If you’re on a boat and you want high-quality music then you’re going to need a marine stereo. This will enable you to play the music you love while having the additional features that having the best marine stereo can provide.

Before you can choose one though there are many things to think about as a marine stereo has to be built differently to other types of devices, it needs to be resistant to the sun’s rays as well as resistant to any water it might encounter too.

In order to find the best boat stereo we’ve looked at the marine stereo reviews to come up with a top list to choose from. When you’ve made your choice you can be happy in the knowledge that you’ve chosen the top rated boat stereo and you can head out onto the water playing your favorite tunes. So read so you can make the perfect choice for you and your boat.

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How To Choose The Best Marine Stereo – Buying Guide

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UV and Water Resistance

It’s more than likely if you’re buying a stereo for your boat that it’s going to be out there in the open, susceptible to all that mother nature can throw at it. While it will be covered in the most part by the most, it is inevitable that your stereo will receive some punishment from the sun and the occasional contact with the water.

Therefore you need to make sure that your stereo is going to be at least waterproof against splashes and other contact with the water. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to find a stereo that is fully waterproof as this isn’t really required but it should be at least resistant to any water that might get thrown on it.

This is a large part of what separates regular stereos from marine stereos. UV protection can also be important as the sun’s rays can damage almost anything including your stereo. Having this UV protection will give you an extra level of durability against the conditions.

While you might be able to get away with having a marine stereo that doesn’t have UV protection you can’t get away with a stereo that isn’t water resistant. Even if you think you’re going to be careful, contact with the water is inevitable at some point so make sure you don’t buy a product without first confirming that it has this level of protection.

Fit

When buying your marine stereo you have to consider where you are going to place it as well as where all of your speakers are going to be situated. If you’re replacing an old stereo then where is likely going to be a hole where it once was that needs to be filled.

The easiest choice in that situation would be to get another marine stereo which is the same size and therefore can just slot right into the pre-existing hole. This would make the installation very easy and you will be listening to your music again in no time.

Another way to do it would be to either widen or shorten your existing space so that your stereo of choice will be able to fit right into it. There are though options that come in a different shape such as the BOSS Audio MGR350B which has either a circle or square design.

If you’re installing from new then installation of this would be fairly simple but if you have an existing space then you’ll have to plan out exactly what it’s going to look like. Before you buy any stereo, it’s best to get a plan in your head of exactly how you want things to look otherwise when it comes to installation, you could find yourself with problems that you’d not even thought of.

Power

Marine stereos need to be loud. That’s not a statement that you need to listen to music loudly but more of a fact that in a marine environment there are a lot of things that can drown out the noise. You can have the noise of a marina, the hum of the engine or the crashing of waves. All the while, you have the wind to worry about too which might carry the sound away.

All that noise means that if you want to hear your music clearly then you want to be able to play it loudly. In order to play it loudly you need a marine speaker that has a good amount of power. Having a 4-way amplifier is a way to increase that sound so you can hear it clearly. If you really wanted to increase the noise then you can also get an independent amplifier and install that as well

There are two common power rating that are given with stereos and they are the max power output as well as the RMS power output. The first one is in relation to the power that can be delivered over a short space of time and the second is a measure of what can be delivered continuously.

If you’re going to be in a noisy environment then finding a stereo with a high power rating will mean that you’re able to hear the music that you’re playing so is therefore a great feature to have. If your boat is going to be on calmer waters such as a lake then this isn’t going to be as important.

Features

A stereo would be pretty useless if you just plugged it in and all it could do was to search for local radio stations with a weak signal. That may be been the past but in the present marine stereos have a wide range of features that have made it easier than ever to listen to your favorite songs or radio.

One of the key features which most stereos now have is the ability to connect via Bluetooth. This gives you an instant connection to your devices so you can start playing your songs without having to touch your stereo. The ability to wirelessly connect to your music player is now essential as every company should be offering it as it makes things so easy.

Another great hands-free feature is having a built-in microphone with which you are able to make calls without having to pick up your phone. On some stereos as well this microphone can even link into your Siri-enabled device so you can control it with your speech.

You also want to ensure that you have the more standard features as well of an Aux port as well as a USB slot. Which will give you multiple ways to connect your stereo to the devices you have, also, while CD’s are mostly out of fashion now where are still plenty of people who still like to play them. Most stereos though have now dropped this options but a few are still available so it’s important to check.

Display

Your display is an important feature on any music device as you want to quickly be able to see what you are playing or what station you can listen to. Most displays that we see are made from LCD and are clear and bright. You can see from the images on the products what these displays look like and this often comes down to personal preference.

Every stereo will have a display and then it’s about their ability to convey their message to you as quickly as possible. For some people though this is more important than for others depending on how the music will be played. If you are controlling your music from the phone in your pocket then it’s more likely that you’ll be looking a lot more closely to the display on your phone rather than the one that is on the stereo.

Smartphone Connection

Having your stereo linked up to your phone makes it a whole lot easier to manage your music as you are able to do everything through the stereo without having to worry about muting one thing in order to be able to do another.

With smartphone connection you’re looking for such aspects as being able to link to your apps, using your voice recognition, taking phone calls and being about to charge it as well. All these aspects are desirable in a marine stereo as they will make everything a lot more simple for you.

Playback

Playback is a simple term as it literally means your stereos ability to playback music from various devices. There are many ways you can play music and you want your stereo to use most of them so that you have a range of options to choose from.

CD player – As with all technology it’s the future, then it gets old-fashioned and then it gets forgotten. With the humble CD player we are now probably in the stage where it’s getting old-fashioned but there are still those who love buying a D and listening to an album. Most people now though would rather have a Spotify playlist and CD’s are being phased out. There are still a few models though that are capable of playing CDs.

USB port – It probably won’t be too long until we see the USB phased out as well when wireless charging becomes more commonplace and wireless connection becomes even easier. For now though, a USB connection can be very useful in order to have a hardwired connection to your stereo and one that is also able to charge up your device as well.

Aux port – Aux, short for auxiliary, is a no-frills connection to your device which will be able to play music straight away through a small cable. You can see a future where all marine stereos are solely run on wireless technology but people still love the simple nature of just being able to plug in your Aux cable and playing your songs.

XM Radio – You are able to get tuners which can pick up a signal from a ground-based radio up to 200 miles away but there is also the other option as well of using a satellite radio. This will instantly connect you with thousands of radio stations but it does require you to pay a subscription to use the service.

Bluetooth – Often the easiest method of playing your music though will be via Bluetooth connection. If you have your Bluetooth linked up then this will automatically connect as soon as it has received a signal. The advantages of this are clear as you are free to roam around with the ability to change the music from anywhere. All the best marines stereos no come equipped with Bluetooth technology.

Anti-Corrosion Protection

When advertising something as a marine quality product then it needs to reach certain standards for it to be good enough to compete with the other stereos that are out there. That’s why stereos will be resistant to corrosion as well as water where their circuits will be coasted to ensure that they are less likely to succumb to rust. If your stereo is water resistant then it’s unlikely that water will be able to get into any place which can rust anyway, but anti-corrosion protection is another example of how marine stereos are more durable and reliable than any other kind.

Expandability

If you’re looking to increase the sound that is coming from the stereo then it’s important to be able to expand your system into such things as amplifiers and subwoofers. If you do then you want to ensure that your stereo has the connections available and also the room to be able to put these extra items into your boat. Most marine stereos will have the ability for this expansion which is sometimes needed if you’re going to be in a particularly noisy environment.

Equipment Included

Some of these products come with just the stereo whereas other come with a lot more including whole stereo packages with wires and speakers, what you require depends on what is already on your boat. If you’re simply replacing a pre-existing stereo then you will probably just want to look for this and make a simple replacement. Even then though, if you’re replacing a stereo then the speakers might not match a new one and therefore you might want to get them replaced.

If you’re installing a stereo system from new then it makes sense to go for the whole package as everything will match perfectly and you’ll have everything you need in one place. Also if you buy something as a package then it generally works out to be cheaper than buying pieces separately.

FAQs

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Q: How To Install A Marine Stereo System?

A: Installing a marine stereo system isn’t too difficult but does require a bit of expertise. Firstly you need to ensure that you’re picking the right spot for your stereo system this is generally going to be around the console area as this is going to be the safest.

There are bracket-mounted stereos and also flush-mounted stereos which are required to be placed in a suitable hole and most stereos are the latter. Due to this it’s important to make sure that you’re picking the right spot first time. Once you’ve measured the exact size hole that needs to be cut out then this can be done via a jigsaw.

Once you’ve then made the hole it’s time to put the receiver in. This is a vitally important step as you want to ensure that your unit is going to be waterproof. The edges around your stereo need to be flush to the surface to ensure that no water can get past your unit, each stereo will have their own installation methods in regards to how many screws and bolts it has.

After you’ve selected the location of your stereo then it’s important to work out where your speakers are going to go as well if they are not already installed. This process is the same as with the stereo whereby you choose your location and cut out the required hole, making sure that you create that waterproof seal.

The final step is wiring them all together and the connections that you need should be color-coded. The stereo system will have a red hot wire to connect to the positive battery terminal, a black ground wire to connect to the negative terminal and a yellow memory wire to connect to the battery and a blue wire which would be able to connect to external devices. The speakers have two wires with one being a hot wire and the other being a ground wire and these will be clearly labeled.

Installing a stereo system into a boat isn’t the most difficult take in the world if you are comfortable with what you are doing. It does though require specific tools and an understanding of electronics in order to complete this correctly. If you aren’t confident about installation then you can hire a professional to do this for you who will be able to get the job done more quickly and give you peace of mind that the job has been done correctly.

Q: The Difference Between A Stereo System and Radio System?

A: There is a large amount of difference in terms of functionality between the two and while both of them can share similar features, they in fact very different. If you want to play your music out loud and have a great time then you need to stay clear from anything that describes itself as a marine radio.

Marine radios are a lot more basic and you can see this with their radio function. They both are able to recognize radio frequencies which can either be used for radio broadcasts, weather reports or communication.

Marine radios generally have an antenna that catches radio waves between 168 and 174 MHz which is used for practical purposes and some of them won’t have the ability to focus their antenna on the reception on AM or FM waves.

With a marine stereo, they are less practical in terms of weather reports and communication but are able to find those radio stations in order to play the music that you love. As we can see, they have two very different functions which can also be seen in how they receive and send out a radio signal. Both of the two types are able to receive a radio signal but only a marine radio will be able to send a radio message out as they are needed for communication.

The biggest difference in terms of these products though is the functionality to play music. With marine radios they might be able to play music if it is being broadcast on radio stations but that’s about it. With marine stereos they have all the levels of functionality that we have seen already which makes them a lot more appealing to anyone who loves music.

There is also a big difference with the way they look as well. Most marine stereos could actually be placed into a car and used in various different settings but marine radios are a lot bulkier and are designed for being used solely on a boat.

Clearly there are a lot of differences between the two systems so never blindly buy a marine radio thinking that you’re going to be getting something that will be able to play your music. If you want to be able to playback your music throughout a boat, then make sure you’re getting a marine stereo.

Q: How To Take Care Of A Marine Stereo System?

A: While marine stereos are built to last they still require a lot of care an attention. As with anything on a boat a lot of thought needs to be put into how things are cleaned and maintained in order to increase their lifespan. Due to the outdoor nature of a boat and the corrosiveness of salt water, if you don’t look after your equipment then it’s not going to last for as long as it should.

One of the first things you want to do is try and keep your stereo away from contact with water as much as possible. While the stereo you buy should be water resistant, it is still wise to minimize the contact that you have with water as this will help to damage the stereo over time. To counteract this it’s important that you first consider where you are going to put your stereo as it’s best to install it in a place which has the minimum risk of contact with the water.

While you have to accept that the stereo will get wet from time-to-time, you don’t want to be testing its water resistance too much. You also want to ensure that your stereo has been properly installed so that no water can get to the inner workings of the stereo. You don’t want to be let down after careful planning and choosing your stereo by a poor installation.

As well as the rain you also have to care about the sun as well. UV rays can damage many things including your stereo system. How much sunlight your stereo will face will often depend on where you are and the design of your boat, if you’re going to be getting a lot of sunlight directly onto your stereo then it’s best to look for a stereo that has UV protection. If your stereo doesn’t have UV protection then it’s wise to keep it out of the sun as much as possible.

A stereo system is nothing without speakers so it’s important to take care of these as well. It’s more likely that they’ll be even more exposed to the elements as they are more spread out around the boat. If your speakers are going to be exposed then it’s best to look for waterproof options so that you’re not left without sound should a bit of water get on board.

While marine systems are meant to be more durable, you still want to make them last for as long as possible so taking good care of them is vital. If you do then you could be left with that great sound for many years.

Q: Can I Use A Car Stereo in My Boat?

A: If you have a car stereo then you might be tempted to use that for a boat or you might be tempted to find a cheaper model and put that on your boat instead. The simple fact is though that you should only be putting marine grade equipment on your boat. Whether it is your new stereo, some new speakers or a GPS device you need to make sure that it’s suitable for the job at hand.

One of the biggest reason is simply due to waterproofing. Your car stereo isn’t going to need to be water resistant as it should never come in contact with the water. Your boat stereo though is more than likely to come into contact with the water by it from a wave, rainwater or something else. Having that level of protection is vital and if you don’t have it then you leave yourself vulnerable to your stereo breaking easily and having to replace it with a marine grade one anyway.

There are other features too such as UV protection as you stereo needs to be durable to withstand the harsher conditions of being on a boat. Sound quality can also make a difference as a marine stereo has to cope with being out in the open and susceptible to wind and other weather, marine grade stereos are experts in dealing with these conditions.

So you can use your car stereo on a boat but that fact is that it probably won’t last for a very long time if you do. If you’re installing a stereo on a boat then make sure that it’s made for being out there on the water. The only exception to this rule would be if you have a larger boar and looking to install a stereo below deck. This would give you more options as the stereo won’t get punished by the sea, wind and rain.

Globo Surf Overview

If you’re looking for marine entertainment systems then they can be a great way to get your music playing while you’re out there on the water. A boat can be a difficult environment for sound to travel in but marine stereos are capable of producing a quality sound that can cut through the noise.

There are many things to consider before you can find the best marine stereo though and you want to ensure that you have the best marine speakers to match as well. The most important aspect though is to avoid getting any other type of stereo and ensure that you go for a marine grade option. The difference in them is vast and you could be left quickly with a broken stereo if you opt for any other type.

Marine grade stereos will give you UV protection from the sun as well as the most obvious feature of being resistant to water. Their internal components will also be resistant to corrosion and due to these needs marine stereos are generally made more high-quality materials than other stereos. They will also be more adept to the sound challenges of being on the sea and have access to marine weather radio.

So clearly you can’t get away with any other form of stereo but choosing that marine stereo can be difficult. You need to make sure that you know what you want out of your stereo. If you’re the type who just wants to listen to the radio then it doesn’t really matter what type of connections you have. If you’re the type who wants to listen to a CD player though then you’ll need to look a little harder as the number of stereos offering this are falling.

Aside from though, to give you all the option that you need you’ll want to be able to have a USB connection as well an Aux port and the ability to connect wirelessly via Bluetooth. All these options will mean that you’ll be able to play your music from any device that you want. When you’ve set out to see and you’ve checked your marine GPS to confirm your heading, it’s great to be able to relax and listen to your favorite music, podcast, audiobook or whatever else you want to listen to.

 It’s always important to maintain all your equipment when you’re on a boat and a marine stereo is no exception. If you have a smaller boat then getting a boat cover could be ideal and if you’re on a larger one then making sure your center console is covered when not in uses is wise as well. Marine stereos are tough and build to last but they’ll last even longer if you give them the appropriate care. Safety is always a priority, you can also check these articles for safety while having fun in the ocean, toddler swim vests, life jackets, infant life jackets, life jackets for kids, dog life jackets and women’s life jackets.

There are many things to consider when it comes to playing music on a boat as you could be looking for a waterproof portable CD player or just a waterproof am fm radio for boats. With a marine stereo though you have all the options available for whatever you want to play. Hopefully this buying guide has given you the knowledge you need to head out there and select the best marine radio on the market so you can sit back, relax and listen to your favorite songs with a sound quality that you didn’t think was possible on a boat.

More Boat Reviews:

Globo Surf Marine Stereos Review

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My boat is ready for party now with my new Sony DSXM55BT Marine Digital Media Receiver. Excelent choice!

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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!