Marine Stereo Vs. Car Stereo: Key Differences Explained

Nov 3rd 2021

Marine Stereo Vs. Car Stereo: Key Differences Explained

When you buy a boat, you must take into consideration a lot of things—just like when you buy a car. What kind of features does it have and what do you want out of it? Are you planning to buy used or new? These are the types of questions you should think about when buying a boat. However, one often-overlooked aspect concerns the boat’s speaker system. You’ll have a lot of aspects to think about, such as whether or not the boat you want has speakers and if they’re protected from water and sea salt. As such, that is why we have this guide on the key differences between marine stereos and car stereos. When you read this guide, you’ll get the answers to all your questions so you can have confidence in your boat purchase.

Whether or Not It Even Has One

We can’t think of a time in which we saw a car that didn’t have a stereo system built into it. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case with boats. Many new boats come with them, but it’s not as standard as it is with land vehicles. The older the boat is, the bigger the chance that it won’t have a set of speakers. (Unless the previous owner installed their own.)

That’s the main reason we’re making this guide. It’s not only for the music enthusiasts who want to boost their sound—anyone might have to purchase some marine stereo equipment at some point. If you ever find yourself in that situation, check out what we have in stock on our website. We’ve got everything you could possibly need to blast your favorite tunes from your boat.

Their Overall Cost

Marine speaker systems typically cost more than ones that get put into cars—but it’s for a good reason. As we start to cover all of the key differences between marine stereos and car stereos, you’ll begin to understand the reason for the price disparity.

More Protected From the Elements

Since boats are nearly always in water, it’s essential to waterproof your boat’s stereo. Water could splash onto them for countless reasons. Maybe you’re swimming, haul yourself onto the deck, and water splashes up onto your speakers. Or, perhaps you and some friends go fishing and a thrashing catch sprays water onto them. Anything could happen, and that’s especially dangerous where boat speakers are concerned. That’s why getting waterproofed speakers is absolutely vital.

On top of that, if you plan to use your boat in the ocean, your speakers will have to be salt-proof as well, which isn’t always a feature with waterproofed electronics. Seawater contains salt, and so the ocean air does, as well. Cars rust faster when they’re near the shore, so, as such, having electronics around constant airborne salt is not a good idea. That’s why you need a stereo set that has corrosion-resistant hardware.

Because boats are constantly exposed to the elements, they must be protected from the sun and other harsh weather. That means the electrical components of your boat’s speakers will need to be well protected. Most vehicle speakers are built into the side of the car, which protects their interior components from a majority of problems. While some boat speakers are developed this way as well, a lot of them are attached to the boat’s exterior, which means they need covers so their insides don’t get ruined.

Stronger Build Quality

The durability of your boat’s speakers must be higher than the durability of a car’s speakers. Other than extremely bad accidents, the only damage that their speakers will take is from the occasional bump while someone gets in or out of the vehicle—that’s pretty easy to protect against. Boat speakers, on the other hand, must be protected from flying debris, people who are running around on the deck, or close encounters with trees. Being in the open means that there are a lot more things that can damage them, therefore requiring them to be studier than typical speakers.

Differing Sound Environments

The one thing that many people don’t think about when it comes to boat stereo systems is the fact that they have to compete with a lot of external factors. While car speakers are not entirely silent, they are used in a controlled environment—the inside of the car. Drivers or passengers don’t have to exert a lot of effort to make the speakers play crystal-clear music that’s at a good volume.

Boat speakers, on the other hand, have to compete with the roar of the motor, the crashing waves, people talking, and the rush of strong wind. Plus, with the way sound bounces off surfaces, boat speakers have to be louder in general since most of the sound will escape into the open air. The sound doesn’t have a car roof to contain it.

Unlike boats, when you play music in a car, you usually don’t have to worry about the fact that it won’t be heard outside of it. Cars or their speakers were not designed with that in mind. Boats, however, were; the music from their speakers must be heard clearly. People will be talking on the boat deck and some might even be swimming in the water or tubing behind the boat—the speakers have a lot to compete with. Luckily, you can set up the speakers in such a way that they’ll be heard loud and clear by everyone.

Certain marine stereos are made to project their sound out towards other areas. If the speakers didn’t do that, then the music would have to get turned up to unbearable levels, and no one wants to endure sonic agony on what should be a pleasurable boat ride. That’s why boat speakers have ways to project sound without simply turning up the volume.