We test the Fusion RA210 bluetooth marine stereo to see if it can stand up to life afloat and how it compares to other audio options
Tested: Bluetooth marine stereo test: Fusion RA210
Whether it’s catching the weather forecast or relaxing with some music after a day on the water, most boat owners will have some sort of stereo on board.
DAB and Bluetooth capable car stereos start at around £150, plus speakers, so why spend £400 to get a marine stereo from Fusion?
The simple answer is you don’t need to, but there are a number of reasons you might want to.
We tested their latest entry-level model, the RA210.
There are three key features that you get with the Fusion RA210 that you don’t on a car stereo.
It is IPX7 waterproof once mounted, so even if it’s below deck, it’s protected from condensation, wet hands or rain down the companionway.
It can drive two separate sound zones, so you can have music on deck while the crew sleeps, or music in the saloon without serenading the whole anchorage – other Fusion models support multiple zones for larger vessels.
Finally, it’s NMEA 2000 capable, so you can control the stereo from your chartplotter or instruments on deck.
These features sound like sensible ideas afloat.
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Besides these, the RA210 is full of other features from Fusion’s top-end Apollo series: a 2.7-inch optically bonded colour LCD display; Fusion’s DSP sound distribution technology; inbuilt Class-D amplifier (200W max); inputs for Bluetooth, AM, FM and DAB radio, auxiliary 3.5in jack and USB, and acoustic control through the Fusion app.
Setup and installation is simple; the RA210 fits in a standard car stereo slot, though is narrower so will need an infill.
Verdict: Bluetooth marine stereo: Fusion RA810
Rubberised buttons and a large volume/select knob were easy to use, even with gloved hands, with simple, intuitive controls and top-level menu, while the settings menu and app allow a high degree of control over the system and sound distribution.
For full functionality additional purchases are required, such as a DAB and FM antenna, but it integrates easily with chartplotters, even of different brands (Fusion is owned by Garmin).
Sound quality was impressive, and we liked the ability to adjust the acoustics to suit the boat.
This isn’t a cheap option, but being a specific marine stereo means it integrates with the onboard systems, can be adjusted to suit your boat, and will stand up to the rigours of life afloat.
Display: 2.7” optically bonded colour LCD
Sources: AM / FM / Bluetooth / USB audio / iPhone / iPod / AUX / MTP / DAB+ (requires Fusion DAB+ module)
Network: NMEA 2000 + NRX remotes
Waterproof: IPX6 and IPX7 (installed)
Amplifier: Class-D, 200 W max
Dimensions: W157mm x H68mm x D126.6mm
Also on the market
Fusion Shallow Mount Speakers
We tested the stereo with the Fusion SM Series 6.5in 100 Watt Shallow Mount speakers.
Small and neat, and requiring just 24mm mounting depth, they are ideal for a small boat, or paired with larger speakers.
An entry-level car stereo with DAB and Bluetooth capability, as well as a CD drive.
It allows you to connect two Bluetooth phones simultaneously for music and calls.
Amplification for up to 4 x 55W speakers.
An alternative to a conventional stereo comes from the motor boat market.
Marine gauge radios are designed to fit into a dashboard and many offer radio and Bluetooth connectivity, such as the MGR350B from American brand Boss Audio.