Panbo

Fusion MS 600 series, the best gets better

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Dec 15, 2009
Fusion_MS_600_series_cPanbo.jpg

The lighting was tough for photography, but the quiet, sunny Camden breakfast spot was a fine place for Todd Crocker to demo Fusion's latest 600 series of "True Marine" stereos.  When Todd visited in 2008, he had the very innovative 500 series to show off, which I later tested myself and then wrote up for PMY.  If you check the links, you'll know I liked the MS-IP500 a lot; but I like the new models even more...

Some of the changes are pretty subtle, like going from four zone to three zone support in order to knock a nice chunk off the prices, or improving on what I already thought was a pretty cool graphic zone volume control.  Others have more pizazz, like the super fast alpha search of even a highly stuffed iPod, or the ability to ramp down the volume and let your iPhone ring through the speakers (so you can answer it with your Bluetooth headset if it's in a protected Fusion dock, or directly if you're using Fusion's still-hifi accessory cable).
   The biggest news, though, is the new $550 MS-AV600 model, which adds DVD playback to all of Fusion MS's other possible sources.  Fusion handles the movie audio while both RCA and S-Video outputs send the video to the onboard screen(s) of your choice.  The MS-AV600 can't play videos off an attached iPod/iPhone, but if anyone is going to crack that interesting nut, it's probably going to be Fusion.  In fact, I can't think of any other stereo company that is putting nearly as much R&D into marine entertainment as Fusion (and, yes, there is an interesting small boat series eventually coming to that empty hole in Todd's big display case).  As best I can tell, the only other company that's designed a marine stereo from scratch is Poly-Planar, and while I like the MRD-70/RD-44 system that came on Gizmo, it doesn't seem like Poly-Planar has yet stepped up to what's possible with DVDs and iPod/iPhone control.  Check out Fusion Marine Audio here.

Fusion_600_series_wiring_diagram.JPG

Comments

The West Marine web site says that the MS-IP600 has a smaller display than the MS-IP500, is this true? It is hard to tell from the pictures and it is not mentioned on the Fusion site.

According to the Fusion site, the only difference is the 600 only has one line-out which is a good compromise for the reduced price.

Posted by: Chris Ellingsen at December 16, 2009 12:02 AM | Reply

West Marine seems to be one of the few dealers in the US carrying the Fusion line. As much as I like West Marine for it's convenience, I am usually repulsed by their less than competitive pricing. Has anyone found a Fusion dealer that offers more competitive pricing than list (and above) pricing from WM?

Posted by: Mark Laffin at December 16, 2009 8:40 AM | Reply

One other point...I installed one of the early Fusion models on my Nordic Tug and love it! It's so cool to slide my iPod into the unit and have my complete music collection available anywhere. The unit occasionally "hangs" (buttons and dial stop working) but I'm able to get it working again by resetting the unit. I appreciate Fusion introducing the first truly useful (in my view) marine stereo unit.

Posted by: Mark Laffin at December 16, 2009 8:44 AM | Reply

Good detective work, Chris! The Fusion brochure I have here does list the 600 series screen size as 2.7", while the 500 series is 3.2". I did not notice the difference, but haven't seen a 600 and 500 side by side.

Posted by: Ben at December 16, 2009 8:58 AM | Reply

West Marine had an exclusive on fusion product up until the release of this new line. I know defender now has them in stock and probably a few others.

Posted by: John at December 16, 2009 9:07 AM | Reply

The Fusion MS-IP600 is also being carried by Seawide Marine Distribution. At least they have product and knowledge over blue box locations

Posted by: Anonymous at December 18, 2009 1:02 PM | Reply

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Posted by: Eddie at January 4, 2010 7:42 AM | Reply

I also bought one of the early models and love the unit, with one caveat which I'll come back to in a moment. The music sounds great, is easy to use and install. The caveat, the unit is very sensitive to radio frequency interference (RFI). I had a heck of a time getting the unit to work correctly, and finally tracked the culprit down to the ICOM M802. Every time I used the SSB, the Fusion unit went on crazy and wouldn't turn off until I unplugged both power source lines.

I want to say that working with Fusion to come up with a fix was an excellent experience in customer service. Not only were they very responsive, but Todd Crocker took the time to check in and make sure the staff was taking good care of me.

As for the fix, I finally came up with this to end the problem. I shared it with the technicians in case any other customers had the same issue. I ran all three power lines (red, yellow, and black) through a ferrite choke, and when I use the SSB, I turn off the circuit breaker to the Fusion and pull out the iPod. so far, no repeats of any problems!

Posted by: Karl at January 25, 2010 4:46 PM | Reply

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