Many people have high hopes for their marine radios. They understand that a boat lives in the water, so they think that anything the boat touches should be completely waterproof and function just fine no matter what.
That isn’t always the case with marine radios, but today we’re going to take a look at everything that marine radios go through. They have to face a lot of bright sunlight, high and low temperatures, and may even be out in the rain.
However, many people also want the absolute best sound that they can get, so they want to have marine-rated gear that is guaranteed to be able to stand up to everything that Mother Nature can throw at you.
Can Marine Radios Get Wet?
It depends on whether your gear is “water resistant” or “waterproof”. If your marine radio is water resistant, it can handle some splashes but is not built to deal with submersion. The level of resistance will change based on the manufacturer. If your marine radio is waterproof, it should be able to withstand being submerged under water – but to what level will also depend on your specific manufacturer.
There are a lot of different factors to deal with here, so let’s take a look at everything regarding marine radios and what kind of water they can hold up to overall.
Are Marine Radios Waterproof?
There are different terms that get thrown around that mean different things, and sometimes it feels like companies try to hide different things from consumers.
It is an absolute guarantee that marine radios stand up to all of the elements, especially when you compare them to something like a car audio system.
The car audio system is completely safe inside of your watertight vehicle no matter what kind of environment you drive in, whether you are in the desert or whether you are in the snowstorm. You simply never have to worry about a car radio system.
That’s the exact opposite when it comes to your marine radio. Your marine radio is going to be potentially hit with sunshine, water, salt, and some other things along the way that may have you worried about its ability to perform.
This is a good idea to be worried – if your marine radio isn’t up to the test, it probably won’t last for an entire Summer if it is not able to put up with the beating that you are giving it.
Companies that make marine gear will put their stuff to the test with hundreds of hours of testing to make sure that the ratings they provide are accurate.
They have special testing tools for each kind of beating that your gear may take in the weather, so you should pay special attention to whatever your manufacturer provides. If they say that your gear should be waterproof, then you should hold the manufacturer to that level of excellence.
If the manufacturer says that your gear can only handle a few splashes, then you certainly need to be more careful when handling it on the open sea.
There are three areas that you should consider when you are looking at the various marine speaker systems out on the marketplace, starting with how much water the audio system can withstand.
If your gear is listed as “water resistant”, it is probably going to be fairly weak if you are submerging your radio or trying to use it during heavy rain or continuous mist.
These types of situations cause a lot of problems to water resistant marine radios because they are not meant to be used while coming in contact with constant water.
If your marine radio is listed as a “waterproof” product; then you have much less to worry about. Your manufacturer is going to go to great lengths to make sure that is actually the case because that is how they are marketing their product.
However, you should look through their information because “waterproof” doesn’t mean you can leave something at the bottom of the ocean for years and it will still work. Every system has its breaking point, and you should still be informed on what your audio system is built to hold up to.
While it seems like less of a problem, you should be aware of how much sunshine your marine radio can hold up to. It will be listed as a “UV Resistance” in the information of your product.
If you have any kind of faceplates or remote controls, you should see if your product includes UV Resistance because by the nature of being on a boat, this stuff is going to be left out in the sun a lot. Will it be able to function even if that is the case?
Salt is another hidden enemy to think about when you are on a boat. If you are going to be in salt water, that’s another factor that can really sneakily destroy equipment without so much as a second thought.
How To Buy a Marine Radio
While it may not be similar to car audio systems in the beating that it takes, it is fairly easy to figure out how good a marine radio is just like vehicles. If you have a wide frequency response, a lot of USB ports, weatherproof cones, and UV-resistant grilles you will be in business.
Your marine radio probably needs to be fairly high powered because of the lack of any sort of acoustic that blocks your signal in. You are completely out in the open when you are listening to music or audio on a boat, so you want a pretty decent level of power.
Getting some strong amplifiers can help that task, however you may want to look into aftermarket speakers that give you some extra power if you need it.
You also want to get a marine radio that functions just as you need it. That means that it has Bluetooth connectivity if you are going to be playing music off your phone, but you also want to take calls.
If you are looking to play XM radio, you need to have a radio system that is compatible with that desire. Having the correct number of aux connections or USB ports will mean that you can charge devices appropriately or connect the right phone to the radio when you want it.
Don’t forget that this needs to work for you and your setup, not what everyone online says is the optimal radio. If you only need one aux cord to make your marine radio setup work, don’t sweat it. Your desires should come first.
If you are trying to go all out and you want to buy a fairly large system, you should look for a receiver that has multiple outputs. That means that you’ll be able to connect everything when you have it all in hand; and you will be well on your way to building that perfect marine radio system.
If you are connecting a larger system, you will definitely want to look into waterproof and wired remote controls so that you don’t have missed connections. You’ll also get better controls when you wire everything that way.
- 4x50w class a amplifier, 2-zone with 1 discrete pre-out and sub-out, 1 aux-in
- Am/FM/iPhone/iPod/Android interface, built-in high level Bluetooth, rear USB connection
- Full Apple or Android interface via unidock or panel mount USB cable
- Single din rear and face will fit into a traditional car stereo hole cut-out great for new and Retrofit installations in traditional single din face and rear cut-out
- Optically bonded Glass display, front Ipx6 when mounted
- Marine digital media receiver with Alexa and Built in Bluetooth (Does NOT play Cd's)
- Alexa Built-In - Dedicated Alexa Button. Play Music
- Bluetooth Version 4.2 Built-In Bluetooth - Dual Phone Pairing - Up to 5 Bluetooth devices can be connected to the receiver for BT audio at the same time. Allows you to take turns streaming music with your friends and family.
- Front USB Input - 96k/24bit FLAC/WAV Front AUX Input
- 3 Pre-outs @ 4 Volt
Installing Your Setup
It is definitely difficult to install a stereo on to a boat. Boats are not like vehicles that have one accepted place for your stereo system. Also, many boats have a lot more variables based on power and space because you simply don’t have that much space no matter how you look at it.
You’ll need to do a bit of planning and you may want to consult with an expert to see if your idea for a setup matches what is realistically possible.
At the end of the day, there are a lot of reputable companies out there that are making marine radios that may work out well for your boat.
You need to find one that will be right for your situation, not just the one that is the best or the one that offers the best value according to someone online. You should think about whether you need a waterproof radio system or whether a weather resistant one will keep you happy. Along with some of those other factors, that’s really the most important thing that you can think about, knowing that your marine radio is probably going to get wet at some point in some fashion.
There are also a lot of extra parts that people miss. Some people forget that they may need extra wiring to put a marine radio system together the right way. You’ll also need to make sure that you have a weather resistant or weatherproof remote control to take care of the whole system.
You may want to consider getting extra covers so that your marine radio system is completely covered, and if you need to hook up any kind of subscription service like Sirius XM, you should check that before buying your marine radio as well.