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Marine stereo systems have improved greatly over the years with advancements such as Bluetooth connectivity and other intuitive designs. Unlike standard automotive stereos, marine alternatives are suited to the marine environment.
The best marine stereo is the Fusion Entertainment MS-RA70, which has Bluetooth connectivity for audio streaming and an intuitive design that fits in all standard DIN mounts for an easy installation.
High-quality audio onboard your boat can improve your enjoyment greatly and upgrading your marine head unit is very simple. There are various designs but many will be a standard DIN size that will slot straight in for a direct replacement.
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Best Marine Stereo System
Before marine stereo systems were a thing, many boat owners would result in using the standard automotive radios. The problem was as soon as water hits it, the electronics would break down and you would need to purchase another.
Luckily there are now waterproof marine head units that are designed to be resistant to water and continue to work. They offer just as much functionality as any car stereo with the likes of Bluetooth, audio inputs and much more.
With so many stereos available, reading the specifications on whether they are suitable can be a big task. Below is a list of the best marine stereos for your boat that offer a range of functionality and are suited to the marine environment.
Fusion MS-RA70 Marine Head Unit
The Fushion Entertainment MS-RA70 is the ultimate marine stereo with everything you need to enjoy your music out to sea. For those that are planning to install various audio equipment such as a marine subwoofer and other speakers, it has perfect outputs, which include 4 x 50W class A amplifier with 1 discrete pre-out and sub-out.
Other features of the Fushion Entertainment MS-RA70 marine head unit include:
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Aux and USB port at the rear of the stereo
- 4 x 50 watt class A amplifier
- Full Apple or Android interface via unidock
- Standard DIN size
- Optically bonded glass display
In terms of the dimensions of this marine head unit, it is 2.4 x 4.9 x 7.4 inches and it has an appropriately sized LCD display for audio navigation. In terms of the styling, the interface is intuitively designed and it will fit perfectly in most boat stereo mounts that are standard DIN sized.
Fushion even offers there very own free mobile application (for both iPhone and Apple) that will provide wireless control of the marine stereo. This includes audio selection, navigation of the system and other functionality.
The Fushion MS-RA70 has been designed specifically for the marine environment. Features such as optically bonded glass display make it perfectly suitable for use on the boat. It is the best marine stereo you can buy, which is easy to install and a great investment for your boat.
JVC KD-X33MBS Marine Stereo
JVC is a reputable brand in the car audio market for providing the highest quality sound. This KD-X33MBS marine head unit is no different as there is a built-in amplifier and it has 50-watt x 4 channels output and 22 watts RMS for high-quality audio.
Other features of the JVC KD-X33MBS marine head unit include:
- AUX, USB and Bluetooth inputs
- FM/AM radio stations
- No CD player for additional water resistance
- Bluetooth allows for both audio and hands-free calls
- Built-in microphone for calls
- Detachable front-facing display with blue illumination
If you are looking for a stylish head unit that provides the capability for speakers, whilst ensuring high-quality audio is paramount, the JVC is for you. It is the best marine stereo for the money and a great upgrade for those with an older head unit.
This BOSS MGR350B marine radio has Bluetooth, USB port, and AM/FM radio stations that allow you to enjoy your favorite music while fishing.
This radio is weatherproof or Fully Marinized which means it is a Marine and Outdoor product. It also has an IPX rating is IPX6 which means water splashing will have no harmful effect from the device.
The switchable tuner function allows you to tune the radio to broadcast either in the US or Europe.
BOSS MGR350B’s Pre-Amp outputs can expand your system by adding signal processors or 2 amps. This device can display up to 64-character messages with song, genre, news, or station.
Features of the BOSS Audio Systems MGR350B boat stereo include:
- 60 watts x 4 channels
- Mounts in 3″ Hole
- AUX and USB inputs
- Bluetooth Wireless Audio Streaming
- Plays USB, MP3, WMA and Smartphones
The KMRM312BT marine head unit is a great all-rounder and will certainly improve on any old marine head unit. It is also relatively cheap too when you consider the functionality and reputable brand backing the quality.
Infinity INF-PRV250 Marine Bluetooth Stereo
The Infinity INF-PRV250 is a compact marine stereo that packs a large amount of functionality. Unlike the alternatives listed above, the design of the unit is a rounded rectangle, which may require a custom installation to work on your boat.
Features of the Infinity INF-PRV250 Bluetooth Marine Stereo include:
- AM/FM, MP3, USB, and AUX audio inputs
- Bluetooth audio streaming and range of up to 32.6 feet
- 50 watts x 4 channels
- 20 watts RMS
- IP66 waterproof head unit
- Includes flush face mounting kit
The design of the INF-PRV250 is one of the best in this article but the installation may require a bit of customization due to the non-standard dimensions. The Infinity marine stereo uses the highest quality materials, which can be seen by the aluminum structure of the stereo that protects against corrosion.
JBL PRV-175 Marine Stereo
JBL is another premium audio brand that takes pride in its high-quality audio. The PRV-175 marine stereo is a compact 8 buttoned unit with a single
LCD display. The circular design is fairly unique and looks great when placed next to other circular components such as a boat speedometer.
Features of the JBL PRV-175 Marine Stereo include:
- 45 watts x 4 channels
- RMS is 20 watts x 4 channels
- Aux and USB ports at the rear of the unit
- Bluetooth connectivity
- 2 sets of 2V pre-amp outputs
The circular design is certainly very good looking but it does mean you will have to customize the mounting area in order to hold it in place. However, once fitted it will look great and a worthwhile investment that will add value to your boat.
Marine Stereo Buying Guide
Many boat owners that are new to installing audio equipment onboard may simply install an automotive stereo. However, the advantages of a marine stereo are really worth paying the extra for even if they seem identical to the automotive alternative.
The waterproof rating is much greater on a marine head unit compared with an automotive stereo as well as many other critical factors.
Features such as AUX input and of course Bluetooth connectivity are very desirable and over the last decade, they have been seen in all the latest marine head units.
Investing in a premium marine stereo will improve your audio quality and enjoyment instantly. Below are some of the factors that you should consider when purchasing a marine stereo.
Using a Car Stereo in Your Boat?
The car head unit has been tried and tested millions of times, so why is it not advised to use them in your boat? The idea of using a car radio system in the boat can work but its extremely important that you use a protective cover. This plastic cover over the head will give the head unit some waterproof cover.
However, boats will get wet and not all stereo systems will be located within a cabin. Examples of this may be speedboats, ribs, tenders and more.
Marine stereos are designed to be waterproof and this is why they cost slightly more than car stereos. The waterproofing will prevent electrical components from becoming shorted out as well as other benefits.
For the sake of a small amount extra, investing in a marine head unit that has been designed for the marine environment is highly recommended. Marine stereos may also be classed under motorcycle stereos as they too are water-resistant due to obvious reasons.
Benefits of Using a Marine Stereo
- UV Protection from the Sun
- Water Resistance
- Anti Corrosion Protection
- High-Quality Material (Compared to a Cars Stereo)
- Inclusion of Marine Weather Radio
Most people understand that a marine stereo will need to be somewhat waterproof but UV protection is just as important. The head unit may be in direct sunlight for many hours and this can cause damage to it over time. The faceplate, controls, and display should all have UV resistant qualities in order to last many years.
Of course, a car stereo may be cheaper, but for the sake of a few extra dollars, the marine stereo alternative is definitely worth the extra money.
The waterproofing and the anti-corrosion sealed components of the stereo system will reduce water entering the electrical area of the boat.
Marine Bluetooth Stereo
Bluetooth connectivity is a must with the smartphone craze with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music. Not only does it allow for the obvious music streaming but it can also be used for hands-free calling, which is a great feature to have.
It is important to note that some marine head unit may have Bluetooth for the audio streaming but not for calls. For Bluetooth connection for both audio and hands-free calls, check for a built-in microphone as this will be confirmed.
Stereo Inputs and Outputs
Many manufacturers will litter the description of marine stereos with technical jargon and you may just skim through it. However, you will want to ensure that the head unit that you buy is full of excellent functionality.
The main sources of audio input other than a Bluetooth connection are via a CD player, Aux, USB, and an SD card. You may think that has all of the inputs at the front of the head unit would be highly beneficial, but it’s not.
For example, if water was to come on board, if you have a CD slot or AUX/USB port located at the front, water may enter the head unit.
The CD player is the worst culprit and many marine stereos will completely get rid of the CD functionality to improve its qualities as a marine head unit. However, the best way to combat this issue is to have a cover that goes over the top of the face of the stereo.
Ensuring that the stereo has a range of outputs is critical for those planning on adding a range of marine speakers. You will want to pay particular attention to the number of channels, the wattage and whether it has a built-in amplifier (although you can add a separate marine amplifier).
Choosing a marine head unit that has excellent waterproof properties, is easy to use and has the output for additional speakers is a hard task.
There is a wide variety of styles with many offering Bluetooth connectivity, which is a huge bonus because you are able to connect your smartphone for music streaming and even hands-free calling.
In terms of the best marine stereo, the Fushion Entertainment MS-RA70 is by far the best option that ticks every box. They are popular worldwide and have a great reputation for superior build quality over many of the alternatives.