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Old     (skongolf)      Join Date: Aug 2009       08-18-2009, 2:17 PM Reply   
Any ideas on where I can find a good article or thread on wiring a wakeboard tower to and amp 4 speakers and a head unit? I know how to wire a car stereo and amp, but just want to know if boats are much different. Anything would help right now. Thanks
Old     (jpuckett)      Join Date: Apr 2005       08-18-2009, 2:26 PM Reply   
The biggest thing with boats is that you have no common ground. Be sure all grounds and power leads are run back to the battery. This will cut down on the chances of having noise. The best thing to do is use a second battery with all the stereo wired directly to it. Also use the search button to find other threads about this subject. The forum is full of help.
Old     (acurtis_ttu)      Join Date: May 2004       08-18-2009, 2:39 PM Reply   
Try and search for some of Phil ( Kicker Rep) posts on how to wire a noise free system. He has some great detailed tips.
Old     (wake_upppp)      Join Date: Nov 2003       08-18-2009, 9:14 PM Reply Have learned a ton off this site. Great source.
Old     (chas)      Join Date: Feb 2002       08-18-2009, 9:41 PM Reply   
Hey Steve,
Where are you from?
Old     (skongolf)      Join Date: Aug 2009       08-18-2009, 10:30 PM Reply   
I'm from AZ. Finally got a boat and want to start working on the stereo. Got my tower installed yesterday.
Old     (philwsailz)      Join Date: Feb 2009       08-19-2009, 6:46 AM Reply   

Car and boat stereos are more similar than different. The major difference is the boat's lack of a great big metal frame/chassis to supply a super-good ground as Hangar Pilot shares. Your amp grounds have to go all the way to the battery.

The lack of a ground plane also has caused us to come up with some different schemes for getting rid of noise. The most common and repeatable thing I have discovered is that wiring the radio power to the amp, (or the largest amp in multiple amp installs) power terminals. This provides a good COMMON source of both 12 volt positive power AND ground for both the amp and the head unit. This prevents the slight difference in ground potential that is the root cause of most boat stereo noise. I have provided the simplest examples of this sort of wiring mod:

In this first picture, we are using a simple dash rocker switch to turn the radio on and off. This is absolutely the simplest wiring.

This second pic shows the use of a 30A automotive-style relay. The key's accessory switching provides a trigger signal to the relay, and the relay in turns energizes, sending power from the positive amp terminal to the head unit.


Study these a while, they really are simple, and don't be afraid to try it. I do this now for every boat system, and I still will often print out a copy and take it out to the boat I am working on, just so I can see it...

Wiring the speakers to the amp is for all practical purposes the same as on a car. Just take lots of extra care with the wire and any pinch points or abrasion points, you do not want to accidentally cut the wire or abrade it to a short circuit in the tower or at a point it goes into the tower. OTHER folks have some awesome recommendations on how to actually pull the wire through the tower. Hopefully those guys will chime in with the tricks and techniques that have worked well for them. TigeMike is one guy who I know has a lot of experience pulling tower speaker wire; hopefully he will chime in!

Good luck and let us know!

Old     (skongolf)      Join Date: Aug 2009       08-19-2009, 8:47 AM Reply   
Thanks for the post. I will probably use two amps at some point. One for the tower speakers and one for the boat speakers. Where exactly would the ignition relay be? I have a 98 Maxum and havn't really been under the dash too much yet. Also i have a 2 battery set up and no switch, just an on board charging system. It looks to me like everything is running off the main battery, with the second one just being an auxillary. So i am debating whether or not to get a battery switch or leave it as is.
Old     (philwsailz)      Join Date: Feb 2009       08-19-2009, 10:26 AM Reply   

The relay is a device you would add. You can often find it at a local audio shop, or you can usually find it at Radio Shack. When you add it, the easiest way is to use the original radio power wire as the trigger voltage from the key switch to the relay's terminal 85. In light of that the best place to put the relay is right near the back of the radio.

There are lots of options on the battery management side of things. I like an Automatic Charging Relay, (ACR) instead of a batt switch, and there are guys here who can recommend some good ones. I like the one from Blue Sea Systems, (model 7610). Other guys like using the battery switch only, while some combine them.

To get some good input on good solid dual battery wiring design ideas, consider posting a separate post asking about dual battery installs. There are some good guys who have a lot of expertise who can help with that topic.

Good Luck!


(Message edited by philwsailz on August 19, 2009)

(Message edited by philwsailz on August 19, 2009)
Old     (skongolf)      Join Date: Aug 2009       08-19-2009, 11:07 AM Reply   
I beleive I already have the ACR as the boat is actually a Maxum fish ski boat that I will be using for wakeboarding. It has a third battery that is used for the trolling motor which i took out. So i may be good to go there. I just found a good stereo wiring diagram on here for a 3 amp setup, but no relay in it so I may start there. Thanks for the help so far.
Old     (david_e_m)      Join Date: Jul 2008       08-19-2009, 3:56 PM Reply   
I can't emphasize enough how important Phil's comments are pertaining to noise. If DIY would just do two things: 1.) Follow Phil's schematic and bypass the factory harness, and 2.) In multiple battery situations, verify that all source electronics and amplifiers obtain power via the same battery or battery switch terminal

... then a majority of all noise issues would be resolved.

Earmark Marine
Old     (skongolf)      Join Date: Aug 2009       08-20-2009, 10:43 AM Reply   
The help here has been great and i found the relay for about $3 i think. So as soon as i get my boat back from the shop I will check on what I need. I also want to post a pic of that onboard battery charger and see if it will work for a 2 battery set-up. For some reason I think it is just for charging the trolling motor which i took out.
Also, is running an Iphone/Ipod to the aux out through RCA's the best option over an HU with ipod integration? I need to get a head unit and was thinking about the sony 50iu but heard some bad reviews about it on here.
Old     (p_e_ski)      Join Date: Jul 2004       08-30-2009, 7:26 AM Reply   
Try these 2 sites. some good basic and advanced info....
Old     (espritv8)      Join Date: Dec 2009       03-27-2010, 2:18 PM Reply

is that the way or installing a battery isolator switch or acr??

Also, if you already have an HU installed in the boat and you want to add speakers, and amps, would you have to need to use the same diagram?
If it's the case, installation mght be more complicated than expected.

Last edited by espritv8; 03-27-2010 at 2:28 PM.
Old     (espritv8)      Join Date: Dec 2009       03-27-2010, 2:52 PM Reply   
Also, if you already have an HU installed in the boat and you want to add speakers, and amps, would you have to need to use the same diagram?
If it's the case, installation mght be more complicated than expected.


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