Sony Marine CDX-M60UI, Jeffrey Schwartz review

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

18 Responses

  1. Kees says:

    First of all, welcome Jeffrey …
    I did frown my brow at “52 watts x 4 at 4 ohms is not all that much…” On a sailboat???
    3 amplifiers each 500 Watts driving those loadspeakers is just overkill, IMO. A 500W amp uses ten times more electricity but sounds only twice as loud (see and be sure to read the part where it read Experimentally it was found that a 10 dB increase in sound level corresponds approximately to a perceived doubling of loudness.)
    How often do you turn up the power beyond halfway? At that level you’re probably getting 1W out of the speakers. Probaby less, like 0.1 or 0.01 W.

  2. Christopher says:

    This unit and the speakers suck the most steady-state power on our boat — more than the reefer and freezer combined. And we run our M60 through a very modest set of Bose amps and speakers.
    Power issues aside, this unit seems to render disc stored mp3 a bit more warmly than most units. While they still don’t sound like vinyl or .wav, it’s allowed us to seriously compress our on-board music library. We still port a lot of solid state stored wav’s to the Aux plug though.
    One observation. Our M-60 is a retrofit from an M-30 that appears to have failed from overheating after five years of modest use. We’ve installed a muffin fan behind the panel just in case the same vulnerabilities are in play here. (no pun intended).
    We have also found the sub-woofer seems to attract dolphins, at least the ones that like Mahler.

  3. Bill Bishop says:

    Good piece Jeffery, and nice work, you gotta have tunes. Ben I looked at the pic “behind the panel” you added, and certainly agree about the complexity in our boating life, but I see is good news with Jeffery’s set up. It is well lit, all of the terminal blocks are labeled, The panel lies flat providing excellent access to all of the wiring. Try working on a panel that doesn’t open completely, with nothing labeled, holding a flashlight in your mouth, using one hand, while trying to avoid the AC side of the panel. A last note Jeffery, is that original Grateful Dead version of Scarlet Begonias playing, or the Buffet cover?

  4. Evan Bauman says:

    I installed this radio or one of its “marine” CDX cousins on the flybridge of my Bayliner 4087. It lasted a bit longer than a non-marine radio but did die just after the 1 year warranty expired.
    My bridge is generally dry – being about 15 feet above the waterline and with full strataglass enclosure. So the radio was really just exposed to humidity and the general salt air environment. Nevertheless, I would not classify it as “marine” to the same extent as a chartplotter.
    So does anyone have a recommendation on a AM/FM head unit that will withstand this sort of environment for more than a couple hundred days? Jensen has an IPX6 rated unit but have not gone down that road yet.

  5. Jeffrey says:

    Keen eye you have Bill in noticing that the main power panel ternimal blocks are labeled, this not the original layout for sure and there are other panels on board.
    Yes to the Dead, original “Scarlet”…Dead Head from way back in the late 60’s…although I find myself listening to Opera now almost as much!

  6. Jeffrey says:

    In response to Kees suggestion that this is “overkill”… Fist let me say nowhere did I say 500 watts of power. The boat does have “Tri Amp” set up with two “Old School” Phoenix Gold M50’s and one M25 stereo power amp models. I have pasted the exact specs below for those interested. These power amps are still available on the second hand market and as far as I can tell they are “coveted” for those in the know.
    We actually do not listen to music much when on the boat as a family…. don’t get me wrong we love music but when sailing we like the “quiet”. If I go out alone or when working on the boat I do crank it up a bit…when working on the boat we are plugged in to shore power so power use is not an issue. From the specs below at 4 ohms each of the 50’s puts out 50 WRMS; current consumption is shown at 15 amps but would be surprised if this is what we ever used per unit…that would mean we use nearly 40 amps to power up the three amps two 50’s and one 25… I doubt that very much, but have never noticed one way or the other since we don’t use it much anyway. We do have three 4D AGM “Lifeline” house battery bank and a 6kw Panda gen/set to recharge so this did not concern me at the time. Don’t get me wrong we do care about 12 volt power consumption, I have changed all interior lighting to LED’s, spreader lights to LED’s and mast top anchor/tri-light Lopo LED light. When we do have the music on at anchor it is usually very low volume and with as many “high end” Diamond Audio speakers that are on the boat having the power behind the “low” volume makes for quality sound. To me if a stereo system sounds good at low volumes, meaning it sounds “Clean” at both the low and at higher sound levels, it generally is a quality set up. Below are the specs from the M50 and I assume the M25 would have similar with half the power. I believe that the (15 amp) current consumption spec below would be at max volume max base response etc… nowhere near our normal listening volume.
    This is link to some photos of the unit
    and a link to the Diamond Audio Speakers
    link to specs of the M50s

  7. Bill Bishop says:

    Ah yes, a little “Scarlet Fire”. I suspected, but didn’t want to presume.I don’t mind a little Delibes myself.

  8. Peter says:

    Pretty typical sailboat panel from the back.
    Manufacturers didn’t think about future expansion much.
    Most of the stuff installed above the breakers is aftermarket.Not enough space to make it tidy but I’ve seen worse!
    Nothing I’ve seen can compare to the Westbay Sonship Yachts built in Delta BC.The electrical panels were works of art with everything detailed and labeled perfectly.
    (slightly biased opinion as I used to be an electrician there(;)

  9. fgstreet1 says:

    I’ve gone through THREE of the Sony CDX-M50 head units in three years. They work fine initially and I like the features; but over a short period of time, the front panel controls seem to stop working, and eventually the “Eject” button behind the front panel fails. I originally thought it might have to do with the connector for the removable front panel, but it seems to go beyond that.
    And this is in fresh water, too. The boat is only in the water about five months a year up on Lake Superior, so there are no saltwater corrosion issues.
    Jeffrey, I’d like to hear how the unit is working in several months of saltwater sailing. I’d really like to get another Sony, as I already own the XM receiver and wired remote that go with this series, but I’m a bit gun-shy until they fix this issue. — Fred

  10. Jeffrey says:

    Fred – Our unit has been on board for more about a year or so now, used very little for sure, but on Biscayne Bay 12/7 the photos were from last week and unit works like brand new. I would return to Sony and see if they send you a new one.

  11. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Evan, I think Fusion, Clarion, and Poly Planar all offer stereo head units that are designed (not just modified) for marine use. You can find out more in Panbo’s archives, either by searching the names or browsing the “Entertainment” category.
    Bill, I didn’t mean to imply anything particularly negative about Jeffrey’s behind-the-panel set up. In fact, I noticed the terminal block labels too, and they’re great.
    It’s just that I’m trying to install yet more gadgets on Gizmo and am experiencing “too damn much wire! frustrations. However I did manage to usefully reroute and even remove some fat battery cables yesterday, and everything still works, no smoke 😉

  12. Bill Bishop says:

    Ben, no worries, I didn’t perceive anything negative about the panel, or your inclusion of the pic, it was a better panel than most I see, and has excellent access. Getting rid of wire is alway an issue, and a conundrum. Over tie wrapping everything to death means cutting it all apart the next time something has to change, and makes it difficult to see where wires are going. Not enough means things can rock and roll, to the eventual detriment of the system. I like things to be neat, but not at the expense of future access. Some times spatial constraints means doing the best you can, while making it safe. No smoke is always a good thing, because I smoked my DVM yesterday. The good news is I found the short to ground that was eating the zincs. Oops!

  13. David Steven Calhoun says:

    Thanks for a great writeup, Jeffrey. Does the remote communicate via IR or wireless? I’ve been looking for a marine stereo with a wireless (radiowave) remote as my spot for the stereo doesn’t face towards the cockpit. I’ve used the Radioshack IR repeater with good results, but I have an all DC boat now.
    Dave Calhoun
    Freedomrider II
    Hunter 29.5
    San Francisco Bay

  14. Christopher says:

    Ours remote is IR. We use a convex mirror in the corner of the nav station to bounce the signal. So far so good.

  15. Jeffrey says:

    David – the remote that came with this Sony is IR so line of sight is needed or a repeater. Sony does make a “Wired” remote commander unit for this that can be wired at the helm but did not add this option. I can use the IR remote from the cockpit so long as I have sight of the head unit down at the nav station in the salon.

  16. Gary says:

    I put a similar Sony in my aluminum cat, replacing the Sony CD model. The advertising said that it would play music from an ipod Nano which goes on a tray inside, or from a USB thumbdrive. I bought a 64GB thumbdrive and copied my whole music library to it (36GB). Silly me for not reading the small print. The Sony would only read and play the first 128 albums. The small print in the instructions points this out – 128 albums, 500 tracks per album. So I did a work-around and put my music on a pile of 8GB thumbdrives. Now I have one for each type of music – classical piano, jazz vocals, rock, etc. It works, but it is a pain to change when I want a different type of music.

  17. RichardD says:

    Kees and the group. It is common practice in broadcast and recording studios to allow 20 dB or more of “headroom” in audio systems in order to faithfully reproduce the high peak to average power ratio of audio. Since that is 100:1 in power Jeffery’s 200 Watt (assuming they are run in mono bridged mode) amplifiers can be run at about 2 Watts to preserve the capability to deal with absolute peaks. Spread among 3 speakers that isn’t an unreasonable power level as most speakers are only 1% or so efficient in converting electrical power to acoustic power (btw 1 acoustic Watt is Very Loud). Two Electrical Watts average isn’t all that much. Lest you think that the “headroom” in the original recording doesn’t get through to the end product, ordinary CDs have a dynamic range of 96 dB so there is plenty of opportunity to preserve the headroom and still have a very good signal-to-noise ratio.
    Richard D
    s/v RED

  18. Jeffrey says:

    Richard the system is wired for “Stereo” speakers.
    in the salon area there are three speakers left side and 3 speakers right side or actually 3 forward and 3 aft on the port side, these left/right speakers (with crossovers) are made up one Tweeter, one 5.25″ and one 7″ sets of speakers then there is a much larger sub woofer on the starboard side. Sub gets the M25 amp, and these others get the M50 amp. The other M50 powers up the 8 total speakers in the cockpit (also with crossovers) four 6″ two aft one on each side port/starboard with each having its own separate tweeter. The salon sounds far better “warmer” than the cockpit but ok sounding for our use. I am not sure just how much of power amps gets used and do not know how many amps we use from the house bank to power up the system but with 3 AGM 4-D’s it does not seem to be much.

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