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Go with the car stereo. The advice about cabling, shrink-wrapping, etc. is good. Get a used one, in fact, open it up and apply conformal spray.

Conformal coating - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It's not a simple topic in terms of choice and technique, but it does extend the life of electronics in humid, salty air, and anything I have that isn't gasketed will get a shot before I hit salt water.

The speakers on the other hand, are partly taste, partly location and partly construction. If they are to nest under the dodger or 95% free from spray, good quality "patio speakers" will do fine. If they are in the cabin, good bookshelf speakers will suffice, but you will fiddle with the mounts as the acoustic qualities of cabins can make music boom and stuff rattle in the lockers (I have PSB Alphas driven by an Arcam Alpha 5 amp aboard, but that's strictly in the dry zone. Classical music set to "five feet from the brass section" in a pilot house is quite something indeed, but on deck I skip the music and listen to the wind.

A tip: If you go the flash drive/MP3 route (and I encourage this as CD players don't really like the movement aboard and they corrode easily), make your own MP3s at a high sample rate from the .cda files on your existing CDs. I suggest 320 kbits EAC. You can look all this stuff up, or get a kid to do it for you.

Happy listening!
 

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Cam, my unusually squarish saloon and steel hull means I get more than enough bass and I chose the PSBs precisely because they wouldn't boom, but you're right that most boats could use a little "keel" in their speaker systems.

I've heard some Boston Acoustics "Voyager" line models that sounded pretty nice to me, but I caution that the speaker conditions in the cockpit and "down below" on most boats could not be more different, and that knob-fiddling, speaker placement and a basic grounding in acoustics will improve the perceived performance of nearly any speaker. Boats are tough because saloons are generally small, low, wide and long spaces with odd shaped furniture and alternating hard and soft reflective surfaces. Experimentation can yield wildly variable results, and sometimes there is only one "sweet spot" in the entire boat for listening, in which case four or six small "desktop" speakers throughout the boat might give better coverage.
 
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