Rock The Boat Audio

Video: How To Choose A Stereo To Fit Your Boat

By Matt Champneys

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A few decades ago, mobile stereos all came in what is called a standard DIN size. DIN or D. I. N is an acronym for the German name of the German Institute for Standardization which established it. A DIN sized boat stereo chassis is about 7 inches wide, 2 inches high and 6 inches deep. This size was chosen because it accommodates the mechanism for cassette tapes and CDs very well. You may have also heard of double DIN stereos which are twice as high as single DIN units.

Today, cassette players are extinct, and CD players are becoming harder to find. The majority of new marine stereos are what we call “mechless” meaning they have no mechanical parts to roll a tape or spin a CD inside at all. Instead they consist entirely of solid state electronics designed to interface with smart phones, MP3 players and similar devices.

This change has given engineers the freedom to design new stereos in many different shapes and sizes. There are pros and cons to this development which must be considered when you are planning to replace an old stereo.

A new gauge style stereo has been developed that is small enough to fit in a typical 3 inch gauge hole on a dash. This is good news for boats that may have room for another gauge on the console, but not a full DIN sized stereo.

On the other hand, if you want to replace an old DIN sized stereo with one of these, there are obvious problems. You will need to use a mounting plate like this one to cover the old hole. But even then, a gauge style stereo is still taller than standard DIN so you will need to make sure there is enough room for it.

This is another new style stereo that has a face plate that is about 6 inches by 4 inches. The shallow mounting depth makes this attractive for certain types of installations, but again, you would need a mounting plate like this to cover your old DIN sized mounting hole.

Some older boats used special covers and enclosures to protect the tape deck or CD player. Replacing one of these can be a challenge because the hole left behind is often much larger than is needed, even if you use a mounting plate. Certainly, you can replace the cover with a new one like this. The only problem is that these types of covers can only hold standard DIN sized stereos. This restricts your choices for a new stereo quite a bit since only something that is single DIN sized will fit.

There are a number of stereos available that have a single DIN chassis, but the face is much larger. This is to accommodate a rubber gasket around the back side of the face plate that seals it to the dash. Many people are disappointed to find out that a stereo like this will not fit in one of these covers. Unfortunately, nobody makes one that will accommodate stereos with the larger face since waterproof stereos aren’t supposed to need a cover.

If you still aren’t sure what will work for your situation, be sure to contact us and we can explain all of your options to you.