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In order to get the most out of your marine speakers, you will need a marine amplifier to increase the amplitude of the electrical signals for higher quality audio.
You can also wire a marine subwoofer to the amplifier for additional bass.
The best marine amplifier is the JL Audio M700, which is a 5 channel, class D marine amp with a 300 watt RMS at 2 ohms and designed for the highest quality sound.
Choosing between marine amplifiers can be hard due to a range of factors such as the amplifier class, inputs, filters, channels, power output, and bass ratings.
Investing more money will result in higher quality sound and bass.
Table of Contents
Best Marine Amplifiers
|JL Audio M700||5|
|Rockford Fosgate TM400X4AD||4|
|Wet Sounds Sinister SDX6||6|
Adding a marine amplifier to your boat will power up your aftermarket speakers and subwoofer for better quality sound overall.
Playing audio at high volume without an amplifier installed can see the sound quality decrease even if you have premium speakers or subwoofers installed.
Amplifiers differ in price from brand to brand with JL Audio being the most expensive due to their reputation for excellent audio quality.
However, there are many alternatives to suit a variety of budgets and still maintain high specifications.
If you are wanting to play loud music without the worry of distortion then a marine amp will be required.
Below is a list of the best marine amplifiers for powering up your speakers and subwoofers on your boat.
#1 JL Audio M700 Class D Marine Amplifier
JL Audio is known for producing highly rated audio products from speakers, subwoofers and amplifiers. They do come with an expensive price tag but in return, you get the unbeatable sound quality that really makes a difference.
Features of the JL Audio M700 Marine Amp include:
- 5 channels
- Class D design
- 300 Watts RMS x 1 @ 2 Ohms
- Range of filters for each channel
- Mosfet switching power supply
If you can afford the JL M700, it is the best marine amplifier for powering up all your speakers. There are more expensive models such as the M900 but the price difference is not worth paying the extra compared with the performance of this M700.
#2 Kenwood KAC-M3004
KENWOOD’s compact work amplifiers are tiny in size so they fit even the most defined installation areas. Many of today’s power sports have a very narrow space to work in and tend to be a harsh environment for electronics because of the exposure to outdoor environments.
The General Features of the Kenwood’s marine amplifier is signal tensing turn on, conformal coating, RMS POWER Output: 75W x 4.
The size of the marine amplifier 6-1/2″ x 1-3/4″ x 3-7/8″ that would perfectly fit your boat.
The amplifiers also use a conformal coated main PCB (printed circuit boards) which offer extra layers of protection to help prevent moisture or damp air from damaging the product.
Features of the Kenwood KAC-M3004 boat amplifier include:
- RMS power
- 4o: 50 watts x 4
- 2o: 75 watts x 4
- Peak power: 600 watts
- Signal sensing turn-on
Overall, it is a cheaper alternative to the JL Audio alternative and is a highly rated marine amp that is suitable for the tough marine environment.
#3 Rockford Fosgate TM400X4AD Marine Amp
Rockford Fosgate produces a range of amplifiers to suit both high and low budgets. The TM400X4AD is a compact amplifier with excellent performance. The brand claim that it produces more power per square inch than any other model.
Other features of the Rockford Fosgate TM400X4AD marine amplifier includes:
- 4 channels
- Class D design
- 100 Watts RMS x 4 @ 4 Ohms
- Proprietary constant power
- Onboard punch WQ with +18dB boost
- Top-mounted controls
- Dual fans to help with cooling down at the full load
Overall, it is the best marine amplifier for the money with a dual fan for cooling and a range of other additional features for improving the audio quality of your speakers.
It also has specific design qualities such as protection against UV, dust, and corrosion that make it perfect for the marine environment.
#4 Wet Sounds Sinister SDX6 Amplifier
If there is no such budget and you want the best amplifier money can buy, the Wet Sounds Sinister SDX6 is the answer. It has been designed for superior performance and comes as a complete kit that includes all the wiring and connectors.
Features of the Wet Sounds Sinister SDX6 marine amp include:
- 6 channels
- Class D design
- 585 Watts RMS x 3 @ 4 Ohms
- MAXED power supply that draws less current
- Full cast aluminum chassis
- High and low pass filters
Overall it is the ultimate marine amplifier and is one of the most powerful available. It does come with an expensive price tag but everything has been built to the highest of standards.
Even the amplifier wiring cables are marine graded with RCA’s included for mounting near the battery.
#5 Kenwood 1177524 Small Marine Amplifier
For those that are on a budget and require an affordable marine amplifier, then the 1177524 marine amp by Kenwood is the best option.
Unlike the alternative, it has Bluetooth connectivity for interacting with another device, which can be very beneficial when onboard your boat.
Features of the Kenwood 1177524 small marine amplifier include:
- 4 channels
- Class D design
- 45 Watts RMS x 4 @ 4 Ohms
- Mosfet switching power supply
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Water-resistant controller
Overall, it is a cheap marine amplifier that performs well considering the low cost compared with the alternatives.
Investing in an amplifier can be fairly expensive but this Kenwood model provides an affordable solution.
Marine Amplifier Buying Guide
Installing a marine stereo system, subwoofer, and top-of-the-range speakers will certainly provide you with an improved audio experience. However, to get the most out of your latest audio upgrade, you will require a marine-rated amplifier.
Powerful speakers and subwoofers will need more power and we recommend only 4 channel amps and above. This will allow you to have enough inputs to connect all your speakers to the amplifier. Along with the channels, you should be checking the RMS rating that describes the continuous power to the speakers.
To help you make an informed buying decision, we have produced the below-buying guide regarding marine amplifiers.
The number of channels that you will require in an amplifier is determined by the number of speakers you are going to install. If your boat is rather large and you are planning to install a large quantity, you will want as many channels as you can.
A small boat can get away with just a 3 channels amplifier with 2 inputs for a pair of speakers and 1 input for the subwoofer. However, you can always bridge channels in order to make the most from your boat’s audio system setup.
Premium marine amplifiers will have 5 or 6 channels (such as the JL Audio and Wet Sounds) that will be able to power your entire audio setup. However, there is nothing stopping you from having multiple amplifiers that can be stacked.
RMS Continuous Power
The RMS rating of an amplifier describes the amount of driving power at which each speaker will sound its best.
The higher the number usually relates in the better sound quality but you will need to figure out the optimum minimum and maximum power for your speakers.
Your subwoofer may require a higher RMS than your aftermarket speakers and its vital that you check the ratings before choosing your amplifier.
Installation of the Marine Amplifier
Not all the amplifiers for the marine environment come with any installation kits or wiring, therefore it’s vital that you purchase the recommended marine graded kit.
Opting for a regular wiring kit is not ideal as it will not be suitable for the harsh conditions.
In short, you will require a marine-grade wiring kit, speaker wire, capacitor and a marine battery that will not lose power quickly.
On top of this, you will need all the standard hardware and fuses. Below is a brief setup guide of installing a JL marine amplifier:
Filters and Bass Boost
Amplifiers provide various ways to control the complete audio setup with built-in electronic circuits.
These direct frequencies away from the speakers in order to reduce the dreaded distortion and come in two forms, which are low and high pass filters.
A high pass filter will direct low frequencies away from your speaker whereas a low pass filter does the opposite.
This results in much higher sound quality and a massive reduction in distortion.
Adjusting the bass boost will apply more gain to a particular bandwidth and it will bring more powerful bass to the speakers.
However, adjusting this too far will see an increase in distortion. We recommend that you spend time to adjust the low pass filter, gain and bass boost levels to find the best quality bass.
Installing a marine amplifier will certainly increase the sound quality from your audio setup on your boat.
Investing in a more premium type of amplifier with high RMS ratings and a range of channels is our recommendation. However, it is down to your budget you have available for the amplifier.
Marine rated amplifiers will be constructed of much higher quality materials compared to a domestic or automotive alternative.
It may be tempting to choose one of those rather than a marine example but they will not be as durable on your boat due to the harsher conditions.
All of the recommended marine amps within this article are designed to be installed on boats and withstand even the toughest of marine environments.