Rock The Boat Audio

How To Get The Most Out Of Marine Stereo Reviews

By Matt Champneys

Reviews are great when you are shopping for a product, but not all reviews are the same and it is important that you consider the source. For example, most people have used a broom so it is reasonable to assume that most people are qualified to give you a useful review of that particular type of cleaning device. They can tell you how the product feels when using it, how effective it seems to be in moving dirt, etc. On the other hand, a marine stereo system is a highly technical product. Compared to broom use, not very many people have experience doing an installation and the quality of the installation can make a huge difference in the quality of the music produced.

Even The Pros Aren't Always Right

Even those who are professionals can't always be trusted. I can't tell you how many times a customer has reported that a product is defective because his professional installer couldn't get it to work, only to find out later that it was an installation mistake caused by unfamiliarity with the unit. We always encourage anyone with a problem like that to talk to the manufacturer's tech support before they blame it on the product. Certainly, the company who designed the stereo will know more about it than anyone. It just isn't possible for any one person to know everything about every kind of marine audio product on the market.

But human nature is such that we tend to jump to conclusions, and nowhere is this reflected more than in online reviews of technical products. The most common cause of negative reviews for marine stereo equipment is a technical problem. When you consider that only a small percentage of purchasers ever write a review, you have to ask yourself what motivated the person to actually do it? Anger and frustration are great motivators. That is not to say that some products don't have technical design flaws that produce high failure rates. I am just saying that human failure rates can be even higher.

So, when reading, look out for the "it won't work, so it is junk" type of review. One or two reviews like that should be looked at with a skeptical eye. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a product line that is completely devoid of manufacturing defects. No matter what product you purchase, consider that somebody somewhere has had a problem with theirs and they are likely motivated to write about their pain online. These types of reviews are more helpful when considered in aggregate form. If there are a lots of them, then that is an indicator that there might be a design flaw, or a systemic manufacturing defect.

Trust, But Verify

A more helpful review will be more detailed. For example, something like "the display is too bright at night and there is no way to dim it." If you often use your boat at night, that could be very good to know. If you rarely use your boat at night, it may not be a big deal to you. It all depends on the person and the application for which they are seeking a product. But even with this quality type of information, it is a good idea to verify. It is possible that there actually is a way to dim the display, but this person just doesn't know how. It is always a good idea to read the product specs and even look at the user manual if it is available.

As indicated above, installation can have a great effect on product performance. For example, we get many complaints that flush mount speakers purchased from us sound tinny and weak when tested. "I spent a lot of money on these speakers and they sound terrible!" The problem is that flush mount speakers must be installed in some type of enclosure in order to get the proper resonance for full range sound reproduction. Bench testing speakers to make sure they work is not a bad idea, but it is important to keep in mind that they will sound totally different sitting on your work bench than they will installed in the dash on your boat.

Hopefully, you can see how this type of a situation can create a lot of negative reviews unnecessarily. On the other hand, since only a small percentage of customers ever post a review, positive feedback can be important to consider as well. If somebody like the product well enough to take the time to write about it, then there must be something there that is worth considering.

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