There comes a point in every boat's life when you have to replace the factory-installed speakers and really look at what you want in your new speakers. Picking speakers can be a daunting task by itself, but boat speakers prove to be even more challenging. On a boat, you face the challenge of projecting sound into an open-air environment as opposed to an enclosed area like a room or car. You also have to worry about whether they will hold up to the winds, waves and water.
When it's time to replace your speakers, you have an excellent opportunity to customize the look and sound of your boat. Many of the boat speakers we reviewed produce extreme volume with crystal clear sound, and marine speakers are generally made of durable materials capable of surviving years out on the water. Of the marine speakers we reviewed, Polk MM651UM, JL Audio M650 and JL Audio MX650 came out with the top scores for their performance on the water and for their durability. For more information, check out the articles about marine speakers in our learning center.
Choosing the best marine speakers for your boat can be difficult, especially with the amount of quality speakers available on the market. To help you sort through the many options out there, we evaluated the more common 6.5-inch speakers based primarily on their performance and design. When picking out your boat's stereo system, look for speakers with good performance—clarity even at high volumes. Look for a design that fits in your boat and will be durable enough to last for years to come.
Just about every speaker comes with certain criteria listed in the specifications, including frequency response, impedance, sensitivity and power handling. Human hearing is within the range of 20 hertz and 20,000 hertz, and a good coaxial speaker will cover this range and beyond. If you choose a speaker that performs well in the bass range, you'll have less need for a sub-woofer. When space is at a premium, getting one speaker that does the job of three is very valuable. A speaker that handles frequencies above 20,000 hertz is also nice because it can really round out the sound.
Look for a speaker with a high sensitivity rating. Speakers with higher sensitivity ratings take less power to generate more volume. Additionally, most marine speakers are 4 -ohm speakers, so if you use an amplifier you'll want to make sure it's also a 4-ohm unit to avoid damaging the speaker or amp.
Your speakers will be in the sun, wind, rain, fog and any other weather imaginable. You want speakers that are going to last, even in a marine environment. Everything should be water- and weather-resistant, using durable plastics and polymers to create the outside basket of the speaker. The materials the woofer and tweeter are made of need to be durable and able to maintain a high quality of sound. Driver cones should be made of a material that is lightweight yet stiff enough to properly reproduce the highs and lows of your music. Polypropylene is the most common water-resistant material, but some manufacturers have created composite cones that are more durable while maintaining the necessary rigidity.
Magnetic shielding, common in household speakers, does not affect the sound quality of your marine speaker, but it does allow you to install your speakers closer to your navigation equipment. The speaker's magnet can affect the accuracy of your navigation equipment so a speaker with magnetic shielding could be a good option if you want to mount your speakers at the helm.
Help & Support
Technical support is important when dealing with electrical equipment, and you want to know that there is going to be help when you need it. A telephone number or an email address can provide you with quick support for anything that the online manuals and FAQs pages can't answer. Warranty information is also important because these speakers are going to take a lot of abuse. A one-year limited warranty is standard and helps protect you against manufacturing defects that shorten the life of your speaker.
When you're ready to replace pre-installed factory speakers on your boat, you want marine audio components that are going to sound great, survive the climate and look good. The best marine speakers have a wide frequency response range for a more complete sound and will last for years without fading or succumbing to the harsh marine environment. Check out our reviews to find the ideal marine speakers for your boat.
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