Adding new speakers to your boat is a great way to take your on-water experience to another level. Not only will quality speakers outshine any factory boat speakers, but they will also provide more dynamic and well-rounded audio. 

Although there are various options for boat speakers and every boat is unique, the installation steps will all be very similar.  Since boat speaker installation can be challenging, this task is best for those with some level of audio installation experience. With that said, let’s take a look at all you need to know when it comes to installing speakers in a boat.

Required Tools (may vary depending on boat or installation needs):

  • Marine Grade Speaker Wire
  • Wire Crimper and Stripper
  • Zip Ties
  • Drill

You may also need:

  • Hole Saw or Saber Saw
  • Electrical Tape
  • Pliers
  • Electricians Snake

1. Choose the best mounting locations

Prior to starting the installation, determine the best mounting locations for the new speakers. Be sure to place the speakers in locations that will be out of the way of passengers’ feet, fishing or other equipment, and excess moisture. In addition, you will want to ensure the speakers are positioned to face your cabin, deck, or area that you want the sound to resonate the most. For example, if you have a smaller sized fishing boat, face the speakers toward the centerline on opposite sides of the boat.

2. Draw and cut out the mounting holes

If your boat already has pre-installed speakers, replacing them will be simple. However, if your boat did not have speakers previously, then you will need to draw out the placement of your speakers. Make sure the hole you draw matches that of the cutout diameter of the speaker (this information can be found in your speaker’s manual). Creating a template can be very useful when installing multiple speakers of the same size. This way you can be sure each cutout hole will be the same size. Depending on the shape and size of your new speakers, you will now want to use either a hole saw or a saber saw to cut out the hole along the line you drew out before.

Boat Speaker Wire
JL Audio XM-WHTSC16-25 Marine Speaker Wire

3. Configure the boat speaker wiring

Using your marine grade speaker wire, connect from the positive stereo output to the positive speaker terminals (ensuring they will be “in phase”). In order to attach the speaker wire to the speaker use female quick disconnects or use the included speaker adapter if it has one. Zip tie and secure the wire every 12-24” from the head unit or amplifier to the speaker and hide the wiring for a clean look.

4. Test your speakers

Now that you mounting holes in the ideal locations and ran the wiring for the speakers, it is time to test the speakers out! Before mounting, ensure they are all working properly and sound great. If everything sounds like they are working properly, you are ready for the final step.

JL Audio Boat Speakers
JL Audio Marine Speakers

5. Mount your boat speakers

Now you need to predrill the holes in order to mount the speakers. One of the easiest ways to do this is to simply place the speaker in the mounting location and use a drill bit slightly smaller than the screws that came with your speaker to drill through the mounting holes on the speaker. Once this is done place the provided waterproof gasket behind the speaker and screw it in place.

With the steps above and about half a day’s time, you can upgrade your boat speakers successfully. Be sure to educate yourself on your boat’s stereo and speaker specs and diagrams to avoid costly mistakes. Be sure to check out all of our other marine articles so you can learn more about marine amplifiers, tower speakers, and subwoofers.