Life on the sea can be truly spectacular, but you have to admit that it can get boring at times. Sure, you like the quiet, the fact that you are far away from people, the fishing, but at some point, you need some noise. What is the best way to achieve that? Install a marine stereo on your boat.
EnrockMarineBundle New Kenwood Marine Stereo
access the music on your phone, iPod, or other portable device
it will withstand the sometimes-harsh marine environment
water resistant radio shield
Kenwood KMR-D365BT Marine Stereo
featuring AM/FM tuner, iPhone/iPod direct connect control
waterproof 5inch 2-Way Speaker with Integrated Grill/Frame
30 Money Back Hassle Free Guarantee
Fusion MS-RA205 Marine Stereo
AM/FM/VHF/USB/iPod/ iPhone/AUX/Sirius XM-Ready
NMEA 2000 Certified, FUSION-Link Enabled
IPod & iPhone video playback
Why not a regular stereo?
Let’s just say that a marine stereo has to suffer through a lot of abuse. And by abuse, I mean violent UVs, extreme temperatures, humidity, and salt. A regular stereo will sink pretty fast, pun intended. The stereo you have in your car is away from all those conditions, so it will do just fine. But put the same stereo on your boat, and you will soon be compelled to buy another one.
All electronics that must survive marine life are put to really rough tests. They are placed in ultraviolet chambers to see if they can survive years of sun exposure. They are even tested in special salt fog chambers to simulate the exposure to a salty environment. They are also designed to be waterproof (of course), and their circuits are coated against corrosion. So yes, there is a big difference between a regular stereo and a marine one.
10 Tips for choosing the best marine stereo
Over the years people learned a lot about marine gear. Some of them suffered for it, and some of them were lucky enough to be told to go the other direction. That is why I put together a few tips that will help you make the right decision. So you won’t pay for something that is not worth it.
- If the title contains the word “marinized,” run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. The products that are marinized are just regular stereos that have a spray-coated circuit. Boaters have taken the bait for years until they realized they bought the wrong thing. I can guarantee that such a product will not last very long. Soon enough you will be looking again for a marine stereo.
- If possible, install the head unit belowdeck. You only need a waterproof remote at the dash. As you may realize, all those harsh conditions I mentioned above are less rough below. It will extend the life of your stereo. The remote may need replacing, though.
- IPX ratings are super important. Although you may install the stereo below deck, marine life will not be stopped by a door. The moist environment will have its saying in the matter. Which is why you should look for a stereo that has an IPX rating of at least 6. If you find and can afford an IPX rating of 7, then you can relax and enjoy the music. For a very long time.
- Don’t even think about CDs or, God forbid, MP3s are the best way to go. Fortunately, connectivity is not an issue with today’s music players. You can connect devices such as your phone, iPod, or any other MP3 player via Bluetooth or AUX cords. Anything but the first two options. A built-in radio is not a bad idea, but the signal will be poor at sea.
- If the stereo had a case in which you can place your music device, that would be great. The surrounding environment is harmful, especially for devices that use a jack for connectivity. But if you put the device somewhere in an enclosed space near the stereo, your music player will be safe from corrosion. Trust me, you don’t need exposure.
- As you may well be aware of, acoustics on a boat are not so great, to say the least. They actually suck. Which is why I recommend a stereo that comes with a subwoofer. Install it, and you will see the difference. When you are on the move, the noise produced by the wind will cancel out all sounds, especially your music. But a subwoofer will deliver those subtle vibrations that will penetrate the fiberglass itself, whether you are on the move or not.
- Don’t use conventional wiring. The reasons are obvious, don’t you think? It will corrode in no time due to moisture and salt. Instead, use tinnedcopper marine cable, just as you did with all the electrical gear you have on board.
- Go for a powerful stereo. If something is okay on land, it will fail at sea. Miserably. Double the watts if you can, peak as well as RMS (continuous). Only then you will be satisfied with the sound.
- Enclosed speakers are your best option. I don’t know if you know this, but the space behind the speaker has a true saying in how it sounds. I am talking here about flush-mounting in the inwales or console. The quality of the sound will be horrible if you choose something other than enclosed speakers.
- Last, but not least, save the Even the best products fail at times, so make sure you are prepared.
I hope you learned something about marine stereos today. My sole purpose is to help you make an informed decision. Don’t let anything trick you, not even a perfect salesman. If you feel that my ten tips are a bit too much or exaggerated, at least follow these three essential rules. Waterproof devices are the best thing you can bring on a boat (I believe this to be a no-brainer).Conventional electronics don’t survive through strong UV lights like the ones you have at sea. Everything you have on a boat must be protected against corrosion. If you make a purchase keeping at least these rules in mind, you should be okay. Oh, and the marinized thing is as important. I mean it, don’t fall for that one.
What are the best marine stereos?
The ones that meet the criteria above. Just kidding, it’s a tough answer to give. I must admit that there are many marinestereos out there that meet the standards of quality you are looking for. Some of them are better than the others, but the secret is to do your homework. Read about them, do your due diligence to make and informed decision. The rest should be easy. Here are three suggestions that I believe rise up to your expectations.
EnrockMarineBundle New Kenwood Marine Stereo
The manufacturer has quite the generous offer at a very affordable price. You will receive the stereo that can be connected to your iPod or iPhone, and you can use any device that connects through a USB cable. The stereo also has an AM/FM radio receiver, just in case you get bored with your music and have a good radio signal. You also receive a weather shield and an Enrock rubber mast radio antenna.
This stereo is pretty powerful. You will be very satisfied with the sound. It provides a 200 watts peak, which is perfect for the marine environment. It is compatible with devices enabled with Pandora, I Heart Radio and other applications. The design is simple. The unit comes with a digital clock, colorful LCD display, and a dimmer function.
As I said, you can connect the unit to virtually anything. It will survive anything that marine life has to throw at it. However, it is not designed only for boats. It comes with 4 deep chassis that makes this stereo ideal for any vehicle where a regular music player is not a real option. I am talking here about yachts, ATVs, UTVs, trucks, etc. The Scosche weather shield has been tested to withstand harsh marine life. Everytime the cover is down, together with the gaskets that are positioned in the front and rear of the base plate, they form a seal which will provide the ultimate protection. Despite the cover, the stereo is easy to control. Your access is not restricted.
This unit includes a flexible mast antenna with an 180ºswivel base which will increase mounting options. Corrosion is off-limits. Nothing will affect its integrity. In case you are not satisfied with the product, the manufacturer will provide a full refund. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
Kenwood KMR-D365BT Marine Stereo
Kenwood has a long history of manufacturing high-quality audio systems. It didn’t take long until they released marine stereos. And they are pretty good at it. In the package, you will receive a stereo that as a CD/MP3/WMA player that is SiriuXM Radio Ready, four Magnadyne AquaVibe outdoor waterproof speakers, and a Pyle PLMRCB1 Black Marine waterproof cover. You have everything you need to listen to some high-quality music.
Connectivity is easy. You can pair the stereo with your iPhone or iPad, Pandora Radio and anything else that can be connected through a USB or AUX cord. It doesn’t really matter what the source of the music is, this stereo will handle it. It has an ID-3 tag display, so you’ll know what is on. All the circuits are protected from dust and moisture by a conformal coating. This unit will successfully survive marine life.
The speakers are superior to most similar products on the market. They are waterproof, they can withstand moisture, high temperatures and elevated levels of ultraviolet lights. The power is 50 Watts per speaker, which means that sound will be just as you expect it.
In order to protect the stereo itself, you must install the receiver cover. It is black, which decreases UV exposure. The flip-up door is easy to handle, you will gain access immediately. The mounting gasket is included in the package. You will receive maximum satisfaction. Otherwise, you will get your money back, no questions asked. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
Fusion MS-RA205 Marine Stereo
Last, but not least, Fusion released this little thing that exceeds all of your expectations.It delivers a powerful, dynamic, and clear sound through the four 50-watt speakers. They are waterproof, in case you were wondering. I think it’s safe to say that everything that is meant for marine life is waterproof. Otherwise, what’s the point?
The unit supports multiple methods of connectivity. You have an AUX cord, a USB cable, plus you can connect it to your phone or other devices using Bluetooth and Sirius. Nothing stops you from connecting the last two at once. The pairing is immediate, and you have full control over what plays. It has an Ipod interface which allows you easy navigation. You can select songs by artist, song, playlist, album, genre, or composer.
The circuits are corrosion-protected. All customers seem to be happy with this product. Don’t let its simplicity deceive you. It will deliver the result you want and more. If not (highly unlikely), there is a warranty that guarantees you will get your money back. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
I must admit that I am a sucker for Kenwood. Even my first car had a Kenwood stereo. And you know what? When everything failed, the radio was still working perfectly. Because of that and because it presents the best features, I believe that the Kenwood KMR-D365BT is the best marine stereo you can get in this price range. They always manufactured affordable stereos, but never forgot about quality. Which is in itself an admirable quality.
I bet you didn’t know that things are so complicated with marine stereos. And I don’t mean complicated as in really hard, but different than you might have expected. It’s true that they have to withstand harsh conditions, but if you make the right choice, you won’t even have to think about it too much. That is until you buy the next one. Remember that nothing can prepare these devices for the marine environment. No matter the quality or the rating. Sooner or later, you still have to purchase a new stereo. But place your bet on high-quality, and it will be later. Click here to buy on Amazon