Sitting on the sunpad of a Jupiter 38 HFS center console fishing boat, it felt like I was at a concert. My chest thumped in time with the eight 7.7” speakers that belted out a crystal clear rendition of Money for Nothing by Dire Straits. Even at 30 knots and full volume, the sound came at me undistorted. It sounded like New Zealand’s Fusion Entertainment was onto something with their new Apollo Series audio units. In fact, it sounded like something groundbreaking in terms of clarity, well beyond just waking up the neighbors along Fort Lauderdale’s waterways with a cannon of volume.
In just 11 years, this unconventional Kiwi company has gone from startup to standard, securing the audio entertainment space on most of the boats I review, both power and sail. Their latest introduction is the Apollo Series that consists of two models, the MS-RA770 ($749) and the MS-SRX400 ($399).
To start, Fusion added Digital Signal Processing (DSP) right into these head units, a first in the industry where competitors have been adding it to other components like amps—if at all. DSP optimizes the highs and lows in the music for unmatched sound quality, and by placing it into the head unit, Fusion ensures that these new stereos don’t need ancillary equipment to sound amazing. Also, with this feat of engineering optimization, it’s guaranteed that you, your unruly teenager or your deaf grandpa won’t blow a speaker.
The flagship RA770 features a 4.3-inch, glass, color touchscreen that’s optically bonded so it won’t fog. It also has the popular volume knob that users love and a shallower depth profile so it can fit into tighter spaces. The LCD display offers an interface that we can all relate to by tapping or swiping. DSP profiles can be set up via the Fusion-Link app although that may be better left to audiophiles rather than laymen (most of us will be happy to hear that the app has a factory-reset option to correct anything that we upset while messing about in there).
The RA770 can communicate via onboard WiFi to connect multiple Apollo units without running cables, which is great for aftermarket installations and cheaper for boat builders. You can stream music via WiFi from a mobile device using Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) or opt for the traditional Bluetooth. Fusion’s PartyBus mode syncs multiple heads on a boat to remove any annoying delay as you move from the saloon to the cockpit and up to the flybridge. Or, you can retire to your cabin and play your own tunes while the party continues up top.
The RA770 has two RCA auxiliary inputs, one SPDIF port for TV audio output, one Ethernet port, one USB 2.0 port for phone charging and media playback, one SiriusXM port, and one Motorola antenna connector port. You can link and command up to four zones.
The second in the series is the SRX400 with a 2.7-inch bonded display and all the functionality of its bigger brother including PartyBus and WiFi but it no USB port. Both units are IPx7 rated for water and dust protection and include an internal Class-D amplifier. Boat builders wanting to offer a higher quality sound experience to their customers are already lining up. Sea Ray has inked a deal to use the Apollo Series on their sport boats and cruisers along with Fusion’s Signature Series speakers that were the ones that just about blew me off the Jupiter center console.
Another newly introduced product that isn’t technically part of the Apollo Series but is really cool is Fusion’s new All-In-One Solution panel stereo. Perfect for boats, RVs and perhaps eventually backyards, this new all-in-one stereo grew out of Fusion’s fun StereoActive into a flat-mount version that can play AM/FM radio, music from a USB and even tunes from your phone. It can also be controlled by a Garmin watch via BlueTooth. It’s waterproof to IP65 standard, also features DSP and has two 3-inch speakers built in. With two AUX-in connectors you can use it as a sound bar for your onboard TV. No WiFi functionality in this baby but for $399 for a complete system, if Fusion introduces a plastic rather than a fabric grill and maybe AC rather than 12V DC power, I’ll want one for my backyard.
I’m fairly allergic to the expression “game-changing,” but I have to admit my ears were pretty happy during a recent test on six different boats that showcased the new Apollo products from a Regal 2500 RX bowrider to various cabins and levels on a Leopard 51 powercat. It seems that the marine stereo game is actually changing.
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