It goes without saying that anything on a personal watercraft needs to be ‘weatherproof’, but not everyone means the same thing when they use the word. There’s a big difference between a ‘weatherproof’ appliance you can place in your backyard and a ‘weatherproof’ device you can install on a boat, and the distinction isn’t always obvious. Waterproofing and weatherproofing are not the same thing, and the following are some aspects of weatherproofing you need to consider before you decide to go with a ‘weatherproof’ audio device, as well as other necessary qualifiers for your audio tech’s durability.
One of the terms you should look for in particular is ‘splash-proof.’ A splash-proof device, like a Kicker Marine Subwoofer, is one that can withstand being splashed with water. This is distinct from a waterproof device. A device that is splash proof has to withstand a large, sudden amount of water under pressure at once, from multiple directions, as opposed to a relatively small quantity of water over time. A ‘waterproof’ device intended for outdoor use might, for example, be designed to withstand rain by shedding it, but this only means it can keep water out of the works if it comes in droplet form from above, much like how wearing a hooded raincoat won’t protect you from a car driving by too quickly with its tires in the gutter.
Something that can resist the risk of fog is also distinct from something that is waterproof, but it is a necessary element of weatherproofing. Fog poses a unique risk to sensitive electrical equipment as compared to water. A device that can resist splashing might not be able to resist fog. The reason for this is the same reason that fog forms: condensation. The presence of fog indicates a high saturation of water, usually due to lower temperatures, as are common on the surface of a body of water. This results in condensation, and it can occur in an otherwise-sealed device. Kicker marine subwoofers are among the devices that are fog-resistant, owing to the materials used in their unit enclosures being designed specifically for it.
Finally, something you specifically need to look for is UV resistance, and this one can be easy to overlook. Not everything that is designed to be used outdoors can actually withstand prolonged exposure to the sun, as strange as it may seem, and this is especially important for marine devices, for the simple reason that bodies of water don’t tend to have much in the way of shade. While most yards have indirect light, for instance, anything on a boat is going to be exposed to the sun as long as it’s in the sky. UV rays can break down the more sensitive components of audio equipment with relative ease, and it can do so even if the directness of the sunlight isn’t obvious. Kicker marine subwoofers are uniquely UV resistant, and among the first that marketed themselves as such.
A Kicker subwoofer meets these criteria as a matter of course. Kicker, as a brand, prides itself as upholding and pushing the industry standard to make products more reliable. Quality does come with a cost, but they thankfully contract with smaller, more accessible businesses that can offer a more personal touch. AVLeaderz is an excellent example. Originating as a car audio retailer, their expansion into marine audio came from a position of expertise and specialization that they share with their customers. Whatever brand you conclude best meets your needs, be sure you’re dealing with a business that will help you check to make sure your audio purchases will satisfy the practical necessities of marine weatherproofing and save you money in the long run.