Three Things To Look For In A Marine Stereo

Get the best sound on the water with these tips.


July 17, 2020
Boats rafting up to party
A full-featured marine stereo can help you be the life of the party, Courtesy Unsplash/Drew Dau

Gone are the days when a simple radio or even CD player would satisfy the music-loving boater. Today’s music enthusiast demands a lot more from their marine stereo system, from the power to deliver clean, clear sound to the ability to stream music. Here are three things to consider when buying a marine stereo.

Kenwood KMR-D362BT Marine CD Receiver with Built-in Bluetooth for boats

Upgraded Specs

For an even better sound experience, add an external amplifier to your marine stereo system. Courtesy Amazon

Don’t scrimp when it comes to power. Unlike the enclosed acoustics of a car, marine stereos have to contend with a wide-open open environment filled with noise from wind, waves, engine noise, the list goes on and on. High power is essential for a quality sound experience. Look for a receiver with built-in 4-way amplifiers.

Sony MEXM100BT 160W RMS Marine CD Receiver with Bluetooth (Black) and SiriusXM Ready for boats

Lots of Options

Think you may want to upgrade your system? Look for multiple sets of preamp outputs to easily add amplifiers and subwoofers. Courtesy Amazon

You usually get what you pay for. In general, the better a marine stereo’s specifications the better the resulting sound. Receivers should have a wide frequency response, lots of RMS power, and if you still like to listen to FM radio, a low FM sensitivity specification. Still listen to CDs? Look for a high signal-to-noise ratio. Don’t scrimp on speakers. They should have waterproof, not paper, cones, rubber surrounds and grilles that stand up to constant exposure to sun and the elements.

Pyle Marine Bluetooth Stereo Radio - 12v Single DIN Style Boat In dash Radio Receiver

Modern Extras

Consider the addition of a waterproof remote to control music while lounging at anchor or floating at the sandbar. Courtesy Amazon

Today’s music lover is more apt to use their phone as the source of their music rather than carry around a case of CDs. Look for built-in Bluetooth connectivity to stream music, maybe even make and receive phone calls though your music system. USB and auxiliary connections allow you to use other devices like a thumb drive or MP3 player. Satellite radio fan? Make sure your system is SiriusXM ready.


More Gear