Anglers and boaters rarely consider the tremendous effort required to design and manufacture the countless components and accessories that enhance our on-the-water experiences. Skilled craftsmen design and assemble many of these essentials right here in Florida. We wanted to learn more about the companies that produce these products and are confident that you, too, will be fascinated with what we discover.
A speaker is a speaker, right? Wrong! Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. An ordinary speaker like those typically found across the automotive industry wouldn’t last a month on a boat. Actually, between the vibration and moisture you’d be lucky if it worked at all.
…each prototype speaker is exposed to a barrage of testing, including 2,000 hours in simulated high-density fog, extensive exposure to imitated UV light, and drastic, prolonged temperature changes.
In order for a marine-grade speaker to withstand the rigors associated with the unforgiving and corrosive boating environment we all enjoy, a tremendous amount of research, design and testing must go into each and every phase of the product. Before a speaker capable of withstanding the saltwater environment is released to the general boating public, the product must prove it can overcome two major hurdles. The first is having the ability to conquer the challenging open-air acoustic environment, and the other being able to withstand the hostile conditions associated with coastal boating.
The open-air acoustic environment means your onboard entertainment system must be able to evoke crisp and clear sound at anchor and at full throttle while combating a variety of ambient noises, including but not limited to wind and waves, engine noise and numerous other interferences that may be present. This is easy to accomplish in the enclosed salon of a custom sportfish, but turn up the volume on an open center console while flying across the water at 40 knots, and a sub-par speaker system will emit nothing but distorted noise rather than crisp, concert like music.
If that’s not enough, marine-grade speakers must be able to withstand a barrage of environmental factors like corrosion from rain and salt spray, drastic weather changes and deterioration from prolonged exposure to the sun’s powerful UV rays. The truth of the matter is that anything less than a bulletproof product will ultimately fail, so when it came time to learn more about what goes into designing and manufacturing these high tech sound emitting gadgets there was only one respected brand to turn to—South Florida’s very own JL Audio.
You probably recognize JL Audio as a leader across the automotive speaker, subwoofer and amplifier market where the company owns a majority share of the high-end market. JL Audio has been retrofitting vehicles with the dopest beats since 1975, but it wasn’t until three decades later in 2005 when the admired brand finally introduced their first marine-grade speaker—a 7.7 inch powerhouse.
During a day and age when most electronic devices are manufactured overseas, JL Audio’s commitment to in-house loudspeaker production continues to grow. To pull this off in a competitive world market, JL Audio’s engineering team had to create one of the world’s most advanced loudspeaker assembly facilities in Miramar, FL. The state of the art manufacturing plant allows their highly skilled workforce to efficiently design, manufacture and test JL Audio products to extremely high standards. While overseas production is feasible, it can be challenging when the product’s technology is so innovative and complex. Since JL Audio speakers incorporate proprietary, patented technologies that require specific and intricate assembly procedures, the company decided that the engineering team who conceived these products must have easy access to the group of trained technicians handling the assembly process. You’ll see this total commitment to performance and quality in every detail of their products, but most importantly you’ll hear it every time you listen to a JL Audio speaker.
Unlike competitive brands that generally start with a typical 6.5 inch automotive speaker and modify it to fit the marine market, JL Audio designed every component of their marine-rated speaker from the ground up with extensive testing to ensure each component and every connection is capable of withstanding the harsh conditions associated with saltwater boating. Before entering final production, each prototype speaker is exposed to a barrage of testing, including 2,000 hours in simulated high-density fog, extensive exposure to imitated UV light, and drastic, prolonged temperature changes. Only after passing these tests unscathed are the components rated JL Audio approved.
Today, JL Audio is also a leader in the marine industry with many leading boat manufacturers exclusively installing their line of products. JL Audio’s signature product continues to be the 7.7 inch M770 in either a component or coaxial configuration. As previously mentioned,this is not a car speaker painted white it’s an acoustically engineered product designed specifically for boat installations. Substantially larger than your standard 6.5 inch automotive speaker, the M770 packs a serious punch with 20 percent more sound radiating area. It was specifically designed for increased output with everything about this speaker spelling performance and reliability. The equipment costs more, but it’s worth more with high quality sound systems installed by meticulously trained professionals. As a matter of fact, every vessel outfitted with JL Audio equipment is first blueprinted with an audio system specifically designed for that particular craft, nothing is random. While JL Audio doesn’t offer a head unit, we were provided a first look at an innovative music management system scheduled to debut later this year that will revolutionize marine audio, but that’s a different story altogether.
At the factory, final assembly starts with a hardened fiberglass shell complimented by a smooth gelcoat finish for years of reliable and trouble-free use. The shell enters the aforementioned custom built assembly line where trained technicians each take a turn installing the individual components that ultimately produce a finished speaker, including the oversized 1.25 inch woofer voice coil for enhanced power handling. Woofer motor systems optimized with JL Audio’s proprietary DMA technology are also incorporated and lead to linear controlled behavior at all listening levels. Treated silk dome tweeters deliver sparkling detail and excellent off-axis response for balanced coverage in the entire listening area. Combined, this all adds up to significantly improved output and clarity.
Once complete, every speaker rolls into a computerized sound booth where the speaker is wired to a specialized listening device that measures precise audio levels. Only after each individual speaker is thoroughly tested and surpasses JL Audio standards is the product packaged and ready to be shipped to a boat manufacturer or end consumer. Capable of standing alone or in conjunction with a JL Audio marine subwoofer, these powerful marine speakers deliver exceptional fidelity and output across a wide range of conditions and applications.
If you still need to be convinced that not all speakers are created equal, find a buddy or a dealer with a boat outfitted with this equipment and experience a JL Audio system for yourself.