Picking the right underwater speaker can be a long arduous process. But it doesn't have to be. An underwater speaker doesn't have to be a hard though-out process.
The process depends on what type of underwater speaker you plan on acquiring. There are actual pool speakers, and there are Bluetooth speakers we always mention.
Deciding between which one you want depends on you. But pool speakers are generally the heavier investment because they cost more and involve more planning.
Bluetooth speakers vary a lot when it comes to price points. This is why an investment in a Bluetooth speaker isn't as shocking as a pool speaker.
Another fact which should be mentioned are Bluetooth speakers aren't considered underwater speakers. They can be waterproof speakers, but not underwater speakers.
Underwater speakers are meant to stay in water. Bluetooth speakers can only stay underwater for an estimate of 30 minutes.
One reason why you should care is you don't want to buy a speaker for the wrong reason. Thinking a Bluetooth speaker can swim with you during an underwater swim is just dumb.
Here are a few ways you can pick the right underwater speaker:
1. Pool Infrastructure
Making sure the pool is setup for underwater speakers is the most important step. Technically, every pool can have speakers, but not every pool deserves one. A pool's dimensions determines if having an underwater speaker is optimal.
For example, if your pool is shallow and isn't big enough for many people, what's the point of getting speakers?
Smaller pools are good for one speaker. A bigger pool means more speakers and better sound.
Making sure your pool is big enough for multiple speakers is one part of considering pool infrastructure.
Another part of the pool infrastructure equation is wiring.
More speakers equals more wiring. And more wiring is expensive. Thankfully, wiring isn't as complicated as it sounds.
Another part of wiring you need to keep an eye out for is if your pool can handle the wiring. Consult with a professional before you invest serious time and money into this.
2. The Type of Underwater Speaker
There are different types of underwater speakers as we've discussed. The first choice you can try is a loudspeaker which can be mounted.
A loudspeaker which can be wall-mounted or has an optional bracket is ideal. It won't look as nice as an in-wall speaker, but an in-wall speaker comes with more installation costs.
The second type of underwater speaker choice are the portable speakers. We know we've discussed portable speakers as Bluetooth speakers before, but these portable speakers come with a durable cage.
It's protected to be used in different water environments like oceans or lakes.
The third option for a pool speaker is a drop-in speaker. A drop-in speaker has the ability to float if need be.
The key for a drop-in/float speaker to work is its speaker cable. The speaker cable is present regardless if its a drop-in speaker or floating speaker.
Having a speaker cable present in the pool is a safety hazard. Swimmers could get tangled in them. Be wary if you have a speaker cable because of the danger it presents.
To adjust its level in a pool, it's recommended to have the underwater speaker connected to a rope. This lets you adjust its depth in the water.
3. Amplifier Regulations
There are specific laws an amplifier must abide by for underwater speakers.
The first regulation is it should be a factory grounded power cord. This means it should connect to ground-fault circuit interrupters outlets (GFCI).
There is one main reason why an amplifier needs to be this way. It'll be congruent with safety regulations. Thanks to GFCI outlets, there have been less casualties.
Do you know how you can tell if your cord is GFCI compatible?
Look for a test and reset button which comes with the outlet. Make sure to test out the buttons once in awhile to make sure everything is working smoothly.
The next step to make sure you're following regulations is understanding the voltage limit.
You need to test the amplifier and make sure it doesn't go pass the 30 volt legal limit.
The reason the safety limit is at 30 volts is because that's the conservative threshold. Anything over and you risk serious damage.
Now, it's true that voltage doesn't kill on its own. Current is the main culprit when you hear stories of electrocution.
But current needs help to push the current through, and that assistance comes from voltage.
It's also important not to underestimate low voltages. Even though 30 volts is the threshold doesn't mean 10 volts can't do anything.
Voltage placed in the right area can cause you to jerk and cause you to move it in an unwanted direction. If you were near a fan and felt some shock on your finger you would instinctively move your hand away.
Moving your hand away into the fan is cause of the initial shock.
Last but not least are the formalities. These last steps aren't about understanding but more about complying.
Your amplifier needs to have "class 2 wiring" printed on the rear panel and "UL Listed Commercial Sound Amplifier."
These labels ensure you're following the rules for amplifiers when it comes to underwater speakers.
Picking the Right Underwater Speaker
Picking the right speaker for your pool isn't as simple as we'd like it to be. Thanks to regulations, nothing is ever as simple as we'd like.
But that doesn't mean it's impossible to pick the right speaker.
It just makes it harder than it should be. We suggest making sure your pool and amplifier meet regulations first. Once that's finished, go ahead and pick which underwater speaker is right for you.
If you're going to make renovations to your pool to include speakers, then go ahead and purchase in-wall speakers. Anything other than renovations requires another type of speaker.
Most of the regulations are taken care of once you purchase the speaker itself. The labels, GFIC outlets, and more are done if you purchase the right speaker.
Knowing if you have the right pool on the other hand takes more judgement on your part. Deciding whether you want 1 or 2 speakers isn't a rule. But knowing if you have the right pool to install wires is more tangible.
Before embarking on a underwater speaker project, you're best plan of action is to consult with a professional. Doing so will save you tons of heartache.