- The Skar Audio SK65MB marine-grade speakers have a peak power of 320 watts and deliver balanced and clear sounds.
- The Pyle PLMRKT9 speakers have built-in Bluetooth with a range of up to 50 feet and a compact, flush mount design.
- The Rockford Fosgate M2-8HB speakers have an IP67 rating, customizable RGB colors, and deliver crisp and accurate sound.
- The Herdio HOS-501W speakers have a wall-mounted design, an IPX7 rating, and output crisp, clear sounds.
- The Polk Audio DB522 speakers have a stylish look, a flush mount design, and provide crisp and accurate sounds.
While there are plenty of outdoor and waterproof speakers out there, not all are suitable for boats. The best marine-grade speakers should be able to perform exceptionally well in the open while withstanding the harsh environment they’ll be in.
Finding a pair of speakers that can pass these tests is challenging, but you have options. To avoid losing time comparing IPX ratings and specs, check our ranking for the best marine-grade speakers for boats you can buy this year.
- #1 Best Overall: Skar Audio SK65MB
- Best Bluetooth Marine Speakers: Pyle PLMRKT9
- Best RGB Speakers: Rockford Fosgate M2-8HB
- Best Wall Mount Speakers: Herdio HOS-501W
- Best Budget-Friendly: Polk Audio DB522
#1 Best Overall: Skar Audio SK65MB
The Skar Audio SK65MB is the best pair of marine-grade speakers to buy if you want to replace crappy OEM speakers or upgrade the sound in your boat.
Despite their small size, these speakers are capable of some serious power output. Each unit can reach a peak power of 160 watts (320 watts as a pair), with a continuous power handling (RMS) of 160 watts in total. That’s enough to enjoy crisp, clear sounds while cruising at high speeds.
The sound of wind or waves crashing against your boat won’t dampen the sound, either, but the excellent audio isn’t everything these speakers have got for themselves. They can also withstand the harsh marine environment, meaning you can install them on the deck.
Some unique highlights include the seamless two-way design that delivers more balanced and clear sounds and the marine-grade honeycomb housing designed for maximum volume. The only downside is that they don’t mount perfectly flush.
Check out the Skar Audio SK65MB marine-grade speakers on Amazon.
|A total peak power of 320 watts ensures loud sounds.||It is difficult to mount the speakers flush with the boat’s wall.|
|The two-way design delivers balanced and clear sounds.|
|The honeycomb housing can maximize the volume, improving your listening experience.|
Best Bluetooth Marine Speakers: Pyle PLMRKT9
- 240 watts of peak power handling capacity
- Built-in Bluetooth enables for seamless wireless streaming
- Easy to connect to your on-board stereo components
The Pyle PLMRKT9 is an excellent choice if you need a pair of flush-mount marine-grade speakers that are Bluetooth-enabled.
This pair’s greatest highlight is the built-in Bluetooth that allows for easy wireless audio streaming. The sound quality might not be exceptional, but it is good for the price. As far as Bluetooth is concerned, it has a range of around 50 feet in the open, which is more than enough to stream music from your phone from any part of your boat.
We also like how easy these speakers are to set up. The compact, flush mount design makes it easy to fit these speakers in most pre-existing slots.
The only real downside is the IPX5 rating, which basically means these speakers resist splashes but not constant exposure to a high-moisture environment. While they are still a good purchase for boats, you might want to consider them for the cabin rather than the deck.
Find the Pyle PLMRKT9 speakers on Amazon.
|The Bluetooth has a range of up to 50 feet in the open.||These speakers are only water-resistant, not fully waterproof.|
|The flush mount design is very easy to install.|
|An attractive price point makes these speakers ideal for shoppers on a budget.|
Best RGB Speakers: Rockford Fosgate M2-8HB
- 1,200 watts of peak power handling capacity
- 300 watts RMS capacity
- IP67 certification
- RGB LED lights
The Rockford Fosgate M2-8HB speakers are an excellent choice if you want an audio system that can rock your boat.
While these speakers have a lot going on for themselves, the greatest highlight is the Element Ready design — which basically translates to IP67 certification. You can install the speakers both on the deck and in the cabin and won’t have to worry about exposing them to too much moisture.
Waterproofness aside, we particularly like the bright (and customizable) RGB colors. A remote control, sold separately, allows you to scroll through and choose your favorite from 30 different hues. Alternatively, you can manage the light effects with the RF Connect app.
Beyond aesthetic value, this choice also delivers in terms of sound. The audio is extra-loud, crisp, clear, and accurate. Additional customization options include two grill choices (black or stainless steel, both included in the pack), but you’ll have to pay for all these features. These boat speakers have a hefty price tag.
Check the Rockford Fosgate M2-8HB speakers on Amazon.
|These speakers are truly purpose-built for marine environments and have an IP67 rating.||You can expect a rather hefty price tag.|
|You can customize the speakers with a stainless steel grill if you don’t fancy the standard black option.|
|These speakers have a crisp sound and can liven up your boat with their RGB colors.|
Best Wall Mount Speakers: Herdio HOS-501W
If your boat doesn’t have a built-in audio system, your best option might be the Herdio HOS-501W wall-mount speakers.
Their main advantage is the fact that you won’t have to cut holes or spend hefty sums to integrate flush-mounted speakers in your boat design. The wide base and mounting brackets allow you to place them on a flat surface or hang them on a wall.
The IPX7 rating also makes these speakers as water-resistant as the Rockford Fosgate. Whether you want to place them in the boat’s cabin or on the deck, you won’t have to worry about exposure to moisture or adverse weather.
We’re also happy with the sound quality, but the volume output might be lower than expected. While these speakers are ideal for boats, the sound of the waves and wind might interfere with your listening experience.
Discover the Herdio HOS-501W speakers on Amazon.
|The wall-mounted design makes these speakers ideal for boats with no built-in audio system.||The volume is a bit low.|
|Speed-lock mounting brackets allow for easy, one-handed installation.|
|These speakers output crisp, clear sounds.|
Best Budget-Friendly: Polk Audio DB522
Finding good marine-grade speakers on a budget can be challenging, but the Polk Audio DB522 speakers could meet your needs.
Like most speakers at this price point, this pair is not fully waterproof. However, the IP56 rating is enough to resist splashes, making these speakers ideal for a boat’s cabin. You can also mount them on the deck, as long as you mostly use the boat in freshwater environments.
Sound-wise, you can expect crisp and accurate sounds. The proprietary Dynamic Balance feature reduces distortions while providing a wide sound dispersion.
We also like how stylish these speakers are, while the flush mount increases their aesthetic value. On the downside, the rubber seal designed to keep the water out is not the best out there, so you might think twice before installing them in a location exposed to weather elements.
You can find the Polk Audio DB522 speakers on Amazon.
|These speakers sound great and fit seamlessly in cramped quarters.||The rubber seal designed to keep the water out doesn’t work very well, so you might have to use a sealer to prevent water from getting in.|
|You can enjoy quality sound with no distortion and a pretty high volume.|
|These speakers have a stylish look.|
How to Pick the Marine-Grade Speakers for Boats: Step-by-Step
When buying marine-grade speakers for boats, there are five major considerations for most people.
- Power handling capacity
- Number of drivers
- Water resistance rating
- Speaker type
Let’s see how each of these factors can affect your decision-making.
Power Handling Capacity
The power-handling capacity is the first factor to consider when choosing speakers for your boat—or for any other purposes, as a matter of fact. Things are pretty simple — the more power-handling capacity the speakers have, the better. You should aim for at least 100 watts of peak power per speaker (or 200 watts per pair). The continuous handling power (RMS) is also important. Make sure the speakers are rated for at least as much RMS wattage output as the receiver, or you could blow out your speakers.
Number of Drivers
The next thing to consider is the number of drivers the speakers have. Most marine-grade speakers are two-way or coaxial speakers. These models consist of a woofer that incorporates a separate tweeter and are ideal for most purposes. Their main advantage is the ability to accurately deliver a wide music range while handling high frequencies like champs. Other speaker types include triaxial (three-way) and dual cone speakers. Three-way speakers are your best option if you want additional fullness and realism, but the dual-cone models are the most affordable.
Water Resistance Rating
One of the factors that makes speakers marine-grade is the IP rating. IP stands for ingress protection and determines a product’s resistance to dust and water. Two numbers after the IP letters let you know how vulnerable the product is to either of these factors. The first number refers to the ingress protection against dust, while the second number defines the product’s water resistance. Truly waterproof speakers should have at least an IPX7 rating, as anything below this threshold is merely water resistant. Some IPX5 and IPX6 speakers are advertised as marine-grade, but they only resist splashes and light rain. Speakers with a rating under IPX7 might also be vulnerable to saltwater.
There are two main speaker types — flush mount and wall mount. Flush mount speakers are designed to replace your OEM models, or you can use them to create a custom sound system for your boat. You can install them in cut-out sockets in the walls, ceiling, or floor of your boat, and their main advantage is the streamlined appearance. These speakers are also wired into the boat’s main electric network, so you won’t see any cables floating around the boat. Wall-mounted speakers don’t require a built-in installation, but they are less aesthetically pleasing than the flush-mount models. You might also want to consider whether you need a wireless function. The Bluetooth-enabled models are perfect if you want to stream music from your phone.
Another thing that could make or break the deal is the price. On average, you can expect to spend around $150 on a pair of decent marine-grade speakers. This price point won’t bring any bells and whistles, but you can generally find good options that provide a satisfactory sound experience. More affordable marine-grade speakers exist, but they might be a better choice for your boat’s cabin rather than the deck. If you want a state-of-the-art audio system and bells and whistles, such as RGB lights and an app to control the volume and light effects, you should set aside a budget of at least $500.
What to Know Before Buying Marine-Grade Speakers for Boats
The most important factor to consider when buying marine-grade speakers is the water resistance rating. Beyond the IPX grade, you should also consider what type of exposure the speakers can handle. Most manufacturers tell you whether a specific model can handle salty fog, rain, frequent splashes, and exposure to saltwater. However, you might have to dig for this information, either by reading the product’s manual or contacting the brand’s customer service.
As a rule of thumb, built-in, flush-mount speakers are a better idea for boats than wall-mounted systems. The main advantage of built-in speakers is that they come with rubber seals that keep moisture away from the electric wires and delicate components. Just bear in mind that some seals could do a poor job of preventing water from seeping in, so always make sure the speaker is properly sealed to avoid unwanted problems.
You should also think twice before investing in a pair of cheap speakers. Options priced under $50 typically have low water resistance, can’t handle saltwater environments, and usually have a poor sound output. If you decide to buy a pair of Bluetooth-enabled speakers, consider the wireless range, especially if you want to be able to play music from any corner of a big boat.
Using Marine-Grade Speakers for Boats: What It’s Like
Using marine-grade speakers for boats is like using your car or RV’s audio system. Most boats have control consoles similar to those found in cars, allowing you to play music from a flash drive or microSD card. You can also use the speakers to listen to the radio, and you can even connect the speakers to a communication system to keep in touch with other boats or the shore.
Bluetooth-enabled marine-grade speakers bring more versatility to the game, allowing you to stream music from your phone. Some systems can also handle hands-free calls, even if this feature is not very common on boats. Generally, though, using a boat speaker is the same as using any other audio system.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Rebecca Schwartz/Shutterstock.com.