Fusion Apollo RA770 Marine Entertainment System

Most new boats come with stereos these days. They are almost a requirement for builders to install – buyers expect them. The level of audio equipment that comes standard on a boat is often a clear indication of the price point and quality of the boat itself – more expensive boats typically have better stereos and the best often have Fusion. The Apollo RA770 is Fusion’s newly announced top-of-the-line marine audio entertainment system.

Captain’s Report by Capt. Peter d’Anjou

 

stereo

Fusion’s Apollo RA770 might be termed a smart stereo, as it is much more than a receiver. It controls sound quality and the equipment that produces it through advanced digital signal processing (DSP).

lifestyle

The Apollo RA770 receiver, paired with Fusion’s Signature Series II wake tower speakers and Signature Series II components, adjusts sound for the open-air environment or any environment the equipment is in.

Key Features

  • Digital Signal Processor (DSP)
  • Multi-zone
  • Environmental settings
  • PartyBus network
  • 3-year warranty

Mission

Fusion aims to design and engineer appealing premium products that are intuitive to use; that seamlessly integrate with their customers’ lifestyle, technology, and vessel; and that deliver an unparalleled musical experience in any environment, season after season.

products

Innovative, durable products have boosted Fusion’s brand recognition worldwide.

With this mission matched with their customer-centric design philosophy, Fusion has won over 20 marine industry awards for innovation and product excellence, including recent 2019 Boating Industry Top Products of the Year and the 2019 Pittman Innovation Award for the Apollo RA770.

Distinguishing Features

  • “True-Marine” tested and Ingress Protection (IP) rated
  • World’s first marine WiFi stereo
  • World’s first marine touchscreen stereo
  • Fusion-Link configuration and and tuning app

Major Features

  • Apple AirPlay
  • Over-the-air software updates
  • One-piece glass touchscreen control
  • SiriusXM compatible

Design

speakers

All Fusion audio components are IP rated and designed to survive in the harsh marine environment.

The heart of Fusion’s design is that all components are built for the marine environment with IP ratings and Fusion’s own “True-Marine” standard that includes extensive testing for salt/fog resistance, ASTM standards for ultraviolet (UV) stability, and fully sealed crossover components.

Aesthetic Design

lcd

The Apollo RA770’s 4.3” color touchscreen LCD display was designed with a low-profile to look great in any installation. It is shown here flush mounted on Sea Ray’s SLX's helm.

The Apollo RA770 was designed with a black front face and an optically bonded color touchscreen LCD display, which blends seamlessly into black glass panels at the helm - complementing other electronics and Multi-Function Displays (MFDs) for an elegant installation, and uniformity across the helm.

With two mounting options available, customers can choose the finish to suit their vessel. They can either install the low-profile Apollo Series stereo flush or integrate it flat from the front or the back into a glass helm for a premium finish. The Apollo RA770 makes installation simple and versatile with a small footprint and shallow form factor, so the product can be mounted in a large variety of locations on board.

A retrofit kit is available for existing Fusion customers that are looking to upgrade from the Fusion 755 Series, making retrofitting simple while delivering a premium looking final retrofit installation.

Acoustic Design

dsp

A digital signal processor (DSP) is a specialized microprocessor that takes real-world signals like audio that have been digitized and then mathematically manipulates them.

The goal of a DSP is usually to measure, filter, or boost signals. Other high-end audio systems employ DSP technology, but usually further downstream in the audio chain, in the amplifiers. Fusion has strategically placed their DSP in the stereo’s receiver head, so costly add-on components like external amps are not required.

dsp

One of the features of Fusion’s DSP is that it has a volume equalizer, keeping volume at the same level when changing stations or sources. It also initially boosts signals from early recording production, so the sound is optimized regardless of the technology used to record the song and it does this for each and every song.

The Apollo DSP's feed-forward limiter anticipates peaks in the audio and automatically adjusts the gain, so boaters can enjoy full-range audio at every volume level without distortion.

Another key feature found in Apollo’s DSP is the mapping of components’ inherent characteristics, allowing not only manipulation of the sound signal but optimization for the components and environment. It is this part of the Fusion DSP programming that maximizes output, without allowing the speakers to be blown or the sound to be distorted.

 

user

The Apollo RA770’s touchscreen user interface allows choosing the next song in a playlist with a single swipe of a finger.

The user-interface design centers around what people already are familiar with, their phones and tablets, so they don’t have to learn something new. For instance, extensive customer feedback led Fusion to keep the volume knob which people know and like and integrate it with the touchscreen technology people know from their smartphones.

Construction

A single proprietary Garmin manufacturing facility in Taiwan provides manufacturing and quality control. Garmin acquired Fusion in 2014.

Comparison

Other high-end audio companies have products that were originally designed for home or auto and later “marinized” for the marine industry. Fusion’s focus is on building audio systems for the marine market.

connections

The gold-plated terminal connections on the Fusion Signature Series speaker are an indication of the quality.

old speakers

Old speakers being pulled for replacement do not offer the same corrosion protection as Fusion equipment.

Inspection

r version

The R version of the Sea Ray SLX is an upgraded premium package and just the kind of boat that when paired with a premium stereo like the Apollo RA770, fits perfectly with this up-market model.

We got aboard a new Sea Ray SLX-R 350 that was equipped with the Fusion 770 Apollo receiver, twelve 6.5” (16.51 cm) Signature Series II Fusion speakers connected to a Signature Series II 8-channel external amp, a 10” (25.4 cm) Signature Series subwoofer and a Signature Series II Mono amp to power the subwoofer. National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA) wired remote controls were located in the bow and stern. Optional ARX wireless remotes that use Garmin’s ANT technology are available. Apollo’s RA770 is ANT enabled.

4 zones

The Apollo RA770 on the SLX-R was set up with 4-zones: the bow, hardtop, cockpit, and stern. The main control is located at the helm. Each zone can be adjusted for its own volume.

Touchscreen Control

ip 7

The capacitive touch display is IP7 rated and a touch of the finger can pause or play. Here touching the settings icon (small gear) can change the source of the playlist.

The Apollo RA770 is the world’s first marine stereo with a color touchscreen display. The 4.3” one-piece glass touchscreen display is back lit and dimmable. The large knob controls volume with a twist and, when pushed, acts as an encoder selector. It is matched with an intuitively designed user interface that anyone with a smartphone will understand. Just tap the screen to pause and play, or swipe through a playlist to a favorite song.

The stereo touchscreen technology is a direct benefit of Fusion being bought by Garmin. Fusion provides a multi-language option so the user interface can be set to a language of choice.

Source Options

programming

SiriusXM programming (subscription required) is just one of many sources the Apollo RA770 can play.

A stereo has to play people’s personal play lists, whether they are on a phone, an iPod, Sirius XM - whatever the source, they want them streamed. Fusion can do that because the Apollo RA770 is the world’s first marine WiFi stereo.

Why is Wi-Fi important? The best stereo in the world won’t sound very good if the signal going in is subpar to begin with. Bluetooth protocol, for example, compresses signals and takes the highs and lows out. The sound quality, regardless of the stereo system playing it, is limited.

Wi-Fi also has a better range and a faster data transfer rate than Bluetooth. 

apple

Apple AirPlay can be streamed by the 770 via WiFi.

Fusion is the world’s first marine stereo series to bring seamless high-quality audio streaming from a favorite music app via Apple AirPlay® over WiFi from a compatible Apple device.

They have more source options than ever before which include Bluetooth®, Apple AirPlay®, UPnP, Optical Audio, Advanced SiriusXM features, DAB+ Ready, AM/FM Radio, AUX and USB.

Digital Signal Processing 

audio chain

Fusion focuses their technology from the musician’s original recording all the way through to the environment a boater is hearing it in. They call this the audio chain.

Once the source is delivered with the best starting signal via WiFi, Fusion’s Digital Signal Processor gives all music a slight signal boost then optimizes that sound, song by song, to the maximum dynamic range of the installed equipment without distortion,. It protects the equipment, and finally adjusts the sound for the environment the equipment is in, such as an open-air cockpit versus a cabin down below.

This Digital Signal Processor is located in the stereo head and is not dependent on added equipment like external amps.

audio

For those audiophiles who like their vinyl collection and want to hear the original, DSP can be overridden at the zone level or turned off in all zones.

Fusion has a free phone app called Fusion Link that sets up, configures, and tunes everything, one time, in just minutes when the system is first installed. When external amps are involved, it even shows how to tune the amp.

link app

The free Fusion Link app maps the equipment in each zone from a pull-down menu, allows one to customize the zone, then send the settings to the 770’s DSP via WiFi for distortion-free music.

Traditionally, tuning an audio system was an intimidating task that was left to audio experts with acoustic engineering experience and specific tools – not anymore. As with all Fusion equipment, it literally takes just 2 to 5 minutes to completely tune and configure the Apollo 770 system from an intuitive menu on the free Fusion Link app - . Name the zones, pick the equipment in that zone, choose a few parameters and upload the settings to the unit via WiFi and it is done.

Each zone can be customized not only for the equipment in that space and type of space, but for listening pleasure, more bass for instance in the cockpit.

Wireless Updates

software

Software updates via WiFi can add functionality without added costs.

Two side benefits of the Fusion-Link tool are that it allows software updates and it also allows a cell phone to act as another remote control.

Network Connectivity

zones

The Apollo RA770 allows four zones to have customized volume in each zone, but with the PartyBus feature, a single zone can listen to a completely separate music source without adding another receiver.

Having to choose between a marine entertainment system that enables one audio source to play in every audio zone on the vessel, or needing several receivers that enable playing a different audio source in each audio zone of the vessel is a thing of the past with the Apollo’s PartyBus feature. Boaters can now enjoy the best of both worlds with the new Fusion Apollo Series in a single stereo.

Simply play the same perfectly synched audio source through the entire vessel or opt into PartyBus’s personal mode and listen to other available audio sources for the zone without disrupting the music playing in the other areas of the vessel.

link

Joining PartyBus using Fusion-Link is easy; select PartyBus and tell it what network to join. It is exactly like selecting a Wi-Fi source on a phone. Go into settings, select the Wi-Fi, and put in the password to be connected.

PartyBus can even connect every vessel in an anchorage equipped with Apollos to all blast the same music. Fusion calls this raft up. Fusion is an international company that respects privacy so one can exclude any music sources from PartyBus networks, such as TV audio for instance.

Speakers, Amps, and Subwoofers

signal

The Apollo 770’s DSP knows each Fusion component’s capabilities and sends the appropriate signal to each-maximizing output without distortion, while protecting the equipment.

Fusion makes a range of speakers designed specifically for the marine environment. Fusion’s top of the line speakers, the Signature Series II, are typically used in conjunction with the Apollo series. Even if we used Fusion’s RX series speakers, the DSP would still configure the system to maximum sound quality with those particular speakers.

speakers

Signature Series II components can be mixed and matched to suit within each zone of the vessel.

The Signature Series II speakers come in three sizes: 6.5” (16.51 cm), 7.7” (19.55 cm), and 8.8” (22.55 cm), ranging in power from 230 to 330 watts. Generally, the bigger the speaker, the wider the frequency range, mostly in added bass.

watt speakers

Our Sea Ray SLX-R test boat had 6.5” (16.51 cm) 230-watt speakers with the sports chrome covers. The speakers include LED lights (blue or white) to further the party atmosphere. Cover plates also come in black or classic white mesh or sports white to match any boat or style.

 

subwoofers

Subwoofers take the load off the low range of speakers and the DSP is smart enough to send the optimal signal to each component, freeing speakers to play the mid- and high- range they are more suited for.

Three styles of 10” (25.4 cm) subwoofers – sports chrome, sports white or classic white mesh - are capable of 450 watts of peak power.

Tweeters

low speakers

Low-placed speakers can be compensated for by using dedicated tweeters.

It is often difficult to find the space for optimal speaker placement on boats, which results in installations where speakers are mounted low, close to deck height - limiting the amount of high frequency audio that can be heard when standing. 

tweeter

Each SG-TW10 Signature Series tweeter is low-profile and produces 330 watts peak power with a 1” (2.54 cm) voice coil, neodymium pot magnet system and aluminum tweeter dome for quality high-frequency detail.

Cue the compact Signature Series tweeters, to restore the high frequencies for an audible improvement in sound quality. Install the tweeters in higher locations such as the helm station, dash or pilothouse window/windscreen support frames to enjoy enhanced audio quality. 

wake tower

Signature Series II wake tower speakers are available with a number of specialized mounting brackets.

Fusion’s Signature Series II speakers include 8.8” (22.32 cm) wake tower speakers with 330W peak output, the kind of True-Marine speakers necessary in an outdoor sport like wake boarding.

Amplifiers

amps

Fusion Signature Series II amps have large cooling fins and because they are Class D amps, draw less power with higher output than class A or B amps - suited for boats with limited 12V battery power.

There are five Signature Series II external class D amps to choose from, ranging in power from 1,400 to 2,250 watts of peak power. In general, an external amp can power 2 speakers per channel, so the more speakers there are, the more power is needed for them.

tuning

Tuning a Fusion amp is simple - follow the tuning map from the Fusion-Link App seen below when setting up the system initially and eliminate all guesswork.

amps

When the Fusion-Link App knows which external amp is added to the system it displays a corresponding tuning guide for that amp.

The Apollo RA770 is 2-Ohm stable so it can power up to eight speakers on its own internal amp, but an external amp should be a consideration for more speakers or an increase in power and fidelity.

ANT+ Technology 

arx

ARX remotes come in black or white and at $49 each are excellent choices over wired remotes.

ANT+ is a wireless technology that allows accessories such as heart rate monitors, Garmin watches, and power meters to “talk” to a compatible Garmin device. Fusion’s ARX wireless remotes based on ANT+ technology work with Fusion’s ANT+-enabled Apollo series where wired remotes are impractical or for an easier retrofit.

True-Marine

Fusion stereos are truly marine stereos. There are plenty of “marinized” systems out there, but no one else has stereos built from the beginning designed to go exclusively on boats. 

standards

Even the back of the Apollo RA770 is robust enough to meet Fusion’s True-Marine standards.

All Fusion products undergo extensive testing above and beyond industry standards to prove their suitability for long-term use in harsh marine conditions. All Fusion stereos, speakers, subwoofers, amps, media docks, and wired remote controls are Ingress Protected or IP rated. Then Fusion tests to a higher standard they call “True-Marine” for salt/fog, temperature, vibration, and UV protection – all important factors for durability to ensure Fusion products will perform reliably season after season on board.

Entertainment System

The Apollo RA770 is being called an audio entertainment system because it can integrate with TVs and other multi-function displays (MFDs).

link app

The Fusion-Link app “talks” to the RA770 via Wi-Fi, configuring the system and controlling a host of options.

Fusion-Link is the most widely adopted protocol for on-water audio integration, supported by the world’s leading electronics manufacturers and trusted by the industry’s most prestigious boat builders. Fusion-Link enables partnered MFDs to interface with and control selected functions of the sophisticated Fusion audio interface.

Equipment Discussion

Fusion has a fleet app for builders that allows them to repeat factory configurations for each model, saving them time and money. For those who have bought a new boat with an Apollo stereo, the fleet app allows the builder to upload a factory reset of the configuration, if necessary. 

Aftermarket Sales

For boaters looking to select the right aftermarket components of speakers, amps, and subwoofers to mate with Apollo’s RA770, Fusion recommends contacting a Fusion representative for guidance.

cables

Fusion provides connectors and cables with the RA770.

What's included:

  • Marine digital media receiver (15A fuse)
  • Wiring harness
  • 2 Aux-In/Zone-output harnesses
  • 7' NEMA cable
  • Rubber front-cover
  • Gasket
  • 2 endcaps
  • 4 screws
  • Quick start manual
  • Mounting template
  • Installation instructions

Price (Retail Aftermarket)

Fusion’s Apollo series receivers include the 4-zone RA770, the 3-zone RA670, and the single-zone SRX400. All have DSP built into the receiver itself.

  • Apollo RA770 ($649.99)
  • Apollo RA670 ($449.99)
  • Apollo SRX400 ($349.99)
  • 6.5” Signature Series II Speaker ($349.99)    
  • 7.7” Signature Series II Speaker ($399.99)
  • 8.8” Signature Series II Speaker ($469.99)
  • 10” Signature Series II Subwoofer ($299.99)
  • Signature Series II Tweeters ($99.99)
  • 8.8” Signature Series II Wake Tower Speaker ($699.99)
  • 4-Channel Signature II Series Amp ($419.99)
  • 5-Channel Signature II Series Amp ($599.99)
  • 6-Channel Signature II Series Amp ($599.99)
  • 8-Channel Signature II Series Amp ($799.99)
  • Monoblock Signature II Series Amp ($419.99)
  • Signature Series II Voltage regulator ($59.99)

Expandability:

  • Compatible with SiriusXM satellite radio tuner
  • Works with existing Wi-Fi systems
  • Inputs: rear USB port; AUX input; digital optical input
  • Outputs: 3-zone audio (line outs require separate amplification)
  • SPDIF port supports TV audio output
  • Ethernet port

Other Features and Specs:

  • Built-in amp: 26 watts RMS/70 peak x 4 channels
  • Over-the-air software updates via the free Fusion-Link app or USB
  • Can be controlled with a Garmin smart watch
  • Multi-language interface: English/French/German/Spanish/Dutch /Italian
  • Mounting hardware included
  • Mounting depth: 4-1/4"
  • Warranty: 3 years

Observations

stereos

Sea Ray has embraced Fusion stereos and not just on the SLXR 350 shown here.

Entry-level boats usually have optional upgrade paths for better stereos. People paying $300,000 to $400,000 and up for a new boat can expect that one percent of the cost covers a full audio entertainment system. 

Teams of audio engineers make sure all of Fusion components work together. The Fusion-Link App configures each Fusion component in the DSP, which is why buying an all-Fusion system is the best solution.