The days of cutting holes in bulkheads and running stereo speaker wires behind and around a maze of built-in furniture and appliances throughout the cabin are gradually coming to an end — at least at the humbler end of the cruiser spectrum.
Thanks to Bluetooth technology, sailors looking for great sound at a low price with easy or nonexistent installation procedures are quickly discovering portable wireless speakers, which may be paired with iPhones and Android devices.
With one or more waterproof Bluetooth stereo speakers paired to your smart device, you have a dependable sound system ready to entertain guests in or out of the cabin in all kinds of weather. Bluetooth technology allows you to enjoy music and videos downloaded from Pandora, Sirius, Spotify and YouTube, eliminating worries about FM radio reception and CD storage.
The JBL Flip 4 portable Bluetooth stereo speaker is a popular device allowing up to four speakers to be run simultaneously on a single device. At roughly $90 per speaker, that is certainly more costly than some marine quadraphonic speaker sets. However, you will be surprised at the power of a single stereo speaker: Measuring only 2.5 by 7 inches, it can fill a deck or cabin with a full range of booming sound.
With a thin lanyard made fast to its tiny cleat, you can hang this little speaker anywhere on the vessel. What’s more, the Flip 4 offers 12 hours of playtime and has a waterproof rating of IPX7, meaning it is submersible up to one meter for 30 minutes, as long as the rubber flap over the charge port is sealed. The Flip 4 comes in six different colors that can be easily coordinated with your boat’s cabin or deck decor.
The Scosche boomBOTTLE+ Bluetooth speaker is similar to the Flip 4 in size and design but costs a bit more. However, it has the extra feature of a USB charging port for cellphones and other small electronic devices. If you want to avoid bothering fellow crew with your taste in sounds, pick up a pair of Scosche earbuds and connect them to the access panel, which is protected from water intrusion by a rubber flap in the same manner as the Flip 4.
The boomBOTTLE+ pairs with your iPhone or Android device to play audio from your favorite digital music sources. West Marine carries the boomBOTTLE+ along with backup battery packs, plus portable mounts to keep the speaker from rolling off the deck.
A less expensive alternative, setting you back about $25, is the Cylo Sound-Square wireless speaker. This diminutive mini-boombox is waterproof (with a rating of IPX6), shockproof and enabled for both USB and Bluetooth connectivity. Cylo’s small profile, measuring a mere 3 by 3 by 1.5 inches — it can fit in the palm of your hand — has a range of 33 feet with solid HD clarity.
This is just a short sampling of the waterproof Bluetooth speakers available online or at your local electronics store. The Owlee Sandbox, Boombotix REX, Photive Rain and SoundBot are a few more examples from a growing list of inexpensive, waterproof, wireless speakers available at this moment.
Save money, enjoy the ease of use and rock on!