How to find the Best Marine Stereo System for your Boat
There are few things more relaxing and pleasurable than owning a boat and taking it out for a ride. Many boat owners rave about how therapeutic being out on the water can be and how it lowers their level of stress after a long day at work. What many people do not realize is that all this can be taken a step further. Most boats come with simple factory sound systems but just like when upgrading the stereo system in an automobile, the best marine stereo systems can be bought for a very reasonable price.
Is it worth it to upgrade the marine stereo system in your boat? For most people the answer to that question is a resounding yes, especially if you use your boat mostly for recreational boating and cruising. You most certainly would want to have a good stereo system in a larger boat that you occasionally entertain guests on too. So there are many good reasons as to why you would want to upgrade the marine stereo system on your boat.
BEST Marine Stereo REVIEWS
We took a close look at several different marine stereo systems and these are the four that we liked the best:
- Works well with Duel AMB600w Receiver
- Pioneer DEH-80PRS Mobile CD Receiver with 3-Way Active Crossover Network, Auto EQ and Auto Time Alignment
- Kenwood KMR-D562BT Marine CD/MP3 Player – 88 W RMS – iPod/iPhone Compatible – Single DIN KMRD562BT
- JBL PRV-175 Marine digital media receiver with built-in Bluetooth
1.Dual AMB600W Marine CD/MP3 Receiver with iPod Control, NOAA and Bluetooth
We were really impressed by this model Marine stereo from the reputable Dual Electronics Company. There really was a lot to like about it. We could tell this unit was sturdily built right out of the package and it had a good looking and nicely designed face on it too.
The lighted front panel features a 16 character LED display. It is very easy to use and the buttons and dials are solidly built. It will help keep you safe as you are boating too with its built in tuner that will allow you to receive 7 different NOAA weather bands.
Pros : In terms of the variety of entertainment you can play with this model marine stereo there is a lot of options. You can connect to several different Bluetooth enabled devices, play CD’s, plug in other wired devices and it’s even SiriusXM radio ready too. That is a lot of options for getting the information you want and being able to make a large selection of music choices.
Cons : Were there some things we were not happy about with this model? Well it was not perfect by any means. One thing we were unhappy with is that it was a little confusing when it came to wiring the product. Also it is not compatible with every phone’s blue-tooth capability. So it is a great product but there is always room for improvement.
2. Pioneer DEH-80PRS Mobile CD Receiver with 3-Way Active Crossover Network, Auto EQ and Auto Time Alignment
You don’t get many bigger names when it comes to audio equipment than Pioneer. This really nice marine stereo system is a great example of that. It has many features on it that allow you to input several different types of audio to be played. It will make any boat it’s added to that much more pleasurable to ride around in.
This is a great looking unit that will complement the interior of any boat that it is installed in. It has a matt black finish that is very stylish to say the least. Its lighted readout is very easy to see and the controls on it are very simple to operate.
Pros : This marine stereo system pairs up with Bluetooth equipped audio devices very well and even is compatible with most iPhones too. We thought the sound quality that this unit produces was really incredible too.
Cons : We think this is a great marine stereo system but it is by no means perfect. For one, we thought the volume wheel was very unresponsive because it took so many turns just to move the volume level even a little. The built in microphones on it can really use an upgrade too.
3. Kenwood KMR-D562BT Marine CD/MP3 Player – 88 W RMS – iPod/iPhone Compatible – Single DIN KMRD562BT
Kenwood always seems to be able to produce outstanding stereo products that are very affordable in nature. This very good quality marine stereo system is no exception. It will help liven up the atmosphere on any boat that it’s installed in and it can be used in combination with a very wide variety of input devices.
The unit can play a variety of android and other app equipped devices and is also Bluetooth compatible with just about any portable communication or audio device that you can think of.
Pros : One of the nicest things about this marine stereo is its large display and simple but elegant styling. The faceplate is a dark grey shade that is beautifully complimented by the illuminated blue lettering on the readout.
Cons : There were some things with this Kenwood product that we thought could use a little bit of improvement. One thing you want to make sure of is you do not mount this anywhere it will get even a small amount of sunlight on it because you absolutely will not be able to see the readout. The radio reception on it is not the best either.
4. JBL PRV-175 Marine digital media receiver with built-in Bluetooth
JBL appropriately calls this device a media receiver and it’s a good one. It is by far one of the most compact and most unique marine stereo devices that we took a look at. Just the fact alone that it does not take up much space makes it ideal for installation on any boat. How good this stereo works is another huge bonus on top of that.
This unit’s size makes it ideal for installation on smaller watercraft. It is completely Bluetooth capable and can be used with a variety of different apps that are found on smart equipped devices.
Pros : Installation seems to be easier with this device than some of the other marine stereo units that we took a close look at. It also looks good once it is installed too. You can even hook up an amplifier to this unit if you so choose.
Cons : We did have a few concerns about this product too. One of the things we did not like is we feel there will be some durability issues with the way the control buttons on the unit work. We did notice the unit seems to operate at a very high temperature when used for a long time too.
Marine Stereo BUYING GUIDE
Just like no pair of pants fits two people the same way, so too it goes for marine audio systems. What works great for one person on their boat may be a disastrous fit for someone else on theirs. That is why you just can’t buy the first marine stereo system you come across in the store or when shopping online. You need to get a marine stereo system that is tailored for your individual needs and the way your boat is set up.
Given that fact, here are some of the key components that you need to seriously consider when you are shopping for a marine stereo system for your boat:
Very few of us can shop for products without price being a factor. Fortunately marine stereo systems can be found in a very wide variety of price ranges. That makes it convenient for every shopper to be able to find something that they can afford. That is why a good thing to do before you start shopping for a marine stereo unit is to set a budget for yourself. This budget should include what you are willing and able to spend.
Once you have set a spending range for yourself it will eliminate several model options from consideration so you do not have to waste time checking them out. It will also help you then focus your buying decision on those models that are now left in your set budget range.
We find that as far as marine stereos go there is a direct correlation between price and quality. Usually the higher priced a marine stereo unit is the more features and the better quality product it is too. With that being said, you have to be careful too because there are some real bargains out there in the stereo marketplace if you take the time to look.
- What your boat is used for
One other important criteria that needs to be considered as far as what marine stereo system you will buy is the type of use your boat typically gets. If you use your boat mostly for fishing then you don’t need a marine stereo system that has so much sound power that you can hear it a ways away. You do want a better and more amplified system in a boat that is used solely for entertainment purposes though.
So as you can see matching your boats main uses with the stereo system you decide to put in it is very important. It will also help you to justify the amount of money you spend on a marine stereo. Many people overlook this important characteristic when shopping for marine stereo systems.
- How often you use your boat
The amount of use your boat gets is a very important decision in the marine stereo buying process too. It would be hard to justify putting a $300 plus stereo system in a boat that you only get to use once or twice a year. On the other hand, it is very easy justifying spending that much money in a marine stereo system on a boat that is used several times a week.
So again try to match the cost of the marine stereo system you will buy with the amount of use you will get out if it to.
- Boat size/configuration
Marine stereo systems typically have a limited amount of external speaker connections in the back of them. Some have just one or two speaker connections and others will have more than that. If you have a big boat you will most likely need to add several external speakers so you will need a marine stereo system that is capable of that.
Taking into consideration the layout of your boat is important also. If you have lots of open space on your deck you will not need to have so many speakers in order to carry the sound around your boat. If you have internal cabins and your boat is more compartmentalized, then you will need a more powerful marine stereo system that has the ability to have several external speakers attached to it.
- Blue Tooth capability
The days of inserting CD’s into stereo players are quickly going by the wayside. Most everything done now as far as playing music is accomplished through downloading that music on some type of smart device. That means any marine stereo you buy really needs to have at least a decent Bluetooth capability.
This is pretty much essential for doing such things as playing music that is streamed online and also for playing music that is saved on such playback devices as a blue tooth equipped iPod.
Pay attention also to what types of Bluetooth equipped devices each marine stereo can play. Not all of them can be used with such devices as iPhones and Android based tablets. So try to confirm the marine stereo system you are thinking about buying can handle the playback of the various music storage devices that you own.
- Ease of installation
Marine stereo systems can sometimes to be very difficult for the do it yourself installer. So you will have to decide if you are willing to pay some extra money to have your new system professionally installed or you will try and save some money and do it yourself. If you choose the latter then try and find out some information on how any prospective unit you will buy is installed.
You want to do this because obviously the least amount of headaches you have during a marine stereo installation process the better. It is a simple fact that some brands of marine stereos are much easier to install than others.
Not only should the ideal marine stereo system be easy to install but it should be easy to control too. Nobody wants to read a thick manual in order to learn everything about their new marine stereo system. Try to find one that their controls are laid out in such a way that it makes them very easy to operate and also it only takes a quick glance at a user’s guide to start using them right away.
This is one of the things that people do not take a close enough look at when buying a product and you hear many after purchase complaints about controls and the difficulty in operating a product because of it.
The controls are very important obviously but the display for the stereo unit you will buy is important too. The display should be one that the letters are big enough and clear enough so they can be easily read. You also want the display to be lighted for nighttime use of your marine stereo system.
If you have a display that is difficult to read at night or in the sunlight it can be very frustrating trying to use your marine stereo system under those conditions. That is what makes this such an important buying consideration before you purchase any marine stereo unit.
Ideally you also want a display that is decorative in nature too and will complement the surroundings it is placed in on your boat.
When you are installing a marine stereo system on your watercraft you are putting a stereo system in one of the harshest environments possible. Your stereo system may be subject not only to moisture getting on it or near it but also such corrosive substances as salt and pollution. You need a marine stereo unit that is built as watertight as possible and can stand up to the harmful environment that boats often operate in.
That is why you also want as good of a warranty as possible on any marine stereo system you will buy too. Of course not all of these things will be covered but for most marine stereo products you can go online and view all the details of a products warranty does and does not include. The length of the warranty will also give you a good idea of how well a manufacturer thinks their product is built.
Make a Sound Marine Stereo BUYING DECISION
There is no doubt about it that having the best marine stereo system can really add to your overall boating experience. It can turn the simplest boating trip into a fun filled event that includes swaying and dancing to the music on your new marine stereo as your craft jets across the water.
Many people like to listen to experts like us and we often get asked which of the marine stereo systems that we reviewed do we like best. The answer there is pretty simple. We like the Pioneer DEH-80PRS Mobile Compact Disk Receiver with the three-way active crossover network, the auto EQ system and timed auto alignment. To us it just seemed like it not only produced the best quality sound but also was by far the most versatile unit that we took a look at. Even the installation and the instructions that came with it were very straightforward and easy to follow.
There really is not a bad choice in the models that we reviewed here. All of them tested well and worked really great with most Bluetooth devices. If by chance you don’t like any of the systems we reviewed, then take the time to refer to our handy buying guide when shopping. It will really help you zero in on finding the best marine stereo for your needs. That is a great way to enhance the enjoyment you will have when you are out in the water in your boat.