Fusion Marine Stereo, an update


The July issue of Power & Motoryacht is now online, including my write-up of the new Fusion Marine Stereo, which pretty much summarizes earlier Panbo entries on this innovative system. But recently I got to see the shipping version of the MS-IP500 in the flesh, thanks to a visit by Todd Crocker, above. For many years Todd exercised his marine product creativity and high energy at Standard Horizon, then at Uniden (and is still justifiably proud of its snazzy color 625c fixed VHF), but now he’s a Fusion partner and manager of the U.S. division. He delivered a persuasive demo at my kitchen table!

One thing he explained is how Fusion uses Class D amplifiers which can supposedly pump more energy to the speakers using less boat electrical power. Specifically, Crocker claims that cranking up two zones on an MS-IP500 might drain about 3.5 amps versus about 7 amps for various competitive systems (which don’t permit the same flexible zone volume controls Fusion does). He also expressed Fusion’s commitment to the iPod as the perfect boat audio storage device and hence claims they have invested more than any other company in getting their iPod implementation right. I’m pretty inexperienced on that score, but did notice how fast the IP500 could search and pull up files from the iPod docked inside. I also really liked the serious marine look and feel of that big button and LED faceplate. Sure, it would cool if the screen was color and could show album covers, but I thought the grayscale quite readable.
   I also liked the build quality of the unit, including the heavy duty and well-labeled cabling you can see below, which are ready to completely power two audio zones, and feed two more via new Class D zone amps. So I remain very bullish on this product, and think it will end up another feather in Crocker’s electronics hat. I will add that Todd was apologetic about Fusion’s marine stereo site, which is now up to date, and also about initial slow product deliveries. But he said that lots of units would arriving in the U.S. about the date I’m writing this. Hopefully I’ll get one to try myself.


Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

16 Responses

  1. Russ says:

    That URL didn’t work for me. I did work when I cut it back to http://www.fusionelectronics.com

  2. Russ says:

    Oops, no, that just gets the splash screen, still couldn’t get to the actual content.

  3. Try it again … works for me from Malaysia.

  4. Wildfish says:

    I’m pleased to read your positive comments on the IP500. I have ordered a white IP500 and the dealer told me it was ready to ship on Friday morning so I should have it on Monday. I’ve seen these products at boat shows here in Australia and I’ve been waiting for the day I can install it one. I’ve used various other home made iPod solutions but I think this is going to be what I’ve been looking for. I’m sure someone else will come out with a colour scree with album covers displayed but the build quality and controls of the Fusion did it for me.

  5. Dan (b393capt) says:

    Keep this good stuff coming Ben !

  6. Microship says:

    This does look like the right unit, painfully slow website notwithstanding… Class D is very good and the iPod integration is brilliant. And with the aux in, it becomes the main audio amp downstream of my mixer (for the on-board music studio and ham shack).
    One question… what does “Sirius ready” really mean? Can I use a black-box Sirius receiver and control it from the Fusion’s front-end, or does it just refer to a line input port that is selected from the panel?

  7. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Good question, Steve, as I left that good news out. I didn’t see it in action, but Crocker told me that this Fusion control head has a complete Sirius interface built in, and requires no intermediate “translator box”. Apparently all it needs to work is a Sirius receiver that costs around $50.

  8. Microship says:

    Hi Ben… do you know the particulars on that $50 Sirius receiver? I’ve yet to find one associated with the IP500, but then I can’t ever seem to get the Fusion site to load properly so perhaps it is mentioned there. I’m making hole cutouts in my comm console now, and am trying to decide whether to get one of these… and the decision hinges on the Sirius integration. I see two other brands of Sirius black boxes out there, but don’t know if the interface is standardized.
    Of course, I’m still awaiting NavNet 3D boxes to fill those much-larger holes, so I guess the stereo isn’t an emergency! Life on the bleeding edge is fraught with peril.

  9. rami says:

    ive been looking for this sirius hook up and cant find it either, i just purchased this yesterday. and already have the wired remote from westmarine but no sirius radio.

  10. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Steve and Rami, sorry if I’ve been confusing. I think what you need to get Sirius on your Fusion Marine Stereo is a Sirius tuner (not a “receiver”), and these are made by Sirius itself, and other manufacturers, but not Fusion. Here’s a $50 example at Crutchfield:
    Notice that it has an 8 pin SiriusConnect DIN plug mates mates with the Fusion MS-IP/CD500 head units. So apparently what you don’t need is an “adaptor” box like the various $60-$100 units also shown on that Crutchfield site. You can activate and operate a Sirius tuner right from the Fusion.
    I’d like to have Todd Crocker verify this but understand he’s traveling in Central America right now. I’d also like to know if Fusion can do this same audio interfacing via the Sirius Weather/Audio tuners made by Raymarine, Northstar, Furuno, etc. That would be neat, but may not be possible.

  11. Jimbo says:

    Greetings, Great Blog! I’ve been researching on the Fusion site and trying to decipher the manual. I’ve also sent an email to their contact us link, but the form does not appear to be working.
    Anyone know if the multi-zone feature can play Ipod audio in one zone while simultaneously playing DVD audio from a separate DVD head unit in another zone? thanks!

  12. ND says:

    I can confirm the multi-zone feature is not multi-source, so you can not play you iPod in one zone and a CD in another. However, you can completly customise the audio settings in each zone – different bass, treble, volume etc

  13. I have had my IP500 for over a month now. I really like it, but have noticed a few quirks.
    I run my iPhone inside of it and I’m not sure it’s acceptable as an iPod in the “mind” of the unit. I’ve had to reset the unit on a half dozen occasions, which is really easy with a ball point pen. My iPhone is extremely hot to the touch when it comes out of the unit too.
    But other than those minor issues, I really like the IP500 and would highly recommend it.

  14. Thomas says:

    I purchased a unit and did some readings on the Class D outputs. They have a lot more noticeable distortion at moderate listening volumes compared to normal chip amp stereos.
    Great build, feel, look, but was able to get unit to lock up numerous times when using all features. (Sirius, iPod, multi-zone)
    The screen is perfect for the application but could be sharper. The more text on the screen, the more screen flaws are noticeable.
    After listening to the unit for 6 hours straight, the left channels went out. They only had a pair of speakers per channel. These outputs are able to power two pair of speakers per channel but not very confident in ability to last with a lower load.
    This unit is by far the best looking marine unit on the market but when an unknown electronics manufacturer is building a product for someone to market, you never know what the actual quality will end up being.
    I will wait for next years model to release and hopefully they learn from the other guinea pigs in the field.
    Good luck.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I have a Fusion MS-IP600 marine stereo on my boat and want to connect to Sirius radio. Unit says “Sirius ready”, but display says “wait for module ready” when I try to connect system to Sirius. Sirius says they cannot connect without SID number. Fusion book says to tune to channel 0 to get SID, but I can’t get channel 0 on display. What do I need to connect to Sirius??? It says in Fusion book that Sirius tuner not included. Is this required and where do I get tuner and how is the tuner connected (cable type, etc.) to the stereo? Thanks

  16. Mark Morwood says:

    I have an IP-700, but the IP600 is similar. Yes, you will need a Sirius Tuner (e.g. http://shop.siriusxm.com/xm/ctl10600/cp49759/si6261506/cl1/) and a subscription and you’ll probably also want a marine antenna. I haven’t checked the MS-IP600 manual, but I’m sure that one of the cables on the back will plug straight in to the Sirius Tuner so that you can control it from the MS-IP600. That is basically what “Sirius Ready” means.

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