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Get ready to pump up the volume!
If you are looking for a new marine stereo receiver head unit, we have some suggestions to make.
First be sure to select a true marine stereo receiver. Why? Because unlike automotive stereo receivers, boat stereo receivers have features like coated circuit boards which enables them to resist corrosion in the wet marine environment. Marine stereos are rated as spray resistant or waterproof. Those with a CD slot seal the slot with rubber gaskets or hide the slot behind a water resistant faceplate. Actually, the majority of modern marine stereos are now “mechless”, meaning they do not have a CD slot or any other moving parts. Instead, with Bluetooth connectivity, many stereos can be connected to your phone which puts a virtually unlimited playlist at your command.
Next, you need to decide if you want a DIN style receiver, which is one that fits into a single DIN cutout (2 1/8" high x 7 1/8" wide). Some receivers require a double DIN cutout, which is twice the height of a single DIN. Other stereos are non-standard and require a uniquely sized cutout. Note: DIN is an acronym for "Deutsche Industrial Norms", which is a German standards agency.
Now that our German lesson is over, there a variety of features to look for in a marine stereo. Many are satellite radio ready. This means they either have a built-in satellite radio tuner or can be used with a tuner to take advantage of a wealth of programming from SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Advanced features now available in marine stereos include wireless control from an included remote control or via an app you can download on to your phone. Another feature is “zone control” which enables you to separately vary the volume of speakers in different locations on your boat.
We should say that apart from dash-mounted stereos, there is another option. If your boat is equipped with a multifunction display, consider a hideaway or “black box” style system that mounts remotely and is controlled via a NMEA connection to your display or compatible device.
As a final note, we should say that marine stereos vary greatly in their power output. If you are looking to really blast out the tunes, by all means, choose a marine stereo with gobs of power or better yet pick up an amplifier and really shake the seas. The one caveat here is that if you are going to increase the power of your system, you most likely will need new marine speakers with power handling ability to match.
For learn more about marine stereo systems, please read our West Advisor article Selecting a Marine Stereo.