Stereo suggestions


Sep 13, 2012
1979 Hunter Cherubini 30 Clemmons
I will be starting my re-wiring soon on my H30 project boat. I am moving my switch panel from the quarter berth area to a new and improved nav station on the port side. I have my VHF radio squared away and now looking for a stereo to install. My main concern is I want a stereo that can be controlled remotely from the cockpit about 10 feet away and doesn't have to be in direct line with the unit (no infra-red) remote. I don't need a lot of bells and whistles...just a radio,cd and usb port.
Mar 20, 2007
Catalina 355 Kilmarnock, VA
Most of the marine-grade stereos available either come with, or offer as an option, a wired remote. You may also need to purchase the appropriate length of connecting cable, which is proprietary to each make and model. Don't know what your primary music source will be, but if you use a device with Bluetooth connectivity, there are stereos that incorporate this feature and can be operated wirelessly.
Feb 6, 1998
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
Any inexpensive car stereo will work fine so long as it is below decks. That said many of the "marine" stereos are now similar in price with the exception of Fusion.

Features that "I" find good to have:

*Blue Tooth AUDIO: Forget the remote your smart phone with all your tunes or streaming on it becomes your new remote. Simply pair the phone with your stereo and your music is now where ever your phone is. We have been streaming music from our phones now for a while and will never go back.

*Rear AUX input: These are becoming harder and harder to find but they simply make sense after the fist time you snap the input right out of the stereo. We also have an AUX plug that works too.

*A true equalizer not just some pre-set programs: One of my biggest peeves is stereo manufacturers who create preset EQ settings eg: Rock, Acoustic, Jazz etc.. These presets often SUCK compared to what you can do manually to tune the sound to YOUR vessel.

*iPhone or Android compatibility: Depending upon your phone. Who uses CD's any more. Our CD slot is growing DUST...

*Dedicated Preamp outs for subwoofer: I prefer a deck to have fully separate control for a subwooofer including subwoofer volume, subwoofer remote amp on/off and cross over points. If you have a sub the LAST thing you want to be doing is tweaking the sound AT the sub or sub amp. When you want to save power it is far easier to turn the sub amp OFF from the stereo..

*Satellite radio compatible: If you listen to satellite radio this can be a useful feature.

Non stereo features that matter:

One word SPOTIFY !!!!!! If you don't have it or have not tried it is simply the absolute BEST thing to happen to music since the ability to record music was invented. It makes ALL other sources such as Pandora, iTunes etc. OBSOLETE !!! SPOTIFY ROCKS !!!!!!!!

99% of the music I listen to today is via Spotify! It is streaming on my computer as I type this.....

Why is SPOTIFY sooooooo GREAT!

#1 Spotify is where ever YOU are on what ever device YOU log in from. It lives in the cloud.. At a buddy's house and want YOUR playlist log in and play it from his iPad, computer etc....

#2 Spotify will BROADEN YOUR MUSICAL HORIZONS. I have discovered more new music since using Spotify than I did in the previous 20 years. I am a hard core music guy so for the $10.00 per month it is simply the absolute BEST deal on the planet....

#3 Want to listen to "bluegrass"? Search bluegrass then go to "playlists" and pick one you like there are hundreds and thousands of playlists. I HATE creating play lists but other people love it. You can see play lists that OTHER people have had the time to geek out on and create. Playlists are sorted by rank and how much people like them. This moves good ones to the top. I rarely have to click through more than a couple to find a REALLY good one.. I have had playlists I've found that have not had a bad song for over 5 hours straight!!!!!!!! There is NO WAY I am going to sit down and create play lists like that but other people do!! You can also search by song, artist, genre etc. etc. etc...

#4 Want radio like Pandora? Does that too....

#5 Find an artist you like and want to hear more artists like that? It does that too....

#6 Want unlimited fast forward or clicks through artists and songs. It does that too.....

#7 Hate the fact that your 60GB of music is on your computer but won't fit on your iPad, iPod a USB etc.. or you can't easily access it everywhere? There is no end to what Spotify has and it lives in the cloud so is accessible where ever you are provided you have a cell signal, wifi or have downloaded what you want to offline mode......

#8 In a bad cell zone for streaming? Use "offline mode" and download what ever playlists you want to your device....

There are so many more reasons why Spotify will change the way you listen to music. I rarely pimp a product this aggressively but Spotify has grossly EXCEEDED my every expectation about how I want to listen to music..:)
Jan 22, 2008
Catalina 30 Mandeville, La.
Pretty much everything MS said, but i would add a usb or sd card slot. Just about every automotive stereo has coated circuit boards just like "marine" units. You may find a marine stereo with gaskets and seals around cd slots or other openings. The marine environment will attack mechanical parts first and a deck without cd, lnobs, or cassette mechanisms will last longer.

I have been playing around with a single chip amplifier i picked up from Amazon. It's sold under the brand "Lepai". They claim 20w rms per channel, but is impossible with a 12v 2amp wall wart supply. But, it is pretty loud, sounds pretty good and only cost $20. I use it for sound on an outdoor projector to watch movies and the Saints beat the snot out of the Falcons. (Yeah, i saw the Seattle slaughter). I'm driving a pair of AR The Edge outdoor box speakers. It might make a decent minimalist system on a boat. The model i got has fm radio( no display), usb, sd slot, rca, & 3.5mm inputs. The memory slots play mp3. Impressed by performance/price.
Dec 11, 2008
catalina C27 stillwater
Right to kito's query:

Head unit: Sony CDX-M60UI
Remote: Sony RMX-60M

This gets you a rugged CD transport, a USB front input that is also an Apple device controller. The remote is a good wired submersible remote with two-line readout. I use this setup personally in my current Catalina 27.

To Maine Sail's points, it has a sub out, AND I know the manufacturer's distributor does a modification, (that doesn't void the warranty) that adds a rear AUX INPUT in parallel to the front aux input. You will find some production boats that use the Sony CDX-M60UI with an extra set of RCA cables haning out the back. This is the modified unit.

Add a USB or AUX-IN bluetooth dongle and you have the best of all worlds.

I am not associated with Sony but I am good friends with the Sony folks as we share a common distributor to the OEM boat builder market. I use Sony products personally in my boats and would not use anything but Sony if I were putting a stereo in a boat today. The stuff is VERY good for the price.
May 24, 2004
CC 30 South Florida
For a low cost installation look for a good automotive type radio/CD player with an auxiliary input. Speakers placement is the key to enjoyment. I would get two marine grade speakers and drill holes and put them in the cockpit. The speakers that came with the radio or two box speakers can be installed in the cabin. Noises in the water specially when underway filter most high and low frequencies so no high quality audio is required. Most radios will come with a remote but those remotes do not last long in the marine environment.
Dec 11, 2008
catalina C27 stillwater
Despite being a marine audio specialist working for a 12-volt speaker and amplifier manufacturer, I am usually going to shy away from mounting speakers in a sailboat cockpit. Regardless whether "marine grade" (most really get that claim from the marketing department, not engineering) or automotive speakers are used, the sailboat cockpit is a really harsh environment for speakers from a mechanical standpoint. Heels, shoes, coolers, and other loose gear really takes a toll on the grills. Plus, it will usually be two big 5-1/8" holes that once cut are there forever. That is a big hole in a boat....

Not too long ago there was a thread regarding the use of TACTILE TRANSDUCERS for the cockpit. If the original poster is considering adding speakers to his cockpit I would recommend going that route first if anyone plans on adding sound to the cockpit of a sailboat. It just works too darned well. A tactile transducer is basically a loudspeaker motor, without the cone. It is designed in such a manner that it can be glued to the flat vertical wall of your cockpit, (glued inside the boat, not visible while sitting there) turning that whole panel into a radiating surface. It sounds gimmicky and hokey but it really isn't. I will dig up that thread link and post it in a few so you can check it out. Good info.

I hate to argue, but it is certainly not the case that high and low frequencies are absorbed or damped by being on the water. In fact sound can travel quite a long distance over water, especially when smooth, as it is a perfecly flat surface that a sound wave can travel along for great distances. Being underway, especially in a sailboat, does not affect your nearfield performance, unless your experience is with a very cheap, small, or otherwise grossly underpowered audio system. The requirement for high-quality audio, or lack thereof is to be determined by the sailor's ear, and pocketbook, not the fact that he would be trying to enjoy it in a boat.

Lastly, I know the sailing community is represented by a large group of what we sould call frugal and resourceful sailors. Some would call us cheap!, (me included). I personally know we are not really cheap, just smart. With that being said, know you get what you pay for. Without crossing a line of approriateness, let me just with a general sweeping statement suggest you get what you pay for. The $59.00-radio-with-two-speakers-in-one-carton are going to be vastly different from the $159.95 radio that you buy along with the $149.95 speakers. Out of respect to all manufacturers, I will not draw any comparisons; I do not think they are necessary. :)

So, with that, if any of you are curious abot those cockpit tactile transducers, let me go dig up that thread and I will post a link below.
Dec 11, 2008
catalina C27 stillwater
Here is the thread titled MUSIC

Ted, the original poster shares a YouTube link of his installed transducers in the above thread.

Here is a link I posted up in a separate thread from 2010. I checked the link and it is still good:

"The item here is designed for extreme environments and is sealed for a IP67 for truly waterproof performance:"

My apologies to kito with the thread drift..... :)
Jan 22, 2008
Hunter 29.5 Gloucester, VA
I have the Fusion stereo I bought at WM and have it remoted back to the helm. It is a hardwired remote head. The head doesn't need any additional power, it gets it all from the stereo. I load up the IPOD and stick it in and have full control of radio and IPOD at the helm. I love it.
Jan 24, 2013
Hunter e36 Norfolk
Depending on your needs, I can recommend the Dual Model MXCP7030 (on Amazon) which runs $130 with 2 speakers and a wired remote. I had this on a prior boat (24 foot) and it worked great. Yes, as mentioned, you get what you pay for, but how much audio fidelity do you need on a boat. I found it perfectly adequate and the remote is small and had an audio port so you can plug in and control a phone or ipod.

I now have a Kenwood bt555u with an rc35 remote, which is a little more expensive, but has bluetooth and other nice features. I like the rc35 remote which is the size of a hockey puck, smaller than many other remotes - they now have an rc55 with a small led display. Kenwood has a pretty extensive line, so you can move up or down depending on features you need/want. Another thing I liked about the Kenwood rc35 remote is that you can extend it with ordinary wire and not a proprietary cable.

To my (untrained) ear the Kenwood has good sound quality.

I use Pandora a lot and can't wait to try Spotify (thanks for the tip, Maine Sail)
Aug 23, 2011
Hunter 31 Georgetown, MD
For what it's worth I bought the WM 4000 stereo that has all the usual audio and media interfaces and has both IR and RF remotes.

The RF is good for about 30ft (cockpit) and the IR sits on the saloon table


Sep 13, 2012
1979 Hunter Cherubini 30 Clemmons
Thanks for all the suggestions. I will have to do some searching. Looks like an RF remote is a must.....don't really want a wired remote. I will not have cockpit speakers...the 2 in the cabin will be fine since they will be mounted on the bulkhead facing toward the cabin hatch. The WM4000 looked good but doesn't have a cd. I guess I am old school, I only download lossless music files like flac, and burn them to a cd for my home system. Mp3's just sound like crap to me from the compression. They do make sense for a boat laser to get bumped around on the water. So a quality am/fm stereo with a cd, a front usb for a thumb drive with rf remote will do the job for me.
Dec 11, 2008
catalina C27 stillwater
Problem is, you won't find a radio with an RF remote included. IR or wired are standard. RF, nope.

There is an outfit out of Kansas City that makes an accessory remote that will control Sony. I know the owner but need to look up the brand name; I don't recall it. They make waterproof remotes so it would be good for a boat. Let me look them up...