Car Speakers Vs. Marine Speakers: What’s the Difference?

Difference between Car Speakers and Marine Speakers

Nothing elevates moods more than soothing music. Whether you’re hitting the road to destinations unknown or enjoying scenic cruises in your boat, you deserve good music. But can you talk of euphonious sounds without a quality stereo system?

If you own a car or boat, installing quality speakers is non-negotiable. Most water vessels use marine speakers, while car speakers are common in automobiles. Since these speakers perform the same role, could you swap them around?

To determine which speaker is ideal for your car or boat, you need to know their differences. Read on and learn how marine speakers are different from car speakers.


What Are Marine Speakers?

Marine Speaker

Marine speakers allow you to enjoy your favorite playlists while cruising on the water. These units are built explicitly for seacraft, meaning they must withstand harsh conditions. Unlike your everyday car speaker, a marine speaker has extra features that make it tolerant to humidity, water, salt, and climate.


Differences Between Marine Speakers and Car Speakers

Although they perform the same function, there are some key differences between marine speakers and car speakers.

1. Volume

The volume of the sounds emitted by a marine speaker is distinct. Manufacturers design marine speakers to operate in an open environment, where sounds easily dissipate into the air. That’s why these speakers have high-frequency responses.

Marine sound systems also compete with noise from waves, watercraft engines, and birds, to name a few. To counter such noises, these speakers come with high sound pressure levels (SLP). Most marine systems have over 95 dB.

On the other hand, car speakers operate in an enclosed space. That’s why they don’t project high sounds.

The decibel levels of most car sound units don’t exceed 92 dB SPL.


2. Construction Material

Car Speakers vs. Marine Speaker - Construction Material

Unlike car speakers, manufacturers design marine speakers to be durable. They are built from tough, heavy-duty materials that can withstand anything the sea throws at them. These sound units undergo rigorous testing before they hit the market.

Most components are weatherproof and made from polypropylene cones, UV-tolerant plastics, and neoprene rubber. All mounting hardware is corrosion-resistant. If steel frames are present, they must be stainless-steel to prevent rusting.

Automobile stereo components contain everyday materials like paper cones and steel grilles. These materials aren’t necessarily water or rust-resistant. That said, they are suitable for use inside a vehicle.


3. Longevity

Although the durability of speakers depends on how you handle them, marine speakers still generally outlive car speakers. This is because marine sound systems are built to tackle the elements. They can resist:

  • Exposure to UV light
  • Salt sprays
  • Strong gales/wind
  • Freezing seawater
  • Vibrations

But, the conditions inside a car aren’t extreme. Your car speakers won’t get exposed to rain, wind, blistering sun, salty water, and other hostile conditions.

One thing you’ll notice is that the Ingress Protection (IP) rating of your car speaker is lower. It’s therefore unwise to install a car sound system on your boat. You’ll be lucky if it survives for a day or two.


4. Wiring

Marine Speaker Wiring

The wiring of a marine sound system isn’t the same as that in a car sound unit. Wires in a watercraft frequently interact with water, moisture, and similar elements. That’s why you need to use waterproof, marine-grade cables to connect your stereo system.

Most marine-grade cables are tinned to protect the copper wire from corrosion. Apart from the tin protection, these wires contain liquid electrical tape or heat-shrink tubing.

Standard electrical tape cannot withstand the harsh sea environment and won’t sufficiently protect the copper wires.

The connection between wires and marine speakers needs to be tight. This is to prevent fishing rods, diving gear, and other items from pulling out these wires.

The wiring of a car sound system is basic. There’s less of a threat of water intrusion or salt, meaning you don’t have to protect the speaker cables. An electrical tape will effectively protect any exposed copper wire.


5. Price

Marine speakers are relatively more expensive than car speakers.

The high price of marine sound units is justifiable. First, manufacturers make these systems from robust materials that are weatherproof.

The speakers have to undergo several tests like the UV exposure test, corrosion test, and water-resistant test. Each test substantially adds to the production cost.

Second, these speakers project sound further compared to car speakers. Keep in mind that there are top-end car sound units that can outdo the average marine speaker.

Although car speakers might seem affordable, they aren’t durable. In the long run, you might incur more costs in repairs or replacements. The overall cost could end up surpassing the price of a marine speaker.


Which Speaker Should You Pick?

The choice comes down to where you intend to install the speaker and your budget. A marine speaker is sturdier and can suit watercraft and vehicles. A car speaker isn’t weatherproof and won’t be useful in your boat. Car speakers are more affordable but won’t last for long. They also won’t project sound as far or as loud as marine speakers.