Decent marine speakers can add a great deal of pleasure to life afloat, whether you’re on a day out with friends on a fast open boat, or mid Atlantic on the adventure of a lifetime
When planning to fit speakers they need to be located at a safe distance from compasses and from any sensitive on board electronics.
A distance of at least 1.1m (3ft 8in) is usually required. I’ve come across more than one boat whose speakers had to be moved after the cut outs had been made in the cockpit.
What to look for in the best marine speakers
Marine speakers tend to be offered with different levels of water proofing, so it’s worth remembering the IPX weatherproofing rating system definitions:
- IPX0 No protection.
- IPX1 Protected from condensation or vertical drips.
- IPX2 Protected from spray when tilted up to 15° from vertical.
- IPX3 Protected from spray when tilted up to 60° from vertical.
- IPX4 Protected from water splashed in any direction.
- IPX5 Protected against low-pressure water streams.
- IPX6 Protected against spray from strong water jets.
- IPX7 Protected against immersion at a depth between 15cm to 1 metre for 30 minutes.
- IPX8 Protection against longer periods of immersion under pressure.
Here’s our pick of the best options, encompassing different types and price points, including stand-alone waterproof Bluetooth models.
Best marine speakers available right now
Fusion Signature 3 7.7in 280W Classic White
Fusion is a giant in this market and has a large range, so you’re likely to find more products from this Garmin group company on other boats than any other brand.
The Signature 3 line includes a wide choice of high-end products with stunning sound quality in a range of styles including classic and high-tech units.
All are waterproofed to IP65 standards and also comply with ISO12216, allowing boat builders to fit them on deck without compromising the vessel’s safety.
The Classic 280W speakers offer excellent performance thanks innovations including a woven fibre composite cone that improves sound definition and allows a higher output, while also increasing protection in a marine environment.
They also come with a three–year consumer warranty.
Osculati 2-Way Waterproof Speakers
These 60W waterproof stereo speakers are very much at the budget end of the market. However, they will get your boat fitted out with decent sound without breaking the bank.
On the downside, despite the separate tweeter and woofer cones (hence 2-way in the product name), frequency response is quoted at 80-20,000Hz. This means lower tones will not reproduce accurately.
Some of the more expensive options will therefore be a better buy if good sound quality at lower frequencies is a priority.
Overall diameter is 160mm, a cut out of 125mm diameter is required and total depth is 57mm. Minimum compass safe distance is 1.1m.
These 16cm (6.5in) dual-cone speakers are another excellent choice at the lower to mid part of the marine speakers market.
With a frequency range of 45-20,000Hz they offer better bass quality, as well as 140W of power from a dual-cone speaker that’s certified to IPX5 waterproofing standards.
The rigid polypropylene woofer cone is designed to provide a rich bass and clear vocals, while optimising waterproofing and keeping weight down to only 650 grammes (1lb 7oz).
These 9-inch (23cm) two-way speakers have a waterproof cone and are able to pump out an impressive 300W of peak power.
In addition to the main speaker there’s a 1-inch balanced dome tweeter and frequency response is specified at 55Hz-20,000Hz, with an impedance of 4 ohms.
They are hefty items at 8.8lb (4kg), with the ferrite woofer magnet alone weighing almost one pound.
These are ideal if you’re looking for good all-round performance from a sensibly priced marine speaker, but make sure your boat’s batteries are up to the task.
While you’re buying speakers why not upgrade your boat’s stereo unit as well? Fusion’s latest model is a no-brainer for many boat owners is it offers as many features of a high-end marine stereo system as possible at an affordable price.
It benefits from modern aesthetics and an anti-fogging display, plus water resistance to IPX6 and IPX7 standards.
Wireless control is possible via Bluetooth or ANT technologies, with the latter offering easy compatibility with your Garmin Quatix smartwatch or ARX remote control.
In addition to conventional FM and AM reception there’s also a built-in DAB tuner.
Best portable marine speakers
Waterproof portable speakers are sometimes a better option than fixed units.
Sony’s XG series is rated to IP66 and has 30 hours of battery life. Even a quick 10 minute charge will provide up to a further three hours of use.
Despite the need for compactness, a mix of speaker types, including passive radiators for a punchy base, plus high efficiency tweeters, helps to produce impressive clarity across the frequency range.
The unit weighs 5.6kg and includes two USB charging ports, as well as an ambient lighting mode.
Bose Frames Tempo
You might wonder what a pair of sports sunglasses is doing in this listing. This is not a mistake – these IPX4 water resistant sunglasses have a speaker in each temple.
The idea is to enable you to listen to favourite tracks or podcasts without using earbuds that cut off ambient noise. This enables you to stay more in tune with your surroundings and therefore helps to maintain situational awareness when on the water.
The polycarbonate polarized lenses are scratch and shatter resistant. They can also be changed to suit different sports and lighting conditions. Battery life is up to eight hours.
Read Yachting World’s Fusion Stereoactive review
The Fusion StereoActive more than justifies its premium price tag – with our esteemed sister publication Yachting World describing this unit in its recent review as “seriously robust” and “a comparatively large, yet user-friendly speaker that packs a proper audible punch”.
Key features include dual 2.5in 40W directional speakers, IPx7 waterproofing and an AM/FM tuner.