Best marine speakers for 2023
Customer favorites, best-sellers, and shopping tips
In this article: We'll take a look at some of our (and your) favorite marine speakers.
- Classic marine speakers – JL Audio M3-650X-C-GW
- Marine speakers with LED lighting – Kicker 45KM654L
- Shallow-mount speakers – Fusion EL-F651SPG
- Wakeboard tower speakers – Fusion XS-FLT652SP
- Speakers system in a cooler – Wet Sounds SHIVR-55
What makes these speakers so popular? Let's dive in and take a look. And keep reading for a few shopping tips to help you find the right gear for your boat.
The first thing you need to know about marine-rated speakers is that if you own a boat, you really need marine-rated speakers. The marine environment is tough on everything, and moisture, spray, sunlight, and extreme temperatures will turn an ordinary set of car speakers into useless ballast in no time.
The second thing you need to know about marine-rated speakers is that there’s a wide selection of styles, sizes, and designs out there. Whether you’re upgrading the sound on a bass boat or building a multi-zone system for a yacht, there’s a set of speakers that’s perfect for your needs.
The third thing? If you have questions, give us a call or chat. We have a dedicated team of marine audio experts who can help you build a system that’ll really rock your boat.
What makes these speakers favorites?
The speakers highlighted in this article are more than just best-sellers. They're also rated highly by customers who've already bought and used them.
JL Audio M3-650X-C-GW — 6-1/2" marine speakers
What you need to know: These 6-1/2" marine speakers give you marine-rated reliability and outstanding sound. The 3/4" treated silk dome tweeter is mounted directly to the “Classic” grille for optimal sound performance, so you’ll hear all the highs clearly.
Why we like them: These speakers sound great and the styling blends into almost any boat. You can mount them in your boat's cockpit or bulkhead walls, either as stand-alones or in conjunction with a subwoofer.
Learn more about JL Audio M3-650X-C-GW marine speakers
Kicker 45KM654L — 6-1/2" marine speakers with LED lighting
What you need to know: These 6-1/2" marine speakers sound terrific, and with built-in LED lighting and aggressive styling, they're pretty stylish, too. You can adjust the multi-color LEDs to suit your boat or your mood, so they'll add a lot to your evening cruise.
Why we like them: Whether you're mounting them in a bulkhead, or installing them in a set of Kicker's custom enclosures, these speakers look and sound terrific. They even include two sets of grilles (charcoal and white), so you can choose the look you want for your boat.
Learn more about Kicker 45KM654L marine speakers
Fusion EL-F651SPG — 6-1/2" shallow-mount marine speakers
What you need to know: Sometimes you want to install a speaker, but there just isn't enough mounting depth for a normal speaker with a big magnet. If that's the case in your vessel, you need a set of Fusion's EL Series shallow-mount 6-1/2 speakers. They’re available in white or black, so there’s a style to suit your boat, RV, or camper.
Why we like them: These slim speakers will fit in places others won't, so they're ideal for deck or cabin installations. They’ll handle up to 20 watts RMS, so you can power them with a quality radio or a small amp. And who doesn't love cool LED lighting?
Learn more about Fusion EL-F651SPG shallow-mount marine speakers
Fusion XS-FLT652SP — 6-1/2" tower speaker with RGB LED lighting
What you need to know: These wakeboard tower speakers not only look and sound great, they also bring multi-color LED lighting to your boat, with colors that'll match your mood or even keep time with the music. With 50 watts of RMS power (200 peak), you'll definitely hear your music over the wind and waves, and they're available in black or white to suit your style.
Why we like them: Yes, they sound great, but the RGB LED lighting really ups the cool factor. The RGB lights can generate millions of color combos, so you can create the look you like. Plus, as part of Fusion's True Marine™ line, they're even backed by a 3-year warranty.
Learn more about Fusion XS-FLT652SP wakeboard tower speakers
Wet Sounds SHIVR-55 — Cooler speaker system with built-in Bluetooth
What you need to know: This rugged cooler holds plenty of food and beverages, but it also contains a Bluetooth® stereo system with a built-in amp and six speakers. The built-in lithium-ion battery pack gives you up to eight hours of play time, and you can recharge it from any AC outlet.
What makes it so good: With six Wet Sounds Stealth speakers and a 200-watt DSP amp, this thing can really crank. Use the built-in Bluetooth connectivity to play music from your smartphone or other device, or plug a device into the AUX input. It’s available in five cool colors (Seafoam shown) and with a 58-quart (55 liter) capacity, the SHIVR-55 will hold pretty much everything else you need for a party.
Learn more about the Wet Sounds SHIVR-55
Smart advice for speaker shoppers
When you're shopping for marine speakers, there are some things to keep in mind when you’re perusing the spec sheets.
What to look for in marine speakers
Look for plastic cones (polypropylene is a popular choice) and durable rubber surrounds for maximum weather protection, along with corrosion-resistant mounting hardware. Of course, you’ll also want to make sure the speakers can handle enough power to pump out tunes over wind, water, and engine noise.
Confirm the speaker size you need
With marine speakers, one size doesn't necessarily fit all. Before you order new speakers, remove one of the old ones, measure the cutout diameter, the depth of the cavity, and the space around the cavity. With that info in hand, you'll know that you're getting speakers that will fit the space you have in mind. Also, if you’re going to install the speakers somewhere near your compass, make sure they’re magnetically shielded.
Add bigger speakers and more power
Wakeboard tower speakers are a must if you’re into wakeboarding or water skiing. When you’ve decided that it’s time to add tower speakers, there are three things you need to take into account: power, mounting, and wiring. More power equals more sound for the folks out at the end of the rope, so don’t be afraid to go big here. You’ll also want to make sure your amp is up to the task, so make sure you also find an external amplifier that has an RMS power rating that's equal to or less than the speakers’ power-handling specs. For more info, check out our Tips for installing tower speakers on a boat article.
Add a little LED flair
Great sound is one thing, but great sound with extra style is even better. We stock plenty of great-sounding speakers that also have built-in RGB LED lighting. They look cool and they really rock, plus a little extra lighting is always nice on an evening cruise. There's also a great article that focuses exclusively on LED lighting for boats.
Use marine-rated wiring
And finally, make sure you use the right wiring when you install your new speakers. As nice as they are, they’ll be pretty useless if you skimp on wiring. Be sure to use marine-rated power and speaker wires to connect everything, plus a marine amp wiring kit for your amplifier(s). It’s a smart investment that’ll keep your system sounding great for seasons to come.
Expert advice for your boat
Ready to upgrade the audio on your vessel? Let Crutchfield help. If you basically know what you want, you can start browsing our extensive selection of marine audio gear. If you're just starting the planning process, check out our growing collection of marine audio articles.
And if you need help, contact our Advisors. We have a team of dedicated marine experts who can help you create the marine stereo of your dreams.
Popular questions customers ask
Replacing your boat's speakers will make your music sound better. Boat builders cut corners when it comes to the sound system speakers. Aftermarket marine speakers use better materials and superior construction to deliver improved sound and long-term endurance in rugged conditions. Replacing old speakers is a quick and inexpensive way to get better sound in your boat.
You'll most often want to replace factory speakers with the same size aftermarket marine speakers. For deeper-sounding music, you might consider custom-mounting larger speakers in the factory locations, or adding a subwoofer. If you're into high-performance boats, wakeboarding, or skiing, you’ll want a set of tower speakers, so everyone in or behind the boat can hear the big sound. Speakers with built-in RGB lighting systems can intensify the boat's party-vibes.
Marine speakers are designed to survive in the hostile environments of extreme temperature changes, vibration, moisture, and dirt found in boating and off-road motoring. Not only must the material of each individual part — like a speaker's frame, surround, cone, and coil — resist contamination, but the wiring and adhesives that hold all the pieces together need to resist corrosive damage and remain functioning.Normal car and home speakers just aren't up to the task.
All boats are different, so some speaker installations will be easier than others. If you're replacing your boat's existing speakers, you can usually use the factory mounting locations and wiring with no issues. Before you order new speakers, remove one of the old ones and measure it so you can be sure your new speakers will fit the opening. Measure the cutout diameter, the depth of the cavity, and the space around the cavity.
If you only listen to quiet music and talk radio while docked or float fishing, you won't need an amplifier. Otherwise, since you'll be listening to your music on the go and out in the open, you'll want plenty of amplifier power for each speaker, in order to hear clean, clear sound over the background noises of wind and waves. A quality marine amplifier will feature weather-proof covers, conformal coated circuit boards, corrosion-resistant connectors, and plenty of power.