Time for a Sound System Upgrade on Your Boat

marine stereo systems
Upgrade your old marine stereo system for better music enjoyment on your boat – photo credit

boat gear
Upgrading your old marine stereo system makes it easier for boaters to play and enjoy music from their smartphones, Bluetooth and other digital devices

In the midst of yearly and seasonal boat repairs and upgrades, stereo systems usually get honorable mentions, but they rarely get some real work done on them – the funds are easily depleted, on-board entertainment systems don’t make the cut. And so, most boat owners still rock their vintage tape decks which run on battery and blind faith.

When you come to terms that it is time to change the old system, it is good to look for something that can connect to your Spotify account, and luckily, most new systems do. CDs are also becoming steadily more outdated, yet there are still so many CD players available in stores that it is easy to make the mistake and replace your ye olde player with something that’s going to be equally ye olde in a year or two.

Here are a couple of directions on what to pay attention to before you get back to sailing (with an upgraded instrument panel).

The first thing you should think about is what kind of medium you want to play music on. If you have a lot of CDs that you still enjoy listening, do not write them off just because they are becoming obsolete. They are not permanent carriers of sound, so check your CD collection out to see if it is still working.

If you choose to skip CD players in full, you could head for the next medium – USB ports. USB ports let you make use of the digital formats you already own, and the easier optimization you get with them – “mixtapes” have never been so easy to assemble. It is as simple as plugging in your flash drive.

Now, moving on to the latest innovations in digital media – an Android phone, an iPhone or an iPod, which almost everyone owns nowadays. They have enough storage to carry hundreds of albums ready for play with one touch.

There are many apps – some free, some paid – that will let you optimize playback to match your phone speed and aesthetic demands, so try a few of them out on dry land, if you haven’t already. In order to use your smartphone as an entertainment system on your boat, make sure your new marine radio system has an input where you can plug in your device. That is usually via a 3.5mm jack, a mini USB or a Bluetooth port.

1992 Maxum 1800 SR
Find the perfect marine sound system for the type of music you enjoy on board – photo credit

Naturally, the one thing your new stereo must have is a radio, and a satellite one would be perfect for the water. A remote control would also come in handy. Even if you do not use it all the time, it is good for boat guests not to pile around you as they take over the entertainment.

The size does matter and it would be wise to know the exact measurements of your old stereo in order to fit the new one in its place. The reason this is so important is because there is no size standard when it comes to marine audio systems, and you do not want to end up with one that you cannot fit without expanding or narrowing the designated spot (you are on a boat… you do not want cracks near your panel, as waterproof as it is). Understandably, your stereo should also be waterproof, though this is, surprisingly, not a default characteristic of all marine stereos.

Get ready to fully enjoy the season ahead by upgrading to a marine audio system that lets you enjoy the latest tunes from the latest devices on your boat.

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Editorial Staff

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This article was written by MyBoatLife.com editorial staff.


  1. BrianDecember 23, 2014

    An updated sound system can improve your quality of experience so much that it may surprise you– the added convenience of being able to stream from Bluetooth and other technologies means a wider (and higher quality) selection of music to enhance your outings.

    1. flannerykateDecember 24, 2014

      You’re so right. I only ever stream music nowadays, and if it weren’t for Bluetooth, I don’t think I would have a quarter of my playlists available to me at most times.

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