Factory Garmin Fusion audio setup - upgrade or not?

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  • Factory Garmin Fusion audio setup - upgrade or not?

    My new Axopar 28C arrived at the dealership this week. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), most of the boxes I checked on the order sheet for audio system upgrades seem to have been missed by the factory when they built it. The dealer assured me they’d be able to install all of it to factory spec, but I wondered if now is the time to do an upgrade since the factory will pay the dealer for some of the labor for wiring/install.

    My other hobby is crazy extreme home audiophile stuff, however I’ve never been too inclined to do it either in cars or my boats. I like the peace and quiet and would never be THAT guy to rock the sandbar. That said, I’d like something clean and clear, moderate power, reasonable cost, easy to install.

    Here is the factory spec (all Garmin boat)
    • Factory Standard - Garmin Fusion Black Box (MS-BB300R?) with small round panel mount remote and 1 pair of 6” Fusion speakers (MS-FR6022) in the main cabin. This DID get installed.
    • Factory Upgrade #1 – Fusion 2 channel amplifier (MS-AM702) 20w x 2, 1 additional pair of 6” Fusion speakers in the rear cockpit, 1 additional pair of 6” Fusion speakers in the bow. Crummy little amp, so so speakers. NOT installed.
    • Factory Upgrade #2 – Fusion 4 channel amplifier (MS-AM504) 40w x 4, plus 1 Fusion 10” Sub (MS-SW10). Better amp, still so so speakers. NOT installed.
    • Factory Upgrade #3 – Fusion MS-NRX300 wired remote in dash LCD display. Nice to have as a simple alternative to MFD, but NOT installed.
    So for the missing factory upgrades, no wiring was run, no holes cut, basically just the black box and 2 speakers, plus the small wired non-display remote. I ordered the upgrades mainly because I wanted the factory speaker and power wiring in place, and it wasn’t very expensive, a stop gap to decide if I wanted to upgrade it as DIY later. Fortunately, the Fusion audio is displayed and can be managed from the Garmin 1222 touch displays, so the black box seems worth keeping.

    I’ve had Benningtons with Kicker and Wetsounds, decent enough gear, though the WS got pricey. Very durable though.

    Now I’m considering dumping the subwoofer amp/speaker, just getting 3 pairs of midline JL Audio 6” M3 coax’s (previously MX series) and a single M600/6 amplifier. Each channel gets its own 50 watts. I don’t have enough console room for more than 1 amp, just a small one at that. Then, I could put individual level controls on each of the 3 zones – rear cockpit, enclosed cabin, and bow. Everybody’s happy.

    The dealer does offer a mondo JL upgrade to all 6 M6 speakers (old M series) and their 10” sub and 2 big amps, but it’s way more than I want to invest (~$4-5k).

    The source is typically low rez Sirius, Pandora, Spotify anyway, so does this midline JL upgrade make sense to do, should I stick with the original Fusion, or should I be looking at something else entirely?
    Sanibel FL
    Axopar 28 Cabin, 2 x 200 Merc 3.4L V6

  • #2
    Here’s my .02, since you asked. First, a good electronics guy can almost replicate factory installation, if not better. In our area, we happened to have such a guy—Maclin Smith. As a matter of fact, depending on manufacturer, it is often more advantageous to order blank, for lack of a better word, and have him (staff) do complete install from A-Z.

    Fountain for example, comes affordably rigged from factory. Invincible, well it’s less expensive to have Maclin and his guys do it all. Many of the smaller and mid-range boats it’s also easier to order with nothing which allows a buyer, who’s maybe on a tight budget, to get a minimum setup and add to it later.

    As for your new awesome boat, it’s kinda up to what you want. Generally I load it up for resale purposes, but wouldn’t do so to that degree if I knew it was a long-term boat for me. Yep, that premium sound package gets expensive!

    I like the small Fusion remote vs a CZone application. I’ve had both and like the CZone because it makes for a really nice and clean helm. However, I also prefer quite a few critical and often used switches at my fingertips, e.g. live well, bilge pumps, nav lights, wash down, etc. and even more so on fishing applications because a lot of guys aren’t familiar with CZone so it’s easier for them to just hit switch.

    My suggestion is buy what you think you’re going to be happy with. Again, I like the small remote. As far as speakers and amps, that’s your call. When I have a boat load bottom fishing the last thing I want is a stereo blaring while trying to direct fishing. Occasionally when cruising around it’s nice to have clear, crisp sound w/o being ‘that guy’ where it’s so loud you can’t hear the person next to you, but I get what you’re saying.

    I realize you can literally spend a boatload on electronics and stereo, but I’d get enough where you think you’ll be happy. At least it’s one area you can add to down the road. I really believe the Axopar customer would want good clean sound but doesn’t require so much as to rock the sandbar. Get six good speakers, a Fusion remote for helm (they’re tiny comparatively speaking) and an amp or two. Leave all the subs for later installation if you want more. Put that money into electronics for navigation, MFD’s, radar, A/P, etc first.

    At least that's what I would do...........since you asked.

    I’ll try to dig up a pic of Nor-tech where I had CZone. We made the dash/helm awesome and clean with CZone and way we painted it. NT started doing it on lots of boats subsequently. Actually much of it was my wife’s idea.

    ’19 Invincible 36 - 350 Verado’s Sold
    ’20 Invincible 35’ Cat, Quad Merc V8’s on order
    Fairhope & Orange Beach, AL

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    • #3
      Not near enough critical switches for serious fishing but ya live and learn. This particular boat turned into a yacht tender anyway. But it was a clean dash, and we brought the dark paint down much lower than on previous models.
      ’19 Invincible 36 - 350 Verado’s Sold
      ’20 Invincible 35’ Cat, Quad Merc V8’s on order
      Fairhope & Orange Beach, AL

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks Joey. You must get up as early as I do!

        Yeah that looks really nice. I'm sort of going down the road you suggested, 6 better speakers (8"), a bigger 6 channel amp(s), maybe 1 sub. I'm going back over this morning, chatting with Ole on the WetSounds front, getting his wisdom. It's great to have good advice from folks who've been there done that a few times. Much appreciated!
        Sanibel FL
        Axopar 28 Cabin, 2 x 200 Merc 3.4L V6

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        • #5
          10-4. A sub is definitely nice to have, I was just trying to read between lines on your desires.
          As you can see, and I’m sure know, that fusion remote is really small. It sure beats banging around on your MFD as long as you have a good spot for it
          ’19 Invincible 36 - 350 Verado’s Sold
          ’20 Invincible 35’ Cat, Quad Merc V8’s on order
          Fairhope & Orange Beach, AL

          Comment

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