Avara Custom AV2


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Excellent transparency
- Gorgeous vocal intimacy
- Natural and emotional tone
- Linear, coherent and balanced overall signature
- Ridiculous value-for-money
- Outstanding build quality
- Swift turnaround times
Cons: Requires a small adjustment period to fully appreciate its sound
- Limited versatility
- Bass lacks warmth
- Some may find the upper-treble lift slightly unnatural
DISCLAIMER: Avara Custom provided me with the AV2 in return for my honest opinion. I am not affiliated with the company in any way, nor do I receive any monetary rewards for a positive evaluation. The review is as follows.

Avara Custom is a company that recently made waves in my hometown of Jakarta, Indonesia; promising competitive CIEMs at affordable prices. Founder Alvon Harianto first conceived the company to combat the three problems that plague commercial CIEMs in Indonesia today: lengthy turnaround times, inaccessible prices and the hassle of maintenance. After months of pre-production, Avara officially launched early this year with a bang. Equipped with 3D-printed shells, numerous cosmetic options and impressive sonic performance, their debut models quickly rose to the apex of value. The one we have for review is the AV2, priced at IDR 3,000,000 (just over US$220 at the time of writing). It is by far the most affordable CIEM in my collection, and it is one of the most transparent 2-driver IEMs I’ve ever heard.

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Avara Custom AV2
  • Driver count: Two balanced-armature drivers
  • Impedance: N/A
  • Sensitivity: N/A
  • Key feature(s) (if any): SLA 3D-printed shells
  • Available form factor(s): Universal and custom acrylic IEM
  • Price: IDR 3,000,000
  • Website: www.avara-custom.com
Build and Accessories

Avara built and shipped the AV2 within five days of receiving my ear impressions. They arrived in a white box with a glossy purple Avara logo embossed on top. Alongside the IEMs themselves, the company included a catalog brochure, a warranty card, a small zip-up case, a cleaning tool and various forms of apparel; including an Avara cable clip, sticker and keychain. Now this is the kind of effort I wanna see put into accessories and branding. I commend Avara for offering superb value without falling into the trap of cutting corners, and I’d love to see other manufacturers follow suit.


Cosmetically, I decided to go all out on my AV2’s design; boasting candy black shells, Amara wood faceplates, mechanical watch parts, and gold Avara logos. The extras I chose bring the total cost up to IDR 4,200,000 (just over US$310 at the time of writing); a still-modest price compared to the rest of the competition. Physically, the AV2 is one of the best-built IEMs in my collection. The 3D-printed shells flaunt an even flawless finish, and they shine brilliantly in the light. Where most budget companies struggle with build, the AV2 flourishes with flying colours. So far, it’s proven itself as a product that should be taken very seriously, and that sentiment all but continues when it comes to sound.


The AV2 thrives on contrast. Bolstered by an exceptionally black background and an upper-register tilt, the AV2 produces notes that are clear-cut, clean and effortlessly dynamic. Although many in the budget category strive to achieve this through unsightly peaks – often introducing artificiality and fatigue – the AV2 does so with little compromise. Body, warmth and resolution in the midrange are deftly retained, and its treble lift averts digital. Although its tonal balance may need a track of getting used to – once adapted – the AV2’s presentation is one of the most musical in its price bracket. A spatially-intimate IEM, the AV2 doesn’t do much in the way of soundstage expansion. Despite this, it does construct a well-organised stage with relatively equal proportions; leaning more towards depth than width.


And, this phenomenon is caused by its vocal presentation; undoubtedly one of the IEM’s most outstanding facets. The AV2 presents voices with astounding clarity and air. If a singer is on stage, the spotlight is absolutely on them. Although that would imply a centrally-focused presentation, the AV2 resolves peripheral instruments with headroom to spare. Left-right separation impresses, and so does micro-detail retrieval; complementing the leads with a complete supporting cast. This will prove to be a Godsend for those who prefer instrumental genres. Although the horns or the electric guitar will take centre stage, the drums in the back will throb and the rhythm guitarists will too. The AV2 exhibits an even-handed stage that’s well-layered, clutter-free and blessed by voices which ring pure and crystalline; an ab-so-lute joy.


The AV2 is quite a-ways-away from being a basshead IEM; both in quantity and bloom. But, what low-end it does have to offer is presented with impressive quality. Extension, linearity and authority all have the potential to be best-in-class. Despite the implications of a neutrally-tuned or reference signature, the AV2 is equipped with an impressively stocky low-end. Emphasis is certainly placed in the mid-bass – adding energy to kicks, throbs and drops – but the AV2’s sub-bass is the clear standout here. Displaying proficiency in both rumble and texture, the AV2’s lows portray a clear grittiness that can only be attributed to excellent bidirectional extension. As a result, bass layering, separation and physicality all rank among the best that the budget segment has to offer.

With that said, however, the AV2’s bass isn’t the most accurate in timbral terms. Although it is incredibly clear, airy and well-defined, the energy already present in its lower registers – as well as the need to preserve midrange coherency – has left the AV2 with an attenuated upper-bass. The AV2’s low-end is dark in tone as a result; benefitting genres such as pop, rock, dance and R&B (where bass guitars are either synthetic or electric), and compromising on audiophile-inclined tracks where bass melody takes precedence. Instruments like upright basses and floor toms are still portrayed with excellent resolution, but they have neither the richness nor warmth required to properly convey emotion and ambience. It is a technically-proficient low-end with enough quantity to sound musical, but it never quite fits into the shoes of a traditional audiophile bass, no matter how hard it tries.


The AV2’s midrange is the focal point of its entire presentation; the main event, the entrée du grande. Built upon a hump that encompasses the entire vocal range, the AV2 delivers a magnificently emotional tone. Evoking the old-time-y charm of IEMs like the Warbler Prelude, the AV2 boasts excellent smoothness, tactful articulation and strong definition. Its attenuated upper midrange may – at first – conceal its technical capabilities, but it proves crucial in solidifying its timbral foundation; a justly warm tone that exhibits power, depth and soul with inspiring ease.

The rise begins in the AV2’s lower octaves, equipping vocal notes with a meaty richness and a perceptible heft. Instruments and vocalists alike benefit from an unrestrained reproduction of overtones; allowing harmonics, resonances and reverb to ring through with remarkable resolution. And, because of all this, the AV2 showcases instruments with an effortless beauty; exquisitely linear, skilfully defined and blissfully romantic. Vocalists pull you in and entrance you into a silky arrest; captivating as any siren’s song. Voices sound massive and the spaces they occupy feel impossibly endless; stretching outwards into the farthest reaches of the stage. And yet, more impressively so, the AV2’s soundscape never feels crowded, nor does it ever seem tired. Fuelled by stellar coherence and top-end extension, the AV2 infuses its instruments with gobs of air; gifting its stage incredible transparency and depth.


But, despite all the emotional flair it elegantly portrays, the AV2 is an IEM that understates its technical achievements. Behind the intimacy of its presentation and the richness of its tone lies an upper-mid dip; the hallmark of an organic timbre. It’s a tuning choice that rarely ever rears its head at the entry-level, simply because it can eliminate all sense of clarity when improperly employed. And – rightly so – this dip is responsible for the adjustment period required to fully appreciate the AV2’s signature. Cymbals sound damped! Electric guitars lack bite! Pianos feel veiled! These were all my initial impressions when I heard the AV2 for the very first time. But then, I heard a woman sing, and – at that exact moment – everything else just clicked. Before I knew it, I was wholly immersed into the AV2’s sonic landscape: A vast corporeal space populated by layers-upon-layers of harmony; a natural and sincere reproduction of the recording.

Sonic transparency is subjective. Despite any and all attempts to ground it in science, it ultimately depends on how we individually perceive the real world. To some, transparency may mean ultimate clarity. And, to others, it could be timbral accuracy. I think transparency should be a sensible balance of both; a well-resolved and tonally-sound presentation that drops you right into the recording without breaking a sweat. This is what the AV2 strives to achieve. Whether by the sheer magnetism of the human voice, or the organicity of a wholly-replicated musical instrument, the AV2’s allure lies in its honesty; a pure and intimate experience mere inches away from real-life. Magical, magical stuff.


The AV2’s treble is its sole source of energy. Although it does maintain tonal coherence with the rest of the signature, it also assumes the responsibility of generating clarity and air. A relaxed lower-treble ensures excellent continuity from the upper midrange, and a steady lift from 12-15 kHz enhances the AV2’s detail retrieval and articulation. This rise does ultimately give the top-end a slightly brighter tone, but because of how linear the ascent is, the AV2’s treble avoids any sense of artificiality. Instruments remain delightfully smooth – losing little in the way of naturalness – yet benefit from the boost in transparency and separation. Similarly, due to the upper-mid dip, harmonics and overtones don’t end up over-accentuated. Embellishments like hi-hoot foots, ride bells, and guitar plucks don’t dominate the presentation; instead, they complete and complement the ensemble.

Top-end extension is a key player in the AV2’s overall performance. A linear drop-off past 17-18 kHz is responsible for the AV2’s remarkably black background and authoritative bass. Instruments build energy, vocals gain definition, and the soundscape receives an openness that perfectly complements its intimate presentation. Despite its constantly-populated stage, the AV2 combats congestion to great effect; doing away with any form of excessive warmth whilst retaining the cohesion that binds its elements together. As a result, the AV2 draws its musicality from technical performance and organicity in equal measure. Although that would imply a conflicting duality (like I often say is the case for the AAW W900 due to its lack of coherency), the AV2 strives because of its linearity. Fuelled by terrific top-end reach, the AV2 successfully mates naturalness with clarity; finding the best of both worlds with little compromise along the way.

Select Comparisons


Custom Art FIBAE 2 (€475)

Like the AV2, Custom Art’s FIBAE 2 is another IEM that’s been acclaimed for the performance it offers at its asking price. Although they’re both 2-driver IEMs, their respective sound signatures don’t have much in common. The AV2 was designed to be transparent whilst maintaining naturalness through vocal intimacy and tonal linearity. On the other hand, the FIBAE 2 is a fun-loving IEM that plays with dynamics. Portraying a darker signature, the FIBAE 2 employs a more v-shaped response with short bursts of energy arriving from either of its extremes.

And, this is most evident in the low-end. The FIBAE 2 is equipped with a weightier, rumblier and more natural bass response. Although the AV2 has superior layering, separation and clarity, it has neither the warmth nor the gutturalness to properly evoke a sense of excitement. The FIBAE 2 also has the more pronounced low-end, but the AV2 maintains better coherence to the lower-midrange because of its attenuated upper-bass. At the end of the day, it will come down to personal preference; the FIBAE 2’s giddiness or the AV2’s finesse.

The midrange is where the two are furthest apart. Because of its linear vocal bump, the AV2 presents instruments with a far greater sense of scale. Midrange notes stretch outwards, creating a wall of sound that encompasses a large portion of the centre image. By contrast, the FIBAE 2 is more centrally-focused; condensing a singer’s voice into a precise dot in the middle of the stage. If I may use an analogy, the FIBAE 2 presents vocalists as if the mic was placed a distance in front of them. The AV2 does so with the mic placed almost inside their mouths.

Although the FIBAE 2 has the advantage in absolute imaging accuracy (i.e. where the singer is in the venue), the AV2 presents a more involving, engaging and emotional experience; reproducing instruments as a range of sounds instead of a localised cluster. From the whack of the lips, to the overtones in the throat, to the reverb mixed in by the engineer, the AV2 bares it all. It’s a unique experience that’ll dazzle any vocal aficionado, but it isn’t as agreeable as the FIBAE 2’s more traditional take. Separation goes to the FIBAE 2, but the AV2 takes the cake in layering, transparency and theatrics; bringing an undiscovered delight to hearing the human voice.

In the treble, both IEMs again diverge. The FIBAE 2 has an accentuated lower treble, giving it greater clarity and dynamic energy. However, it can border on unnaturalness with select recordings. On the other hand – due to its relaxed upper-midrange – the AV2 is consistently smooth. Although instruments can come across veiled, they eventually read as effortlessly natural once you let your brain acclimate to the signature. The AV2 also has a lifted upper-treble which gives its notes more cut, and its stage a blacker background, even if it sacrifices some organicity in the process. The FIBAE 2 has a relaxed upper octave for warmth and richness, but it extends just as well to provide great spatial resolution and left-right separation.


Vision Ears VE5 (€1,430)

The AV2 and the VE5 are eerily similar-sounding IEMs. Both require a period of brain burn-in before any critical listening can take place, but – oddly enough – they require zero adjustment when listened to side-by-side. Because they share the same vocal intimacy and upper-treble lift, both IEMs lean toward a musical transparency paired with a slightly brighter tone. However, that isn’t to say small differences don’t exist between them.

Beginning from the low-end, both the AV2 and the VE5 exhibit a similar amount of volume, but they differ in how they distribute that volume among the lower registers. The AV2 focuses most of its energy in the mid-bass and the sub-bass, introducing a greater sense of slam and physicality. By comparison, the VE5 has a more uniform low-end. It evenly distributes energy from the sub-bass to the upper-bass, resulting in a more accurate tone. Clarity, separation and extension are very similar between the two, so where they differ most is in dynamics; the AV2 has the livelier low-end, but the VE5 trumps it in accuracy.

The midrange is where the two IEMs shine brightest, and it is certainly where they are most alike. Both exhibit a generous hump that spans throughout the instrumental range, creating a near-identical sense of vocal intimacy and forwardness. Notes are similarly presented; akin to a wall of sound that stretches to the perimeters of the stage. And, they both exhibit impressive body and resolution, due to the linearity in both their tunings.

Where they differ most, though, is in the upper midrange. The AV2 is equipped with a dip that imbues instruments with organicity and richness at the cost of short-term clarity. The VE5 goes in the exact opposite direction, employing a slight peak to give vocals a greater sense of clearness. As a result, the AV2 has the smoother and more natural overall timbre. The VE5 is the more open IEM, but not by a large margin. Because of the AV2’s excellent treble extension, it competes with the VE5 in resolution and transparency without the need for an upper-mid peak. Ultimately, the VE5 has the more impressive and show-y presentation, but the AV2 has the smoother, more agreeable and more natural signature. While the former strives to impress, the latter aims for life-like, and which one you prefer is entirely up to you.

The VE5 and the AV2 share very similar qualities in the top-end; clear, well-extended and slightly bright in tone. But, differences between them do exist as a by-product of their upper-mid presentations. The VE5 – because of its accentuated lower-treble – has the cleaner and more articulate top-end. However, the AV2 benefits from its linearity and produces a background that’s blacker and more stable. Although the VE5 displays better overall clarity, the AV2 is the marginal winner in transparency because it exhibits superior coherence and avoids fatigue. Again, they both show great extension, but the AV2 comes just ahead in spatial resolution and solidity.


The Avara AV2 represents the pinnacle of value in custom IEMs today. Offering outstanding build quality, swift turnaround times, plentiful accessories and superb sonic performance, the AV2 is bang-for-the-buck at its best. Although it boasts a balanced and transparent sound, the AV2 shines through its unique portrayal of instruments and vocals. With intimacy, romanticism, and organicity to spare, the AV2 is defined by how effortlessly it reproduces the human voice; a wonderful, engrossing, and pure experience. And, while the AV2 isn’t the most versatile IEM, the coherence it expertly portrays throughout allows it to maintain excellent resolution no matter the genre, artist or track. Like I said at the beginning, the Avara AV2 is by far the most affordable CIEM in my collection. But, I’ll de damned if it isn’t one of the best.

Wow huh? uh.. dont you mean the most versatile? you know anything like that (grows on you and not fakes you) that's universal? even cheaper is preferred. oh you know earsonics blade is like that, phonic brand, lxear, inearz audio and possibly chifi like tforce yuan li, seeaudio bravery, aroma musical box yao, and many other weird or popular ones (lush, engaging) possibly a Timless, penon fan1, idun skuld etc oh the zen pro is hard to quit too.
some didn't die but chose to disgrace themselves (ath-m50)