When it comes to boating, there are two types of bass that matter: bass that you can fish, and bass that you can blast! We’re talking about the latter kind, and if you want the best bass for your boat, then you’ll need a high-powered marine subwoofer to really make your sound system sing.
A marine subwoofer will boost your bass, but it will also improve the audio quality from your other speakers too, allowing them to focus on delivering high-quality audio in the mid- and high-ranges while your subwoofer takes on all low-range and bass duties.
But why you do you need a marine-grade model? Well, like other marine stereo and audio devices, you’ll want something that’s specially developed to cope with harsh marine environments, actively resisting corrosion, negating the effects of salt water and rain, while resisting harmful UV damage as well.
Before you invest in a powerful subwoofer, make sure you have a marine amplifier that’s powerful enough to power a new subwoofer. It’s also worth getting some marine speakers to really boost your audio quality too.
Now, before you buy the first subwoofer that you see, we’ve put together a list of top rated marine subwoofer units that have been thoroughly tested to guarantee their quality. We’ve also put together a short buying guide to aid you on your search for a new subwoofer. Here’s all you need to know.
Best Overall Choice
1. Rockford Fosgate PM212S4B Punch Marine Subwoofer
Rockford Fosgate is one of the most respected names in the audio industry, and the brand’s top of the range marine subwoofer is exactly what you need if you’re looking to supersize your bass without spending too much money. It’s not the cheapest option on the market, but it’s not at all overpriced either. The result is a high-quality and affordable bass unit with incredible sound quality.
This practical subwoofer is a single voice coil 12” marine subwoofer that has a peak power output of 600 W. The RMS output is rated at 300 W, which is more than enough to blow your bass out of the water. It’s loud and boisterous, but the overall sound quality is superb. All of this is mounted into a unique flex-fit basket which allows for easy mounting and a better installation.
Manufactured from high-quality materials such as Centrex injection molded plastic, polypropylene, corrosion resistant stainless steel, and thermo-plastic elastomer, this unit is tough, strong, and truly marine-ready. In fact, it’s fully marine grade compliant, with corrosion-proof, UV inhibiting, moisture, tear, salt-fog, and fatigue resistant components. It’s ideal for marine and powersport applications.
Another good addition is Rockford Fosgate’s comprehensive, full 2 year warranty. This warranty is a show of the manufacturer’s confidence, and unlike many warranty schemes, this one is quite comprehensive, covering a range of potential issues.
Peak Power: 600 Watts
RMS Power: 300 Watts
Impedance: 4 Ohm
Dimensions: 12 inch sub
Best Budget Choice
2. Polk Audio DB1040 Subwoofer
Polk Audio is a company with a reputation for developing high quality audio gear at an affordable price. If you want big sound but don’t want to pay big bucks, then give Polk a call. The brands top marine subwoofer units are high in quality, loud in volume, and very cheap in price. Our favorite is the Polk Audio DB1040 series.
This large diameter dual voice coil marine subwoofer features a 10 inch Dynamic Balance polymer composite cone, with frequency response ranging between 20 and 200 Hz, with 4 ohms impedance. In terms of peak power, the Polk Audio DB1040 boasts 540 Watts, which is about 270 Watts RMS. In other words, it’s more than loud enough!
It’s also completely marine-ready. The DB series subwoofers are all made with water-resistant materials, that prevent moisture, dust, and other unwanted substances from entering the electronics and speakers, causing damage and ruining your sound quality. It has an IP56 rating, and it has been tested to protect against salt-fog, humidity, and UV rays.
One other cool feature about this sub is the fact that it offers a lot of sound in a small package. It doesn’t require a big boat subwoofer box to maximize the power of its punch. If you want a huge sound with low frequency response from a small sized box, then this could be the speaker for you.
Peak Power: 540 Watts
RMS Power: 270 Watts
Impedance: 4 Ohm
Dimensions: 10 inch marine subwoofer
Best Premium Choice
3. Bazooka MBTA10250D Marine Sub
The MBTA10250D subwoofer from Bazooka is a very popular choice for boaters looking to add some serious bass to their sound system. Not only do you get a powerful and high-quality subwoofer, but this package also includes an integrated marine amplifier, so that you get two important pieces of audio equipment for the price of one.
The actual marine subwoofer features a large diameter 10 inch speaker that has a peak power output of 275 Watts. Bazooka has stated that the real RMS value is actually 200 W, which is more than enough bass to satisfy even the most hardcore of boaters. It’s also available in two different sizes for those that want a lower peak power rating, with a smaller 100W model on offer.
Bazooka’s MBTA10250D unit has been built specifically for marine use. It comes equipped with a waterproof woofer, weather-resistant features, stainless steel fixings, and it’s certified to be resistant against the effects of salt, UV, and fog.
Installation is also very easy, with simple fixings and straps to keep the sub box secure. If you’re not handy with a drill, don’t worry—this is so easy to install that even an absolute beginner can handle it.
Lastly, as mentioned above, it comes equipped with a quality Class D marine amplifier, which helps make this unit a little more affordable. All in, it’s expensive compared to other subwoofer setups, but having an included amp makes the price actually quite reasonable. It also has a 1 year manufacturer’s warranty too.
Peak Power: 275 Watts
RMS Power: 200 Watts
Impedance: 4 Ohm
Dimensions: 10 inch sub
4. Kenwood P-WD250MRW Boat Subwoofer & Amp Package
When it comes to quality audio equipment, Kenwood know what they’re doing. For years the brand has made a name for itself as one of the leading names in the automotive and marine audio industry. If we had to choose a subwoofer from Kenwood, we’d choose this unit: the P-WD250MRW. It’s a boat subwoofer box alternative that ships with an amplifier too. It’s a great substitute to the Bazooka model above, but at a cheaper price point.
It’s not a conventional subwoofer that needs to be mounted in a box. Instead, it’s a free-air unit that can be placed almost anywhere on board your boat. This speaker boasts a peak power rating of 200W, with an average RMS output of between 50 and 200 W, and a frequency response of between 45-1,000 Hz, which is more than enough to deliver some gut-punching bass.
The main component is a polypropylene cone woofer with a butyl rubber surround. It’s mounted into an injection molded plastic basket, complete with a water and UV resistant grill. Thanks to the clever use of materials, this is a truly marine-ready subwoofer that can withstand the elements.
Kenwood’s own KAC-210MR mono amplifier comes included with this subwoofer. It’s not the greatest in the world, but it will certainly help boost the signal going into your sub. For the best results, we recommend using this is partnership with another, higher rated, marine amplifier instead.
Peak Power: 200 Watts
RMS Power: 50 – 200 Watts
Impedance: 4 Ohm
Dimensions: 10 inch marine subwoofer
5. JL Audio M10W5-SG-WH Boat Subwoofer
Lastly, we have the M10W5-SG-WH Marine Subwoofer from JL Audio. JL Audio is one of our favorite brands for marine audio equipment. While there are plenty of subwoofers on offer from this brand, we really like this one: the M10W5-SG-WH. If you can’t find one (because these have been known to be out of stock in places), then the brand’s M10W5-CG-WH is just as impressive.
It’s a 10 inch single cone 4 Ohm marine subwoofer, with a very high peak power rating of 500 W, and an RMS rating of 250 W. It does require an enclosure, but thanks to the speaker’s generic dimensions, finding something suitable isn’t a problem. Stick this in a boat subwoofer box, and you’ll be enjoying hard hitting bass notes in no time at all.
This subwoofer is made from a wide range of modern materials. The woofer is made from injection molded mica-filled polypropylene with a Centrex polymer basket, and it features stainless steel backplates, brass bindings with gold plating, and a synthetic rubber surround.
Altogether, it makes for a strong subwoofer with excellent elemental protection. It’s corrosion-resistant, water-resistant, and UV protected, which makes it ideal for marine purposes. It also features a comprehensive 2 year manufacturer’s warranty, just in case you have any doubts about this woofer’s build quality or sound quality.
Peak Power: 500 Watts
RMS Power: 250 Watts
Impedance: 4 Ohm
Dimensions: 10 inch subwoofer
Buying The Best Marine Subwoofer: A Guide
A subwoofer makes an excellent addition to any audio system. If you’re looking to inject some serious bass into your sound then a subwoofer is what you need. A subwoofer is a speaker that has been specifically designed to deliver low-pitched audio from the bass and sub-bass frequencies and ranges.
A marine subwoofer is exactly the same thing, except that it has been built with marine environments in mind, with water-resistant materials and other construction methods designed to keep the elements out without sacrificing the quality of the sound.
They don’t just amplify your bass though. The best subwoofer unit will work in partnership with your existing amplifier to handle your music system’s bass output, leaving your other speakers free to focus on delivering higher quality audio from the treble and mid-ranges.
So, you’ve got a fancy marine amplifier, and you’ve got it wired up to a decent set of marine speakers—all you need now is a subwoofer. What features should you be looking out for? What specs are most important? Here’s all you need to know.
Top Features To Look Out For
Peak Power Output
The peak power output is the larger number that you’ll see advertised. It’s measured in Watts, and it refers to the maximum amount of power that a subwoofer or speaker can handle. Don’t be fooled by it though. While it’s an impressive figure, a speaker will only be able to hit that power output occasionally, and it won’t be a sustained power output. If part of a song gets louder than the rest, that’s when this figure kicks in.
Still, it’s an important figure to keep an eye on. Ideally, you’ll want a subwoofer with a peak power output that’s the same as your amplifier’s maximum power output or greater. If an amplifier sends more wattage than your subwoofer can handle, it may blow it.
RMS Power Output
A subwoofer or speaker’s RMS power output is a far more useful measure of a speaker’s true capabilities. RMS stands for Root Mean Square. Let’s call that the average output in layman’s terms. This figure indicates what power output a speaker can competently sustain. This figure is almost always much lower than the peak power output number. A subwoofer with a peak power rating of 600 W may only have an RMS of 300 W.
This is the most important figure to pay attention to when you’re searching for a marine subwoofer. Take note though, because manufacturer’s often take this measurement differently, and the way one brand calculates their product’s RMS could be different to another brand’s method.
A subwoofer’s impedance rating is a measure of its electrical resistance. It sounds complicated, but it isn’t really. Plus, it’s not the most important feature out there. However, it’s still worth knowing about! Impedance is measured in Ohms. An Ohm is the measure of electrical resistance. A speaker (or in this case, a subwoofer) is similar to a large electrical resistor, an the lower the number of ohms that it has, the more amplifying power it can handle. In short: low ohms, good, high ohms, bad.
Fortunately, all the models listed above are some of the best marine subwoofers out there, all with low impedance. Ideally, you’ll want to be on the lookout for something with 4 ohms or lower. Here’s a quick FYI, Ohms can also be designated with this symbol: Ω.
No matter what output power or impedance a subwoofer has, it’s only useful if you can install it. Installing speakers isn’t rocket science but if you’re not comfortable with the idea of installation, then you’ll want to limit you search to certain models that only require basic wiring and easy mounting.
Some marine subwoofers are speakers that need to be mounted in an enclosure or box to really pump out the best bass. Others are free standing units that simply sit on the deck. There are some that can be installed into your boat’s bodywork with very little hassle.
Whatever happens, make sure you read up on how they should be installed, and check existing customer’s reviews, before hitting the buy button.
Similar to the installation side of things, you should also consider the physical size of a subwoofer before investing in it. Not just the size of the box it goes in either: though that’s something that should be considered, given that space on a boat is always at a premium. Instead, we really mean the actual speaker’s diameter. 10 inches is the most common size that subwoofers have, but it’s not always the case, and bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better or louder.
Lastly, and arguably most importantly, you should check to see how well a marine subwoofer can really hold up in marine-like conditions. There are many items sold with the marine moniker, but some of them aren’t up to scratch.
The best marine subwoofer models will have more than just water resistance. They will also have UV resistant coatings that stop the sun’s rays from breaking down their components. Protective coatings should cover the important electrics to prevent salt and water spray from corroding them. Seals and gaskets should be installed to stop dust and sand from getting inside your speaker and causing trouble.
Make sure that you’re investing in a product that has truly been designed for a life on the water. If it looks like it hasn’t got the right credentials, ditch it and move on. There’s no point wasting your money on something that won’t do the job.