During those first few trips out into the water, the muted crashing of the waves and the hushed blow of a gentle breeze can be all the music that you need. But with time, you’ll find that the sounds of nature might not be the best if you’re trying to keep things lively and upbeat.
So maybe a radio might counteract the deafening silence, but is it really going to be enough for a full-on mid-lake party? The best subwoofer for a pontoon boat will produce fuller, better sound that shines through amid all the ambient noise.
So if you’re looking to cop a subwoofer for your boat, then this guide should lead you to the right choice.
The 5 Best Marine Subwoofers
You’d think that choosing a subwoofer for your pontoon boat would be easy peasy, but with so many options on the market, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. If you’re not quite sure which one to choose, here are some of the most popular marine subwoofers money can buy:
With a name like Bazooka, you can’t really go wrong. This monster of a subwoofer promises to deliver that quintessential bass that most marine speaker systems lack. Its design descends directly from the original Bass Tubes Enclosure, which helps to give deeper, stronger bass notes for a fuller listening experience even against strong winds and waves.
Complete with a set of weather-resistant mounting straps, installing this marine subwoofer is as easy as simply strapping it against a panel on your boat. Obviously, removing it requires just the same amount of effort, making it one of the easiest plug-and-play subwoofers you’ll find. The marine-grade, waterproof construction also adds to its lifespan, letting you enjoy its hearty bass notes for years without issues.
If you were looking for something that offers some stronger bass notes, there’s the MS-SW10 from Fusion Entertainment. This 400W subwoofer features a 10-inch diameter and a maximum sound intensity of 88 decibels. The device was designed to deliver crisp, quality bass for a premier listening experience.
Despite being quite powerful, the MS-SW10 measures a mere 4.5 inches in diameter. Even then, it uses robust, weatherproof materials that make it perfect for marine applications. According to the manufacturer, their subwoofer promises sustained high performance even when exposed to harsh conditions.
If you’ve got a little extra to spare and you’re looking for truly high end performance, then the Memphis MXA110SPD might be for you. This premium marine subwoofer touts a sophisticated enclosure that makes it both functional and stylish. The chassis uses a durable anodized aluminum that holds everything together even in the most rugged conditions.
In terms of sound, this subwoofer features bass boost control up to 12 decibels, giving you crisp, palpable lows that give your audio greater definition. Its control panel - found off to the side of the subwoofer - features a sealed structure to protect it against moisture damage and the elements.
Now, for the boat owners who want a discreet subwoofer that delivers a full bass without actually taking up the spotlight, there’s the Pyle Low Profile Marine Subwoofer. This pick touts a inconspicuous white washed design that lets you install the unit without having to worry about it being seen. The slim marine subwoofer can easily slip under a seat to give your boat guests a pleasant surprise when you crank up the music.
Design specifics aside, the Pyle Subwoofer delivers an impressive sound experience, pumping out up to 1000 watts of power. For added convenience, it comes with red and light power status indicators, and a remote level control system that lets you adjust the sound output without having to tinker with the device itself.
As one of the leading brands in the audio supply industry, it’s only fitting that JBL finds a spot on our list. Their MBP10AM is one of the best in the biz, using IPx5 rated construction that meets the demands of harsh outdoor conditions. Their subwoofer touts accentuated performance that works well to highlight those deep bass notes in open air conditions where it might be a little harder to hear the fullness of sound.
With 750 watts of peak power, this subwoofer offers impressive audio performance that rounds out your music to bring a full listening experience. It also comes as a complete package with mounting hardware, a cover and gasket, and even a spare fuse so you can install the subwoofer straight out of the box.
What to Consider When Buying a Marine Subwoofer
You might fancy yourself a boating expert, but marine audio systems are a completely different story. That said, you might find the market a little tough to navigate, especially with all the technical mumbo jumbo involved.
To make sure you’re buying the right marine subwoofer for your needs and preferences, take a look at these major considerations:
RMS Power Rating
RMS is an abbreviation for ‘root mean square’ which might not really make things any clearer than they already are. In essence, this is the mathematical measure of the best value of a waveform. For us lay people, that’s really just the power level of the subwoofer expressed in watts.
All technicalities aside, RMS simple refers to the amount of sustained power a subwoofer can handle. It’s always going to be lower than peak power (which we’ll get into a minute), and tells you the kind of performance you can expect out of your subwoofer most of the time. Although there might be some truth to the idea that higher RMS ratings deliver better bass performance, there are lots of other factors at play.
Peak Power Rating
If the the RMS power rating tells you the sustained performance of the subwoofer, peak power rating tells you the strongest and highest power level that a subwoofer can produce. Now, you can’t really expect it to operate at this level all the time, which is why the peak power rating only really manifests with a surge of energy.
Essentially, the peak power rating should give you confidence that the nuclear explosion that happens at the climax of your favorite movie is going to sound totally lit through your pontoon boat subwoofer system. But other than those high energy moments in audio, peak power doesn’t really mean much.
This one can get pretty confusing, especially since it has a lot to do with your amplifier. Impedance, in simple terms, refers to the resistance of the coils in your subwoofer. This is measured in ohms. That means the lower the ohms on your subwoofer, the less resistance it will produce.
The reason why you might want to look into a low resistance subwoofer is because it makes it easier for an amplifier to supply power since it’s going to be met with lower resistance. Of course, problems might still arise if you pair your low impedance subwoofer with the wrong amplifier, so it pays to know how they work together.
Size can affect the quality of sound that comes out of your subwoofer. But be warned - bigger doesn’t always mean better in the subwoofer category. A compact unit can deliver more directional sound which can be helpful in open air conditions like those on your boat. On average, marine subwoofers measure up to 10 inches in diameter, but smaller ones can deliver even better performance especially when you take time to consider placement.
Installation and Mounting
Now this one really depends on how invested you are in your subwoofer. Some of them will require an enclosure, which means you might have to buy one or punch a hole in one of your seats to give your subwoofer a place on deck. Then there are those that slip under a seat for added discretion. Others still come in their own enclosure, and require nothing more than mounting.
If you’ve really made a solid decision as to where your subwoofer should go, you could take it to the limit and drill in the mounting hardware. But if you want something a little more flexible, then a portable subwoofer that secures in place via a set of removable straps or hardware should be your best bet.
Waterproof and Marine-Grade
It would be wise to buy a subwoofer that’s specifically intended for marine use. Lots of those that are designed for cars and other applications can easily give in to the demanding conditions on a boat, leaving you with a broken subwoofer and an aching wallet.
Marine-grade subwoofers are typically designed to resist both moisture and UV damage. But there are others that take it the extra mile. Some stand up against salt and others are even constructed so as not to let in dirt and sand, which can be common for saltwater vessels. Read the fine print to make sure you’re buying a subwoofer that’s built for the conditions you typically boat in.
Drop the Bass
All the wind, waves, and open air can dampen the quality of your boat audio system. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. The best subwoofer for a pontoon boat can help deliver the fullness of sound you’re craving for. Just make sure you consider the specifics and scout your options to make sure you’re getting a unit that really matches your standards.