Refreshing & FUN

The reason these have taken until now to be reviewed is that they didn’t take the initial trip out to Muscat with me and I, fortunately, got Josh to bring them when he visited. I had been reviewing a weird range of earphones but when I got these back in my ears I just felt so refreshed and at home with their sound. They are a product I am really happy to be reviewing and am always content with them in my ears. This is a product that is apparently tuned for mainstream music, think pop, rap, EDM and rock. Custom Art give their models graphs to get a notion how they sound and compare to their other models. They also gave it the following description….

“Relatively flat but natural, highly revealing with balanced amount of brightness that offers emotional and engaging musical experience.”

For the wrong reasons I would say that a mainstream sound would not normally be connected with relatively flat. While the majority of consumers at the more budget end actually want bass and warmth for their pop and EDM, the reality is you will get a much more realistic, precise and consequently enjoyable experience with a sound that follows the description Piotr made regarding this model.

Personally I find the signature to have a slight midrange focus but in general is as expected, very balanced. I don’t think their own graphs quite give the treble quantity enough justice, I think it has amazing presence and the bass is probably a little less than they suggest. I would say the reason I have contrasting opinions to Custom Art themselves in terms of how much bass and treble quantity they have is their figures are a comparison to their other models, while I am comparing them to a much bigger sample pool, where earphones generally have a bigger bass and a more subdued treble. While frequency response is always going to subjective in what your tastes are, something that is not is the raw technical ability and this was one of the big reasons these were such a breath of fresh air to me.

Being a single driver with flat phase and impedance being one of the big selling points you would hope at the very least this is a coherent sounding earphone and that is absolutely correct. It is fast, detailed and lacks any standout nooks or spikes that can detract from the realism this earphone creates. Single BA designs do of course come with limitations and that would be in absolute extension on both ends of the spectrum. Bass doesn’t make it to sub-zero depths that even budget dynamic drivers (think Final E3000) might reach and the treble also doesn’t remain truly audible to far beyond 7kHz. That doesn’t make it bad sounding in any way as it still very potent in what it offers and unlike some single armatures holds texture and body very well.

Being a little mid centric and not having too much air from the upper treble extension, I found soundstage very average and not one of its most standout features. Width didn’t draw attention in either negative or positive manners but depth certainly seemed lacking compared to other products in the price range and that is not including the open and vast Audeze iSine series.

Bass has a pleasant boosting, especially around 100-150Hz where the texture is great and it equips armature speed with just a smudge of added weight that aids in its versatile hugely. It is not a nosedive fallout after 100Hz, instead, there is a much more gradual decrease, although it is noticeable you don’t have air being pushed beyond what is probably 35Hz. While it may not satisfy sub-bass heads the bass does seem to do a good job of balancing all the epic traits of most single armatures with just a little more boost. Regardless I think anyone with a half decent earphone experience would presume this was armature based on a quick listen. But I have always liked that tonality and I think it lets you enjoy the whole frequency range without to much focus on a more aggressive bass.

I am sure there are countless reviews out there, perhaps by me alone, of single armatures where the midrange has been labelled the star of the show but I really think that to be the case here. It is so clear, precise and oozes clarity and brilliance. It tilts gently to the upper mids but not as remarkable as other singles like the Earnine EN-1 that was severely overdone in this range or the sibilant RHA CL1. It just adds a little sizzle and excitement that doesn’t sway the timbre or reveal any negative qualities in lower mid or male vocals. It continues the speed of the bass but does so with a buttery manner, with not even an ounce of sharpness or cruelty. It does micro details in a smooth and enjoyable way, again making this an earphone for the masses to enjoy and not those after a supercritical tool.

From first listen I instantly found this to have a lighter tone and that did ooze out of what the treble was up to. I wouldn’t go as far as calling these bright earphones but compared to a majority of consumer orientated sounds, you will notice the treble to play a big role in the overall sound. I have already said that it does fall off a little beyond 7Khz but until that marker, especially right off the upper midrange, it has a lot of attractive qualities. I am a little surprised at Custom Arts self-given 6/10 for treble quantity but as already stated, I would presume that is more in comparison to their other, brighter earphones that in comparison to a pair of Beats by Dre. Then again it is not like they have a lot of sparkle or anything along those lines, it is just smooth and quality treble. Perhaps it is that natural roll off as we go on that influenced that 6/10 rating because as we go up we go down in quantity. Regardless the top end is fleshed out in a way that makes the overall experience still very smooth, coherent with the midrange and bass and a full complete sounding with good balance throughout!

Honest Value

With CIEMs ever inflating in price and driver count, it just shines through how honest the work is of Piotr and Custom Art. Yes, their prices have increased a little over the years but I think that is justified with the new technology they implement with each wave of earphones. The FIBAE 1 may have been overshadowed by the FIBAE 2 at the start and now the FIBAE 3 but this is a great, cheap, single driver that offers a truly great listening experience, one that is versatile and very capable, regardless of price tag.

Sonny Trigg