How to Choose Your Next Boat Speakers?
It isn’t especially difficult to choose a set of marine speakers, but you’ll need to consider your needs carefully and ask yourself a series of questions as you get started. Essentially, this will entail the following:
What size space do you have available for boat stereo?
Different boats are designed to accommodate speakers of different sizes (they’re also designed to accommodate a different number of speakers, so you’ll need to figure that out too).
Just be sure to measure the hole in the console or ceiling as well as the depth of the cavity. You can usually cut larger holes if need be, but this adds considerable complexity to the project.
Do you want to run an amplifier or not?
Some boaters are eager to use a complete sound system that includes an amplifier, while others prefer to simply plug their speakers directly into their radio, tuner or some other music playing device. Either option will work, but it may influence your choice of speakers, as some are designed to work with stronger signals than others.
Do you care if the speakers match your boat’s décor?
Some boaters don’t care if their speakers match the paneling and interior of their vessel, while others care about these things a great deal. Neither preference is inherently better than the other, but it is important to select a set of speakers that are available in a complementary color if aesthetics matter to you.
Also, note that some speakers come with grills that can be painted any color you like, which provides the most flexibility.
How much volume do you need?
If you just want to use your radio to quietly enjoy some tunes while you’re fishing or cruising around, you probably don’t need speakers that will put out a lot of volume. Instead, you should focus on speakers that provide good sound quality and feature durable design features.
On the other hand, if you intend to entertain on your boat and need a sound system that’ll blast music loud enough to feel like a proper party, you may want to select speakers that produce plenty of volume. Fortunately, there are speakers available that suit both circumstances well.
Do you care more about volume or sound quality?
Some speaker manufacturers focus on producing speakers that project well and produce a lot of volume, while others emphasize sound quality and limiting distortion. Once again, neither option is better in all cases; you’ll just need to decide which one will make you happiest.
What is your budget?
One of the very first things you should consider when picking out marine speakers is your budget. This will immediately narrow down the number of speakers you can consider, as speakers vary wildly in price.
If you want a true high-end speaker system, and you don’t mind spending several hundred dollars to achieve such, you can obtain premium quality speakers. But, if you only have a relatively small amount of money to spend, you can still get some functional speakers that’ll allow you to enjoy music on your boat.
But you’ll obviously need to sacrifice a little bit of quality to do so.
Top Marine Speaker Brands
There are a stunning array of speaker manufacturers, and many include marine speakers among their product lineups. Different manufacturers and brands emphasize different things with their products, so it is wise to familiarize yourself with a few of the industry leaders before you start shopping.
We’ll provide some basic information about three of the leading speaker manufacturers below.
Boss Audio is a 30-year-old audio equipment manufacturer, who produces everything from amplifiers to speakers. They cater to all listening environments, including home, commercial, mobile and marine, and they primarily focus on economy to mid-priced products.
BOSS Audio has an in-house acoustic team to help ensure they produce some of the best speakers possible at reasonable price points, and they are headquartered in Oxnard, California.
Kicker produces a variety of speakers, amplifiers, and other audio equipment, but they’re probably most famous for their sub boxes, which are designed for automobile use. Nevertheless, Kicker produces some very nice speakers for boats, and most are priced at the mid-range of the cost spectrum.
Kicker traces its roots all the way back to 1973, so they’re definitely not a new entry to the world of audio products. All Kicker products are designed, manufactured and shipped from their 280,000-square foot facility.
Like the other manufacturers we’ve highlighted here, Polk Audio manufacturers a variety of different speakers and sound equipment. A lot of their focus is centered around home audio products, but they also produce a variety of marine speakers too.
This may actually appeal to many serious audiophiles, as home audio systems are often some of the most impressive speakers available on the market – this experience producing super-premium speakers certainly crosses over to their marine-based products.
Polk is also a company with a lengthy history, as they were founded in 1972. Polk is headquartered in Vista, California, but their products are sold worldwide.
Marine Speaker FAQs
Boaters who are considering swapping out their speakers often end up having a number of questions as they navigate the process. We can’t answer all of the questions you may have about marine speakers, but we’ll try to address a few of the most common ones below.
How waterproof are marine speakers?
Different marine speakers are built to different water-resistance standards. Most are built to withstand incidental splashing and spraying, but they will become damaged if soaked. However, some of the best marine speakers bear an IPX5 certification, which means they’re designed to withstand a continuous low-pressure jet of water.
If you are worried about your speakers getting wet, you’ll definitely want to look for a set that have received IPX5 certification.
Can marine speakers be submerged?
Typically, no. As explained earlier, some marine speakers are designed to withstand a low-pressure jet of water, but very few will survive being submerged in water.
Can you put marine speakers in a car?
It’s difficult to make broad generalizations, but most marine speakers would work in a car. In fact, several of the products recommended above feature reviews from customers who’ve mounted marine speakers in the automobile, RV, or trailer.
Are marine speakers easy to install?
Marine speakers are usually about as easy to install as car speakers are. In fact, they are occasionally easier to install, as boats tend to offer easier access to some of the necessary components than some cars do. Nevertheless, this will vary from boat to boat and speaker to speaker.
Will marine speakers deteriorate in the sun?
Eventually, all marine speakers will deteriorate if left exposed to the sun’s UV rays. However, high-quality speakers are usually made with UV-resistant materials, which will allow them to hold up much longer than cheaply built speakers made from low-cost plastics.
Do marine speakers work without an amplifier?
As explained earlier, most marine speakers will work with or without an amplifier, however, some will only live up to their potential if powered by an amplifier. Just make sure you review the specific speakers you have your eye on before making a choice.
If you decide that you need an amplifier, it shouldn’t be very difficult or expensive to find one and have it installed. You may even be able to install it yourself if you are comfortable doing so.
If you keep your boat for any length of time, you’ll likely find it to replace your stock speakers at some point. And for that matter, you may simply wish to upgrade your existing speakers so you can enjoy the best sound system on your boat possible.
In either case, you’ll find that there are a number of replacement speakers on the market. Just remember that while you’ll have a number of options available to you, only a select few will provide those things you need and work well on your vessel.
We recommend opting for one of the eights speakers we recommend above, but if you decide to select some other model, be sure to keep the speaker selection criteria we discussed above in mind. This way, you’ll be sure to obtain speakers that will suit you and your boat well.