Marine audio has seen an upswing as boat sales rebound from the recession and as boaters want new features like Bluetooth.
The category is up by 25 percent at Boss Audio and by double digits at Wet Sounds.
“Boat dealers have been moving through inventories and the used market is active,” said Clarion’s Augustin Leung.
Also the high end of the marine audio market has been surging as boaters want increasingly higher end speakers and amplifiers, say some speaker makers.
Both JL Audio and Kicker have been surprised at the high velocity growth in the segment.
JL Audio top line speakers have moved from 6.5 inch drivers 5 years ago to 7.7 inch coaxials, to the recent 8.8 inch coaxials at $550 per pair, that are moving briskly, said the company.
“It’s been surprising how strong it is growing,” said Kicker’s Kevin Campbell on marine audio. You can expect to see increasingly higher end marine products from Kicker in the next couple of years, he added.
Elettromedia, maker of high end Hertz and Audison brands said it is contemplating an entry into marine audio. “It’s a really interesting business,” said Massimo Mezzadri.
The audiophile marine audio market was constricted until now to some degree. In order to make the audio components water resistant plastic parts were often used, but plastic is not a great material for acoustics. Retailers often simply used car audio components for boat installs.
But suppliers say they are working out solutions so that audiophile products are marine grade and sound great.
JL Audio is releasing its largest subwoofer to date for boaters–a 12 inch model with a 4 inch voice coil. It’s an infinite baffle model called the M12IB5, due in Q3 at a price to be announced. The company says marine audio has become an increasingly large part of its overall business.