Tower Speaker 101 - Dream it, Design it, Build it
A boat is a unique listening environment. The passengers inside the cabin are listening within feet of the speakers, in comparison the rider is 80 feet behind the boat. The interior of your vehicle is similar to that of your boat hence, the transition of car audio into marine machines have become an everyday lifestyle need. Great sound up close, as well as, in the near field has become the requirement for ideal riding experiences for today's boat owners.
All speakers are NOT created equal.
The problem with using traditional automotive speakers is that they are not designed to project sound further than a few feet inside of the boat, This leaves riders behind the boat stuck with watching the flagger lip-sync his favorite song. This becomes even more apparent when traditional direct radiator speakers (car components) are used on a tower to try and project behind the boat. Small direct radiators like a tweeter do not do well trying to activate the air and their fore fall off is a few feet from the boat. In turn, the larger midrange drivers have substantially more cone area and are able to couple to the surrounding air and provide some projection, but only in the mid range frequencies. This creates what we call the drive through speaker effect. What you hear back at the riding location sounds similar to what you hear while ordering your burger and fries… only louder and more annoying (if that is possible). What is needed to accomplish the loading effect in the upper frequencies to give a flat frequency response at the riding location which is high pressure monster truck force.
Exile Horn Loaded Compression Drivers (HLCD) - Produces high frequencies, traps it in a confined space, and creates a built up of pressure similar to an industrial air compressor.
By designing unique opening to this confined space, the Exile HLCD creates ultra high velocity sound coming out of the speaker. This opening is then coupled to a horn that directs the sound where it is needed. Extensive computer modeling and empirical results empowered Exile to create a unique high frequency compression horn speaker that can quickly couple to the open air and provide a smooth wide open sound stage inside and close to the boat near and afar out to 80 feet+.
The ultimate reality check
The Exile HLCD has an upper frequency response well beyond human hearing range. Upper frequencies are one the most noticeable differences between the Exile design and other tower speakers. When tower speakers are listened to in an active state at speed behind a boat there are tremendous forces like wind and rapid temperature changes that affect the sound. High frequencies are impacted more so by environmental changes than low frequencies.
Exile engineers designed the XM9 speaker with the real world scenario in mind. This allows for bright projections and clear full force sound all the way out to the riding position. Tower speakers that does not compensate for this phenomena will sound dull and hollow in the riding position.
Reasoning behind the design
In a traditional sense, the component set is the top of the line and a coax speaker is used simply to plug holes. This becomes a popular thought because in a vehicle, the factory speaker locations are in terrible locations. A tweeter firing into your pant leg is not that great for getting a clean sound. By keeping the midrange in the door and moving the tweeter higher in the vehicle a more realistic and enjoyable sound stage is created. This works great for cars and the driver/passenger locations inside a boat.
Things are the exact opposite on top of the boat tower. If the tweeter and the midrange are located in different locations as the listener moves from side to side your location to the tweeter and midrange driver is always changing. This effects how the two speakers blend and creates a “flower pedal” effect in the sound stage which is not ideal for sound quality. Since things are happening fast out there on the water, a solid soundstage in all locations is required. Mounting the horn in the center of the midrange causes all the sound to come from the same point in space and therefore as you move around the boat, the relationship between the low and high frequencies always stays the same. Plus, space is a factor on a tower so putting the tweeter behind the midrange is a nice compact way to roll.
Quick Release Spin Clamp
There’s a story behind each part.
The Exile clamp mechanism was designed with experts in the wakeboard field and is integral part of the speaker. Our collaboration with Samson Sports created an innovation inspired by their great previous designs in which a proprietary dual curve clamping mechanism was added to complete this part. The device can clamp down on a tube tower with near permanent force, which makes mounting on almost any size tubular tower quick, safe and easy. Not all boats have tubular towers, with the advent of cast tower the traditional clamping mechanism is of no use. Within the underside of the Exile clamp is a secondary bracket that allows the speaker to directly mount to the majority of the cast towers out there with no additional and expensive kits. This clamp saves users time and money!
Our philosophy is to always peruse the simple solution to a difficult problem. Luckily with our partnership with Samson Sports they found an elegant solution to the quick disconnect years ago and successfully filed and was issued a patent on it. This design allows the speaker to rotate continuously in 360 degrees and never lose audio connection and be removed from the boat with one turn of a screw. Very simple solution that works great and is only available from Exile and Samson Sports. (U.S. Patent # 6,798,892 B2)
The marriage of acoustics and mechanical design makes the new Exile tower speaker as advanced on the outside as it is on the inside.
By utilizing computer mechanical solid modeling we built put an oversized 6.75” speaker to fit a low profile housing that provides more head room than any other speaker on the market today. Of course the speaker grill assembly has a unique industrial design. It acts as the horn throat for the coaxially mounted HLCD. The horn throat is self aligning so it can be removed along with the grill for custom color matching to the boats accents and easily be reassembled.