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Old     (wotan)      Join Date: Jul 2008       03-17-2011, 8:51 AM Reply   
Hey Guys --

No doubt that HLCD has become standard and proven technology for tower speakers. I get that. I've listened to them and they sound great. What about if it isn't all that important to you to "project" sound? 90% of my usage is either surfing (with fresh-air-exhaust) or at the party cove. We dont' need the speakers to be heard at 70' and my previous setup was (4) 6x9s that always seemed like "enough" as long as I had them well powered.

I am planning on going HLCD this time but now I am wondering if it will result in "worse" near-field sound? Has anyone experienced this?
Old     (ponyh8r)      Join Date: Dec 2004       03-17-2011, 9:16 AM Reply   

This is going to be a preference call. HLCDs are often described as "bright" by many. However, from my experience, I have never noticed a degradation of sound quality out of my HLCDs while surfing or hanging out around the boat when compared to my old 4 speaker setup. This is probably mostly due to the other speakers in the boat filling in much of the sound and providing a full and rich quality to the music. I would say that as long as the rest of your stereo is up to speed, is properly powered and tuned, you should switch for sure. You may not need the loudness for your need, but its nice to have if you ever do.
Old     (philwsailz)      Join Date: Feb 2009       03-17-2011, 9:18 AM Reply   
Robert, I will respond very carefully... SInce I represent a manufacturer, I don't want to step on another manufacturer's toes.

The answer to your question in large part should be answered by your own ears. Listening is so personal and subjective... Other people's opinions, like mine are very subjective also. It will be hard to quantify responses with measurable attributes. That being said, just as here are many different brands and styles of coaxial speakers in the 6.5" and 6x9 formats, each with their own sound, the same thing can be said for HLCD product. You are going to find that each one from each brand has its own sound.

Speaking briefly for our products, the Kicker KM6500.2 HLCD component system was designed with a goal of having the ability to project at a distance, while at the same time having very natural and smooth sound up close. The crossover and the horn geometry have much to do with this. Ever seen a set of home speakers built from wakeboard tower components? This is what I built for my living room... Sorry for the fuzzy pics, they are from my phone...

Don't just take my word for it. Take as many chances as you can to listen to all products under consideration. Make sure that they are properly set up though. It is sometimes easy to make good product sound bad; verify that you are listening with an appropriate amp, with appropriate settings for all listening sessions... There is some good product out there; make the decision that is right for you....

Let us know what you decide!

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Last edited by philwsailz; 03-17-2011 at 9:23 AM.
Old     (david_e_m)      Join Date: Jul 2008       03-17-2011, 9:23 AM Reply   
HLCD does not necessarily mean a ragged response. Klipsch has made great sounding horn speakers for home for years. There are many great studio monitors that employ horns. So, a horn can be linear if the manufacturer chooses to manage the horn instead of it running unbridled.
The Bullet HollowPoint 770 HLCD has a larger 7.7" midbass driver combined with a controlled horn. These have a standing reputation as an HLCD with a warmer balance. Do they give up a little peak amplitude in the process? Sure. Are they more than loud enough to project to 80 feet with authority? Absolutely! The Kicker KM6500.2 is a perfect example of an HLCD that was built for sound quality.
The WetSounds Pro485 is the perfect example of a linear HLCD that is crazy loud also.
You can also run a hybrid like the WetSounds Double-Up that is intended to offer a warmer balance as a surf option. Personally I'm not a huge fan of mixing conventional speakers with HLCDs to create a hybrid. If you start with a more linear HLCD to begin with there isn't really a reason for it.

Eramark Marine
Old     (camassanger)      Join Date: Oct 2009       03-17-2011, 9:50 AM Reply   
Im in the same boat ;-)

Dont usually need the 80' sound, because we mostly surf. But I went HLCD anyway, because occasionally we do wakeboard, and the HLCD's have the capability to be heard back there. Surfing sound is very nice too - just dont need it as loud. I went with the Bullet's 770's fwiw. Im sorta with Mike above - why not install the capability when you're not sacrificing the surf sound - that way you have it all... Good luck with the decision.
Old     (hatepain)      Join Date: Aug 2006       03-17-2011, 10:24 AM Reply   
As lifted above there are many options these days that one can run to accomplish both near field and throw. I chose Bullet and have been extremely pleased with them both from an end user stand point and with their customer service. I pretty much only surf these days and or party cove and get nothing but rave reviews from the sound quality whether in the boat, 20' back or 100+. Exile is doing a hybrid set up that I find very interesting and am excited to hear. It entails 2 XM7's and 4 SXT65's, I've often thought this type of set up would give you the best of both worlds but was talked off the fence by David (as he mentioned he's not a big fan). 2 WS 485's would be a bad ass set up too. I've heard a lot of set ups and to date haven't heard one I prefer over the Bullets but I'm betting the Exile hybrid will be something I like too. NuBu on here is doing it with the Exile Xi800.4 and the Exile Harpoon, tons of power, lots of speakers, should be fun.
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Old     (wotan)      Join Date: Jul 2008       03-17-2011, 10:59 AM Reply   
Thanks for the responses. I have always been into audio and speaker building. I've only heard the wetsounds HLCDs before and I don't think they were tuned particularly well. I'm planning on powering with a PPI PC2150 (2x300watts @ 2ohms) -- is that going to be enough power for 4 HLCD speakers?

I appreciate that you guys represent so many different brands fairly and evenly. In all honesty, I think that most of these companies are using the same OEMs. Kicker may be an exception, however the most recent set of in-boats and 6x9s that I purchased from Kicker left a lot to be desired. I love the looks of their HLCDs but I'm skeptical of the performance.... has anyone side-by-sided these with the bullets or wetsounds?

Bullet seems to be in the business of knocking off others ideas. This has always rubbed me the wrong way.

NVS and WetSounds are out of my budget. I'd be looking at a DIY fiberglass enclosure.... I think I'm in between there and the Kickers right now. Just worried about the last set of Kickers that I purchased and the lack of mid-bass. Also -- I think I remember reading I could run 2 of the Kicker midbass drivers and just one horn, do they sell the midbass drivers individually?
Old     (david_e_m)      Join Date: Jul 2008       03-17-2011, 11:09 AM Reply   
As long as we are talking hybrids we have many choices.

(2) pr Bullet HollowPoint 770 coax with
(1) pr Bullet HollowPoint 770 HLCD. Six 7.7" are the rough equivalent in surface area to nine 6.5".
(2) pr Exile SXT65 coax with
(1) pr Exile XM-7 HLCD.
(2) pr WetSounds XST-60 coax with
(1) pr WetSounds Pro60 HLCD.
(1) pr WetSounds Pro60 HLCD with
(1) pr WetSounds MB-8 midbass.

The WetSounds Syn6 makes for an interesting amplifier for driving two or three pair of dissimilar tower speakers. It will have to run no lower than 2-ohms stereo or 4-ohms bridged in this application so you will not have thermal issues on a hot southern day. It will have separate channels for the dissimilar speakers so that you can adjust the two types independently with an exterior control on the fly for a variety of listening conditions. And you can set the crossovers and gains independently for the contrasting speakers.

You have lots of options.

Earmark Marine
Old     (david_e_m)      Join Date: Jul 2008       03-17-2011, 11:17 AM Reply   
Oh Robert, please don't confuse Bullet Speakers (HollowPoint) and BulletLines. Bullet Speakers are an original product and BulletLines has the reputation for knock-off products. Two completely different companies. Bullet Speakers has their own inside designer (Joe) that travels to Asia and has used some very sophisticated resources to develop their products.

Earmark Marine
Old     (hatepain)      Join Date: Aug 2006       03-17-2011, 11:53 AM Reply   
Yeah trust me brother I wouldn't be rocking Ken Lands HLCD's
Old     (hatepain)      Join Date: Aug 2006       03-17-2011, 12:36 PM Reply   
Here is Jamies website

Note the quote at the bottom of the page: “Don’t let your ‘KNOCK-OFF’ fall off – enjoy the lasting performance of the Original Bullet Speaker!”

This is because Kens cans break and fall as you're cruising along. It happened to my buddy and put a nice gash in his interior but luckily the speaker didn't bounce right into the lake.
Old     (brianinpdx)      Join Date: Aug 2009       03-17-2011, 12:48 PM Reply   
Robert - You pose a pretty popular question right now.

My advice to you is listen to some of the setups out on the water if at all possible and use your own ear. There are some very real differences in opinions as to what "sound quality" is and often leads to xyz is better than ywx. Sometimes I jokingly ask guys, "who's wife is prettiest..." and everyone gets a laugh about it, but the fact is some like blondes and some dont. Speakers are no different. There are some very high dollar product out there and there is some very low dollar stuff out there.

One of your comments about having enough power is an important one. I see a lot of guys step up to some great tower gear and then not feed it with a 2 x 12W amplifier then wonder why they have marginal results. I cant stress enough, having enough amplifier power is critical. Even if you dont use it all. Or hardly ever. Power your speaker selection correctly.

I also believe that the wake sports market has matured a bit in the last 10+ years or so. I talk with these people everyday, and more and more people share your point of view., not wanting crazy projection at the sacrifice of sound quality....

Based on what you stated, I would look at some of the new NON hlcd speakers from various brands... There are some really good product out there in 2011.


As it applies to the Exile products brought up in this thread. We are seeing more and more people turn toward our hybrid setup as David mentioned. It sounds fantastic and can all be run off one amplifier. You will see more and more of these systems on the water this summer that mix technology with our clamp abilities. The point should however be made that, the Exile Hybrid setup is an advanced speaker system that takes some planning. It may not be for everyone due to the cost, and the space requirements it takes on a tower.

I say again: Reading about things is great. Listening to the same thing on the water is the real deal. Get out there and listen to yourself. Your ears wont lie. (unless you bring some crappy compressed music off itunes... then all bets are off)--haha!


Exile Audio
Old     (philwsailz)      Join Date: Feb 2009       03-17-2011, 1:11 PM Reply   
Originally Posted by wotan View Post
Just worried about the last set of Kickers that I purchased and the lack of mid-bass. Also -- I think I remember reading I could run 2 of the Kicker midbass drivers and just one horn, do they sell the midbass drivers individually?
Lack of midbass? That is an odd comment. I wonder if somethig could have been acoustically out of phase? We are not known for that.... Anyway...

Kicker sure does sell the midbass drivers separately, as the KM6500 kit. When you buy the KM6500.2 and the KM6500 you will have 4 midbass drivers and two horns, for 6 cans total, what we like to call a "6-pack". The extra mid adds some warmth to the overall sound. We provided an adjustment jumper on the horn's crossover specifically so you could adjust the horn's response when you add the extra midbass drivers. That is how I built my speakers, with the KM6500 and the KM6500.2's.

You will have about 400 watts power handling per side when you go this route. Each side will be at exactly 2-ohms, or you can look at it as two 4-ohm loads per side. The hot ticket for that setup will be a pair of the new Kicker Class D full range IX500.4 amps. Use one amp per side, with half of each amp driving just the KM6500 mid, and the other half of the amp driving the KM6500.2 mid and horn. that will give you 1,000 watts of power. I know, it is abot 2x rated, but they will handle it with everything set up properly.

Otherwise, if you don't want to be "that guy" you can use the ZXM450.2 with the two mids and the horn wired in parallel to eah side of the amp. This will get you to 2-ohms load per side and will get you roughly 225 watts per side.

Hope that helps!

Old     (wotan)      Join Date: Jul 2008       03-17-2011, 2:24 PM Reply   
Whoa! Thanks for clearing up the difference between Bullet Speakers and BulletLines -- I thought they were the same product!!

There aren't a lot of opportunities around me to demo these systems. My local Supra dealer had a WetSounds trio and although they sounded fine, it didn't sound nearly as good or loud as my 6x9s in a box. I always suspected that he had them underpowered but he disagreed. Regardless, I was overpowering my 6x9s and they were the loudest/best sounding speakers I've heard.

Brian @ Exile -- I really appreciate your honesty. Do you have a website? Google isn't helping out much. I'd be very interested in checking out the exile line (though I expect they are out of my budget.) I wouldn't be worried about tuning a hybrid system and my tower has plenty of real estate available. I really like the idea of a 7-8" speaker.

Phil @ Kicker -- My in-boat speakers are KS650s and they have loads of power going to them. I cross them over @ 100hz and have always felt like there was something "wrong" with them. I used to have a really old pair of MA Audio 6.5s -- I assumed I'd be upgrading when I replaced them. The Kickers sure look nice but just have no mid-bass! My biggest fear about going to a Kicker system is not getting the bass. I do have 2x12" Type-Rs that I'm pushing with 2500watts so the low-end is covered... It's just the midbass that I get stressed about trying to get out of 6.5" cones.
Old     (majestic)      Join Date: May 2008       03-17-2011, 3:09 PM Reply   

I will give you my personal insight and want to be clear I am NOT bashing any of the above mentioned brands.

For the last two seasons I have been running 4 Bullet 770's on my tower and they sound great at 1/2 mile let alone 70 feet but we have gone to almost all surfing and for me the sound was was too bright at 20 feet and was just lacking clearity. Once again personal opinion.

This year I have decided to do the "hybrid" system from Exile for two reasons;

1. I wanted the better sound closer to the boat. Could I do without the HLCD's?...Sure, I have heard lots of folks rave about the XST-65's at 80' powered off a Harpoon but I also wanted to be "that guy" and be able to show off every once in a while.

2. It was important for me to be able to remove the speakers while towing and stored. I have covered outdoor storage but question security if someone wanted the speakers bad enough.

3. Exile is close to me as I live in the Seattle area and have weekly travels through Portland and have had just such a great customer service experience ever since I reached out to Brian @ Exile. This is my first ever install and he has been there every step of the way.

I think what it all comes down to is personal prefrence. What is pleasing to your ears, eyes, and budget. For me having support from the brand is equally important when spending your hard earned money. Get out and listen to as many brands as you can.

Good Luck!

Old     (murphy_smith)      Join Date: Dec 2005       03-17-2011, 3:22 PM Reply   
Have you listened to the Wet Sounds 'Double Up" - pretty solid setup for the surfer and party cove'er
Old     (shunra)      Join Date: Aug 2008       03-18-2011, 9:23 AM Reply   
Originally Posted by wotan View Post
My in-boat speakers are KS650s and they have loads of power going to them. I cross them over @ 100hz and have always felt like there was something "wrong" with them. I used to have a really old pair of MA Audio 6.5s -- I assumed I'd be upgrading when I replaced them. The Kickers sure look nice but just have no mid-bass! My biggest fear about going to a Kicker system is not getting the bass. I do have 2x12" Type-Rs that I'm pushing with 2500watts so the low-end is covered... It's just the midbass that I get stressed about trying to get out of 6.5" cones.
It sounds like you might have some speakers out of phase. I have seen this problem more often than you'd think. Check that all the speakers are wired the same way. Plus to Plus, minus to minus. You might find that 1 or 2 of you speakers are wired opposite of the others. This will cause a big decrease in mid bass.

If it is hard to get at the speakers to visually check, you can test it by doing the following. Get just one of your KS650s playing all on its own. No sub, no tower, just the one speaker. Depending on how you have it wired you might be able to accomplish this using your fader, otherwise you might have to disconnect speakers. Get a song playing with lots of mid bass. Listen closely as you add a second speaker in. The midbass should increase. If it decreases noticeably those two speakers are out of phase and one of them needs to be reversed. Repeat for all 4 speakers. The decrease in mid bass is surprisingly noticeable when the speakers are out of phase.

I have seen install shops use a small 1.5v AA battery to prove the phasing of speakers as well.
Old     (murphy_smith)      Join Date: Dec 2005       03-18-2011, 9:55 AM Reply   
“Don’t let your ‘KNOCK-OFF’ fall off – enjoy the lasting performance of the Original Bullet Speaker!”

That is funny - made me laugh out loud!!!
Old     (david_e_m)      Join Date: Jul 2008       03-18-2011, 9:59 AM Reply   
It bothers me a little when I hear of direct brand to brand comparisons when I don't have control over the execution. And I read of potential problems which I don't want to be critical of. And sometimes these reviews are absolutely contrary to what we experience in our own side by side listening. It bothers me the most when a product can't be described for its own attributes and its value has to be substantiated by comparing it to a well or more established product. I am always skeptical when this ploy is used. If you tell me you do great installations and tell me why then I tend to believe you. If you tell me you do better installations than so and so then I tune that out as total nonsense. If I tell you I think a speaker is great I can at least tell you the actual reasons as to why its so great.
The other variable is that some of us are listening to quality recordings and we want a linear speaker that portrays everything. Some of us are listening to poorly engineered recordings on a compressed playback medium. In that case many people prefer a speaker with a sucked out midrange and prefer a speaker that conceals irritants that are not part of the speaker but merely ruthlessly reproduced as they are.

Earmark Marine
Old     (skyski1)      Join Date: Jan 2008       03-18-2011, 12:54 PM Reply   
David........that is the best post I have read in a long, long time. Only a seasoned veteran could write with such insight.
Old     (wotan)      Join Date: Jul 2008       03-18-2011, 3:40 PM Reply   
I also wasn't looking for brand comparison. It always seems to turn into that -- my main question (and still is) HCLD vs. Regular Speakers vs. Hybrid. If anyone else wants to contribute about what they've gained or lost with a HLCD system, I appreciate the responses!


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