Having a boat provides a sense of freedom and adventure as you cruise your local waterways. Unfortunately, most boats are not always equipped with a solid audio system so hearing your favorite tunes may leave things to be desired. For those that are looking for more volume, bass, and clarity, you will have to start researching options that can meet your marine audio needs.
What type of speakers should I consider? Are there special amps and head units for boats? What else should I think about for my marine audio system? What brands make great marine products? This process can be a bit overwhelming so our marine audio buying guide below will steer you in the right direction and answer these and other common questions.
First and foremost, popular manufacturers like JL Audio and Kicker make certain products solely for the marine market. These products are designed to withstand the elements that come with being outdoors and around water. In most applications, you cannot use standard cables and wires meant for a car to connect your boat’s stereo to the speakers. Water and the sun’s UV rays can corrode and damage electrical components.
With that said, let’s take a look at the common options for putting your marine system together and some of our recommended products!
Marine Tower Speakers
These are speakers that are designed for wakeboard boats, hence the reason why they are commonly referred to as wakeboard tower speakers. These are a very popular option for that style of boats because of how easy they are to clamp or mount to your boat’s tower. Marine tower speaker prices range significantly, with options starting at $70 up to $1700 so the budget will be a consideration. These speakers come in various colors, sizes, and watts and will need to be wired to your stereo or an amplifier.
One option for some quality tower speakers would be these JL Audio MX770 marine speakers. They are 7.7″ speakers that are built with high-quality material like Injection-molded mica-filled polypropylene and Synthetic fiber that is built to withstand the elements. Another quality option is the Rockford Fosgate’s PM2652W 6.5″ wakeboard tower speakers. They are Truly Marine Grade Compliant due to materials like the high-density poly‐ethylene enclosure, and the Thermo-Plastic Elastomer (TPE) Surround. These Rockford Fosgate speakers come with mounting clamps while the JL Audio option above does not. The included accessories will vary by brand and model so be sure to pay attention to those details.
Main Speakers & Subwoofers
Two other common additions for boats are subwoofers and standard speakers. The need for both is dependent on the size of your boat, the complexity of your system, and your preferred audio experience.
From 4” up to 8.8”, our marine speakers can help provide balance to your system. They are specially coated to handle the sun, wind, and moisture. Brands like Kicker offer some great reliable options with quality sound. Marine speakers can be mounted in various locations but will need to be placed strategically to avoid water damage. The speaker placement is also important on boats for proper acoustics and sound. Since the boat deck is out in the open, there are no walls for sound waves to bounce back and forth between. To overcome the wind noise it’s good to buy powerful speakers that will help you avoid this issue.
In terms of Marine subwoofers, there are multiple types to consider. The first type to know is component subwoofers which are just the subwoofer by itself. Most of these subwoofers will require an enclosure and an amplifier plus the wiring; however, there are a few which you will not need an enclosure for and they’re called infinite baffle or free air subwoofers. This means you can mount them just like you would any other speaker without a box. It is important to note that in most cases, standard subwoofers will sound better and more powerful than infinite baffle subwoofers because the sound bounces off the walls of the enclosure instead of getting lost with the more air space.
The other option is a loaded enclosure. Some of these subwoofer enclosures will be amplified and some will not. This Wetsounds loaded and amplified enclosure is a great option for someone who wants to easily install a subwoofer yet still get quality sound. Tube enclosures are also a great option for someone looking to save space on a smaller boat.
Like car subwoofers, marine subwoofers are available in 6.5”, 8”, 10”, 12” and 15” options. In most cases, the larger the subwoofer, the more power it will be able to handle. 8”, 10”, and 12” subs are common for boats as 15” subs would be difficult to fit inside of your boat.
For more information regarding other important components of a marine audio sound system like amplifiers, stereos, and install accessories, come back and read part 2 of this article.