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Best Marine Stereo


best-marine-radio There are a ton of options when it comes to your boat's radio or head unit. The market is flooded with options, but with today's technology, it is going to come down to the form factor, whether or not your boat has Wi-Fi onboard, whether or not you have an NMEA 2000 network, and how many zones of audio control you want. From a feature standpoint, they are all pretty similar. The differences come down to zone control, quality, water intrusion, and warranty.

The following features are important to consider when determining the best marine radio for your boat?

  • Is there an existing radio there, and if so, what does the cut out look like?
  • Do you have a Wi-Fi Network on Board?
  • Do You Have an NMEA 2000 Network?
  • How Many Zones do you need to control?
  • How "Waterproof" Does Your Radio Need to Be?

If it feels like every option is Fusion, it isn't because we are biased. In general, they just make the best marine radio products.

Best Overall Marine Radio

Fusion Apollo MS-RA770

  • Price: $699.95
  • Bluetooth
  • Wi-Fi
  • NMEA 2000 Ready
  • 4 Zones + Subwoofer
  • IP67 Rated
  • The Most Feautures. Period

The Fusion Apollo MS-RA770 marine stereo is heads and shoulders above every other option out there. First is the internal Wi-Fi network that allows you to connect your phone directly to the MS-RA770 and play your music via Apple Air Play. What does this mean? It means better sound quality versus Bluetooth. Next, the MS-RA770 has true, 4 zone control plus an additional subwoofer pre-out. You can name each zone independently which make it super easy to control. You don't need to remember, "What is zone 1 again?" Instead you call zone 1, "Interior" and it is interior. You may call zone 2, "Tower Speakers" can so on. You can decide to control the volume for the overall system and you also have the option to adjust the volume for a particular zone. If you are running Fusion speakers, the MS-RA770 has preset DSP settings. So, you can tell the unit, "I have 6.5" Fusion Signature 3 speakers in an outdoor environment." The engineers at Fusion have set the DSP levels to optimize the EQ curve for those speakers, in that environment. This head unit is just flat out better than the other head units out there. It is NMEA 2000 ready and it has Fusion's Party Bus mode that allows you to connect, control, and group multiple radios via the NMEA 2000 network. You can group radios together. It's actually absurd what this thing can do. It has all the things you expect form a head unit with Bluetooth, USB, AUX, and AM/FM/WB tuner. You can add a SiriusXM tuner. This radio does it all and you can even flush mount it to your glass helm. If you have a DIN opening already, there is a DIN adapter kit. If it's possible, the Fusion engineers though of it with this radio.

    Pros

  • 4 Zone Control + Subwoofer
  • Wi-Fi Network for Superior Sound Quality
  • Fusion PartyBus
  • IP67 Rated
  • NMEA 2000 Ready
  • Fusion = Garmin
  • Surface or Flush Mount
  • Pre-configured DSP Profiles

    Cons

  • It's Not the Cheapest Option
  • Overkill for Smaller Boats that Don't Need the Capability
  • It's Larger Than Single DIN and Gauge Style Radios
  • No Actual Buttons (Touchscreen)

Best Overall Value Marine Radio

Fusion MS-RA210

  • Price: $369.95
  • Bluetooth
  • NMEA 2000 Ready
  • 2 Zones + Subwoofer
  • IP67 Rated
  • Fusion Link
  • Can Fit a Single DIN Opening with Adapter (Sold Separately)

The Fusion MS-RA210 is the best overall value for a marine stereo. This head unit can use an adapter to fit in existing DIN openings, can be flush mounted to a glass helm, or can be surface mounted. With the MS-RA210, you get the quality of the high-end MS-RA770, but without some of the features that may not matter on smaller boats. If you don't have Wi-Fi, Apple Air Play doesn't matter. If you don't need 4 zones of control, there's no sense paying for it. This head unit is NMEA 2000 ready for the salt water boats. It comes with Bluetooth, USB, AUX, 2 zone control, plus a subwoofer pre-out. If you are not adding an external amplifier, it has 26W x 4 RMS output and an AM/FM tuner. The screen size on this is the same as the Rockford Fosgate PMX-2 and PMX-3 units, but the MS-RA210 has more features, better features, and a lower price point. When you look at the specs, this radio delivers more than enough for most boat owners.

    Pros

  • 2 Zones
  • Subwoofer Output for Each Zone
  • Fits a Standard DIN Opening (Adapter Req'd)
  • NMEA 2000 Ready
  • All the Modern Features You Expect
  • IP67 Rated
  • Fusion is Owned by Garmin

    Cons

  • No Weaterband Tuner
  • If Not Using External Amps, You Can Only Connect 4 Speakers
  • Separate DIN Cage Required (Sold Separately)
  • No Wi-Fi or Apple Air Play

Best Overall DIN Marine Stereo

Fusion Apollo MS-RA70NSX

  • Price: $299.99
  • Bluetooth
  • NMEA 2000 Ready
  • 2 Zones + Subwoofer
  • IP67 Rated
  • SiriusXM Ready
  • Can Fit a Single DIN Opening with Adapter (Sold Separately)

If you are looking for a true, marine-grade head unit to fit a DIN size opening, the Fusion MS-RA70NSX is our favorite choice. Unlike the Kenwood units below, this head unit is IPX7 rated. Fusion has tested this unit and it is truly waterproof in up to 1 meter of water for 30 seconds. This piece comes with a 26W x 4 RMS internal amplifier if you don't plan to use an external amp, it has Bluetooth, USB, AUX, and an AM/FM tuner. In addition, it is also SiriusXM ready, but it does require you to purchase the SVX3000 separately. You can also connect this unit to your Garmin MFD, smartphone, or Garmin watch using the Garmin connect app. For a DIN radio that is truly designed for the marine environment, you can't go wrong with Fusion MS-RA70NSX.

    Pros

    Fits DIN Size Openings
  • 2 Zone Output + Subwoofer Pre-Out
  • NMEA 2000 Ready
  • Fusion = Garmin
  • Surface or Flush Mount
  • SiriusXM Ready
  • Fusion Link Technology

    Cons

  • There are Cheaper DIN Options
  • No Weatherband
  • Needs Separate DIN Cage to fit DIN Openings (Sold Separately)

Best Square Style NMEA 2000 Marine Radio

JL Audio MediaMaster MM50

JL Audio MM50 Best Square Style NMEA 2000 Marine Stereo
  • Price: $499.99
  • Bluetooth
  • NMEA 2000 Ready
  • 2 Zones + Subwoofer
  • Day/Night Mode
  • SiriusXM Ready
  • It's JL Audio

The JL Audio MM50 is ideal if you want many of the same features that come in the Fusion MS-RA210, but you don't have the space. The JL Audio MM50 is IP66 rated to withstand the elements, it comes with 2 zone control plus a subwoofer pre-out, and it is NMEA 2000 ready. This head unit comes with Bluetooth, USB, AUX, an AM/FM tuner, and a built-in amplifier for deck power. We always recommend external amplifiers for marine systems, but with teh MM50, you don't necessarily NEED it. The form factor of the MM50 is much narrower than the Fusion MS-RA210 and you know you can trust a JL Audio marine product. The screen features both day and night modes to ensure high visibility during the day while also not blinding you at night.

    Pros

  • Compact Footprint
  • NMEA Ready
  • 2 Zones + Subwoofer Control
  • It's JL Audio
  • 2.8" Display with Day and Night Modes
  • IP66 Rated to Withstand Powerful Water Jets (Waterproof but not Submersible)

    Cons

  • Doesn't fit a Standard, Round Hole Cutout
  • No Wi-Fi or Apple Air Play

Best Square Style Marine Radio for Value

Rockford Fosgate PMX-1

  • Price: $249.99
  • Bluetooth
  • Front Pre-Out + Rear/Sub Selectable Pre-Out
  • AM/FM/WB Tuner
  • Front Subwoofer Control
  • 50W x 4 Internal Amplifier

The Rockford Fosgate PMX-1 is our choice for the best low-cost square style marine stereo. The PMX-1 offers the same functionalities as the PMX-2, but it doesn't have a full color, 2.7" TFT display. Instead, the PMX-1 has a wet-bonded 2.3" dotmatrix display. If you do not care about aesthetics, album art, or a bright colorful display, you can save some significant money with the PMX-1 vs. the PMX-2 or the PMX-3. The PMX-2 was the first square style digital media receiver for the marine environment. You get the proven reliability and performance for less money.

    Pros

  • Affordable Price Point
  • 2 Zones (Front + Rear/Sub Selectable)
  • Fits a Standard, 3" Hole Cutout
  • 50W x 4 Output at 2 Ohms
  • Bluetooth
  • AM/FM/WB Tuner
  • Has Many of the Same Features as the PMX-2

    Cons

  • Dot Matrix White/Black LCD Display
  • No Wi-Fi or Apple Air Play

Best Square Style Marine Radio with 2 Zones + Subwoofer

Wet Sounds WS-MC-20

Wet Sounds WS-MC-20 Best 2 Zone + Subwoofer Marine Stereo for Gauge Style Mounting
  • Price: $449.99
  • Bluetooth
  • NMEA 2000 Ready
  • 2 Zones + Subwoofer
  • 3" Screen
  • SiriusXM Ready
  • Fits a 3" Hole Cutout

If you are looking for a full-feature, square style head unit that will fit in a 3" circular opening, the Wet Sounds WS-MC-20 is our favorite. While this unit can be made to be NMEA 2000 compliant, it does require an adapter. The Wet Sounds WS-MC-20 is less expensive than the JL Audio MM50 and it has an extra pre-out compared to the Rockford Fosgate PMX-3. With Wet Sounds you know that you are getting a product that is going to withstand the elements. The WS-MC-20 has Bluetooth, AUX, USB, and an AM/FM/WB tuner. It also has a built-in amplifier that delivers 50W x 4 @ 2 ohms peak power output. If you have a 3" hole cutout and/or you don't need NMEA 2000 capability, this is our choice for a square style head unit due to the 2 zone plus subwoofer outputs and it has all of the "standard" features you expect from a radio today.

    Pros

  • 2 Zones + Subwoofer(Front + Rear + Sub)
  • Fits a Standard, 3" Hole Cutout
  • 50W x 4 Output at 2 Ohms
  • Bluetooth
  • AM/FM/WB Tuner
  • NMEA 2000 Ready (Adapter Sold Separately)

    Cons

  • No Wi-Fi or Apple Air Play

Best Marine Radio - 3 Zones

  • Price: $479.95
  • Bluetooth
  • NMEA 2000 Ready
  • 3 Zones
  • IP67 Rated
  • Apple Air Play Capable
  • Can Fit a Single DIN Opening with Adapter (Sold Separately)

The Fusion MS-RA670 is the best 3 zone marine stereo. This stereo is a less expensive version of the 770, with a few less features. The Fusion Apollo MS-RA670 is NMEA 2000 ready, it has Fusion's PartyBus capability, you can play your music via Wi-Fi and Apple Air Play, and it has all of the other "standard" radio features that you expect. There are some differences though. The MS-RA670 has 3 zones of output instead of 4. In addition it has pushbuttons along the bottom intead of being a full touchscreen radio. Finally, it does not have a built-in Wi-Fi adapter and instead needs to be connector to your Wi-Fi router with an Ethernet cable. But, if you don't need 4 zones of output and either you don't care about Wi-Fi, or you have the ability to connect with a cable, the MS-RA670 delivers all the features you would want in a radio at a significantly lower price. And, some people actually like the pushbuttons on the 670 better than the full touchscreen on the 770.

    Pros

  • IPX7 Rated
  • NMEA 2000 Ready
  • SiriusXM Ready
  • Apple Air Play (Ethernet Connection Required)
  • Surface Mount or Flush Mount to a Glass Helm
  • 3 Zones
  • Fusion Party Bus Technology
  • Preset DSP Profiles
  • Full Color Screen with Pushbuttons

    Cons

  • Requires an Ethernet Plug for Wi-Fi/Apple Air Play
  • Required an Adapter to fit DIN Openings

Best DIN Size Marine Radio - Value

Kenwood KMR-M332BT

  • Price: $159.99
  • Bluetooth
  • Standard DIN Chassis
  • Conformal Coated PCB
  • Control via Kenwood Phone App

The Kenwood KMR-M332BT is the best value among DIN sized marine radios. It is a mech-less receiver so it does not have a CD player, but it has Bluetooth, AUX, USB, and 5 channel pre-amp outputs, or 3 zones, depending on how you look at it. Kenwood is one of, if not, the leader in 12 volt head units. This unit comes with a conformally coated board and it does enough for most boats. Are there better radios with better water protection, more zones, and fancy features? Yes, but when it comes to value, this unit is hard to beat. It's a kenwood unit, it's designed for the marine environment, and it's significantly less expensive than the square style media centers and with the fancy, full-color screens.

    Pros

  • Fits DIN Openings without Any Adapters Required
  • Price Point
  • You can't go Wrong with Kenwood Head Units

    Cons

  • No CD
  • Not IPX6 Rated Like Fusion Units

Best DIN Size Marine Radio - CD

Kenwood KMR-D382BT

  • Price: $179.99
  • Bluetooth
  • CD Player
  • 3 Sets of Pre-Outs
  • Standard DIN Chassis
  • Conformal Coated PCB
  • Control via Kenwood Phone App

If you want to play CDs in your boat, the Kenwood KMR-D382BT is the way to go. This unit is essentially the same as the KMR-M332BT, but this one has the CD mechanism. If you want to play CDs, you're going to need a DIN size unit. Don't settle for something from Boss or Pyle (of...) or Jensen. Go with the Kenwood. Get the good one and know that your head unit is going to last.

    Pros

  • Price Point
  • CD Player
  • You can't Go Wrong with Kenwood Head Units

    Cons

  • Not IPX6 Rated Like Fusion MS-RA70 or MS-RA70NSX
  • Not NMEA 2000 Ready

Best Black Box Marine Radio

Rockford Fosgate PMX-8BB + PMX-8DH

  • Price: $549.99
  • Bluetooth
  • 3 Zones + Subwoofer
  • NMEA 2000 Ready
  • Built in DSP for Each Zone
  • Display Sold Separately

If you opt for a "black box" style marine radio, the Rockford Fosgate PMX-8BB is our favorite. It does not come standard with the NMEA 2000 connectivity, but you can add it with the PMX-CAN CANbus adapter. The Rockford Fosgate has virtually every function you could need with 4 zone control, 50W x 4 peak power output, Bluetooth, folder browsing via Bluetooth, USB, AUX, Pandora control, a dedicated DSP for each zone, selectable 12/24 dB crossover controls for each zone, low voltage alert, you can add up to 3 wired remotes, external steering wheel remote interface, an external trigger to activate a backup camera, and an IPX5 rating. The Rockford PMX-8BB will work with existing MFD's if you use the CANbus adapter, which allows you to skip the need for a display. If you still want or need a display, the Rockford Fosgate PMX-8DH plugs directly into the unit to give you a nice, 5" display with rotary volume control, AM/FM pre-sets, and front subwoofer control.

    Pros

  • 4 Zones (2 Full Range + 2 Subwoofer)
  • Selectable Crossovers for Each Zone
  • DSP Processor for Each Zone with 7 Band EQ
  • NMEA 2000 Ready (PMX-CAN Req'd and Sold Separately)
  • IPX5 Rated
  • 5" TFT Display (Sold Separately)
  • AM/FM/WB Tuner
  • 50W x 4 @ 2 Ohms Internal Amplifier Power

    Cons

  • Req's Separate PMX-8DH Display
  • More Expensive than Fusion MS-RA770 with Both Pieces