Review Custom Art Music Two
Warning: This is an „amateur“ review. DUE TO LACK OF EXPERIENCE AS WELL AS LACK OF GEAR FOR COMPARISON, TAKE THIS AS AN SUJECTIVE OPINION RATHER THAN AS AN OBJECTIVE TEST.
This said I will be trying my best to be as objective as possible in my situation.
Please excuse any grammatical errors – English is not my mother tongue.
It was a dark day, when in late November my trustworthy, old Sennheiser IEM7’s spirits left for a better place. After serving me for about 3 years a cable-related issue ripped them out of my life and left a void to be filled. Being kind of unsatisfied with them for the bigger part of 2013 I knew it was time to upgrade into a higher price range.
And thus began the hunt for new IEM’s in the 300-400€ price range. I researched Westone, Audeo, Shure, Stage Divers and the likes (To be fair I only got the opportunity to listen to the Westone UM-3 which were way too bassy for my taste). After hours of reading I had been sent to joker’s theheadphonelist,com quite some time. After finding the Music One and reading his review on it I was quite interested. A actually great sounding CIEM for 189€? So I started to research more on the matter which lead me back to head-fi.
After giving it some thought I finally decided to go for the newly released Music Two. I wrote Piotr a mail with my order at about 23:30 and got a response mere 15 minutes later (so much about real customer service). I want to emphasize this point: There wasn’t a single question I had to wait longer than a few hours for the answer (unless it was in the middle of the night – I’m talking 3a.m. or something like that), most of the time I only had to wait about 10 minutes. This guy’s customer service is incredible. No discussion. After sending the impressions in mid December I had to wait a little longer than usual for my CIEMs because of company vacation over the holidays, but on 22-01-2013 they finally arrived in the mail.
Restlessly I opened the package and more or less ripped off the envelope to be presented with a simple black cardboard box in my trembling hands.
Inside, waiting for my eager hands to open it, I found a Peli Box in which the Music Two were waiting patiently for me. Additionally the box contained a small, black carrying case with my ear prints.
I had been going with transparent green – admittedly a little fancy, but I wanted something special – and had ordered them with detachable cables. While he had first told me, that detachable cables wouldn’t be possible because of the size of my ears Piotr had still been able to do it which surprised me even more and for sure made me one happy audio-crazed panda.
Fit, Cable and overall Quality
The custom silicone shells, made with Piotr’s instructions in mind, fit perfectly. I’ve never achieved such a great fit or isolation with in-ears before. They sit nicely in my ear and I’ve been wearing them for 8 hours without a break to test them on the first day, programming, eating, going for a walk and in the gym. I never had a second where I felt like they shells were uncomfortable or not sitting exactly where they should. I also experienced no microphonics whatsoever, not even while eating.
If you were gluing them onto your ear, they couldn’t sit better during movements.
The cable seems standard quality, gold-plated plug, low cable noise. My points of criticism are more with the material. I would have preferred a more flexible, softer cable and no memory-thingy (I really don’t know how to call it) around the ears. Also the Y split seems to be too far up for my liking – about sternum height for a 170cm/5’6’’ guy like me. But that’s all up to personal preference I guess.
The IEMs feel high quality are a little glossy thanks to the finish, which is also antibacterial as I understand. On the outside facing side there is a circle on each IEM where the material’s even surface breaks a little.
MOST IMPORTANT THING: SOUND
Before you read on I want to stress my first warning again. I am a university student with a limited budget so my Gear and experience is still small. Yet, I believe that being in possession of a set of fairly high quality powered speakers I have educated my ear to be more susceptible to production and the difference in sound signature of different gear (with and without DAC, different Cans, different speaker systems). Unfortunately I don’t have the luxury of being able to compare several IEMs with each other. So in order to rate these headphones I’ll be comparing them with my closed-back K550’s and my powered stereo system (Heco Acterior 2000), which I am very familiar with. The stereo system is by far the best part of my gear. They were in regular use at a big radio station in Germany from 1989 up until the first decade of this millennium.
Laptop USB OUT -> Meridian Explorer -> Custom Art Music Two (255€)
Laptop USB OUT -> Meridian Explorer -> AKG K550 (135€)
Laptop USB OUT -> Meridian Explorer -> Heco Acterior 2000 (~1700$ in 1989)
I’ll first describe the sound in different categories, then I’ll be writing up my thoughts on a few tracks I know in and out.
Bass (9/10): The bass is quite powerful, although it is definitely set back compared to the highs and mids. It is full of volume and survived all of my tests frequency-wise with ease. Sometimes it seems like the decay is a little slow, but I’m not 100% sure on that. I really enjoy that the bass range seems to be quite linear.
Personally I’d prefer it to be a tad little tighter and precise in some cases.
Mids (8/10): The mids sound quite natural to me, although the higher mids seem to be a little too accentuated. At higher listening levels this became a problem for me personally in some cases.
Highs (10/10): This is where the Music Two absolutely shine. Trebles are refined, non-fatiguing for me and seem beautifully detailedin every way.
Imaging (10/10): The Music Twos do a great job of showing detail, splitting the sound while sounding beautifully musical.
Soundstage (8/10): The soundstage is of course that of an IEM which naturally is very small. Still I found myself to be surprised how the great Miles’ Davis Kind of Blue was reproduced.
Overall Soundsignature (9/10): The sound signature of the Music Two is quite warm, yet smooth and refined leaning towards a brighter sound while still packing a lot of punch if needed. Resolution is absolutely stunning, while the soundstage is good for IEMs. I find them very pleasing to listen to, although at some times at higher volume the high mids were too dominant for my personal taste. The Music Twos are a very musical sounding IEM.
BEFORE YOU MOVE ON, KEEP IN MIND, THAT I COMPARE TO AN OVER-EAR HEADPHONE AND STEREO-SPEAKERS, SO IN SOUNDSTAGE COMPARISON THE MUSIC TWO’S WILL ALWAYS BE INFERIOR DUE TO BEING IEMs.
Miles Davis – So What (Kind of Blue remastered) - Jazz
I was impressed by the soundstage, the sax seeming to be out of my head floating besides and in front of me. The trebles were beautifully refined and very pleasing to listen to, smooth, soft yet – just absolutely beautiful.
Infected Mushroom – Sa’eed (Legend of the Black Shawarma) - Trance
The soundstage leaves a little to be desired, especially in the beginning with the drums. The resolution is absolutely great even with the very complex sound towards the finale. The Music Twos play this song in a way so musical I haven’t experienced yet – a little too imprecise for my taste.
Vaetxh – Cuntpressor (Libet Tones) – I really don’t know what kind of Genre… Transformersex I guess?
This absolutely blew my mind. The Music Twos show that they are really capable of DEEP and impactful bass without sacrificing anything in mids and trebles. The resolution is great and I’m just really really impressed how easy the Music Twos seem to reproduce this without any loss in regards of quality in comparison to the Hecos. Again – Woah.
Massive Attack – Inertia Creeps (Mezzanine) – Trip Hop
Again I’m impressed by the resolution of these IEMs. The small crackling in the beginning, the space of the drums, every instrument seems to be pictured for itself to finally produce a perfect composition. The only thing that could be better is soundstage. The listener doesn’t have to concentrate to be presented with the components of the song. Yet the Music Twos do this in a very musical way in comparison to the Hecos which seem to coldly analyze the sound.
Great listen with these IEMs.
Notorious B.I.G. – Gimme The Loot (Superginger Remix) - Glitch
The Bass presence is again great without being overwhelming. The inferior production quality – in comparison with the before mentioned songs – definitely shows. In comparison to the Hecos the Music Twos are way more forgiving though.
Brian Tyler - Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag Main Theme – Soundtrack
Again very refined, detailed and very musical. I’d prefer it to be a little more analytical, but in this case this is highly personal preference.
Deadmau5 – Fn Pig ( >insert album title here< ) – Electro
Great Detail! The little “jumps” in the beginning are clearly to be heard, the ambient sound doesn’t wash away the resolution. The way the synth slowly forms out of the ambient sound is spectacular with these, although not as clear as with the Hecos. They make this song sound more natural which may or may not be a good thing. In my opinion they do this great!
K550 Comparison: The K550s sound lush in comparison to the Music Twos. The highs are less smooth and the whole lower body seams weak in comparison to the Music Twos. They still beat the Music Twos in terms of soundstage. Music Twos sounded way more natural and detailed.
Heco Acterior 2000 Comparison: The Hecos of course easily beat the Music Twos in terms of soundstage. The mids are more held back, overall a colder, more precise yet less musical sound. I would still rate the Acterior higher in every term despite of low-end response. Overall these sound very different, since the Acteriors are very analytic while the Music Twos are very musical.
Any constructive criticism, request and questions are highly encouraged.
TL;DR: I'd definitely buy them again and I'm impressed how much of a CIEM you can get for such little money.
Edited by zebRAW - 1/24/14 at 5:39am