Best Marine Amplifiers Reviews

Installing new marine speakers and receiver in your boat will give you an immediate, noticeable difference in sound quality. However, for optimal results, consider adding a quality marine-rated amplifier.

If you want your speakers to really sing, and your music to be quite loud, then an amplifier is definitely part of the picture. Your boat speakers will not perform up to their potential without an adequate power supply.

What the amplifier does is that it increases and strengthen the electrical signal coming out of the receiver, which allows the speakers to play louder. However, amplifiers aren’t only about making your music loud, they can dramatically increase the quality and clarity of your sound, bringing more to your boat than just high volume (decibels).

A power amplifier will breathe life into your music, bringing out all of its excitement and detail. So, instead of listening to that muddy sound which results from losing most of your music’s notes to wind and engine noise, you’ll hear your music the way you know it’s supposed to sound.

Why add an amplifier to your boat?

There are many reasons you’d want to add an external marine amplifier to your boat:

  • Quality sound — Because external amplifiers are more powerful than receiver’s built-i amps, they’ll undoubtedly make your music sound way better, assuming you’ve got some great sounding speakers in your boat that can handle more power.
  • Power for aftermarket speakers — If you’ve already upgraded your speakers and you haven’t noticed much of difference, chances are you need an amp. The reason why you need to invest in an amplifier after you’ve upgraded your speakers is because your receiver’s built-in amp isn’t powerful enough to drive those speakers. Sure, some speakers will do reasonably well running off of your receiver, but an amplifier can make a night and day difference.
  • Powering a subwoofer — If you’re adding a subwoofer, you’ll definitely need a powerful amp. If you’re into big bass, a separate amp isn’t just a good idea, it’s a must.

4 Best Marine Amplifiers Reviews

This is isn’t by any means a comprehensive list. There are so many great marine amplifiers on the market. However, we did want to give you a few good options.

The marine amps we listed below represent we listed here represent different price points, brands and designs. With any luck, you’ll find something that works for your audio setup and fits within your budget.

Rockford Fosgate M400-4D Review

Rockford Fosgate M400-4D marine amplifier reviewWhen it comes to amplifiers, Rockford Fosgate is one of the most legendary. They make some of the best, top-notch amplifiers. The amp at hands – Rockford Fosgate M400-4D – is one of the best marine amplifiers that Rockford Fosgate has to offer.

The Rockford Fosgate M400-4D is a powerful 4 channel marine amp. It’s rated for 75 watts RMS per channel at 4 ohm, 100 watts at 2 ohm, and 200 watts at 4 ohm in bridge mode — plenty of power to make your speakers sing.

This marine amplifier is very well-engineered, and well-conceived. It’s designed to withstand tough outdoor conditions so you can install it with confidence in marine and powersport applications.

Internally, the Rockford Fosgate M400-4D marine amplifier features a high efficiency Class-D circuitry. What this means is that it consumes much less current from your charging system compared to the other amp classes.

The Rockford Fosgate M400-4D amplifier features variable frequency filters that you can use to adjust the amp’s output to your system, whether you’re using the amp to power a pair of full-range speakers or subs. Its compact size makes it easy to mount the amp in a small storage locker or other tight spot.

Rockford Fosgate M400-4D Specifications
  • Number of Channels : 4
  • Class : D
  • Rated Power
    • RMS @ 4 Ohm : 75 Watts x 4
    • RMS @ 2 Ohm : 100 Watts x 4
    • RMS – Bridge Mode:  200 Watts x 2 @ 4-Ohm
  • Max Power : 400 Watts
  • Bridgeable : Yes
  • Frequency response : 20 – 20 kHz

JBL MA6004 Review

JBL MA6004 4 channel marine amplifier reviewThis is another top rated marine amplifier from JBL. It’s one of the best selling marine amplifier on the market. The JBL MA6004 is quite powerful, yet reasonably priced.

The JBL MA6004 is 4-channel marine amplifier that’s rated for 60 watts RMS at 4 ohm, 80 watts RMS at 2 ohm, and 160 watts when bridged. It’s not as powerful as the first marine amplifier listed above, but it’s not as expensive either. It’s a great value for the buck.

With its marinized circuit board, stainless-steel hardware and waterproofing ability, the JBL MA6004 is, like all JBL® marine audio products, built to survive harsh marine conditions such as water, corrosion, humidity, and other risks.

The JBL MA6004 is fitted with a separate 12dB electronic crossover as well as a separate variable bass boost.

Bottom line, if you’re looking for a stylish, powerful marine amplifier that’s well-made, that can handle the harsh marine environment, and comes at a great price, then this amp is for you.

JBL MA6004 Specifications
  • Number of Channels : 4
  • Class : AB
  • Rated Power
    • RMS @ 4 Ohm : 60 Watts x 4
    • RMS @ 2 Ohm : 80 Watts x 4
    • RMS – Bridge Mode@ 4-Ohm :  160 Watts x 2
  • Max Power : 320 Watts
  • Bridgeable : Yes
  • Frequency response : 10 – 27 kHz

Kenwood KAC-M1824BT Review

Kenwood KAC-M1824BT 4 channel marine amp reviewKenwood has been in business for quite a long time. They’ve mastered the art of making quality mobile audio component and their amps are no exception. The amp at hands – Kenwood KAC-M1824BT – is one of the best marine amplifier that Kenwood has to offer.

This 4 channel marine amplifier is capable of putting out 45 watts on continuous basis (RMS) at 4 ohm, 45 watts at two ohm, and twice that when switched to bridge mode. This is slightly below average compared to the other speakers at this price range, however, it’s more than  twice the power of most boat stereos. So, if you’re speakers already sound good enough running off of just your receiver, adding this amp will make a night and day difference.

The KAC-M1824BT is a multi-application amplifier. You can use it to power a basic audio system of almost any kind of vehicle on land or water (cars, boats, atv, motorcycles). To withstand harsh outdoor conditions, this amp features a conformal coated circuit board that keeps out moisture, damping air, salt …etc from damaging the internal components of the amp. It also uses plastic plugs to protect its power and speaker connections.

What makes this small, super-compact 4 channel amplifier stand from the crowd is its built-in Bluetooth connectivity which you can use to play your tunes. Having Bluetooth on your amp is a great feature if you don’t have enough room to install a receiver.

This amp also comes with a remote control which has a IPX-5 certification. What this means is that it’s protected against low pressure water stream from all directions. This level of water resistance makes it suitable for use in outdoor environments. This wired remote control allows you to control the volume and track selection. Furthermore, a USB port on the remote lets you recharge your device, so you won’t have to worry about your smartphone’s battery life!

Kenwood KAC-M1824BT Specifications
  • Number of Channels : 4
  • Class : D
  • Rated Power
    • RMS @ 4 Ohm : 45 Watts x 4
    • RMS @ 2 Ohm : 45 Watts x 4
    • RMS – Bridge Mode@ 4-Ohm :  90 Watts x 2
  • Max Power : 400 Watts
  • Bridgeable : Yes
  • Frequency response : 20 – 20 kHz

Pyle PLMRA400 Review

Pyle PLMRA400 marine amplifier reviewYou may be asking yourself what this amplifier is doing on the list. It’s clearly outclassed by most marine amps we included here. So why did we list it? Price. The Pyle PLMRA400 is one of the cheapest marine amplifier on the market.

This 4 channel marine amplifier would be a great investment for anyone who’s on a tight-budget and looking for a decent amplifier with a decent amount of power output to drive the speakers.

The Pyle PLMRA400 is capable of putting out 50 watts RMS per channel at 4 ohm. With that amount of power, this amp can make noticeable difference. This makes it a great solution for a little extra volume but don’t expect it to be as powerful as some high-end, expensive amps.

This amp comes with speaker level inputs, variable input gain controls, and a remote turn ON/OFF switch. It has a IPX-01 certification. What this means is that it’s splash-proof, but not waterproof.

Pyle PLMRA400 Specifications
  • Number of Channels : 4
  • Class : AB
  • Rated Power
    • RMS @ 4 Ohm : 50 Watts x 4
  • Max Power : 400 Watts
  • Bridgeable : NA
  • Frequency response : 15 – 30 kHz

How to Choose the Best Marine Amplifier

In order to make an informed buying decision, here are the most important things you should take into account:

Number of Channels

Marine and car amplifiers are classified by the number of channels. There are mono channel and multi-channel amps. A channel is an electronic circuitry built into an amplifier and it’s used to provide power to a single speaker. So, multi-channel amps can power several speakers, while mono-channel amps can only drive one speaker/subwoofer at a time.

Multi-channel amps come in 2-channel, 4-channel, 5-channel, and 6-channel variety. The difference between them is pretty straightforward. 2 channels amps can drive two speakers at the same time, 4 channel amps can power 4 speakers, and so on.

P.S : Some multi-channel amps can have their channels reconfigured for certain applications – for example a 2-channel amplifier can be used to power two subwoofers, or two speakers, or you can bridge it to run a single sub (more on what is bridging an amplifier, and how it is done).

Mono channel amps as their name implies have one single channel. Therefore, they can only power on speaker at a time. This type of amplifiers are commonly used to drive a subwoofer.

So, the question is: how many amplifier channels do I need?

Well, the answer is that it depends on your setup. A 2 channel marine amp would be very practical if you own a small boat with a single pair of speakers. However, if you think you might add another pair of speakers later on – wakeboard tower speakers for example – then, it’s better to invest in a 4-channel amplifier, so you’ll be ready when the time comes.

If your boat is equipped with a single pair of speakers and you’re adding a subwoofer, then a 3-channel amp is for you. That said, a 4-channel amp can also be used to power a single pair of speakers and a subwoofer, with two of its channels switched to bridge mode to power the sub, and the other two to run the speakers. Bridgeable multi-channel amps allow for more flexibility.

You may also want to consider a 5-channel amplifier that can power your entire boat audio system. Some manufacturers also offer 6-channel marine amps, which can be used to run almost any speaker combination — from multiple speakers and wakeboard tower set-ups to high-powered subwoofers. This is what you need to buy if you really want to go big.

Power Output

As with marine speakers, RMS (Root Mean Square) is what you want to look at in an amplifier. RMS refers to the amount of power measured in watts that an amplifier can put out on continuous basis. Amplifier manufacturers like to brag about the Peak power handling capability of their amps which is nothing but a gimmick used to entice people to buy. Peak power rating only tells you the maximum wattage an amplifier can put out as short bursts. So, RMS is more accurate and more significant.

Bass Boost

It’s a type of circuitry that’s built-into some amplifiers allowing you to boost the bass response of the amplifier, which results in improved audio reproduction.

Amplifier Filters

Amp filters are electronic circuits built-into most amplifiers. They allow you to direct certain sound frequencies (low frequencies) away from your speakers for the purpose of avoiding sound distortion. These filters come in two types : low-pass and high-pass filters. A Low-pass filter is used to direct high-frequency sounds away from your sub. Likewise, a high-pass filter is used to direct low-frequency sounds away from your speakers.

Amplifier Inputs

Amp inputs transmit signals from your boat’s receiver to your amp. Most – if not all – aftermarket marine receivers on the market feature pre-amp outputs that allow you to connect your receiver to your amplifier directly. However, some factory-installed receivers aren’t equipped with such output. This means, you can’t connect your receiver to the amplifier directly.  In such instances, and if you have no intention to upgrade your receiver, an amplifier with speaker-level inputs is a necessity.

Amplifier Class

Marine amplifiers fall into four main different classes : class A, class B, class AB, and class D. These classes relate to the internal design and amp’s electronic circuitry.

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