On the water this summer? Outfit your boat with a marine receiver
Recycling’s a good thing. But if you enjoy the marine environment, recycling a regular car receiver for your boat may not be the best idea. Compared to a boat, your car is a pretty stable environment. Sure, you may forget to roll up the window before a rain shower, but for the most part the interior of your car is snug, safe, and dry.
You can’t say the same about a boat. The your craft's cockpit is assaulted with sun, water, humidity, and, if you’re on the coast, corrosive salt spray. Any one of these can be tough on electronics, but put them all together and you’ll likely be consigning a regular car receiver to Davy Jones’ Locker after only a season or two.
Protection from the elements
At a minimum, most marine receivers feature a conformal coating on the circuit board. This coating adds a level of water and corrosion resistance to the internal electronics, though it doesn’t guarantee direct protection from the water. Kenwood’s KMR-550U is a good example of a receiver adapted for marine use that has a conformal circuit board coating. If you’re planning on installing the it under cover, a receiver like this will serve you well.
When your receiver’s mounting location is going to be exposed to a tougher test, though, look for receivers built to be waterproof. Many of these receivers boast IP ratings, a European standard for “Ingress Protection." IP measures the degree of protection the unit has from water projected against the exterior. A higher number is better – for example, a receiver rated to IPX-5 is protected from water projected against it coming from a nozzle at a flow rate of 12.5 liters per minute at a specified pressure and distance for three minutes. A receiver rated at IPX-1, on the other hand, is protected against the equivalent of a light rain shower. Alpine’s CDA-118M and the Clarion CMV1 marine receivers are good examples of models with IPX-5 ratings.
Sun can be almost as deadly to your receiver as water, since UV rays can damage and crack the faceplate if your receiver is constantly exposed to the sun. Since you can’t smear sunscreen on your receiver, look for ones with UV protection. And if you go boating in salt water, consider receivers that meet the ASTM (American Society of Testing and Materials) B117 standard for salt spray and fog exposure. It's extra insurance that your receiver will stand up to corrosion.
Options for your enjoyment
Picking a receiver that’ll hold up when you install it on your boat is important, but remember to look for features that’ll let you get the most enjoyment out of your new nautical toy.
Many marine receivers are built to work with marine wired remote controls. The controls let you operate the receiver from a remote location, so you can install the receiver below decks and operate it from the cockpit, or access it from another spot on the boat. Some receivers can handle multiple remotes, for control of your music from different parts of your vessel.
As with a car receiver, it's important to choose a model that gives you the inputs and outputs you need. iPod® controls, plus USB and auxiliary inputs, let you play the media of your choice. With connections for satellite radio and HD Radio™ tuners you can further expand your musical horizons. If you plan on cranking up the volume, make sure your receiver has ample preamp outputs, so you can add on marine amplifiers, speakers, and subwoofers.