The 10 Best Marine Stereos

Updated April 26, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

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We spent 44 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. If you demand the same quality of music on your boat as you do in your car or at home, then have a look at these marine stereos. Offering easy installations that will not detract from the look of your dash, they are capable of playing music and podcasts via Bluetooth, USB and MP3 devices, along with FM and AM radio tuners. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best marine stereo on Amazon.

10. Pyle PLRMR27BTB

If you don't have a lot of cash and just really need to get something installed in your boat before your next time fishing with friends, the Pyle PLRMR27BTB can make do. As you should expect from something with such a low price, its sound is just adequate.
  • repeat and random playback functions
  • fader adjustment for dual zone use
  • distortion at high volumes
Brand Pyle
Model PLRMR27BTB
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. Pyle PLCDBT85MRW

The Pyle PLCDBT85MRW offers middle of the road sound, but top of the line value, so if you are a budget-minded consumer, you may want to consider it. With a built-in mic for Bluetooth calling, a CD player, and the four included 6.5-inch speakers, it is hard to ignore.
  • id3 tag support
  • sd memory card slot
  • overall durability is questionable
Brand Pyle
Model PLCDBT85MRW
Weight 13.8 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Jensen MS2ARTL

With lots of connectivity options and the ability to control all the unit's main functions from your smartphone, the Jensen MS2ARTL is a very versatile option that would be a welcome addition to any boat. Its UV-resistant construction ensures it will last a long time, too.
  • standard single-din chassis
  • 160 watts of peak power
  • doesn't include a traditional remote
Brand Jenson USA
Model MS2ARTL
Weight 4 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

7. JVC KDR99MBS

Coming from an extremely well-known and respected company in the audio industry, it is no surprise that the JVC KDR99MBS offers terrific sound and often outlasts many other units. It comes as a bundled kit with a pair of Enrock LED speakers and 50 feet of wiring.
  • smoke colored water-resistant cover
  • pushes out powerful sound
  • backed by a one-year warranty
Brand JVC
Model KDR99MBS EKMR1672W EMC5
Weight 10 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Rockville RGHR2

If you have a large sailboat and need to be able to control your tunes from above and below deck, the Rockville RGHR2 can help. It comes with a wired remote control that has a nearly 33-foot wire and can be wall-mounted anywhere.
  • stores 18 station presets
  • conveniently large buttons
  • efficient power usage
Brand Rockville
Model RGHR2
Weight 3 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

5. Fusion MS-RA205

The Fusion MS-RA205 may look tiny, but that doesn't mean it doesn't offer everything you want and more. It sends clear, distortion-free sound to the speakers and powers up very quickly but, unfortunately, its small size means it requires an adapter for most installations.
  • withstands extreme conditions
  • intuitive menu interface
  • good for atv use as well
Brand Fusion
Model MS-RA205
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

4. Kenwood KMRD372BT

This Kenwood KMRD372BT package is an incredible deal, as it comes with four 5-inch speakers and a head unit cover for the same or less than many other companies charge for just a receiver. It also features a dedicated call answer button and a forward-facing USB port.
  • skip-resistant cd player
  • conformal-coated circuits
  • bright display for daytime viewing
Brand Kenwood
Model KMRD372BT WR65WS PLMRCB
Weight 12.9 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. Infinity INFPRV250

The Infinity INFPRV250 is a compact and lightweight model ideal for smaller vessels. It offers a highly sensitive tuner that picks up a lot of stations, even in areas with bad reception, and dependable Bluetooth connectivity.
  • displays mp3 track information
  • illuminated buttons
  • stands up well to uv exposure
Brand Infinity
Model INFPRV250
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

2. Boss Audio MGR350B

Designed for the music junkie who loves the open seas, the Boss Audio MGR350B has controls for treble, bass, and balance. It supports smartphone and MP3 music playback via aux and USB jacks, and features a round shape that suits classic style boats.
  • doesn't require much dash space
  • multiple preconfigured eq settings
  • picks up european and us frequencies
Brand BOSS Audio
Model MGR350B
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Clarion CMS2

The Clarion CMS2 is a feature-packed option, yet has a streamlined interface that everybody will find simple to use. The control unit is fully waterproof and highly UV resistant, allowing you to install it anywhere on your boat without worrying about it getting damaged.
  • three-line display screen
  • siriusxm capability
  • usb and bluetooth connectivity
Brand Clarion
Model CMS2
Weight 4.5 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Why Boats Require A Marine Stereo

Marine environments are harsh. The combination of sun, saltwater, extreme temperatures, wind, and constant impacts can wreak havoc on sensitive electronics. Unlike marine stereos, standard car receivers aren't built to withstand this kind of abuse. The unique physical make up of saltwater makes it highly conductive to electrical charges. Just a small amount of saltwater inside of a car stereo can quickly cause a short, and possibly a fire. In a boating environment, especially in power boats where the wind and sea spray is more forceful, it is inevitable that saltwater will enter your boat stereo at some point.

It isn't just shorts that are a problem for electronics in saltwater. Corrosion is also a major issue. The combination of saltwater and oxygen can quickly eat away at metals that aren't designed to withstand constant exposure to it. Saltwater corrodes metal five times faster than fresh water. That is why humans have invented marine grade metals, which have special alloying elements added that help to defend against corrosion.

Marine stereos are built with the harsh conditions of the open water in mind. Most will feature a water-resistant faceplate, and many include a water-resistant remote control, as well. As we mentioned previously, though, it isn't a question of if water will get into a marine stereo, but when. Even with a water-resistant faceplate, the combination of wind and sea spray will force water inside of your stereo at some point. This is why manufacturers make marine stereos with circuit boards that are covered with a conformal coating, made from silicone, acrylic, or some other polymer. Because of the flexible properties of these conformal coatings, they can get into all of the nooks and crannies of a circuit board and effectively create a water- and dust-resistant seal.

How To Choose A Marine Stereo

One of the first considerations when choosing a marine stereo must be the size of the existing stereo you are replacing. If you are putting a stereo into a boat that has never had one before and you intend to cut a new hole, this obviously doesn't matter. Most people, however, buy a new stereo to replace a broken our outdated model. In this case, it is important to buy one that fits within the current cutout.

It is important to look at the power specifications of any model, as well. Most boat owners don't plan on using an external amplifier, and expect their head unit to provide enough power to the speakers on its own. Unless you are planning on installing a large, complicated, and high-powered system with sub-woofers and an amplifier, you'll want a model that will push out enough wattage to produce good sound at high volumes.

When reading the specs, you may see either peak power output or RMS. Peak power is the amount of watts a stereo can produce at any given moment. RMS is the average amount of power it can produce over time. Peak power is always higher than RMS. For example, a stereo with 50 watts peak power per channel, will generally have somewhere around 20 watts RMS per channel. Because of this, most manufacturers publish peak power specs, since they sound more impressive. For most users, models that output somewhere between 40 and 60 watts peak power per channel should suffice. Since most head units have four channels, that translates to a total peak power output between 160 and 240 watts.

If you have a large CD library, you would do well to choose a model that has a CD player. With the advent of digital music players, CD players are no longer standard in marine and car stereos, so if this is important to you, double check to make sure the unit you are considering has one. Also, take into account what type of connectivity options you need. There are units available that come with Bluetooth, AUX inputs, USB ports, and SD memory card slots. You can choose one with all of these, or try and save a little cash by choosing a model without any of these features if your budget is tight.

There are a couple of other features to consider, as well. If you have a cabin in your boat and want to be able to control your boat while below deck, or perhaps while fishing at the stern, a model that comes with a remote control will best serve your needs. A unit with oversized keys can be convenient and allow for easier control while cruising at high speeds. Determine your needs first, before making a purchase.

The Difference Between Marine Stereos And Marine Radios

Landlubbers and those new to boating often confuse the terms marine radio and marine stereo. To old sea dogs, the difference may be obvious, but it is not hard to see why it can be misleading for some. It is not uncommon when talking about a car stereo to refer to it as a radio. In fact, the two terms are practically interchangeable.

A marine stereo is used mainly for music playback purposes. Some models may, of course, be used like a speakerphone, if they offer Bluetooth connectivity and have microphone support. Marine radios are devices capable of transmitting and receiving messages. They are used to communicate on set international frequencies, referred to as channels. In the United States, most of these channels fall within the 156 and 174 MHz spectrum. Marine radios can be used to summon help from emergency support services, contact bridge tenders to request an opening, and speak with captains of other vessels or marina personnel. They are also often used to listen to weather and sea reports.

According to United States regulations, only certain types of vessels fall into the compulsory equipped category and are required to have a marine radio on board. These include cargo ships over 300 gross tons, for-hire boats certified by the Coast Guard to carry more than six passengers into the open sea or tidewaters, power vessels over 60 feet in length, uninspected commercial fishing boats, and a few others. Most recreational boats fall into the voluntary equipped category, but despite this, it is still a smart decision to keep a radio on board.


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Last updated on April 26, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.


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