Best marine stereos for 2023
These popular picks bring versatility, great sound, and marine-rated toughness to your boat
In this article... We'll take a look at some of our most popular marine-rated receivers.
- Classic style and cutting-edge performance – Sony DSX-M55BT
- A multi-zone marvel – Clarion M608
- Compact design with a big list of features – Wet Sounds WS-MC-2
- A hideaway receiver with standout performance – Fusion MS-BB100V2
- An all-in-one stereo and speaker system – Boss MCKGB350B.6
These rugged receivers are customer favorites, and when you hear how they perform on your boat, you'll know why!
When it comes to choosing the right marine receiver for your boat, you have options. The one thing that's not optional is that it really does need to be a marine-rated receiver. As any boater who's tried to skimp a little by swapping in a regular old car receiver will tell you, that's a very short-term solution to a long-term issue.
Marine receivers are made for this.They're designed for high performance, yes, but they're also designed for durability. These radios have to withstand sun, water, and corrosion, so all the switches and ports are moisture-proofed, the circuits are conformal-coated for maximum protection, and even the displays are checked for visibility in bright sun.
If all that sounds serious, relax. All that serious work results in marine radios that you won't have to worry about when you're out having fun. The popular radios discussed below are all designed to give you outstanding audio performance for seasons to come.
Sony DSX-M55BT – Classic style and cutting-edge performance
The classics never go out of style, which is why single-DIN marine receivers like this Sony remain so popular. With the DSX-M55BT, you can enjoy streaming Internet music, Bluetooth® audio, MP3 and WMA files. plus good old AM/FM radio. The built-in Dynamic Reality Amp will produce plenty of distortion-free power, and you can also customize the sound using the built-in 5-band equalizer. The 2-volt rear-channel and subwoofer RCA preouts will come in handy when you expand your system in the future. You can also add a SiriusXM satellite radio tuner (not included, requires subscription).
Note: Radios like this Sony are water-resistant, which means they can handle spray and humidity. The circuit boards are coated to protect them from water and the faceplate is UV protected. But stereos like this are not water-proof. That's why we recommend adding a radio cover to protect your marine radio from hosedowns and the like.
Clarion M608 – A multi-zone marvel
Clarion's multi-zone M608 digital media receiver is a great way to add sound and style to your boat. This powerful, versatile receiver includes built-in Bluetooth for music streaming, lots of connectivity options, eight preamp outputs and the security of IP55-certified water resistance.
The M608 also gives you 4-zone audio control, so you can split the boat into four distinct areas to suit your needs. Each zone can be controlled by a compatible Clarion wired remote control (sold separately). And if you're a SiriusXM satellite radio subscriber (or plan to be), the M608 works with the SXV300 tuner (sold separately).
Wet Sounds WS-MC-2 – Compact design with a big list of features
The popular, versatile Wet Sounds WS-MC-2 receiver does a whole lot of stuff and fits into a standard-size gauge opening. Built-in Bluetooth lets you stream music, and "Simple Secure Pairing" makes it easy to use your Android or Apple smartphone to crank your tunes.
You'll also like the global AM/FM/Weather Band tuner, plus a charging USB port and an AUX input for your digital music player. The clean design and 3" TFT screen makes it easy to read and easy to use, and you can also add a Wet Sounds MC-TR transom remote to control your music.
Fusion MS-BB100V2 – A hideaway receiver with standout performance
Finding space to add a stereo to your boat can be a challenge, but a compact, marine-rated "black box" receiver is a great solution. Fusion's hideaway MS-BB100V2 digital media receiver mounts out of sight and delivers outstanding performance.
With AM/FM radio, USB/AUX playback, and Bluetooth connectivity, this 2-zone receiver gives you lots of entertainment in a compact package. The package includes a compact dash-mounted controller and the hideaway black box source module. You can also use the Fusion-Link app to turn your Apple or Android smartphone into a remote, too.
Boss MCKGB350B.6 – An all-in-one stereo and speaker system
Looking for an all-in-one audio system for your small boat, golf cart, or UTV? The Boss MCKGB350B.6 audio system contains a gauge-mount marine digital media receiver, a pair of 6-1/2” speakers, and an antenna. You'll get great sound, outdoor-ready reliability, and plenty of cool features.
Built-in Bluetooth connectivity lets you stream your favorite tunes, and you can also plug into the USB or AUX inputs. If you want to listen to the big game or check the weather, you'll apprecited the AM/FM and Weather Band tuners. The 6-1/2" Boss MR6 marine speakers can handle up to 90 watts RMS, so you'll get plenty of volume when you need it.
Other things you’ll need
Once you’ve chosen your boat's new stereo, make sure you have everything you need to install it properly and get the best possible sound.
Adding an amplifier to your boat's system will bring out the best in your new stereo and speakers
The more power your boat's speakers get, the louder and better they sound. Most aftermarket marine receivers come with built-in 4-way amplifiers, but that stereo power might not be enough, especially if you install wakeboard tower speakers on your boat.
So if you like it loud or just want to drown out the nautical noise, you really should invest in a marine-rated amplifier. Be sure to choose an amp that has an RMS power rating equal to or less than the speakers' power-handling specs.
Marine-rated speaker wire and cables
Marine-rated wiring is an essential part of any marine audio system. All wires should be tinned, because bare copper can corrode quickly in salt water conditions.
We have lots of great articles that will help get you ready for your DIY marine audio installation project. For more info, you can start with these three:
Got questions? That's what we're here for!
Thinking about upgrading the sound on your boat? If you have any questions about choosing and installing your marine radio (or speakers or amps), our expert marine audio advisors will be happy to answer them. Give us a shout.
Popular questions customers ask
A boat's stereo will usually be the size of a standard car stereo, fitting a rectangular 2" x 7" opening, or the size of an instrument panel gauge, fitting a circular 3" diameter cut-out. Installation will be easiest if your new stereo is the same body style. It will include mounting hardware for installation. If you buy it from Crutchfield, you’ll have access to our free technical support to help you deal with any problems.
If you only listen to quiet music and talk radio while docked or float fishing, you won't need an amplifier to go along with a new stereo. If you want to listen to 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 amp will feature weather-proof covers, conformal coated circuit boards, corrosion-resistant connectors, and plenty of power.
An aftermarket marine stereo will have features not found on basic factory radios — like increased power for high-fidelity sound and Bluetooth® wireless music and app streaming for easier access to your music. And if you want to add extra speakers or amplifiers, preamp outputs are a big help. Things like water-proof remote controls, muti-zone play, camera inputs, satellite radio compatibility, and GPS navigation connections round out the upgrades.
If your new marine receiver has a video display and can handle Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, you can use your favorite GPS app — like Apple Maps, Google Maps, or Waze. If you want GPS navigation without tying up your phone, you'll have to get a separate marine chartplotter or VHF radio with GPS.