In the Groove
This waterproof, puck-mounted speaker from Fusion Entertainment is the perfect portable marine stereo.
What is the best cruising song known to man? Easy. The correct answer is “Mustang Sally” by Wilson Pickett. Yes, I’m aware it refers to a Ford Mustang and has absolutely nothing to do with being on the water, but who cares? When I hear those horns start up and the backup singers’ sweet voices in refrain, all I can picture is a day spent cruising along the skinny stretch of land that is Long Beach Island, New Jersey, where I did most of my boating growing up.
Music has that kind of power—but only if you can hear it. Enter the compact StereoActive ($170) marine speaker from Fusion Entertainment. Weighing a measly three pounds, the StereoActive nonetheless can belt some classic soul—or whatever your melodic inclination—with its dual, two-and-a-half-foot 40-watt speakers and Class-D amplifier that cuts through loud wind and waves to deliver crystal clear music.
Don’t speak audiophile? That one-letter class distinction is important, especially for boaters who, if they’re like me, have watched as their portable speaker cooked to the point of muteness in the sun. Class-D amplifiers reduce power waste by dissipating heat, thus lessening the chances of an internal meltdown and a music-less day spent on the water.
Initial tests of the StereoActive seemed promising. It’s a Bluetooth-enabled device that can stream audio from both iPhone and Android phones, and comes complete with an AM/FM -radio. In our digital world, connectivity is everything. My biggest gripe with Fusion’s competitors has always been connectivity issues: randomly disconnecting or “hiccupping” if you stroll too far away, handcuffing you and your phone to an invisible prison. (The Eagles’ accidentally prescient lyric “we are all just prisoners here of our own device” cannot be overstated.) The StereoActive’s advertised 33-foot range is robust, and possibly even a lowball figure, which I appreciate. Not only did the music come in loud and clear, but it also didn’t skip a beat.
But a marine speaker is only as good as its waterproof rating, and the StereoActive can be immersed in water—including salt water—for 30 minutes at a depth of 3 feet before the risk of malfunction. It floats, though, so unless you take a spill off your paddleboard and cling to it, it’ll survive your watery adventures. A puck allows it to be mounted to the surface of just about anything, so you won’t have to worry about it floating away. Rugged isn’t a word I use lightly, but this speaker is built tough.