Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, "Creating Water as Art."™

Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, "Creating Water as Art."™
Pools as an art form - the way it should be!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Swimming pool designer builder Paolo Benedetti discusses U-Tunes, Underwater swimming pool speakers Santa Barbara, Montecito, Santa Ynez

Internationally acclaimed swimming pool designer and builder Paolo Benedetti of Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa discusses U- Tunes! Under water swimming pool speakers & sound.

Ancient Technology

Socially there has been a marked increase in the desire to have one's personal music collection available anywhere one might be. While underwater music has always been available, the quality of the speakers had left something to be desired.

Early speaker designs were mechanical, and though these ancient designs are still available, they are prone to constant failure. They oftentimes also require the use of a proprietary niche (a speaker manufacturer supplied plastic or metal pocket that is cast into the pool wall to house the speaker fixture). This requirement trapped the owner into keeping these deficient design speakers, so when they fail nothing else will fit into the niche.

Additionally, the physical design of the speakers are hideous. They are bulbous and protrude from the pool wall, drawing attention to themselves. Add to that, the fact that they are only available in white or blue, not harmonious with every designer finish. Absolutely no thought went into the aesthetics of the speaker itself.

But, they are inexpensive, so these are what most designers and pool builder specify or install. Remember what my grandpa used to say (translated from Italian)? "Cheap isn't good and good isn't cheap" Basically, You get what you pay for! With underwater speakers, this could not be any truer!

Those antiquated designs contained metallic components that require electrical bonding, magnets that rust, parts that promoted galvanic corrosion, are not of a sealed design (the plastic bulb housing eventually cracks and leaks), or do not have the ability to handle the high wattage input from modern music systems (they are usually limited to 35 - 200 watts @ 8 ohms).

And the biggest complaint... their sound fidelity is rotten! Rule of thumb: "If they sound like crap out of the water, they will sound like a truck load of crap underwater!"


With the decades of advancements in electronic technology, so has the technology of underwater speakers, as I call them "U-Tunes!"

Gone are the days of expensive and potentially corrosive stainless steel niches. Metallic components have been removed. The advent of piezo speaker technology has eliminated the need for moving parts.

The best underwater speakers utilize any readily available standard sized swimming pool light niche, making swapping out to another brand at a later date feasible. I personally specify the full sized American Products PVC light niche, as it reduces the potential for leaks where a threaded conduit would thread into a stainless steel niche. The niche is still required to be bonded to the pool's bonding grid, as it contains a bonding straps & a stainless steel mounting rim (the speaker retention screws tie into this stainless steel ring). And, if anyone ever removes the speaker & desires to place a light in it's place, it is already properly prepared for the conversion.

The modern speakers sit flat in the niche, protruding only 1/2-1" from the wall. Most are black in color, but a few manufacturer's offer custom epoxy painting to match the pool finish color.

The sound fidelity? It is remarkable. High quality speakers can handle upwards of 400 watts @ 8 ohms! Be sure that your speaker is protected by an isolation transformer! It'll keep the speaker from being over powered. Some manufacturers will even build custom configured systems.

How many speakers?

Most residential swimming pools will only require one speaker. Because water molecules are touching each other, sound travels better underwater than in the ambient air. Also, all of the background noise in the backyard is muffled when you are underwater. Most pools up to 800 square feet can get away with a single speaker.


Everyone always asks... so here is my personal preference: OCEANEARS SP-8 SONIC BULB SPEAKER ( Yes, they are expensive, but you get what you pay for.

The customer service alone is worth the extra money. I have had customers blow out a Oceanears speaker & they sent a replacement transformer at no cost. When the customer blew it out a second time, they sent a more powerful replacement transformer at no charge! Even when they determined that the client was over powering the speaker, they took care of business! My kind of folks!

I have never used or specified anything except Oceanears Speakers. I even have one in my personal pool (and I paid full price for it too!). I have a dozen of them in use dating back 10+ years.

The only problem that we've ever had what that one client who over amp'd the transformer. That client has been told do it again & be prepared to open your wallet, WIDE!

U-Tunes - excellent for parties, daily exercise, or recreational swimming.

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™
Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa