Best Boat Speakers

Updated June 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

10 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
94 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best boat speakers

Last Updated June 2019

What’s a day out on the water without some good music to make it more enjoyable? Quality boat speakers are essential for listening to your favorite tunes or checking out the local weather report during a trip on your boat. In recent years, sound systems in marine crafts have improved in both availability and quality. Now you have so many options in the world of marine audio that you can be as selective as you want to be in curating the perfect sound for your boat.

Even if you don’t plan to blast your favorite jams out on the open water, you still need to invest in a dependable set of boat speakers. Sometimes your only connection to dry land is through your boat’s radio, which feeds you information on weather and water patterns.

Don’t get stranded without a lifeline. Find out which boat speakers will give you the right balance of dependability and sound quality by reading our review. When you’re ready to buy, consider one of our recommended models.

Although marine speakers were previously an afterthought, they are now produced with the highest quality standards for the best possible sound, equaling those in auto sound systems.

Key considerations

Shopping for boat speakers, although similar to choosing car speakers, does deviate in a few major ways. First of all, car speakers are aided by being in an enclosed space. This means that the sound reverberates inside the cabin almost like a giant subwoofer. Conversely, on a boat, the sound coming out of the speakers can be hindered by the open nature of the vehicle. Sound dissipates, rather than reverberates, meaning that the maximum decibels needed for quality sound is higher on a boat than in a car.

Just as important, boat speakers need to be weatherproof and waterproof. Not only will the speakers likely take on ambient water when the boat is in motion, but they will also be constantly exposed to the elements. Perhaps the most damaging of these elements is the sun, which will hit both the external grill as well as the internal cone of the speaker. If you want to make sure that your boat speakers give you the sound quality you want with the durability you need, consider these factors when choosing.

Cone size/shape

The cone of the speaker refers to the main component that creates deep bass tones in the speaker. The size and shape of the cone has a major impact on sound range and quality. As a general rule, the larger the cone, the louder the speaker. Additionally, some speaker cones are round, while others are oblong. Consider your personal preference when making your choice.

All-in-one for all your needs

Easy to install and operate, the JVC In-Dash Marine Audio Bundle is a combo pack that not only gives you amazing-sounding boat speakers but also an amazing CD receiver to go with it. Now you can be sure to get the most out of your speakers when using this state-of-the-art receiver to feed your speakers the best possible sound.

Frame size/shape

The size of your boat speaker’s cone is not necessarily the same as the installation size. Boat speakers have a variety of frame sizes to go with the cone. You will need to measure the size of the hole where you plan to install your speakers before making your purchase. Although most boat speaker manufacturers give you the speaker dimensions, these usually correspond to the cone size and not the frame size.

Audio power capacity (wattage)

Different speakers have different maximum capacities. Most of the popular boat speakers on the market have a range of between 120 and 350 watts. The higher the wattage, the louder the speakers can play without distortion or damage to the cone. The power capacity you choose will depend on your needs. If you plan to play your favorite tunes at a high-decibel level, then higher wattage will be what you need. If you are only concerned with low-level audio, then boat speakers on the lower end of the range will do.

EXPERT TIP

If you plan to use boat speakers with mounting brackets, measure well before putting holes in a console to avoid a crooked mount or unseemly extra holes.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Waterproofing

While most boat speakers are designed to be water resistant as well as weather resistant, sometimes more is needed. Some boat speakers now offer a completely waterproof housing that protects the speaker from even the biggest splashes out on the water. If you boat on the wild side and your speakers are located within the splash zone, consider purchasing boat speakers that offer a completely waterproof solution.

Bass-enhancing box design

The majority of boat speakers available on the market have a low-profile design that fits snugly into a boat’s side panel. There are some, though, that are designed more like a traditional box speaker. The box design means that the sound will echo within the housing, creating a fuller, more powerful bass sound than most low-profile speakers can manage. Although these speakers are bulkier, hence more challenging to fit in your boat, they offer a more powerful soundscape than their low-profile counterparts.

Titanium tweeters

Tweeters produce the high treble tones in a speaker. There are many materials used to make tweeters, all of which have different attributes. Of the metal tweeter design, aluminum is the most commonly used. Titanium tweeters, however, are becoming available with more frequency. Titanium is lighter than aluminum and not as resonant. This means the extreme high tones are exceptionally accurate with titanium tweeters, and they offer a pleasing, less distorted sound than many aluminum tweeters.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

Avoid any exposed wires during installation, as proximity to water during use can be a fire hazard.

Boat speaker prices

Two schools of thought dominate when it comes to marine speakers. Some people don’t want to spend much because they feel that the outdoor nature of the product lends to regular replacement. Others choose to spend more, hoping that the speaker will be more durable, inside and out. Try not to get caught in either of these traps. Focus more on the speaker itself and what it can offer. Some of the least expensive speakers on the market very well may be the most durable. Pay less attention to price and more attention to features and specifications when choosing your boat speakers.

Inexpensive: Between $10 and $50 there are a surprising number of options for boat speakers. Most of these will be physically durable but will offer low wattage. If you want a durable speaker that will range between 120 and 200 watts, you should be able to find them in this range.

Mid-range: For $50 to $125, you’ll find speakers that will range between 150 and 200 watts. The mid-range speakers will mostly have aluminum tweeters and offer a crisp full sound. This is the price range where you will start to have fully waterproof speaker housings available to you as well.

Expensive: If you plan to shop for top-of-the-line marine speakers, you can expect to pay between $125 and $300. Most of these speakers will be made of the highest grade materials and offer up to 350 (and sometimes more) watts of output.

CAUTION

Do not overload your speakers with exceptionally high volume. It can result in damaged components.

Tips

  • Read all installation instructions before attempting to install your boat speakers. Prep work is usually required, and if you start before knowing all the steps, you could damage your boat or the speakers themselves.
  • Do not attempt to adjust your audio system while driving your boat. Distracted boating is just as dangerous as distracted driving.
  • If your boat stereo has an audio equalizer, try to adjust the sound to best suit your new boat speakers. All speakers have different capabilities and adjusting your equalizer can guarantee that you get the best sound out of them.
  • Take care to position your speakers in your boat where you will get the maximum audio benefit while considering the splash zone, which may impact the durability of the speaker long term. Housing the speakers out of direct sunlight can also offer long-term protection from the elements.

Party in a box

Pyle’s PLMR24B is enclosed in a box speaker to give you the ultimate in full bass and high highs. Easy-to-mount brackets make this set perfect for any part of your boat where you need some thumping bass.

 

Other products we considered

An inexpensive set of speakers that offer great sound quality at a great price are the Pyle 6 x 9-Inch Dual Marine Speakers. They create a surprising 260 watts of power and have a waterproof housing. In the mid-range category, you won’t be disappointed with the Pioneer TS-MR2040 Eight-Inch Coaxial Marine Speakers. Pioneer is one of the most trusted names in audio equipment, and it’s no surprise because these speakers offer super crisp highs and full lows. They also look as sharp as they sound. In the expensive range, we liked the Kicker KM8 Eight-Inch Marine Speakers. Not only do they produce an impressive 600 watts of audio output, but they also have smooth-looking LED lights that turn any song into a multisensory party.

As with any other speakers, do not listen to your boat speakers at a high decibel level for an extended period of time, as it can cause permanent hearing damage.

FAQ

Q. Are car speakers interchangeable with boat speakers?
A.
Sometimes. As a general rule, marine speakers are designed to be more water resistant and weather resistant than most car speakers. However, some boat speakers are designed to go in either a boat or car, so check your own speaker specs before trying to switch one for the other.

Q. Do I need to have my boat speakers professionally installed?
A
. Not necessarily. Most marine speakers come with easy-to-follow instructions for self-installation. However, if you do not feel comfortable attempting to install your speakers, seek out the help of an installation professional to avoid causing damage to your speakers or your boat.

Q.  Does my stereo impact the sound quality of my speakers?
A.
Yes, just as with any audio system, the sound quality being fed to the speakers from the audio source has a great impact on sound quality. Make sure your stereo is of the same quality as your speakers.

The team that worked on this review
  • Adam
    Adam
    Writer
  • Angela
    Angela
    Editor
  • Austin
    Austin
    Writer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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