Best Marine Stereos in 2020 – Experts Reviews, Comparison & Guideline
Have you ever wanted to add a music system into your boat but wondered which type or brand to buy? Maybe you went looking for a marine stereo and the multiple choices available on the market today got you feeling spoilt for choice. Well, worry no more for we’ve got you covered.
We’ve analyzed and reviewed the best marine stereo systems in the market and included a guide on what to look out for when buying a marine stereo. By going through this review and buying guide, you’ll surely stand a chance of investing in a reliable stereo system.
By investing in a good stereo system for your marine vessel, you’ll revolutionize your overall experience and time spent out in the waters. Whether you want to create an atmosphere for boat parties or just unwinding while fishing or taking part in water sports, adding a stereo system will surely make your boating time more enjoyable.
Comparison Table of Top 5 Best Marine Stereos
NOAM NUTV4 [Overall best]
BOSS Audio MGR350B [Best Budget]
Our Review Process
The wide range of marine rated stereo systems available today makes it quite challenging when choosing the best option to buy. If you’re not informed, you might end up investing in a product that’s not ideal for your marine vessel.
However, with thorough research, you can surely make a better choice. That’s why we’ve done a thorough research on the top marine stereo systems and narrowed down to the best 5 options. We gathered recent reports from experts on stereo systems to guide us on the features that a stereo system for the marine environment must have.
In addition, we analyzed experiences from real users on the brands and types they found as most reliable for their marine vessels. They gave us details on what they found great as well as shortcomings of the stereo systems they have ever used.
Upon gathering this information, we’ve been able to review the best 5 marine stereo. With this review, you’ll surely find a great option for your boat.
1. NOAM NUTV4 Overall Best Marine Amp
The NOAM NUTV4 stereo system stands out for its unique Bluetooth remote control. Its remote control is more than a wireless control. You can control your paired device using the remote while streaming music to the stereo. Additionally, you can hookup a 3.55 mm to AUX cable from your phone into the AUX input on the remote control.
Features and Benefits of NOAM NUTV4
Our Verdict: The NOAM NUTV4 has everything you would need in a marine speaker, especially for boat lovers who prefer connecting mobile music devices via Bluetooth to the boat stereo. However, it’s a bit challenging to mount the speakers in some boats. Nevertheless, it’s pricing is great for its features, thus check it out on Amazon.
2. BOSS Audio MGR350B Best Budget
BOSS Audio MGR350B is a combination of a music player and AM/FM radio tuner with support for Bluetooth music streaming. This makes it a great stereo for any boat owner who would want to enjoy boating while listening to their favorite radio station or music.
Features and Benefits of BOSS Audio MGR350B
Our Verdict: If you’re looking for a really affordable, yet fully functional stereo, then consider the BOSS Audio MGR350B. You’ll surely need to buy separate amplifier and speakers, but it has all the key features you would need in a stereo system.
3. Kenwood Marine
Kenwood is known for its great music systems. For instance, the Kenwood Marine is one of a kind stereo for it features everything you would really want in a boat stereo. Its multifunctional support, inclauding support for CDs, dual phone connection and fast USB charging, makes it stand out among its competitors.
Features and Benefits Kenwood Marine
Our Verdict: Boat owners who want to upgrade their older stereo systems or first time stereo buyers would truly find this multifunctional Kenwood Marine as a great choice. Its four powerful speakers speak for themselves and there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t check it out.
4. Clarion CMS2
Tired of searching for a small size marine-rated stereo? Look no further. The Clarion CMS2 is one of the best marine stereo. It stands out from other stereo systems due to its slim, small size and compact design. It can fit on any boat space, thus you’ll not be limited to use it regardless of how little your boat space might be.
Features and Benefits of Clarion CMS2
Our Verdict: Anyone with limited boat space would surely appreciate the compact, small size design of the Clarion CMS2. Although you’ll pay more for this stereo, you’ll surely enjoy the great features that come with it. Thus, consider it in your shortlist.
5. Fusion Entertainment MS-RA70
The Fusion Entertainment MS-RA70 stereo is yet another great and unique marine grade stereo. It comes with a 4 channel, 50 watts amplifier. Thus, you’ll not have to use a separate amp with this stereo. You can simply hookup speakers or a subwoofer to its amp outputs for enhanced sound experience.
Features and Benefits of Fusion Entertainment MS-RA70
Our Verdict: This stereo is a great choice for anyone who wants a marine stereo with an in-built amplifier.Although its USB port is mounted on the rear, it’s still usable with a USB extension cable. Thus, you can consider the Fusion Entertainment MS-RA70 for its great features
Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Marine Stereo
Different stereo systems ideal for the marine environment come with different features. However, some features are a must have. The last thing you would want is investing in a stereo that cannot survive in the harsh sea environment.
With that said, what features should you look for? Read on through this article for the things to consider before buying a marine stereo.
1. Water Proofing
You’ll be using the stereo in an environment full of water and humidity. Rainstorms are also common out in the seas. Thus, you’ll not want to invest in a stereo that can easily allow water into the electronic components. You should rather invest in a stereo that is waterproof for use in your boat.
If the stereo comes with speakers, they should also be waterproof. The casing, control buttons and front panel should be designed to be waterproof such that they don’t allow humidity or water into the internal components.
2. UV Resistance
The sea environment is basically open. Even if your dashboard is protected from direct sunlight, some harmful UV rays may still find their way on the dashboard and they may be harmful to your stereo. Thus, consider investing in a stereo whose LCD display and front panel are specially treated for protection against harmful UV rays.
3. Useful Features
The best marine stereo should come with some of the most useful features. For instance, it should at least support Bluetooth technology. Today, Bluetooth technology is very useful when it comes to music streaming. A stereo with Bluetooth support will allow you to stream music from your smartphone, tablet or even laptop.
Also, a stereo with a USB port for streaming music from flash disks and charging mobile devices such as your smartphone would be a plus. It should support playing music in different formats. If the stereo has an inbuilt amplifier, it’ll also be great. You may also consider a stereo with a CD player, but CDs are somehow becoming outdated.
4. Ease of Installation
Of course, you wouldn’t want to struggle with a stereo that’s too challenging to install. The ideal option is a stereo that’s easy to mount and install. It should also come with an installation kit and appropriate cables for connecting power and speakers.
5. Radio Tuner and Antenna
An ideal marine stereo should come with a radio tuner. Besides listening to music via Bluetooth, CD or USB, you would also want to catch some breaking news from your favorite radio station. A stereo with a radio tuner should also come with a marine rated antenna to receive radio frequencies easily in the harsh sea environment.
6. Front Panel Controls and LCD Display
Ensure the stereo comes with all the necessary controls. It should at least come with controls for power on/off, playing/pausing tracks, skipping tracks and/or radio stations. In case it has an inbuilt amp, it should have controls for balancing bass, fade, treble and other such controls. It’ll be a plus if the stereo comes with a remote control.
Also, ensure the stereo has an LCD display for displaying information about the current track and name of the radio station.
7. Expandability, Inputs and Outputs
Finally but not least, you wouldn’t want to be stuck with a stereo that does not allow you to add extras. For instance, the best stereo should come with outputs for adding extra speakers and amplifier. It should also have the most necessary inputs such as RCA.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: What’s the difference between marine stereo and normal stereo?
Answer: We have received numerous questions on this issue lately. It’s evident that many boating enthusiasts out there think that car stereos are a cheaper and easier alternative to marine stereos. However, it’s inherent to understand that marine stereo systems are designed to withstand the harshest outdoor conditions, a characteristic that car audio equipment lacks. If you try using car stereo on a boat, it won’t last a year. It easily gets damaged by weather elements including salty air, rain, humidity, and splash water. Marine stereo uses circuit boards that have been dipped in liquid resin or plastic. The coating seals everything from air and water.
Manufacturers of marine stereo also examine the circuit boards under UV light. They make sure that the plastic or resin coating doesn’t have any flaws in terms of sealing and waterproofing. That’s why marine stereo can be rained on for years without getting damaged.
Q2: What is the right size of marine stereo for my boat?
Answer: To reduce the hassles of installation work, consider marine stereo with dimensions that match your old stereo’s cutout hole. You will need lesser money, time and effort to install a stereo that fits exactly in the hole left.
If the new marine stereo is bigger than the cutout hole, you will most likely need to pay more to a professional to do the installation. They’ll have to expand the hole for the new stereo to fit. On the other hand, a stereo that is smaller than the cutout hole with require you to use mounting plates and other material that help to support your new marine stereo in the hole. These additional materials increase the total cost of installation.
Q3: How safe is marine stereo from theft?
Answer: Going by current crime statistics, one cannot help but think how frustrating it can be to find audio equipment missing from their boats. As you make up your mind about which marine stereo to settle for, it helps to plan how the unit will be protected from theft by intruders. A removable face panel is a convenient protective feature for boat stereo.
Q4: How can I be sure that a marine stereo has been tested for water penetration?
Answer: All manufacturers of marine stereos claim that their products are weatherproof. This statement only is not enough guarantee that the unit will resist harsh conditions out there. Also, some face panels are UV-resistant but this doesn’t mean the marine audio system is waterproof. The IPX rate is a reliable indicator that the stereo has been proved to be safe for use in marine environments. The rating is given after the unit is checked for weather conditions including sun rays, salt, water, and corrosion.
Q5: What antenna type is best for marine stereo?
Answer: It’s enjoyable to receive news and listen to your favorite radio shows while working or having fun on the waters.
Marine stereo comes with an antenna that picks up radio signals when your boat comes across such signals. Some marine stereos have a global radio tuner, which supports AM and FM radio frequencies from all over the world regardless of your current geographical location. If you need to catch a wider range of radio signals, you can purchase an additional antenna later. Make sure that the cable connector of the new antenna matches the AUX port of the stereo.
Q6: How should I take care of my marine stereo?
Answer: The best way to care for and maintain marine stereo is trying as much as possible to reduce the system’s exposure to external elements like salt water and UV rays. This involves covering the audio system when there is rain. Covering the system also helps to reduce the chances of splash water getting into the inner parts of the stereo. The speakers that work with the stereo system may be spread out to various parts of the boat. Check on them frequently to ensure that they are not getting damaged by various elements.
In conclusion, it’s obvious that different marine grade stereo systems come their own unique features. Each of the stereo systems reviewed here has some unique features that makes it outstanding from the rest. Similarly, these 5 options listed here also come with some minor shortcomings.
Overall, you should go for the stereo that has all the features you want. As long its shortcomings are minor and manageable, you’ll be good to go.Only choose a stereo based on the features it has and not just the price. If you only consider the price, you might end up with a low quality product that will demand replacement sooner. You should try to balance between the price and features without overpaying.
From this review, you’ll surely find the best marine stereo ideal for your boat. With this review and guide, you’ll rest assured of investing in a marine stereo that won’t disappoint.