Sailing a boat is no reason to give up listening to music. We’re living in the 21 century, so no one is stopping you from picking up a stereo and take it with you to sea. That said, automotive audio systems are not a good match for any watercraft. You need marine grade acoustics for that.
As you can expect, that means advanced water protection. After all, you have to endure both humidity and water, and since electronics and seawater really don’t get along, it really has to be waterproofed and watertight.
Basically, you need some high-level sealing. You also need that audio to be UV-resistant, salt-resistant, durable, and, of course, the sound has to be awesome as well.
Basically, you need marine audio systems. You can just rip your audio system from your car and call it a day. For that matter, bringing you home sound system is not going to be a much better choice either, unless you’re content with just mounting it in the cabin. Anything that’s going to be exposed to the environment needs to be handled appropriately. That is why I highly recommend installing dedicated marine speakers. They will feature protection from all the harmful elements, and they are going to sound just great.
Top 5 Best Marine Audio Systems in 2019
1Kicker 6.5" 4Ω Speakers — Best Bang for the Buck
The Kicker Speaker bundle is a responsive audio system. The speakers offer excellent audio quality, and they are only intended for the least complex of mount setups. On the upside, they are made for marine conditions specifically. The climate doesn’t matter, no matter how humid and cold or hot it is outside.
- Price and quality ratio
- Installation can be complicated
2Sony XS-MP1611 6.5" Speakers — Best Overall
Well-protected against salt and sun, these Sony speakers are an excellent example of what marine speakers should be.
Waterproof and rich in sound, it’s definitely an audio system worth considering. Usually, Sony doesn’t make marine systems, but in this instance, they’ve outdone themselves.
- Made by a globally recognized brand, these speakers deliver perfect quality and are shielded from harmful factors
- While they're protected from UV radiation and saltwater, I wouldn't advise submerging these speakers underwater
3Alpine SPS-M601 Speakers — Powerful Speakers
If you want some power behind waterproof marine speakers, then you should try these. The RMS power is 770 Watt, while the dynamic range is well within the industry standard.
Suitable for the harshest conditions, it’a great bundle to choose.
- Power of sound
- It can be a little hard to mount then
4Kenwood KFC-1653MRW Speakers — Cheapest
If you find yourself шn a situation where you do not know what to choose, it is best to select a product made by a reliable manufacturer. For example, Kenwood. Their marine dynamics have an excellent dynamic range, from 60 Hz to 20kHz. The impedance is lower than that of many other marine speakers, and it’s only 4Ω, but that in no way affects the quality.
- Probably the cheapest of the best marine speakers
- Low price is good, but it has to be compensated with suboptimal quality
5Kicker KB6000 Speakers — Most Sophisticated
If you want to get everything in one package, then you should definitely try these Kicker Speakers because they have an excellent dynamic range, nice RMS power and, of course, an outstanding peak power.
They also sound very nice.
- An excellent dynamic range, nice RMS power, and peak power. These are the most sophisticated marine speakers
- Using them can be a bit hard
Buying speakers is not going to solve your problem entirely, but it’s the first step. Marine moisture-proof speakers have electronic parts, specially treated with a coating to protect them from ultraviolet radiation, from water, and salt. When choosing a speaker system for your boat, you need to account for a few critical parameters.
Marine acoustics should have the standard component size that matches your boat. Some boats already come with marine acoustics, and if not, they may have connectors in place that may limit your choice of acoustics. You can choose anything you want, but make sure it fits and is compatible.
If you want to install a marine audio system on the dashboard, keep in mind that the mounting size of the marine audio may be different. Aside from the standard sizes 1 and 2 DIN, there is also an intermediate size, 1.8 DIN.
If you want to get high-quality and surround marine speakers, you can not do without an amplifier. The speakers alone won’t cut it unless they have a built-in amplifier. You need marine multichannel amplifiers to connect marine speakers with different ranges and power levels. For large boats or yachts that often feature more than four speakers, you will also need more than one amplifier. The more power, the clearer and louder the sound. It’s that easy.
To avoid damage to the speaker system, I recommend selecting marine speakers with higher power than the amplifier.
All marine audio systems are subject to aggressive environment. You cannot afford them to be susceptible to it. To protect the electronics against the seawater, and also salt and UV, the electronic parts come with a special coating.
You could pour some water on high-quality speakers with a hose while they would just keep working like nothing’s happening. I do not actually recommend such experiments. Not all speakers are so watertight. Even then, they should withstand splashes and rain.
Boat speaker diffusers are made of hydrophobic materials, unlike most automotive speakers that have a paper diaphragm. You do not need to be an expert to understand that paper and water are incompatible.
If you plan to mount the sound system in an open place where splashes and sun rays can reach it, get a system with a waterproof front panel and an additional lid.
Too many people forget about another enemy of electronics at sea, the sun. Direct sunlight has an adverse effect on automotive electronics. UV radiation has a destructive effect just as potent as that of water, albeit slower.
Then there’s the elementary convenience. You won’t be able to see anything on unprotected display in bright light.
You can choose a wired or wireless remote control. Can you get by without either? Yes, but it’s not going to be fun.
To ensure flawless wireless control, you might need to install additional sensors for receiving the signal.
Additional input and output sockets are needed to connect other devices to the boat audio system. Compatible devices may include MP3-players, DVD-players, and satellite radio.
Most marine speakers are compatible with iPods, MP3 players, and ancient CD players. As far as satellite radio is concerned, only some marine systems are initially equipped with satellite radio receivers.
Number of Speakers
Another step is to determine the type and number of speakers. Four speakers is the standard number for most small and medium-sized vessels. However, you can install some extra speakers if you have a large boat, or if you want a better, louder and 3D sound.
Size of the Speakers
If you want to upgrade from your existing speakers, I recommend to buy them in the same size, so that they fit into the holes. Also, be sure to take into account the depth of the speakers.
If you don’t have speakers installed, it’s better to grab larger ones. The more the radius, the deeper the bass, even without a subwoofer.
You can install new speakers into existing holes, or you can connect external speakers. Wireless speakers can be installed anywhere, as long as they are put in a case to protect them against more damaging factors.
Types of Marine Acoustics
When it comes to speakers, there are several options, depending on the quality of the sound that you can get from the sound system on board.
Two-way marine speakers produce sound in a limited audio frequency range, but they are relatively inexpensive.
Coaxial speakers are an order of magnitude better than typical two-way speakers. In addition to low frequencies, their upper cap of the dynamic range is rather high, and that firmly puts them in the middle price category.
Component marine acoustics are separate speakers (one speaker per case). That ensures high sound quality. They always feature subwoofers to reproduce low frequencies only, they are used for bass.
Before installing the acoustics, you might be interested in how durable the speakers are.
The durability of a marine speaker system depends on many factors. However, high-quality marine acoustics should last for many years, in general. As with any other equipment, the durability depends on how it is operated and how often it is under the influence of adverse conditions. How well the speakers are mounted is also a factor.
Crude mount of marine acoustics can lead to premature problems in the system’s operation. Inexperience is often the root cause of early breakdowns of a marine sound system.
Make sure that the person who’s doing the installation has sufficient experience. Saving money at that point is a wrong move.
Properly installed marine speakers are more than welcome addition to the style of your boat. They will also harmoniously fit and complement the overall design.