Best Marine Stereo Brands
- Best Overall Marine Stereo Brand - JL Audio
- Best Marine Stereo Brand for LOUD (Tie) - Wet Sounds
- Best Marine Stereo Brand for LOUD (Tie) - Rockford Fosgate
- Best Marine Stereo Brand Value - Kicker
- Best Marine Stereo Brand for Head Units - Fusion
JL Audio is by far the most popular and best selling "Premium" marine audio brand out there. It is the benchmark to which all other marine audio components are compared. If you were to say "Well, I don't have any idea where to start," the easiest answer is JL Audio. If you just go with JL, you won't be disappointed. From a sound quality, performance, and durablity standpoint, there's nothing better. The amplifiers are extremely efficient and sound incredible due to their engineering expertise. The M6 speakers with the RGB LEDs are the best looking RGB LED speakers in the world. There's nothing bad you can say about JL Audio marine. At the same time, if you want to broadcast and make sure everyone else hears your music or you just want to be as loud as possible, there are other brands that will do that better than JL will. But, know that you will be sacrificing fidelity.
Wet Sounds is right up there with JL Audio, but they are different. JL Audio vs. Wet Sounds is Lamborghini vs. Ferrari. Wet Sounds has horn tweeter tower speakers. JL does not. Apples to apples, the top of the line Wet Sounds speakers handle more power than the top of the line JL Audio speakers. Wet Sounds has some high output amplifiers that JL Audio doesn't offer. Generally speaking, Wet Sounds is going to play louder than JL Audio. But, the Wet Sounds speakers are going to give you a different sound profile due to the titanium and aluminum dome tweeters. Wet Sounds uses metal, hard-dome tweeters while JL Audio uses specially treated, silk-dome tweeters.
Rockford Fosgate has really stepped up their game in the marine audio world. The Rockford Fosgate M2 speakers and subwoofers are incredible and they come at a lower price point than JL speakers. The Rockford Fosgate M2 speakers can more power than any other speakers their size and they are very efficient. Rockford Fosgate has some high power amplifiers, but they are compact chassis amps instead of full size amps. On boats, where space isn't much of an issue, we like the full size amplifiers better. Rockford's Punch marine amplifiers are full-size class AB amplifiers and they are a great value, but compared to the Class D amps from JL, Wet Sounds, and Kicker, they will draw much more current from your boat's electrical system.
Kicker delivers a ton of value with their marine audio products with full-size class D amplifiers at lower price points than JL Audio and Wet Sounds. The Kicker speakers deliver the performance you expect from a Kicker product at a very affordable price point. There is the fact that you get what you pay for and the higher end lines from JL Audio, Wet Sounds, and Rockford are more expensive because they are simply better speakers. That's not to say that the Kicker isn't going to make you happy though. If you look at the price points for the JL Audio M6, Rockford Fosgate M2, and Wet Sounds REVO and say "I just don't want to spend that much," Kicker is a great choice. When you compare the specs of the Kicker speakers to the others, they hold their own. But, the top-of-the-line speakers from the other brands are just better.
Fusion is a Garmin company and they make the best marine head units in the world. Fusion is "The Head Unit Company." The MS-RA770 head unit is the best marine head unit out there. If you want a high-end marine head unit, go with the MS-RA770 and don't look back. In addition to head units, Fusion all makes speakers, amplifiers, and subwoofers. The Fusion speakers are a copy cat of the JL Audio M6. The M6 is the original, the Fusion is the "me-too." The Fusion signature series amplifiers use Class-D circuitry like the JL Audio M Series and the Kicker KXMA and deliver good power at affordable price points, but Fusion rates their amplifiers at the peak output and not the RMS output, so double check the RMS ratings. The new Signature Series 12" subwoofers from Fusion are beasts and deliver hard-hitting bass. If you like the JL Audio M6, but you don't want to spend THAT much, you can go with Fusion Signature speakers, amplifiers, and subwoofers.
If you don't know where to start with marine audio and you are just exploring this for the first time, our answer is "Go with JL Audio." It's the biggest and widely considered the best for a reason. It performs, it looks great, it lasts, it can handle the elements, and it sounds incredible. It's the Yeti Coolers of marine audio. Yes, there are other options, but when you get or have a Yeti, you know what you are getting. When you get JL Audio. You know what you are getting.
Now with that being said, if you say "I wanna be that asshole that is just blasting their music and I want to make sure every body else can hear me," you might be better off with Wet Sounds or Rockford Fosgate. They have horn tweeters, they handle more power, and you are going to get that super bright, aggressive sound.
All of the speakers we carry will be able to play too loud for the people in your boat when powered with the right amplifier. They will all get to the point where you have to yell to be heard or possibly can't be heard talking. So how loud is loud enough? We can't answer that for you.
So, just like I would say, "Get a Yeti Cooler" if you want a premium cooler, or "Get a Traeger" if you want a pellet smoker, or "Get Mercury outboards," I say, "Get JL Audio" if you want marine audio.
This is like comparing Merceds Benz, BMW, Audi, Porsche, Acura, Lexus, Infiniti, etc. There aren't any bad choices. All of these are brands will give you an incredible sounding stereo system. This is the paradox of choice.