Row your boat gently down the stream, but how can this song be possible without any music? If you love spending time on your boat, then you already know the benefits of a set of marine speakers and a receiver. One element to make your audio experience even more significant is the best marine amplifier. But choosing one can be hard.
What should you choose? How to recognize a good product? How to choose the right type of it? Do you really need one? How to use it, right? All of these questions are pretty simple. Our team has done some research, and here we are going to introduce you to some new tips, relevant information, quick reminders, and marine amplifier reviews. Finding a good product can be a bit tricky, but with some info, you will be able to choose the one which will suit your needs.
Best Marine Amplifiers Comparison Chart
JBL MA6004 4-Channel Full-Range Marine Amplifier
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Kenwood KAC-M1804 Compact 4-channel Amplifier
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Kenwood 1177524 Compact Marine Amplifier
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Planet Audio AC2000.2 Anarchy with Remote Subwoofer Control
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Pyle Hydra Marine Amplifier – Elite Series
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Rockville DBM12 Marine/Boat Mono Amplifier Amp
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DS18 CANDY-X5B Amplifier in Black
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Best Marine Amplifiers Reviews (Recommended Picks)
The first section of our article will take you on a journey around the top units on the market. All of these marine amplifiers are going to be a great addition to your boat. They aren’t arranged in any specific order so feel free to scroll up and down.
1. JBL MA6004 4-Channel Full-Range Marine Amplifier
The JBL Marine Amplifier might not support more than 4 channels, but it has a great sounding system. It peaks at 600 Watts and works continuously at 240 Watts. This gives it enough energy to work efficiently. It manages to raise the audio of the output over the sound of the boat’s motor. You have the option to adjust the bass to your preferences.
A 12dB built-in electronic crossover allows you to tune it according to systems of any size. We warn you that this amplifier heats quickly when subjected to high volume. The audio will cut out automatically, so you just need to let it cool. The stainless-steel hardware will ensure the protection of the amplifier during your boat trip.
Thanks to the construction, this product will be safe from salt and corrosion. Another advantage of the JBL amplifier is that it performs with less than 1% THD. Once you purchase this product, you will be able to start using it in no time as it is easy to wire. A set of stylish light indicators will navigate you when it is dark.
- Stainless steel hardware
- Easy to wire
- Stylish light indicators
- Performs well over the sound of the motor.
- Only a 4-channel amplifier. Would not work with a subwoofer also.
- Overheats under high volume.
2. Kenwood KAC-M1804 Compact 4-channel Amplifier
The KAC-M1804 amplifier might seem small, but that should not put you off. It provides excellent sound and enough power for its size. After all, it depends on what you are expecting. This product is compact and lightweight enough to fit anywhere – in your car or on your boat. Following the manual or even just your instincts, you will be able to install it in no time. This, together with the fact that it can work anywhere, will allow you to change its position depending on your needs.
It runs 4 channels, just like some bigger amplifiers. However, as already mentioned, it peaks at only 400 Watts. This power is absolutely appropriate for this size amplifier, but it is up to you to decide if it is enough for you. It provides a reasonably good sound. One of its disadvantages is that you cannot adjust the volume. Although the amplifier is designed to withstand heating, this does not prevent the speed at which it heats up. Make sure you have enough cooling space.
- Compact and lightweight
- Good sound for its size
- Suitable for marine applications
- Heats up easily.
- It does not allow for gain adjustment.
- Less powerful
3. Kenwood 1177524 Compact Marine Amplifier
The next Kenwood Automotive/Marine Amplifier again deceives with its size. This compact product with a peak of just about 400 Watts will serve you more than well. It runs 4 channels at 45 watts and 4 ohms which makes it louder than a standard radio.
Thanks to its compact silhouette and depth, you can mount it anywhere, even in the most limited space. You can listen to music from a variety of external devices thanks to the secure wireless Bluetooth connection. The product comes with wireless remote control for volume adjustment and track control. Unfortunately, no equalizer or bass boost is available.
Therefore, keep in mind that this amplifier might not offer the desired bass levels. The materials provide excellent protection from water and dust damage. This feature is enhanced by the conformal-coated main PCB. However, the wires seem to be flimsy and will not be able to support the amplifier in the long term.
- A good amount of power for its size
- Bluetooth connection
- Water-resistant remote control
- No equalizer or bass boost
- Not appropriate for substantial, long-term use
4. Planet Audio AC2000.2 Anarchy with Remote Subwoofer Control
The Planet Audio AC2000.2 Anarchy Amplifier can once again be used in both a car and on a boat. Its range of power spans from 1000 Watts with 2 channels running at 2 ohms to 200 bridged power with 1 channel running at 4 ohms. The Class A/B label ensures that the circuitry of the amplifier will increase sound quality and reduce distortion. As already mentioned, you can combine channels for even more power.
This type of amplifier offers you full control over the frequencies that pass through to the subwoofer and the full-range speakers. This is possible thanks to the variable low-pass and high-pass filters. The amplifier is equipped with a bass knob to adjust the bass boost to your preferences. The knob is quite sensitive and brittle, which is one of the disadvantages of this product. The amplifier tends to heat up quickly when overpowered. However, in case this happens, your product will be protected by the auto shut-off system. It is a useful measure when it comes to power shortage as well. Overall, the amplifier will perform well for the price.
- Class A/B circuitry
- Variable low-pass and high-pass filters
- Bridged channels for sound improvement
- Overheats easily
- The bass knob is poorly connected
5. Pyle Hydra Marine Amplifier – Elite Series
This next little amplifier will provide you with enough power to make your ride enjoyable. It is designed to run 4 channels for stereo improvement. You can connect it to some different head units. It is equipped with RCA inputs to connect speakers. It is not as powerful as other amplifiers, but it will serve its purpose considering the small size. It is not bridgeable, which further decreases the rate of the sound.
On the other hand, it is precisely the size that will allow you to install it anywhere. You can adjust the gain through the controls on the amplifier. The product is constructed with quality Aluminium to prevent overheating and to protect your vehicle from short circuit conditions. It is designed to withstand moisture. You can rest assured that the gold-plated speaker will prevent the development of corrosion. Overall, this is an excellent little amplifier for the price it comes with.
- Compact – can fit in a limited space
- Compatible with a variety of head units
- Controls short circuit conditions
- Not very powerful
- No bass equalizer
6. Rockville DBM12 Marine/Boat Mono Amplifier Amp
Rockville has come out with this high-performance marine amplifier, capable of peaking at an impressive 200 Watts, which will change your audio experience at the water and be paired with most standard subwoofers. This 2-ohm amp features a subsonic filter, an adjustable bass equalizer, and an exquisite waterproof silicone coating, topped off with a rustproof aluminum heatsink. The panels, mounting screws, and hardware are all made of rustproof stainless steel. An additional feature is the dashboard subwoofer control. The item is compact, weighing only 7.5 lbs, and has a frequency response range of 15 to 250 Hz.
- Very powerful
- Light and well-designed
- Doesn’t come with a brass knob
7. DS18 CANDY-X5B Amplifier in Black
This Candy amplifier boasts an impressive 2000 Watts of peak power and applies to a wide range of speakers, from 1 to 8 ohms, while being extremely compact and easy to carry. The DS18 comes with a remote bass knob included, allowing you to have more control of your audio settings. Its frequency response range is also impressive, from 20Hz to 20KHz, and is equipped with 5 channels, unlike many models which have only 4.
However, this is designed for cars or bikes and not boats, as it is not waterproof. Easy to install, the product comes with all the necessary wiring and an instruction manual for set-up. It is generally designed to withstand heat, but powering multiple speakers may cause it to run up the temperature.
- Max power of 2000 Watts
- Remote bass knob included
- Supports most speakers and subs
- 1-year warranty
- Not waterproof
- Pricier than other models
8. Pyle Bluetooth Audio Marine Amplifier – Wireless Receiver System
This marine amplifier impresses with a reliable control center. It has a sturdy construction designed to prevent water damage in case of moisture. Moreover, it is easy to control thanks to the rectangular and bulky form. This type of amplifier is equipped with audio outputs plus an additional subwoofer output. This way, you can control the volume and improve the quality of your stereo. The bass is adjustable according to your personal preferences. The equalizer allows for independent control over the bass amplitude range. The product connects well with Bluetooth. This feature will give you a variety of external music sources to choose from.
Furthermore, it functions with various audio files: MP3, WMA, WAV. Another way you can connect your music to the amplifier is through the USB/SD card reader that supports up to 32MB. Although the amp has a power ranging up to 200 Watts, it will serve you well, and it will make your time with it enjoyable.
- Waterproof design
- Audio outputs and a separate subwoofer output
- Bass equalizer
- Solid control center
- USB/SD and Bluetooth connections
- Less powerful
9. BOSS Audio Marine Amplifier / Speaker Bluetooth System
This next marine amplifier impressed us with the number of items included in the set. In addition to the 4-channel amp, there are two pairs of speakers. Their depth allows you to mount them in small boxes. This way, they will emit better sound. The speakers have protected from any water damage thanks to a poly carbon cone and a rubber surround. Each pair can support up to 180 Watts of power.
The amplifier itself is not as powerful as an audiophile might want it to be. However, it serves its purpose for the price. A great advantage is the features of the amplifier. It has a USB port and a standard auxiliary interface for external MP3 devices. At the same time, the Bluetooth program works, and you can listen to music through Spotify or Pandora.
The amplifier is fully marinized. This means that the materials it is made of are water-resistant and dustproof. You can rest assured that it will be an efficient addition to your boat for some time. The sound might start to cut off with time. Thankfully, a 3-year Platinum Online Dealer Warranty is part of the offer.
- It comes with two pairs of speakers.
- Can work with other devices or through Bluetooth
- Fully marinized
- 3-year Online Dealer Warranty
- Not very powerful
- The sound starts cutting off with time
10. Rockville Marine/Boat Amplifier (RXM-S6)
The last product on our list – the Rockville Marine Amplifier – impresses for its versatility. It can run a different number of channels (6 in total) through several speakers. You can choose different options such as 4 channels to full range, and then 2 of the channels to subwoofers or to a wakeboard.
A single channel can be transferred to 2 speakers at once. This allows you to run 4 channels through 8 speakers with 2 channels for a subwoofer. And last, but not least, the amplifier can withhold 12 full-range speakers. Besides, the amp comes with a microphone. This allows you to use the system for efficient communication as well as listen to music.
This product peaks at 2,600 Watts. To ensure protection, the amplifier comes with a conformal coating against moisture, dust, chemicals and too high or too low temperature. What finishes the marine function are the stainless steel exterior screws. Thus, the RXM-S6 becomes almost indestructible when you are out on the water. The main advantage is in the sounding of the amplifier, primarily when used with Bluetooth. However, bear in mind that the microphone can get muffled which will hinder its performance.
- Water protection
- Reasonable price for a well-adjusted amplifier
- Auto-Start Smart turn-on
- The microphone tends to underperform.
About Marine Amplifiers
To understand why it is a valuable addition, you should know how an amplifier works. It basically intakes all the electrical energy that comes from the source and controls how much of it goes to your speakers. This is where it gets tricky because large amounts of energy (i.e if you turn the volume up on the amp) may cause your speakers to blow out. Therefore, having a powerful amp doesn’t only mean that you will get loud music. It also means that your amp will be able to stop all that massive electrical energy from destroying your speakers.
A marine amplifier works well with top-class marine subwoofers or marine speakers to improve the sound’s clarity and volume. Check out our article on subs and get the right one. The main purpose of the amp, besides protecting your speakers is to actually allow you to get a higher volume.
The latter is good enough reason for most users to buy an amplifier for their boat. Regardless of where you will use it, an amplifier is an essential addition to every sound system.
Of course, when you are looking for the right product, one of the most important things is to be familiar with the types of units on the market. Amps are not all the same. There are differences in every step of the way – frequency, resistance, number of channels, output stages, etc. The main 4 factors to pay attention to are:
- Type of signal – The amplifiers can have a small or a high signal.
- Type of configuration – It can be Common Emitter, Common Base, Common Collector.
- Classification – Amplifiers can be Class A, Class B, Class AB, or Class C – These classes are associated with the electronic wiring of the inner style and the amp.
- Frequency of operation – Direct Current [DC], Audio Frequencies [AF], Radio Frequencies [RF] or VHF/UHF/SHF frequencies.
Benefits of Using Amplifier
Why should I use an amplifier? This question can be very deceiving. Below you can take a look at the main advantages of using this item.
The first thing that the amplifier is going to do is increase the volume. This should not, however, be done at the cost of security. A better amplifier can enhance a weak audio signal as well as protect the whole system from a short.
A stronger amplifier will also power a stereo subwoofer and will get the most output from a speaker.
All items have some disadvantages. You need to be informed about them before buying them.
The most prominent concern with the amplifier is that the initial wave is superimposed when the sound or noise is transmitted over a long distance. The system will rely on special cables that cancel or overlay this noise. This disadvantage applies mainly to instrumentation amplifiers.
The amplifier’s output changes with age or time and the voltage supply varies.
Due to the high gain, any noise or stray pickup that appears at the amplifier input increases at the output.
Features To Look For
Functions are also essential when searching for the right item.
The Number of Channels
The more channels a marine amp has, the more speakers it will be able to power. For connecting to multiple speakers, most marine amplifiers can offer anything between 2 and 6 channels. Only one speaker or a subwoofer can be powered by mono channel marine amplifiers. Nowadays, people rarely use mono speakers and therefore you are unlikely to see mono amps too. Stereo systems feature 2 speakers and this is going to be the most popular option out there.
The number of channels supported by the amp has to be even or greater of the number of speakers you are powering. For example, a 3-channel amplifier with 2 inputs can work with a pair of speakers and 1 input for the subwoofer. You can, however, always bridge channels to make the most of the audio system. Premium marine amplifiers will be equipped with 5 or 6 channels to power your audio setup. Nothing, however, stops you from having multiple amplifiers that can be stacked.
RMS Continuous Power
An amplifier’s RMS rating describes how much driving power each speaker sounds its best at. The higher the number, the better the sound quality, but the optimum minimum and maximum potential for your speakers will need to be determined. Before choosing your amplifier, check the ratings of your system: your subwoofer may require a higher RMS than your aftermarket speakers.
Your amplifier’s wattage has to be in sync with your high-quality marine speakers. In fact, the power that the amp feeds should be lower than what the speaker can take. In other words, the wattage on your speakers should be higher than the wattage you are taking from the amp.
By stringing a few amplifiers together, you can cover more channels. Many times one amp is not enough to power all speakers especially if you have a powerful subwoofer too. The main thing you want to watch for is that all amplifiers are marine-grade ones.
While all top boat amplifiers on our list are suitable for marine use, some are of higher quality than others. Consider how advanced you need your amplifier to be. Will it is exposed to the elements directly, or will it be protected in a boat compartment? If you know you’re going to subject your marine amp to heavy use, consider one of the tougher-constructed amps.
Equalizers and Filters
If your amplifier has these features, then good. Equalizers allow you to manage the levels of bass, treble, etc. Thanks to that you will be able to adjust the frequency of your sound and get an overall better experience. Filters will let you eliminate static sound and will also get rid of distortion.
Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise (THD + N) is a measure of how the amplifier affects the sound output. In general, more distortion means more sound coloration. The lower this figure, the closer to the original recording the amplifier output will sound. Speakers will, of course, have the most significant sound effect, so choose some that match your listening preference well.
How to Install?
When it comes to installation, it is essential to do it right. Our advice is that you check the manual of the manufacturer for more instructions. Here are some suggestions for easier installation.
- Not all marine environment amplifiers come with installation kits or wiring, so it’s vital that you buy the recommended marine equipment. It’s not ideal to opt for a regular wiring kit because it won’t withstand harsh conditions. In short, you’re going to need a marine-grade cable kit, speaker wire, condenser, and a marine battery that won’t lose power too quickly.
- Most marine amplifiers come with an instruction manual provided by the manufacturer. It should be straightforward to install a marine amplifier. In general, the unit will be marked with buttons and cable ports. This makes changing some settings or attaching any cables easy for you.
- All in all, the installation revolves around connecting your amp to your speakers and the electric source.
However, do not forget to check the manual. If you are not sure about the installation, call a technician for professional help.
About Maintenance of Marine Amps
Taking care of your amplifier is very important. Let’s look at some tips for maintaining it.
- Brush the dust off the amplifier.
- In particular, marine amplifiers are robust when it comes to resisting salt fog, water, and dust entry; they are also designed to handle UV light, shocks and vibrations that are unique to the marine environment. But make sure that there is no water near the amplifier. When it comes to electricity, it is better to keep the water away.
- When you clean the product, allow it to dry before connecting it with the wires.
- When you get to the wiring, make sure your speakers’ polarity is correct, which means that both the labeled wire on the loudspeaker and the amplifier should go to the negative terminal – and the unmarked wire goes to the positive terminals as well.
Safety always matters, when you are preparing your boat for the season and providing it with elegant audio, marine accessories for when it enters the water. Here are some essential tips regarding the safety of the amplifier.
- If you ever ask yourself if you can use a car amplifier on a boat, the answer is no. On the circuit board and electronic components, marine amplifiers have moisture & corrosion-resistant conformal (protective) coating. It is vital to make a distinction between waterproof and water-resistant – marine amplifiers cannot be submerged, which makes them water-resistant. Components such as potentiometers (variable resistors, such as gain & crossover controls) may still be trapped with water causing damage.
- Always check the wires before starting the amp.
- Clean the dust with a dry rug.
- Correct installation and maintenance will give your amplifier a long life.
Well done, you have already read our buying guide, and now you know how to find the best marine amplifier. You know how to choose the right type of amp, what you should be looking for, when you are buying one and how to install it. With our marine amplifier reviews and all the information you have, we are pretty sure that you will make the right choice in no time.
If you find our guide useful, send it to your sailing-loving friends. Also, do not forget the feedback – it is essential for us to know your opinion and recommendations so that we can improve steadily. Leave a comment or contact us by email. Let us know what you think.
We hope that you find this text interesting. If you find yourself in need, check our other articles – you can find information about all the marine supplies you need. Thanks for reading, and as always – stay put!