Onboard Music Systems

Rock your boat with the latest from JL Audio, Clarion, Fusion, Rockford Fosgate and Polk Audio

January 26, 2019
boat captain at the helm
With separate zones throughout the vessel, it’s easier than ever to enjoy great music on the high seas. ©️Scott Kerrigan/

These marine media systems are becoming more sophisticated and customizable, thanks to NMEA 2000 network capability. Independent control of up to four zones on most systems allows personalized volume, tone and balance control for each individual area and its occupants’ tastes. Even better, the moment somebody screams, “Right rigger!” the system can instantly be muted throughout the ship while the anglers get down to business. Here are some tailor-made setups from the top companies in the industry.

JL Audio

JL’s Media Master source unit networks with Lowrance, Simrad and Garmin multifunction displays so the captain can control, limit and adjust the sound in any of four zones. The large color screen makes sorting music easy on the device. Select the compact MHD-series amplifier (12- or 24-volt), one per zone, and let the controller deliver crystal-clear signals to power a M12IB6 12-inch subwoofer, four M770 woofers and four M100 tweeters on the bridge.

JL Audio Media Master
JL Audio Media Master Courtesy Fusion Marine

In the salon, we would install full-power audio with a Media Master, MHD amp, M12IB6 subwoofer, four M770 woofers and four M100 tweeters. The captain is also going to want a pair of ETXv3 enclosed biaxial speakers in the tower to keep in sync with the crew below. Not only can he adjust the sound, he can also control the entire boat using a networked MFD.


The system is designed to prevent speaker damage by clipping sound spikes, while still delivering full-range audio to each speaker.


Clarion’s four-zone system interfaces with most NMEA-compatible navigation suites, and that includes Simrad and Furuno. It requires a Clarion MW6 NMEA 2000 interface module to accomplish it. The interface gives complete control through NMEA 2000 networked displays. With it, you can turn the system on and off, select audio source, play, pause, control volume and more.

A CMS4 black-box source, with its waterproof remote, gives a beautiful, space-saving installation and a place to let crew or passengers play with the tunes without touching the MFD. An XC2410 amp connected to the CMS4 zone 2 with a pair of biaxial CM1623RL speakers will round out the sound system for the bridge. All speakers throughout the vessel are LED-lit, and an RGB controller in each zone will give you the option to choose the colors or let the speakers scroll through multitudes of colors automatically.


In the salon, network another two XC2510 five-channel 300-watt (50 watts per channel) amps to the CMS4 zone 1. Eight CM1623RL 200-watt peak power biaxial speakers and two CM3013WL 300-watt (1,000 watts max) subs will make the salon thump. Staterooms should have private systems like the stand-alone M508 source unit and a pair of CM1623RL speakers and an RGB controller — because nothing is more fun than romance with a light show.

The cockpit will be networked to the bridge system on zone 3 and connected to a wired MW1 gauge-style remote with a monochrome LCD readout, and we’ll still put a CMS4 source unit in place. Like the salon, it will get a pair of XC2510 amps, eight CM1623RL biaxial speakers and a pair of CM3013 subs. Boom!

fusion apollo marine ra770 audio system
Fusion Marine RA770 Courtesy Fusion Marine


Fusion’s new Apollo-series marine audio system is its latest, and a big leap forward from Fusion’s previous generation of marine audio gear. With it you get pre-tuned audio profiles for whichever Fusion stereo speaker set you choose. The system anticipates peak audio signals and adjusts output to avoid distortion or speaker damage. Networked to the navigation system for a full-vessel sound experience, audio can be ideally and independently adjusted in each zone.


So, on the Fusion system, we will go ahead and network three RA770s to cover the bridge, salon and cockpit and master stateroom. In addition to the RA770 touchscreen controller and source unit, we’ll power four 330-watt LED-lit SG-FL88SPC speakers and one 450-watt SG-SPL101SPC subwoofer with an MS-AM702 zone amplifier. Throughout the boat, we’ll select LED lighted speakers for mood.

We’ll also use four MS-CL602 two-way overhead speakers in the salon and four MS-FR7022 speakers boasting 260 watts of peak power. Two MS-AM702 zone amps will be used, one to run dual subwoofers and one to run the eight two-way speakers. The master stateroom will have the same system as the salon but needs just one S-AM702 amp, one subwoofer and four overhead speakers. Each guest stateroom will be equipped with an SRX-400 source unit and a slim in-wall-mounted RV-FS402W all-in-one sound panel.

Rockford Fosgate PMX-2
Rockford Fosgate PMX-2 Courtesy Rockford Fosgate

Rockford Fosgate

Raymarine and Rockford Fosgate work together for seamless control using the PMX-8BB black box networked to the MFDs, allowing control of audio in three zones, usually including the salon, bridge deck and cockpit. Audio in the tuna tower will have to share control with the bridge deck. Using the MFDs to control the system allows anyone in the cockpit, salon, bridge or tuna tower to adjust volume, playlist or mute the system. The PMX 8BB is ready to receive radio, connects to smartphones via Bluetooth or USB connections, and can accept Sirius satellite radio input.


Each zone will need a TM1000X5ad amplifier and a PM210S4B subwoofer. Trusted crew can control audio via an MFD, but to keep passengers’ paws away from the navigation system, a PMX-1R controller lets them enjoy some audio choice without interfering with fishing. The bridge and the cockpit will get three pairs of P1675 (6¾-inch-diameter) three-way, full-range speakers. The polypropylene woofer with butyl rubber surround is durable and resistant to moisture. Tweeter domes are 1-inch, incorporating polyetherimide for durability and responsiveness.

Rockford Fosgate recommends two subs and a second supporting amp in the cockpit, where music is expected to have more punch. Subwoofers and amps will be used on the bridge and in the salon.

Polk Audio

Polk Audio’s top source unit is the Omni P1, which they say is the easiest way to incorporate the latest music streaming services. Hookups include an auxiliary input connection, a stereo output connection to a receiver or powered speaker, and digital outputs. Complete the setup with an IPX6-rated waterproof commander and a hidden IPX5 module that eases installation in cramped quarters with a cabled connection that can be extended 20 feet or more. Download the Ultramarine app to any iOS device, and use that as a full-featured remote.

No matter which of these setups you choose for your vessel, you’re assured to have plenty of crystal-clear audio and an incredible sound for your listening enjoyment on your way to the fishing grounds, between bites, or after a long day at sea.


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