Fusion’s new RA670, completing the Apollo line
Today Fusion announced the MS-RA670, the third head unit in their Apollo line of marine stereos. I’ve been testing one for a few weeks and it looks like the 670 slots in between the top-of-the-line Apollo MS-RA770 and the much smaller MS-SRX400. Here’s the lowdown on what the 670 offers and how it fits within the line.
As I mentioned, the $450, three-zone RA670 is the third stereo in Fusion’s Apollo line joining the $350, single-zone SRX400 and the $650, four-zone, touchscreen controlled RA770. Like the SRX400, the RA670 has a button-driven interface with a 2.7″ full-color display. It has NMEA-2000 and Ethernet connections but, unlike its two siblings, it doesn’t have WiFi built-in. The 670, like the 770, is SiriusXM ready with a SiriusXM port for connecting the Connect Vehicle Tuner and supports SiriusXM’s advanced features.
I was a little surprised that Fusion did not equip the 670 with WiFi since both of its siblings have it. They explained that their decisions on which features made the cut were determined in large part by retail customer and boat builder feedback. Fusion equipment is now standard equipment on brands including Sea Ray, Grady White, Regal, Crest, and Sea Pro, so the builders’ needs were probably a major factor.
Marcus Hamilton, Fusion’s marketing manager, says they expect there will be two main use cases for the 670. First, it will serve as the only stereo present on boats under 26 feet and second as additional stereos on larger boats also equipped with an RA770. Any boat with a 770 can use it to provide WiFi connectivity to the RA670, and an Ethernet to WiFi adapter can be used with a standalone 670. Even without WiFi you can use Bluetooth to both control it with the Fusion-Link app and stream. Additionally, you can control the stereo on your MFD using NMEA-2000 and Fusion-Link.
(I’ll add that on my RF-dense boat I’ve found the 2.4 GHz WiFi used by both the SRX400 and RA770 problematic for maintaining reliable streaming. However, by using Ethernet to connect the head units to my boat router — which is supported by Fusion — I can stream well using the 5 GHz band.)
The head unit controls three zones of audio — like all Fusion multi-zone stereos, zone volumes can be controlled individually but all zones listen to the same source — and has onboard amplification for two of those zones. It also supports all the goodness Ben E saw at the Apollo intro — like PartyBus, high fidelity uPnP and AirPlay streaming, and MFD control via FusionLink, plus the ARX remotes I recently raved about.
I’ve been using my pre-production unit for a few weeks now. The 670 is a nice mix of most of the features of the 770 in an even more compact unit and with a nice price point. For my use, the button interface gives up very little to the touchscreen interface of its big brother, though I do sometimes miss the big bright screen of the 770. The entire Apollo line is pretty impressive and a pleasure to use. The RA670 rounds out the line nicely and comes at an attractive price for all the features it offers.
Hi Ben, I’m really curious about how the various Apollo screens look from fairly extreme viewing angles. At about what point do brightness, contrast and color saturation fade significantly?
In my case — because I mount the pilothouse stereo head above the helm — I’m most concerned about screen legibility from a low viewing angle, but maybe you can check all sides of each RA?
I would say that off-angle viewing is quite good on the displays. It definitely can get dimmer if you’re not looking right at the display but I’ve not had any troubles seeing the displays way off angle and in bright sunlight.
Here is a picture taken from well below the RA770 in my cockpit:
Even on Ethernet the SRX400 doesn’t play reliably on Partybus. It can take a number of restarts to maintain a consistent signal from the 770 and the software/hardware integration is far from intuitive. It is not a multi source multi zone solution though to be fair it isn’t really sold as one once you read the detail of what Partybus is.
Have you been able to update Firmware on your Apollo units? I have had troubles at times with Airplay (though I think that’s mostly an issue of WiFi coverage on my phone) but Partybus has been solid for me.
I’m interested in either the RA760 or the 770 with a SRX400 with a need for 4 zones with 2 separate sources or all playing the same. PaulGel, you make it sound like this doesn’t work well? If that’s the case, I might as well buy two cheaper Bluetooth units from another brand.
The RA770 will do 4 zones with the same source but you will need external amps on Zones 3 and 4. The SRX400 will give you the possibility of a second source but only on that unit not on Partybus. My issue is that even on Ethernet the connection between the 770 and the 400 is patchy and the software still needs some development.
The fact that Ethernet, let alone WIFI connection is not robust makes me consider strongly the Clarion CMS4. Is it really that bad? I find that hard to believe as Fusion would lose slit of credibility. Could someone from Fusion please respond before I waste $1100 on garbage.
The RA670 is garbage. Fusion has lost sight of being the best. They only want to seek direct to manufacturers. No airplay or WiFi. What a joke
Garbage seems like an awfully harsh conclusion because there’s no WiFi. I was able to get Airplay to work when the stereo was connected via Ethernet, but I believe Apple withholds Airplay certification if there’s no WiFi.
Have you done any comparison between this RA-670 and the non-apollo RA-210 ? They appear to be identical in almost every aspect except power level. All features and functionality look the same and was wondering if you had any input on the 210 as I”m not looking for the extra power, and it comes in at $100 less. Am i giving anything up by it not being an apollo?
I haven’t gotten my hands on an RA-210 except at a trade show booth. I believe the main thing you’re giving up with the 210 is network connectivity. I don’t believe there’s an Ethernet port or WiFi on the 210 which means you won’t get Apple Play or uPnP IP based streaming to the stereo. Additionally, without network connectivity the stereo can’t participate in Fusion’s Party Bus. Also, the 670 has a total of three zones with two amplified internally and 280w of total amplication, the 210 has a total of two zones with all internally amplified and 200w of total amplication. Otherwise the specs do indeed look very similar.
Hi Ben. Do you know where I can find out what adapter or router is compatible? Will an Ethernet to wifi adapter work? My installer got me the 670 not the 770. I really wanted the wifi because of the sound quality compared to BT
Any Ethernet to WiFi bridge or adapter should be compatible. As long as the device can connect to your WiFi network you should be fine. You will need to configure the bridge / adapter before you connect it to your 670.
Ben- I am simply looking at the RA670 as a new head unit to replace the original Clarion on my Sea Ray. Using it to play music (itunes, spotify etc) from my phone via bluetooth, as well as play my TV audio through. I see people here talking about wifi, ethernets etc. When and why would I need to use these things and if not is the 670 a great unit for my needs?
If your primary use of the stereo will be to stream music via Bluetooth and possibly via RCA inputs (for the TV) the 670 will suit your needs quite well. Ethernet or WiFi connectivity allow use of technologies like Apple Airplay, multi-zone audio, and MFD control of the stereo. None of that is required to simply play music from a phone or other source.
Enough of this proprietary UX. When will Fusion offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration?
I am looking to purchase the MS-RA670 radio amp, speakers. What remotes wuld you use with this head unit on a 24 bow rider.
People in the bow want to control the radio, I may want ot control the radio at the helm.
Would you put the MS-NRX300 in the bow (or newer version ??)
Would you use hte MS-ARX70B for the rear transom or other places on the boat.
Hi David, In a way there’s a fourth Apollo head unit and it might be perfect for your use:
The WB670 white box can be hidden away so all you need at the helm is the small but able ERX400 and maybe the tiny ARX in the bow and stern where you could also use the FusionLink app on a phone for more remote control than the ARX allows.
This is the other Ben, by the way, and I’ve been using all those Fusion components together since last September (along with a separated amplified zone on my flybridge). It all works wonderfully well while hardly taking up any valuable space.
Hi Ben, is it possible to get wifi on the RA670 by connecting to a garmin gpsmap 722xs via ethernet cable?
Not positive, but I doubt it. However, it’s very easy to wire the 670 to a conventional (though 12v DC powered) WiFi router like Netgear model I use on my boat for all sorts of things. That way I can use AirPlay from my iPad (or iPhone if I had one).
I can also use the remote control and streaming over Bluetooth, and have one of those super simple wireless ARX remotes on the flybridge, set just to control the volume on the 3rd 670 output channel with its own amp and speakers up there. Altogether a whole lot of high-quality audio with very little control gear showing anywhere.
Also, to my pleasant surprise, the Furuno TZT2 on the flybridge can control the 670 very nicely using its WiFi connection to my boat router, and I’m sure that many other MFDs, especially Garmin’s, can do similar using NMEA 2000.
I hope you are still monitoring this old thread – lol. I have a Fusion IP600 remotely located with a wired remote (WR600) at the helm. It’s shot so I need to replace the entire system. My wiring is a little limiting in my mind. I have the speaker wires at the remote location (in the head storage area) but no NEMA or ethernet. (NEMA is at the helm, but I’d have to run speaker wires.) I have read that the bluetooth phone app has some issues with consistent connectivity so I am thinking of sticking with a wired remote at the helm. I was thinking of a WB670 Apollo in the head storage/remote location, and a ERX400 remote at the helm. I’d have to pull the current cable out and replace with an ethernet but that should be doable. Does that make sense ? Do I need a Wi-Fi head unit ? Ugh – so many options = confusion!! What would you do ?? 🙂
I’d think about something more like the black box WB-670 (https://panbo.com/garmin-and-fusion-expand-apollo-series-with-new-products-designed-to-enhance-onboard-entertainment/). I’m not positive I exactly understand your cabling restrictions but this would mean you’d only have to have a NMEA 2000 cable between the location of the stereo and the helm with the control unit.
Thanks, Ben. I’ve looked at that unit and would love to use it. My cabling issue is that between the helm and the location where the current unit is located (i.e. speaker wiring) the only wire is the older style CANbus – I think it’s a 6 pin circular. Reminds me of the old style S Video connection. I was researching this morning to see if there is a way to convert either NMEA 2000 or ethernet to run on the existing wire. I can even terminate an ethernet plug but I will be limited to only the six wires. I may have to attempt to run a new wire, or go with wireless… Many thanks for the input, Ben. Just an area of knowledge that I do not have so I’m having to learn allot!!
Should have told you – the remote at the helm is the Fusion WR600 series. Here is the wire i have to work with.
Thank you for the information. I purchased this unit (awaiting delivery). One of my main concerns with the unit is the inability to use apple airplay out of the box. I have read through your posts about connecting to a wifi bridge or router, but I’m having trouble finding a unit that will do what I need to enable the wifi to use apple airplay. I was hoping to fin a cheap option to justify not upgrading to the 770.
I also have a Simrad go5 with wifi that I can connect the 670 to. would that connection solve my problem? Thanks in advance.
Hi Mike, I have a similar situation with the Apollo WB670 and ERX400 I’ve been happily using for a couple of years. Neither has WiFi, just Ethernet. I have them wired to an old Netgear N600 WiFi router and everything has worked fine, like the Fusion-Link app on Android or iOS, over-the-air updates, and AirPlay (which I’ve come to love).
I also happen to have a Simrad GO5 installed, but it can’t connect to the Fusion because it doesn’t have WiFi. Actually, I’m not sure that the Fusion would work with a Simrad that did have Ethernet, though it purportedly does work with Garmin MFDs with Ethernet and WiFi.
On the other hand, I can connect the GO5 with the Netgear WiFi so I can use the Link app on the same iPad that’s running AirPlay plus Vesper Cortex and other boat apps. Also, I’ve used various other standard WiFi routers (that happen to run on 12v) as boat routers and not had problems.
Thank you for the quick reply. So basically any router will do the trick as long as it’s connected to the head unit via Ethernet cable? There are some cheap USB powered routers out there that hopefully can check that box. I guess the confusing part is that the router essentially creates the network for the purpose of airplay to work, but is not connected to the internet.
When I’m at the dock can it pull from my home Wi-Fi to enable the updates?