If you are the type that likes boating but would also love to hear some music while on a trip, say no more! This guide will help you out in choosing from among the best marine subwoofers available online for all your listening needs.
It goes without saying that anyone and everyone has a song that they like and who says that you can't listen to one while out on a boating trip. However, this has its own slew of issues, most notably the fact that the music doesn't sound right.
It feels like it is missing something and that's when you find out that what you really need is actually a marine subwoofer, but why is that?
Why Add Subwoofers to Your Marine Speakers?
Because you feel like your tunes lack that oomph that you want to feel in your chest. Well, that's the qualitative answer and is very subjective as some people just love the deep thumps of bass.
The reality however is quite different. Sounds that have lower frequencies are commonly associated with bass and a subwoofer is a type of speaker that is capable of producing these frequencies.
Not to mention the fact that your boat is on water, even in a closed cabin the water surrounding your boat will absorb some of those waves thus weakening or altering its strength making your audio system feel lacking in sound quality.
Most marine speakers are only capable of producing sounds within a certain frequency range, and more often than not, they usually lack the ability to produce low-frequency sounds because they're just not designed for it. Therefore you are losing out on some parts of your music simply because your speaker cannot entirely recreate the sound.
What this means is that with a subwoofer you will be able to more accurately reproduce the sound especially the low-end frequencies as it was recorded from the studio and as the artist intended you to hear it.
Best Boom for Your Buck
Now you are sure that you would like a marine subwoofer, but to make the most out of your allocated budget we've made a list of the best marine subwoofers available, so you don't have to go through the hassle of researching about the best marine subwoofer for yourself.
The Bazooka MBTA10250D is a marine subwoofer designed for class d amps has a power handling of 250 watts of power. Its stainless steel body assures you of solid build quality and is powered by a voice coil with impedance (4 ohms) which ensures that you have a frequency response of between 35Hz and 250Hz so you can get the deep bass without compromising on the sound quality.
The 10-inch subwoofer has 275 watts RMS power output and you can even double your bass by adding an optional passive tube.
As this is Bazooka's marine subwoofer it is designed to be easy to install using velcro reinforced mounting straps and chrome-plated mounts, not to mention that its stainless steel hardware is intended to be weather resistant.
The material used in its construction is salt fog and UV certified, which means not only is it flashy looking and water-resistant but also well protected against UV rays and salt fog ensuring that corrosion doesn't tarnish this subwoofer.
This 10-inch subwoofer from JL Audio, is a specialized speaker grill with an impedance (4 ohms). With power ratings of 250 watts, RMS power with up to 500 watts at peak power this speaker grill will ensure that your marine audio system will have powerful bass.
However this is only a speaker grill, and despite its high performance, this marine-grade subwoofer would still require an enclosure in order to produce the appropriate amount of bass listed in its spec sheet.
This marine subwoofer is meant for configurations with multiple subwoofers and the driver itself is a mica-filled injection-molded polypropylene cone. The synthetic rubber surround and marine-grade brass binding posts ensuring that this is one of our top picks for the best marine subwoofer.
The DB1042 from Polk Audio, is a compact DVC subwoofer with a massive peak power output of 1050 watts.
It has an amazing frequency response between 28Hz and 200Hz with an RMS value of 350 watts with impedance (4 ohms).
This peak power rating allows this subwoofer to be mounted on a smaller enclosure without sacrificing volume. It is also IP56 rated, making it salt-fog, humidity, UV, and water-resistant.
Polk audio has truly outdone themselves this time for the compactness of this boat subwoofer.
The Garmin MS-SW10 is a marine-grade subwoofer with a peak power output of 400 watts, power handling is a cakewalk for this subwoofer. The two-inch voice coil with a 4 ohm impedance rating has a frequency response between 2kHz and all the way down to 30Hz.
If you're looking for a nice bass upgrade for your sound system this marine subwoofer is compliant with ASTM standards ensuring that it will last you for years to come.
This huge 12-inch subwoofer from Rockford Fosgate has a 4-ohm impedance rating with a peak power rating of 600 watts.
This boat subwoofer's high-performance power handling can also output 300 watts RMS continuously and because it is an injection-molded polypropylene cone type marine subwoofer, it conveniently comes with a full 2-year warranty assuring you of its quality and longevity.
A subwoofer and amp package from Kenwood is unlike most subs you'll find on the list with impedance (4 ohms) because this sub has a 1.5-ohm impedance with DVC. Its power handling capability allows it of up to 200 watts RMS peak power and the polypropylene cone with rubber surround ensures water and dust can't get to it.
The M2 M212S4B might sound like a mouthful but make no mistake about the bass it provides. This massive 12-inch subwoofer has a 4-ohm impedance designed to continuously operate at 500 watts RMS power.
Bass has amazing sound quality due to the subwoofer being tuned to a very specific frequency response between 250Hz and all the way down to 30Hz.
Peak power output isn't an issue at 600 watts of maximum power handling, and you don't even have to worry about longevity in a marine environment and against UV rays as it comes standard injection molded with a polypropylene cone for an absolute blast when integrated into your existing marine sound system.
If you fancy something a bit stealthy but with the same output most subwoofers can offer then this is the sub for you.
This is a compact 8 inch 1000 watts peak, 300 watts RMS subwoofer with a frequency response between 50Hz and 100Hz.
Things to Consider When Buying a Marine Subwoofer
In general, you can get away with choosing the biggest most powerful subwoofer and be done with it.
However this comes with a whole host of issues that need to be ironed out, and it might not even be compatible with your existing setup.
And with so many subwoofers to choose from, you need to consider a few things to get the best marine subwoofer for your boat.
There are three main designs for subwoofers which are Free Air, Infinite Baffle, and Enclosed types. Now the best design for everyone doesn't exist, but the best design for you does, as each of these types come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.
A free air subwoofer is a type of subwoofer specifically designed to operate without the use of an enclosure. This is ideal for deck installation and other open areas where a free air sub just shines, or in our case, booms.
This means that with a free air subwoofer you can add more bass to your audio system on boats with the tightest of space constraints.
The downside is you're going to need a lot of power to drive a free air subwoofer compared to either the infinite baffle or enclosed type.
Now, this kind of subwoofer is similar in that it doesn't require its own enclosure. So what makes it different from free air subwoofers? It turns the entire room it is currently in into its enclosure.
This means that it doesn't require much power to drive compared to the free air type, but it has to be appropriately sized for the room that it will be installed in.
This means cabins and other enclosed spaces will be a great environment for this sub, however outdoor use and open spaces are just completely out of the question.
This is the traditional form factor a subwoofer can come in and is usually more protected from the environment compared to other designs, not to mention it is easy to install because of its enclosed nature.
That said even with its good bass quality, easy-to-drive speaker, and protective housing, this type of subwoofer requires the most space.
Another thing to consider when shopping for subwoofers is the voice coils. A voice coil is the heart of the sub and is where the magic happens where electricity is transformed into sound.
For this factor, we have a single voice coil subwoofer and dual voice coil subwoofer.
Single Voice Coil (SVC)
These are generally good subs that are well worth their price. Nothing to complain about here, they will get the job done with no issue and the simplicity in wiring means that you could have it up and running in a very short time.
Dual Voice Coil (DVC)
Now, these are the peak of subwoofers, if you want the best power handling available, and the highest peak power possible dual voice coil subs are second to none.
As the name states, you power the sub through two voice coils and two connections with varying power output and audio results depending on the wiring configuration.
Of course, do make sure that your amplifier can handle these configurations.
This connection type turns a 4 ohm DVC sub into a 2 ohm DVC sub. Halving the impedance reduces the electrical resistance thus altering its power handling capabilities giving you the peak watts RMS power output you could ever ask for in a sub.
This is the opposite of the parallel wherein you combine the two 4 ohms connections in series thus increasing it to 8 ohms, this allows you to then wire a multiple of these subs in parallel to a single amp.
Doubling the impedance does significantly reduce the RMS value of the sub which may be advantageous for you on certain amps.
This means powering only a single voice coil in your sub, which as you guessed, effectively turns it into an SVC sub, peak power, RMS, and all.
Although this is power efficient and easier to drive especially when you have multiple subs, do use this sparingly as a dedicated SVC could also do this at a lesser cost.
This dictates the power handling capabilities of your sub. Now, this is split into peak power and RMS power and they mean very different things depending on their use.
Peak power, from the keyword peak, means the highest possible amount of power that a subwoofer can draw from your amp.
Now, this doesn't happen often; it occurs on certain bass-heavy spikes, but if your sub goes beyond this value it will sound terribly at best, and blow up at the worst especially with low impedance subs.
First of all, RMS stands for root mean square and is a fancy way of saying how much power a subwoofer uses continuously. Now there is a ton of mathematical formulae and engineering jargon as to why it is named as such, but for the purposes of us audiophiles, RMS fits just fine.
RMS power allows your sub to operate continuously without it or your amp heating and blowing up.
So if you'd want to keep something at a certain volume for a long period of time, consider the RMS value that the sub has.
If you do exceed the RMS value, then everything is still fine the sub still has its peak power handling ability.
However, if you keep it above RMS value for a significantly long period of time, stuff can heat up so try to keep things in check.
Most subs have an impedance around the 4-ohm range, which can be powered by most amps, however, some have a 2-ohm impedance or 8-ohm impedance so ensure that your amp can power your sub especially during peak power usage for ideal audio reproduction.
Ideally, the lesser the impedance the better the power handling capability of the subwoofer since a lower impedance does give it a higher peak RMS power output.
However, do make sure that your amplifier can handle such peak RMS outputs at that impedance to make sure you don't end up breaking anything.
Consider that enclosure-type subwoofers are larger in terms of volume. Subwoofer diameters also vary depending on which one you choose so make sure that it fits in the location you want it to on your boat.
This goes in line with the size aspect of the sub. Not all are the same, and some subs are easier to mount than others. Some subs are even compatible with the dashboard sockets in some boats.
Ease of Setup
Similar to mounting, different types of subs have different levels of ease of setup, so keep that in mind. Enclosure type subs are the least convenient to set up while the free air type is easy enough.
The infinite baffle does depend on its placement for its operation, so the ease of setup may vary depending on how easy you can access said placement.
Marine Grade Certification
Firstly, please don't buy car subwoofers for use on a boat.
Marine-grade certification means that the subwoofer is certified for use on a boat.
The cone especially is quite susceptible to moisture, salt, and humidity. which can severely affect lifespan and sound quality, as such marine subs are designed with this in mind.
Now this means that the cone is water and dust resistant, this doesn't mean that all marine certified subs are waterproof. So check the certification your sub has before taking it on a trip.
With multiple brands and manufacturers available, that also means many varying kinds of aesthetic designs which dictate the look and feel of your sound regardless of whether the sub is actually working or not.
Performance-wise, this doesn't really impact anything, but could well be a consideration for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best subwoofer for deep bass?
With regards to the relationship between your bass and subwoofer for your boat, bigger makes it deeper and power makes it louder.
What this means is that having a larger diameter subwoofer allows you to produce a frequency response on the lower spectrum, and more power gives those frequencies a higher volume.
A proper balance needs to be achieved in order to have sound without compromising on either bass or quality audio.
How many subwoofers do I need for my boat?
If it's just you on the boat, then a single boat subwoofer located where you will be spending most of your time listening should be sufficient for your needs.
However, all that bass will be isolated to that area and might be an issue if there are multiple people that would like to listen to some quality audio or that you intend to be moving around the boat.
For an appropriate subwoofer system, consider the size of your boat and where the listeners will mostly be. That said some subwoofers can be integrated into your boat with their own enclosures so consider space constraints.
What's the best subwoofer for a pontoon boat?
We have written a whole guide on this. Be sure to check it out here: The Best Pontoon Boat Subwoofers.
The best boat subwoofer setup for you is one where you have to consider your own habits and listening preferences. Choose the biggest and most powerful subwoofer that you can afford to fit and power on your boat, and even get multiple ones if you want maximum coverage. Do note that if you have a smaller boat, this advice may be tweaked a bit to save cost while still maintaining power and audio quality due to the closer listening range.
That said if ever you're in the market for the best marine subwoofers check out this guide to make sure that you have the best subwoofer setup possible for your boat.