Adding a stereo to your boat could revolutionize your next trip to the lake. Instead of enjoying your favorite tunes through a tinny phone speaker or having to lug a heavy Bluetooth unit out with you… have all of the music ready and waiting!
Of course, being out on the water means you can’t just use any old radio – it has to be appropriate for use aboard your vessel. Failure to get the right stereo is asking for a broken system at best and electrocution at worst, so it’s not to be taken lightly.
No need to panic – we’ve got it covered. Allow us to present you with five of the best available marine music makers on the market, perfectly water-resistant and ready to rock and roll. All that important research has been done for you, so just set sail!
Best Marine Stereo System
Allowing you to control the bass, treble, balance, and fader thanks to an impressive EQ configuration software, the Pyle Marine Stereo is far more budget-friendly than you might expect for a one packed full of such exciting features.
Stream your own audio directly from any Bluetooth-enabled device, whether that’s your phone or your tablet, and even tap into internet radio services like Pandora or SiriusXM to extend beyond its signal-detection capabilities.
There’s an integrated microphone, allowing you to answer phone calls with the telephone number clearly displayed via the LCD panel. There’s even an answer and end call button right there on the stereo, AND a redial function!
Featuring a crystal clear and handy screen display, as well as USB or SD slots, an aux cord, RCA line out jacks and AM/FM radio, this bad boy can quite literally connect to any device you might possibly want t-
Thanks to its universal single DIN size design, it should fit in absolutely any boat dash, with a sleek and stylish black casing that’s sure to impress any guests who happen to clamber aboard. At this price, there’s really nothing to complain about.
- USB flash and SD memory card slots to support mp3 audio file playback
- 300 watt peak power output w/ built in microphone
- Bluetooth connectivity for easy connection to smart devices, as well as AUX
- Super easy to install, even without electronic experience
- Not declared water resistant – could be easily damaged, but reviews seem to suggest otherwise
Outfitted with the very latest in weatherproofing protection and produced by one of the biggest technology companies in the world, it’s actually astonishing how affordable the BOSS Audio Systems marine gauge receiver is.
Utilizing state of the art waterproofing materials, as well as a special UV coating for its external plastic surfaces and extra protection for internal circuitry and connections, the whole stereo has been completely marinized for use on the water.
Easily connecting to your smartphone via Bluetooth or the integrated USB and AUX ports, it has never been this simple to stream your favorite music. It’s also compatible with Spotify and Pandora, so you can access millions of tracks for free.
Want to give things a bit of a boost? Use the front and rear subwoofer pre-amp outputs to hook up additional speakers or a subwoofer and massively increase the volume of your tunes, so you can hear them over even the stormiest of seas.
No need to worry about damage either, as the IPX6 rating ensures that it is sure to be protected against accidental splashing. However, if you do have any problems, simply take advantage of BOSS audio’s impressive 3 year platinum warranty.
- Fully marinized and weatherproof to an IPX6 standard
- RDS, Switchable US and European Tuner
- Plays USB, mp3, WMA and any smartphone music file types
- USB and AUX ports plus Bluetooth connectivity
- Manufacturers recommend professional installation (as opposed to doing it yourself) in order to ensure correct functionality
On their reputation as a global tech superstar alone, you know that Sony’s take on a marine stereo is going to be a good one. Gone are the days of bulky CD players – everything you need is attached to this sleek and mobile friendly receiver.
Simplified Bluetooth connectivity means that this bad boy is easier than ever to hook up to your cell: all you need to do is align a compatible NFC (near field communications) smart device up to the stereo and bam! Ready for instant playback.
Every item in their line of Marine line products has been reinforced with high humidity resistant vinyl resin to keep those internal components safe. UV protection on the faceplate also prevents any discoloring or fading from continuous use.
Compatible with Pandora, SiriusXM and other satellite radio applications, as well as Spotify, there are no choppy connections or music cutting out. Only direct connection to hundreds of stations across the world, with personalized recommendations!
Want to change songs without even taking your hand off of the helm? With Siri Control, you can call, text and pick whatever song you want to listen to, using only your voice. Multitask safely and securely, enjoying tunes the whole time.
- Enhanced playback with an Advanced Sound Engine, adjustable EQ5 and Mega Bass for crystal clear sound quality, even on a boat!
- Compatible with all apps, with instant Bluetooth or NFC connectivity
- Fully marinized to be completely water, UV and salt resistant
- Anti-glare display so you can see clearly in the sunshine
- Flimsy wires, according to some customer reviews
Designed to fit snugly into any standard gauge-hole (tachometer) opening, the Rockville Marine Receiver is a fantastic little device, small and very very mighty! Looks can be deceiving, as there is a great deal of tech in this one tiny package.
If you’re looking for volume – you’re in the right place. The RMS power of the built in amp is 28 watts x four channels – that’s so loud you’ll be able to hear it over the wind when you’re on the water. Integrated EQ lets you customize the sound to your liking.
Included as part of your purchase is a wired remote attached by an extra long 32.8 foot cable – no need to be stood right by the dash to change the song, just attach your remote, and away you go. It’s so long there’s no need for any extension cords.
Integrated pre-amp outputs allow you to expand your system and connect multiple external amps for your speakers or subwoofers, with front and switchable rears so you can hook up as much extra power as you want.
Though it’s mini, it’s equipped with USB input so you can play mp3 files, as well as an AM/FM radio, Bluetooth connectivity and an AUX input. This gives you access to just about any music playback device you might want to take aboard with you.
- Fits in any standard gauge-hole opening
- IP66 Waterproof certification – tested to withstand all elements
- Bluetooth, AUX and USB connectivity
- Large, easy to use buttons and a backlit LCD display
- Wired remote control only
Last but by no means least is a receiver from Kenwood, and if you thought the tech on the above stereos was impressive, wait until you get a load of this one. It has Amazon Alexa compatibility, so you can talk to your smart assistant even at sea.
A conformal coating on all circuit boards guarantees improved moisture resistance and prevents corrosion, as well as added UV protection for the faceplate to keep everything safe from the sun’s harmful rays.
Use your smartphone to control everything via Kenwood’s Remote App, as well as enjoying your favorite Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora or SiriusXM playlists. The very latest in Bluetooth technology ensures a strong and secure connection all day.
No need to choose who gets to play DJ, as Dual PHone Connection technology and Music Mix allows up to five Bluetooth devices to connect simultaneously. When plugged in via USB, compatible phones recharge quickly via Android Rapid Charge.
Supporting a wide range of audio file formats, including FLAC, WAV, MP3, WMA and AAC, you can listen to just about anything on a Kenwood marine stereo. Plus, customize it to your liking by adjusting the bright variable color LEDs to suit you.
- Protected by conformal coating, marine remote control ready
- Built in Amazon Alexa assistant, Bluetooth, AUX and USB connectivity
- Kenwood Remote app allows you to control the majority of functions via your compatible smart device
- Optimal tuning enhancement via a Graphic EQ and Digital Time Alignment – listen to your music, your way
- Not IPX rated water resistant – other units may be better protected
What Is A Marine Stereo And How Is It Different?
It might surprise you to find out that a marine stereo is very similar to the one you would find in a car or at home. The only major difference? A boat-based music system must be able to withstand repeated exposure to the elements.
Unlike a car stereo, which is kept safely in the waterproof dashboard and therefore does not require any additional protection, a marine stereo should be thoroughly shielded from the damage that exposure to water, sunlight, and salt can cause.
In order to make sure this is the case, products designed for use aboard a boat or other vessel have undergone months, if not years, of lengthy and rigorous testing. By simulating exposure to UV, salt, and water guarantee that your stereo will survive.
Features To Look Out For In A Marine Stereo
Plenty Of Power
Being as you’re hanging out on open water, rather than listening inside the closed confines of a vehicle or your home, you want the most powerful stereo you can find in order to enjoy crystal clear audio playback no matter where you are.
For this reason, the majority of decent marine stereo receivers will already have integrated four-way amplifiers to provide a necessary boost. Want a bit of extra volume? Get a stereo that’s compatible with external marine amps and install one!
Similar to any sound system, the better the specs are, the higher quality the music you listen to will be. When it comes to a marine stereo, you want it to have a wide range of frequency responses, packing the biggest RMS punch possible.
If you’re getting a system that plays CDs and plan to take advantage of it, a stereo that has a decent ratio of CD signal to noise will work best. Likewise, if you need them – or even if you don’t – some built-in USB ports are always a useful addition.
With all of today’s modern additions, the humble stereo has gone from being a simple music player to so much more. Even marine receivers have had the contemporary treatment, packed full of useful features to make life even easier.
For instance, some come with integrated Bluetooth connectivity, so you can connect your phone and stream songs or even answer calls without having to drop anchor first. Those with USB, AUX or SD ports are also great for accessing more music.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do boat speakers have to be marine?
Yes! If they’re going to be built into your boat, rather than brought aboard and used separately, then you need to opt for marine speakers only. They might be more expensive, but they have been equipped with the added protection required.
As you can imagine, when you’re out at sea things can get pretty choppy and often very unexpectedly! If your speaker system has not been built with waterproof (or at least water-resistant) protection, for instance, one sudden shower could wipe it out!
Likewise, it also needs adequate shielding from the sun’s aggressive UV rays, as well as the huge amount of salt found in seawater. Both of those things can have unwanted effects on your speakers, so get marine ones or face the consequences!
How much does a boat stereo system cost?
That depends on which one you go for! Much like when you’re picking out a new stereo system for your car, there are many different types to choose from, all of which have their own benefits and features that drive up the price.
Ranging from a few hundred to a couple of thousand and even right up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, the fancier a system gets and the more bells and whistles it has, the more you’ll end up paying for it.
If you want to buy the stereo and the speakers separately, that can be a good way to save money. That way, you can get either a more expensive stereo or some fancier speakers, but not have to shell out on both if you don’t want to.
Can I put a marine stereo in my car?
Probably, yes! As the biggest difference between a stereo for the car and a stereo for the boat is added water resistance, the components are usually exactly the same. Save for an official marine rating, they’re basically the same thing.
It’s likely that the receiver might not exactly fit in the dashboard of your car and it could stick out a bit, looking kind of strange. This won’t stop it from working though, so unless you’re fussy about appearance then you’re probably good to go.
That being said, you should probably just buy an appropriate car stereo if you have the option, though if you’ve already got a marine stereo and you want to give it a try, there’s nothing to stop you from attempting an installation. Hope it works out!
Can marine grade speakers be submerged?
They shouldn’t be, no. Although ‘marine grade’ speakers and other such technology have usually been given added protection, they are only designed to be splashed or sprayed with water, not completely dunked and left underneath for long periods.
Their internal components have often been given an additional water-resistant coating to increase their defenses, but once completely under the water, this will quickly become useless and destroy the whole system.
Don’t worry about the occasional slosh of ocean water now and again, but other than that, try to keep it as dry and as far away from water as possible. They are not, repeat NOT, designed to be used to listen to music underwater!
If you’re looking for something that actually can be used underwater, you need a speaker produced by a manufacturer of aquatic goods, who declare that their products are safe for use when fully submerged.
Another easy way to check if something is waterproof is to search for the guidelines or criteria if the speakers have an IPX rating, as this will demonstrate how resistant to water they are at an explicit level, leaving nothing to chance.