Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Are motorcycle speakers and marine speakers the same?
A. Sort of. Both motorcycle speakers and marine speakers are designed to handle the elements and the term "marine" is often used to describe speakers that can get wet. However, most "standard" marine speakers are not going to fit in the fairing of your motorcycle and the grilles will not fit behind your factory grilles. Some marine speakers are used in motorcycle applications. Some motorcycle speakers are used in marine applications. Most motorcycle speakers come with neodynium magnets for maximum power handling and volume while offering a shallow mounting depth. In addition, the motorcycle speakers need to play crystal clear when you are cruisin' down the highwayy at 80+ mph. While many boats go that fast, 80 mph isn't "standard" for your boat.
Q. Do I need marine grade or motorcycle audio components for my bike?
A. NEED? No. Recommended? YES! If your motorcycle will never get wet and is only washed with a duster and quick detailer, you probably don't need motorcycle specific speakers. It also probably means your bike doesn't get ridden or see the sun either. If you ride your motorcycle and it might get wet while you stop off for a beer, you probably want to invest in element-ready audio components. If you spray your bike down to wash it, you probably want motorcycle or marine grade components.
Q.Is a Marine Grade or Motorcycle Amplifier Waterproof?
A. No. Just because the amplifier says it is marine grade, it does not necessarily mean that it is water proof. When it comes to amplifiers, "marine grade" usually means that the PCB board is conformal coated to prevent rust and corrosion and all of the hardware is stainless steel, or coated with some sort of anti-rust finish. Amplifiers generate power and also generate heat. They have to get that heat out of the chassis. Most do it by circulating air with fans, but that also means that water can get in the amp. Usually the vents are shut off or closed with some sort of water prevention material, but it doesn't mean that you can dunk the amplifier in the water and be 100% sure it is going to work. Can MOST marine grade amplifiers get wet? Yes. The Rockford Fosgate M5 amplifiers and the Kicker PXA amplifiers are rated at IPX6 or higher. This means you can spray the amplifier with a hose, just don't submerge it in water. If your motorcycle amplifier is submerged in water, you probably have bigger problems to worry about.
Q.What makes Motorycle Speakers different from Car Speakers?
A.The difference between marine speakers and car speakers is the design of the speaker and the materials used. Most car speakers are coaxial and there is a tube that the tweeter sits on that comes through a hole in the cone of the speaker. For motorcycle applications this doesn't work as water can get between that the pole and the cone and ruin the speaker. Motorcycle speakers often have a seal between the tweeter pole and the cone to prevent water from entering the motor structure of the speaker, or we use components where the speaker doesn't have a hole for thwe tweeter mount. In addition to the design, the materials used for marine speakers are often different. Motorcycle speakers must use UV stable materials or treatments to ensure that the speaker materials can withstand direct UV light. If there is metal hardware, it has to be stainless steel to ensure that it doesn't rust. Finally, the tweeters on marine speakers are usually made from more robust materials and are designed to play brighter and more aggressive than most car speakers. This helps ensure that your music sounds crystal clear, over your pipes, at highway speeds.
Q.What does the IP Rating Mean? What does IPX6 rated mean?
A.The IP rating stands for Ingress Protection marking and it is a way of measuring the how well that product protects against intrusion of both dust and water. When you see an IP rating, the first digit after "IP" is the solid particle protection and in most cases it is referring to dust. The second digit is the liquid ingress protection rating and that basically answers the question, "How water-resistant is this item?" If you do not see a numerical digit for either the first or second value and instead you see an "X," that means that the particular product was not tested for either dust or water ingression. For example, IPX6 means that the device was not tested for dust ingression. IP6X would mean that the product was not tested for liquid or water ingression. The most common one we see in marine audio is IPX6. This means that it was not tested for dust ingression and the 6 for water means, "Water projected in powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects." The test uses a 12.5mm nozzle and sprays the unit for 1 minute per square meter for at least 15 minutes. The water volume is 12.5 liters per minute at 4.35 pounds per square inch at a distance of 3 meters.
Q.Is 4 Ohm better than 2 Ohm for Motorcycle Audio?
A.It depends... When amps are running at 2 Ohms, they draw twice the amount of current and therefore run much hotter. If you don't have an efficient amplifier, you need to make sure that the stater can provide the battery with enough power. Two ohm speakers are going to give you more power from the amplifier than 4 ohm speakers, thus playing louder, but it comes at a cost. At 2 ohms, there is a greater chance that the amp will cut out and shut down to protect itself because it gets too hot. Depending on the amplifier and the stater, you want to make sure that your charging system and battery aren't being overworked because you don't want to get stranded with a dead battery because you cranked your stereo too hard. There are many other factors that also affect the amps ability to manage heat, but if you can, it is much better to run your motorcycle's amplifier at a 4 Ohm load versus a 2 Ohm load. Now, there are a ton of edge cases and it will depend on equipment, ambient temperatures, how long your ride for, how long you stop for, and how loud you play your stereo.
Q.Is a Head Unit required?
A.This will depend on the year of your motorcycle and the equipment that is currently on the bike. You will need some sort of source unit to get the music from your phone to the amplifier. It can be as simple as a 12V Bluetooth adapter or as complex as the factory radio on a 2014+ cruiser.
Q.What are Horn Tweeters?
A.Horn Tweeters have a flared, horn shape that controls dispersion and offers high efficiency. This means your speakers will be able to product highly efficient, robust sound at a distance and even through wind and exhaust noise.
Q.Do Motorcycles Have Sound Fidelity?
A.When parked? Yes. At 80 mph down the highway? No. You want it loud, bright, and aggressive so that you have maximum volume and clarity. At those speeds and in that environment, vocal and string detail doesn't matter.