Custom Art is a young company on a rapid rise from Poland. Founded by Piotr Granicki, a huge audiophile, they were already quite known thanks to their older lineups, Harmony and Music, but he is now ready to move on, releasing the FIBAE line-up: three innovative yet affordable CIEMs packed with FIBAE(Flat Impedance Balanced Armature Earphone) technology, with an ambitious promise: maintain their sound signature, regardless of the source they are paired with.
The three CIEMs from the FIBAE family are differentiated by the number of drivers they are packed with: the numbers 1-2-3 reflects this. So, the unit I will review today has 3 balanced-armature drivers at a competitive price tag for a CIEM: 525 euros for the most basic version, rasing to just a little more than 600 euros for the most personalized version. CIEM, or Custom In Ear Monitor, are a particular kind of IEM shaped like the ear of the buyer. They usually do cost way more than a standard IEM due to the hard, long process required, but the benefits are evident: comfort and isolation are drastically improved, and they stay firmly in your ear, so they are good for drummers, singers, anyone that moves a lot. So, even a relatively high price (525€ is still a significant amount of money) becomes more affordable than his competition.
This unit was sent me as an example of the Universal model. I would like to thanks Pjotr for sending me this unit and giving me the opportunity to test this innovative IEM.
Data sheet :
· Three balanced-armature drivers(sub-low, full-range, high)
· 7.3Ω @ 1kHz
· Universal acrylic shape or custom acrylic/silicon form factor
· Frequency range: 10-21000Hz
· Price: starting from 525€
FIBAE Technology: what is it and how does it work?
The trick is in the name: it promises a flat impendance, negating the output impendance dependency of the amplifier. But why is it so innovative? Long story short, any signal jack has an output impendance rating, and it has an effect on the tonality of the IEM. Nowadays, almost every amplifier has a low output impendance, usually less than 1 ohm. Almost. There are some cases in which, for example, the impendance can nearly hit 5 or more ohms, and not few outputs are closer to 2 ohms than to one. Here is when the FIBAE technology starts working: it can cancel the impendance mismatching by switching the armature from inductive to resistive, delivering always the best sound possible. For further information and graphs: https://thecustomart.com/fibae/
PACKAGING: Sparce but with a clean look. It needs way more work. They arrive in a logoless black box, something you would not expect from this price tag. Inside are the basical essential of IEM ownership:
· Peli 1010 case, in which the IEM are stored and protected
· A smaller, more portable zipper case
· Some tools ( a drying cloth and a Wax remove scraper)
· Warranty card and a manual with some quick tips
Nothing too fancy, and even if the essential is here, I really wished for something more. In case of the Universal ones, also a bunch of silicone tips ( 4 different sizes) is included. I hope they will improve the packaging a bit, at least by putting a logo somewhere.
AESTETICS: Just awesome. As the name suggests, you can customize almost every part of the IEMs, from the colors to the materials. While choosing from a wide range of options, you can look at the big 3d model, in order to have a better idea about how they look. The design is how I discovered those IEMs: they did instantly catch my eyes. They are almost breath-taking, they looked like a sculpture from a modern art museum. You can’t go wrong here: they can suit the tastes of eveyone. The main differences between silicon and acrylic are:
· The silicon ones are more comfortable and their isolation is superior, but are less durable.
· The acrylic ones are more customizable (and they are way more beautiful in my opinion) and, if treated with care, they should last longer. But they suffer from even the smallest shock: handle with care, or you can easly create small, unsightly cracks. They don’t influence the sound, but they surely ruin the aesthetics.
Overall the quality is really good: the stock cable is detachable and easy to change, they are easy to clean, super comfortable (even the universal version) and do seal really good from external noise. The cable itself can be customized as well, adding an in-line microphone or changing the plug.
Since they mainly are Custom IEMs, the website has a guide about how to get your impressions done. Then, just send them to their labs, and after a short wait they will be delivered, exactly how you wanted them to be. They offer a brief warranty in which any remodeling would be free: after that period of time, for less than 100€ you can adjust them, but this should not be needed before a few years.
SOUND: Here comes the fun part. If I had to use a single adjective, it would be “precision”. The frequency response is close to the W shape, with powerful but controlled low-end, strong vocal presence and an accentuated presence of highs, while conserving a balanced sound.Thanks to the presence of a strong sub-bass, they remind me my loved Hifiman HE400i with a bit more sparkling presence of highs and a wider soundstage.
The soundstage might be the second thing I noticed, and it surprised me. Is really wide, with good spatiality and precision. Such high level can be reached thanks to the overall balance: despite having such a wide range, they managed to create harmony. Impressive. The website has a little graph that illustrate the IEMs, and i was happy to notice that it was pretty damn accurate.
The sub-bass is nothing less than impressive. It gives body and a touch of warmth but without influencing the midrange. Tight and controlled, they dig really deep, delivering a strong but not flat kick when needed. The bass and upper-bass are under control as well, delivering a full, strong impact, without exaggerating: they aren’t earth-shaking , and they don’t invade the mid-range, resulting in a clear, crisp sound.
The mids are a little behind, but still packed with detail and smoothness, without sounding cold. Separation is also really good, a thing that I enjoyed a lot since I love orchestral music: individual instruments were easy to catch, even a simple cord of a guitar.But precision comes with a price: even the smalles problem in the track is amplified. For example, while trying some mid-quality MP3 files that I used for ages, the quality sound fell, and it was almost like listening from an old, half-broken radio. And i always thought they were at least acceptable.
The highs , as preannounced on the website, are more in the bright side, but without excessive spikes nor sibilance. Since they are a bit lifted, the sound deliveres a sense of air, lacking of fatigue but without feeling boring.
To sum up they are quite fun to listen to, never boring but still packing swiss precision and separation: with the right file, they will never sound messy.
Speaking about sources, I tried them on my pretty cheap telephone, on some low end daps like the topping nx2 or xuelin iHiFi780, and some desktop sources too, like the Schiit magni+modi. The sound signature barely changed at all, and even the typical buzzing noise from low end sources is cleaned out. Luckly they are easy to drive, so the biggest difference is made from good files and a decent DAC. Impressive.
CONCLUSION: Those are my first high-end IEM, and i wasn’t expecting such an high quality. They totally washed out my previous iem (a pair of Brainwavz b200), and other models i’ve tried in the past, so I used my he400i as comparison. And they fought on fair ground, with even a wider soundstage. I was astonished.
Superb quality sound, incredible look, affordable price, easy to drive, innovative… What else could I ask? Good job Pjotr!