Last updated on November 23rd, 2020 at 10:34 pm
The best marine amplifier takes the audio on your boat from background to the main attraction. An amplifier is best for powering subwoofers, but it can add extra punch to all of your speakers. Nothing adds to the party like a 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 lot of research, shopping around, and time to determine what’s right for you. That’s where we come in! We’ve researched and narrowed down several 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 will suit your needs.
We’ve covered a wide range of marine amps with different strengths 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. And we're constantly following the industry to find and update our lists with the latest material so that you're not looking at a list of products from several years back!
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 marine 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. In fact, many of the best marine audio systems are designed around the amplifier.
You might think you need to spend a fortune to get a really high quality amplifier, 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 casual 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 in 2020.
Best Marine & Boat Amplifier List
- 125Wx4 @ 4 ohms/ 150Wx2 @ 2 ohms/ Bridgeable to 400Wx2
- 150Wx2 @ 4 ohms/ 300W @ 2 ohms/ Bridgeable to 600W mono
- Frequency Response: 20-20,000 KHz
- Variable High- and Low-Pass filters (50-250 Hz)
- Sealed Aluminum Case
- Dimensions: 3 ⅛”H x 14 11/16” W x 8 9/16” D
Wet Sounds SYN-DX6 Amplifier Quick Review
Wet Sounds is one of the top brands you'll encounter when searching for the best marine amplifier. That's because Wet Sounds puts out a product that is worth every penny you spend. Power output, durability, and reliability; it ranks well across the board. It's an aggregation of top-quality materials and high performing features that makes Wet Sounds our top amplifier pick.
First off, this is not a cheap amplifier. But, sometimes you get what you pay for. With the DX6, you are basically getting two amplifiers in one – a four channel amp (125 W x RMSx4 channels) and a 2 channel amp (150 W x 2 channels) for hydro-shaking bass. If you are designing your system around an amp, this is the one to start with. You get expandability, tidal waves of power, and one of the most reliable amps on the water.
The SYN-DX6 starts out with a sealed cover and an aluminum chassis that won’t corrode in the elements. Stainless steel hardware will keep this amp safe and secure without failing hardware. Three 30 amp fuses keep the juice flowing safely and deeply extruded cooling fins keep it cool even in the hottest situations.
What we really noticed about this amp beyond it’s six channels, you can wire it up for 6, 5, 4, or 3-channel output. That gives you ultimate configuration options. You can start out with a couple really good speakers and expand your system as you can afford it. Or, you can take your high-quality head unit and speakers to the next level with dedicated channels for your subs and separate channels for your speakers.
- Four channels for your speakers and two for your subs
- Sealed Control Cover
- Superior Class-D Circuit Protection
- Extreme power in a small package
- Control cover requires tools to open
- 100 W x 4 channels + 1 300 W channel @ 2 ohms
- 75 W x 4 channels + 1 180W channel @ 4 ohms
- Main channels are bridgeable to create 200 w x 2 channels
- Frequency Response: 12-24 KHz Main Channels
- Frequency Response: 12-1 KHz Subwoofer Channel
- 2.05” H x 13.96” W x 6.93” D
- Integrated Digital Signal Processing
- Sealed, cast alloy chassis
JL Audio MV700/5i Quick Review
It is hard to beat the MVi marine amplifier lineup from JL Audio. These amplifiers are tough, powerful, and ready for your aquatic adventures. The MV700/5i is the latest addition to their line of marine-grade amplifiers. This five-channel amplifier is one of the very best on the market for all marine applications – salt and fresh water. It packs a serious punch, and it’s IPX2 water-resistance rating keeps the tunes pumping from season to season.
The MV700 features four channels rated at 100 W and a separate channel for your subwoofer that makes 300 watts all on its own. As if that isn’t enough, you can configure this amplifier to provide up to six processed amplifier signals to power even more speakers via its 6 4v RCA preamp outputs.. JL Audio gives you even more control through the TüN software that allows you to adjust settings on the amplifier via USB. A Bluetooth connection is also available.
JL's Digital Signal Processing is one of the standout features that allows this amplifier to provide the incredible power you crave while keeping your music crisp and clean. Even when you crank up the volume to a ludicrous level, the MV700 will handle it without overheating. Should the amp get too hot, JL Audio Advanced Rollback Protection will automatically reduce peak power output until the amp returns to safe levels without losing gain. This is an amazing features for tight quarters and hot weather (or both!).
- Powerful amplifier with tons of features
- Excellent frequency range
- Can be controlled with your smartphone or tablet
- High price
- Some consumer reviews mention that water proofing could be better
- 50 W x 4 channels + 200 W x 1 channel @ 4 ohms
- 100 W x 4 channels + 400 W x 1 channel @ 2 ohms
- Main channels are bridgeable
- Wireless remote control
- Frequency Response: 20-20,000 KHz
- 2 3/16” H x 12 ¾” W x 8 5/16” D
- Sealed Aluminum Chassis
Kicker KXMA800.5 Marine Amplifier Quick Review
You don’t have to go into debt to get wave-making bass. Kicker is known around the world for high-quality car stereo equipment. The company produces some of the best marine amplifiers on the water that won’t cost you a fortune.
The newest KXM-series of amplifiers continues the excellent build-quality and advanced features found in higher-priced amplifiers like remote control adjustability. With up to 100 watts of power on the main channels and a tremendous 400 watts to power subwoofers, your boat has never sounded so good.
Kicker made it easy to set the gain correctly on the newest marine amps. You can download a tone via their tuning mobile app and adjust the lighted gain knob until the light comes on, then back off until the light goes out. Easy as that to get perfect sound.
Of course, a marine amplifier is no good if it can’t handle the elements. Kicker uses conformal coated circuit boards and a gasket-sealed control door. A UV-protective coating on the aluminum chassis keeps it all looking fresh for years to come. The KXMA800.5 meets stringent standards set by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the American Boat & Yacht Council. Pound for pound the KXMA series amplifiers are among the best on the market.
- Excellent power for the price
- Remote control makes fine-tuning on the water easy
- Easily tunable with Kicker’s downloadable tone for gain control
- Power output is not as high as higher priced units
- Key Features
- 8 channel marine amplifier
- 65 W x 8 channels @ 4 ohms
- 95 W x 8 channels @ 2 ohms
- Built-in Bluetooth
- Frequency Response: 10-45 KHz
- Dimensions 6.7″ W x 2″ H x 11.5″ L
- 80A fuse
Rockville RXM8BTB Quick Review
When it comes to the ultimate stereo setup for your boat, you need an amplifier that can do it all. That is where the Rockville RXM-series amp comes in. Featuring 8 channels to run your entire system and 1500 watts of peak power, you can really drive the sound in your boat in a wide variety of configurations with this one amplifier. You will really be shocked when you see how insanely affordable this high-tech amplifier really is.
The Proton series of amplifiers features built-in Bluetooth capabilities that allows you to stream your music wirelessly. The amp also features “zero-noise” RCA plugs for a lossless listening experience. This Class D amplifier is super compact, but has a ton of power.
Rockville rates the amplifier at 750 watts RMS, but claims the true output is closer to 800 watts. The amp can be configured to run 8, 6, or 4 channels, or can be set up for 6.1 or 4.2 systems. This level of flexibility is fantastic for an amp at this price. You can seriously power your entire system from this one amp, or you can daisy chain more amplifiers for even more unbelievable power.
- 8 channels provide plenty of speaker options
- 1500 W peak power
- Built-in Bluetooth for easy streaming
- Insane price point for the features
- Limited warranty
- Not as easy to find as more common brands
- 4/3/2 channel amplifier
- 50 W x 4 channels RMS @ 4 ohms
- 75 W x 4 channels RMS @ 2 ohms
- 150 W x 2 channels bridged
- Frequency Response: 20-30 KHz
- Dimensions: 8” W x 1 11/16” H x 3 ¼” D
- 40 A fuse
Kenwood Clarion XC2410 Quick Review
Don’t let the miniscule size of this amplifier make you think it can’t do the job. In fact, most boat owners will find that this super compact amplifier provides all the power they need. Clarion made sure this compact amp was ready for the water, too.
Featuring double sided conformal coatings and nickel-plated the connectors to make sure that salt, sun, and spray don’t ruin your day on the water. While the power output seems low compared to many of the full size amps on this list, 50 watts on each of four channels will give you plenty of boost.
This amplifier is also popular with offroad drivers and motorcyclists because of it’s super-compact size and durability provide years of listening enjoyment. It is so small, many people are able to install it in the glovebox or under the seat.
- Super compact size
- Built-in wiring harness
- Lower power than full size units
- Some people thought the wiring harness should be longer
- 4 channel Class D amplifier
- 45 W x 4 channels RMS
- 90 W x 2 channels bridged
- CTA-2006 Compliant
- Frequency Response: 20-20 KHz
- Dimensions: 8-5/8″W x 1-13/16″H x 3-15/16″D
Kenwood KAC-1814BT Quick Review
Kenwood is yet another one of the most highly respected names in car and marine audio. The products they produce are always reliable and trustworthy and this compact, budget amplifier keeps that tradition strong. Not only is this a great budget-friendly option, it has plenty of power, a small footprint, and marine-rated durability.
This amp produces 45 watts RMS on four channels. That will usually be enough to double the amount of power your head unit is producing to get your speakers blasting louder. The Class D technology allows this compact amp to run cool all day. Conformal coated circuit boards and covered connectors help to prevent the effects of sun, salt, and spray from trashing your system.
- Compact design
- Excellent for boosting speaker volume without distortion
- Signal-sensing technology eliminates the need for a lead wire
- No dedicated subwoofer channel
- No LED lights to indicate status
- If it overheats, it stops working until it cools down
- 4-channel Marine Amplifier
- 100 W x 2 channels @ 4 ohms RMS
- 300 W x 2 channels @ 2 ohms RMS
- Weatherproof and water-resistant
- Dimensions: 4.1” L x 3.4” W x 1.4” D
- Frequency Response: 10-40 KHz
- 10 A Fuse
|Buy on Amazon.com|
Pyle Hydra PLMRMB2CB Quick Review
If you don’t want to spend a lot of dough on an amplifier for a smaller setup, you can get all the volume you want on the cheap with this marine-grade amplifier from Pyle. This is a two channel amplifier rated at 200 watts RMS, which is more than enough for your 8.5” speakers on your boat.
Not only does this amp feature a full slew of thermal protections, it is also completely waterproof. In fact it is the only one on this list that is “waterproof”. It is going to be hard to beat this amplifier because of the incredible price. Pyle fully marinized this amplifier inside and out to make sure you get years of use.
A real shocker is the built-in Bluetooth connectivity. You normally only find that on much more expensive amplifiers. It is also among the most compact on our list. You can set it up to power two speakers, or you can bridge it and get even more volume. Now, audio quality may not be up to par with a JL or other high-end amp on our list but this unit absolutely gets the job done at a fantastic price point.
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.