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Old 03-28-2019, 09:48 AM   #1
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Music on board

I've seen some discussion of music and entertainment systems, but have not really figured out what I want to do on a new build.

I'm a bit of a Luddite regarding stereo's and a bit tone deaf - so speaker quality is not a big issue for me. I don't listen to anything under way, but at sometimes anchor I like a little background noise. I don't listen to much music. Unless it's unusually good music, I'm more inclined to listen to NPR on FM radio than a local music station.

So I think my choices are an installed stereo that lets me plug in a thumbdrive or SD card, or run stored music off of my phone but still have FM capability. OR, some type of portable speaker with FM and bluetooth that allows me to do essentially the same as the installed stereo - but with more hassle storing it and keeping batteries charged, but less hassle replacing it when it eventually stops working or technology leaves it behind. Probably a portable system will be lower cost as well.

Any thoughts on installed stereo vs. portable? I should add, it's a small boat so having speakers wired throughout is not a requirement for me.

Something like these portables are the low and high end range of what I'm considering:


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Old 03-28-2019, 09:55 AM   #2
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Ever thought of Bluetooth earbuds such as the Bose? That way you can enjoy the music without inflicting it on your neighbors in the anchorage.

You might also want to consider a streaming only subscription to Sirius. Much cheaper than their satellite broadcast, more channels, and available where you have cell reception.

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Old 03-28-2019, 09:59 AM   #3
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I wouldn't use earbuds. I don't really inflict damage on neighbors (I'm too old to play things loud) and I usually want to hear whats going on around me more than listening to music.

I do need to figure out what services and subscriptions are out there. Even though I hate paying for subscriptions and don't like using too much cell data. I'll check that one out.

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Old 03-28-2019, 10:09 AM   #4
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I have a Fusion unit which has bluetooth, 3 separate speaker zones, is controllable via hardwire controller, wireless controller and my chartplotters via NMEA2K. It gets FM, AM, and Sirius. I usually use Sirius or sometimes bluetooth from my phone or iPad. That way I can listen to my usual stations wherever I go. Yes its a subscription service but at $16 a month its not too bad. Its a "black box" style unit so I put it where I wanted and no holes to make in woodwork or dashboard. Works great for me.

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Old 03-28-2019, 10:11 AM   #5
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If you have battery tools onboard and they happen to be Ryobi, then you could use their Bluetooth speakers and keep the same rechargeable batteries.

When we upgrade phones we keep the old ones without SIM cards as media players. I fill them with music and downloaded Netflix and TV off of WiFi for use later. You can also use them to stream SiriusXM if you have a hotspot or a WiFi connection.
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Old 03-28-2019, 10:58 AM   #6
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I use my old IPod loaded up with music and for amplification I put it in a metal bowl or in the powered speaker when plugged in. I also have the Tune-in Radio app to listen to hundreds of stations from around the world. An old smart phone as pointed out would do the same. I do have an onboard stereo but don't use it that much.
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Old 03-28-2019, 11:33 AM   #7
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We have a Jensen Marine # MS2013BT With all the Wifi, Blue tooth bells and whistles. We generally just stream Pandora or Tune-in at no cost and it works great. Not Expensive when I got it ($160) but is one of their marine units. Been very happy with it..
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Old 03-28-2019, 12:05 PM   #8
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We are in Alaska and BC during the summer. Sirius satellite service is always available, music and all their other channels. It's a good fit for us.
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Old 03-28-2019, 12:34 PM   #9
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Another Fusion fan, an older unit so I retrofit bluetooth into the system. It has my iPod inside the unit, and streams from iPhone, iPad, Powerbook, or anyone else's unit with bluetooth. Watching movies on the Powerbook I stream the sound over the speakers to enhance the movie experience.

I have been so satisfied with it that I wouldn't really consider any other brand to replace it, the new units are even nicer and I considered an upgrade even though the older unit works perfectly.
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Old 03-28-2019, 12:35 PM   #10
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I also am in the Coastal British Columbia area. I am installing a new Clarion 4 zone head unit and using 3 Fusion panel speakers that can be flush mounted, one for the V birth/galley area, one for the cabin location, and one for the cockpit. I'm 71 so loud listening isn't my thing. I will be subscribing to Sirius Satellite service as I'm not into ipod type devices and the satellite service offers me a decent range of music, from soft jazz to humour, from news to soft electronic (spa) music, also so contemporary dance music with a great beat.

After hearing the same songs for years on the radio, I''m tired of just about any song I hear. Youtube is offerning a service on a 3 month demo where you set up your own sound from available Youtube videos. If I'm happy with that, I'll use it in conjunction with a small portable bluetooth speaker I have. I have Serius in my car and I usually love it or hate it, the signal does get blocked easily so I'm not too sure how well I will be able to pick up signals in Desolation and Broughton areas.
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Old 03-28-2019, 01:40 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Bkay View Post

Any thoughts on installed stereo vs. portable? I should add, it's a small boat so having speakers wired throughout is not a requirement for me.

We have both portable speakers and installed stereos. Both is a good option, in my opinion, but if you're only going to do one, get an installed stereo with bluetooth (if not Sirius itself).

The bluetooth option will allow your phone (and any guests as well) to easily stream any content through your boat's speakers.

The portable option is ok, but we have found on many occasions that when we actually want to use the portable speakers the battery is dead and needs to be recharged.
Matt B.
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Old 03-28-2019, 02:07 PM   #12
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We have a pair of waterproof, buoyant, portable bluetooth speakers that can sync to our phones. They work really well and we can take the tunes with us around the boat, on the dingy, to a beach, to docktails (by request of course) etc. Generally we use Spotify for everything related to tunage. My wife has created some playlists just for boating "Fortitunes", "On-the-hook", etc.

At home we use Sonos. If and when we ever liveaboard that system will come with us. Amazing integration and sound quality.
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Old 03-28-2019, 02:11 PM   #13
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JBL GO 2 Bluetooth speaker and mobile phone loaded with tunes
Surprisingly good sound from a small package. (JBL is an offshoot of Harmon Khardon)
Water resistant and we have ran it continually for 5 hours off a single charge.
Get them for around $20

We have car stereo upstairs and down and media centre with 5 speaker surround sound but rarely use either anymore.
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Old 03-28-2019, 02:14 PM   #14
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Hmmm...sounds like several pieces of good advice. Thanks for your input!
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Old 03-28-2019, 07:10 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Bkay View Post
Hmmm...sounds like several pieces of good advice. Thanks for your input!
I have an installed system with speakers in the salon and on the bridge. Seldom use them. I broke the habit because the bluff behind my marina blocks the Tacoma NPR station which I regard as one of the best jazz collections ever.

So I just stream through my NAV computer or my phone as appropriate and Bluetooth to a really nice portable BOSE speaker array. Also got Pandora.
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Old 03-28-2019, 07:20 PM   #16
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Both Pandora and Spotify offer free streaming music if you don't mind an advertisement every once in a while.

Some cell phone providers don't count music streaming as data, so check your cell plan.

I use a blutooth speaker that is durable, cheap and sounds great that I got on Amazon ( link below ). I leave it plugged in and use it as my main "sound system" 75% of the time. When I want to take it with me, its always charged. You can actually get 2 of them and they will work as "left" and "right" if you wanted . I have dropped it off a 12 foot ladder a few times and its weatherproof.

If you go with a built in system, make sure it has an "audio in" option so you will be able to run your phone, ipad, whatever comes next into it.
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Old 03-28-2019, 10:27 PM   #17
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+1 on the Fusion stereo with multiple zones.

There is a Fusion app for smartphone or tablet (or the NMEA2000 interface for late model MFDs) so you can control it from anywhere, and stream from phone, tablet or USB. We currently are doing satellite, but the stereo will support it if we decide to add it. I also found that my nav laptop can hook up via bluetooth and I can stream from there, too.

I really like that I can control zones independently. We have 4 speakers in the salon/aft cabin on one zone, and additional speakers on another zone for the flybridge. We can tailor the music level in each zone for the tastes of whoever is in that zone.

Ours is the Fusion MS-RA70N, and only does the two zones. Other Fusion models cost more but do more zones; I just didn't need that.

We coupled the stereo with a mid range 600w amplifier and some decent speakers - I'm a bit of a snob for how real my music sounds, and the combination works well for me. The boat isn't a place for blasting music, but having good quality at low to medium low sound levels is important, and the combination I have does great.
"There exist minds that think as well as you do, but differently."
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Old 03-29-2019, 06:52 AM   #18
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We like our Fusion multizone system. Have the 700Series. Set up 3 zones, controlled on ipad, raymarine mfd, wired remote on flybridge. Sirius radio and old cd collection ripped to usb flashdrives. Have small Fusion zone amp for third zone on the flybridge, it powers it self off when volume is 0. Set of speakers in Aft cabin another in forward cabin, 2 sets in salon, and final set on flybridge. Seems like a lot but

being able to play music just where you want is nice, without blasting everywhere,
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Old 03-29-2019, 07:48 AM   #19
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Bose Bluetooth sound bar. Portable, sound quality is fine for our needs and way less expensive than an installed system of receivers, amps, speakers, etc. And when we sell the boat, it comes with us.

I have always thought the mini speaker "pods" mounted everywhere look like an ugly afterthought.
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Old 03-29-2019, 12:02 PM   #20
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Fusion and ONLY Fusion. I had everything from car like marine stereo to portable speakers. You will never understand the value of Fusion multi zone system till you get one or play with one. That is properly installed on the boat.

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