor speaker wire (which I used in my boat) is tinned on both leads, while the typical speaker wire used for the home has one wire tinned and one wire bare copper. Tinned wire has superior corrosion resistance.

Here is a very interesting and great article on speaker wire (probably more than you want to know):

http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm

Pay particular attention to the section: "All low cost wires are not the same" with reference to inferior cheap speaker wire that you can buy at Home Depot and Lowes (the made in China type stuff).

In a damp environment, the chance of corrosion will also depend somewhat on the terminals you use. Anytime dissimilar metals are in contact with each other and get wet, you'll get corrosion.

Read Roger's take on using gold-plated connectors. What I like to do is use tinned wire. If the connectors on the amp (or other device you are connecting to) are gold plated, then I use gold plated terminals on the wire. And I use connectors that have heat shrink adhesive on their shanks so that the gold-tin joint is sealed with heat shrink. This (hopefully) protects the gold-tin joint from moisture.

If the amp has tin-plated connectors, then I simply use tin-plated terminals. In this situation, there is really no need to use the more expensive heat shrink connectors.

There is less potential for corrosion in fresh water, but there is still a potential.

So unless you know you are using high-quality wire, why not use marine-grade wire, especially if you only need a few feet.

I bought mine at www.genuinedealz.com, but it appears they no longer carry the Ancor speaker wire, so google on Ancor Speaker Wire and find your best price.

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#483746 - 04/17/10 11:00 PM Re: Is marine grade speaker wire really necessary ? [Re: Al]
prober Offline
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Registered: 07/10/06
Posts: 2402
Loc: Eastern Washington
To me it depends on how tough it is to replace it. If it is pretty easy then I wouldn't worry about it. If it will take a few hours to replace later then I would get the good stuff.

If you don't need the marine wire then just use bulk lamp cord from the home store. It's cheap and independant tests showed it worked as well as Monster wire.

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#483748 - 04/17/10 11:26 PM Re: Is marine grade speaker wire really necessary ? [Re: prober]
tglee Offline
Captain

Registered: 11/04/06
Posts: 120
Loc: PA
That article was great.

This is amazing:







Edited by tglee (04/17/10 11:27 PM)
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#483750 - 04/18/10 04:02 AM Re: Is marine grade speaker wire really necessary ? [Re: tglee]
tpenfield Offline
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Registered: 08/29/05
Posts: 2032
Loc: Cape Cod, MA
+1 for marine grade wiring. Also, I solder the connectors rather than crimping them.
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#483754 - 04/18/10 06:40 AM Re: Is marine grade speaker wire really necessary ? [Re: tpenfield]
Al Offline
Nautical Alchemist
Grand Poobah

Registered: 01/14/03
Posts: 14996
Loc: Vagabond Wanderer from Mich.
Soldering is fine in my opinion, and I do it on occasion as well, although it does tend to convert stranded wire into solid wire. Therefore, the best practice is to minimize movement of the soldered wire end with a cable clamp, cable tie, etc.

For that reason, and since soldering does take some practice, I usually recommend crimping for most folks as its usually easier.
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2004 Mercury 270 Airdeck Dinghy.
2011 Four Winds 28Z Class C Motorhome (Ford E450).

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#483755 - 04/18/10 06:46 AM Re: Is marine grade speaker wire really necessary ? [Re: Al]
WaterWing Offline
Admiral

Registered: 01/15/03
Posts: 4581
Loc: Chicago
Geez, I thought the big difference between marine speakers vs home speakers was more about the cone... paper vs rubber.
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#483758 - 04/18/10 06:52 AM Re: Is marine grade speaker wire really necessary ? [Re: WaterWing]
Al Offline
Nautical Alchemist
Grand Poobah

Registered: 01/14/03
Posts: 14996
Loc: Vagabond Wanderer from Mich.
Things are never simple...
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2004 Mercury 270 Airdeck Dinghy.
2011 Four Winds 28Z Class C Motorhome (Ford E450).

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#483781 - 04/18/10 02:11 PM Re: Is marine grade speaker wire really necessary ? [Re: WaterWing]
HalfScoop Offline
Vice Admiral

Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 317
Loc: Del Mar, Ca
Only the cheapest (i.e. OEM) speaker are still paper cones.

Any upgraded speaker should work fine on the boat; they are usually mounted in places out of the "splash zone".

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#483794 - 04/18/10 04:49 PM Re: Is marine grade speaker wire really necessary ? [Re: HalfScoop]
Al Offline
Nautical Alchemist
Grand Poobah

Registered: 01/14/03
Posts: 14996
Loc: Vagabond Wanderer from Mich.
Actually I have a pretty good story about that.

Two of the speakers on my boat are directly out in the elements. Well, now, 4 of them are since I added speakers to my radar arch.

Anyway, the first year I had the boat, I bought two Sony MARINE speakers - white plastic baskets that won't rust, polypropylene cones; the works.

They lasted barely a year before the rubber surrounds on the cones failed.

I then replaced them with Polk DB650s. Over the last three seasons, they have performed flawlessly. And on occasion, I blast the speakers with water directly from the hose to dislodge spiders. I suppose if I had the "right" kind of music, spiders wouldn't be building nests in the speakers in the first place, but that is another topic.



You cannot get much more out in the open than these...

I have been thinking about painting the speaker grilles white, but then, they would look like marine speakers, and I would probably seal their fate.
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President and CEO - Napmoor and Doolittle.




2004 Mercury 270 Airdeck Dinghy.
2011 Four Winds 28Z Class C Motorhome (Ford E450).

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#483835 - 04/19/10 10:18 AM Re: Is marine grade speaker wire really necessary ? [Re: Al]
tglee Offline
Captain

Registered: 11/04/06
Posts: 120
Loc: PA
The speakers that I am considering are rated at 100 watts.

However, the RMS rating is 25 watts.

Can I use these with a tuner that is labeled 45 watts X 4?
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#483864 - 04/19/10 03:52 PM Re: Is marine grade speaker wire really necessary ? [Re: tglee]
Al Offline
Nautical Alchemist
Grand Poobah

Registered: 01/14/03
Posts: 14996
Loc: Vagabond Wanderer from Mich.
You should be OK.

I am guessing that your head unit's rating may not be RMS, as 45 Watts RMS x 4 is a bit high for many head units.

However, in some conditions, you will burn out a speaker quicker with a lower power amp than a higher powered one.

That condition: playing too loud - at least loud enough to cause audible distortion. If you do that, no speaker, regardless of its rating may survive.
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President and CEO - Napmoor and Doolittle.




2004 Mercury 270 Airdeck Dinghy.
2011 Four Winds 28Z Class C Motorhome (Ford E450).

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#483867 - 04/19/10 04:31 PM Re: Is marine grade speaker wire really necessary ? [Re: Al]
D-Rod Offline
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Registered: 06/25/05
Posts: 9255
Loc: Back Stateside
Is there anyway to know if youíre at the distortion point?
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#483873 - 04/19/10 05:29 PM Re: Is marine grade speaker wire really necessary ? [Re: D-Rod]
tglee Offline
Captain

Registered: 11/04/06
Posts: 120
Loc: PA
Quote:
I am guessing that your head unit's rating may not be RMS, as 45 Watts RMS x 4 is a bit high for many head units.


I suspect you are correct. This is a low end unit that was originally in my hot tub. It will be replacing the 16 year old OEM cassette player on the boat.

Thanks for taking the time to post.
_________________________
"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."

MMSI# 338052622

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#483874 - 04/19/10 05:30 PM Re: Is marine grade speaker wire really necessary ? [Re: D-Rod]
Al Offline
Nautical Alchemist
Grand Poobah

Registered: 01/14/03
Posts: 14996
Loc: Vagabond Wanderer from Mich.
Lower distortion, say under 1% is usually inaudible, but can easily be seen on an oscilloscope. Distortion at this level is acceptable, and usually considered normal.

Above 3%, it is easily discernible... well, I suppose for most music it is. Some stuff is not worthy of amplification in the first place, and that kind of music may be hard to tell any difference.

Once distortion gets at the 3% audible point, you are nearing the threshold of equipment damage, especially if it is rather loud at that point.
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President and CEO - Napmoor and Doolittle.




2004 Mercury 270 Airdeck Dinghy.
2011 Four Winds 28Z Class C Motorhome (Ford E450).

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#484068 - 04/22/10 08:32 AM Re: Is marine grade speaker wire really necessary ? [Re: D-Rod]
GoFirstClass Offline
Retired Boating Bum
Grand Poobah

Registered: 11/21/03
Posts: 13752
Loc: Pasco, WA
Originally Posted By: D-Rod
Is there anyway to know if youíre at the distortion point?

Yup. An easy way to know if you're at or beyond the distortion point is when your slip neighbors or nearby boaters start flipping you off and throwing empty beer cans at you. Or when they come over to your boat and start distorting your nose with their fists!
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