Perfect Seal has made the world’s first silicone shelled hybrid custom in-ear monitor, the Fusion 11. The silicone shell houses a 10mm dynamic bass driver and ED balanced armature with a large sound tube. Bass levels can be changed by swapping between one of 5 tuning plugs, or leaving the port open, ranging from flat to thunderous. Phase coherence was one of the design criteria and a quick listen verifies the drivers are well integrated and coherent.
The Perfect Seal Fusion 11 uses a detachable Linum cable, which is ultra-thin and very strong, and the Fusion 11 uses the T2 connector option, which is the smallest offering. MMCX and 2-pin designs are in the works. Cable info:
- Six litz conductors made up of 7 individual strands
- Silver plated copper strands with an enamel coating
- TPA jacket that won’t discolor
- Pull force of 60 Newtons (equal to 13.5 lbf or 6 kgf)
Pricing is set at $499.
Pricing is not yet known, but it is slated to be less than $500.
The Perfect Seal Fusion 11 is the first silicone shelled hybrid CIEM, and that is pretty cool by itself. But, when listening there were several things that jumped out at me and made me grab some of the top-tier CIEMs for comparison. The first is tonal balance, which is spot on, and a close second is the coherence between drivers, which is significantly better than the other dynamic + ED hybrid I have, the Thousand Sound TS842.
The bass quantity can be adjusted by changing out plugs, and there are 5 different settings to choose from (for now). While the solid plug has quite a neutral sound to it, the deep bass is a bit rolled-off, and the next plug up in bass quantity, the yellow filtered plug, has bass that is north of neutral. The red filter, small hole ports, and completely open all add bass quantity, with the amount increasing in that order. I found myself listening primarily to the yellow filter but would prefer the solid plug if the deep bass had more weight.
The midrange and treble are very neutral and reminiscent of the much more expensive Lear LCM BD4.2 in linearity, but not as detailed and with a very different presentation perspective. While the Lear presents from a distance with a large space, the Fusion 11 presents much more forward perspective similar to a stage monitor sound. Switching back and forth did not leave me wanting from either. The presentation perspective is reminiscent of EarSonics products, and the EM4 is quite close.
Comparing the Fusion 11 with the Heir Audio 8.A, the tone sounds more balanced with less bass emphasis (yellow filtered plug) and more treble emphasis leading to better clarity and a more natural tonality. Even though the Fusion 11 is a hybrid, it has better coherence and transparency, and the soundstage recreation is more linear. Compared with the Lime Ears LE3B, the Fusion 11 offers better clarity, transparency, and coherence for a better listening experience.
Comparing the Fusion 11 with the Alclair Reference, the the Fusion 11 sounds more open, natural, clear, and precise. The midrange presentation is slightly more laid-back, but the more 3D and coherence between other parts of the spectrum is much better on the Fusion 11. The bass quantity with the neutral bass ports is similar to the Reference, but the Fusion 11 is much more capable in the bass region. The upper midrange of the Reference is a bit more prominent while the treble is slightly more prominent from the Fusion 11 and smoother. The clarity within the soundstage is superior from the Fusion 11 and details are easier to make out even though the Reference articulates notes (omre focus on individual notes) than the Fusion 11. When A/Bing these two, the Fusion 11 sounds like a higher class of CIEM.
The Fusion 11 performs closer to the EarSonics EM4 from a technical standpoint, but the tonality is different as the Fusion 11 is brighter and not quite as smooth. Comparing with a new flagship such as the Hidition Viento-R, the Fusion 11 doesn’t quite perform at the same level, but the fact that I can switch between the two and not be disappointed with the Fusion 11 says something.
Minerva Mi-Artist Pro: The Fusion 11 is brighter and more spacious than the forward and warmer Artist Pro. Soundstage size of the Fusion 11 is larger with better imaging and much better focus. Notes of the Fusion 11 are more concise with better ADSR performance and detail articulation. Detail levels of the Fusion 11 are higher to go with better clarity and dynamics, transparency, and coherence for a much more revealing sound. While the Fusion 11 is brighter and more resolving, neither is necessarily more forgiving of poor quality tracks.
Since the bass of the Fusion 11 is tunable with interchangeable ports, the quantity can be more or less than the Artist Pro, but the ability to sustain notes is far greater from the Fusion 11. The midrange clarity is quite different as the Fusion 11 sound much more open, resolving, detailed, and places instruments within the soundstage more precisely while the Artist Pro is more personal and in-the-head. The upper midrange and treble of the Fusion 11 are more prominent, with more natural note recreation.
The Artist Pro offers ease of purchase for those in the UK, but the Fusion 11 offers much better value with a lower price and significantly higher performance. If you want to hear more detail, a more open sound, and the ability to have bass that is thumping, neutral, or somewhere between, the Fusion 11 will do it. If you want a more personal performance with good capability and ease of purchase in the UK market, the Artist Pro is a good choice.
Perfect Seal SportBud Silver: The Fusion 11 (with the yellow bass ports) has a more laid-back and neutral presentation in comparison with the upfront and punchy SportBud Silver (SS). The larger presentation space of the Fusion 11 gives a more 3D feel along with a better sense of air while the SS has a bit more in-the-head feel. Notes are very different as the SS has a quicker average attack and longer decay for a punchier yet thicker sound overall. The Fusion 11 owns the SS in technical performance with superior dynamic range, transparency, coherence, clarity, resolution within the soundstage is higher, and detail levels, if even by a small margin.
The bass of the SS is turned up in comparison with the Fusion 11 with the yellow port and has a good amount of note sustainment capability, only showing weakness at moderate volume and with tracks that have massive amounts of bass. However, with a different port, the Fusion 11 bass can easily decimate that of the SS in both quality and quality. Midrange presentation is quite different, as the SS sounds smaller and more forward with an in-the-head feel compared to the laid-back and more 3D Fusion 11. Treble is similar in quantity, but the Fusion 11’s more laid-back presentation and smoother, more refined treble gives a perception of less.
These two are quite different in sound signature as the SportBud Silver is upfront, punchy, bass heavy, and immediate compared with the more neutral, refined, and natural Fusion 11. Also, the Fusion 11 does cost double that of the SS, so they really don’t compete with each other. The choice between comes down to cost, usage, and sound signature preferences, but getting both will provide a nice compliment.
InEarz IE-P250: The P250 presents with a much more up-front perspective in comparison with the Fusion 11, which images better within a larger, more 3D space and brings the presentation into better focus. The extra space results in better instrument separation for the Fusion 11 and the better proportions result in an overall cleaner sound. While frequency response is somewhat similar, the Fusion 11 (with the yellow filters) has plenty more bass presence and capability while sounding more natural in general. Warmth is similar, but the notes of the Fusion 11 have a faster overall response resulting in a clearer presentation. Other than note and presentation differences, the Fusion 11 has a more natural tone in the presence area (upper midrange), which makes the P250 sound thick in comparison to the airy Fusion 11. Treble notes of the Fusion 11 are smoother with a more natural decay and more accurate leading edge.
The P250 presents details more readily, but due to the better note capability of the Fusion 11 and the superior imaging, the Fusion 11 is more detailed overall with better resolution within the soundstage. While the P250 stands its ground with other $500 and below CIEMs, the Fusion 11 is an outlier that readily outperforms the P250.
EarSonics Velvet: Using the DX80 as a source, here is a list of the differences between the Fusion 11 and Velvet with the bass settings similar (minimum on the Velvet, netural ports on the F11):
- The F11 is more forward with a smaller overall average space
- The Velvet’s more spacious soundstage has similar presentation depth but better presentation resolution and more air
- The F11 is clearer, most likely due to the Velvet’s lower presence in the upper midrange
- The Velvet notes are slightly smoother
- The F11 instrument detail is more articulated
- The F11 silicon custom fits more comfortably and provides more isolation than the Velvet
- The Velvet is more flush fitting
- With the bass on the lowest setting, the Velvet has more deep bass quantity than the F11 but the F11 can sustain the deepest bass notes better
- The F11 has a bit more effortless with slightly better dynamic range
I don’t find the F11 to be fatiguing, but the Velvet is less so, and I also find the Velvet to be a bit more musical overall.
The Fusion 11 is an exceptional performer for the price, with a beautiful blend of dynamic and BA drivers. While technical performance is bested by CIEMs that cost double to quadruple, the natural tone of the F11 allows me to keep them in my ears shortly after listening to a heavyweight, which is a first for anything in the price category. They make a great starter CIEM, but be careful because it is a long way to the next step up!
Use the contact form on the Perfect Seal order page for more information or to place your order.