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Old 30-06-2011, 05:33   #1
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Low-end Audio Installation Advice Sought

I'm a newbie here, and I don't know much about marine audio. You guys are in a whole different league than me; I'm just an old man on a fixed income with a fishing boat, asking for advice. Maybe one of you can give me a pointer or two.

I have a 1994 Alumacraft Dominator that has a radio/tape player in it. I want to replace it with a CD player before my upcoming fishing trip, in a few weeks.

I see a number of such devices for sale -- on Amazon, for example. What I don't know if whether the mounting and wiring is standardized on these units. Can I buy a CD player and reasonably expect that I can just remove the old unit, reconnect the power, speaker, and antenna cables, and be in business? Will it fit? I know that these things are pretty standard in cars, but have no idea about boats. I don't want to buy one and find out that it isn't an easy installation...

In case it means anything, the unit that I'm replacing bears the brand name AquaTech. I had it installed in the boat when I bought it new in 1994. I've never had to dig into it, so I don't know about the connectors (yet). Have they changed? From the front, it looks like a vanilla car stereo.

As long as I have your attention: any advice on great low-end units, or units to avoid? I see units from 'Pyle' on Amazon for about $100 and down, and a few Sonys for not much more. That's my price range. I notice that they mention '4x' speaker outputs; I have only two. It would be fun to have something that would accept a USB flash drive and/or SD card, but that isn't mandatory. (But if I don't get that, I'll probably be sorry later when CDs all but disappear...)

I don't need a remote (this is a small outboard fishing boat!), and I don't need speakers (the ones already installed work fine).

Thanks in advance for any advice,

Paul M
East Troy WI
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Old 30-06-2011, 05:58   #2
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Re: Low-end Audio installation advice sought

Hi Paul,

That has been my experience - just plug and play, or rather cut/reconnect and play. There is really good advise here on wire connections and protection.

The ones I have installed have been inside and protected. This may be an issue for you. There is a unit on sale right now on WestMarine - its not waterproof but resistant and they also have an enclosure that could protect any standard stereo. Their one seems to have some of the USB/Aux things that you are looking for. It also has speakers that you donít need - but spares are always good.


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Old 30-06-2011, 08:56   #3
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Re: Low-end Audio installation advice sought

Why don't you see if there's a mini-jack input into your existing stereo, and record a bunch of CDs as MP3s, and then buy a cheap $20 MP3 player? You run a line from the headphone jack to the input, set to medium volume, and off you go. For convenience, you could even get the sort of MP3 player that takes a single AAA battery...I got one for my kid last year that cost under $10.00.

Basically, you use the existing radio/tape player as a small amp to boost the output from the MP3. You can attach it with Velcro stickybacks to the dash.

The biggest investment would be to create a bunch of MP3s on a home computer or laptop, and to transfer them to the MP3 player, of which even the cheapest models will likely hold 400 or so files. But there is free conversion software galore out there (just be careful about the source!) and you can select only the songs you want to convert and can order them as you see fit.

A weekend's worth of music in something the size of a Bic lighter: Something to consider!
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Old 30-06-2011, 11:39   #4
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Re: Low-end Audio installation advice sought

Thanks for the responses thus far.

The units at West Marine don't actually have SD or USB inputs -- just an 'aux' that you can use to connect something like an MP3 player.

I'm looking at the Pyle PLCD3MR. It's cheap -- $70-$80 -- and has the features that I want. It probably has enough power to invert the cones on my old speakers... I see mixed reviews of Pyle -- one comments was something like "Pyle has a dual meaning..." There were also many good reviews. I've never heard of them -- have you?

At that price, it isn't so much risk, and I'm seriously considering it. I've downloaded the manual to see how bad it is...

S/V Alchemy, there's no aux. input on the old unit. I do just what you described in my car. If I could do it on the boat, I wouldn't!

Thanks again,

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Old 30-06-2011, 16:18   #5
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Re: Low-end Audio installation advice sought

A quick follow-up: I don't really want to be fooling around with discs, whether I'm cruising across the lake to the next hot-spot or pulling up yellow perch as fast as I can bait my jig; so I've order a receiver with no CD player ('mechless'), but with the USB and SD inputs. Assuming that it works, I'll load up an SD card or two and be on my way! I spent $37 at Amazon for a Dual XR4110 AM/FM USB/SD/3.5-mm Mechless Receiver. If the whole project blows up in my face, I won't be hurt too badly financially!

Thanks again for the responses.

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Old 01-07-2011, 20:44   #6
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Re: Low-end Audio installation advice sought

I think CDs are on the way out. I just bought a Fusion RA200G for 170, and it has a USB connector for an iPod. It's not installed yet, so I can;t say much. I'm going to mount it under the chart table and then put the iPod right above it in the storage bin to get tunes.

As to Pyle, it's pretty obvious it's merely just a brand name that had a pretty good reputation. Same as Craig, or Bell and Howell (and now I am seeing Delco power tools).
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