Pros / It has great audio performance at under $100.
Cons / The power handling specifications are below-average.
Verdict / The Clarion CMQ1622RL is our value pick because it provides high-end audio quality and impressive efficiency at an attractive price point.
Clarion is well known for high-end speakers for home and vehicles. The CM series, which stands for Clarion Marine, is full of component and coaxial speakers of varying sizes, which means you can easily fill out your boat sound system with speakers that look and sound alike. The 6.5-inch CMQ1622RL is one of the best performing marine speakers, despite the below-average power handling, volume and audio quality. Clarion even offers them with an optional built-in multicolor LED system, though we didn't test speakers with this option.
- Lowest Frequency Response
- Highest Frequency Response
- Continuous Power Handling
The Clarion CMQ1622RL received an A for overall audio quality, tying with the Fusion FR6022 for the best audio quality. Both speakers sound exceptionally well balanced, but their audio profiles are kind of opposites. The CMQ1622RL performs best in the low-end and midrange and features a high-end that's good, but not great. On the other hand, the FR6022 performs best in the midrange and high range, but is just okay with the low frequencies. While the FR6022 is best paired with a subwoofer, the CMQ1622RL would be best paired with component tweeters.
I tested the accuracy of the Clarion CMQ1622RL's performance by recording it playing a sine tone that smoothly transitioned between 20Hz and 20kHz. Then I analyzed and graded the accuracy and quality of the frequency signature by comparing the recorded results to the original frequency signature. The most accurate frequency range was the lows between 20Hz and 470 Hz, which received an A+. This is great news to anyone who loves to groove to a beat. The midrange received an A- and the highs received a B+.
The biggest downside to the CMQ1622RL is the power-handling specifications. Not only is the 88-dB sensitivity rating the lowest in our review (though I'll discuss why it may not matter), but the continuous power handling rating is also the lowest at 60 RMS watts. The peak power handling is only 20 watts higher at 120 watts than most of the speaker's continuous power handling. Basically, it can't handle as much power as most boat speakers.
However, with all that in mind, the CMQ1622RL was the loudest speaker in the comparative loudness test, which was definitely a big surprise considering its low sensitivity. Every speaker's sensitivity rating represents the volume measured by the manufacturer (under the best circumstances possible) at one meter when using either 1-watt of power or a 2.86-volt current. The purpose of this is to show how efficient the speaker is at converting power into volume. When you consider that every 3-dB increase in volume requires twice as much power, the difference between a 93-dB sensitivity and a 88-dB sensitivity suggests that the latter would be much quieter if both speakers were fed the same amount of power. used the same power.
For example, you'd expect the Polk MM1-652, which has a sensitivity rating of 93-dB, to be significantly louder than this speaker when they both use the same power. But that's not how it played out in our tests. I measured the volume at four levels and the CMQ1622RL was the loudest at every level.
The speaker’s frame is made of die-cast aluminum, which is unique for a marine speaker. Most speakers have a frame or basket made of hard polymer plastic. While we’re not sure whether the aluminum has any advantages over polymer casts, it certainly feels sturdier than most.
The Clarion CM speakers are ASTM certified for salt, fog and UV exposure. This is a critical consideration. Just because a company says that its marine speakers can handle the elements doesn’t mean they’ve been adequately tested. With an ASTM certification, you can put this speaker in your boat with the confidence that it can handle the water and the sun.
One of the cool options of the Clarion CMQ1622RL is the LEDs. These lights, which require additional wiring, are installed behind the tweeter. You can change the color of the lights to add some ambience to your boat’s soundtrack. It’s a great feature for boat parties.
The Clarion CMQ1622RL is a great upgrade for your boat speakers, especially when you consider the audio quality with the price. You can even get them with LED lights to add that little extra bit of ambience to your parties. The low power handling means you can't push these speakers as hard as other marine speakers – though it was the loudest speaker in our comparative loudness test, so it may not matter.