Kawasaki introduced a first for 2014. Actually, they introduced a couple of firsts. One is a 310 horsepower engine, the most powerful production mill the industry has ever seen. The other, however, is a sound system. A good idea? I had my doubts…until I found myself using it frequently during Kawasaki’s recent press introduction in the Florida Keys. Still, I’m not so sure.
Yes, there have been sound systems for PWC before, aftermarket solutions that managed to add speakers and some sort of source unit in a variety of fashions. Never before, however, has a manufacturer included one from the start. The specs for Kawasaki “Jetsounds” are as follows: dual, 30-watt waterproof speakers neatly integrated below the mirrors; a Jensen head unit built into an oversized handlebar pad; an amp rated at 20W (x2 channels, max 40W x2); and two water-resistant storage cases, one built for a USB memory stick, the other for a device like an iPhone or other digital music player, accessed and stored in the glove compartment. It’s a pretty sweet setup, really, and one that looks like a true OEM solution rather than a cobbled-together add-on.
So why am I waffling just a bit…especially given that most of us frequently turn on the music when we venture out on regular boats? I guess it comes down to distraction. Things happen fast on a PWC, and the idea of any additional distraction taking the driver’s attention away from the water concerns me. PWC also still fight many a battle when it comes to being good neighbors on the water. I can only imagine a lakefront homeowner who already, rightly or wrongly, has a grudge against the craft just loving a trio of skis coming by blasting tunes. But then again, doesn’t a lot of the issue just come down to being a responsible, courteous boater? Music or not, I’m still going to look behind me before I make a turn to make sure no one is approaching me from behind, and whether I’m on a PWC or my boat, I’m still going to turn the music down when I get near shore and sense my choice of tunes won’t exactly thrill the neighbors.
On my ride in the Keys, I initially ignored the sound system altogether. But then I turned it on to check it out. Scrolled through to a good song. And yes, kind of enjoyed it. No, I couldn’t really hear it at full throttle jamming across the waves, but back things down a bit and having a little music out there was actually quite cool. I also found the built-in system much preferable to waterproof earphones. The latter isolate you from your surroundings, which I still find dangerous. The former, used responsibly, does not.
Still, I find myself hesitant to give the system an all-out recommendation. That’s strange, because I wouldn’t think to write a boat review and criticize a craft for having a stereo. I wouldn’t worry about the music distracting drivers, either. Something about a sound system on a PWC, however, seems…well…different.
What do you think? The start of something cool…or a sign of the apocalypse? I’ll ponder the subject more as soon as the next song finishes…