When you are out enjoying a beautiful summer day on the boat with your friends and family, the right song on the radio enhances the experience. Or, if you and your buddies want to listen to the game while you fish, you don’t want static to keep you from missing that game-winning call.
Marine speakers are designed to endure a lot of abuse from weather, water, hot and cold temperatures, and the occasional bump from a fishing pole, wakeboard, or kid’s super soaker. (Boat speakers also make excellent outdoor speakers for your beach or lake house, RV or any other open-air location.)
We rounded up seven great marine stereo systems for you to consider.
Pyle 6.5″ Dual Marine Speakers
These Pyle speakers are elegant and have enough power to deliver good quality sound. They are waterproof to endure the marine environment. Pyle speakers feature polypropylene cones, and butyl rubber surrounds for protection and better sound quality. The speakers also have ABS plastic baskets for added durability and built-in grills that won’t break, dent, or scratch.
Pyle designed these speakers to mount anywhere on most boats. They weigh just 3.8lbs and measure 7.6 x 7.4 x 7.1-inches.
The dual cone design delivers excellent full-range sounds. These speakers are powerful enough that you can mount them inside or outside your boat. They provide 200-watts of peak power and 100-watts RMS power so you can listen to loud music without distortion. They have a frequency response of 85Hz to 200Hz and 4 Ohms impedance.
Unfortunately, Pyle does not include a template for cutting holes to mount the speakers, but they do include the mounting hardware.
JBL MS 6520 180W 6.5″ Coaxial Marine Speaker Pair
These JBL marine speakers are designed to handle anything Mother Nature throws their way, and they are an affordable upgrade to most factory-grade marine speakers. They are designed specifically for marine use, with polypropylene woofer cones, synthetic rubber surrounds. They are even fortified with JBL’s “Plus One” technology woofer cones that provide more overall speaker-cone area than other similar cones. This produces higher sensitivity and better music quality.
Many customers are surprised at how loud these speakers can go, especially considering the relatively weak power handling. The JBL speakers have a power range of 20 to 60 watts RMS and 180 watts peak power.
The balanced-dome tweeters are built into UV and corrosion-resistant grilles to prevent the speakers from deteriorating under the harsh sun, salt, and water damage that comes with being on the water.
JBL tests all their speaker designs to make sure they will withstand all the harsh elements. Their OEM-Level reliability testing includes freezing, baking, and shaking the speakers as well as exposing them to extreme amounts of UV light and running them at full power for long periods.
BOSS Audio System MCKGB350B.6 Receiver Speaker Package, Bluetooth, MP3 USB AM/FM Marine Stereo
These speakers can be summed up in one phrase: “tough speakers with great sound.” It is a receiver and speaker combination design with an all-weather digital media receiver. The Boss speakers include built-in Bluetooth. You can pair your smartphone or iPod to play your tunes without messing with AUX or USB cords (it also keeps your phone safer from getting wet). You can also listen to AM/FM radio or tune into the Weather Band to get the latest update.
The digital media receiver is compact and fits into any standard gauge opening. It includes USB and AUX inputs on the rear for flexibility and convenience. It has a backlit LED display so you can read it easily. Boss uses an IPX6-rated water-resistant face panel for the best protection against damage from the sun, moisture, and salt.
The speakers have bass, treble, balance, and fader controls and a built-in pre-set EQ for a variety of music styles. The speaker cones are made with polycarbonate, and the rubber surrounds add weather protection and improve the sound quality. The pair of speakers have a 180-watt max power handling and 90-watt RMS power.
Boss speakers and receivers are fully marinized and use “high-tech, state-of-the-art waterproofing materials” along with extra UV protective coatings on all the plastic surfaces, circuit boards, and connections to protect against any corrosion from the elements.
You will receive two marine speakers, a 41″ marine dipole antenna, a gauge-style marine receiver, a user manual, installation guide, and all the installation and mounting hardware. Customers also appreciate that these speakers come with a 3-year warranty.
Rockville 8″ Black 2-Way 600-Watt Marine Wakeboard Tower Speakers
These sleek wakeboard tower speakers pack a big punch for such a small design. Each speaker handles 300 watts for a total of 600 watts, and specially tuned for PA voice-over.
Rockville went to the extreme to make sure these speakers are fully marinized for both salt and freshwater conditions. They have 1″ polymide dome neodymium midrange tweeters, and the terminals are sealed with rubber gaskets for extra protection. The cone is made with polypropylene mica for improved sound quality.
They even include stainless steel mounting hardware and an adjustable nylon mounting bracket reinforced with embedded steel to make sure everything is water and rust-resistant.
Don’t think of these speakers as just marine speakers. The large mounting screws fit on large roll bars on most boats and off-road vehicles and ATV roll-cages. The mounting hardware will fit bars from 1.26 to 2.05 inches, and longer screws are available for bigger bars.
Kenwood Kfc-1653Mrw 6.5″ Two-Way Marine Speakers
Many audiophiles consider Kenwood to be one of the best brands of speakers. They are designed well and deliver great overall sound. This is a two-way speaker design, which means that it will produce both high and low-frequency range to give you a better sound compared to one speaker.
It has 6.5″ water-resistant injection-molded polypropylene cone woofers and 1″ balanced dome tweeters built into the grille. The volume is loud enough with these speakers alone, but they can also connect to an amplifier if you need more volume. The grille features a UV resistant design. The composite speaker baskets and stainless-steel hardware adds an extra level of weather protection.
The Kenwood speakers have 150 watts of peak power, which is more than enough for most amplifiers.
Kenwood designed these speakers to be compact, so you can mount them in tight spaces anywhere on your boat. They weigh about 4.4 lbs. and measure 5.5 x 5.5 x 8.5-inches. They are made with polypropylene, and they are waterproof to withstand life on the water. You can expect a frequency range between 60Hz and 20,000Hz.
However, mounting these speakers is a little difficult because you will need to drill additional holes for the screw attachments. The speakers require a mounting depth of 2-7/16 inches.
Overall, this is a great choice for anyone looking for stylish speakers that offer quality sound at a reasonable price. They are durable and designed to withstand the torture of UV-rays, heat, cold, moisture, rain, and salt that comes with life on the water.
BOSS Audio Systems MRWT40 Marine Waketower Speaker System
Waketower speakers are designed to withstand all sorts of weather conditions, particularly harsh conditions on the water–salt, wind, dirt, UV-rays, moisture, and more. Don’t think of these speakers as just boat speakers. They are suitable for off-road ATV vehicles, motorcycles, golf carts, RVs, and wherever you want to install weatherproof speakers.
The Boss Waketower Speaker System is one of the most popular, versatile speakers on the market.
Boss is a leading company in producing audio equipment. These speakers have 4-inch, 2-way speakers made with durable polyurethane cone woofers and 1-inch midrange mylar dome tweeters. Polyurethane is flexible and tends to last longer than other materials.
The plastic poly compound protects the tweeter from ripping or tearing if there are extreme frequency fluctuations. The speakers also have butyl rubber surrounds. Butyl is exceptionally durable and resilient in inclement weather. It keeps the internal components of your speakers safe and dry.
The outer casings of the speakers have an extra UV-protective coating. However, these speakers are weatherproof, not waterproof. They will stand up to splashes and moisture in the air but cannot tolerate being completely submerged in water.
The Boss speakers have a total power of 400 watts and RMS power of 200 watts–more than enough to keep the party going! Each speaker measures 7 x 7 x 7 inches and weighs just 2.3 lbs. They are slightly larger than other wake tower speakers, but they are comparable in weight.
The aluminum voice coils are a nice added feature because aluminum is non-magnetic, less prone to corrosion, has low density, and is not prone to combustion. This improves the overall sound quality of the speakers.
One benefit of the Boss speakers is that they can mount to golf carts, RVs, roll cages, or anywhere you would like to have weatherproof speakers! The included mounting clips fit around bars 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter.
They do require marine speaker wires and will work with wires up to 16 gauge. Boss recommends leaving some slack in the speaker wires to prevent the wire from being tugged and disconnected because of turbulence, vibrations, or other extreme conditions.
Marine-rated speakers are designed to withstand the temperature extremes, salt, spray, bumps, and vibrations of life on the water. Boat speakers are made with heavy-duty parts. Most manufacturers test their marine speakers in conditions that are far harsher than they will probably endure on your boat.
Car speakers have paper cones, but boat speakers have plastic cones (usually made from polypropylene) that will not be damaged by water and humidity. Rubber surrounds create a more water and weatherproof seal to protect the internal components.
Standard speaker grilles crush easily. The grilles on boat speakers are designed to withstand harsh bumps from fishing rods, water skis, or a sliding cooler.
Marine speakers are also designed to be powerful enough to cut through the engine noise, wind, birds, waves, and other boats so you can hear the music. Most other speakers are not designed to compete with that amount of surrounding noise.
U.S. Virgin Islands boast of crystal-clear waters and an abundance of colorful marine life, making it an ideal diving destination.
For the best diving experience, visit the island of St. Croix. The site offers stunning reefs and colorful marine life. The area is also known for its shipwrecks, some of which are two hundred years old.
Weatherproof speakers are designed for outdoor use and will withstand some degree of inclement weather. Most weatherproof speakers have coatings or finishes to prevent rust and corrosion up to a certain point. Weatherproof speakers are rarely designed to endure saltwater conditions.
Weatherproof products usually have enough protection to keep them safe from splashes and moisture in the air but will not survive being fully submerged in water.
“Weatherproof” does not have a standard measurement or rating, so it is up to the manufacturer to define what they mean if they say their product is weatherproof.
“Waterproof” means the speakers are designed to keep water out of the components and endure splashes, torrential rain, and even being fully submerged to a certain depth. Waterproof is defined using a standard IP rating scale, so you will know what environments and conditions the products are designed to withstand.
Many waterproof products are not designed to stand up to saltwater marine environments. Saltwater is an additional corrosive element.
“Marine-rated” or “marine grade” means the product is designed with the marine environment in mind. Saltwater, wind, UV-rays, strong winds, vibrations, bumps, and other damaging things. Marine-rated primarily focuses on preventing saltwater corrosion because this is the leading cause of premature product failure on boats.
When you think about how much your boat speakers must endure, you realize the marine environment can be very harsh for electronics. Two of the most damaging things for electronics are moisture and UV-rays–two conditions boat speakers must be able to withstand.
Speakers that are constructed to endure life on the water are “marine-rated,” meaning they are designed to withstand the elements associated with the marine environments.
Marine-rated speakers have higher quality internal components and tend to have a resilient coating or treatment, like galvanization or anodizing, for extra protection against saltwater corrosion.
Speakers can be waterproof without being marine-rated. Most people prefer boat speakers that are marine-rated, not just waterproof.
Make sure you purchase boat speakers with plastic cones and rubber surrounds for the best weather protection. Use corrosion-resistant mounting hardware, especially if you use your boat on saltwater.
Nearby magnets can impact magnetic compasses from unshielded cables, audio speakers, and motors. If you mount your boat speakers close to your compass, make sure the speakers are magnetically shielded.
Speaker quality: There are many types of speakers to consider when choosing the right quality speakers for your boat:
Coaxial speakers are usually more expensive, but they work better than dual cone speakers. A disadvantage of coaxial speakers is they are attached, so their vibrations sometimes interfere with each other. This causes “cross-phase distortion,” but most people never notice it.
Some boaters choose to add a subwoofer to enhance the overall sound quality. A subwoofer is just another speaker attached to handle the lowest sound frequencies. Subwoofers are meant to enhance the speaker system; they aren’t designed to be used alone.
Hardware for mounting can be very different depending on the style and brand of marine speaker. Make sure the speakers will fit where you intend to mount them and that the mounting hardware will work in that location.
Some new models of wakeboard tower speakers require special brackets. Other speakers come with unique 360-degree swivels that allow you to adjust the speakers in any direction.
Box speakers are the easiest marine speakers to install, and the sound you hear in the store will be the same quality of sound you will listen to on your boat. However, they take up space because they don’t fit into a cutout.
Flush-mounted speakers sit in a cutout and fit in tight spaces. They don’t take up space and can’t snag tackle or lines, but it can be tricky to mount them inside the cutouts accurately. It is essential to make sure the speakers have the right amount of air space to generate enough sound. (Box speakers have the ideal air space built-in.)
A speaker’s power is measured in two ways: Peak and RMS power ratings. The peak power rating tells you how much power the speaker will take in short bursts. The RMS power rating lets you know how much continuous power the speaker can handle. RMS power is more important than the peak power rating.
The downside to continuous power is that it constantly draws a small amount of power from your battery. Even though the amount is very small, if you don’t use your boat often, it could drain your battery.
The speaker’s sensitivity rating tells you how much sound the speaker will put out from the amount of power it receives. Speakers with higher sensitivity ratings are more efficient. If you have a lower power system, you should select a speaker with a higher sensitivity rating. Alternately, if you have a higher power system, then you should choose speakers with lower sensitivity ratings.
The frequency range is measured in Hz. It tells you the range of frequencies that the speaker will emit sound.
If you are replacing flush-mounted boat speakers, make sure the new speakers will fit into the housing of the old speakers. If you are selecting wakeboard tower speakers or box speakers, the size is more a matter of personal preference and aesthetics.
Generally, the frequency and bass are better in larger speakers, while smaller speakers produce better mid and high range frequencies.
Unlike in cars, there is no “best practice” or preferred place to mount speakers on a boat. The location and position will largely depend on what kind of boat you have. Different boat designs have different power and mounting limitations.
For the best results, decide how many speakers you would like to install and where you will mount them before you purchase any. Most boats can fit between one and three sets of speakers. The speakers don’t have to be the same size. Purchase speakers that fit the space and power availability.
Most tower speakers come with recommendations on the best mounting position to get the best sound quality from those speakers.
Mount each pair of speakers opposite of each other and as evenly spaced as possible. Spacing is important to get the best sound quality. The angle and height are also important. Face the speakers in the direction where people will be spending the most time.
Swivel clamps are helpful because they allow you to adjust your speakers as needed. Point the speakers at a right angle when your buddy is wakeboarding or angle them in when everyone is just hanging out on the boat.
Most speakers come with fasteners and clamps to mount them on your boat. Make sure the clamps are marine-rated to prevent erosion and rust.
Bolt the speakers with backing washers and nylon-locking nuts to prevent the speakers from vibrating loose.
If you plan to install marine speakers in a thin aluminum or an uneven space, you will need to caulk the speakers.
Places to Avoid Mounting
When you decide where to mount your speakers, consider how people will be moving around your boat and where they will be storing gear. Avoid placing your speakers where it will be easily kicked or bumped.
There’s always a chance the speakers will get bumped, but it’s painful to whack your elbow or head on the corner of a poorly positioned speaker. Make sure the wiring on the back of the speaker won’t get snagged or pulled, especially if you mount it in a storage area.
Double barrel speakers often come with a swivel mount and the benefit of two speakers instead of one. The swivel mount allows you to face the speakers in different directions to create a “surround sound” type of experience. Most boaters agree that, if your budget permits and there is enough space on your boat, double barrel speakers are a better investment.
According to the America Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC), only stranded copper wire is acceptable for wiring things on boats. Other metals like aluminum and steel, corrode quickly and don’t do well under the constant vibrations on a boat.
Make sure the wiring is at least stranded but tinned is even better. When wires are tinned, a thin coat of tin is applied to the copper wires to make them more resistant to corrosion. Stranded and tinned wires are the best kind of wires to use on your boat.
Many boaters want to use their marine speakers to listen to satellite radio while they enjoy a day on the water. Usually, boaters get clear satellite radio reception up to about 200 miles offshore, depending on where you are.
Satellite radio is currently only available in the continental US (and parts of Canada and Mexico where it crosses over).
There are many great marine speaker options on the market. We selected the BOSS Audio System MCKGB350B.6 Receiver Speaker Package, Bluetooth, MP3 USB AM/FM Marine Stereo as our top choice from this list.
Like Boss promises, they are “tough speakers with great sound.” All the little “extras” like the all-weather digital media receiver, built-in Bluetooth, and AM/FM radio capabilities gave the BOSS Audio System the slight edge.