With a name like Wet Sounds, you expect high-quality boat speakers, and that's exactly what you get with the Wet Sounds XS-65ic-RGB. A growing trend among marine speakers is LED lights, which are installed under the tweeter and reflect off the woofer. If you're throwing boat parties, these lights are exactly the kind of accessory to take the atmosphere to the next level. We tested two speakers with LED lights, and the Wet Sounds XS was the better performer in every category, though the power handling is below average. Boat speakers have become more niche in recent years, so we no longer cover them. We do have a guide to the best smart speakers, however.
I tested the audio by evaluating how accurately the speaker produced a sine tone that transitioned smoothly from 20Hz to 20kHz because this is both the range of human hearing and the best way to isolate the low, midrange and high frequencies. I recorded the speaker playing this tone on a loop, then used frequency analyzing plugins to create the average frequency signature. From this frequency signature, I graded the performance by comparing it to the original audio frequency file.
The best part of the XS-65ic-RGB is the balance. All three frequency ranges earned B+ grades for accuracy. In addition, when I evaluated the speaker as it played a variety of music, I found the balance to be exceptional. It may not have the most accurate performance, but the balance almost makes up for it. No single frequency diminishes the others. By comparison, the Kicker KM654cw, which is the other speaker with lights, the audio performance was bottom-heavy, with the lows overpowering the midrange and high frequencies.
The XS-65ic-RGB received a C+ in the comparative loudness test, which is about what I expected from a speaker with an 89-dB sensitivity rating. The sensitivity rating is the volume that manufacturer measures at one meter when using 1-watt of power or a 2.86-volt current. However, since manufacturers often put out the best possible ratings based on optimal conditions, I measured the volume of each marine speaker at four levels using the same stereo to power the speakers. The test showed that the sensitivity rating isn't always as clear cut as it seems. For example, the Clarion CMQ1622RL has a lower sensitivity rating than the XS-65ic-RGB, but it was the loudest speaker.
A significant downside to the XS-65ic-RGB is its other power-handling specifications. It’s continuous power handling is 60 RMS watts, the lowest I've reviewed. And the peak power handling is 120 watts, which is only 20 watts higher than some marine speaker's continuous power handling. With most marine speakers, these power-handling specifications matter more than with similarly designed car speakers because they must contend with an open acoustic space and noises from the engine, wind and water. However, if you're buying these speakers for the ambient lights because you throw boat parties, then the power handling is less important, as the speakers don’t need to be as loud when your boat is stationary.
While there are popular speaker brands that make marine speakers, Wet Sounds is one of the few speaker manufacturers that prioritizes marine audio equipment, with Fusion being the other. This means they take marine-grade standards very seriously. The XS-65ic-RGB has a polypropylene woofer and a titanium tweeter, which means it can easily handle water without warping and degrading. It has one of the most robust rubber gaskets that I've seen. This creates a watertight seal so that the internal installation space doesn't take on water. The grille and frame are made of stiff, noncorrosive Nylas, a nylon-fiberglass composite. It's designed to handle the harsh conditions of a boating lifestyle.
The LED lights are a fun feature. According to the manufacturer, you can change the lights to an unlimited number of colors by using the remote. It's more accurate to say that it's capable of illuminating colors within the visible spectrum. In my tests, I only got it to produce 12 colors. That said, I wasn't using the remote and was just touching the wires in various configurations. However, the lighting comes with a downside: The installation requires more wiring than standard speakers. I definitely recommend having these speakers professionally installed.
The Wet Sounds XS-65ic-RGB performed very well in our audio quality tests. While the audio performance isn't the best that I've seen, the balance among all frequency ranges is among the best. That said, the low power handling is a concern and it's not the loudest speaker. But if most of your music will be playing on still waters for party guests, the colorful lighting might more than make up for the decibel cap.