Best marine audio systems for 2017

Every year at Marine Electronics Journal we look forward to seeing which products make the cut in our annual roundup of what we call the Best & Brightest Boating Electronics. It works this way—we ask manufacturers to name the one model in their product line of, say, fishfinders, radars or multi-function displays, that they consider to be their best. 

We’re not looking for the most expensive or even the most technologically advanced piece of equipment. In some cases, manufacturers name a rock-solid product that has earned the title of Best & Brightest by simply performing as advertised year after year. In other cases, the products harness innovations that are on the cutting edge of marine technology.

There are 18 categories of electronics in this year’s Best & Brightest lineup. We’ll tell you about the products over the next several weeks. Leading off the series are some pretty incredible “sound systems” that’ll tune up your time on the water.



Aquatic AV AQ-MP-5UBT-S

The AQ-MP-5UBT-S marine stereo has a built-in SiriusXM receiver, ready to access over 170 satellite radio stations. Play music wirelessly with Bluetooth-enabled smartphones or MP3 devices, or connect with USB. View track information, songs, artists, playlists and genres on the 3 inch color LCD display. Smartphone running out of battery? No problem. Charge your USB device from the internal USB input or the rear USB charging cable.  Also, includes a surface-mounting USB socket to easily connect with a USB flash drive or a USB cable from your smartphone or MP3 player.

Features an onboard 288 watt amplifier, high-quality RCA (phono) pre-outs for connecting an external amplifier or powered subwoofer and FM/AM radio with 30x pre-set memory and dust cover/dummy faceplate.


Clarion CMS4

Boasting exceptional performance, the all-new Clarion CMS4 is an ultra-rugged, feature-rich multimedia source unit designed from ground up for marine applications. The two-piece system, featuring an elegant iP66-rated control unit and a compact black box brain, offers 280 watts (70 watts x 4 at 2 ohm) of power, four multimedia source zones (each with independent zone volume control), an ultra-bright color TFT LCD display optically bonded to Corning Gorilla Glass, and a host of features such as Bluetooth with aptX music streaming, SiriusXM satellite radio and Pandora. It is Apple certified for iPod, iPhone and iPad.



The flagship of the FUSION product line is the MS-AV750 marine DVD/CD player. The series sports a color widescreen LCD that is optically bonded to improve durability, eliminate condensation or fogging and resists extreme temperatures even in direct sunlight. Delivering superior playback of USB, Apple iOS and Android/Windows MTP media devices, the MS-AV750 also features Bluetooth audio streaming and DVD playback via HDMI with an Audio Return Channel (ARC) that gives a cinematic audio experience. The easy-to-use interface allows browsing or streaming of playlists while on the water with track and album displayed on screen. The marine entertainment standard, Fusion-Link control is available on compatible multi-function displays and your Garmin smartwatch. The scalable system is an all-in-one solution for high-quality entertainment on the high seas.


Simrad/Lowrance/B&G SonicHub 2

SonicHub2 gives users complete control of songs, radio stations as well as video from Lowrance, Simrad and B&G multi-function displays and is also the first marine audio system built on the newly implemented NMEA 2000® audio entertainment protocol. A drop-in replacement for the original SonicHub entertainment system, the enhanced, black-box solution provides independent dual-zone control and features built-in Bluetooth audio streaming, dual stereo AUX-IN connections, integrated support for Pandora internet radio via smartphone or tablet without the need for additional hardware, and compatibility with the WM-3 SiriusXM satellite radio/marine weather module (subscription required). SonicHub2 is compatible with both iOS and Android platforms, comes equipped with a video output for USB video playback, has dual USB ports for connecting/charging multiple devices, and includes a built-in AM/FM antenna.


Poly-Planar ME70BT

New from Poly-Planar, a 50-year-old manufacturer of marine audio, is the ME70BT marine amplifier. Equipped with 4x45 watt audio power output, the amp features multiple EQ presets, an auxiliary input for other audio products and a USB music player. It also has a waterproof, remote three-line backlit display with 20 feet of separation cable and Bluetooth with 300 foot range. The amp is also NMEA 2000 certified and will charge most iPhone and Android phones and is enclosed in a water-resistant case.


Prospec INFPRV315

The INFPRV315 marine receiver blends performance and cosmetics, resulting in a premium Infinity by Harman audio product that the brand is known for. With features such as AM/FM, 50 watt x 4 internal amplifier, Bluetooth audio streaming with ID tagging, black chrome trim, rotary encoder, and much more, this is sure to please the discerning audiophile’s palette. This stereo also utilizes a 3.5 inch color TFT screen and large buttons for easy navigation. The rear connectors include auxiliary input, USB input, and three pairs of pre-outs including a separate subwoofer output.




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Comments | Leave a Comment
Page 2 of 2 ( 9 comments) 11:16:16 PM) "Excellent posting! thanks a lot for sharing this information.
Lee:(7/27/2015 10:54:13 PM) "Just a note about the Sailor 6222 - it has no facility to output DSC messages, for example to a chart plotter. This was confirmed with the local Thrane rep."
Jack S/V Azure Te`:(5/5/2015 10:16:45 PM) "Thanks, helpful stuff. I'm reviewing the wiring on my sailboat. I found the power cord on the R/M RL80CRC+ has a drain(shield)wire , (+) and (-). The drain was connected to the same return as the (-), RayMarine states ,"if the vessel does not have a RF system connect the drain wire to the batts negative terminal" w/o further explanation, but I do have a RF grounding 2" copper strip attached to the SSB, Antenna tuner and external plate, so I believe the drain for the plotter should be connected to the copper strip - no ?"
Jordan:(3/19/2015 7:34:17 PM) "I've heard about Humminbird 898C HD SI from . It has a cheaper price than the rest of the fish finder and it also has a transducer already. What about you? What do you prefer from all those fish finders?"
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