A Tunes Tune-Up

Upgrading to a new stereo system isn't too difficult.

Over the last couple of years, my neighbor JK has been upgrading his 2005 Pro-Line Express in a big way. He replaced a 7-inch MFD with a Simrad NSS12 evo2, repowered with new Yamaha F300s and most recently added a Simrad autopilot. The obvious next replacement was the stereo system.

JK doesn’t believe in half measures, so he went all-in with a new top-of-the-line Clarion stereo system that includes:

Head unit with radio: Clarion CMS4
Amplifiers: Clarion XC2510 (for the speakers and subwoofer), XC2410 (for the tower speakers)
NMEA 2000 Interface: Clarion MW6
Interior Speakers: 2 sets of 6.5-inch CM1623RL
Tower speakers: 4 CM1624T
Subwoofer: 10-inch CM3013WL
Tower speaker covers: CM1624TPC
USB and AUX in-dash: CCAUSBAV
Total cost: $2,659

Clarion makes 8.8-inch coaxial speakers, but JK elected to go with 6.5-inch speakers for the cabin and helm, because that’s what was there originally and Pro-Line molded in the spaces for speakers that size. I “helped” JK with this project, and our first job was to remove the four old speakers. The first three required us to remove six screws and use a little force to pull them from their mounting holes, where they’d been for 13 years. The fourth? First special tip: Always hold the speaker while unscrewing it. I failed to do this on number four, and as soon as we freed the last screw, the speaker fell and landed on JK’s iPhone, crushing its screen. I’m always glad to help.

1

The CM1623RL speakers are new this year and have built-in lighting that owners can activate or not. Enabling the lighting requires two more wires to be run from each speaker to a lighting controller unit, which we didn’t do for the cabin speakers. The original speakers’ mounting holes were slightly too small, so we attached a grinder bit to a Dremel and enlarged the holes just enough to seat the new speakers securely (1). Then all we had to do was attach the two existing wires and secure the speakers with screws (2).

2

The old Jensen receiver was in the cabin, and it was wider but not as tall as the CMS4, which has a 3.5-inch TFT color screen, so we fabricated a piece of black Starboard to fill the gap (3), and we angled it for better visibility at the dash. The Clarion CMS4 digital media receiver is both a source unit and multimedia hub and needs a black box attached to it. We got lucky and had just enough space for the black box on a shelf beneath the Pro-Line’s crowded wiring harness (4). It only required a two-foot run to the NMEA 2000 backbone we installed when we added the new Simrad display. This bus system allows compatible electronics to “talk” to one another.

3

4

JK had been using a freestanding subwoofer box that ate up cockpit space and looked crude, so he upgraded to a built-in sub. We were lucky to find a location for the subwoofer. Not many options. To port, however, was a tackle-management locker — it holds four Plano-style tackle boxes — that happened to be the perfect size for the 10-inch Clarion CM3013WL. All we had to do was unscrew the compartment, remove it, and screw in the Starboard mounting sectional we fabricated and mated to the sub before installing it (5). Not having to cut a 10-inch hole in the fiberglass was a real bonus. The mounting location was adjacent to an unused area in the dry storage compartment under the portside settee, which is where we had room to install the combination subwoofer/stereo amp and the amp for the tower speakers.

5

Mounting and wiring the two amps was the easiest part of the install. We just screwed them down in the area beneath the portside storage area (6) and used the existing wires from the being-replaced Pyle car amp to pull the new wires through to the helm where the NMEA backbone and power panel were located.

6

We removed the existing tower speakers, which were in a different location than where the four new Clarion CM1624TPC speakers would go. Again, using existing wires to pull the new wires through the hardtop tubing eliminated the need to snake the wiring long distances and around bends using a fish tape. We had to snake the wiring only a few feet to the new location. Mounting the speakers was quick, since their clamshell clamps were easy to secure to the hardtop’s support tubes (7). We enabled the lights for these and the subwoofer and cockpit speakers and ran them to a controller we installed next to the amps.

7

Last, we installed a remote control for the swim platform. We had to make a small round cut with a hole bit and snake a wiring run under the starboard gunwale and to the receiver’s black box.

The tower speakers swivel, and since JK keeps his boat on a lift at a large dock, he can turn the speakers toward the dock for parties, so they pull double duty. With Bluetooth connectivity the system, with up to four zones, can be controlled by a smartphone.

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