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Old 08-12-2010, 04:04   #1
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Marine Stereo vs Car Stereo . . .

We have a Marine Radio (White) downstairs in the cabin and it is not well.
I was going to replace it with just a car stereo until a friend told me that a marine stereo is built for the marine environment unlike a car stereo.
I'm not sure if I can believe that so what do you people in the know think?
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Old 08-12-2010, 04:09   #2
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I have a car radio inside my salon and a marine radio in the cockpit. The car radio sounds better for a lot less and has been working fine for five years. Marine radios are somewhat marinized but I feel if it's going inside the boat they're not worth the extra monies.
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Old 08-12-2010, 04:55   #3
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I agree with tellie,for inside the main difference is PRICE.marc
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Old 08-12-2010, 05:07   #4
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Most modern production boats are usualy fitted with standard car radios anyway. They are cheap, compact and are already designed to take vibration, etc. The only difference I can see a marine unit having is a better resistance to extreems of temp' and moisture. If the radio is sighted in a cabin or other protected environment, then I can't see any problem with them and if they do go wrong, they are cheap and easy to replace anyway.
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Old 08-12-2010, 06:07   #5
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Marine stereos ususally have the circuit boats coated with a "conformal coating" to keep corrosion away, but that can also make it harder to dissapate heat.

My car stereo is an old model still working fine for years in the cabin, and I have a spare from eBay just in case...probably both are cheaper than a marine radio!

I even have one car stereo speaker in the cockpit that is still working well after a year, when I discovered one of the existing ones was dead. It's gotten slightly wet a few times, I guess the grate is steel as it is rusting, but everything is working well.
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Old 08-12-2010, 06:28   #6
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The real difference in marine vs auto is a bit of sealing on the front cover. Where the CD/DVD goes in. If it is exposed this is good. If it resides in the cabin this is not really needed. The only truly waterproof display and cotrol units I have seen are remote units that hook up to a unit placed inside. Polyplanar made a great unit MRD70 that had won several awards and has really waterproof displays but I hear they do not make it anymore. The problem with the auto units is the chassis is cheap uncoated steel and uncoated PC boards, Crappy connectors. Most have a 1 year warranty and rarely get much past that. Buy 2, they are cheap!

The marine units are more $ but usually have a longer warranty

Putting "Marine" on something does not necessarly mean much, other than
moer $ unfortunatly.
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Old 08-12-2010, 06:56   #7
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The main differences are, most of the marine units have a non corrosive chassis, wiring, and conformal coated circuit boards. If you are looking for longevity the marinized stereo will last longer. But that said you still need to look at the specs to make sure. Some manufacturers of the marine stereos cut corners. As far as price goes unless you are going to buy one of the cheapest car stereos available there will not be that much difference in price for a quality unit. Some of the better quality marine units from Jensen, Clarion, or my favorite Fusion are comparable to a similar car unit. I bought a Fusion head unit that plays everything round and shinny including DVDs and has 70 watts per channel for $350, how much would I save by buying a car stereo $100? The main thing is to buy high quality marine grade speakers as automotive speakers do not handle moisture well, all of the components in car speakers that are metal will rust immediately and the cones are mostly paper based materials and will dissolve or crack. It seems like everyone wants to do everything on the cheap when outfitting their boat, which to some extent I can understand money can be tight. But if you cut corners on everything peripheral in order to get all the things you want you might be OK for a year or two and then one by one the cheap crap you bought will start to fail and you will end up replacing it all with good quality marine type equipment anyway. How much do you save then? The marine environment is one of the harshest places on earth, normal electronics or just about any other piece of equipment you put on your boat really needs to be up to the task. That is why manufacturers of marine equipment spend all that money on research and testing to try and make their products last at least as long as the warranty.
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Old 08-12-2010, 17:05   #8
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My car stereo is located in my electric panel at the chart table. If I get salt water there I have far bigger problems than replacing my stereo.
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Old 08-12-2010, 17:27   #9
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A dockmate/friend put a new Fusion in his Hunter this summer. He is not happy with the sound of this head unit. (no external amp) He said his old car radio sounded much better with the same speakers. It was lacking good low tones.

I looked online at the manuals for specs to help him figure out what the problem might be. And I was surprised to see the freq. response, signal to noise ratio, and other specs aren't even listed for the internal amp in the head unit. (he paid more than $350 I think, it was there best unit)

The specs for the external amps are listed and are decent specs as well. So I think one will only get the best from Fusion if the full setup is purchased. Quite expensive to me for music on board.



A cheap Pyle unit with touch screen and all the bells, plus a good sound was $115 shipped for me. Hard to beat in my opinion. I'll let it rot to dust and replace it in ...... .. .. a .. few years probably. Been working in my truck for three years now. We'll see how it holds up on the boat.

I'll save my meager funds for critical systems and repairs to them, and will not skimp on the choices in those areas.
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Old 08-12-2010, 18:11   #10
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i only use regular car stereo-- i dont like paying good money for nothing but a word. i use a plastic case for mine. they usually last as long as they do in a car.
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Old 08-12-2010, 19:11   #11
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The JVC in my boat is I assume a car unit and is still sounding good after 19 years! It is in the cabin but the boat has been on saltwater most of the time.
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Old 08-12-2010, 19:20   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reiner View Post

We have a Marine Radio (White) downstairs in the cabin and it is not well.
I was going to replace it with just a car stereo until a friend told me that a marine stereo is built for the marine environment unlike a car stereo.
Yep, built for the marine environment... but it's not healthy. My boat had a 70's car stereo in it that was working well but missing a knob. I aquired a new "MARINE RADIO" which also got sick.

So nice to have that extra protective coating and all, but what's the point if it still craps out?

My new car stereo has features... and it works.
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Old 08-12-2010, 19:37   #13
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I'm with you guys, for the huge price difference, you might as well get a car stereo and when it craps out you can get another latest and greatest for a nominal fee.. One of my friends as his kitted out with bose including the waterproof outdoor ones for the outside cockpit..
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Old 08-12-2010, 19:44   #14
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Car radios are built to survive dramatic temperature extremes and very high humidity. Sony works for me.
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Old 08-12-2010, 19:48   #15
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Thanks for all the great replies. I will buy a Sony Car system with ipod and USB hook up. I was thinking along the same lines. I can't see the chinese giving any interest in making something to last...... Marine or not.
I might buy marine speakers....
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