Best Marine Audio Gear of 2020
Last updated on November 10, 2020
Our picks for this year’s best-of-the-best marine audio equipment.
Rule #1 about buying audio equipment for your boat: if it’s not specifically made for life on the water, do not take it to sea. True marine audio gear is water-resistant, fog-proof, salt-proof and UV ray resistant. Marine receivers or head units come with coated circuit boards that don’t rust, rubber caps to cover all open inputs, and gasket sealed covers for all controls, knobs, and end caps. Marine speakers and subwoofers are built with plastic cones and rubber surrounds and come with weather-resistant mounting hardware. Anything less than true, marine-grade audio gear, and you’ll be tossing it before the season’s over. Rule #2: unless you own your own cruise ship, smart and efficient use of cabin space is critical, so look for an audio system you know will fit… while giving you the best possible bang for the buck.
Below are our picks for the best of the best by category, as chosen by experts - one of whom is both a life-long sailor and a recent inductee into the Consumer Technology Hall of Fame: our own founder, Bob Cole. So… you ready? Let’s shove off…
Questions along the way? Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and talk to one of our audio technicians at 1.866.961.7781 or email us here. We love this stuff and want to help.
Here is the Best Marine Audio Gear of 2020:1. The Best-Sounding 6-1/2" 2-Way Coaxial Marine Speakers: Infinity Kappa 6120M
2. The Best Fully-Loaded Single-DIN Marine Stereo: Sony MEX-M100BT
3. The Best Monoblock Marine Subwoofer Amplifier for Boats: Kicker 45KMA600.1
4. The Best Value 10” Marine Subwoofer for Boats: Kicker 45KM104
5. The Best Value 12” Marine Subwoofer for Boats: Kicker 45KM122
6. The Best Loaded Subwoofer Marine Enclosure for Boats: JL Audio M68FESGWCG
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Regular Price: $399.95
Save: $50.00 (13%)
#1. The Best-Sounding 6-1/2" 2-Way Marine Speakers: Infinity Kappa 6120m 6-1/2" 2-Way Marine Speakers w/ RGB Illumination - Pair
Why it won
If your boat is your home away from home and you’re looking to get some better sound to make those voyages even more enjoyable, you have to check out Infinity’s Kappa 6120M 6-1/2” 2-way marine speakers. These speakers are designed to handle the rough life out on the water (heat, moisture, salt, UV, etc.) without breaking a sweat, all the while handling up to 100 watts of continuous power being thrown their way. You can expect stellar sound quality and fantastic volume potential from these Kappa-series speakers due to their oversized Plus One polypropylene woofers as well as their Mylar tweeters.
Finished with a weather-resistant pair of white grilles, the speakers won’t just sound great, they will look stylish, too! Oh, and we’ve saved the best for last: the speakers also feature RGB LED lighting so you can customize them to match your existing lighting plan or come up with a unique color combination!
Size (in inches): 6 1/2" | Power Handling: 100 watts RMS, 300 watts peak | Sensitivity: 92dB | Frequency Response: 40Hz - 25kHz | Impedance: 3 ohms
Reg Price: $399.95
#2. The Best Fully-Loaded Single-DIN Marine Stereo: Sony MEX-M100BT Marine CD Receiver with Bluetooth & SongPal
Why it won
If you’re looking for a high-performance stereo meant to deal with the rigors of boat life, look no further than Sony’s MEX-M100BT marine-grade CD receiver. Packed to the gills with features and ready to tackle the open waters, you’ll be thrilled with the looks and performance of this stereo. Like what kind of features, you might be asking? Well, besides the onboard CD player and AM/FM tuner, the MEX-M100BT boasts Bluetooth for hands-free calling as well as audio streaming, USB and auxiliary inputs for connecting your favorite audio devices (think iPhones, iPods, Android smartphones, etc.), and SiriusXM compatibility (optional tuner and subscription required).
If you’re planning to make this marine receiver the cornerstone of an awesome sound system, it has 5-volt front, rear, and subwoofer outputs for additional external amplification. And speaking of amplifiers, you should take note that this Sony has a strong Class D amplifier built-in, capable of 40 watts per channel of continuous power output, which will power just about any pair of marine-grade speakers with ease.
Rounding out the feature list of the MEX-M100BT are easy-to-see buttons and a large volume knob for quick and convenient control of your music. The radio’s lighting can be changed to match the existing lights in your boat or you can use the onboard Sound Synchronization to have the lighting change to your music.
Inputs: USB (Front), AUX (Front) | Internet Connectivity: Bluetooth®
Reg Price: $269.99
#3. The Best Monoblock Marine Subwoofer Amplifier for Boats: Kicker 45KMA6001 Monoblock 600-watt Marine Amplifier
Why it won
The marine-grade 45KMA600.1 from Kicker is a monoblock (single channel) amplifier designed to thrive in the severe environment that a boat can (and will) present. Its Class D architecture keeps the chassis compact, so it will tuck away in a cabinet somewhere on your craft, and running coolly throughout your voyage.
This little monster is capable of pushing out a remarkable 600 watts at 2 ohms (400 watts at 4 ohms), so it can provide enough horsepower to drive just about any subwoofer you have (or are going to get). In case of exposure to moisture, rest assured this amplifier can handle it. There is a conformal coating on the internal printed circuit board (PCB) as well as corrosion-resistant connectors at the power and RCA inputs in addition to the speaker outputs. The onboard tuning knobs and switches are concealed and protected behind a cover plate that contains a rubber gasket to repel against water intrusion. Kicker designed this amplifier for marine use, yes, but they also designed it for years of enjoyment. So what are you waiting for?
Watts: 400 watts at 4 ohms, 600 watts at 2 ohms | Dimensions (in inches): 2-5/16H x 7-1/8W x 8-1/16L
Reg Price: $349.95
Why it won
If you’re looking to take your boat’s audio to the next level, you have to check out the 45KM104 10” 4-ohm marine-grade subwoofer from Kicker. What makes a subwoofer marine-grade you might be asking? A bunch of things. For example, the polypropylene woofer cone repels water easily enough, as does the hardy rubber surround that connects the woofer cone to the chassis of the subwoofer. The motor structure is completely encased as to avoid accidental contact with water, too. Lastly, the terminals (where the speaker wire connects from the attached amplifier) are completely covered by a removable cover.
One must remember that water isn’t the only obstacle that speakers/subwoofers have to be wary of when they reside on a boat: UV light from the sun and salt can be just as detrimental as water, but Kicker thought of this and the materials used (like that polypropylene and rubber materials mentioned earlier) help ensure that you receive the best-possible sound for a long time. This subwoofer is best suited with about 250 watts of continuous power and in a sealed enclosure that measures approximately 1.00 cubic feet of internal volume (or a vented enclosure with 1.25 cubic feet of internal volume). The 45KM104 doesn’t require a lot of power or a lot of room to make one heck of an impact on your audio system! Looking for a free air 10” subwoofer instead? Check out Kicker’s 45KMF104.
Woofer Size (in inches): 10" | Power Handling: Up to 250 watts RMS, 500 watts peak | Frequency Response: 30Hz –500kHz | Impedance: 4 ohms
Reg Price: $199.95
Why it won
Kicker’s 45KM122 12” 2-ohm marine-grade subwoofer is the perfect addition to any boat’s audio system. The polypropylene woofer cone is married to the chassis of the speaker via a durable rubber surround. Both materials were specifically called out because they do quite well in the harsh marine environment which includes, but is certainly not limited to, water, UV light, salt, and fog exposure. You want to be sure that if you’re going to be adding something to your boat that it’s designed to last in this atmosphere and the Kicker 45KM122 certainly can! The encased motor structure and terminal areas also help improve the longevity of the subwoofer, too.
When it comes down to power handling, this Kicker subwoofer handles up to 300 watts continuously and requires a sealed enclosure of around 1.25 cubic feet of internal volume or a vented enclosure of around 1.75 cubic feet of internal volume. You’re going to be thrilled with what this subwoofer adds to your favorite tracks and it will keep bumping all day and all night! Looking for a free air 12” subwoofer instead? Check out Kicker’s 45KMF122.
Woofer Size (in inches): 12" | Power Handling: Up to 300 watts RMS, 600 watts peak | Frequency Response: 30Hz –500kHz | Impedance: 2 ohms
Reg Price: $229.95
#6. The Best Loaded Subwoofer Marine Enclosure for Boats: JL Audio 8" 4-Ohm Marine Enclosed Subwoofer System
Why it won
If you don’t want to be bothered by cutting a hole to fit a subwoofer somewhere in your boat, JL Audio’s M6-8FES-Gw-C-GwGw-4 might be the answer to your dilemma. This slick, gloss white enclosure not only looks at home on any boat, it also houses an 8” marine-grade subwoofer that can handle up to 200 watts of continuous power being thrown its way. Measuring about 15”W x 14-1/2”H x 10-1/2”D, it’s sure to fit just about anywhere you have a little bit of unclaimed room.
A stylish, yet sturdy, gloss white grille protects your investment from accidental harm. The enclosure that JL Audio built for this subwoofer system is tuned for the open-air environment that boats present. The enclosure’s finish, like the subwoofer itself, is designed to stand up to the water (salt or fresh), UV light, salt, and fog that is present out on the water. Rest assured that JL Audio wants you to enjoy this subwoofer for as long as you own that boat (and maybe even the next boat, too!).
Reg Price: $719.99
One more thing...
Once you pick out your marine audio gear, a last word of advice: buy from a trusted dealer, and the more experience / the longer the track record, the better. A good dealer will take care of you in the event anything happens. (See our “Happiness Guarantee,” right here.)
Speaking of trusted dealers…
World Wide Stereo is home to some 90+ industry-leading audio/video professionals who love what they do, and talking about it, too. We opened our doors in 1979, gained a small yet diehard following, won a slew of national awards for everything from killer car audio installations to customer service, grew the business online… and today we enjoy a faithful following of like-minded TV-watching, music-listening, gear-loving defenders of fun for the whole family. Our only rule: no one leaves unhappy. And P.S.: we’re brutally honest when it comes to this stuff. Want to know if something is as good as advertised - even if you're shopping somewhere else? Call us or stop by one of our showrooms — we’ll give it to you straight.
Until next time: turn the music up, have fun, and be safe – make sure everyone has a life jacket – including the dog!