The Best Marine Subwoofers : 11 Factors to Choosing the Right One

If you are in a rush, the best marine subwoofer is the Bazooka MBT1014 10 Inch 4 Ohm Marine Subwoofer

Headed out to the sea? Looking to impress your friends with the most memorable boat party ever? Rather than setting up a dinky bluetooth speaker, you should consider chipping in for a high quality, durable marine subwoofer that’s built to create crisp, high quality sound all day long.

On the sea, a standard speaker that’s meant for a stationary room will not be able to create the bass and noise clarity that a marine subwoofer can. With more powerful resonance than ever, you’ll be able to blast music as loudly and for as long as you will want in the most turbulent water with a marine-grade subwoofer.

Luckily for you, we’ve outlined the major elements you should consider before shelling out hundreds of dollars on an ill-fitting subwoofer.

The Best Marine Subwoofers go as Follows:

  1. Bazooka MBT1014 10 Inch 4 Ohm Marine Subwoofer
  2. Rockville MS10LW 10 Inch 2400 Watt Free Air Subwoofer
  3. SWR-M100 Alpine 10 Inch Single Marine Subwoofer
  4. Kenwood P-WD250MRW 10 Inch Marine Subwoofer and Amplifier
  5. Fusion MS-SW10 10 Inch 400 Watt Marine Grade Subwoofer

 

Buyer’s Guide for Selecting the Best Marine Subwoofers

Though it can seem complicated to choose a proper subwoofer, we’ve boiled down the themes you’ll need to look out in order to make the most informed choice. Overall, a subwoofer should be able to withstand weather, produce excellent sound quality, and consume as little power as possible at high volumes.

As long as you keep these themes in mind, it should be no trouble picking out the long-lasting performers from the subpar subwoofers.

What to Look for in a Marine Subwoofer

marine subwoofer blasting

Mounting

The two major types of subwoofer mounting are box and flush-mounted. Box speakers are very easy to install and are already encased in acoustically resonant materials. Although they are bulky and take up space, you don’t have to worry about installing them on the side of your boat.

Keep in mind that box marine subwoofers may cause vibration on the deck on the ship, depending on how powerful the subwoofer is. For some, this isn’t a problem, yet many do find it distracting when they’re working on intricate tasks on deck.

By contrast, flush mounted speakers are very compact, clean, and good looking. They can fit in narrow or tight spaces and won’t snag any of your gear. However, flush mounted speakers are considered difficult to install unless you already know what you’re doing. Improperly installed, the sound quality or resonance may be impacted.

Flush mount speakers work by shifting a thick, hollow cone back and forth over the back of the unit in order to create clear sound. If there is an air tunnel between the front and back of the speaker, a vacuum sound effect will be created that results in less clear frequencies.

Though they may take some trial and error, flush mounted speakers (also known as free air speakers) are preferred by most boating aficionados due to their compact size and vibration-free operation.

Marine Safe

As boat lovers and seafarers, we all have a moral duty to protect the diverse and fragile ecosystems that inhabit the seas, lakes, rivers, and oceans. Some low quality speakers are made with subpar material that may actually cause harm to marine life.

Before you opt into just any marine subwoofer, make sure it’s been rated as Marine Safe by a third party, unaffiliated company. Speakers tagged as “marine-grade quality” typically have to adhere to governmental standards relating to ecological safety, high materials ratings, and third party vetting processes.

Value

Subwoofer value isn’t a specific term, yet is an amalgam of many different components that define the quality of the speaker. Depending on your needs, value will mean something different for you than any other buyer.

When considering speaker value, try to pick the unit that has the highest sound sensitivity, RMS rating, marine safety, water resistance, and frequency range ratings. Great value subwoofers should come with plenty of add-ons straight out of the box: mounting hardware, an independent power amp, and adapter cables for easy installation.

Power

Before adding a subwoofer to your boat, you should know that a subwoofer is only as powerful as the power amp supplying it. Subwoofers are built to move a high volume of air in a very short period of time, creating long and clear wavelengths. Without a power amp, your subwoofer is essentially dead weight.

Thankfully, many subwoofers come with power amps appropriate for the unit’s size – just make sure to check the manufacturers specifications first. After all, not every power amp with work with your particular subwoofer.

All subwoofers, whether they are for your car or for your boat, are rated on an RMS scale. RMS, also known as Root Mean Square wattage, specifies the amount of power the subwoofer can handle consistently. On the other hand, peak wattage demonstrates the highest amount of power the subwoofer can take without being damaged in brief intervals.

Essentially, you’ll need to match up the RMS wattage of the marine subwoofer with the RMS watts of power amp. As a rule of thumb, ensure that the subwoofer’s peak power is 150 percent of the RMS watts on your amp, while the minimum should be 75 percent of the subwoofer’s RMS watts.

Keep in mind that if you decide to add multiple subwoofers to your boat, you will need higher grade power amps in order to supply the needed power to both units.

Aside from RMS amps, make sure to also match impedance. Impedance refers to the degree of electrical resistance in a system. If you don’t match the impedance between your subwoofer and power amp, the amp may overheat and get damaged over time.

Marine subwoofer manufacturers and power amps should grade the amount of impedance of the product by Ohms. Typically, the best impedance for a subwoofer measures 4 ohms, yet scoring lower is even better.

Speaker Sensitivity

Speaker sensitivity refers to the amount of power that’s needed to operate a subwoofer. To put it simply, it’s a measurement of sound output in decibels that comes from a speaker with one watt of power input from an amplifier.

The vast majority of speakers are inefficient since about 99 percent of the output is converted into heat while the rest becomes desired acoustic energy. Effective speakers, or subwoofers that reach “peak speaker efficiency”, generate a lot less heat and boast a higher life expectancy than competitor brands.

For instance, many marine subwoofers rate their speaker sensitivity of 110 decibels at 2.9 volts per 1 meter, which boasts one hundred times the performance of a typical pre-installed car speaker.

Why does poor speaker sensitivity damage subwoofers and power amps over time? Well, a speaker with 88 decibel efficiency requires ten times as much power as a speak with 98 decibel efficiency. More power means exponentially more heat generation over the years. In this case, small distinctions between products become very important.

Frequency Range

Though it can seem confusing, frequency range just determines the degree of auditory responses a speaker can produce between 20 Hz (low bass) and 20 kHZ (high pitched scream). This range is the full range of human hearing; however, as we get older, our hearing gets considerably worse.

Some marine subwoofers actually produce sounds as low as 15 Hz; however, these sounds are felt rather than heard, which makes them ideal for creating an atmospheric party on the boat. The closer that your speaker can get to the edges of the human hearing range, the more desirable it is.

Rather than rating by hertz, some subwoofers use a plus-minus deviation system (such as ±3), which demonstrates how much noise can vary from some baseline point. In general, you’ll want to opt for subwoofers that reach the ±3 or ±4 range, which is typical for marine sound products.

Personal Preference

Ultimately, the best subwoofer for you will come down to personal preference over size, materials, and noise generation. No matter what you choose, it’s hard to find flaw with water resistant, high sound sensitivity, and consistently powerful subwoofers that produce deep bass frequencies.

If you’re purchasing in store or looking online, try to test out the quality of the speaker yourself to see how you like the sound generation. It’s recommended to close your eyes and listen to the noise.

Does it feel like you’ve moved through space and time to a different location? Do you feel you’ve been dropped into the middle of a movie set or a concert hall? If so, this is a great indication that the subwoofer’s performance will be excellent for the water.

Additionally, try to note any shrillness in instrumentation when listening to the subwoofer. Just because a unit is louder, doesn’t make it any better. Subwoofers should produce clear enough noise that dialogue or lyrics aren’t muffled. Simultaneously, subwoofers create the illusion that sound is stretching off deeply into space.

Aside from noise generation, consider whether or not the size, color, and mounting style of the subwoofer works for you. If you’re looking for a system that’ll fit a small pontoon out on the swamp, your needs will be vastly different from a high-speed motor boat out on the sea.

Materials

The majority of marine subwoofers are crafted with waterproof rubber mountain materials in order to prevent as much deterioration as possible. Meanwhile, internal components are often crafted from corrosion-resistant metals, such as a gold plated terminals and stainless steel bands.

Before buying the subwoofer, check that all connection ports have a thick, protective rubber coating. All metal components and magnets should be encased in hard plastic in order to further prevent erosion by the elements.

Additionally, the front-facing grill of the subwoofer will likely be retrofitted with hard plastic to protect sensitive internal cones from water impact. Most materials used in a subwoofer as UV resistant in order to keep the look, feel, and performance of the unit the same as the day you purchased it.

Look out for these common terms to distinguish high quality performers from ill-fitting subwoofers: stainless steel rear diffuser, polypropylene cones, and synthetic rubber surrounds. All of these elements are vital to the continuing performance of a marine subwoofer that’s continuously exposed to weather, sea salt, and other corrosive materials.

Size

For boats, the most common subwoofer sizes come in 8, 10, 12, and sometimes even 15 inch diameter. In general, the larger the subwoofer, the better ability it has to move a large volume of air in order to reproduce the deep bass in some music.

Despite the better sound quality, there are a number of reasons that smaller vessels would not opt for larger subwoofers. First and foremost, larger subwoofers require more robust power amps that can service the unit over time – even so, larger units may require frequent power amp replacement as components overheat.

Additionally, large subwoofers cause a great deal of vibration that can actually interfere with the movement of the boat. You’ll need a bigger boat that can withstand subwoofer vibration if you opt for a larger, steel, or reinforced 15 inch diameter subwoofer.

Most users should have no trouble with a 10 inch subwoofer, which is a great option for small vessels, mid sized boats, and high-speed motor crafts.

Waterproof versus Water Resistant

It should be obvious why you can’t use the same speaker from your car in your boat. Sea salt, water splashes, and humidity can all have a profound effect on your subwoofer’s sound quality over the years. After all, metal components eventually rust and copper components corrode.

If you’re planning to install your subwoofer below deck, always opt for completely waterproof units. More specifically, waterproof units should be marketed for their corrosion resistance, high UV range, and steel-free make. Many manufacturers use high-durability polypropylene cones or rubber components.

Additionally, speaker manufacturers usually release information about water resistance in the form of an IPX score. Ranging for 0 to 8, IPX-0 means zero protection against the elements while IPX-8 means the unit can survive indefinitely in corrosive water.

Most speakers that are fit to be installed below deck are rated at IPX-5, which means they can withstand frequent splashes in high turbulence water from all directions.

Best Marine Subwoofers Review Guide

 

We’ve made sure to review some of the most highly rated, customer approved marine subwoofer brands below. Each item has been graded on its ability to produce clear, clean-cut sound at low rates of power use.

1. Bazooka MBT1014 10 Inch 4 Ohm Marine Subwoofer

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

5/5

Features

  • Highly resistant, deep-set enclosure ensures constant protection of sensitive subwoofer materials
  • Creates 104 decibels of sound sensitivity
  • Salt fog, corrosion, UV, and water protection certified

There’s no better description of the Bazooka than dubbing it an absolute beast of marine sound production. The ported marine bass tube comes with a 10 inch, resistant enclosure and exceedingly low levels of electrical impedance.

Additionally, the unit can handle 200 watts of peak power and 100 watts on average with a frequency range of 30 to 1000 Hz. Ultimately, there’s no better sound sensitivity than the Bazooka’s 104 decibel rating.

>>What Customers Think<<

Even though the subwoofer is considerably long and bulky, many customers believe it’s worth it for the sound experience created. With 150 watts of power handling and complete stainless steel hardware, it’s hard to get much better than the Bazooka.

Though it’s more pricey than the standard subwoofer, the Bazooka is an excellent choice for any seafaring individual looking to through a great party.

Pros

  • Very high degree of sound sensitivity ensures minimally damaging heat production of the power amp
  • Robust stainless steel hardware means that subwoofer can resist practically all sources of weather, UV, and salt corrosion indefinitely

Cons

  • The Bazooka is very deep set and will require a lot of space in the hull of the boat in order to be properly installed

 

2. Rockville MS10LW 10 Inch 2400 Watt Free Air Subwoofer

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

4.5/5

Features

  • Produces a bass-heavy frequency response of 30 Hz to 4 KHz
  • Utilizes double-stacked 80 Oz magnet for ultimate sound resonance and depth
  • Made from strong polypropylene cone and rubber edges in order to ensure years of weather resistance

The Rockville 10 inch subwoofer is one of the most cost effective units with the best sound sensitivity, RMS rating, and durability assurances of any product on the market. Creating 2400 watts and 1200 watts of RMS program power, Rockville is an incredibly powerful device.

The subwoofer itself is fit with complete polypropylene material and rubber edges that are built to withstand all sources of salt corrosion and weather. The molded ABS plastic basket is made with special materials that are rated as waterproof by a third party, unaffiliated marine certification company.

Featuring a frequency response of 30 Hz to 4 Khz, the subwoofer is better at producing deep lows and bass rather than high pitched noises. For most vessels, this won’t be a problem. However, if you want the full range of noise production, more expensive speakers are attenuated to create at least 10 kHz on the high end of frequency production.

>>What Customers Think<<

Ultimately, the dual 4 ohms speaker is valued for its high sound sensitivity of 90 decibels. It generates low amount of heat and minimizes the heat to sound production ratio during operation, which means it will likely last years of use in diverse weather conditions.

Pros

  • Comes in sizes ranging from 10 inches to 12 inches in order to accommodate most boat sizes
  • Extremely cost effective option that values high frequency response, noise sensitivity, and durable weather proof rating
  • Produces high amounts of power with exceedingly small amounts of heat production

Cons

  • Noise produced is very bass heavy, which may not be appropriate for all music lovers

 

3. SWR-M100 Alpine 10 Inch Single Marine Subwoofer

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

4.5/5

Features

  • Handles ideal 4 ohm electrical impedance, meaning the SMR-M100 is built to withstand frequent use over time
  • Can attract submarine sonar operators from up to three miles away
  • Built with IPX-5 rated materials, meaning it can withstand frequent water splashes from any direction

Known for its high output bass, the SWR-100 performs excellently out on the water. Despite it’s small size of 8.7 by 3.9 by 7.1 inches, the SWR-100 produces loud, clear sound at a vibrant quality. Even when the boat is at full speed on choppy waves, customers state that the subwoofer is “embarrassingly loud” for all to hear.

Most customers appreciate that the subwoofer was very easy to install. It’s a free air subwoofer, meaning that it employs space-saving mounting forms in which the subwoofer itself uses trunk space as its enclosure. This solution is excellent for those looking to add “punchiness” to their bass without causing frustrating vibration on deck.

>>What Customers Think<<

The 4 Ohm subwoofer is built to accommodate small, mid size, and larger sea vessels. Many users opt to build their own mounting bracket from scrap materials or plywood, according to the instructions included on the speaker template.

Pros

  • High waterproof rating makes it excellent for marine uses
  • Low electrical impedance and high sound clarity make the subwoofer produce great sound with minimally damaging heat production
  • Built with custom, high strength polypropylene frame
  • Constructed with thermal management system that further protects sensitive subwoofer components from heat damage

Cons

  • Free air installation isn’t ideal for many customers, some had to create their own mounting hardware in order to properly install the unit

 

4. Kenwood P-WD250MRW 10 Inch Marine Subwoofer and Amplifier

 

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

4/5

Features

  • Features 80 Hz low-pass filter that automatically deepens all sound production
  • Offers dual 1.5 ohm voice coils for best sound differentiation
  • Entire kit includes marine subwoofer, 50-200 watt RMS power amp, and necessary cables for set up

Producing 200 watts of maximum output, the Kenwood subwoofer and amplifier are a great package deal for anyone who doesn’t already have appropriate sound equipment for subwoofer installation. With a power handling of 50 to 200 watts RMS, you can rest assured knowing that the Kenwood produces high clarity sound at an ideal volume.

The retrofitted marine subwoofer even features a 80 Hz low-pass filter (12 decibels per octave), which automatically processes passing low signals at a frequency lower and high signals at a frequency higher for extra punchiness. The effect results in deep, distance-stretching sound that really makes you feel you’re in a concert hall.

Additionally, the subwoofer is framed with pearl mica polypropylene and rubber surround that makes it ideal for use in choppy water conditions. The Kenwood is rated at IPX-5 performance, meaning that it can withstand most ocean vessel weather conditions with no damage.

>>What Customers Think<<

Many customers install the free air subwoofer in the base of storage space under their seat cabinets. Though it may be unnerving for amateurs to do a self installation, the company offers many instructional materials on their website for proper set-up.

To date, the only drawback is that the power amp system itself and connector cables have no water protection guarantees. Some complain that their cables require frequent replacement since they tend to corrode over the season.

Pros

  • Low pass filter is a must-have feature that allows sound to stretch around and back into the space of the cabin
  • High waterproof and water resistant rating of the subwoofer makes it ideal for any marine condition
  • Consumes low power compared to many competitor brands

Cons

  • Power amp and connector cables don’t include any waterproof guarantee, making them subject to corrosion and water damage over time
  • Set up may be tricky since the unit is a free-air system

 

5. Fusion MS-SW10 10 Inch 400 Watt Marine Grade Subwoofer

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

4/5

Features

  • Very high marine safe, marine-grade materials rating that makes it ideal for use in choppy weather conditions
  • Sound sensitivity of 88 decibels and frequency range of 30 Hz to 2 kHz

With a frequency response between 30 Hz and 2 kHz, the Fusion is an appropriate subwoofer for most vessels and small boats. At just ten inches, the Fusion features 4 ohms of electrical impedance with a sound sensitivity rated at 88 decibels. The deeply-set subwoofer is built for a 60 Oz magnet structure that ensures consistent sound quality at the highest volume possible.

This free air subwoofer can be mounted easily in the seat cabinet of most motor sea crafts. Additionally, the subwoofer is retrofitted with complete rubber and plastic coverings that give it a high water resistance rating.

Unlike other subwoofers, this device has gone through the lengthy marine-grade certification process. You can rest assured knowing that this device will last many years of use in even the most diverse weather conditions.

>>What Customers Think<<

Though most customers are satisfied, some are frustrated with the sound quality created at the subwoofer’s price point. Ultimately, the frequency range is considered low for such a high end device. However, many believe that the subwoofer’s durability makes up for what it lacks in noise production.

Pros

  • Considered very durable and boasts a high marine safety rating
  • Highly water and weather proof, built to withstand salt corrosion
  • Features free space resonance of 28 Hz

Cons

  • Subwoofer has low frequency range and sound sensitivity for its high price point

 

Final Thoughts

 

Ultimately, it’s hard to get much better in weather resistance, sound quality, power use, and sound sensitivity than the Bazooka. Loved by a huge crowd of fans, the Bazooka justifies its high price point through consistent quality that keeps the sound as crisp as the day it was purchased.

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