One of the best things about owning a pontoon boat is being able to relax on the water and listen to some good music. If you’re a boater who purchased a pontoon in order to host large get-togethers with your friends and family, chances are you make use of your boat’s stereo and speaker system.
Not all boats come with a top-of-the-line sound system. When listening to your favorite tunes, you want to make sure that you have a setup that reduces static and is easy to hear throughout the boat. If you’re looking to revamp your pontoon’s sound system, have a look at some of the best marine speakers you can have.
Choosing the Best Marine Box Speakers
If you’re someone who’s spent a lot of time building a home entertainment system or installing car audio speakers, you know that a lot of research goes into creating a crystal clear audio system for your pontoon boat. Here are some of the things that you need to consider:
- The size of your speakers.
- If your sound system can handle the power that your amplifier or stereo puts out.
- Your sound quality.
For more information, have a peek at this short educational video clip on marine speakers.
Before you go out and buy new speakers for your boat, you first need to take a look at the size and shape of the speakers you’re replacing. I want to stress the importance of shape because it’s often something that’s overlooked by people who’re new to installing speakers. Just remember that the best marine speakers 6x9 won’t fit your baseline 6x9” speakers if they have different cutout diameters.
Speaker size actually isn’t what you should be focusing on. The size that the manufacturer advertises the speakers as can be misleading, so always look at the diameter instead. This will help ensure that you don’t have to do any drilling or extensive modifications into your boat’s furniture so that you can install those speakers.
Make sure they can handle the power
There’s nothing more frustrating than spending all of your time and efforts wiring and installing your pontoon speakers, just to have them fail on you. If your speakers aren’t able to handle the power that your stereo or amplifier puts out, they will blow. Look at the speakers’ peak and continuous (RMS) wattage and compare it to your stereo or amp.
Choose the right sound quality
Low-end speakers are terrible. They muffle and distort the sound, which leaves you with an unintelligible mess at semi-loud volumes. Get to know the speaker types so that you know which to choose. From worst to best quality, there are the three types of marine speakers you’ll encounter as you shop around:
- Dual cone speakers – lowest quality. It consists of one speaker driver with two sound-producing cones. One cone works on high frequency and the other for low frequency. There are some decent dual cone speakers on the market, but most have a problem with distortion.
- Coaxial speakers – your tweeter and woofer are integrated but have separate drivers, which increase the clarity. At loud volumes there’s still a bit of distortion as high and low pitch noises tend to mix.
- Component speakers - these speakers are similar to coaxial speakers except that the woofer and tweeters are completely separated. What this means is that there’s little to no risk of having the sounds bleed into each other, eliminating any distortion. These tend to be the most expensive speakers.
In addition, there are also subwoofers, which are essentially an extension of component speakers that produce the low (bass) frequencies. These are the speakers that produce the deep vibrations, thumping, and rumbling sounds. Just remember, you can have the best marine subwoofer on the market, but without good-quality speakers, it’s going to sound distorted and unpleasant.
Are they durable?
Another important thing to consider when shopping around for marine speakers is durability. There’s a reason that we use marine speakers for boats and not your run-of-the-mill sound system. It’s because marine speakers take a beating.
Having water-resistant speakers is a must. You’re on a boat, so unless you keep your speakers wrapped in plastic, they’re going to be exposed to water at some point.
Many marine speakers are also integrated into furniture at the foot level. This increases their chances of being knocked into, which can damage or destroy them. For this reason, having heavy-duty speakers is a must for any pontooner.
Other cool features to look for in a good set of speakers
Now that we looked at how to spot good speakers that are hardy and produce high-end sound quality, let’s look at some bonus features. If you’re not a functional person and you actually want more out of your sound system, consider looking for the following features when shopping for a sound system:
- Customizable faceplates and moldings for your stereo and speaker systems that liven up your interior.
- Resistance to corrosion and UV rays.
- The ability to sync with portable devices and play music via Bluetooth.
- Remote-controlled operations that enable you to adjust the sound settings from anywhere in the boat.
Another thing to consider is price. Fancy speakers can cost upwards of $200, and expect to add another $100 minimum if you want a subwoofer. However, a good mid-range speaker set can run you anywhere between $115 and $150 depending on brand and features.
A List of the Clearest and Loudest Marine Speakers Available
After learning a bit about marine speakers, you’re probably ready to go out and buy a speaker system for your pontoon boat. If you have an audio brand that you’re loyal to, by all means, go ahead and give them a try. If you’re someone like me who’s interested in shopping around to get the most out of your purchase, have a look at these best-selling speaker systems.
1. Polk Audio MM651UMBS 6.5" Coaxial Speakers
When it comes to affordable speakers that put out high-quality sound, Polk is a name you can trust. Polk MM Speakers stay true to the brand’s reputation of excellence and are affordable, durable, and most important, great sounding.
These stylish speakers have a built-in tweeter strategically placed in the center of the unit, which reduces the chances of distortion static when played at high volumes. They’re also incredibly lightweight and come in a stainless steel casing that keeps them well protected from any wear and tear.
Some of the features I really love about the Polk Audio MM series include:
- Built with a waterproof, weather resistant material that is safe from UV rays and saltwater.
- Easy to mount in virtually every pontoon boat except those with custom-designed speakers installed.
- Capable of handling up to 200 watts.
There are cheaper speakers on the market. However, you’ll have a difficult time finding any that perform as well as these for less than $150. Also, they look really good with LED lights. Match them with the coolest pontoon LED lights.
The Fusion FR series are perfect for the pontooner who cares about looks and sound quality. These heavy-duty speakers are built with a durable titanium case that looks twice as cool as it sounds. Additionally, they’re strong enough to withstand salt water, UV rays, and direct exposure to water and dust, which makes them perfect for the boater who goes on frequent marine outings.
These speakers are one of the few coaxial speakers that provides clear sounds at high volumes without costing an arm and a leg, which makes them perfect for the party pontooner. You get a lot of bang for your buck with the MS-FR6021 series. After all, they’re stylish, durable, and crystal clear.
Here are some of the Fusion MS-FR’s best selling points:
- Strong enough to withstand the wear-and-tear from being in high traffic areas.
- Completely waterproof.
- Its simple design makes the installation painless.
- Very affordable sticker price.
These Sony 6 ½” speakers are beautifully crafted marine speakers that are stylish and clear sounding. If aesthetics are something that’s important to you when choosing the right marine speakers, you’re going to love this speaker set. These XSMP speakers come with removable grille/faceplates, which means that you can swap out their covers for colors that best match your interior.
While Sony’s XSMP speakers aren’t as powerful as some of the other marine speakers on the market, they are able to handle 160 watts without any problem. Additionally, these coaxial speakers have the tweeter mounted in the center of the unit, which means that you’re less likely to experience static and distortion than you would with other speakers.
Here are some of the features that I really like about the Sony XSMP:
- It’s fully customizable appearance makes it a must-have speaker set for anyone who’s mounting speakers in a visible location.
- The casing is built with a durable material that can take knocks, bump, and kicks without breaking or damaging the integrity of the speaker system.
- The speakers are completely resistant to UV rays, water, and salt.
Overall, Sony’s XSMP speakers are ideal for the boater who values convenience looks. They’re easy to install and sound great.
If you want to turn your sound system into the best marine speakers for bass, consider adding Sony subwoofer.
Kicker has long since been a speaker manufacturer that’s developed quality material, and their marine KM series has been no exception. These coaxial speakers are loud, durable, and come in a stylish package that has an optional customizable LED light package for an additional $20.
If you’re looking for a speaker set that sets the party mood, there’s none better than the KM 654. In low-light scenarios, watch as the speakers light up and turn your pontoon into a floating club.
The KM 654 speakers sound great too. They really do a good job of hitting those high and low frequencies without any distortion or static. This makes them perfect for boaters who enjoy playing loud music!
Here are some of the really cool features that sold me on the Kicker KM 654:
- The LED lights were able to be programmed to display a number of colors, as well as neat features like fading and strobe lights.
- The speakers are completely durable and able to withstand maximum wear and tear. They’re resistant to UV rays, fog, water, and even salt.
- Tweeter is mounted in the center of the speaker and is made out of titanium. This doesn’t just give the tweeter an added level of protection, it actually helps improve the quality of high-frequency sounds!
- These 6.5” speakers were incredibly easy to install – unless you’re a pontooner who had custom speakers installed in your boat, you shouldn’t have any problems installing the Kicker KM series.
While the Kicker KM speakers aren’t cheap, they’re perfect for the party boater who needs to play crystal clear music that can be heard clearly from anywhere on the boat.
The Infinity 612m is a mid-range speaker that comes with a low-end price.
Overall, the 612m is a well-rounded speaker system that has a high sensitivity rating, which means that it’s perfect for loud music. It’s praised for its clear sound and lack of distortion, and is probably one of the best sounding speakers hands-down.
With that said, there’s one problem with the 612m series that needs to be addressed – durability. The speakers lack the certification for salt, UV, and fog resistance. This means that they aren’t as heavy-duty as your average marine speaker is built to be. While this is fine for mounting your speakers in an out-of-the-way location, it's not ideal at the foot level.
Picking the Best Marine Speakers
There are a number of high-quality marine speakers that are affordable and provide great sound. It’s fairly easy to find a top set that can help you keep the party going for hours. If you plan on doing the installation yourself, check out this video to get an idea of what’s expected:
Just remember, durability should be one of your primary concerns when choosing marine speakers. You don’t want to see your speakers break after being knocked around one time too many!
Hopefully this guide has helped you find the best marine speakers for your pontoon boat.