Whether good music lulls you to sleep, soothes your worries or gets your groove on, the fact is that it won’t induce the right feeling if it doesn’t come from an excellent source. An efficient speaker works great when enjoying music from mobile devices. However, the same cannot be said for outdoor activities like sailing or a sea cruise. You need a speaker specially designed for marine use. It will do justice to your favorite tunes and make your marine experience memorable.
There are many types of boat speakers, with different designs, capacities, and sizes. Some are ideal for indoor use while some are more suited for the outdoors. The quality differs depending on the brand and features. Some have better resistance to weather conditions than others.
Given the variability in the different models, identifying a speaker that best suits your needs can prove an overwhelming task. This post seeks to make the search easier by reviewing the best marine speakers. But first, we discuss important factors to consider when shopping for a boat speaker.
Before we get into the Buyers Guide here's a list of what we believe to be some of the best boat speakers.
There are two main types of marine speakers, i.e., recess and tower speakers. Recessed speakers are designed for installation in a panel, on the dashboard, ceiling or wall of the boat.
Tower speakers are more powerful and usually attach to the wake tower. If the goal is to blast music in the direction of a friend who’s skiing behind the boat, you need a conical speaker. Box-shaped tower speakers are also available and can be angled in different directions.
It is crucial that you pay close attention to the dimensions of the available space. There is no standard installation size for recessed marine speakers, but 6.5-inches is common. If you are upgrading, you can use the same mounting locations or existing cut-outs. Keep in mind that even though speakers may have the same diameter, it’s likely that the grille is constructed differently.
Think about where you will run wires, especially if your vessel doesn’t have speaker wiring. Whether or not there is existing wiring, it is important to ensure it is threaded in a concealed manner. This offers protection from the elements.
Another question you should ask yourself is how much power a boat speaker can handle. Most manufacturers specify the peak wattage. The root mean square shows the amount of continuous power a speaker can handle, and this is a more important value. If the receiver puts out 100W RMS, you need a speaker with a 100W RMS value per channel at the minimum. Connecting a speaker with 75W peak wattage to such a receiver would be putting it at a risk of damage.
Be sure to consider the output value of your amplifier and choose a speaker that the figures accordingly.
Opt for a speaker that is made from long-lasting materials rather than frail ones. The speaker should be able to withstand the surrounding conditions and impact in case it is hit. More protruding designs present a higher risk of breakage and damage due to accidents as compared to less protruding designs.
Resistance to dust, corrosion, UV rays and water is always great. Make sure you get a speaker that doesn’t fade or change color after continued exposure.
This refers to the range of audible frequencies in the spectrum of human hearing that a speaker can reproduce. It falls between a deep bass of 20 Hz and 20kHz. Good marine speakers offer a broad range of the frequency spectrum, and when it comes to audio, the ideal choice depends on what you will be playing.
Most boat speakers are designed as two way systems, meaning they use different frequency bands. They also utilize a tweeter for the higher end of the spectrum and a woofer for lower frequencies.
Two-way speakers are perfect for most applications like talk radio, pop music, spoken word, and news. Three-way speakers are available, and these use a tweeter, mid-range, and woofer.
Both of the above speakers offer extended functionalities and versatility. If you have a party boat, installing a separate subwoofer is a more efficient way to get the bass pumping.
The ability to convert power to sound and create audible waves from energy from the amplifier is called speaker sensitivity. It is specified in decibels (dB), and common theater speaker systems have a rating of 80-84 dB. You can get higher quality models with an average sensitivity of 87 dB. Speakers with lower ratings require more power pumped into them to provide increased volume. While a mid-80s value is standard, a score above 90 is excellent.
Audio speakers use strong magnets, which can distort and damage sensitive equipment on a boat. This poses a concern when installing speakers close to devices like the boat’s compass. Consider purchasing a speaker with magnetic shielding. This is incorporated in the form of a metal lining. Some manufacturers use a second magnetic that cancels out the magnetic energy.
This is a recessed 2-way marine pair of speakers that can play high strings and deliver smooth sound with incredible clarity. While both speakers are 6.5”, the included adapter rings allow for installation in 6.75” locations. They are an excellent choice for party boats and are built for long life at sea. The polymer/mica subwoofer, butyl rubber surround and silk/polymer tweeter are incredibly resistant to wind, rain, waves, and sun.
The Polk Audio DB651 boasts a peak rating of 180W and 60W RMS per speaker. You can hear the music over the noisy engine and waves. The broad frequency range delivers incredible clarity and powerful bass across the spectrum.
As for the audio, it is well balanced and exhibits clear voice projections. You can also expect soft highs and mids. We are particularly in love with the tweeters because they can be pivoted to better aim volume at a specific area.
Overall, the Polk Audio DB651 looks stylish and delivers crisp sounds that will turn your boat to a dance floor.
Most Budget Friendly
An affordable upgrade to your boat speakers, the JBL MS6520 boasts well-balanced audio. The lows and mids are good, but the high tones can sound a little harsh.
Sold as a set of two, these speakers are rated at 90 dB. Highlights include waterproof polypropylene woofer cones and balanced dome tweeter. The woofer cones deliver increased low-frequency output, higher sensitivity, and greater musical character.
Another notable feature is the one-piece polymer basket, which is designed to stand the test of time. The frequency response ranges from 50 Hz to 20 kHz while the impedance is rated a 4 ohms. A peak handling power of 180 watts and 60 watts RMS is incredible given the low price of this set.
If you are looking for a free air speaker that doesn’t require an enclosure, the JL Audio M650-CCX-CG-WH Speaker Set is a good contender. The 6.5” 2-way speakers come with a 1-inch tweeter. They network with first order low pass and second order high pass circuits. The tweeter features a poly switch with a durable build and solid protection from the elements.
Also included are UV-resistant Centrex polymer baskets and grills. These make installation easy while ensuring lasting durability. The speakers have a continuous power rating of 75 watts, which is a little lower than most marine speakers.
These weatherproof speakers deliver 200 watts of sound quality. The internal components are coated to provide extra protection from corrosion in salty and humid environments. It features a 1-inch mylar dome tweeter, polypropylene cone, and 1-inch aluminum voice coil. The magnet covers along with the grills allow for easy installation.
Audio performance is quite good thanks to a frequency response of 80 Hz to 20 kHz, impedance of 4 ohms and sensitivity of 90 dB. It has crisp highs and nice midranges, as well as good bass reproduction. The speakers produce considerable full-range sound and the 200 watts of peak power help with volume.
While the Boss Audio MR690 speakers don’t provide audiophile level of quality, they certainly make boat parties more enjoyable.
This pair of excellent speakers from Kenwood Enrock offer incredible performance at a competitive price. It is a marine-rated 2-way speaker set designed with a CD receiver that withstands harsh conditions at sea. The receiver has a conformal coated circuit board that locks out moisture and protects against the elements. A peak rating of 150W and 50W means that the set does a good job of converting energy to sound, without compromising sound quality.
The cone woofers and balanced dome tweeter offer excellent precision across the low, medium and high ranges. It uses a 3-band equalizer to optimize sound quality. You can add subs and amps thanks to the three sets of RCA preamp outputs. These speakers offer a few connectivity options including a front panel USB input, aux input, and CD loading.
The Enrock Dipole marine hideaway marine antenna, as well as rotary encoder, allow for ease of control. You can connect this set to 6 waterproof remotes, and a SiriusXM subscription gets you your favorite channels even when offshore.
If you want speakers with a 6.5” dual cone design, the Sony XSMP1611 is worth considering. The set offers good sound performance and has an RMS power handling of 65 watts. Both speakers are UV coated for protection against long-term exposure to the sun. With a waterproof rating of IPX5, they can take direct splashes of water without risk of corrosion.
While the Sony XSMP1611 does require a break-in period, the sound quality is great. It delivers nice midrange ones and crisp, clear highs. Music performances are smooth, with classical jazz exhibiting good tonal clarity between instruments. Electronic music sounds punchy and has plenty of midrange depth.
Setting up is easy, and the speakers can be connected to an audio amplifier. They work particularly well when hooked up to a Class D amplifier. Also included is a removable grille that can be repainted to match your boat’s décor.
The Magnadyne WR40W Speaker Set is an exact replacement for OEM hot tub speakers but functions incredibly well in marine applications. It has incredible water replacement properties. It uses a 6-ounce magnet and boasts a peak handling power of 25 watts per speaker. Its dual cone design makes for good frequency response ranging from 65 Hz to 16 kHz.
When it comes to construction, the Magnadyne WR40W has a full plastic encasement frame. The permanently integrated grille provides added protection from damage due to UV rays, moisture, heat, shock, and cold. Installation requires a 4.5” diameter cutout and 1-3/8” mounting depth.
The Fusion Electronics MS-FR6021 are a set of 2-way marine speakers that use a woofer and a tweeter. They are easily installed on any boat, and their beautiful design blends in with the décor.
The completely sealed tweeter, crossover and magnet casing as well as waterproof cone are a nice touch. They adhere to IP65 Dust and Waterproof Standards. Another feature that makes these speakers unique is their ability to save power and use batteries rationally. You get two separate pieces of speaker grills for custom installation.
Audio performance is quite good, thanks to a wide frequency response range of 70 Hz to 22 kHz. The maximum handling power is 200 watts and the impedance 4 ohms.
The Clarion CMQ1622RL is one of the best marine coaxial speakers on the market at an affordable price.
This speaker is an excellent option for budget buyers. Our favorite feature is its loudness, which compares well to that of other speakers across multiple volume settings. This is quite surprising considering its 88 dB sensitivity rating, which is the lowest available for a marine speaker.
Its peak handling power is rated at 100 watts, with a continuous handling rate of 60 watts RMS. It features a 6.5” mica-injection polypropylene woofer cone and a 1.25” cone tweeter.
Clarion also includes grilles and rubber mounting brackets for easy installation.
Quality boat acoustics and good boat speakers allow you to enjoy your favorite playlist during your time on the water. That said, we hope our comprehensive guide helps you identify the best marine speaker for your watercraft.