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High-tech music in the cockpit

MAY 11 — New boat owners are more likely to subscribe to satellite radio than new-vehicle owners, according to the J.D. Power and Associates’ 2007 Marine Audio Reportreleased last week.

The report measures owner satisfaction with the audio systems supplied in their new boats in seven segments: fiberglass bass boat; pontoon; coastal fishing (17-28 feet); ski/wakeboard; small runabout (16-19 feet); large runabout (20-29 feet) and express cruisers (24-33 feet).

Six areas are examined to measure overall satisfaction: sound clarity; location of speakers; ability to hear the stereo at cruising speed; effectiveness of CD anti-skip mechanism; radio reception; and ease of using the controls.

While 28 percent of new-boat owners who have a marine audio system report having satellite radio, only 19 percent of new-vehicle owners report having the feature, according to the J.D. Power 2006 Emerging Technologies Study.

The percentage of boat owners with satellite radio playing capabilities has increased 33 percent from the 2006 study. Owners with MP3 capabilities have also increased from 3 percent in 2006 to 7 percent in 2007.

“In general, ski/wakeboard boats, express cruisers and large runabouts tend to have more technologically advanced sound systems than other boats on the market,” Todd Markusic, senior director of the Powersports practice at J.D. Power, says in a statement.

“Among express cruisers, 65 percent of owners who have a marine audio system report having satellite radio, and large runabout and ski/wakeboard owners follow closely with 42 percent and 31 percent, respectively. This feature will more than likely continue to grow in popularity among boat owners,” he says.

Among marine audio manufacturers Clarion, Kenwood and Sony perform particularly well in satisfying new-boat owners. These companies receive particularly high ratings from owners in the ski/wakeboard segment, which not only has the most high-end systems, but also achieves the highest sound system satisfaction across all segments.

Other manufacturers included in the report are: Aquatronics, Audiovox, JBL, Jensen, JVC, Panasonic, Pioneer and Sea Worthy.

The report also finds that 90 percent of bass boat owners and 50 percent of coastal fishing owners do not have a marine audio system. Conversely, nearly all large runabout and express cruiser owners report owning a sound system.