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Buyers Guide & Information

Best Marine Speakers Reviewed & Compared

We have reviewed and compared the top 3, 4, 5, 6, & 8-inch brands for quality sound.

by PITeam

Buyers Guide & Information

Best Marine Speakers Reviewed & Compared

We have reviewed and compared the top 3, 4, 5, 6, & 8-inch brands for quality sound.

by PITeam

by PITeam

Next to the waves on the water, the soundwaves coming from your boat are the next best thing to enjoy, so we found the best marine speakers for every size and budget.

A marine speaker is designed to stand up to humid, salty environments, so when you are searching for the right sound system for your boat, make sure you follow the tips we lay out in this article. There are many different sizes, types, and styles of marine speakers on the market, and we picked the best for ten different categories.

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Product

Peak Power

& RMS rating

Frequency Range/Response

Check Price

Poly-Planar MA3013G Round Flush Mount Speaker...

Poly-Planar MA3013G

Peak: 60 watts/

RMS: 30 watts

70Hz to 20kHz

Kicker KM4 4-Inch (100mm) Marine Coaxial Speakers...

Kicker KM4

Peak: 150 watts/

RMS: 50 watts

60Hz -20kHz

Magnadyne WR40W Waterproof Marine & Hot Tub...

Magnadyne WR40W

RMS: 25 watts

65Hz-16.5kHz

Polk Audio DB521 - 5.25 Component System Pair

Polk Audio DB521

Peak: 135 watts/

RMS: 45 watts

60Hz-22kHz

Garmin MS-FR6022, Fusion, 6' Marine 2 Way...

Garmin Fusion MS-FR6022

Peak: 200 watts/

RMS: 45 watts

70Hz-22kHz

MX650-CCX-SG-WH - JL Audio 6.5' 2-Way Marine...

JL AUDIO MX650-CCX-SG-WH

Peak: 225 watts/

RMS: 60 watts

55Hz-25kHz

M770-TCX-CG-WH - JL Audio 7' Tower Marine Coaxial...

JL Audio M770-TCX-CG-WH

Peak: 225 watts/

RMS: 100 watts

45Hz-25kHz

PIONEER TS-MR2040 Outdoorlautsprecher (Marine /...

Pioneer TS-MR2040

Peak: 200 watts/

RMS: 40 watts

25Hz-30kHz

JBL Boombox, Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker...

JBL Boombox

Peak: 60 watts

50Hz-20kHz

DTI DSWT65 6-1/2” 280 Watts Max Power 2-Way...

DTI DSWT65

Peak: 280 watts

70Hz-20kHz

Benefits of Using Marine Certified Speakers

The most obvious reason to choose a marine certified speaker is that it is built for the specific purpose of working in the conditions found on a boat, unlike general speakers. For those looking to install speakers within the frame of the boat, it is necessary to choose the right size marine speaker to avoid any issues with keeping a tight seal around the speaker.


How To Choose Quality Marine Speakers

When selecting the right speaker for your situation, there are several important factors to consider. Depending on what you are looking to get out of your speakers, you may want to opt for a speaker that is better in one area than another.

Sound Quality/Audio Performance

Many factors determine the quality of sound that you get out of a speaker, but a few areas stand out. For those looking for a louder sound, a speaker with a high sensitivity rating is a fine choice as the better sensitivity rating means the speaker is converting the power more effectively into volume. The frequency response rating of a speaker tells you how deep or high the speaker can produce sounds at.

Power, Amp & Handling

As with anything electrical, you will want to pay attention to the amount of power being provided to the speakers to make sure it is appropriate for the system. You can tell the limits by looking at the peak and RMS power ratings of the speakers.

The peak rating is how much power can be handled during spikes in the audio, while the RMS rating is how much power should consistently be used by the speaker to maintain the integrity of the speaker. An outboard amp can provide additional power to the speakers and helps take advantage of speakers with higher power ratings.

Durability

There are several different ways that the durability of a speaker can be described, but marine speakers have a few qualities that set them apart. If a speaker is waterproof, that means the speaker is safe to use underwater and may be designed to work optimally when submerged.

Water-resistant speakers are not intended to be submerged, but they are designed to withstand the occasional water splash without damage. Magnetic shielding on your speaker can help prevent any distortion when used around other tools on the boat (fish radar, GPS, etc.) and may have a greater impact depending on what you are using your boat for.

Location

When considering where to put speakers on a boat, the easiest option is to use existing factory-installed locations as it does not require additional work to place. If you are looking to place speakers in other sites on the boat, you will want to make sure the speakers are placed in locations around the boat or area that you are looking to produce sound, giving enough space to take advantage of each speaker.

If placed low, make sure to point the speakers up, and if placed high, aim them a bit lower. Depending on the angle you install the speakers at, you may need to adjust the mounting depth to fit the angle.

Size & Ease of Installation

The easiest methods of installation for speakers on your boat will either be using the factory-installed speaker locations or using a speaker that is not installed into the frame of the boat.

If you are looking to install the speaker in the framework of the boat, you will want to choose a size that is appropriate for the size boat you are installing them on. Larger speakers can produce more sound, but they will also add additional weight, so consider not only size but weight.

Build Quality & Design Aesthetics

Marine speakers need to be able to hold up well to conditions that other speakers do not, so when selecting marine speakers, the material making them will need to be made for those conditions as well. Plastics and rubber materials are more common than metal as there is no fear of rusting.

As far as the cone shape for the speakers, you will want to consider those that give the most surface area as it means more air can get moved through the speaker.

Marine Certification

For a speaker to be classified as "Marine Certified," it has to go through rigorous testing by the American Society for Testing and Materials. The speakers are put through a salt fog test and a UV exposure test to verify that the speakers can withstand common elemental exposure found on boats where the speakers may be in use.

Price & Warranty

Marine speakers can vary quite a bit in terms of price, so be sure to look for the right set for your budget. Speakers are generally sold in pairs, so the amount listed is not per unit, but per couple and how many speakers you need should take that into account. Warranties will vary by manufacturer, so it is best to research if warranties are available when not purchasing directly from the manufacturer.


10 Best Marine Speakers Reviewed

1. Poly-Planar MA3013G

Best 3-inch Marine Speaker

Power Handling (Peak Power & RMS rating)

Peak: 60 watts/
RMS: 30 watts

Configuration

2-way

Sensitivity

83dB

Frequency Range

70Hz to 20kHz

Mounting Depth

1 ½ inches

Warranty

1-year material and workmanship

Undoubtedly the best 3-inch marine speaker we found, the Poly-Planar MA3013G, was also the best small marine speaker based on our research. With just a 3-inch cone, these speakers can still play tunes with the best of the big boys but really shine when mounting space is limited like in overheads or smaller cabins.

These speakers are lightweight at just a half-pound per speaker, so they do not add much to the overall weight of the boat and can be easily installed in a variety of locations. The speakers come in a pair with mounting hardware and speaker wires for installation.

These speakers are certified waterproof for the entire speaker construction and come with a powder-coated stainless steel grill to help protect the internals. These speakers are not made to handle high power loads, but they can work with most factory systems without concern.

If you are looking to install these in an open area on the boat, you may want to consider picking up a few pairs to get more coverage at a higher volume. These are quite budget-friendly and can be found for around $50 quite regularly either on Amazon or Poly-Planar’s site. They will not be able to play notes as deep as some other speakers, but they do have an adequate frequency range.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Can be installed in many places
  • Includes all materials needed for installation

Cons

  • Less bass than others

2. Kicker KM4

Best 4-inch Marine Speaker

Power Handling (Peak Power & RMS rating)

Peak: 150 watts/
RMS: 50 watts

Configuration

2-way

Sensitivity

89 dB

Frequency Range

60Hz -20kHz

Mounting Depth

1.875 Inches

Warranty

1-year material and workmanship

Kicker speakers live up to their name with a focus on delivering a kick with a higher peak power rating for the size than most other speakers at their size. The Kicker KM4 is our best 4-inch marine speaker for other reasons than their ability to bring life to your music, but with the right amp, you will certainly take full advantage of these speakers.

The KM4 was designed with marine use in mind with their polypropylene woofer and Santoprene surround, but they have been used on motorcycles and cars as well. So, no matter if you are on the water or the road, you can feel the kick wherever you go.

The speakers come with either a matte charcoal or white grille to better match the design aesthetic where they are being installed. Stainless steel was chosen for the basket material to ensure that the speakers can stand up to the elements.

These speakers are splash and spray resistant, so they are not designed to be fully submerged and should be placed in a slightly higher position to avoid any issues with standing water on a boat. The KM4s exceeded or met all required quality standards for the industry upon testing.

Pros

  • Grille color options
  • Higher peak power rating
  • Certified for marine use

Cons

  • Water-resistant, not waterproof

3. Magnadyne WR40W

Best 5-inch Marine Speaker

Power Handling (Peak Power & RMS rating)

RMS: 25 watts

Configuration

2-way

Sensitivity

N/A

Frequency Range

65Hz-16.5kHz

Mounting Depth

1.625 inches

Warranty

1 year

After a long day on the boat listening to music on your Magnadyne WR40W speakers, you can enjoy that same sound quality at home since the WR40Ws are our best speakers for a hot tub as well. These speakers are specifically designed to resist moisture temperature and shock in their full plastic enclosure and integrated grill.

Magnadyne constructed these speakers to be able to replace the majority of OEM 5-inch speakers on boats and hot tubs. Installation is a breeze, whether you use the existing locations or if you need to mount these in a new area with the installation template provided by Magnadyne online.

These are not the most powerful speakers on the market, so it is not advised to use these with an external amplifier and to check the wattage being provided by the factory system on your hot tub or boat. Due to the construction of the speaker, it is more difficult to direct the tweeter, so when installing, it is best to make sure the openings are aligned with where you are hoping to get the sound.

They are highly budget-friendly at just over $15 per speaker with discounts sometimes being offered for the pair. The speakers can be purchased in either a white or black finish to help match the design aesthetic wherever they are installed.

Pros

  • Usable in hot tubs and boats
  • Budget-friendly
  • Easy to install
  • All in one unit

Cons

  • Low power rating
  • Not as adjustable as others

4. Polk Audio DB521

Best 5.25-inch Marine Speakers

Power Handling (Peak Power & RMS rating)

Peak: 135 watts/

RMS: 45 watts

Configuration

2-way

Sensitivity

93 dB

Frequency Range

60Hz-22kHz

Mounting Depth

2.83 Inches

Warranty

1-year

Polk is known for its quality audio, and the DB521 speakers live up to the name with a quality build and awesome sound. The woofers are made from a polymer/mica composite enclosed in a rubber surround to stand the test of time, heat, and moisture while remaining lightweight enough to not be a burden after installation.

With high-quality audio in mind, Polk designed these 5.25-inch marine speakers to have adjustable tweeters so you can better position the direction you want the sound to travel. The sensitivity rating on these speakers is right around the ideal range and higher than other speakers of similar size.

With built-in crossovers, you can be sure that both high and low frequencies are going to the proper channels and help keep your music free of distortion.

The speakers come with stainless steel grilles and mounting hardware to match the durable build quality of the speakers themselves. They are marine certified and recommended for freshwater. They are also budget-friendly, though they are discontinued by the manufacturer.

If you cannot find the DB521 model, the new DB522 has the same build quality, with a few adjustments made from the DB521. If you like the audio you get on your boat with these speakers, you can also get a pair or two for your car and get the best sound on land and sea.

Pros

  • Great sensitivity rating
  • Durable materials
  • Adjustable tweeters
  • Works for boats and cars

Cons

  • Discontinued

5. Garmin Fusion MS-FR6022

Best 6-inch Marine Speaker

Power Handling (Peak Power & RMS rating)

Peak: 200 watts/

RMS: 45 watts

Configuration

2-way

Sensitivity

90 dB

Frequency Range

70Hz-22kHz

Mounting Depth

5.8125 Inches

Warranty

3-year

Indeed one of the more powerful speakers on our list, the Garmin Fusion MS-FR6022 speakers are the best 6-inch marine speaker on the market because they were designed specifically for marine life and go above and beyond the minimums for marine certification.

Fusion uses their “Curv” technology to create a light yet strong cone out of woven fiber composite material that allows for cleaner sound at higher volumes. Not to skimp on the details, the tweeter is made of titanium and uses a dome shape to help stay clear even at higher frequencies.

Their power rating means they can work with most factory audio systems but support additional amplification if desired and are made to not interfere with any other systems on the boat like navigation or radar.

These speakers comply with the UV and Salt/Fog Resistance standards but are also have meet waterproofing and dust-proofing standards. No matter what the water may throw at you, these speakers are designed to take it all and keep your audio crystal clear.

Since they were designed to last, they were also designed to fit in with most boat designs and come with black, white, or grey spoke marine speaker grilles. Definitely best in the 6-inch speaker category, these speakers also ranked number two overall of the ten speakers we chose.

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Clear adjustable audio
  • Long warranty

Cons

  • More expensive than others

6. JL AUDIO MX650-CCX-SG-WH

Best 6.5-inch Marine Speaker

Power Handling (Peak Power & RMS rating)

Peak: 225 watts/

RMS: 60 watts

Configuration

2-way

Sensitivity

89.5 dB

Frequency Range

55Hz-25kHz

Mounting Depth

2.74 Inches

Warranty

2-years

JL Audio goes above and beyond with the MX650-CCX-SG-WH speakers in terms of audio quality and design to make sure that when you want your speakers to be heard and seen, they are always in top condition. While these speakers are most at home with an amplifier taking advantage of their high-power rating, they also work well with any factory audio system.

The minimal spoke design of the speaker is made of mica-filled polypropylene with synthetic rubber surround to protect the ¾” silk dome tweeter that allows for smooth audio at any range while on the water.

To take advantage of the lower frequencies that these speakers are capable of producing, you will want to make sure that wherever they are mounted is hollow and has around 2 cubic feet of free space. These speakers are designed to maximize air intake and produce clear audio at high volumes.

JL Audio takes its design game a step further, including grilles in white, black, and red to fit any style. Installation is quick and easy when replacing speakers in a factory location, and the included mounting template makes installing a new site easier. These speakers are on the higher end of the price range, but their build quality and audio quality make them our top choice for best marine speakers.

Pros

  • Clear audio
  • Big sound and power handling
  • Clean, minimal look with color options

Cons

  • Pricier than others
  • Optimal with extra space behind installation

7. JL Audio M770-TCX-CG-WH

Best 7-inch Marine Speaker

Power Handling (Peak Power & RMS rating)

Peak: 225 watts/

RMS: 100 watts

Configuration

2-way

Sensitivity

91 dB

Frequency Range

45Hz-25kHz

Mounting Depth

3.2 Inches

Warranty

2-years

It should come as no surprise after JL Audio took our top spot with their MX650-CCX speakers that they would show up again on our list. The M770-TCX is our best 7-inch marine speaker, and these are an audiophile's dream in terms of quality, volume, and range, but that does come with a heftier price tag than others.

The M770-TCX speakers are designed to be operated in a smaller sealed enclosure like tower speaker systems. Paired with an external amplifier, these speakers can really get loud with one of the higher peak power ratings for marine speakers on the market and are also capable of sustained volumes higher than most.

Similar to other JL Audio speakers, the M770-TCX uses a 1-inch silk dome tweeter to produce clear and distinct audio at even the highest ranges of their frequency range, which is quite high. These speakers are considered a full-range speaker meaning that they are capable of producing both the low and high frequencies in audio within one unit.

The M770-TCX has a broader frequency range than many of the other speakers on the market on both ends. While these speakers are a bit of a premium price, they are made to be worth every penny for those willing to invest in a pair.

Pros

  • Clear audio
  • Capable of high volumes
  • Large frequency range
  • High power rating for both peak and RMS

Cons

  • Optimized for tight enclosures
  • Not budget-friendly

8. Pioneer TS-MR2040

Best 8-inch Marine Speaker

Power Handling (Peak Power & RMS rating)

Peak: 200 watts/RMS: 40 watts

Configuration

2-way

Sensitivity

92 dB

Frequency Range

25Hz-30kHz

Mounting Depth

3 Inches

Warranty

1-year

At the largest end of our list is the Pioneer TS-MR2040 as our best 8-inch marine speaker, and just like the rest of Pioneer’s audio products, these are built to last and hold up against whatever comes their way. The cone is made of a water-resistant polypropylene material made to resist the impact of salt, water, humidity, and extreme heat.

Inside the cone is a ¾” poly-imide reflex horn tweeter, which is a design Pioneer created to provide protection from moisture yet keep the quality at high frequencies. The surround is designed to resist fading or running caused by the elements and keep the clean white finish of the product for years.

These speakers do not just look pretty, but they sound pretty as well with an excellent sensitivity rating, deep bass, and top of the range highs. Instead of traditional materials, Pioneer opted to use gold-plated tinsel leads and terminals to enhance the conductivity and make sure everything is delivered as effectively as possible within the speaker.

Installation specifications can be found within the packaging, and a template is included on the box for installation outside of factory locations.

If you have a bit of a higher budget, these speakers from JL Audio are an alternative to the Pioneer speakers.

Pros

  • Huge frequency range
  • Fade resistant materials
  • Great sensitivity rating

Cons

  • More expensive than some competitors

9. JBL Boombox

Best Wireless Bluetooth Boat Speaker

Power Handling (Peak Power & RMS rating)

Peak: 60 watts

Configuration

2-way

Sensitivity

N/A

Frequency Range

50Hz-20kHz

Mounting Depth

Not mounted, this is a standalone speaker system

Warranty

1-year

If you are looking for the best portable boat speaker on the market, look no further than the JBL Boombox. Unlike the speakers reviewed so far, the JBL Boombox is a separate unit that is made to travel and runs off its battery, which, when fully charged, lasts up to 24 hours.

Since this was made to be used on boats or around water, the Boombox is rated waterproof down to three feet for up to 30 minutes, so the occasional dip in the water does not mean catastrophe.

The JBL Boombox features a pair of speakers inside with 4” woofers, ¾” tweeters and bass radiators. Aside from the portability, the Boombox really shines when you take advantage of the apps and connectivity features. The Boombox can be connected to via Bluetooth and play music from your phone or smart device but can also connect to other JBL Connect+ devices to create a full sound system or enjoy simultaneous playback on all devices.

The JBL Connect App is free on the App Store and Google Play. The Boombox also allows for handsfree control thanks to its built-in microphone and SoundClear echo and noise cancellation technology. Be sure to pack your Boombox and keep the music going from boat to beach.

Pros

  • Portable
  • Lots of connectivity options with the app
  • Hands-free control

Cons

  • Must be charged or have access to a power outlet
  • May need to be secured on boats with external restraints

10. DTI DSWT65

Best Wakeboard Boat Speakers

Power Handling (Peak Power & RMS rating)

Peak: 280 watts

Configuration

2-way

Sensitivity

90 dB

Frequency Range

70Hz-20kHz

Mounting Depth

No mounting - placed on the wakeboard Bar

Warranty

N/A

When you are looking for audio that is going to be able to reach across a reasonable distance, the regular marine speakers on a boat will not cut it as they were designed for audio inside the boat. Wakeboard tower speakers are designed to provide directional sound and allow for louder and clearer focused audio to be played loud enough for others to be able to hear when they’re wakeboarding, tubing or waterskiing.

The DTI DSWT65 are designed to hold up against the elements and really be able to pump out the volume with a peak power rating of 280 watts. These speakers are considered water-resistant, not waterproof, as they are not meant to be submerged.

Unlike the other speakers we reviewed, these speakers are meant to be installed on the bar spanning the tower of the boat using a clamp, and the speakers allow for adjustments to direction after installation to optimize the sound for wherever you are aiming it.

To take advantage of wakeboard tower speakers, you will likely want to install an external amp to provide the power to get volumes that can trump the sound of the boat and waves. The DTI DSWT65 comes with adjustable mounting brackets built-in for added ease.

Pros

  • Loud directional audio
  • Easy installation
  • Enhances other watersports

Cons

  • Requires amp to take advantage of the speakers

Boat Speaker Variations

  • Wired
    Wired speakers generally require installation within the boat frame itself, but they provide a more secure means of conveyance for your audio than wireless options.
  • Wireless/Bluetooth
    Wireless or Bluetooth speakers allow you to stream music from a smart device and generally use an app for added functionality like hands-free controls or digital equalizers.
  • Wakeboard Tower Speakers 
    Wakeboard tower speakers are the best option for people who like to waterski or any other activity around the boat as it allows for directional audio that can be heard over the boat and over a distance.
  • Portable Boat Speakers
    The most significant advantage of a portable boat speaker is the ability to move the music with you around the boat and even take it onshore afterward, though they do often require some type of battery.

Marine Speaker Sizes

When trying to find the right speaker size for your boat, the best method is to look at the factory-installed speakers. These are designed with the boat's size, battery, and layout in mind, so when upgrading from a factory system, it is often best to stick with that size.

If you are looking for more volume or a broader frequency range, you can look to increase the size of your speakers, but that will require some work to redo the mounting when increasing from the factory speaker size.


Installing Marine Speakers

Upgrading your boat speakers is certainly within the wheelhouse of an experienced DIYer, and those familiar with basic wiring concepts should have no problem swapping out speakers of the same size as their factory-installed speakers.

When moving up or down sizes, a few more tools are necessary like a saw, but in general, most installations will require a screwdriver, drill, pliers, and the cables need for connection. Sonic Electronix provides a great how-to guide here for flush-mount speakers, and Crutchfield has some helpful tips on how to install your wakeboard tower speakers.


Marine Speakers: Things to keep in mind

Replacing Factory installed speakers

When replacing factory installed marine speakers on your boat, it is important to note the wattage of the current speakers and how much power your battery can push to the speakers.

You will want to purchase speakers that can either work with your current set up or look into an external amplifier if you are looking at speakers that require more power than your boat currently provides. Take care also to note how the speakers were mounted and connected throughout the boat to make sure you know what you will need to install the new speakers.

Making sure new speakers will fit

To ensure a good fit for new speakers, you will want to note how the factory speakers were installed by looking at the screw hole locations, any additional mounting hardware, how the wires ran into the speaker, and the depth behind where the speaker will be mounted. Even though two speakers may be the same size, one may require additional mounting depth or extra open-air space behind it to make the most of its system.

Checking wires for corrosion

As with anything that is exposed to harsh elements and the outdoors, it is essential to check the condition of each part of the speakers but pay extra attention to the wires. If there was a leak or an improper seal on the speaker, you might notice corrosion on the wires, which can lead to mechanical failure or even shock or fire, depending on the severity.

Replace any wires that look like they may have corroded and, if necessary, seek professional help with installing or running new wires to ensure safety.

Pairing your speakers with compatible amp

For those really looking to make waves with their new speaker system, an external amplifier can be added to a speaker system to provide extra power. The first thing to note about picking out an amplifier is the power output of the amplifier and the power rating of the speakers it will be connected to.

If you exceed the power rating of your speakers, you run the risk of distorted audio and damage to the speakers leading to early failures. You should also note how the amplifier connects to a speaker and that it is the same set up that your speaker is designed to handle.


Accessories for Marine Speakers


Frequently Asked Questions

How do marine speakers work?

Marine speakers are similar to any other speaker, except they must be built to withstand water, salt, heat, and UV to a certain degree to qualify as marine certified speakers.

What determines the sound quality of marine speakers?

Several factors determine sound quality, but the important ones to focus on are the power rating, sensitivity, and impedance.

Where is the best location to place these boat speakers?

Generally, the cabin of the boat is the best place for boat speakers at is usually enclosed and less prone to outboard noises.

How do I know if my speakers are waterproof?

Speakers must be verified as either waterproof or water-resistant to be marketed as such, and the manufacturer specifications should indicate whether or not they meet qualifications.

What are the loudest speakers on our list?

The wakeboard tower speakers are the loudest speakers on our list, cranking out at 280 watts.


Conclusion

When you are out on the water and need to dive into some music, the JL Audio M770-TCX are the speakers that will hit every audio itch. With a great frequency range, power rating, and sensitivity rating, you can be sure that your music will sound great, clear, and the speakers will last for many more trips to come.

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