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Does it get a little bland out at sea? Are you enjoying the calm, serene sound of the water?
That’s all well and good, but with nobody around, you could be blaring the most nostalgic tunes ever right through the best marine stereo speakers on the market.
Powerboat, sailboat, doesn’t matter—it’s time to whistle while you work.
Hoist the sails, glide over the waves, do whatever it is that you do, while listening to the uninterrupted, crisp, crystal clear sound of your favorite songs through your new marine stereo.
Our Reviews Of The Best Marine Stereo
Pyle Bluetooth Marine Receiver Stereo System
You can’t have a list about the best marine speakers and not mention Pyle.
This simple system comes with a Bluetooth single receiver, as well as an MP3 function so you can directly plug your phone in, and play whatever tunes come to mind.
Pyle’s interactive user interface makes operation simple, while still providing concise on-screen information.
Installation is extremely simple thanks to the compact size and straightforward bolt-on instructions.
With a low power consumption at 300w, as well as an LCD digital display, EQ audio configuration, and a 3.5mm aux cable input, you’ll have everything you need.
This system can also run converters from old-school cassettes if you still have some of those lying around.
You can hook your device up just about anywhere on the boat: there’s twenty-five feet of wireless range to play around with, offering maximum versatility even for larger sized boats.
There’s space for a 32GB micro SD card to permanently leave your favorite music in your stereo, as well as a 20kHz frequency response range.
Fusion Entertainment MS-RA70 Marine Stereo System
Pyle’s fits just about any boat type, but if you want the best marine stereo for a sailing boat, and specifically for a sailing boat, then Fusion is your ticket.
This system is a bit pricier, but comes with a higher IPX6 waterproof rating on the display for maximum protection against splashing water and rain.
The LCD display stays bright through the night, so you never have to stop listening to your favorite music.
There’s an AM and FM radio setting, as well as an aux input and rear USB connection.
The rear connection can be difficult to get to, but it allows you to host up to a 32GB flash drive to keep music on the boat at all times.
Fusion made this with the user interface in mind, and a smooth installation process in their well wishes.
This retrofits just about any pre-cut marine stereo slot thanks to its proper compact size, and runs 300w of electricity when the four-way amplifier is fully booted up. Otherwise, it has a very low consumption rating.
BOSS Audio MCKGB Receiver
BOSS has always been one of the leaders in big audio equipment, but their smaller marine stereo system comes with enough bass and treble to take the party up a notch.
Featuring two 6.5” rounded speakers with a good length of wiring, you’ll have full control over crisp and crystal clear sound with a short installation process.
BOSS also covered this with a special UV coating for the LCD display, just to ensure certain angles of sunlight don’t damage it in the slightest.
There’s also a three-year platinum warranty straight from BOSS, so you don’t have to worry about anything for a long time.
Fitting this system in is a little more involved than other systems, so take the time to prepare your installation process.
You’ll have access to a Bluetooth streaming service to get frequencies that give Spotify and Apple Music, as well as the necessary aux input that can play WMA and MP3 files like it’s nothing.
Kenwood Marine CD and Bluetooth System
Believe it or not, a lot of us still buy CDs, or we like to bring out our older collection to have something solid with music on it.
Kenwood made a system that not only hosts and plays those CDs beautifully, but has an aux, USB and Bluetooth function so that you can play your tunes any way imaginable.
You’ll get a massive 50 ft of wiring with this kit, or 25 ft for each of your 6.5” speakers. They really pack a punch that gives you that boost of bass that’s enjoyable, but not distracting from your captain duties.
Pop on the antenna to extend your multiple music streaming services, and get ready to enjoy all the bonus features that come with this extensive kit.
UV-protected speaker caps, rapid charging USB input, equalizers, dual phone connections and more.
Pyle Marine In-Dash Digital Console Stereo System
Pyle comes in with an even bigger system, that doesn’t break a single Benjamin.
Running off of a conservative power supply, this system comes with a remove control to activate everything from wherever you want, and four separate 6.5” speakers with a substantial waterproof rating.
Pop in a CD, your MP3s from your phone, or connect via Bluetooth to stream a music service of your choice.
You’ll have the help of an 18kHz frequency antenna to help reel in those stations, and enjoy whatever your heart desires in that moment.
Pyle’s system also come with an on-board flash memory system, so you can store preferences and a few songs here and there without needing to bring your phone along.
Connect to any device via the Bluetooth or 3.5mm aux audio jack, and get back to enjoying your time out on the water.
Marine Stereo FAQ
Ever wanted a full-on guide to tell you everything you need to know about marine stereos?
So did we. The only problem was that nobody had covered them extensively enough to give you all the answers in one place, so we went ahead and did that for you.
From installation to maintenance, explaining waterproof ratings and more, it’s all here.
How to Install a Marine Stereo System?
After you unbox your marine AM FM radio, you’ll see information on the chassis size.
Pay attention to this particularly if this is a replacement for a previous model.
Find the manual for that previous model (or measure it out) so you can be certain everything will match up.
If it isn’t going to match up, you need to find a way to either expand the hole in the dash without damaging any wires, or if your new system is smaller, find a way to mount it flush with the dash without losing it to the additional space in the pre-cut spot.
Once you’ve got the spot for the receiver all figured out, you need to turn off the power, and disconnect the wires from the previous system.
Pay special attention to them: you might need to splice your new wires with them, or swap those wires out entirely.
Find the spots that you want to place your speakers, if you have additional speakers that came in your marine stereo package.
You’ll likely have to drill circular holes in the dash to accommodate. Feed the wire through those news spots to meet up with the main section of the new stereo system in your dash.
The trickiest part is connecting all of these wires, and then taking the main wire and attaching it to the power supply.
Make sure you’re connecting the ground wire, memory wire and the blue wire to their respective terminals, and fire it up to see if it worked out exactly as you had planned.
The Difference Between a Stereo System and Radio System?
If you grab the best marine radio with bluetooth, you’re actually getting different VHF operating frequencies than a standard car stereo model.
Receiving certain signals is difficult when you’re out on the ocean, which is why marine stereos operate between a slightly more sensitive range.
This means your radio is more likely to pick up on radio signals that begin from farther distances.
Apart from that primary function, you’ll see a lot of similarities between both types with USB and flash memory capabilities, aux cable inputs and Bluetooth settings, but the real difference comes down to waterproofing.
All of those bells and whistles are nice, but they’re useless if the system can’t handle the occupation hazards of being out on the deep blue.
Do I Need an Amplifier?
If you want to get a good amount of sound out of this, then yes, you’ll need a small amplifier.
It gets tricky, because you need to work with what’s available as a power supply system, but also offers enough sound benefits to really be worth your time.
Your marine stereo should come with a small amplifier built in, but depending on your housing/retrofitting, you might be able to purchase an additional (and often times much larger) amplifier and place that manually on your boat.
How to Take Care of a Marine Stereo System?
Marine stereos for boats don’t require nearly as much maintenance as a car stereo would.
Maintenance can be as simple as checking for water damage or leakage, and ensuring all the wires are tightly fastened and the casings for them haven’t been damaged from the outside.
The real trick is taking care of the LCD display and buttons.
These systems usually come with buttons that are very close together and easy to jam up, so it’s important to go between them with a nail filer or a knife every once in a while to cut out all the gunk, and keep it operating at max performance.
If you’re noticing drops in quality, then go with a different antenna, so long as it is compatible with your system.
The antenna is going to receive the most amount of damage, and if you’re a radio user, this is something you’ll need to inspect every time you go to voyage off.
Can I Use a Car Stereo in my Boat?
You absolutely can, provided the power supply matches up to what your boat offers.
That being said, it isn’t your best option, and that’s for a few reasons:
For one, the best marine stereo packages come with proper sizing to make installation a hassle-free process.
Car stereos generally have different measurements, some of which might be too tight to fit into a retrofitted cut-out in the dash of your boat.
Car stereos also don’t have any waterproof protection. They might have an IPX2 rating, which can protect against particles and dust, but it’s a lot more vulnerable to water-based damage.
If you put a car stereo in your boat, there’s no warranty that you can claim on it, either. Products need to be used for their intended purposes for that to count, so that’s something to consider.
Is it a cheaper option? Sometimes it can be, but it’s no substitute for the speakers and wiring that come with marine stereo packages.
Those speakers usually come with a corrosion-free, waterproof cap on each speaker to provide a bit more peace of mind while you’re caught in a bit of rain or there’s a lot of jet spray that day.
If you go with a car stereo, there’s a high chance that it’s going to deteriorate faster than a marine stereo system. They’re just not built the same, and that’s okay.
Truth be told, you aren’t going to see many price spikes between car stereos and marine stereos, so you’d might as well go with the extra waterproof protection and retrofitted size.
What Kind of Special Protection Does my Marine Audio Gear Need?
If you really got the best marine stereo system, then it’s going to have a good waterproof rating.
We explain waterproof/IPX ratings later on in this guide, but there is something else that’s paramount to upkeeping this system with minimal work: UV protection.
Say you park in the marina for the afternoon and the sun peeks through the cabin directly onto your LCD display. Do you know what’ll happen?
The screen will bleach over a short period of time, creating these annoying white spotty blurs on your display, and making it nearly impossible to know what you’re selecting or what mode you’re on.
UV protection keeps out those ultraviolet rays that cause this, and slow this process by ten fold. If your system doesn’t come with this protection, find a peel-and-stick screen protector that will help you out.
The other thing is having a good warranty. If you have an IPX6 waterproof rating, it should be able to sustain the damages and stress of an IPX6 system, no questions asked.
If wires got crossed and things start acting wonky (provided that you installed it all correctly), you can call on that warranty to take care of things. You never know what’s going to happen out on the ocean.
Most warranties are set for one to two years, with very few brands travelling outside of this safe range, excluding BOSS Audio.
They’re confident enough in their system that they offer a three-year protection plan on the stereo that we covered, and similar plans on other audio equipment that they manufacture.
What’s the Difference Between Waterproof and Water-Resistant?
A waterproof marine stereo is going to withstand submersion, while a water-resistant stereo simply is not.
In the unlikely event that your boat were to capsize and the cabin flooded with water, a water-resistant marine stereo is just going to protect it for about ten to fifteen seconds at best.
Water-resistant means that it can resist light splashes, but not submersion.
Waterproof means that the entire exterior or the mentioned areas of the exterior (sometimes the panel is the only thing that’s waterproof, so look for this) is able to withstand full submersion.
For how long? That depends on the IPX rating.
An IPX rating will determine whether something is water-resistant or waterproof. It factors in the seal of a product.
For example, if an object has a low IPX rating, it means that the corners, edges and other areas are not sealed properly to avoid dust, water and particles from getting in.
If something is watertight, then it’s going to resist dust and particles as well.
IPX ratings are also used to determine the durability of an object. While this can relate to physical damage protection, this is not always the case.
Here is a brief overview of the IPX rating system:
IPX1: This isn’t going to hold up against much other than a slight stream of raindrops for a minimal amount of time. IPX1 ratings are base ratings that just about anything can come with.
IPX2: This resists a small amount more than the IPX1 rating, and can withstand drops of water a slight angle. If the device in question has multiple angles for water to fall on, this will help more than a lesser rating.
IPX3: This protects against a spray of water or light splashes coming up from the ocean, and can withstand wider angles of water exposure.
IPX4: This protects against all angles of water exposure while also resisting water for longer than lesser ratings. This is the most common to find in household audio equipment.
IPX5: This protects against all angles, higher water pressure, and more exposure. Splashes that cover the entire unit (and immediately fall away from it) won’t be a problem.
IPX6: This rating withstands higher pressure, more water exposure, and temporary submersion for up to three minutes at one foot of depth.
IPX7: This will protect against full submersion as low as three feet, for up to half-hour. Device durability may vary, but this is the threshold for truly waterproof objects.
IPX8: Stronger than an IPX7 rating, this has a gray area, but will withstand full submersion up to ten feet for extended periods of time, usually two hours or more.
While a better waterproof rating will have a slight increase in cost, it is not significant enough to inflate prices drastically. You should opt for the best waterproof rating available to account for all variables out on the ocean.
Your waterproof rating is going to dictate what type of warranty you receive as well.
If the waterproof rating is on the lower side of the IPX rating system, then you’re not going to see a lengthy or comprehensive warranty included with your purchase.
Bump up the Bass
It’s time to grab your new marine stereo, install it, and start enjoying your time out at sea.
Whether it’s a powerboat or a sailboat, part of enjoying the open ocean is about expressing yourself openly while you’re in the middle of nowhere.
Blast your tunes: nobody’s going to tell you to turn it down. Grab the best marine stereo that your budget can afford to keep the mood light and airy, and you’ll get even more enjoyment out of your voyages into the deep blue.
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