What Powers Your Tunes?

A look at top stereo companies

September 2020 Multimedia Adam O’Conner

Blasting your favorite music while cruising at high speeds is one of the best parts of summer cruising for Great Lake boaters. For most it could be considered an absolute essential to have a quality stereo system on board while out on the water. If you haven’t experienced this yet, and are looking to upgrade your boat with a new stereo system, we’ve got you covered. Here are six stereo systems that are sure to make your boating experience that much better.


The goal of Clarion Marine Systems is to deliver modern, innovative designs and create the kind of quality that ensures you receive best-in-class performance in audio and entertainment. From source units, amplifiers, speakers and remote controls, you will have all you need that is enhanced with genuine, marine-grade durability and dependability.  

Clarion wants to make sure you have as much control as possible over your audio, and the CMS4 source unit is a perfect example. This powerful, 280-watt, four-zone multimedia source unit offers independent zone source and zone volume control. Clarion has spent time studying how boaters interact with their audio systems and developed this new user interface that offers simple control of the system’s ample number of features.

Clarion develops their products with the user in mind. Their goal is to perfect the art of entertainment for today’s active lifestyle and continue to make Clarion an enduring brand that captures the spirit of the open water. Not only are you getting the latest and most innovative design in stereo systems, but Clarion makes sure to design its products in a way that will withstand the elements. (www.clarion.com)


Fusion creates some of the most advanced and innovative marine stereo systems on the market. With their high-quality products and unique, slick design, Fusion stereo systems are worth a closer look.

Fusion’s Apollo RA770 is a high-end and quite popular stereo system in the boating industry. It has a wide variety of features including Fusions’s Digital Signal Processing technology, network capabilities and built in Wi-Fi with Apple Airplay. It also features a large and beautiful touch screen in full color. This stereo was built with audio excellence in mind and is intended to innovate.

Fusion also takes pride in their newest entry to their product line, the Signature Series. They are Fusion’s most efficient, stunning and powerful marine speakers, subwoofer and amplifiers and are designed to bring you the highest quality audio entertainment experience while out on the water.

Designed by musicians and boaters, the Signature Series is a fusion of unbeatable audio quality, design and engineering using the highest quality materials that will last season after season in the harshest Great Lake environments. (www.fusionentertainment.com)

JL Audio

While producing quality systems for the car and home, JL Audio is killing it in its marine line as well. The audio giant is able to produce all you need from speakers, subwoofers, amplifiers and source units, plus all the proper wiring needed to set up your dream stereo system for your boat.

The great thing about JL Audio is they provide a wide variety of upgrades you can add to your sound system. Whether you are on a budget and need something to start out with or you want to add some bass and power to what you already have, JL Audio has options for just about any situation.

They have paired their Florida-built M3 marine loudspeakers, JL Audio Media Master Marine source unit, a powerful MX amplifier and subwoofer to create the perfect place to start for anyone looking for an amazing system. Customers have the option to start with just the source unit and two speakers and can upgrade to more speakers, an amplifier and subwoofer in the future if they would like. You can get exactly what you need with the time and budget that works for you.

Not only are JL Audios systems built to the highest of quality and can withstand the harshest Great Lakes elements, but are some of the best-looking systems available today. With their high-quality, great build, slick design and the luxury to get exactly what you need, JL Audio systems are worth looking into. (www.jlaudio.com)


KICKER Marine products prioritize bringing high-performance audio to your boating experience. Built to endure the elements, their marine audio speakers and subwoofers ensure the highest audio quality whether you're anchored at your favorite fishing spot or just cruising the open waters.

KICKER features their LED horn loaded tower systems. They are designed to generate concert-level volume with exceptional clarity. These large, 11-inch systems utilize a high-frequency horn design with titanium-dome compression drivers for incredibly smooth sound up-close or at a distance, delivering loud audio with maximum clarity.  The swiveling 359-degree design allows you to aim the tower in any direction with a single-bolt removal system for easy storage.

Designed to be completely weatherproof, their marine speakers and subwoofers are real-world tested for salt/fog and UV exposure. They are made splash-proof for a long life span with a completely sealed motor structure and locking terminal cover, while a tough

Santoprene surround and marine-grade cone pump out the bass, no matter how long you are on the water. (www.kicker.com)

Rockford Fosgate

Rockford Fosgate delivers audio systems that are sure to make your experience out on the water that much better. While they can build custom systems to their customers liking, they gave us an example for what kind of quality systems they can build for their customers.

The PMX-3 source unit combined with four Color Optix Speakers and a PM400X4 amplifier is a great start for anyone looking to upgrade their sound system. The PMX-3 source unit features a 2.7-inch color display, Bluetooth, Pandora, and a SiriusXM Readytuner that is controlled by a full function PMX-1R and PMX-0R remote. Four pair of M1-65 full-range 6.5-inch Color Optix speakers are driven by two powerful PM400X4 amplifiers with LED illumination provided by a PMX-RGB controller and RGB-25C cables.

With amplifiers, subs, source units and other accessories all built to withstand the harshest environments, Rockford Fosgate helps ensure your stereo stays protected while also having the highest audio quality. If you are looking to upgrade the sound system in your boat, and just aren’t quite sure how to get started, this system from Rockford Fosgate might be just what you’ve been looking for. (www.rockfordfosgate.com)


HERTZ has developed world-class speakers, amplifiers and DSP for the 12 V industry and has been doing so since 1998. Their goal is for their systems to reach their best performance in the real environment of application. Passion for audio is what drives HERTZ engineers to constantly innovate in this industry.

The HMD8 DSP, powered by HERTZ Marine DSP technology, is a user-friendly PC-software interface that makes setting up your audio system as easy as possible, while also getting every ounce of performance from your installed speaker system. The amazing power of 8 x 85 W or 4 x 260 W gives the HMD8 DSP the capability to drive with authority the complete speaker system, generating tons of crystal-clear SPL in up to three different zones of the vessel.

Not only does HERTZ have the goal to innovate and move the marine audio industry forward, but they sell a wide variety of speakers, subwoofers, source monitors and high-quality products just like the HMD8 DSP, so you can be sure you can dial in your complete audio system down to every detail. (www.hertzaudiovideo.com)

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