If there is one thing I love as much as fishing and boating, it is music. And when you combine fishing, boating and music, well you have a match made in heaven.
I recently completed a boat restoration project with Penguin Composites in North West Tasmania, where we took an old 1970’s Caribbean Invader and turned it into a modern sports fishing centre console fishing machine.
Now while the focus quite rightly was on boat design, fibreglassing and power, one of my key focuses was on a good radio and stereo system.
I was looking for something that didn’t take up too much console ‘real estate’ and that didn’t require me to cart along great loads of CDs. The Jensen MS30 is a MP3 player only, which means no CDs, just plug in the iPod, iPhone or any MP3 player for that matter. It will even play music off a USB stick.
This little gem is so compact, yet has the power to keep the boogie bursting out, even at 35knots!
As this was part of a whole installation package, the fitting up of the stereo was as easy as it gets. It occupies just 90mm diameter on the dash, with another USB adaptor plug just taking up about 40mm of space. That is less than your average tachometer! For crowded consoles or small control panels, this is the answer.
Installation was simple, even for someone as electrically challenged as I. I used tinned cables and fitted it to a separate toggle switch on the main panel on the dash with a 3 amp fuse built in to the toggle switch.
The speakers are mounted at each side of the centre console, which is easy for fit up and also is remarkably good audio wise. The next step for me will be to fit some bigger speakers at the rear of the boat, just to get a bit more boom!
It is a 160 watt stereo combined with AM/FM radio, (which is important for a football and cricket tragic like me). It is fitted with RCA cables and a USB input to connect devices such as iPods and iPhones. I fitted the USB adaptor plug, which allows me to either connect my iPhone via a cable. My phone will charge also from the USB, which is handy.
It is able to be fitted with four speakers at 40w per channel, which is heaps for me.
The LCD display is very easy to read, even on sunny days and with polarised glasses on. The buttons have a distinctive ‘click’ when activated. I had no trouble setting my favourite radio stations and the menu for changing between music and radio is very straightforward.
To get the sound just as you like it, the stereo has tone, balance and fader (for four speaker set up) and it is easy to move through the tracks from the stereo without having to pick up the iPhone all the time – the last thing you want to do with Gulp juice on your hands is pick up the phone!
It is also waterproof! This is the big one for me, the last thing I wanted was to install a stereo and then be constantly worried about water getting in it.
The Jensen MS30 also has zero current memory draw, which in effect means that it doesn’t draw down on the battery when switched off.
So far I’ve used the stereo and radio in some very different situations, ranging from coastal estuaries and bays to the highland lakes. Fitted with a short 50cm aerial I have had no issue with radio reception within reason – and the clarity of sound is perfect for that tense last quarter in the footy.
Turing on the music and even at full noise roaring up the Tamar River in a gale the music is easily heard. I have wound this up to full capacity have experienced minimal distortion in the speakers, even with some pretty wild music. At lower sound levels when drifting or at anchor and it is perfect – I like it a lot.
The front panel is easy to interpret, (no staring at each button wondering what they do) and any changes are very simple to make, even with my clumsy old fingers.
This stereo is perfect for the boater looking for excellent performance in a stereo that is easily fitted and takes up very little room around the steering wheel or console.
Being waterproof and the easy-to-read display ticks all the boxes for anglers who want to refine their on-water experience or just to keep tabs on the footy or cricket scores.
In short, it is simple to fit, simple to operate, punches out great sound and is resistant to the elements. I’m not sure there is anything else required of a boat stereo system.
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