7 of the Best Boat Stereo and Marine Media Systems

The best boat stereo is one you can use easily and with little fuss. It can connect to a variety of other music and media sources too. Here's my top choices of boat stereo.

As a music lover, rabid audio book consumer and super fan of the shipping forcast, nothing but the best boat stereo will do for when I’m out on the water or moored up in a marina.

Now I’m not advocating antisocial behavior. It’s entirely possible to enjoy music or a good book and not annoy other people near by. Music and the love of a rhythm is a large element of what makes us human. A good quality marine stereo or entertainment system will allow some excellent sound quality in just the right places without having to deafen everyone in the process. For speakers, then have a look at my guide to some of the best marine grade waterproof options: Best marine speakers: Bring music to your boat with these top choices

If you’re looking for a full system then, there’s more of that over at our other buyer’s guide: Best marine radio and speaker bundles for setting up your boat’s sound system.
Less is more. Unless more is more if you’re out wakeboarding or making a lot of engine noise. It’s not by accident that my boat is called Boogie Nights. Let’s dive straight in…

1. Fusion MS-RA670 Marine Entertainment System

Power output: 200 watts (50W x 4),
Dimensions: 4.2″ x 7″ x 7.3″ ( 157 x 68 x 123mm.),
Compatibility: Bluetooth, USB, AM/FM radio.
Fusion-Link Control (Wireless): Yes.
Wi-Fi: Yes – when integrated with an external network router or an Apollo RA770 stereo.
ANT Technology: Yes.
NMEA 2000: Yes, control via MFD – Fusion-Link.
Works with NRX Remotes: Yes.
Optical Input: 1 x Digital Optical Input (SPDIF).
Water Resistance: IPX6 and IPX7 from the front panel when installed correctly.
Rated Power Output (4 Ohm): 26 W rms x 4 @ 14.4 V input < 10% THD.
Rated Power Output (2 Ohm): 43 W rms x 4 @ 14.4 V input < 10% THD.

Reasons to Buy: Marine-grade construction, excellent water resistance (IPX6 and IPX7), Bluetooth, USB, and AM/FM radio connectivity, Fusion-Link app control, high-quality audio performance.
Reasons to Avoid: Higher price point, may require additional Fusion accessories for full functionality.

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Fusion is perhaps one of the most widely known and dare I say, a bench mark in terms of marine audio systems. They offer a variety of stereo or entertainment system set ups. This one has an option to connect an optical audio for a TV and also allows Over-The-Air Software Updates.

Fusion-Link technology enables you to control your entertainment directly from connected multi function displays, and it’s compatible with Apple or Android devices via the Fusion-Link device and some Garmin smartwatches. (if you’re a Quatix 7 owner then you’ll have seen Fusion on the menu)

Fusion also has a thing called PartyBus. This works when other PartyBus enabled stereos are added to your entertainment system. Each stereo can be synced to play the same perfectly synced audio throughout the boat if you want, or they can play individually. I suppose it’s a little bit like having Sonos for boats.

Three independent audio zones are available for customised listening areas. Each zone has menu controls including volume limits, zone naming and zone disabling.

There’s plenty of audio source options, these include Bluetooth, UPnP, optical audio, DAB+ Radio, AM/FM radio, AUX and USB.

The front panel has an IPX7 water resistance rating and has been tested to withstand a relatively harsh marine environment. IPX7 doesn’t mean it is totally waterproof though, so you might want to fit is somewhere that it don’t get utterly drowned with rain or breaking waves.


2. Kenwood KMR-D378BT Marine CD Receiver

Power output: 50 watts (22W x 4),
Dimensions: 7.19″ x 2.06″ x 6.25″,
Compatibility: Bluetooth, USB, CD, AUX.
Moisture resistance of the circuit boards to prevent corrosion.
Remote App using Smart phone
FLAC Supported
Wireless Music Browsing (AVRCP 1.5 / 1.6)
Graphic EQ / Digital Time Alignment
Variable Color Illumination
Bright variable color LEDs can be adjusted to match any color dash lighting.

Reasons to Buy: Affordable option with CD player, Bluetooth, USB, and AUX inputs, water-resistant conformal coating, easy-to-read display, customizable sound settings.
Reasons to Avoid: Limited power output (22 watts RMS), CD player may not be necessary for all users.

Up to 5 Bluetooth devices can be paired to this receiver at the same time so the whole family or group of friends can fight over who plays the cheesiest tune.

The Kenwood also plays CD’s so those retro cool people who still have those little shiny discs can enjoy their charity shop hauls with joyful abandon.
But then my dad has got an Alexa at home so maybe I’m the old fuddy duddy. New tech is for everyone and this stereo is Alexa enabled, as long as you have wifi onboard you can ask Alexa to play music, place calls, listen to audiobooks, hear the news, check the weather, control smart home devices, and find out how old that Rolling Stone Keith Richards is. (80 years old as it happens)

Using your smartphone you can connect your streaming service, such as Spotify/Pandora or stream via Bluetooth audio, or play high-res FLAC files. , CDs, and radio.

If like me you do night cruising/sailing, set the illuminated colour to red and have yourself a lovely ambient red light to save your night vision. Other colours are available so if you prefer pink or green then have at it.


3. JBL PRV-175 Marine Digital Media Receiver

Power output: 180 watts (45W x 4),
Dimensions: 9.2″ x 4.5″ x 6.5″,
Compatibility: Bluetooth, USB, AUX.
Built-in Bluetooth for music streaming
Built-in amp (20 watts x 4 RMS/45 peak x 4 channels)
marine-rated watertight face
Fits into a standard tachometer opening
Inputs: rear USB input, rear aux input
Outputs: 4-channel preamp outputs
Required cutout: 3.365″ (diameter) x 3.3125″ (depth)

Reasons to Buy: Budget-friendly option with Bluetooth, USB, and AUX inputs, large color display, waterproof design (IPX6), JBL sound quality reputation.
Reasons to Avoid: Lower power output (45 watts RMS), basic features compared to higher-end models. No CD player

JBL’s PRV-175 marine digital media receiver can switch up the way you listen to music on your boat without forcing you to modify the dash area too much. This receiver packs a lot of features into a compact design that fits into a standard tachometer hole.

There’s the usual AM/FM radio, of course, plus built-in Bluetooth that lets you stream music from your smartphone. You can also use the rear aux input for your music player, or plug a thumb drive/USB stick into the rear USB port to stream music that way.

It has  4-channel preamp outputs, so it’s got decent capacity to power up an array of speakers.

The simple LED display shows you what you’re listening to, while the watertight, UV-stable facia and controls will stand up to sun, salt and moisture. Though the unit isn’t rated for full waterproofing, so bear that in mind when mounting it to avoid it being completely drenched through to the back of it where the connections are vulnerable, like most other units I’ve included in this guide.


4. Clarion M608 Marine Digital Media Receiver

Power output: 200 watts (50W x 4),
Dimensions: 9.5″ x 3.5″ x 6.5″,
Compatibility: Bluetooth, USB, AUX.
4 Audio Zones Standard DIN chassis, oversized 1.5 DIN faceplate
Tuner:AM/FM/WB, Bluetooth with AptX, USB, Aux Inputs (2), Pandora® and SiriusXM-ready, MFI for Apple iPod/iPhone USB Compatibility
Water Resistant: IP55 front, IPX3 rear
Global AM/FM + Weatherband Tuner
Bluetooth Music Streaming with aptX® audio
MP3/WMA USB File Playback, with 2.1A charging output (rear USB port)
SiriusXM-Ready (SiriusXM Connect tuner and antenna sold separately)
Pandora Radio ready via your iPhone
Dual Auxiliary Audio RCA Inputs (rear)
Built-In Amplifier: 4 x 18W RMS @ 4 ohms
Eight 4V RCA outputs (4 independent zones)
3-Band Equalizer

Reasons to Buy: High-power output for larger boats (50 watts RMS), Bluetooth, USB, and AUX connectivity, watertight design (IP55), customizable sound settings.
Reasons to Avoid: Higher price compared to some competitors, may be more features than needed for smaller boats.

The M608 source unit is IP55 tested SO if it takes a bit of water to the facia it shouldn’t die on you, but don’t get carried away and put this somewhere it’ll get absolutely soaked. The IP55 rating only means it’s resistant and NOT fully dunkable or suited for exterior use without some protection from the elements.

Internally, rubber gaskets stop water in its tracks and integrated drainage channels keep water out, with an IPX3 tested and certified stainless steel chassis for protection even if water manages to seep into the console. Its single DIN chassis and face make it an excellent replacement system for smaller or older boats.

You can stream using Bluetooth as standard from a mobile device.  It uses a technology to reduce degradation inherent with bluetooth and reduces latency too, so there’s a tiny bit less of a delay which is ideal if you’re playing a film and using the stereo to play the audio out of your speakers.

Clarion’s 3-Band EQ lets you customize the level and range of the bass, midrange and treble. Control up to four independent audio zones on the same boat. Enjoy listening to the same source in the cabin, cockpit and on the deck with the freedom to adjust volume and audio settings based on each zone preference.

The built-in multi-band tuner supports reception of radio stations. With weather band, you’ll always have the latest weather updates including automatic reception of emergency information

The M608’s Pandora feature works seamlessly with the Pandora app on your smart device. The app lets you “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”, bookmark artists / songs and even create your own station to customize your own playlist.


5. Pioneer MVH-S322BT Marine Digital Media Receiver

Power output: 50 watts (14 watts RMS),
Dimensions: 7″ x 2″ x 3.9″,
Compatibility: Bluetooth, USB, AUX.MP3
Audio Playback / WMA Audio Playback / AAC Audio Playback / FLAC Audio Playback (Hi-Res) / WAV Audio Playback (Hi-Res)Continuous Power Output 22 W x 4-Channel
Load Impedance Allowance 4 Ohm (4 Ohm to 8 Ohm Allowable)
Max Power Output 50 W x 4-ch 4 ohm / 50 W x 2-ch 4 ohm + 70 W X 1-ch (subwoofer) 2 Ohm
RCA Preamp Outputs 4-ch / 4V
Display: Color Customization
Device 1-DIN
Built-in Bluetooth
Dual Phone Connection
Microphone Included
Phone Registration 5-phone
Amazon Alexa
Pandora, through iPhone/Android
Pioneer Smart Sync Android, Pioneer Smart Sync iPhone
Spotify Streaming audio through iPhone/Android via Bluetooth or AUX input
Voice Control

Reasons to Buy: Affordable option with Bluetooth, USB, and AUX inputs, compact design, Pioneer sound quality, water-resistant conformal coating.
Reasons to Avoid: Lower power output (50 watts peak), basic display compared to higher-end models

Pandora, if you didin’t know already is personalized internet radio that is designed to help you discover new music mixed in with music that you already know. With the MVH-S322BT, you get full control of the Pandora experience. Pandora is compatible with Apple iOS, as well as Android devices connecting via bluetooth. If personal radio isn’t your thing, then Spotify might be, and as per all other radios, this device is also compatible with the popular streaming service, via the magic of a smart mobile device, enabled with data/internet.

If you’re apt to have the odd chat with Alexa via Amazon, then you can do that too, again, using the power a smart device connected via bluetooth.

Pioneer bang on about MIXTRAX as one of their fancy gizmos that will mix music on your device and blend it in new ways and add some lighting to match, the jury is out on that as I really don’t know how much anyone else l;ikes their playlists being messed with but if someone mixes out my favourite tune before I’m ready then there will be a rage. You don’t have to use this function though and let your playlists play as you intended.

USB Auto Switch is useful though. This enables the choice, when your phone is connected via USB, there’s the option to choose whether the stereo uses the phone as a source, or just charges the device.

It’s an affordable device so I’m cutting it some slack on the mixtrax nonsense.


6. Sony DSX-M55BT Marine Digital Media Receiver

Power output: 55 watts (17 watts RMS),
Dimensions: 7″ x 2″ x 3.9″ (178 x 50 x 120 mm)
Compatibility: Bluetooth, USB, AUX-IN, Ipod, USB, Bluetooth Version 3.0
Remote RM-X231
FM/AM radio tuner and MP3 playback via USB
Take calls hands free with a built-in mic
18x FM & 12x AM radio presets
Bluetooth Version 3.0
Max Pre Out Level 55W
Max Pre Out Level x 2 (Rear + Sub)
Tuner Features
RDS EON Tuner Features FM18/AM12

Reasons to Buy: Compact design, Bluetooth, USB, and AUX connectivity, Sony sound quality reputation, UV-resistant finish, water-resistant (IPX5).
Reasons to Avoid: Lower power output (55 watts peak), basic display and controls.

I seem to have at least one Sony stereo in my life at any given point, in my car, van, boat or whatnot. They’re as ubiquitous as Nike trainers on a basketball player.
They do make decent stereos.

Connectable to all the usual things, either your smart phone/device with USB or bluetooth, connect with Near Field Communication for quick and easy linking of devices and use the built in microphone for hands free talking.

This particular stereo is promoted for marine use because it has IPX5 rating, which makes it moderately water resistant. I wouldn’t mount it outside though, but it’ll be fine in a regular marine dry cabin type of environment.

Good basic value to get some tunes or shipping forecast while at sea.


7. Rockford Fosgate PMX-5CAN Marine Digital Media Receiver

Power output: 50 watts (18 watts RMS),
Dimensions: 4.8″ x 4.1″ x 4.1″, Compatibility:
Bluetooth, USB, AUX.
Pandora Internet Radio
Stainless Steel Rear Chassis
Low Voltage Warning Alert
7-Band Graphic EQ
IPX6 Marine Grade for prevention of water intrusion
Selectable HP / LP / AP Crossovers with Selectable Slope 12 / 24 dB/Oct
Independent Subwoofer Level Control
AUX and USB Inputs with USB Charging
A2DP and AVRCP Bluetooth Wireless Streaming
Zone Control: 2 Zone / 2 Source (F/R/S + F)
AM/FM/WB Tuner
Compatible with a Multi-Function Display using NMEA2000

Reasons to Buy: High-quality construction, large color display, Bluetooth, USB, and AUX inputs, Pandora and SiriusXM compatibility, water-resistant (IPX6).
Reasons to Avoid: Higher price point, may be more features than needed for some users.

The PMX-5CAN digital media receiver is designed for marine with IPX6 water resistance to the facia and rotary knob.

It has a 2.7″full colour display which is easy to see, even in full sun. It has been optically wet bonded to prevent any dust or moisture penetration.  It has popular features such as SiriusXM and Pandora which are accessed via a smart device. As with all stereos it has Bluetooth audio steaming and with the full colour screen there’s the ability to display album art, if that sort of thing makes you happy.

Output is 4x50W @ 2ohm internal amplifier or dual zone output RCA’s allowing the addition of after-market amplifiers for more power and output. Add in the EEPROM memory system, custom GUI interface and wired remote expansion capabilities and this is a really versatile unit. The PMX-5CAN also features CAN-bus functionality for connection to NMEA 2000 systems using PMX-CAN adaptor.

It’s a nifty bit of kit this, but you do pay for those bells and whistles.

For more guides to marine stereos and audio systems have a look at our other buyers guides: best-marine-radio-and-speaker-bundles-boat-sound-system-


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