Best Marine Stereos

Review & Comparison, Last Update January 21, 2020
Marine stereos make sure you're always able to listen to your favorite music stuck at sea. The best marine stereos can do much more than that though, from letting you make calls hands-free to following weather forecasts. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2020
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Type
Playback
Audio Output Power (Peak)
Water Resistance
Extras
Warranty
 
PROS

The stereo features two independent audio zones. You'll be able to set up advanced localized menu controls. There are two on-board amplified zones that let you individually separate the speakers into two groups, making the sound in the cabin more or less loud than the sound on the deck. 

CONS

The Bluetooth module is pretty slow. 

OUR VERDICT

Fusion MS-RA70 will let you access and manipulate more settings and facilities than most stereos. Packed with high-end marine tech, the device will be able to provide and secure the most comfortable listening experience. 

detailed parameters
Type

1-DIN

Playback

AM/FM radio, DAB+ Radio (requires MS-DAB100A module), USB drives, AUX, Bluetooth

Audio Output Power (Peak)

4 x 50 W

Water Resistance

IPX7 protection class (when correctly mounted)

Extras

Compatible with the Fusion-Link app (available on iOS and Android), 2 on-board amplified zones, monochrome LCD screen

Warranty

1 year

PROS

The Bluetooth module supports the A2DP protocol, so you'll be able to stream with very little delay and sound quality loss. Its range reaches 30 feet. The zero current memory draw feature will be able to keep the time and presets even when the power is disconnected. 

CONS

The stereo is not that loud. 

OUR VERDICT

Jensen MS3ARTL is easy to install. The device will look stylish on the dashboard. You won't have to worry about its longevity. You'll be able to control the stereo remotely via the app. The user interface is simple and accessible. 

detailed parameters
Type

3.5" round (fits a 3" gauge hole) 

Playback

AM/FM radio, USB drives, AUX, Bluetooth

Audio Output Power (Peak)

4 x 40 W

Water Resistance

IPX6 protection class (when correctly mounted)

Extras

Compatible with jControl app (available on iOS and Android), monochrome LCD screen

Warranty

1 year

PROS

The components are corrosion-resistant and protected from harsh elements. You'll be able to use the preset EQ to modify the tracks' sound. Provided the FM station broadcasts with the RDS technology, the screen will display the station, song, artist, genre, news, traffic, and more. 

CONS

The screen is difficult to read under direct sunlight. 

OUR VERDICT

Considering the tech, Boss MGR350B is almost too affordable. The NOAA weather band tuner will let you follow the weather and marine forecasts. At the same time, the stereo's 1A charger will enable you to charge the connected devices.

detailed parameters
Type

3.5" round (fits a 3" gauge hole)

Playback

AM/FM radio, NOAA weather band tuner, USB drives, AUX, Bluetooth

Audio Output Power (Peak)

4 x 60 W

Water Resistance

IPX6 protection class (when correctly mounted)

Extras

Monochrome LCD screen

Warranty

1 year (2 more years for product registration)

PROS

The dual-phone setup that allows you to connect two smartphones simultaneously and comfortably switch between these phones. The built-in mic can be used to make hands-free calls, letting you communicate all while keeping the hands on the helm. 

CONS

The device's not even splash-resistant. 

OUR VERDICT

Kenwood KMR-D375BT will attract and satisfy audiophiles first and foremost. You can use CD discs. The device supports different lossless formats, including FLAC and AAC. The 13-band graphic equalizer will make the entire experience that much more enjoyable. 

detailed parameters
Type

1-DIN

Playback

CD discs, AM/FM radio, USB drives, AUX, Bluetooth

Audio Output Power (Peak)

4 x 50 W

Water Resistance

No

Extras

Dual-phone connection feature, mic included for hands-free calling, monochrome LCD screen

Warranty

1 year

PROS

The humidity-resistant resin protects the circuits on the inside. The MegaBass™ sound mode works wonders optimally changing the gain and boost frequency and depending on the speakers' volume. The advanced sound engine separates highs, mid, and lows surprisingly well. 

CONS

The volume button is somewhat loose. 

OUR VERDICT

Sony DSX-M55BT does everything. The stereo lets you talk hands-free, listen to high-fidelity music, and use various sources connected via various protocols. Also, the device is more modern and sleek than most marine stereos.

detailed parameters
Type

1-DIN

Playback

AM/FM radio, USB drives, AUX, Bluetooth

Audio Output Power (Peak)

4 x 55 W

Water Resistance

No

Extras

Easy Bluetooth® connectivity with NFC one-touch module, MegaBass™ sound mode, built-in mic for hands-free calling, monochrome LCD screen, wireless remote included

Warranty

1 year

Fusion MS-RA70

Localized Zone Control

Fusion MS-RA70 is as adaptable and versatile as these stereos come. The price's far from modest but the device is so sleek and value-packed that you cannot really complain about the somewhat elevated price tag.

You'll be able to easily replace any standard DIN-sized non-marinized stereo without having to reconfigure the dash space. You can mount the stereo onto standard dashboards or integrate into a glass helm with a flush surface mount. The device's single din rear and face will be able to slide into classic car stereo hole cut-outs. At the same time, again, the unit more than enables new as well as retrofit installations methods.

From the aesthetics perspective, Fusion MS-RA70 looks relatively sleek but not especially smooth. We've seen more streamlined and aesthetically pleasing units before. We've seen much worse though too.

First and foremost, its design is accessible. The buttons are large. The dial's comfortable. The LCD screen is pretty large too. The values are easily readable. You shouldn't face any challenges figuring out the device's settings.

Also, you won't even have to use these buttons. Housing this A2DP Bluetooth module, the device is compatible with the company's Fusion-Link app. Using this app, you'll be able to stream different tracks from any compatible device. The app provides localized zone control, excellent source navigation, convenient track selection, and, needless to say, the ability to control the stereo from a distance.

Review of Fusion MS-RA70 Wireless Control

Two Independent Audio Zones

You can choose between various playback methods. The device lets you listen to USB MP3 audio. You can connect smartphones to the stereo. You can listen to local AM/FM stations. The stereo will even allow you to access DAB+ radio, though you will have to purchase an MS-DAB100A module separately.

When mounted correctly, the unit's front panel is IPX7 water-resistant, meaning you won't have to worry about the circuitry at all.

Last but not least, the device features two independent audio zones. You can access advanced localized menu controls (these even include zone naming). In other words, this stereo will let you easily customize and manipulate the listening experience in each zone.

As far as we're concerned, the product's downsides are basically limited to the fact that the aforementioned Bluetooth module is quite slow.

Apart from that, Fusion MS-RA70 is more reliable, more adaptable, and more comfortable than most marine stereos.
Fusion MS-RA70 Wireless Control in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Jensen MS3ARTL

Use the App

Jensen MS3ARTL looks smooth and even somewhat stylish.

More often than not, these 3.5-inch round stereos look somewhat clunky compared to standard DIN-sized devices but that's not the case here. The unit's aesthetics are clean and concealed.

The buttons are generous. There's enough space between them, so you won't have to worry about accidentally pressing the wrong buttons and screwing up the settings.

The monochrome LCD screen is not necessarily large but not too compact either. The values are accessible and so are the device's settings. The buttons incorporate blue backlighting, so you'll be able to comfortably access and use these buttons even in low-light conditions.

The LCD screen is backlit too. At the same time, the screen's viewing angles are pretty good and you'll have no issues reading the screen under direct sunlight.

Jensen MS3ARTL is as self-contained as marine stereos get. You'll be able to listen to AM/FM radio stations. The USB port will let you connect various gadgets/devices/flash drives to the stereo. The standard AUX input hasn't gone anywhere too.

Last but not least (on this subject), the device comes fitted with a Bluetooth module. The module makes the stereo compatible with the jControl application (available on iOS and Android). Using this app, you'll be able to stream music from most smartphones. The app will let you run the stereo from a distance, so you won't have to move from the deck to the cabin to change/pause songs and settings.

Review of Jensen MS3ARTL Waterproof Stereo with App Control

Will Last

Marine-grade tech is all about working despite harsh conditions. The people behind this product understand that. The finish and the materials are UV-resistant, so you won't have to worry about aesthetics from the longevity standpoint. The materials are also corrosion-resistant, meaning that the device will last.

When you mount this thing the right way, its IPX6 protection will have no issues withstanding splashes and rain (not submersion though).

For the most part, we've been thoroughly impressed with this product. Where the device somewhat drops the ball is the speakers' output. Measuring 160 watts (40 per speaker), the stereo is not especially loud.

On the bright side, what these speakers output, you'll be able to direct/manage. The controls include audio tone, balance, and fader settings.

Also, the RCA pre-amp output makes sure the signal sent to the amp is as clean as possible.

Bottom line, Jensen MS3ARTL will last no matter what, keeping things comfortable and accessible.

Jensen MS3ARTL Waterproof Stereo with App Control in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

Boss MGR350B

RDS Tuner

Boss MGR350B won't be bossing you around. Though the device looks the part, it is assuming where it counts and unassuming where the stereo is supposed to be simple and accessible.

From the setup perspective, what we have here is a standard 3.5-inch round marine stereo that fits 3-inch gauge holes.

Now, from the aesthetics/layout standpoint, we've seen better stereos. The device looks pretty good, we've no complaints on that front. The buttons are pretty small though and put too close to each other. Most people will probably have to operate them using nails rather than fingers.

The screen has its moments. On one hand, the device comes housing an RDS tuner that uses the screen to display 64-character messages with stations, songs, artists, genres, traffic info, news, and more when the FM station broadcasts using the RDS tech.

At the same time, the screen could use anti-reflective coating because it is hard to read these messages under direct sunlight.

The device's fully marinized. Outfitted with the tech that grants the stereo the IPX6 protection class (when you mount it correctly), you can rest assured knowing that rains and splashes won't be able to do anything to this stereo.

Meanwhile, incorporating anti-UV coating on the front panel and conformal coating on the PC board, the device's about as weatherproof as these stereos get.

Also, the polished stainless steel bezel is resistant to rust and corrosion, making the unit look sleek and smooth.

Review of Boss MGR350B Weatherproof Digital Media MP3 Player

Accessible Outputs

As far as playback is concerned, the device is pretty awesome. First, Boss MGR350B comes equipped with a built-in equalizer, so you'll be able to make different tracks pertaining to various genres sound precisely the way you want.

You'll be able to use SD cards, flash drives, smartphones with USB ports, and various different devices as the source. The USB port supports flash drives with files up to 32 gigabytes for music playback on devices without monitors and music, photo, and video playback on devices/gadgets with monitors.

That's the inputs. At the same time, the pre-amp outputs will let you quickly and easily add two amps/sound processors to the system, so you'll have no issues hooking standalone speakers/subwoofers to the stereo. You won't necessarily have to do so though because the stereo's 4 x 60W speakers are no joke.

What else is there to add? Considering the price, Boss MGR350B offers tremendous value.

Boss MGR350B Weatherproof Digital Media MP3 Player in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Kenwood KMR-D375BT

Various Connection Options

Kenwood KMR-D375BT is more old-school than the marine stereos on this list. First, the device accepts CD discs, which's great since there's no downside to that and people with CD disc collections will be able to put those to good use.

At the same time, its old-school build has its flaws too. Before anything else, the device adopts no water resistance whatsoever. The housing's not even splash-resistant, so we would recommend making sure that the dashboard is protected from splashes and rain before you install this stereo onto the boat.

Despite its more traditional disposition, the device looks modern and sleek (though not necessarily as concealed and streamlined as modern electronics usually look). The finish is smooth. The black front panel contrasts really well with the silver bezels. The buttons are wide and separated as much as they should be separated to prevent misclicks.

The screen is wide too, so the values are sizable and more than readable.

From the installation standpoint, what we're dealing with here is that standard DIN-sized marine stereo that you can add to most dashboards without reconfiguring the dash space.

Of course, you don't have to use CD discs. The device's much more modern than that. You can listen to AM and FM stations, that goes without saying. You can also connect various USB-enabled devices to the stereo and use them as the content source. The auxiliary port is present too, so you can connect most smartphones to the stereo. Last but not necessarily least, the Bluetooth module will let you stream songs wirelessly too.

Review of Kenwood KMR-D375BT Marine CD Receiver

Hands-Free Communication

Considering everything we've mentioned above, the device still stacks up short compared to the marine stereos on this list. That's not necessarily the case though.

There are multiple advantages unique to this unit. First, there's the dual-phone connection feature that will let you connect two smartphones at the same time and switch between them. Second, the stereo comes equipped with a built-in microphone that enables hands-free calling, so you'll be able to talk on the phone without taking the hands off the helm.

Apart from that, the device comes fitted with four 50-watt speakers that are pretty loud and will let you comfortably listen to music without using separate loudspeakers/subwoofers.

All things considered, Kenwood KMR-D375BT is better in some ways than the stereos on this list and worse in some ways too, so take these "ways" into account and you should be able to make the right choice.

Kenwood KMR-D375BT Marine CD Receiver in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

Sony DSX-M55BT

MegaBass Sound Mode

Sony DSX-M55BT is somewhat basic yet packed with features at the same time. Before that though, let's address the device's build because marine-grade construction is what separates marine stereos from standard stereos. Using humidity-resistant vinyl resin, the stereo is able to protect the inside components. Meanwhile, the faceplate features anti-UV coating to minimize fading and discoloring coming from sunlight.

Aesthetics-wise, the device looks slick and nuanced, with glossy accents and sharp edges. Generally speaking, Sony stereos always look good but this device is even more impressive from that perspective than most.

Having said that, what defines this product first and foremost is neither looks nor its build. Before anything else, the product's all about its performance. Housing the company's MegaBass™ sound mode, the device is able to optimally change the boost frequency and gain depending on the volume position.

To elaborate, even when the volume's low, the stereo will let you hear that punchy bass sound that makes music come alive without the driving noise that usually adds up when you crank up the volume. The mode is smart enough to give only the appropriate amount of gain in limited frequencies to avoid those unwanted distortions.

In addition to this mode, the device adopts an advanced sound engine that works wonders separating the lows, mids, and highs. The engine also produces excellent instrumental separation. Other than that, the stereo's engine includes an adjustable EQ5 equalizer and a selectable LPF crossover.

Review of Sony DSX-M55BT Digital Media Stereo Receiver

Siri, Please

Sony DSX-M55BT is pretty comfortable too. The Bluetooth module here comes fitted with an NFC one-touch module, so you'll be able to stream music wirelessly and without having to tinker with the settings. The stereo also comes supplied with this handy wireless remote that will let you control the stereo from a distance.

The device's also compatible with Siri. Equipped with a built-in microphone, the stereo lets you tell Siri to make hands-free calls, compose text messages, select and play music, and more.

On the playback front, you can use the USB port, an AUX input, or the aforementioned Bluetooth module to listen to various formats, including lossless formats like FLAC. In other words, you'll be able to listen to music however you want. Add to that everything that we've mentioned above and you can definitely see where we're coming from when we added this product to the list.

Sony DSX-M55BT Digital Media Stereo Receiver in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

What Is a Marine Stereo?

Marine stereos are stereos that you install onto various watercraft dashboards. Generally speaking, these stereos are quite similar to car stereos but there are some differences, differences that we've discussed in the What Features to Compare section.

Before anything else though, do you need these stereos? Well, you can always bring Bluetooth speakers with you, sure. But you need to recharge those. Also, they're seldom as powerful. As far as we're concerned, marine stereos are not necessarily necessary, but they make the boating experience much more comfortable and enjoyable, so we would recommend them to most boating enthusiasts.

Using these stereo systems, you'll be able to listen to the radio, podcasts, and your favorite tracks. Marine stereos are more than compatible with marine speakers too, so you might want to look into those too.

Apart from that, there's not much to add here. Most people cannot imagine cars without car stereos, so what's the difference here between them and boats/marine stereos? That's right, there's none. As far as we're concerned, private watercrafts need stereos as much as private cars.

What Features to Compare

Construction

Marine stereos are somewhat different from car stereos. They're supposed to be different because they're used at sea. That's precisely why these devices' construction should be much more tough/rugged. Of course, much depends on the dashboard and the boat's design, but we would suggest looking into water-resistant stereos first.

Even when the dashboard is seemingly protected from splashes and rain, you would want to ensure that the stereo will be able to survive when subjected to some water. More often than not, mid-range marine radios/stereos adopt the IPX6 protection class, meaning that they're able to resist massive splashes but won't be able to survive submersion.

Type

Generally speaking, there are single-din stereos and 3.5-inch round stereos. Standard DIN-sized stereos will usually let you install the device without making any changes to the dashboard. 3.5-inch stereos fit 3-inch gauge holes, so you'll have no issues installing those two.

Playback

Marine stereos are stereos (duh), so playback's important. Most modern devices come equipped with USB ports, so you're able to use USB flash drives and various USB-enabled devices to listen to music. In addition to USB, these stereos usually house an auxiliary port and an AM/FM radio receiver.

Apart from that, marine stereos sometimes feature Bluetooth modules. Using these modules, you'll be able to stream music wirelessly from most smartphones.

Audio Output

As you'd imagine, these stereo systems come equipped with varying speakers. More often than not though, you'll find them cramming four speakers that go somewhere from 40 to 60 watts per speaker. You're also usually able to connect separate loudspeakers and subwoofers to these stereos.

Extras

There's a lot that we can put under the "extras" category. Sometimes, marine stereos are compatible with various apps that you can use to manage the device from your smartphone.

More often than not, these stereos come equipped with monochrome LCD screens that display barebones information regarding the content you're playing like the artist, song name, duration, etc.

Occasionally, you'll find stereos that come fitted with built-in microphones. These stereos will let you make hands-free calls so that you'd be able to communicate without taking your hands off the helm.

Of course, audio systems produce varying audio quality, so you might sometimes find marine stereo systems that feature various tech and modes to make the sound as impressive as possible.

Watercraft Types

Generally speaking, different watercrafts fall somewhere between the boat-ship spectrum. Of course, there are also hovercrafts and submarines but these have nothing to do with the marine stereos we're discussing here, so we won't be talking about these vehicles. We won't even be discussing ships here since those usually suggest these massive watercrafts that are used for commercial, industrial, or military reasons. More often than not, civilians own boats or yachts. These terms are somewhat ambiguous though, so let's figure out the difference(s) between these vehicles.

Yachts and Boats

Most people probably believe that "yachts" connotates something fancy/expensive, right? Well, fancy compared to boats anyway. That's not necessarily the case though. Surprisingly enough, setting the United States residents aside, boating enthusiasts call most common sailboats yachts. At the same time, people often use these terms (boat/yacht) interchangeably and that's not necessarily correct either.

Size

More often than not, anything above 35 feet length-wise and reaching somewhere around 150-160 feet is something that boating experts would consider yachts. Anything above 160 feet would be a "Superyacht".

Boats, on the other hand, usually hover somewhere between 15 and 30 feet.

Operation Area

Small boats feel comfortable traversing calm waters such as lakes, rivers, and shallow harbors. Large boats (between 20 and 30 feet length-wise, like pontoon boats) will also be able to navigate relatively rough ocean waters.

Yachts can do more than that. These watercrafts will comfortably roam deep ocean waters and handle turbulent seas. There are multiple factors allowing them to do so, including increased size, high-tech electronics, various guidance instruments, better protection from the elements, and more.

Crew

As you would imagine, most boats are not designed with multiple crew members in mind. More often than not, one captain is enough to handle everything. Yachts, on the other hand, usually require a full crew to handle everything from navigation and maintenance to electronics and engineering. Large yachts can even include stewards catering to the passengers. In that regard, yachts are more like small private cruises than standard boats.

Propulsion

Needless to say, there are boats that are able to move using wind alone. That being said, most boats these days come fitted with motors. These motors let you navigate waters without taking the weather conditions into account. Of course, these motors don't hold a handle to massive yachts' motors, from performance to precision.

Navigation Tech

Sometimes, boats come equipped with advanced marine electronics and serious navigation systems. More often than not though, these systems are pretty pedestrian compared to yachts since those are often designed to handle trans-oceanic trips. When making these trips, you need to be able to navigate with precision, meaning that these systems should be much more advanced than standard boat systems, capable of detecting other watercrafts and various objects.

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Publish Date: 2020-01-21 10:52:20