This advice isn’t your classic website where you will see someone list out the 10 best waterproof Bluetooth speakers for boat in 2018, and then try to make you buy with big buttons or any of that salesy garbage.
Instead it’s a few recommendations from me, a genuine boat owner, on what I have personally found to be the best speakers to be used in a marine environment.
The recommendations will depend on what you want to get from your purchase and how you’re going to be using it on your boat.
I own a pontoon and have gone through around 3 different portable Bluetooth speakers on my boat down the years and have finally found a few options that ticks all the boxes so wanted to share those with you.
It’s hard to throw sound around in an open area such as a boat deck, or out onto the water so that’s where your main challenge will be when choosing what to buy.
Before we get started though, let’s just make a few clear points on what you should be looking for in boat Bluetooth speakers.
- Has a waterproof rating to IPX7 standard at least
- Has a long-lasting battery life given it’s a wireless speaker
- Has a re-chargeable battery and charger unit
- Has portability so it can be used on the boat, beach and possibly home
- Has sound loud enough to overcome water and engine noise
- Has sound quality clear enough to be heard when you are in the water
- Has possible floating functionality is you want to use it in the water
If you aren’t sure what IP ratings mean, scroll further down the page as I’ve put together some guidance on what the different numbers give you.
But ultimately, you want something that is going to withstand being dropped in water, so don’t go any lower than IPX7, and IPX8 if possible – plus choose speakers that can throw a clear and crisp sound at the distance you need.
Based on those guidelines above, let’s take a closer look at some different scenarios which should suit you and what you would want from wireless Bluetooth boat speakers.
Ultimate Ears MegaBoom
MY TOP & BEST RECOMMENDATION
- Price Bracket: Higher, but great quality (view Amazon prices)
- Waterproof Rating: IPX7
- Shockproof: Yes
- Re-chargeable battery life: 20 hours plus
- Speakers: 360-degree sound with rich deep bass
- Bluetooth Connectivity Range: 100 foot
- Heard over a boat motor: Yes
- Does it Float: Yes
- Sync’ing: Buy more than one and pair them together
- Dimensions: 226 mm long, 83 mm wide
- Weight: 93 pounds
- Warranty: 2 years
UE MegaBooms are superb, and if you buy two of them you can play music in stereo for your own portable dance party all from the same source.
I’ve heard reports from other boat owners where they have dropped them into water for 5 minutes, and it was dragged down to a depth of 20 feet and they have still worked.
Does it float?
Yes, but I would recommend you buy the smaller Ultimate Ears Roll 2 for that as it comes with a floating device.
The Roll 2 is a smaller waterproof Bluetooth speaker and is cheaper. If you did lose it on the water, it wouldn’t be so annoying, and you won’t have lost as much money – I review that a little lower down the page.
The UE MegaBoom is the best waterproof Bluetooth speaker in the entire UE range and is ideal for the majority of boating scenarios.
It’s the best speaker choice if you want loud music for when you might host a party or get together on your boat.
Because it’s slightly larger than other UE speakers it can kick out a lot of bass and a decent volume, enough to be heard over your boat’s engine and the noise generated by a larger group of people.
And for the best audio experience, I always recommend you buy two, and that goes for any of my recommendations on this page.
For example, I personally own two of these and have them paired up together on my pontoon boat. I love them.
Yes, it is a little more expensive than other marine suitable or boat Bluetooth speakers, but you really do get what you pay for.
If you do decide to buy then I would also recommend that you purchase the carry case, as this will give you that added level of protection when carrying to and from your boat or wherever you decide to take it.
JBL Charge 3
MY BUDGET RECOMMENDATION
- Price Bracket: Medium (view Amazon prices)
- Waterproof Rating: IPX7
- Shockproof: Yes
- Re-chargeable battery life: 20 hours
- Speakers: Kicking bass and exposed woofers
- Bluetooth Connectivity Range: 30 foot
- Heard over a boat motor: Yes, but not as good as the UE MegaBoom
- Does it Float: No
- Sync’ing: Buy more than one and pair them together for stereo sound
- Dimensions: 231 mm long, 88 mm wide
- Weight: 76 pounds
- Warranty: 1 year
Before I upgraded to the UE MegaBoom this is what we used to run in our pontoon.
Just like the other speakers listed here, they can be paired up and daisy chained which is essential if you want stereo sound, or just want to increase the party vibe, coverage, surround sound and volume when listening to music on the water.
We used to do exactly this, and I’ve actually recently seen three of them being sync’d together from the same phone. Using this method you can have a speaker in the front and the back of the boat.
Be aware, there are other JBL Bluetooth speakers you can buy, but I would tend to avoid them.
For example, I’ve seen the JBL Flip 4 in action and I couldn’t really hear it when 20 foot away from the boat. It simply isn’t loud enough for marine usage and the sounds that can contaminate your listening experience.
But the JBL Charge 3 shown here doesn’t have those issues.
Before upgrading to the MegaBoom I took one of my Charge 3s on a kayaking trip.
I love to test things out, and actually held it under the water for a few minutes and it still worked fine… the water resistance is exceptional.
However, given the price point and the primary usage that I need, I didn’t quite find it loud enough for our regular boat parties.
And finally, it does not float.
Lose it overboard and the chances are you won’t see it again… unless of course you secure with a bungee cord line – which I recommend you do regardless of which portable speakers you buy.
Just like the UE MegaBoom waterproof speakers, this one also comes with the option of buying a JBL Charge 3 carry case, which looks great and does the job you would expect.
Ultimate Ears Roll 2
BEST FOR FLOATING IN THE WATER
- Price Bracket: Low (view Amazon prices)
- Waterproof Rating: IPX7
- Shockproof: Yes
- Re-chargeable battery life: 9 hours
- Speakers: 360-degree sound
- Bluetooth Connectivity Range: 65 foot
- Heard over a boat motor: Just about
- Does it Float: Yes, with the supplied floatie pad
- Sync’ing: Buy more than one and pair them together
- Dimensions: 135 mm long, 41 mm wide
- Weight: 73 pounds
- Warranty: 2 years
If you are looking for something cheap that can float off the back of your boat whilst you are in the water, then I wouldn’t recommend you do that with expensive portable boat speakers I have already listed.
My recommendation here would be the Ultimate Ears Roll 2.
The great thing about these, other than the low price point, is that they come with a floating pad.
For the best results, you can the the Roll 2 up with the Ultimate Ears MegaBoom speakers on your boat deck but have music right up next to you in the water.
Wired vs Waterproof Bluetooth Speakers for a Boat
You’re bound to get some conflicting opinion on whether you should invest in a wired set-up or choose wireless and portable speakers such as the ones in this guide.
Here’s my personal view on things.
1. So Much Music is Now Stored on Phone or Portable Storage
I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember the last time I even opened up my collection of CDs. They are gathering dust in my garage as we speak.
Almost every single piece of music I now consume is either streamed via Spotify or is held on my Apple iTunes account, all of which I access via my phone.
Here’s a comment I was asked recently:
“I’m thinking about doing away with the traditional stereo in our pontoon boat because we Bluetooth everything off of our phones anyway. What are the pros and cons to doing so?”
Well, I think my friend above already answered the question himself.
And I am going to answer the rest of the pros and cons if you continue to scroll.
2. Wireless Speakers Won’t Run Down Your Battery
Having a punchy sound system on your boat can have implications for your boat’s battery life.
There’s no downer quite like having a booming party out on the lake with great tunes, only to put the key in the ignition to release there’s zero juice left to get you back to shore.
That won’t happen with wireless Bluetooth speakers for obvious reasons.
If you do decide to invest in a wired speaker system, I’d suggest finding a local dealer that does this type of work, and whilst you’re at it, get them to add a second deep cycle battery.
I prefer Bluetooth as you never have to worry about your boat batteries, there are no switches, wiring, or fuse implications.
3. It’s Way Less Work and Involves No Wiring
If you don’t want to do the work of wiring, and I don’t blame you, then either have a professional technician wire in your speakers, or just opt for a portable Bluetooth speaker solution.
High quality wired speakers married to an amp can offer better sound, and in truth will look a lot more stylish when fitted into your seating and interior, but how important is that to you versus ease of use and portability?
4. But Why Would You Not Want to Run Wires?
It could be that you have a brand-new boat and don’t want to go cutting through sections of deck or panels to install the receiver and speakers.
Perhaps you don’t want the hassle of having your boat out of action for a few hours whilst the wiring is done.
On pontoon boats, most use plastic looms to protect the wiring and then a few p-clamps for support under the deck.
It will still take a while to do though.
5. Bluetooth Speakers are Portable for all Occasions
Don’t just think that portable waterproof Bluetooth speakers for a boat can only used in a marine environment.
We use ours all over the place.
That’s because we’re an active family and enjoy camping trips and outdoor movie nights in our backyard.
As you can imagine, we get loads of use out of our boat Bluetooth speakers, and consider them one of the best investments we’ve ever made to accessorize our Bennington pontoon.
One thing we really love is beaching up our pontoon, stepping out into the sand, having a picnic, and taking our speaker with us onto the shore. It helps contribute to an awesome day.
6. No Mounting Means You Can Adjust the Sound Direction
Unlike wired speakers, portable Bluetooth ones aren’t mounted.
Because they are not mounted you can move them around depending on sound interference or the direction you want to point the audio.
This can come in very useful when the wind picks up, or when there are people relaxing in the water next to your boat and you want to direct the audio towards them.
You can’t do that with wired speakers for obvious reasons, plus with wired it can be hard to project loud audio over longer distances if they are positioned low down in the deck or under seating.
In fact, a buddy of mine said exactly this only recently in an email to me when he heard I was putting this waterproof speaker guide together. Here’s what he said to me:
“With wired speakers it’s hard get the music out of the boat unless you have your speakers facing outward from the Bimini, tow bar or back panels. Bluetooth gives you that so it’s a no-brainer really!”
Another aspect to consider here is that if you are floating in the water and want to hear your tunes you can move the waterproof Bluetooth boat speakers to point into and over the water. You can then listen as loud as you like without blasting out everyone still remaining in the boat.
7. Bluetooth Lets You Control Music Selection Remotely
Now I know there are wired boat speakers that let you do this too if they have Bluetooth functionality, so it’s not strictly a unique benefit just for portable boat speakers.
But many older boats won’t have Bluetooth functionality in the hard-wired stereo system.
From the comfort of your phone, or even a Bluetooth enabled smartwatch, you can quickly switch between tunes and adjust volumes.
Here’s a comment I read on Facebook, describing this exact same scenario.
“Many of the more modern stereo decks have Bluetooth built into them. All I use is Spotify and iTunes and use my Garmin Fitness band to switch songs without being on my boat when I’m out in the water.”
How cool is that?
8. But What About Losing them in the Water?
Every portable boat speaker in this guide is waterproof and water resistant to a high rating.
But obviously that portability does come with a risk, as you could drop them overboard and never see them again.
There is a way to protect yourself against that though.
Most of waterproof speakers on this page have small latches on them, so simply attach a cord or similar so if it does drop in the water you can quickly retrieve it.
In fact, one reviewer of the Ultimate Ears MegaBoom had this to say:
“If you buy these speakers for your boat, then use the latch and tie a cord. I did this and am so happy I did when my my boat hit some fierce waves. I dived in to rescue it and followed the cord, found the speakers, and they still worked despite being submerged 20 foot deep!”
Questions & Answers
Since publishing this guide I was asked quite a few questions on Facebook. I’ve placed those questions and my responses in this section below as they could help you when making your own mind up on what to buy.
“I want a really good wireless Bluetooth speaker with one for the back of the boat. Unfortunately, we only have them on the inside at the moment and don’t want to install an amp and more speakers. Looking for something loud enough for us in the water but doesn’t have to be loud enough for everyone else to hear.”
I’d opt for the Ultimate Ears products here. You can position them to point into and over the water. Alternatively, you could buy one MegaBoom and then also buy the smaller Roll 2 and place that next to you floating in the water once paired up with the larger speaker.
“Are your recommended speakers loud enough to hear 20 to 30 feet from the boat? I want to buy today, but don’t want to buy too much speaker if I don’t need it.”
The MegaBoom and Charge 3 speakers are both perfectly fine and providing there are no water skis or jet skis flying past you then there should be no problems with audio and volume reach.
“I just bought a brand new Suntracker pontoon and am looking for some Bluetooth speakers that are loud. I also don’t want to run wires on a new boat. Any help will be appreciated!”
Take a look at the UE MegaBoom. If you want loud, buy two then pair them up and daisy chain them and position on the rear and front of your deck space.
“I do a lot of fishing and sandbar sitting and we love having so music to listen to. We have a little Bluetooth speaker that you can only hear if it’s quiet so what would you recommend here?”
For your type of needs, and I assume you won’t be having wild parties, I’d look at the JBL Charge 3. It will provide the right amount of volume you need for more sedate boating trips.
“I use a Bose SoundLink 2, but it’s not waterproof so looking to change to something else but want it loud so I can pump out my Foo Fighters playlist!”
If it’s loud that you want, then you could add an amp and upgrade your speakers. It really depends if you want a wired or wireless solution.
You can see some examples of pontoon boat speakers that can fit under your seats here, but I would opt for a UE MegaBoom if you need portability.
What Do the IPXX Waterproof Ratings Mean?
All boat Bluetooth speakers will be advertised as having an IPX rating. But what does this mean?
It’s all to do with how water resistant they are, and to what level they have been tested at.
If you know what you’re looking for and need from a waterproof Bluetooth speaker, it’s going to help to choose the best product depending on how you’re going to use it.
Now given that you are looking for the best waterproof Bluetooth speakers for your boat, it stands to reason that you want the most water resistant protection that’s on offer.
They will get wet and they will get splashed, they could even be dropped into the sea or water. In fact, you might even want speakers that float.
The IPX part stands for Ingress Protection and is the standard by which electronics are measured against their ability to keep water (and dust) out of the components.
The number part is how well-rated the product is for water or liquid resistance. The higher the number after the IP part, then the better protected they are.
And here’s how those waterproofing ratings work, and why they are important for boat Bluetooth speakers.
- IPX0– Offers no water resistance or protection
- IPX1 – Offers protection just against vertical drips of water
- IPX2 – Offers protection against water dripped from a 15-degree angle
- IPX3 – Offers protection from finely sprayed water
- IPX4 – Offers protection from water splashes
- IPX5 – Offers protection from sprayed water from a 6.3mm nozzle
- IPX6 – Offers protection from sprayed water from a 12.5mm nozzle
- IPX7 – Offers protection when submerged in water to a depth of 1 meter
- IPX8 – Offers protection when submerged in water to a deeper than 1 meter
From a buyer’s perspective, if you’re just going to have your Bluetooth speakers on the deck of your boat and are confident that it won’t be dropped into the water or have heavy splashes on it, you could get away with an IPX5 rating.
However, nothing ever goes to plan at sea, so for me, you should always choose something with either IPX7 or IPX8.
For more information on waterproof ratings in the marine and boating industry there’s a very good explainer on the West Marine website.
I hope this guide to the best Bluetooth speakers for a boat has helped you in deciding what you need to buy.
Ultimately your choice will boil down to how you intend to use them.
All I can now is I own a pair of UE MegaBoom speakers and honestly can’t recommend them enough. It’s not just me saying it, take a look at the awesome reviews on Amazon.
For example, if you are going to be sat around leisurely on deck, and aren’t involved in any water sports, and want something you can take out onto the beach, then IPX5 should be enough.
But if you’re boating adventures are high-octane affairs with plenty of partying, and your speakers could even end up off the boat and in the water, then go for IPX7 at the very least.
However, sometimes even the best rated speakers for water resistance might not cut it in terms of sound quality.
That’s why it’s so important to buy from a decent brand name who have a lot of skin in the game, producing excellent sound quality married to high level water resistance.
I’ve given you a short selection of what those are above, so I hope it helps.