The ItsfitLab Fusion is a hybrid monitor featuring magnetostatic, balanced armature, and dynamic drivers. It comes in both universal and custom formats and is priced from $950.
Disclaimer: The ItsfitLab Fusion was sent to us for the purposes of this review and does not have to be returned. Thank you to the team at ItsfitLab for giving us this opportunity.
To read more about our custom monitor reviews on headfonics click here.
Note, this review follows our new scoring guidelines for 2020 which you can read up on here.
There has been some previous hobbyist buzz about Vietnam’s ItsfitLab and the work they have been previously doing on the quality reshelling of existing monitors.
Perhaps then we should not be surprised that the owners have road mapped their own product line of universal and custom monitors recently. Therefore, whilst the brand ItsfitLab and its product rollout are new, their collective experience is not.
The Fusion is their TOTL in a range of two monitors which includes the R3, a triple balanced armature custom at just over $300. The Fusion is priced a good bit higher at $950 so there is quite a gap but it does seem to pack a lot more bleeding-edge technology into it that may justify the jump in price.
Quite apart from that, they do absolutely stunning custom designs. Small they may be, new as a brand they are but design-wise they are right up there with the big players in terms of creativity.
The Fusion is a hybrid monitor consisting of 3 different types of drivers: an 8mm magnetostatic, a 10mm dynamic driver, and dual balanced armatures. The rating is 13.1Ω which isn’t terribly high but it does also have an SPL of 98dB so not the most efficient and current requirements might be more than most.
Given the differences in each driver, it is no surprise then it is a 3-way crossover with the dynamic driver for the lows, the dual BA for the mids, and the 8mm magnetostatic driver for the highs.
So, what’s the difference between magnetostatic and piezoelectric and the Sonion electrostatic drivers? Well, the key is in the use of magnets or the first half of the name and it works on the same basis as some larger speaker type magnetostatic drivers in that it does not use voltage but rather current to provide its magnetic field.
In this case, two pairs of permanent magnets are located symmetrically and independently from a membrane in between. This membrane is an ultra-thin 5-layer ferromagnetic membrane layer with high magnetic permeability that moves its entire surface without any dead point. This should minimize sound loss, transfer delay, and distortion and if done correctly.
Accessories & Packaging
The packaging for the custom side of the business is the same as the universal monitor offering. For the R3, you get a flip lid container much like 64 Audio carry cases that have room for tips. For the Fusion, you get a little bit more than that.
You get a solid black box with Itsfitlab branding on the front with the accessories and monitors neatly laid out among some protective suede foam on the inside. It is understated but nicely done and no complaints considering this is a small boutique firm with more limited project costs. Everything seems and was well protected for shipping purposes.
The accessory line-up is fine, brand consistent, and competitive with other more establish CIEM providers. You get a very sturdy metal screw-lid carry case, (branded how you like) with a matching black suede inner fabric coating, the stock cable, drivers, softer carry pouch, some marketing and warranty materials, branded cleaning cloth, and brush.
The Fusion design is just stunning with a capital ‘S’. It is probably one of the most intricate and inventive designs I have witnessed to date in all my custom monitor reviews. I have had more premium materials from the likes of JH Audio, but, this is unique.
Actual Fish Models
In case you are wondering, the faceplate is not a print, that is a genuine 3D depth and that is a real carving of some carp inside the faceplate. Every oriental diner I have been to here in Asia usually has some reference to carp which are important creatures in Chinese mythology, medicine, and Vietnamese cuisine.
And it is not just the physical replicas of carp captured inside the Fusion faceplates but also the holistic approach to the colors in both the shell and plates.
Aside from the fish, you have a coral effect and behind, the shell’s complementary colors provide beautiful depth and an aquatic-like experience. Simply put, it looks like a snapshot of a carp pond in a collage of pink, red, aqua, and sky blue.
Seeing it in person is even more revealing because at a certain angle you can view the entire depth and each individual fish carving. I cannot overstate how creative this design truly is and highly recommend you grab one if you can as I hear they are special editions and not always available.
Out of the box and my immediate reaction without looking too closely was “uh oh” this is a Plastics One cable design. Now given the costs of doing a CIEM and the size of the company I would not have been surprised if they have.
However, this is not one of those cheapo stock cables. This is a cable from their own design and specifications and to me looks a little like a slightly lighter version of the Sunshine Kiwami cable we reviewed in 2018. The materials are not pure copper rather an SPC in a 4-wire format but the heat shrink black jacket finish and terminations look very nicely done.
The barrels are all a matching gunmetal color and branded with ItsfitLab though they are printed and not etched into the metal so beware of long-term chipping. The termination is a 3.5mm gold plated TRS straight jack with 2-pin 0.78mm connectors though you can opt for 2.5mm and 4.4mm at the checkout.
One small aesthetic finish I really appreciate is the color of the pin sockets red and white for a quick channel alignment. Much easier than tiny L/R lettering. The Fusion also uses a recessed socket and the connection with the stock cable is buttery smooth to insert yet tight so it feels secure but not pressured.
The memory wire is a long but very low profile on the cable so you will not feel it and it does a good job of canceling out microphonics. In fact, the cable is very microphonics-free, light, and easy to manage.
In The Ear
An excellent fit with a nice blend of accuracy and pressure. Of course, much will have to do with the accuracy of the ear impressions you send but you should expect nothing less than a good seal and no discomfort, and the Fusion delivers on that.
What I do find very interesting, however, is the venting system used for the dynamic driver which is a little triumvirate of holes on the top of the shell. Normally, I would expect that venting to come at the cost of some isolation but the Fusion actually does an excellent job of blocking out background noise.
I can only presume the “pro-style” long nozzle and good pressure help mitigate the leakage from the vents.
(Testing was done using a FiiO M15 and a Lotoo PAW Gold Touch with the stock cable using both DAPs unbalanced outputs.)
The Fusion is on the warm and weighty side of things with excellent staging qualities on initial listening. It has some tremendous body, particularly on the low-end with that dynamic driver making its presence felt sub-100Hz.
It is not a dark sound though. The upper mids have some lift, particularly around 2-3k so higher pitching vocals are to the fore rather than veiled. The magnetostatic driver is not a lazy tuning either. It has some clarity around the 7-8k marker that adds some nice sparkle into percussion timbre and tightens up the vocal tone so it doesn’t sound on the lush side of warm.
The low-end sensation is more sub-woofer with plenty of power but slightly less punch. It does have all the hallmarks of a good dynamic driver timbre with its longish decay, rich texture, and a steady if not a spectacular turn of pace.
There is some mid-bass warmth by the sounds of it but it does not travel too far up into the mids, just enough to add some wetness to the timbre. I would say this is a steady but linear drop from the sub-bass to lower-mids rather than any sustained mid-bass elevation.
It is the staging and general delivery of imaging that I really like on the Fusion. It sounds planted and thick in tone but the separation is tight with those two BA in the middle sounding quick and detailed. The headroom is good without forcing the treble forward but the depth and width are excellent and I think this is where the Fusion excels.
I love discovering new brands and their perceived take on how to deliver a certain sound signature. Seriously, the Fusion looks stunning, it really does. I do not mind one bit if you go out and buy this exact same design if you like it. Let’s all revel in the joy of 3D carp!
The signature is meaty, dense, planted but at the same time properly defined and with some excellent imaging and staging separation. However, I think some better cables on the Fusion can tighten it up such as the PW Audio Monile or the Medusa from Satin Audio. You can get more from the Fusion performance with better separation and pushing its dynamic range capability.
You can drive the Fusion no problem using a DAP but a clean DAP with imagining prowess is going to match this perfectly, at least on our impressions from this review.
- Configuration – 1 Magnetostatic (Treble) | 2 BAs (Mids) | 1 DD (Bass)
- Freq. Response: 4Hz – 40kHz
- Sensitivity: 98 dB/mW @ 1kHz
- Impedance: 13.1Ω @ 1kHz
- Isolation: -26dB