How Water Affects Sound Waves

Water Affects Sound Waves

Purchasing a marine sound system is not the same as choosing a new home or car audio system. Water and the space it creates affects the way sound travels and can even change the sound we hear.

Read on to find out how water affects sound and what to consider when buying your marine stereo receiver and speakers.

Space and temperature

Whether you like sailing on the lake or the open sea, large bodies of water create a lot of uninterrupted space, and that can be great for sound and the way it travels.

Sound travels in waves away from its source: your marine speakers. If those sound waves come into contact with solid obstacles like trees and buildings the sound will change. It might become distorted, create an echo, or get quieter, which is not what most people want.

Large bodies of water are not affected by this problem. They are flat and free of obstacles, so sound is free to travel undisturbed through your speakers and across the water. This means you will get great sound clarity, your music will have great bass, and you will still be able to hear mid-range and high sounds giving you a great listening experience.

In addition to open space, the different temperature over large areas of water affects sound in different ways.

The temperature of the air that is close to the water’s surface is generally colder, around 68°F. This means that sound travels a little slower than normal and as a result, travels further. Because it travels slower, the waves reach the sound barrier quicker allowing them to travel uninterrupted.

This can be great for those who want to enjoy their music while anchored and taking a swim in the ocean or a lake. The change in temperature has an amplifying effect on the sound that is traveling over water, so you could easily have a great party with your marine stereo receiver and speakers.

new marine system

Positioning your new marine system

To ensure you have the best marine stereo possible the positioning of your speakers is paramount during your setup. As sound waves refract on the surface of the water and then amplify, setting up your speakers to point horizontally, or parallel with the water’s surface will ensure you can hear your music while swimming.

You should also consider solid obstacles on your boat that could negatively reflect sound outwards and upwards.

Avoid pointing the speakers at walls or windows. Instead, point them into open spaces on your deck.

An Additional consideration

Water can also affect sound in a negative, and less thought about way. Marine speakers require extra protection from weather, and water damage.

Speaker cones are often coated with strong and heavy materials like Kevlar, which can hinder sound production. A high-quality speaker needs a cone that can vibrate freely to create a high clarity sound and loud volume.

When purchasing a marine speaker, waterproofing is, of course, necessary, but it is very important to choose a light material so it can help the cone move and vibrate freely to ensure your marine system sounds the best it can.

Make sure you consult experts in the area of marine audio, who can help you to achieve this.

Water affects sound waves in many different ways, some positive, and some negative. They can be amplified along the water’s surface, but at the same time, water can damage and erode speakers and their components.

Choose a well-protected speaker, but make sure that the cone is free to move, to make sure your marine sound system gives you the sound quality you need.