Marine stereos compare to normal auto stereos in many ways, including appearance. The major difference between them is resistance to damage caused by outdoor elements. Marine stereos are designed with higher waterproof levels, saltwater protection, and UV protection. Thus, they are fitter than normal car stereos for all kinds of outdoor applications.
Installing a high-quality marine stereo on your boat or off-road vehicle could change how you enjoy your days and nights out on the waters or during your road adventures. It gives you the convenience of playing music from your smartphone, tablet, iPad, flash drives, and memory cards. You can also access online AM and FM radio, weather broadcast services, and music stores like Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio.In addition, you can make hands-free calls, receive and send instant messages, and get social media notifications on the stereo’s display.
You might not need all these features packed in one stereo. However, it’s crucial to determine which features you need the most for easier selection of the best marine stereo for you. In the next few minutes, you’ll get to compare 8 best marine stereos on the market. In conclusion, this buying guide takes you through a brief discussion of the key factors to consider when choosing a marine stereo.
Comparison Table of Best Marine Stereos for Boats
1. Kenwood KMR-M328BT
Moments on water are total fun when you have Kenwood KMR-M328BT installed on your boat. It’s designed with incredible Bluetooth so that you can enjoy all types of audio from your phone or tablet, and Alexa connectivity for smart control. This digital media receiver showcases Kenwood’s superior engineering, which guarantees you high-quality audio and incredible longevity.
Outstanding Features of Kenwood KMR-M328BT
- Built-in Bluetooth and Alexa: Connecting the KMR-M328BT with other entertainment devices is simple. The receiver works with Bluetooth v4.2 and can connect to as many as5 devices at the same time. Besides, it comes with built-in Alexa, which extends the selection of devices it can connect to.
- Easy smartphone control: How would you like having all the sound controls at the palm of your hands? Kenwood thinks it should be fun, and many audio fans agree. After downloading Kenwood’s Remote App, you are set to enjoy your Apple Music, Spotify and Pandora favorites anywhere you go.
- 3 pre-amp outputs: A boat audio system without an amplifier add subwoofers is probably not as sophisticated as you would wish. TheKMR-M328BT fashions 3 sets of preamp outputs that enable you to add marine amps to your system.Thus, nothing should hinder you from building your system bigger and better for fuller and more enjoyable sound.
- Sound customization: A 13-band graphic EQ and Digital Time Alignment (DTA) allow for sound output enhancement. In addition, Kenwood has included a Drive EQ with which you can boost specific frequencies to overcome the impact of environmental noise. These sound customization controls give you the freedom to tailor the output to your listening preferences.
- Build strong to stand up to marine environment: Life on water can get tough for any electronic device. This stereo boasts a conformal coating that protects the internal circuitry from exposure to moisture. You can rest assured that the system will withstand the unforgiving marine environment and give you uninterrupted long-time service.
- Compact 4-inch deep chassis
- Bright backlit display that’s simple to use in the sun
- Smart voice control
- It can play many audio types, including MP3, WAV, WMA, and lossless FLAC
- It’s water-resistant, but not waterproof
- Doesn’t come with a remote control
Kenwood KMR-M328BT will amaze you with phenomenal sound quality. You are lost for choice with regard to ways of playing audio. And if you want to add a sub or two to your system, this receiver comes ready for them thanks to its 3 pre-amp outputs.
Get this shallow-mount marine stereo and transform your fishing and motor sports moments into crazy fun experiences.
2. BOSS Audio Systems MGR350B
Voyages can get tumultuous for some marine stereos but not for Boss Audio MGR350B. This digital media receiver has high-level waterproofing. Performance-wise, it takes whatever you throw at it and gives back impeccable sound. Most first-time users commend it for enabling flawless music streaming from Bluetooth-connected audio sources. Additionally, radio fans have all the reasons to smile as it comes with Weather Band as well as AM and FM radio.
Features that make the MGR350B the best budget marine stereo
- Excellent outdoor fitness: Boss Audio Systems brought out all the guns to protect this receiver from easy damage. Top-notch weatherproofing materials are used to design it to a high level of waterproofing (IPX7). Water splashes from any direction won’t cause any harm to the stereo. Besides, UV coating on exposed surfaces offers further protection against harsh outdoor elements.
- Wired and wireless audio streaming: You’ll never have a dull moment while exploring the waters as you have various ways of audio sourcing and playback. Bluetooth connectivity allows you to listen to audio stored on your smartphone, tablet, or iPad. You can also use music streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify. On the other hand, AUX input gives you easy means to connect to mp3 players and smartphones.
- Radio listening: A switchable tuner is included for quick reception of radio broadcasts in Europe and the US regions. When an FM station uses RDS technology to broadcast, the RDS tuner displays messages with station, artist, song, genre, news, traffic and more.
- Built-in preset EQ: Add style to your listening habits on the water. The preset EQ lets you choose from various preset EQ curves, allowing you to set the audio output to your listening preferences. Whichever type of music you are listening to – hiphop, rock n’ roll, classics, etc. – you can choose the EQ curve that corresponds to that music style.
- Superior waterproofing features
- Front, rear and subwoofer pre-amp outputs
- Compatible with audio output from mp3 players and smartphones
- AM/FM radio keeps you updated on news and your favorite shows
- Audio customization using bass/treble/fader/balance controls, in addition to the preset built-in EQ
- LCD display gets fogged when the radio is turned on
- Overheating complaints
If you are on a budget, there is no better way to crest the waves than with the great entertainment that comes with Boss Audio MGR350B. It’s waterproof and corrosion-resistant, so you can enjoy your tunes worry-free for years on end.
Consider installing the MGR350B to keep your tunes flowing all day or night while you do what you do best on the waters.
3. Fusion Entertainment MS-RA70
This DIN-sized high-performance marine stereo shows off the latest marine audio technologies. It obviously has a marine-grade design but you can install it in your vehicle to replace rust-prone car stereos. This baby is pricey relative to competitors but its top-of-the-class performance will make every dollar spent on it count.
Main features of Fusion Entertainment MS-RA70
- Clever styling ensures high-end installation: For any boat that has a standard DIN-sized stereo, setting up the MS-RA70 is super easy. Unlike many marine stereos that require you to reconfigure the dash space, the MS-RA70 is designed to fit perfectly in the space left by the old stereo.
- Independent audio zone control: Audio zoning enables you to control your listening experience. Fusion Entertainment has included two audio zones. Each zone has two stereo preamps and a sub-out, which facilitate expandability. Localized menu controls make it easy to maneuver each audio zone.
- IPX7 front panel; built for long marine life: When installed correctly, the MS-RA70 can stand up to any environment. Whether it’s on your work/leisure boat or off-road vehicle, this audio champion works undeterred. IPX7 rating implies high water resistance ability. As long as you are not intending to have this marine stereo submerged fully in water, there is nothing to worry about.
- Compatible devices and audio listening options: This marine amp uses the Fusion-link Bluetooth app to connect to Apple and Android devices. Once you download the free app, you can enjoy easy control of the playback. It facilitates source navigation, localized zone control, and track selection. Besides, the stereo has AM/FM radio functions.
- Large buttons and easy-to-view simplified display
- The sound is great even without an external amp
- Several people can connect their phones via Bluetooth
- You can use your smartphone as the remote
- Advanced waterproofing design
- Easy installation
- The receiver does not play CDs
- You’ll need to buy a specialized cage for the unit to fit the standard DIN cutout
The MS-RA70 promises you Fusion’s renowned marine-rated reliability. It’s a versatile digital media receiver that makes an ideal choice for a boat and select off-road vehicles.
Choose this sleek marine stereo for durability and ease of use. Fusion Entertainment designed it to give you the best entertainment experience.
4. Pyle PLMRB29W
Pyle PLMRB29W comes specially sealed to keep environmental elements away so that it can offer you powerful audio through the seasons. You’ll find some uncommon features and capabilities in this marine stereo, which make it not only unique but also more captivating in terms of audio performance. Check out the features below to know if it’s the kind you are looking for.
Features of Pyle PLMRB29W
- Power for big bass: Even before you think about adding an amplifier to your system, let this 12V marine receiver show you what it can do with its 300-watt peak power output. The high-performance stereo will keep the music flowing smoothly but powerfully as you float around doing your stuff.
- Hands-free calling: While your hands are on the steering, having a way to make calls hands-free is more than welcome. Pyle included a built-in micin the design of this marine stereo. Besides, the LCD digital console displays a call answer/end button. It also has a function for retrieving the last dialed number.
- Cool-looking universal single DIN design: The PLMRB29W boasts an eye-pleasing white outlook that completely transforms the look of your dash. Besides, having a universal standard size design means that it’s simple to install as it fits easily in the space occupied by the older single DIN radio.
- Remote control: Have all control over the system’s functioning and audio performance in your hands. Whether you are listening to internet radio or streaming audio wirelessly via Bluetooth, the remote control is fully equipped for audio source navigation, file selection, playback control, and more.
- Incredible power handling
- AM/FM radio with 30 station memory
- Equalizer (EQ) for audio configuration as desired
- Hands-free calling enhances your safety
- Crisp knobs and button control
- LCD display is difficult to read during the day
- Stereo shuts down when it overheats
With all its great features and audio capabilities, Pyle PLMRB29W is quite a steal at its current price. It plays various audio formats. Thus, you can stream music from your smartphones, tablets, and even MP3 players. Controlling the system is also easy using the front panel buttons or the remote control.
If you are looking for a low-budget upgrade for your single DIN radio, Pyle PLMRB29W will give you great value for your money.
5. Kenwood KMR-D378BT
Kenwood’s KMR-D378BT transforms your boat into a versatile information and entertainment center. You have many options for what you want to hear when enjoying boat rides – from internet music and radio to Bluetooth audio, CDs, and FLAC files.
Features of Kenwood’s KMR-D378BT
- Multi-device Bluetooth pairing: On top of the list of things users love is the stereo’s ability to connect to up to 5 Bluetooth devices. Your day or night out on the water with friends or family will never have a dull moment. Kenwood has made it easier for everyone to show what they’ve got on their Bluetooth-enabled audio storage devices.
- Amazon Alexa built-in: A dedicated Alexa button is added to the stereo’s design. This clever addition makes it possible and easier to do a bunch of things, including playing music, making calls, turning on the news, checking the weather, and controlling smart devices back at home. Did you know you could do this much with your voice? Thanks, Alexa!
- Ultra-clean 4V preamp outputs: Adding marine amplifiers to your system will be hassle-free as this marine digital audio receiver comes with high-efficiency preamp outputs. The ultra-clean finish of these outputs makes connections with subs highly efficient. 4-volt preamp outputs provide sufficient power to drive most marine amps.
- Control audio from any location on the boat: Up to 6 Kenwood marine remotes can be linked to this receiver. So, you have 6 possible locations from where you can operate the receiver. Also, there is a 13-band equalizer for sound output customization. Other audio control features include Kenwood’s sound reconstruction technology that helps to restore sonic details to compressed music files.
- Conformal coating: A conformal coating preventswater and moisture from damaging the receiver’s internal components. Drive through the wild waves with confidence that salt and water splashes cannot reach the unit’s ports and critical components.
- You can charge your iPhone using the front USB port
- SiriusXM tuner for satellite radio listening
- The receiver offers you the convenience of controlling smart home devices from miles away
- It can play CDs and AM/FM radio
- Rear-wired BT microphone included
- Robust protection against destructive marine environment elements
- Unclear installation instructions
- USB connects from the back, which makes it challenging to use
Kenwood has provided you with everything you would ever need in a marine stereo. It stands tall among the best marine stereos with flawless BT connectivity, genius sound control features, Alexa and SiriusXM compatibility, multiple remotes, and more.
Choose Kenwood KMR-D378BT without hesitation. You can rarely go wrong with this highly-rated marine stereo.
6. Sony DSXM55BT
Before your next on-water adventure is due, hook up your boat with Sony DSXM55BT to enjoy great music-playing options in any weather. Sony has integrated top-class audio technology and tools to make a design that’s versatile, mobile-friendly and easy to operate.
Features of Sony DSXM55BT
- Marine-grade protection: As one of Sony’s Marine products, the DSXM55BT features a humidity-resistant vinyl resin that shields internal components from marine elements. Further, a UV-protected faceplate helps to reduce exterior material discoloring due to sun exposure.
- Built-in Bluetooth 3.0 technology: Audio streaming, phonebook access, and hands-free calls are some of the goodies of a perfect Bluetooth connection. Noteworthy, you can connect the DSXM55BT with up to two devices.
- Siri Eyes for more convenient iPhone use: Sony has made sure that this marine stereo fits well into the ecosystem of devices that make your life easier. Manage everything on your iPhone with Siri– from texts and calls to music and social media. You can now multi-task safely on the road or water.
- Enhanced low end: The addition of a marine sub means potential for bigger bass. When you get there, Sony DSXM55BT will be ready to enhance bass performance thanks to its Mega Bass function. Mega Bass smartly gives the appropriate gain without introducing distortion.
- EQ5 and selectable LPF crossover: This digital receiver shows off Sony’s new Advanced Sound Engine, which includes an adjustable EQ5 equalizer and low-pass filter crossover. In addition, Sony included adjustable subwoofer level control that lets you increase the bass when you want to beef up the lows.
- 2V rear and sub-level preamp outputs for system expandability
- Simplified Bluetooth connectivity
- Built-in mic
- A wireless remote for convenient system control
- SiriusXM-ready, and also works with Pandora
- Anti-glare display
- Fewer RCA outputs than most competitors
- Bluetooth connection issues (for some devices)
This digital marine receiver performs exemplarily in multi-format USB playback, SiriusXM satellite radio, and Pandora for Android and iOS. Its water resistance and UV resistance are top-notch, which makes it perfect for any outdoor application.
Don’t let this opportunity to get superb audio quality on your boat or off-road vehicle pass you.
7. Rockville RGHR2
It’s not a common thing for marine stereo brands to include an amplifier. For most of them, the receiver comes as a standalone unit, and you have to buy a marine amp separately to get the best quality sound from your system. Rockville has taken the unusual route by integrating a built-in amplifier in the RGHR2’s design. See below for more details on this powered marine stereo:
Rockville RGHR2 Features
- Louder than most marine receivers: With a built-in 72 X 4 watts peak power amplifier, the RGHR2 ranks among the loudest marine stereos on the market. You can be sure to enjoy loud sounds even amidst noisy winds. You’ll enjoy the same value if you install this receiver on your car. It cuts through the vibrations and other road noises to give you great audio experiences.
- EQ with pop, rock, flat, and class curves: Adding a bit of personality to your music listening can make the days more fun. Rockville has included a built-in EQ with preset curves. With one touch of the button, you can customize the output to match your tastes.
- IP66 waterproof certification: Of what use is a powerful stereo that cannot stand up to the roughness of marine and other outdoor environment elements? Rockville thought of this and made sure that the RGHR2 has the requisite structural rigor to withstand marine elements. IP66 rating proves this.
- 12 AM and 18FM radio presets: Radio lovers have a big reason to be happy about choosing this marine stereo. In addition to the 30 radio channel presets, this receiver is enabled for US and European tuning. You’ll miss none of your favorite radio talk shows while out working, sporting or just exploring the outdoors.
- Wired remote control: Take control of your boat’s or car’s stereo from any comfortable position. You don’t have to stretch out your hand an inch as all the control is in your hands. Even more impressive, Rockville has included a 32.8-ft cable so you don’t have to worry about spending more money on additional wire length.
- Easy installation; the stereo fits in any standard tachometer opening
- You can hook external amps or speakers
- Powerful sound performance
- Integrated AM/FM radio with clear reception
- Wired remote control + extra cable length
- Excellent water resistance
- Some media functions are hard to use
- Tends to get hot after extended use
Rockville RGHR2 wins the prize for perfectly balancing class, compactness and versatility. This marine stereo can do so many things to keep you entertained, and it doesn’t falter in any way.
Get this compact and captivating receiver for refreshing entertainment in the windy, high humidity and noisy outdoors.
8. JVC KD-X35MBS
JVC closes our ranking of best marine stereos with one of its most popular products – the KD-X35MBS. It’s amarine-rated digital media receiver that makes your outdoor adventures something to always look forward to. It avails numerous options to connect with your devices. And although it’s not waterproof, it can handle moisture better than non-marine radios.
Top features of JVC KD-X35MBS
- Short-body design with captivating looks: This receiver does fit well on boats, Jeeps, golf carts, and ATVs. What’s more, its detachable face catches the eye instantly. Its captivating effect is specially enhanced by variable-color illumination and single-line display. Noteworthy, the white background of the display is easy to read even in bright daylight.
- USB connection with iPhone and Android: By simply plugging in your smartphone to the radio’s USD port, you open yourself up to a wild array of entertainment and convenience functions. These include fast charging; playback control for Pandora, Spotify, and iHeartRadio; and easy access to your iPod playlists.
- System expandability: Three sets of 4V preamp output are available to enable you to add an amplifier and subwoofers to the system. Whether you like playing your favorite music back-to-back, or following radio programs, you want the sound output to be the most enjoyable. Adding more sound drivers would do this for you, and JVC KD-X35MBS is more than ready to accommodate these additions.
- Other unique features: JVC spent extra efforts to add features that ensure this marine stereo offers you the best service. One such feature is the reverse display, which makes using the radio easier to use in open-top vehicles. Another feature is the Drive Change Mode. This one lets you switch between multiple USB-connected devices without having to disconnect and reconnect the devices.
- Compatible with Siri Eyes, SiriusXM, and wired/wireless remotes
- Intuitive display of song title and artist info
- Built-in iPod control
- 6-channel preamp outputs
- Seamless Bluetooth connections
- JVC Music Control app can analyze your audio files and create a playlist for you
- Poor labeling of front panel buttons
- Seek buttons are small and hard to find without taking eye off the road
: JVC KD-X35MBS packs a set of intelligent connectivity and sound control features. With it, you set out for every outdoor adventure knowing that you are covered with regard to entertainment.
Whether you own a boat or an off-road vehicle, JVC KD-X35MBS is what you need for consistently high-quality audio entertainment.
Factors to Consider When Picking the Best Marine Stereo
Choosing the right marine stereo shouldn’t be hard with all the great alternatives available on reputable e-commerce platforms.
Or, is it? Maybe.
The very fact that there are hundreds if not thousands of marine stereos pushed to you by marketers makes it challenging to select the best one for your situation. This short guide aims to take you back to rational decision-making. Below, find a brief discussion on critical factors to consider when choosing a marine stereo.
Marine stereos are made to different shapes and sizes. The model you choose should fit in the available boat or car dash space without major space reconfiguration. A good number of marine receivers correspond to standard stereo head sizes. An example is the MS-RA70 by Fusion Entertainment. These stereos are an ideal option if the old unit is single-DIN.
Other models may need you to use a standard gauge housing, which may or may not come in the package.
What kind/amount of sound are you targeting? The receiver’s power handling will influence its sound output. Generally, stereos that come with an integrated amplifier tend to be more powerful. Make sure to check the RMS power handling of the unit you are considering for purchase. It’s also important to think ahead to when you’ll buy speakers to add to the system. The stereo’s power should match the power requirements of the speakers you’ll add.
Which audio formats can the stereo handle?
Most digital files are in one of these formats: MP3, WMA, WAV, and FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec). The stereo you choose needs to have compatibility with the format(s) of your audio files.
Connectivity with your devices
Consider the devices you use for entertainment frequently. Smartphones are the most convenient audio sources for most people. As such, stereo engineers design receivers with Bluetooth compatibility. However, this doesn’t mean that any stereo will connect with your Bluetooth-enabled device. Make sure to check that the receiver supports the Bluetooth version that your smartphone uses.
In addition to Bluetooth connectivity, you can connect your devices to the receiver via USB,a simple AUX port, or SD card slot.
Access to digital entertainment platforms
Do you enjoy listening to music on Pandora, Spotify, or iHeartRadio? Or do you listen to AM or FM radio? If yes, having a digital marine stereo that can access your desired platform offers you a great deal of convenience.
Like with any other electrical appliance, a marine stereo is prone to serious damage upon contact with water. Manufacturers of marine receivers indicate the water resistance (IP) rating of each model they make. Higher IP ratings mean better protection against damage by outdoor elements including moisture.
UV resistance and salt water protection are equally important considerations.
If you spend considerable time in areas with hot climates, it’s recommended to choose a marine stereo with a high level of UV protection.
Salt water protection(such as stainless steel housings and marine-friendly coatings) helps to reduce the rate of corrosion.
Your stereo will display different sorts of info depending on the device it’s linked to or the function it’s carrying out at a given time. A display that’s easy to read lets you get these details without much strain regardless of the time of the day or night. Noteworthy, not all manufacturers are keen on this aspect. You want to be sure that the stereo you choose has a decent level display readability.
How we chose our top pick: Kenwood KMR-M328BT
The KMR-M328BT’s design is aimed at achieving the highest level of convenience for a wide variety of users. Whether you are a Pandora/Spotifyregular, or a lover of radio, this stereo will not fail you whenever you want to listen to whatever lifts your spirit. In addition, the Kenwood Remote App turns your smartphone into a remote control for almost all the stereo’s functions.
Secondly, many users applaud the positive backlight display; it makes the display easy to read in the sun. They are also delighted to have Alexa on standby for convenient control of smart home devices.
Finally, Kenwood went great lengths to ensure that the KMR-M328BT is well protected from damage. A conformal coating protects the stereo’s internal electrical components from marine environment elements.
The price of Kenwood KMR-M328BT is within the average range. Thus, it’s quite affordable for anyone keen on adding a high-quality marine digital receiver to their boat or off-road vehicle.
You may also like to read: Our Ultimate Buyer’s Guide and Reviews of Best Garage Speakers
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.