Best Marine Amplifiers- Review and Buying Guide

If you are like most boat owners, you have found yourself asking one, several or all of these questions:

  • Why should I add a marine amplifier to my boat?
  • Which is the best marine amplifier for my boat?
  • How do I choose a marine amplifier?
  • What marine amplifier size do I need for my boat?
  • Does installing a marine amp improve the quality of sound of a marine stereo?
  • Do I need a marine amplifier for marine speakers?

Maybe you have answers to some of these questions. And yet here you are; seeking more understanding of marine amplifiers. You don’t want to take chances when selecting the right amp for your automobile.

Our researchers have spent tens of hours exploring the world ofmarine amplifiers. Now, ready your mind for a deep dive into the ins and outs of this world. This well-researched buying guide for marine amplifiers encapsulates expert knowledge of audio equipment. It also gives you a framework for witty assessments of marine amplifier alternatives worthy of consideration by a serious buyer.

Below is a quick-view table showing the 8 ranked amps.Then, make sure to see short, direct-to-the-point reviews of each marine amplifier featured in the table.

Comparison table

Marine Amplifier

Power handling

Our Rating

Price

45w x 4 channels
Peak: 400 watts

Peak: 100w x 4 channels

RMS: 94w x 4 channels

RMS: 45w x 4 channels

750w RMS
1500w Peak

Peak: 250w x 4 channels

RMS:100w X 4 channels

RMS: 220w X 4 channels

1. Kenwood 1177524

Kenwood 1177524 transforms any basic marine sound system into a powerful setup that pumps out music with clarity and oomph. It is a compact Class D amplifier designed for the toughest land and marine conditions. Neither slight splashes nor salty or sandy environments will stop the music given by this well-protected marine amplifier.

Features of Kenwood 1177524

  • Efficient power: Kenwood used Class D technology and MOSFET power supply to make this marine amp. This engineering ensures that each of the 4 channels is effectively powered to keep your boat audio system vibrant. It can power 4 channels when set up in a 4-ohm configuration.
  • Compact for small installation spaces: You’ll not struggle finding a suitable place to screw this compact performance speaker. Kenwood designed it with space-efficient dimensions, making it easy to hide away from the harsh elements of the outdoors. The amp’s small size also makes it fit for many applications, including on motorbikes and ATVs.
  • Reliable protection: To avoid easy damage by moisture and damp air, a conformal coated main PCB has been used. Conformal coating adds layers of protection to the amp’s components. Like other durable marine amps, Kenwood 1177524 boasts a high water resistance rating. Thus, it fits high-demanding applications like on sport boats and dirt bikes.
  • IPX5-rated corded remote control: Enjoy convenient control of the amplifier’s audio and power functions using the remote. Thanks to the accompanying 10.5-ft remote control cable, you have freedom to use the remote from multiple locations on the boat. What’s more interesting, the remote can withstand brutal water exposure, including heavy splashes and full immersion in water.
  • Versatile uses: The amplifier has RCA connections, which means it can work with aftermarket receivers. As well, it can connect with speaker-level signals when you want to listen to music stored on a device without RCA output. 

Pros

  • Built-in Bluetooth with AptX technology;AptX improves the quality of Bluetooth-streamed sound
  • Amp is CEA-2006 compliant
  • Supports AAC files for iPhone
  • Remote has large, solid buttons that are easy to use with gloves on
  • Clear sound with a crisp midrange and impressive bass

Cons

  • Higher price compared with most marine amps
  • Limited sound output customization options

Verdict:

Kenwood 1177524 is a powerful yet compact and easy to install marine amp that syncs flawlessly with your Bluetooth device. It comes backed by Kenwood’s superior expertise and trustworthiness.


Let Kenwood 1177524energize your boat’s audio system with up to 400 watts power and efficient sound amplification.

2. Pyle PLMRA400

The PLMRA400 is a part of Pyle’s upgraded Elite series of waterproof amplifiers. It’s one of the few universally compatible amps on the market, meaning it works with a wide variety of stereos. More importantly, its premium performance features enable it to facilitate the reproduction of high-quality sound regardless of the source.

Premium features and capabilities of Pyle Hydra PLMRA400

  • Dual MOSFET power supply: This feature alone puts the PLMRA400 many yards ahead of competition. Not only does the amp provide stable power supply to your stereo and speakers, it also prevents electrical damage. In addition, dual MOSFET increases power supply. If you want that extra thump from the subwoofer in the system, this amp would be the right fit.
  • Circuit protection with LED indicator: Higher power output comes with the responsibility of making sure that the unit doesn’t overheat or suffer electrical circuit shorts. Pyle did not miss this step. The amp comes with reliable overload, thermal and short circuit protection. A LED indicator serves to notify you about the safety status of the amp while in operation.
  • Marine-grade rating: Boasting a marine rating of IP-01, Pyle PLMRA400 isn’t scared of water. Its design is waterproof-ready.First, Pyle used gold-plated speaker terminal connectors which don’t corrode easily. Secondly, the unit’s external enclosure is made as water-tight as can ever be for long-term uninterrupted use.
  • 400 watt peak power output: This 4-channel marine amplifier pushes up to 100 watts to each channel. This amount of power is enough for two big speakers and a sub (assuming you dedicate two channels to the sub). 400watts power handling classifies this marine amp among the most powerful waterproof amps you can find.

Pros

  • Built-in fuse protection
  • Aluminum heat sink facilitates quick heat loss to prevent overheating
  • Enables the production of amazing bass in bridged mode
  • Can work in 4-ohm or 8-ohm modes
  • Remote turn on/off

Cons

  • Lacks Bluetooth
  • No wireless remote control

Verdict:

Pyle PLMRA400 is a great deal if you are looking for powerful audio performance. Surprisingly, Pyle put a very favorable price tag on it. You cannot find such an inexpensive yet high-performing amplifier anywhere else. Kudos Pyle!


Give your boat’s audio system the ability to impress above the windy and noisy conditions characteristic of outdoor applications.

3. BOSS Audio Systems MC900B

A unique all-terrain, fully-marinized amplifier, the MC900B is built to give you great power amplification value in light weather conditions. It has a wide variety of capabilities, some of which are uncommon to other marine amps featured in this review of best marine amplifiers. Explore them below as you determine whether it fits your needs.

What makes the MC900B different?

  • Class A/B: The MC900B lets you enjoy the combined benefits of class A and class B amplifiers, namely, high power efficiency and high-quality audio output. Easily recognizable benefits of using this type of amplifiers include non-distorted sound and minimal chances of overheating (due to efficient power usage).
  • Full range design: With the MC900B, you can run your speakers and subwoofer at the same time. Full range amps can cover the entire audio spectrum. So what’s the advantage? Here it is: you don’t have to hook up the amp to the stereo. You can connect it direct to the speakers and subwoofer and start playing audio.
  • 500 watts power: The power handling of this amp is worth a mention. It dedicates 94 watts RMS power (and up to 125 watts) to each of the 4 channels. You probably know that RMS power rating is the real indicator of power handling. 94 watts for each channel is quite impressive. The least to expect from this amp ispowerful and undistorted sound.
  • Bluetooth remote control: This amp’s ability to run speakers and the subwoofer in the system is one part of the goodies. The other part relates to the convenience of controlling the amp using a Bluetooth-enabled device. In a flawless fashion, you’ll be able to enjoy streaming music stored on your Bluetooth device as well as listen to new music on apps like Pandora and Spotify.
  • Additional features: Boss Audio Systems could not run out of ways to make the MC900B more amazing. The aux input will enable you to connect the amp to MP3 players and smartphones. Besides, you can charge your phone and other USB devices through the USB port.

Pros

  • High power handling capacity
  • The amp 4-Ohm stable; works with full-range auto speakers and subs
  • Strong Bluetooth connection for seamless audio streaming
  • Pre-amp outputs allow for audio system expansion
  • Easy control with the Inline Multi-Function Remote
  • Fully weatherproof design

Cons

  • Pairs to only one BT device at a time
  • Might heat up if installed in a poorly ventilated location

Verdict:

Just listening to music isn’t as impactful as feeling it. Industry leader Boss Audio Systems has gone the extra mile to ensure that the MC900B revs up your music with power and passion.


Take advantage of the top-of-the-class audio engineering technology that Boss Audio Systems MC900B showcases.

4. Kenwood KAC-M1814

Kenwood KAC-M1814 is a 4-channel bridgeable marine amp with 2 ohms capability. It’s designed to power your high-performance speakers on any outdoor automobile. It’s compact to fit in tight locations, and it’s well protected against water splashes, moisture, sand, and other elements.

Features of Kenwood KAC-M1814

  • 400 watts MAX power handling: One of the areas this amp shines the most is power handling. User’s reviews seem to agree that this amp provides more power than what most comparable marine receivers give. It has been tested and proven to pump 45 watts RMS stably to each channel.
  • Conformal coating: In addition to protecting the PCB from corrosion, conformal coating makes the amplifier more resistant to vibration. The result is an extended life of the amplifier so that you can enjoy high quality sound for many years. The slightest rusting at the terminals can affect the efficiency of an amplifier. Kenwood has ensured that all crucial connectors have a plastic cover to keep dust and water away.
  • Separated pre-amp and power-amp sections: To reduce the effect of radiation noise, the components in the pre-amp section are separated from those in the power-amp section. This unique effort by Kenwood pays off well as evidenced by the incredible sound clarity the amplifier adds to any sound system.
  • Flexibility: KAC-M1814 accepts signals from many different sources. You could be using aftermarket receivers connected through RCA cables, or factory stereo linked to the amp via speaker wires. When the system is using speaker-level inputs, you don’t need to connect a separate remote turn-on lead to the stereo as the amp senses the signal and then turns itself on. 

Pros

  • Compact size to fit in tight spaces and also make installation easier
  • Signal-sensing turn on
  • The amp is CEA-2006 compliant
  • Advanced rust and corrosion resistance features for connectors
  • Powerful, clear sound

Cons

  • Lacks a channel dedicated to a subwoofer
  • Amp goes into protection mode when it overheats

Verdict:

The KAC-M1814 is a budget-friendly option for a powerful, highly durable, marine-rated amplifier. If your existing stereo has been too weak for the windy outdoors, this amp is here to double the power and ensure that you get powerful audio the outdoor noises notwithstanding.


Grab Kenwood KAC-M1814 today and let the music flow all day or night on your boat or motorsport vehicle.

5. Rockville DBM25

Other marine amps claim to be powerful but the DBM25 shows what real power means. This amp stands in its own class with 1500 watts peak power output. The RMS output is 750 watts, which is still way higher than the power rating of most competitors. What’s more?

Incredible attributes of Rockville DBM25

  • Deep, powerful bass: This amp’sfrequency response of 10Hz – 50KHz rounds up its ability to support the reproduction ofexceptionally strong lows. A 10-Hertz lower limit of the frequency response range means the bass gets well below what most subwoofers generally achieve. If you are a bass lover, Rockville DBM25 will definitely blow you away.
  • Waterproofing and durability: Rockville was keen to make almost every structural detail of the DBM25 waterproof. End panel covers are made of waterproof silicone. Secondly, the heat sink and bottom panels feature rustproof aluminum. The mounting hardware and the screws are made of rustproof stainless steel. Finally, 2777 waterproof glue is used to engineer the PCB board. All these aspects add towardsfortifying protection against damage by marine environment elements.
  • Audio output customization: Unlike many marine amplifier manufacturers, Rockville did not shy away from including sound personalization features on the DBM25. They included a fully adjustable bass EQ and a subsonic filter to give you the freedom of tweaking the sound as desired. Also, there is a phase control switch for added convenience when customizing output.
  • Full IC controlled control circuit: Enjoy uninterrupted playback at all times thanks to the DBM25’s high-caliber protection features. The IC controlled circuit prevents shorts, and overheating. In addition, professional peak limiter circuitry guarantees little distortion. While waterproofing and rust-resisting features make sure that the amp does not suffer damage from the external elements, these circuitry protection aspects help to avoid internal damage.

Pros

  • High CEA-rated RMS power rating
  • High-speed MOSFET power supply
  • Convenient audio control features
  • The amp stands up to the most hostile environments and stays waterproof and rot-proof for years
  • Pocket-friendly price

Cons

  • Only powers up to two channels
  • Its big size can make installation challenging in space limited automobiles

Verdict:

Rockville DBM25 is the real deal if you want the best of both worlds – powerful output and a favorable price. You cannot get a better deal at such a price.


Choose the DBM25 for guaranteed distortion-free music playback at all volume levels.

6. Pyle PLMRA420

Pyle Hydra PLMRA420 is a 4-channel marine amp that can be bridged to operate in a 2-channel mode. Among all the amps featured in this review, it’s the only amp that seems to give the powerful Rockville DBM25 a run for the money. You’ll be amazed to learn that it can pump up to 1000 watts to your sound drivers. Explore more about this amplification powerhouse below:

Outstanding features of Pyle PLMRA420

  • Dual MOFSET powering mechanism + excellent power handling: The PLMRA420 doesn’t give you any excuse for not delivering strong music playback. Expect nothing less of heart-pounding audio listening experiences as this amp combines the benefits of a dual MOSFET powering and top-of-the-class power handling. It’s among the most suitable options for systems with big speakers and/or a subwoofer.
  • Efficient gain level controls: Maintain the audio output at desired levels any time. Pyle has included smooth and responsive gain level controls for this purpose. Although this amp falls short in the breadth of audio customization features, the inclusion of gain level is nice effort by Pyle toward giving you a personalized listening experience.
  • Protection features: You already know that the major enemies of an amp’s performance and durability include corrosion, overheating, and short circuiting. The PLMRA420 is designed ready to face these enemies. An aluminum heat sink prevents overheating. Also, short-circuit protection has been integrated to the amp’s design. As for corrosion resistance, Pyle has used gold-plated terminals.
  • Low and high-pass filters: High-quality sound reproduction happens when many audio engineering facets are brought together. One such facet is the high-pass and low-pass filters, which allow for sound signal filtering. These filters enable the system to produce audio with limited distortion.

Pros

  • High peak power handling
  • Bridgeable channels
  • Aluminum heat sink facilitates efficient heat management
  • Advanced short circuit protection
  • Responsive gain level control

Cons

  • Cannot connect with Bluetooth devices
  • Cannot power multiple speakers and a subwoofer at the same time

Verdict:

Despite the downside of having limited channels, Pyle PLMRA420 is a powerful marine amplifier with a favorable price tag. It comes with reliable marine-rated features for assured durability.


Consider Pyle Hydra PLMRA420 if you want something that can power a marine stereo with two speakers.

7. Rockford Fosgate TM400X4AD

Rockford Fosgate is one of the most trusted audio equipment brands in the industry. The brand always ranks in speakers and amplifier reviews by experts and customers. The TM400X4AD competes with stable power output and durability. See below how its features contribute to giving users great value for their money:

Features of Rockford Fosgate TM400X4AD

  • Class AD technology: Rockford Fosgate has used its proprietary Class AD technology to make sure that this amp gives out more power without overstretching your boat’s or vehicle’s charging system. Consequently, the amp delivers up to 25% more power across respective impedance loads.
  • Power handling: This marine amp is amazingly powerful in all impedance modes. It pumps 100 watts to each of the 4 channelsin both the 4-ohm and 2-ohm unbridged modes. In 4-ohm bridged mode, it gives200 watts per channel to each of the 2 channels.
  • Flexible integration: The TM400X4AD works with almost any auto sound system thanks to high-level and low-level inputs. You can hook it up to your off-road vehicle, yacht, boat, motorbike and truck, regardless of whether the automobile uses a factory or aftermarket sound system. An auto turn-on feature is included for easier operation.
  • Protection features: Durability is a usual quality for all Rockford Fosgate equipment, and the TM400X4AD is not an exception. This is enhanced by the amp’s element-ready construction. Noteworthy, the designers added “dual fan forced induction” that prevent overheating. Also, the amp has CLEAN circuit input/output clip detection.
  • Butterworth crossover and onboard bass boost: The TM400X4AD has everything you need to transform every audio file into the kind of sound you want to hear. This convenient ability stems from the included onboard punch equalizer with a +18dB boost and a 12dB crossover.

Pros

  • Molex-style connectors allow for simplified installation process
  • Efficient power supply and serious power handling
  • Works with big speakers/subwoofer in bridgeable mode
  • High-level marine rating for durability in marine environments
  • Has top-mounted controls for easy access to sound customization features

Cons

  • No wireless control or Bluetooth support
  • Price is on the higher side compared to most competitors

Verdict:

This is a high-end marine amp from one of the most trustworthy brands on the market.You will not think about buying an amplifier again for the next few years after installing this amp to your automobile’s sound system.


Don’t hesitate to pick Rockford Fosgate TM400X4AD for high-level audio performance during your outdoor escapades.

8. NVX VADM2 440W

Last but not least, we have NVX showing off the VADM2, a 440w RMS class D microamp. This power amp might look like just about any other average compact thing but the amount of power it delivers is unbelievable. The VADM2 fits in your hand like an iPhone, just to give perspective. This is like all other amps in the new VADM line of microamplifiers released by NVX. Now, let’s get to the features that matter.

NVX VADM2 Highlights

  • 440W total RMS power output: This 2-channel amp will have your speakers kicking out powerful beats all day long. 440 watts as true RMS power rating is incredibly impressive for such a compact amplifier. At 2-ohm impedance, each channel gets 220 watts. If you want to use it in bridged mode, your speaker or subwoofer receives 440 watts.
  • 3-way circuit protection: Like all the amps in NVX’s VADM series, the VADM2 boasts built-in 3-way circuitry for protection against overload, thermal, and short circuit protection. Rest assured of enjoying your music without interruptions that may be caused by overheating or current issues.
  • All-weather resistance: Being a marine-certified amplifier, the VADM2 features a marine-grade, conformal coated circuit board, which stands in the amp’s first line of defense against marine elements. Besides, platinum plating on the amp’s RCA level inputs & screw terminals minimizes the effect of corrosion and rust.Thus, the VADM2 works perfectly well in the most challenging outdoor applications.It fits use in cars motorcycles, boasts, UTVs and ATVs.
  • Subwoofer output tuning: There are selectable crossover modes as well as variable high-pass and low-pass filters that help to adjust sound output from your speakers. For even more convenient controlof the output, NVX has included a remote knob for bass-level control. These customization features enable you to fine tune the sound as you desire.

Pros

  • High-level power capacity (up to 880 watts)
  • Ultra-compact chassis; striking minimalist design
  • Easy install insmall sized automobiles
  • 2 ohm stable for compatibility with many types of systems
  • Tough, marine-certified body

Cons

  • Lacks bass boost
  • Overheating issues when the amp is placed in inadequately ventilated spaces

Verdict:

NVX VADM2 is no doubt a wonderful marine amp. Consider it if you are looking for great power in an unusually small unit. It’s the easiest to stash under the driver’s seat or any other tight space on your automobile.


Get the VADM2 to experience NVX’s unparalleled amplifier engineering technology.

Important Considerations for Selection of the Best Marine Amplifier

Every manufacturer of marine audio equipment wants to make their piece of equipment as durable, power efficient, and compact as possible. However, one manufacturer’s level of effort or industry expertise is rarely equal to a competitor’s. Also, a brand may design an amplifier model targeting a particular customer profile. Ultimately, the options available for marine amplifiers are different in terms of design, function, durability and more. What’s suitable for a motorboat owner may not be equally attractive to a yacht owner.

That said, it’s paramount that you take your time to assess every alternative in your consideration list based on your requirements of a marine amp. Here are the crucial aspects to investigate:

Number of channels: Most marine amps have either a 2-channel or a 4-channel configuration. A 2-channel ampcan power two speakers. If there are more than two sound drivers in the system, a 4-channel amp is the better fitting option.

Is the amp bridgeable?: Some marine amps are bridgeable while others are not. Noteworthy, having a bridgeable amp doesn’t provide obvious advantages. If you are running two speakers whose power needs can be easily met by the amp’s individual channels, you are good to go. A bridgeable amp comes in handy when you have a big speaker or a subwoofer that requires more power than one channel can provide. In that case, you combine two channels and dedicate them to the speaker or sub.

Power: It’s common practice among manufacturers to indicate power handling in a way that makes the amplifier look good. Thus, you’ll see marine amp advertisements with ‘shouting’ PEAK power handling details.

It’s important to remember that RMS rating is the truer indication of an amp’s power capabilities. Thus, start with assessing the RMS power an amp pumps to every channel. If you are satisfied that this amount of power is enough for your speakers, you can go ahead and consider PEAK power handling. PEAK/MAX power handling is an indication of the power that the amp can deliver in the most demanding situation, say, when playing music at the highest volume.

Protection features: Current, short circuit, and overheat protection are great aspectsof any amplifier. In addition to these, marine amps require special protection against outdoor environment elements such as water, moisture, salt, and sand. When selecting the right marine amp for your automobile, check its water resistance, rust and corrosion resistance, and ignition protection.

Protection against water and moisture damage is indicated by IP rating. Rust and corrosion resistance is enhanced by the insulation of connection terminals. Brands use materials such as plastic to cover terminals for reduced risk of rusting and corrosion.

Versatility: How many applications does the amplifier fit? Besides boats, in which other automobiles can it fit? Can it work with factory and aftermarket stereo systems? Evaluate the versatility aspects of the amp you are considering for purchase. An amplifier with high-level and low-level inputs, for example, can work with a wide variety of factory and aftermarket systems.In addition, check user reviews to get first-hand information about the amp’s performance in different applications.

Size: Finally, the size of the amp will influence your choice of installation location. Also, the unit’s size will determine how easy or hard installation is going to be. Compact amps and microamps are better alternatives for automobiles with limited installation space.

There is no shortage of high-performing marine amps on the market. From the above list of 8 top performing amps, you can choose the suitable alternative for your boat, car or other automobile. We included marine amps with different price ranges so that you can find one that fits your budget.

Why Kenwood 1177524 is our pick for the best marine amplifier

The 1177524 is a favorite of many music enthusiasts for many reasons. First, it’s a powerful marine amp that can handle up to four channels. Secondly, its construction shows off Kenwood’s excellent workmanship as one of the most experienced brands in the industry. The amp is well protected to withstand the roughest treatment on water and land. Additionally, its compact design makes setup simple even in vehicles and boats with limited installation space.

Of course, all these would mean little to you if Kenwood did not take care of sound quality. This is not the case. When you install the 1177524, you are going to notice significance difference in sound quality especially in the mid-range and low frequencies. Many customer reviews have reported enjoying clearer sound with a crisper mid-range and more distinct bass. Another great thing about this marine amp is that it connects to your smartphone and other devices via Bluetooth.

To top it off, Kenwood included a remote controlto allow you easier and more convenient control over the amp’s functioning.

There you have it. That’s our final say. What’s your pick for the best marine amplifier?

Michael Evanchuk
 

Michael Evanchuk is a San Francisco-based sound engineer with 20 years’ experience installing, troubleshooting, and repairing commercial, automotive, and household sound equipment. Evanchuk owns an auto stereo center, where he offers highly competitive car audio installation and repair services. He has written dozens of articles on different sound engineering topics, all of which have been published in leading journals, blogs, and websites. He enjoys swimming and boat riding during his leisure time.

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