Believe it or not, there are as many kinds of boaters as there are different types of boats, and this means many different personalities with equally diverse musical tastes.
Marine-oriented audio systems, while not as popular as sound systems for automobiles, have nevertheless become a hot commodity among boating enthusiasts, and as such this guide reflects some of our best-rated marine speakers in various categories.
Table of Contents
- Marine Speakers We Recommend
- How to Choose Marine Speakers
- Concluding Thoughts
Marine Speakers We Recommend
Alpine SPS-M601W 6-1/2-inch Marine Speaker
With a legendary name in mobile audio already in its corner, Alpine rocks the marine sound world with its SPS-M601W, a six (6)-and-a-half-inch speaker that boasts a 7/8-inch titanium/PEI balanced-dome tweeter, silver UV-resistant grilles, and high-temperature ABS custom frames.
Power handling is rated at two to 35 watts RMS/110 watts peak, and the speaker’s frequency response runs from 60 to 22,000Hz.
The grilles, in particular, are ideal for shielding your speakers from any splashing water – a vital element when considering any marine audio product.
What’s more, your music will come through crisp and clean in order to overcome the harsh acoustic conditions of a boat environment, thanks to a generous 89dB sensitivity of the SPS-M601.
Included in the box are two 10-foot lengths of speaker wire (each with female quick-slides on one end and bare wire on the other), eight 1-1/8-inch stainless steel mounting screws, eight-speed clips, cutout template, online product registration information, and warranty information.
Kenwood was once a force to reckon with in the home hi-fi sector, what with its legendary amplifiers, receivers, CD players and equalizers. In more recent years, the company has decided to focus its efforts on the mobile and marine audio markets, and the result has been some of the most sought-after car stereo head units, speakers and amps amongst both enthusiasts and serious soundoff competitors.
Into the marine sound arena comes Kenwood’s KFC-1653MRW, quality 6.5-inch two-way speakers that boast a water-resistant PP cone woofer, one-inch balanced dome tweeter, a four (4)-ohm impedance for installation flexibility and a frequency response of 60Hz to 20,000Hz.
Kenwood specifically designed its marine speakers to bring power and precision to a boat’s system, with the 1653MRW capable of handling up to 50 watts RMS and 150 watts peak. Whether you’re out on the waves or relaxing in a space at the marina, these speakers will shrug off the harmful effects of water, salt and sun, what with their white UV-resistant grilles, composite speaker baskets, and stainless steel hardware.
In the box with the speakers, you’ll find 12 1-1/8-inch stainless steel mounting screws, 12 stainless steel speed clips, warranty information and specifications/template on the box itself.
A great alternative to the Polk Audio DB652, these 6.5″, coaxial marine speakers are well worth a look. If not for the great audio, then for the delightful accessories integrated with your speaker system.
The speakers have built-in LED lights, that have a range of about 20 colors. These can be easily changed by remote control. For an evening out on a boat, the combination of music and lighting sets the aura to your mood or liking.
Grilles can be customized according to the installation site. The two options, charcoal or white can match most environments. The grille also has an integrated system that drains moisture away from the speakers. A molded injection cone with a UV treated Santoprene surround, these speaker manages to remain weatherproof.
The Kicker speakers are fitted with titanium tweeter dome. Titanium domes, unlike silk domes, allow highs and midrange sounds to be ‘bright’. It can also be turned up too high volumes without much distortion, unlike their counterparts, silk domes.
As for their performance, the peak is at 195 watts, with RMS power at 65 watts and an impedance of 4 watts. It might also be important to note that the lows could be deeper. They tend to be a bit outmatched by the lows and mids.
Polk Audio DB652
If you are considering upgrading full range or old OEM speakers, the 6.5″ Polk Audio DB652 offers an affordable alternative. The DB range of speakers is well renowned for its dynamic, high-performance sound.
Probably the most versatile listed speaker set, the Polk Audio DB652 is built for both vehicles and marine vessels. The speakers are IP55 rated, meaning their seal keeps water and dirt out. The tweeter is also set deep to the speaker flush when installed.
With a plastic grille, chances of corrosion are kept low. As with other speakers on the list, it too is UV, salt-fog and humidity tested. Furthermore, the cone is made from polypropylene, which makes it UV tolerant and waterproof.
Polypropylene keeps your speaker looking polished at all times by reducing susceptibility to degradation and discoloration. Each speaker is also equipped with stainless steel mounting hardware. This goes a long way in keeping the back of your speaker safe from outer surrounds.
A maximum output of 300 watts and 100 watts RMS is more than sufficient for most scenarios. Coupled with its high-performance sound range, there is little to complain about. The non-resonant materials keep performance efficient with little to no distortion.
Sony XS-MP1611 6.5-inch Dual Cone Marine Speaker
When budget is a concern, we recommend Sony’s XS-MP1611 dual cone marine speakers, which come fully loaded with UV coating and water resistance elements for marine applications. The 1611s can be front or rear-mounted and include a removable grille that can be painted; what’s more, these speakers can handle 65 watts RMS and 140 watts peak.
When it comes to marine speakers, we here at 99carstereo understand that great sound is only part of the equation – they need to stand up to the extremes of the marine environment. With the XS line, Sony includes polypropylene woofers and tweeters to ensure music always sounds the way it was designed to, even when you crank the volume.
Plus, they’ll sound great for years of boating thanks to salt water-resistant, UV-protected components that can withstand briny spray and broiling sunlight.
In the box, you’ll find two white grilles, eight 1-1/8-inch screws, 10 white plastic screw head covers, installation instructions, warranty information and a template on the box itself.
This is a marine speaker from Pyle that is completely waterproof and can be used in several different applications, mainly due to its ability to withstand heavy water splashes and other outdoor conditions.
With a 20-ounce circuit magnet, these full-range speakers can take 150 watts of power peak and 75 watts continuous, and boast a frequency response of 80Hz to 18kHz and a four (4)-ohm impedance.
Constructed with a low-profile design with a one-inch aluminum voice coil perfect for boats, marine watercraft, and other vehicles, these Pyles are easy to install, and the company makes it even more intuitive by including complete wiring diagrams, mounting hardware and more in the box.
As part of the Hydra Series, Pyle’s PLMR60W features a built-in molded grille that adds another layer of protection against the elements – to say nothing of the inevitable bumps and scratches that result from in-boat frolicking.
The one-inch polymer cone tweeter takes care of the high end of your music, while the molded ABS plastic basket helps keep things distortion-free.
Fusion Electronics MS-FR6021
The modern, sleek looking, Fusion Electronics MS-FR6020 come in at a close second (these are 6″ not 6.5″). Extensively tested, these speakers bear an IP65 rating. In simpler terms, the speakers are built to be dust and waterproof.
As such, they can be comfortably be installed on a boat or marine vessel. With a non-industrial look, they are suitable for blending in with neutral environments. Their small size adds to this fact. The range comes in a choice of two colors, midnight black, and ice white.
At 6″ in diameter, they are truly compact. Additionally, they have a 3″ installation depth. In its miniature-sized housing are the speaker’s magnet, crossover, and tweeter. The grille on the front keeps the speaker’s elements secure from knocks and keeps it properly rigid.
Holding the grille in place is a central core titanium tweeter speaker. Additionally, this protects the high-pass crossover components.
The company’s CURV technology enables the creation of composite cones. This makes the speakers produce dynamic sound ranges with superior output while keeping the speaker abrasion-resistant and particularly tough. CURV technology is also responsible for keeping the speaker light.
JL Audio M650-CCX-CG-WH
Not to be left out of our list, this top of line 6.5″ marine speaker pair, has a 2-way cockpit coaxial speaker system. Unlike the metallic domes used by some of the speakers above, the JL audio speakers come equipped with silk domes. These have better performance for mid to low ranges.
A low excursion woofer design and efficient power management, guarantee the speaker’s great output. In comparison, this would probably the heaviest set in the list. For its mica-filled polypropylene woofer, the speaker compromises on weight, but more than makes up for it in sound quality. It’s 1″ tweeter keeps the highs crisp and clear.
Just like most of the marine speakers above, it has a 4 Ohm impedance. Though they can be operated with as low as 25 watts, it is recommended by the manufacturer that one uses 75 to 150 watts per channel. With its 2-way crossover cleverly concealed in its protective casing, additional boxes to hide the crossover hardware becomes unnecessary.
For most outdoor activities that require sound, whose enjoyment can only be impeded by weather elements, the range of speakers listed above are fit for the job. Open boats, motorbikes, ATV vehicles would do well to install any of these pairs.
Boats, however, would benefit the most. The salty air, humid or wet conditions they operate in, would corrode most speakers available on the market. Specialized materials keep these speakers going for a long time.
The only compromise when compared to ordinary, non-weatherproof speakers, is that they are a bit heavy. This is, however, a small price to pay for the performance given.
How to Choose Marine Speakers
Much like with home theater and mobile audio systems, speakers for a boat are crucial to good sound quality – we’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: What you actually hear, at the end of an audio system chain, is the loudspeakers…not the amps, source or processing equipment.
As such, you need to decide on a couple of things as you’re picking speakers for your boat. First, do you want a box or flush-mounted speakers?
Box speakers are easiest to install and include their own acoustically-designed enclosure, with the advantage being that you don’t need to cut holes in your boat to install them. However, they take up more space, so they may add clutter to your busy deck or cockpit.
Flush-mount speakers, like the ones we featured in this guide, are clean and attractive, fit in tight spaces and can’t interfere with tackle or lines – but, they need a cutout and proper mounting, and without professional help, this can be tricky.
Beyond these factors, you need to consider:
- Number of drivers (two-way/coaxial, three-way/triaxial, dual cone)
- Power handling capacity
- Waterproof capability
- Magnetic shielding and interference
The Benefits/Advantages of Marine Speakers
A quality marine audio system with a great set of marine speakers helps set the mood on the water – whether you’re rocking out to AC/DC or listening to a baseball game.
Beyond that, a boat sound system is built for durability in the marine environment; after all, you don’t want to install a home hi-fi system on your boat, as you’d have to worry about exposure to water and weather.
Marine products are built to withstand salt, water, and sun exposure, with marine speakers boasting stronger grilles to protect them from the wallops of fishing poles, skis, tackle boxes and whatever else may smack into them.
Attributes That Differentiate Marine Speakers
- Quality marine speakers make a big difference in terms of sound.
- Durability, because a boat’s speakers take a lot of abuse from water and weather.
- The biggest difference between the myriad of marine speakers out there is build quality; the best manufacturers will build their speakers using heavy-duty elements that are tough enough to survive in this environment.
- Since they have a lot more to overcome compared to car speakers, marine variants need to pump over the engine noise, wind, waves, seagulls and other boats…and as such, they need to be powerful enough to cut through all that residual interference with volume and clarity.
Precautions Regarding Using Marine Speakers
Here’s the primary thing we can say about this matter: Car speakers using drywall screws do not belong in boats – marine-specific speakers designed to operate in these harsh environments work best in a boat.
This video created by a retailer out of Erie, Pennsylvania explains just how different these types of speakers are from one another.
The Alpine SPS-M601W is Our Pick for many reasons, starting with the fact that you can enjoy legendary Alpine sound in your boat.
Compared to the more budget-oriented selections in our roundup, Alpine’s marine speakers will provide you the peace of mind knowing your music is fully protected from the elements – indeed, the SPS-M601W’s grilles meet ASTM D4329 testing standards for UV resistance to prevent discoloration. They also meet ASTM B117 testing standards for salt spray and fog exposure to protect against corrosion.
The bottom line here is those marine environments are harsh, and audio systems need to be up to snuff in order to survive long-term in them. The Alpine’s poly woofers combine with the 7/8-inch titanium tweeters for accurate reproduction and high-frequency detail, the speakers boasting a frequency range of 50Hz to 20kHz and 89dB sensitivity to ensure you have plenty of power to enjoy quality sound on the waves.
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Last update on 2020-02-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API