The best marine amplifier can make the audio on your boat go from background noise to the main attraction. Not only is an amplifier good for powering subwoofers, but it can add extra punch to all of your speakers. Nothing adds to the party like a nice, loud and clear sound system playing your favorite playlist while you’re on the water.
Finding an amplifier for your boat or marine application isn’t easy. It takes quite a bit of research, shopping around, and time to determine what’s right for you. That’s where we come in! We’ve tracked down seven of the top marine amplifiers on the market to make your search a little easier. We’ll teach you what you need to know and which units can suit your needs.
We’ve covered a wide range of marine amps with different strong suits and price points. A few things they all have in common are high quality, great sound, and a lot of bang for the buck. Whether you’re a hardcore audiophile or a newbie, chances are you’ll find the right amp for you on this list.
Here's a list of the top rated marine amplifiers of 2017 to help you find the best products for your boat or marine application. Click an amp to go to the full review, or just scroll down to view all of the reviews:
Best Marine & Boat Amplifiers | Top 7
|Our Rank||Amplifier||Amplifier Type||Channels||Power @ 2 Ohms||Price|
|1.||Wet Sounds Syndicate Series SYN-DX4||Class D||4-Channel||RMS: 200W x 4||$$$$$|
|2.||JL Audio M700/5||Class D||5-Channel||RMS: 100W x 4 + 300W x 1||$$$$|
|3.||Kicker 40KXM800.5||Class D||4-Channel||RMS: 100W x 4||$$$|
|4.||Rockville RXM8BTB||Class D||8-Channel||RMS: 95W x 8||$$|
|5.||Kenwood KAC-M1824BT||Class D||4-Channel||RMS: 45W x 4||$$|
|6.||JBL MA6004||Class D||4-Channel||RMS: 80W x 4||$$|
|7.||Pyle PLMRA420||Class A/B||4-Channel||RMS: 50 x 4||$|
Who Is This Review For?
Let’s say you have a boat with the stock audio equipment and you want to give it a boost. Maybe you’re putting together a wish list of audio equipment and you haven’t found the right amp yet. The perfect amp can play a crucial role in making your whole audio system work in harmony.
You might think you need to spend a fortune to get a really high quality sound system, but that’s not the case at all. You might be amazed by what some lower-priced amps can do. While a high-end boat amp is worth every penny for its quality of construction, materials, features, and sound, there are plenty of budget and mid-range amps that can easily satisfy the causal audio enthusiast.
Whether you want to power two speakers, a half dozen speakers and a sub, or anything in between, this review has the best marine amp for you. By the time you’re done reading this review, you’ll be an expert on the best boat amplifiers money can buy.
Best Marine Amplifiers | What to Look For
There’s some audio lingo that you’re going to want to know before getting into your research. If you’re already familiar with car audio, then most of this will be familiar to you. To find the best marine amplifier for your boat, there are a few specifications you need to understand.
- Channels - How many channels an amplifier has is one of the main ways they’re categorized. Each channel on an amp is basically a different power output. A good rule of thumb is to get an amplifier with a number of channels equal to how many speakers you’re looking to power including subwoofers. While it’s possible to power however many speakers you want with any number of channels, we recommend each speaker to have its own dedicated channel on the amp. This ensures you’re getting the best quality and volume from your system. So what’s the difference between amps with different channels?
- 1-Channel (Monoblock) - A single-channel amp or a “monoblock” is a good low-budget way to power one subwoofer. None of the amplifiers on our list are monoblocks. What we’ve reviewed here is intended for a more sophisticated full-range audio system.
- 2-Channel - 2-channel amps are nice, multipurpose units. They have left and right channels making them good for simple stereo setups. These are very common in aftermarket car audio.
- 3-Channel - 3-channel amps aren’t very common, but they’re good for powering a set of speakers plus one or more subwoofers. It’s basically a 2-channel amp combined with a monoblock.
- 4-Channel - Most of the marine amplifiers you’re about to read about are 4-channel amps. These are common for marine use because they’re perfect for a boat with four speakers. If you have four speakers and don’t want or need a subwoofer, a 4-channel amp is perfect.
- 5-Channel - A 5-channel amp is basically a 4-channel amp plus one extra channel for a subwoofer. If you need to add a little more kick to your 4-speaker marine stereo with a subwoofer, go with a 5-channel amp.
Basically, even-numbered channels are good for an even number of speakers while odd-numbered channels are good for speakers plus a subwoofer.
- Wattage - The wattage of your amplifier needs to be consistent with your speakers. Every speaker has a range of wattage that it can handle on its own. If you’re planning on adding an amp to the speakers you already have, it’s important to check the maximum wattage and make sure it’s higher than what your new amp will be feeding it. If you’re shopping for new marine speakers as well, again, make sure those numbers match up. A speaker receiving more wattage than it can handle is doomed to blow. Sound quality factors in as well. If your speakers are at their maximum wattage tolerance at high volume, they aren’t going to sound very good. So when you’re looking for an amp, make sure you align the RMS power rating from your speakers with the amp’s RMS power ratings.
- Bridging - Bridging is a common feature on multi-channel amplifiers. When you bridge two channels, their power is combined to give more output to one dedicated channel. This is good for giving more power to a subwoofer. It can also be used to add more power to your speakers if you have more channels than speakers. If you do this, make sure you do the math on the wattage so you don’t blow your speakers.
- Construction - While all of the best boat amplifiers on our list are suitable for marine use, some have higher quality construction than others. Consider what your amp is going to endure. Will it be exposed directly to the elements or will it have some protection in a compartment in the boat? If you know your marine amp will really take a beating, consider one of the amps with tougher construction.