The Offroader’s Guide to ATV Speakers – What is the Best Purchase in 2017?
There is no better way to add to the thrill of offroading and driving in general than to bring your favorite songs into the mix. It’s as crucial as the wind blowing through your hair and the feeling of freedom. But which one should you get? Many factors contribute to the overall quality of a particular product. Water resistance, durability, sound quality, lights – these are all things you need to consider when making a purchase. This list is meant to help you choose the best possible ATV Speaker for your specific needs.
Why Get a Set of ATV Speakers Instead of Regular Ones?
The benefits of specialization here are many. While it could be tempting just to carry a set of regular speakers and attach them to your mp3 player or smartphone, it’s important to consider what ATV speakers have to offer over their more standard counterparts. Since they’re specifically made to be attached to an ATV or motorcycle, they’re often more durable, water/weather-proof and are more convenient to attach and transport that way.
They’re more portable as well since they’re not made exclusively for home use (though you can use them to bring life to a barbecue party, that’s for sure!). Some of them have handy lights, making them more suited for night rides. We will examine each of these qualities individually, and use them to determine the best choice for your needs.
As empowering as the noise of a strong engine can feel, you still want to hear the music loud and clear. The first thing you want to examine is how much power the amplifier can handle. The higher the Watt count, the better the amplifier. This affects how loud the sound can get without a drop in quality.
Speaker sensitivity is also important. The more sensitive the speaker is, the less power it takes to produce a sound of any given frequency. Typically, the tweeters (loudspeakers designed for high frequencies) are the most sensitive. The size of the main woofer can improve its sensitivity for low frequencies.
Speaker impedance is another quality to consider. Impedance is essentially the resistance of your speaker towards the incoming voltage and is measured in Ohms. While most home-oriented speakers hover in the 6 to the 8-Ohms range, higher end stuff sits at 4-Ohms and is paired with very powerful amplifiers.
ATV speakers are often exposed to harsh elements and good old wear ’n’ tear. For this reason, the materials used for the casing and even actual speaker parts are sturdy and take a lot of abuse. A common word you might encounter while shopping for ATV speakers is “marinized,” which essentially means the hardware is UV-coated, waterproof and resists corrosion. Most materials also affect how sensitive the speakers are, so look out for things like kevlar or titanium for the high-end woofers.
A less obvious thing to inspect is the quality of the fine electronics that bring the whole system to life. All the weather resistance in the world won’t fix your speakers if the wires give out, so check the insulation every now and then. This also extends to things like LED lights and remote control functionality, albeit to a lesser extent.
Convenience and Control
No one likes long manuals and convoluted setup procedures. Being able to attach your ATV speakers to your vehicle easily and then use them smoothly is a fundamental reason to recommend one product over another, especially for less tech-savvy buyers. Luckily, quality speakers often come with Velcro straps or other tools to help out. The speakers are usually powered via battery or by hooking up to the cigarette lighter.
Ease of use also comes in the form of Bluetooth integration and the ability to switch tracks or change volume via remote control. Alternatively, some ATV speakers let you connect your music player directly to an auxiliary input.
While they are typically used on ATVs, you can also use some of them on golf carts, UTVs, motorcycles – basically anything that can provide a 12V power source. If your vehicles vary in size, it’s a good idea to invest in more compact, versatile speakers.
The Current Popular ATV Speakers Models On The Market – Our Reviews
To help you make a decision, we took 5 of the best ATV speakers and put them to the rest. You can find the reviews below, complete with pros and cons, so you will know exactly what you’re getting into; ATV speakers are not meant to be purchased on just a whim! Let’s get into it:
1. BOSS Audio ATV25B Bluetooth, Amplified, All-Terrain Sound System
The last ATV system we will be looking at is another BOSS product. Much like the ATV30BRGB, this monster can handle up to 450 Watts of power, letting it tie for the strongest raw system on the list… in theory. It costs less, however, with mostly minor downgrades to make up for it.
The cord you use to plug it into your cigarette lighter is surprisingly short, meaning you have less freedom in where you mount it, even with all the extra tools you get. Still, the speakers are just as sensitive, so you’re going to get your money’s worth in terms of sound quality. You can wirelessly stream music from various apps, as well as your smartphone or mp3 player through Bluetooth or the reliable old AUX input.
There’s one problem though. From our experience, the amp just doesn’t hit as hard as the other BOSS unit. It distorts at the 80-85% volume mark, while the other one doesn’t ever seem to. The electronics’ quality is about the same, so while you do have a tank for a speaker system, its inner workings are less reliable than the hull.
- Good sound quality
- Easy to setup; comes with tools to help with the job
- Streams music from popular apps
- Tougher than a Shaolin monk
- Doesn’t seem to hit the advertised mark of 450 Watts cleanly
- Weak electronics
- Bit expensive
2. BOSS Audio ATV30BRGB Bluetooth, Amplified, All-Terrain Sound System
Big, rectangular and menacing, this ATV speaker system dominates the soundscape like no other entrant on this list. If you want pure horsepower, you want BOSS. With an amplifier that can effortlessly handle up to 450 Watts, this machine is impossible to distort. It comes packaged with 4 Velcro straps and a special mounting clamp, and with this much power inside, you need all that to keep it from driving off on its own.
Its plug-and-play approach makes it one of the easiest-to-setup choices, and its marinized casing and parts make it durable enough to last at least three years (and keep kicking like an enraged mule). It also sports a handy light and the ability to not only play songs from your mp3 folder, but also from streaming services like Pandora or Spotify!
Unfortunately, this all comes at a price. The price is money, of course. The ATV30BRGB is the most expensive product on this list, and even though it justifies that with incredible specifications, that could be enough to deter less-hardcore offroaders. Additionally, while the remote control is waterproof and can probably withstand a nuclear blast, the electronics that power it are not that tough, and may give out earlier than you’d expect.
- Very powerful amplifier and sensitive speakers to go along with it
- Easy to setup, with two tools being shipped to you with the product
- Ability to play music from apps like Spotify
- Harder to damage than a bomb shelter
- Fragile electronic parts that need to be looked after
3. Noam N4 - Pair of 4" 2-way Wakeboard Mountable Speakers
One of the main selling points of these ATV speakers is the butyl rubber speaker surround. Butyl rubber is a mixture of, well, rubber and butylene, and is incredibly durable and flexible. The speaker impedance is at the sweet spot of 4-Ohms, helping to clean up the sound output additionally, especially when coupled with a very sensitive pair of neodymium dome tweeters.
The two speakers are also pretty compact and sport the lowest market price on this list. Setup is straightforward (they can go on any roll cage or bar), and results in not just great music, but a lovely decoration, as these speakers look stylish.
There are two main flaws to keep in mind. The first is a lower-than-ideal power peak of 200 Watts, which isn’t as noticeable as you’d expect, but it’s there. These speakers don’t have quite the horsepower of all the other candidates, but they’re still cost-effective, and loud enough to wake up the whole neighborhood.
The second problem lies in the somewhat unreliable wire plugs at the back of the speakers. While you shouldn’t immediately worry about them spontaneously combusting or anything, keep in mind that they will probably not last incredibly long.
- Super-cheap, especially compared to its competitors
- Compact and easy to setup
- Very clean sound, thanks to the butyl rubber surround
- Good eye candy
- Wire plugs are not super durable, and should be monitored from time to time
- Cannot handle as much power at their peak as some other ATV speakers
4. DS18 Hydro
This baby is pretty versatile. Due to being split into smaller parts, you can customize the layout to fit any vehicle you attach the Hydro to. The “Hydro” part in the name should be enough to tell you that all the individual components are weather-and-water-proof (as they’re made for boating), and they’re also UV-coated. With a sensitivity of about 90dB and about 350-375 Watts of power being handled (with an impedance of 4-Ohms – perfect), you can expect your sound to be clean and powerful.
The mounts are made of solid aluminum and can rotate 360 degrees, which adds to the ease of use. The price is pretty competitive with some bulkier products we will be covering next. A handy set of lights also helps you stay safe in the wild (as our lucky driver can thankfully confirm).
If we had to look for flaws (and we do), the DS18 Hydro speakers lack some of the plug-and-play benefits their competitors boast. While this isn’t a problem for the experienced, beginners could struggle. But if you feel like your speakers will be exposed to a lot of water regularly, this is almost certainly your best bet.
- Amazing water resistance – perfect for boats in addition to ATVs and other ground vehicles
- Easier to find a good place for because it’s not one big box
- Good quality sound
- More complicated to set up than some other options, especially for beginners
- Slightly higher price than some others
5. NOAM NUTV4 - Marine Bluetooth
The second entry from NOAM on this list, the NUTV4 is a pair of quality speakers connected to a 4-channel amplifier that operates at 4x100 Watts. Sporting the same butyl surround as its brother, the NUTV4 has a clean, high-quality sound without sacrificing too much volume (due to an impedance value of 4-Ohms).
While it’s a bit pricier, it makes up for it by including a neat anti-thump feature (This stops the speakers from making that unpleasant “thump” sound as soon as they’re turned on, which is not only better for your ears but the speakers themselves). It operates via Bluetooth or AUX input, so you don’t have to worry if your Bluetooth seems to no longer work like mine (dropped the phone a few times too many).
Since the speakers are small and operate at a low Watt count, you should not expect them to blast the bass with the best competitors out there. However, they’re still a very cost-effective purchase, and they require next to no effort to setup. Other than that, a flaw lies in the fact that the main control module is not as waterproof as it maybe should be, so you may want to look into ways of protecting it a bit more.
- Good sound quality
- Anti-thump feature that helps increase durability and avoid startling its owner
- Very reasonably priced; cost effective
- Easy to setup
- Not the most powerful option
- Controller may be susceptible to water damage
While all of these are solid choices, there can only be one king. And if power is what you’re after, there is no better choice than the BOSS ATV30BRGB. An absolute mammoth of a speaker system whose only real problem lies in its slightly questionable electronics, and one you can even use at home where it competes with more studio-oriented hardware without much of an issue. If you can afford it, definitely go for it. Otherwise, the NOAM NUTV4 is your best bet regarding cost-effectiveness.
Have you had any experiences with modern ATV speaker systems you’d like to share? Do you think another one of these entrants should have won? Be sure to let us know, and share the article with like-minded enthusiasts!