If you’re out there on the open water then listening to your favorite music shouldn’t be confined to headphones or portable speakers, you should be able to get the best just like you would do at home. Unfortunately, most speakers can’t take the punishment that being out there on the open water can give them.

The good news is that there is an ever-increasing range of brilliant marine grade speakers that can be installed into your boat. Finding the best marine speaker though can be tough as there are many things to consider before you can find the best marine speakers.

From audio quality to durability, to installation and location there are many factors that can affect your buying decision. Thankfully we have made the process as simple as possible by creating a buying guide and finding the best marine speaker reviews so that you’re able to make an informed choice and get the best boat speaker for you and your vessel.

How To Choose The Best Marine Speakers – Buying Guide

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Audio

With speakers for this purpose, you have to go beyond what we usually mean by audio due to the surroundings that most marine speakers will be in. There are three challenging aspects that the best marine speakers have to overcome before they can get to work. Firstly is simply being out in the open air. Without anything for the sound to rebound from, the speaker has to be clear and loud enough so that the sound wave can travel directly to you.

Secondly, being in the open air means wind, especially if you’re on a boat or at a coastal area. This can affect a lot of low-quality speakers as their sound isn’t powerful enough to pierce through the wind and make it to you. So when you are buying marine speakers, you need to ensure that you have the right sound output otherwise you won’t be able to hear it.

Another thing that can affect the sound getting to your ears is the noise that you will be surrounded by. Whether you’re on a boat with the hum of the engine, at a beach with the crashing of the waves or at a pool with the laughter of children, getting your sound heard above the crowd can be difficult at times. Due to these challenges, it’s always best to check the sound quality available. Most marine grade speakers though are fully aware of these challenges and make plenty of steps to combat them.

Durability

One of the key aspects for marine speakers are the need for them to be durable. There is little point having the best sound in the world if they are going to fail at the first sight of rain. These speakers are going to be left out to the elements, and if you’re by sea water then there is an extra need to have a well-made speaker.

All marine speakers need to be at least water resistant as it’s inevitable that they will get at least a bit of water on them at some point. Some speakers though are marketed as waterproof which adds that extra agree of protection for your speaker. If you want long-lasting speakers though then they need to be a lot more than that as well. The UV rays from the sun can damage all electrical equipment like a diving computer and people know how damaging it can be over time. Speakers having the ability to protect against these rays is a huge plus in order to keep them working and looking great.

They also need to act against corrosion as well. You want all electronics to be able to have this resistance, but on a boat it is even more important due to the likely interaction with sea water. Salt is the best exponent at creating rust and if you had an unprotected speaker then it wouldn’t be long before it starts to get damaged. You want to check that the speakers you’re looking for are able to repel the effects of seawater.

Without durability, marine speakers would be worthless as they wouldn’t last for very long at all. They have to be well-made and give you the protection from the elements that you’re looking for. Being able to use speakers on a boat if great but you won’t be able to for very long if any water got into them. Unlike with speakers in your home, when you’re looking for them when you’re on the water, durability needs to be near the top of your priorities.

Ease of installation

Installation is a critical part of having marine speakers in your boat and if you’re unsure of the process then it’s important to seek advice. If you are replacing existing speakers then installation can be quite easy, and it can also be relatively easy as well if you are installing your speakers near to the main electrical system.

If you are looking to install numerous speakers around your boat though that’s where things can get a little trickier and it may be the best option to find a professional who would be able to fit the speakers for you. By installing new speakers in a boat you are essentially making a choice to cut holes in parts of your vessel. For that reason, you need to be 100% sure of what you’re doing otherwise it can be easy to make a big mess very quickly.

An alternative to this of course is to get portable speakers which wouldn’t require installation. If you’re only looking for sound from your boat occasionally, then getting portable speakers could be the best options as this would avoid any cutting into your boat. Portable speakers can then also be taken to the beach, the pool or wherever they were needed.

Installing speakers though isn’t difficult if you know what you’re doing and shouldn’t take too much time. All speakers have a similar wiring system so when it comes to buying them; there are too many differences to worry about. Once you have them installed then you can sit back and enjoy the music with your great new speakers.

Use of Speakers

Before you buy speakers, you need to determine what you are going to be using them for so you can make the best decision about the type of speakers you are going to buy. When we say what are you going to be using them for, this is in the sense of what activities will you be doing on the boat while your music is playing.

If you’re going to be using your speakers while you’re fishing for example then you are going to be on calmer waters where a loud volume won’t really be required. Here you won’t care too much about the wattage of your speakers as you’ll be able to hear perfectly well while you are casting your line into the water.

If you’re going to be partaking in some waterskiing then clearly you will need speakers that are much louder and capable of being heard from a distance away. For these types of activities you’ll want speakers that have a much higher wattage so the volume can be increased to the level that you need.

Of course, there are a lot more activities than just fishing and waterskiing, but you have to take bear that in mind before you make the decision about which speakers you should buy. There is no point in buying speakers that are not fit for purpose. It would be a great shame to spend money on speakers and installing them only to find that they are too quiet. Likewise, it would be a waste of money to spend more money on speakers than you actually need to.

You shouldn’t blindly buy speakers and you need to plan ahead to make sure that you’re making the most informed choice before you go ahead with the purchase and the installation of them. Always keep in mind what you need them for and how powerful they need to be.

Location

Clearly the location of any speaker is important. You want to make sure that you’re putting it in the right place to ensure that you are getting the most out of the sound. It could be though that you are simply upgrading pre-existing speakers and know exactly where you are going to put them. Even then, it’s a great time to think about your speaker system and see if you want anything from it. While you’re replacing two old speakers, it might even sound better if you add another two speakers to make the sound more immersive.

Speaker placement though is important and even more so when you’re on a boat because of all the things that can interfere with the sound. Having two great speakers might be great but maybe the passengers in the back can’t here and the sound struggles to travel throughout the boat.

The location of your speakers is important to get the best sound possible. If you are installing new speakers from scratch, then you want to pick the spots that are going to give the sound the most coverage. The sound waves need to be aiming directly at you as there might not be many obstacles for the waves to bounce back from and into your ears.

You only have to think about where the speakers are situated in a vehicle. There will be one in front of you and one to your side. This covers multiple angles to ensure that you are always in a good place to listen to the music, this same thought process can be carried into a boat as you want your ears covered by the music.

As we discussed in the previous section, once you have picked the location of your speakers then they need to be installed. Picking the wrong location could give you a hole in the side of your boat that you don’t need and will instantly regret. Speaker location shouldn’t be taken lightly as the consequences of a bad choice could be either having insufficient coverage with the sound of having to reinstall them and worrying about the old holes that have been left behind from the previous speakers. As with all these points, if there are any serious doubts then it might be the best idea to search for the help of an expert, but with some careful planning this shouldn’t be an issue.

Directionality

As we discussed there, the location of your speakers is important due to the directionality of the sound. Most speakers only play sound straight out in front of them If you’re in a closed room then that sound is bouncing off the walls and every surface which enhances that sound.

Unless you’re below deck then you don’t have that luxury with speakers on a boat. Therefore you want them pointing into the space where you need to hear them. If this is going to be at the back of the boat where people are going to gather, then that’s where they need to be.

Consideration also needs to be given to stereophonic sound. A lot of music plays out of at least two speakers and when they do, different sounds can be playing in different speakers for various reasons. A lot of you may have realized this already when you are perhaps sharing earphones or one of them is broken, some songs just don’t sound the same.

Therefore in terms of the direction of your speakers, you need one either side of you so make sure that you’re not just situating all your speakers in one place. If you have separate speakers on both sides pointing in your direction, then you are going to get a much better and richer sound.

Magnetic Shielding

Speakers contain magnets which is something that not everyone might know. If they are on a boat then the vast majority of the time this isn’t going to be a problem as the speakers won’t be interfering with anything. The magnets are free to work as they do giving you the rich sounds that you’re looking for.

There is a well-known device that can be found on most ships though and that is a compass. As almost everyone knows, magnets can heavily affect a compass so this is something that you need to bear in mind before you install your speakers.

It might be the case that you want to install them in the central console or have no choice but to put them near the boat’s compass. If you do, then you need to ensure that the speakers have magnetic shielding. If they do, it means that the magnets on the speaker won’t interfere with anything else. If speakers have this function then you can rest easy about where you are going to put them.

If they don’t have magnetic shielding, then you need to make sure that this is well away from the compass so that it isn’t affected by your new speakers. It wouldn’t be a great compromise if you had brilliant sound quality playing but had no idea where you were going, so make sure that you check you’re not affecting your navigation equipment.

Water Resistance

If you’re installing speakers onto a boat then they simply have to be water resistant otherwise they will break very quickly. When you are looking into buying them you need to make sure that they are marine grade as this ensures that they were designed with this purpose in mind.

If they aren’t marine grade then it’s likely that all your hard work will go to waste and they will soon break. Water resistance isn’t the same as being waterproof though, resistance means they will still work should they be subjected to the occasional splash or rainfall. It’s not the full safety measurement but should be more than enough for your boat as your speaker will only be subjected to an occasional amount of water every now and again.

Being waterproof is a higher level as this means that no water can get into the device at all. If you are buying a waterproof speaker then you have the peace of mind in knowing that water will never cause it to fail. If you’re looking for a higher level of assurance or are on a boat which might be subjected to a higher level of contact with the water then it could be the best idea to look for a speaker that is waterproof.

The need to be water resistant is why normal speakers can’t be placed onto boats. They will work at the start but the first sign of bad weather might make them stop. It’s important to always check the product descriptions carefully as there are speakers that market themselves as car speakers but they are actually marine grade as well. Likewise, there might be speakers that look like they are made for a boat but might not be marine grade.

Of all the safety features you will want to look for in a marine speaker, water resistance is one of the non-negotiables in the sense that if it doesn’t have it, you shouldn’t buy it. Many people have made the mistake of putting any types of speaker on their boat, only to find themselves having to buy new ones shortly after because they weren’t water resistant.

Amplifier

Wattage is one of the most important aspects when it comes to the volume that you can pump out of your speakers but there is a lot more to it than that. It could be the case that your own stereo system won’t allow for the volume to go as high as you want it to. This can be frustrating but there are things that can be done.

If you need your speakers to reach a higher volume then it might be worth investing in an amplifier. As its name suggests this will amplify the sound so that the volume can increase. If you’re looking for speakers to be as loud as possible then you want to find ones that have a high voltage and you always want it to be able to amplify that sound.

It’s important though to test your speakers first in order to make sure that you need an amplifier. You also want to be aware of your surroundings. If you’re out there on the open water then it doesn’t really matter as you won’t be near enough to anyone for them to hear your music. If you are in a marina for example or some other more crowded area, then you need to be considerate about the level of your music.

You might not therefore be able to play your music as loud as you would wish anyway. We have seen though the problems that speakers face while they are out on a boat, the lack of hard objects for the sound waves to bounce off, the wind ad the background noise can all play a factor in not being able to hear your stereo properly, getting an amplifier will allow you to turn up the volume and play that music as loud as you want.

Sound Quality

This is an essential feature of any speaker as you obviously want it to sound great. You want to look for speakers which have a high decibel rating as the higher that rating it, the greater the speakers ability to convert power into sound. Anything below 80dB isn’t great, anything between 80 and 90 would be ideal and anything above that would be a great speaker.

As you could probably guess, 3-way speakers are better than 2-way speakers as they are able to produce great sound over a number of frequencies, but most of the speakers we have reviewed here are 2-way as this is still a great option.

Aside from the decibels, frequencies and power a lot of the sound quality comes from how the product is made, so It’s important to read the reviews and check the rating to see what others are saying about the product. We have reviewed a number of great brands here today who are all well-known for producing top quality sound.

FAQs

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Q: What are the best marine speakers?

A: Speakers are devices that can transmit electrical signals from a stereo and turn them into sounds waves so that you can listen to music or whatever else your ears might desire. Speakers though are generally quite fragile and that’s because they don’t have to be taught. For the majority of the time, they will sit there in your home and continuously play your favorite songs in their safe and steady position.

If there are speakers out on a boat, however, then they are not safe and steady but instead subject to more stresses and strains than any domestic speaker. This means that they need to be made out of different materials and made in a different way to ensure that they can survive.

That level of protection will primarily start with their water resistance as this is vital for them to be able to work functionally. Marine speakers have to be out there on the open water where rainstorms can come as well as waves splashing over the boat, we clothing and all manner of other things that might make your speakers wet.

That is where the best marine speakers set themselves apart from the rest as they are a lot more well-made than the equivalent speaker that you would find in your home. Added to this water resistance they also need to be resistant to the salt in the water as well as the relentless showering that they get from the sun’s rays.

These reasons show why it is so important that when you come to buy speakers for your boat you make sure that they are marine grade as these qualities outlined are why they are so suitable to being on a boat. Marine grade speakers are a lot tougher than other speakers so you know you’ll be getting a well-made product which should last you for a very long time.

Q: Are All Marine Speakers Waterproof?

A: Water and speakers are never a good mix but when it comes to speakers on a boat, it becomes inevitable. Marine speakers then have to fight against that and they do so by not letting any water into the speaker. There are two levels of protection available and that is either water resistant or waterproof.

Before we go into the difference it is vital that your speakers have one of these options in their product description or you should move on. The makers of marine speakers know how vital it is so this should be stated confidently and clearly by them.

The simple answer to this question is no, as some speakers are just water resistant. This means that they will be able to see off brief water attacks upon them such as the mist of a wave or the rain. If you’re going to be on calmer waters doing low speeds then this is less of a concern as the water contact with your speakers is going to be minimal. If you’re on rougher water and at higher speeds then it’s likely that your speakers will have more contact with the water.

While not all marine speakers are waterproof, some definitely are and offer up that higher level of water protection. This means that they are able to cope with more prolonged periods of contact with water and their units will be completely sealed so that no water can enter. While this may seem like by far the better option, the majority of companies don’t offer this level of protection as it’s simply not needed.

If you are on a boat and your speaker is completely surrounded by water, then you have a lot more problems than worrying about whether your speaker is going to be working. Being waterproof is more important with portable speakers due to the increased chance of them entering into the water. For marine speakers that you are going to fit into your boat, you just need to make sure that they are water resistant.

Q: How Many Marine Speakers Do I Need?

A: Firstly, every speaker in your boat has to be marine standard if it’s going to be in the elements. If you have an area below deck where you need speakers then obviously these don’t require the same level of protection from water. If the rain and waves can get to them though, you need to have marine grade.

How many you need can be a difficult question to answer for a number of reasons. Hopefully, the decision has been made simple for you as you are simply replacing old speakers. This will be easy as you’ll already know how many that you need.

Another simple solution would be if you are trying to add to the speakers that you already have. You might be sat in a certain area of the boat and realize that not enough sound is getting to your position. If this is the case then you can simply allocate the extra positions that you want and then get the speakers to fit your requirements. There might also be a dead spot of sound where you can add a speaker in order to give your audio more warmth.

If you’re installing completely new speakers though then it can get a lot more tricky and this is where you need to focus on the location and directionality of your speakers. You need to also take into consideration what it is your looking for. A simple speaker near the wheel just for the captain? Speakers for one section of the boat? Or are you looking to fit your whole boat out with speakers so everyone can hear the sound?

You should more than likely aiming to have at least two speakers as they will allow you to have stereo sound and more depth to the music. Beyond that it is then a case of assessing how much extra sound you’ll need throughout your boat.

This is an individual choice based on your personal preference as well as the dimensions of your boat. You may want to look into getting specialty speakers which would be able to add more bass or an amplifier if you wanted to get a better sound but there really is no limit of the amount or speakers that you need.

Q: What Is Special About Marine Speakers?

A: Marine speakers don’t offer a better sound quality than other speakers but that are a lot more solidly made. As we have discussed in this buying guide, what sets them apart isn’t their sound quality but instead their ability to resist the weather.

On the inside of a ship or a large boat you most likely won’t find any marine grade speakers as they simply aren’t required. They are only needed when they are going to be exposed to the weather and any water, especially if that water contains salt which can be so corrosive.

They are brilliantly made and they have to be in order to withstand the punishment that will take over the years. Many people have made the mistake of taking regular speakers out onto the water only to quickly learn that it was a big mistake.

Marine speakers are the right choice because they work and it would be foolish to put anything else onto your boat when it could come in contact with the weather. The added cost to have that extra protection is minimal so there are no excuses for not having the right speakers on your boat. They are well-designed with an excellent build quality and are still able to produce a brilliant level of sound.

Q: What Audio Cable Should I Use For Marine Speakers?

A: In terms of electrical wire on a boat it’s generally always recommended that you should be using copper wire. This is due to the fact that it doesn’t corrode as quickly as other metals so will last for much longer.

This copper wire is generally coated in tin or solder in order to further prevent any corrosion. You also need to check that the gauge of the wire matches up to the power that you are going to put through it, there are simple charts and online conversion tables which will guide you along the way with that.

Picking the right cable may seem like a small detail but you’d hate to have your new system all installed only to be disappointed by having to change your wiring as it’s not fit for purpose so make sure that you’re using high-quality copper wire which has the correct gauge for your power output.

Q: Do I Need A Receiver?

A: This depends on how powerful you speakers are and what stereo system that you have in place. It’s unlikely that you will need a separate receiver for your speakers as this should be integrated already as part of your system.

Most marine speakers though can be powered through a receiver and you will need one if you don’t already have one. When you have more powerful models then to unlock their full potential you might need to first run the signal through an amplifier before it gets to the receiver.

If you’re unsure on whether you need an additional receiver then any installation company should be able to look at your individual circumstances and make a judgment. If you’re simply replacing old speakers for example, then this wouldn’t be required.

Q: Why Can’t I Just Use Some Car Speakers?

A: The last product that we reviewed here, the Polk Audio, actually market themselves first as car speakers which would make you think that the answer to this question should be that you can, when in fact it’s a little more complicated than that.

Marine grade speakers can be used in a car, or anywhere for that matter. All the products that we’ve reviewed here today would work perfectly well in your car or your home. The difference is, however, that all the products that we’ve reviewed here today are marine grade meaning they can be used outdoors and be subject to the rain and the sea.

If you’re asking this question, then it probably needs to be asked in a differed way of: Why can’t I just use some non-marine grade speakers? And the answer to that question is that as soon as water touches them they will stop working and you’ll be left with no option but to buy new speakers.

General car speakers would work perfectly well in a boat and until that weather came you’d be wondering what all the fuss was about. In reality though it’s just not a sensible option. If you want your speakers to last then they need to be marine grade.

Globo Surf Overview

Selecting the best marine speaker can be tough, especially if you have little technical know-how about speakers and the installation that goes into them. Having a boat sound system though can transform your boat into a much more fun place where great music can play and the good times can happen.

Having good marine audio though requires you to have marine grade stereo speakers that are built to deal with the conditions that they are going to be living in. The standout feature from these speakers is their durability and they have to be water resistant as well as making sure that they are not damaged by the corrosive salt water or the powerful UV rays from the sun. If you are going to be putting speakers into your boat, then they have to be marine grade quality.

Once you’ve chosen the speakers you want then they need to be installed. If you’re replacing existing speakers then this is going to be a simple task that you can most likely do yourself even if you have limited knowledge of electronics. If you’re installing a new system though then this might require more expert installation as holes will have to be cut with wires running through your boat.

Where you have your marine stereo system is completely up to you, but due to the open nature of a boat certain considerations have to be made as the sound will only travel in the direction that the speaker is facing in. This could mean that you require numerous speakers in order to cover the whole boat for the sound level that you’re looking for. Related articles, boat shoes and bilge pumps.

Being out in the open poses additional challenges as there is nothing for the sound to rebound from, you probably have some wind to contend with and there will usually be some background noise as well. Purchasing an amplifier is a great solution if you’re not getting the sound level that you want. Added to that is the magnetic aspect of speaker systems which would interfere with your navigation equipment, if you’re going to be installing it close to the compass then you need magnetic shielding.

If you’re on a smaller boat and looking for something simple to give you some sound, then there are options too. If you’re out in your fishing kayak or maybe dropping anchor in your sailboat then there are waterproof and portable speakers out there which obviously wouldn’t require a power source or installation.

For most people though, having marine grade speakers means installing them on your boat and there are many great speakers out there on the market. Hopefully this buying guide has enabled you to make a much more informed decision about which marine speakers are the best for you, how many of them you should buy and where you should put them. Also check our articles for safety, life jackets, sailing life jackets and life jacket for kayaking.

Once you have all that sorted, then you’ll soon be relaxing on your boat listening to your favorite music and letting all of the world’s problems wash away, safe in the knowledge that your speakers will be providing you with the sound you need time and time again.

More Boat Reviews:

Globo Surf Marine Speakers Review

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I was looking for good boat speakers for ages. My main worry was that they will get wet and damaged until I found your article and found the perfect pair. Thank you!

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!