FIBAE 2 is a dual-driver mid-level IEM utilizing the world’s first, patent pending, Flat Impedance design.

Custom Art FIBAE 2

Average User Rating:
5/5,

Recent User Reviews

  1. audio123
    5.0/5,
    "Custom Art FIBAE 2 - Technical & Smooth"
    Pros - Vocals, Soundstage, Natural
    Cons - NIL
    Introduction

    Custom Art was founded in 2012 in Poland by a fervent audiophile, Piotr Granicki. They specialise in making handcrafted iems, be it in universal or custom form. For custom iems, Custom Art is one of the few that offers the option of crafting them either in silicone or regular acrylic. Their product line ranges from the entry level Music One to their flagship Harmony 8.2. Recently, they released the FIBAE 1 and FIBAE 2. FIBAE is also known as Flat Impedance Balanced Armature Earphone. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Piotr from Custom Art for the review unit of FIBAE 2. FIBAE 2 is a dual driver iem that features 1 driver for low frequency and 1 driver for high frequency. At the moment, you can purchase the FIBAE 2 at https://thecustomart.com/fibae-2/ .

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    Specifications

    • Type: Universal-fit In-ear
    • Impedance: 7.1 Ohm @1kHz (+-0.5 Ohm 10Hz-20kHz)
    • Sensitivity: 113dB @1kHz @0.1V
    • Frequency Range: 10Hz-16500Hz (+-10dB into IEC 60318-4 coupler)
    • Detachable Cable Type: 2 Pin (0.78mm)
    Unboxing & Accessories

    The FIBAE 2 comes in a smooth matte black package like a gift box. After removing the lid, you can see the contents in the package. There is a transparent Pelican 1010 case. Inside the case, there is the iem, instruction manual, cleaning tool, pack of eartips and silica gel. The accessories are quite sufficient. It is a nice touch by Custom Art to provide the Pelican case for storage of iem as it has a strong build.

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    IEM Build & Design

    The FIBAE 2 shell is made up of acrylic and it has a smooth surface. On each of the faceplate, there is a white CA logo. The faceplate has nice green and blue highlights on it. There are some glitters on it with a shimmery feel to it. On the inside of each iem side, there are the model name in blue and red colour to differentiate between left and right respectively. The nozzle is slightly angled with 2 bores. The shell is turquoise in colour. I find the fit very good as it sits in my ears comfortably. The housing is rather light weight and the build is exceptionally good. In terms of visual appeal, this has to be one of the most beautiful iems I come across.

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    Cable Build & Design

    The cable is a detachable 4 core cable with 2 pin 0.78mm connectors. On the connectors, there are blue and red dot on the left and right side respectively so users can differentiate. The connectors has a transparent housing. The cable has a memory wire section that is enclosed in a transparent heat shrink tube. It is not very flexible due to the metal inside that helps to form the shape. The chin slider is made is made up of a transparent tube and the y splitter is made of a soft rubber material with strain relief. The jack is 3.5mm gold plated right angled with strain relief. It is basically your ordinary stock cable.

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    Sound Analysis

    Lows

    The FIBAE 2 has a good sub-bass extension and it extends with a moderate rumble. The depth is there to provide the impact. I find the quantity to be sufficient and each bass note is delivered with finesse. It may not be the most punchy type of approach but the smoothness is just excellent. Bass texture is being rendered with ease. The decay is rather moderate and the attack is existent. Moving on to the mid-bass, there is a laid back approach to the way it presents itself. The quantity is good but some would prefer a bigger slam. The bass is just silky smooth and I find it to be very alluring. The smooth and creamy nature of the bass makes the FIBAE 2 a delight to listen.

    Mids

    The midrange operates in a smooth approach. The lower mids has sufficient quantity so male vocals will not sound hollow. It is presented with such a smooth approach that vocals benefit as such. I feel that it is very natural. There is no nasal feeling. The upper mids is controlled nicely. It is still forward but the mastery allows it to be presented in a mature manner. The details are there and the definition is clear. I find the vocals presented on the FIBAE 2 is simply amazing. The intimacy is good coupled with the space being rendered. Resolution is good for a dual drivers iem. To sum it up, it is smooth, polite and detailed.

    Highs

    The treble is extended greatly. There is no sibilance and harshness. The depth in which the FIBAE 2 treble reaches is good and I find the treble to have a very good control. The smooth nature helps to keep the treble soothing and relaxing for long listening. There is not much of sparkle but the fatigue-free listening is a strong positive. There is a good amount of air for space and it helps to lighten the overall presentation so the sound will not be very weighted and dense. Overall, the treble has a good extension and operates in a smooth approach with air.

    Soundstage

    The FIBAE 2 has quite a good width in its stage and this allows the sound to not be congested. It is open and the stage expansion helps to give a good open feel. The depth is not very close in and there is space. Positioning of vocals and instruments are quite accurate coupled with the imaging. Layering and separation is at a high level. Resolution is great.

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    Comparisons

    Custom Art FIBAE 2 vs InEar StageDiver 2

    The FIBAE 2 has more sub-bass quantity than the SD2 and SD2 has a slight edge in the extension. The sub-bass on both is rather clean without any muddiness. I find the FIBAE 2 to approach it in a smoother manner while SD2 tackles it in a clinical approach. SD2 has a quicker decay. Both present the bass rather tightly. There is a good rumble on the FIBAE 2 and this helps to improve the dynamics. The bass note on the FIBAE 2 has slightly more weight than the SD2 but it is still agile. The mid-bass on the FIBAE 2 has more body and the slam is quite addictive to listen to. SD2 is rather dry here. The lower mids on the FIBAE 2 has more body than the SD2 and male vocals are presented in a more organic manner. The upper mids on the SD2 is slightly more forward but it commands less control. FIBAE 2 is able to master the upper mids smoothly yet retaining a slight crisp. The midrange of FIBAE 2 is not congested and is similar to the SD2 but it definitely has more body. Treble on the SD2 is slightly extended with more definition. Articulation on both is precise. I find the clarity rendered to be similar too. There is more air on the FIBAE 2 and there is more space. In terms of soundstage, SD2 and FIBAE 2 has approximately the same width but the depth of FIBAE 2 is more close in for vocals intimacy. Resolution on the FIBAE 2 is slightly better.

    Custom Art FIBAE 2 vs Campfire Audio Nova

    The sub-bass on the Nova has slightly more quantity than the FIBAE 2 but FIBAE 2 wins in the clinical aspect as it is being presented more cleanly. The extra level of refinement helps in aiding the bass control and tightness. Decay on the FIBAE 2 is significantly faster and that the impact is greater as such. Nova has more body and its rumble is slightly slower. The mid-bass on the Nova has more quantity but it is more laid-back than the FIBAE 2. FIBAE 2 has a quicker mid-bass presentation and is able to keep up with busier tracks. The lower mids on the Nova is slightly thicker due to is quantity and male vocals are rendered better. However, FIBAE 2 takes a different approach to the reproduction of vocals as it is more balanced. The upper mids on the FIBAE 2 is forward and has more definition. In this aspect, the FIBAE 2 is superior to the Nova and there is more crisp with an organic feel to it. Moving on to the treble, FIBAE 2 has the edge in the extension and details. There is no sibilance and harshness on both. The definition on the FIBAE 2 is more clear. The Nova is more congested than the FIBAE 2 as FIBAE 2 excels in its stage width. The depth is very similar. I find the FIBAE 2 to have a better resolution than the Nova.

    Custom Art FIBAE 2 vs Noble Sage

    The FIBAE 2 has less sub-bass quantity than the Sage. It has similar extension as the Sage. The FIBAE 2 presents itself in a smooth approach while the Sage operates in a more clinical approach. Decay on FIBAE 2 is slightly tighter with more rumble. The pace of FIBAE 2 is quicker due to less weight and this showcases its technicality. The mid-bass on the Sage has more slam and there is more body. Bass texture is much smoother on the FIBAE 2. The bass note on the FIBAE 2 has more attack. The lower mids is slightly thicker on the Sage. The upper mids on both is equally forward and there is definition. Intimacy is maintained for both. In the treble section, the FIBAE 2 and the Sage has similar extension. There is slightly more air on the Sage and there is no sibilance and harshness on both. The FIBAE 2 is much smoother in its treble. Both iems have similar width and depth. The expansion of stage is natural. Resolution of the FIBAE 2 is same as the Sage.

    Custom Art FIBAE 2 vs CTM VS-2

    The sub-bass on the FIBAE 2 has more quantity and extension than the VS-2. FIBAE 2 presents itself in a warm and smooth manner. It is more musical. Decay on the FIBAE 2 is similar to the VS-2. Bass impact on both is good. Rumble on the FIBAE 2 is more addictive to listen to as it has slightly more speed. The body on both is very similar with the VS-2 being more weighted in its approach. The mid-bass on the FIBAE 2 is presented with more finesse and control. It is present at the right moment. The slam on the VS-2 is slightly greater. The lower mids on the FIBAE 2 is more balanced than the VS-2. Both are not thick in their presentation and each presents itself in a rather polite way. The upper mids on the FIBAE 2 is more intimate and female vocals shine as such. There is more definition and crisp on the FIBAE 2. For stage wise, the FIBAE 2 has a great expansion in its stage and the depth is not too close in for more space in all directions. The FIBAE 2 has the slight edge in its resolution.

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    Conclusion

    The FIBAE 2 is a smooth sounding dual BA drivers iem that is capable of tackling vocals with ease. The non-offensive approach is a soothing listen and details are in abundance. Resolution is at a high standard. The sound signature of FIBAE 2 is quite spot on. The overall package is very good with a Pelican 1010 case. The build quality of the FIBAE 2 is excellent and it is handcrafted with a beautiful design. In market now, there are many dual BA drivers iem and I have to say that the Custom Art FIBAE 2 is easily one of the top dual BA drivers iem.

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    For more reviews, visit https://audio123blog.wordpress.com/ .
    tarhana likes this.
  2. crabdog
    5.0/5,
    "A new technology, a new benchmark"
    Pros - Compatible with different sources
    Rich and engaging sound
    Imaging, stereo separation
    Build quality
    Price
    Cons - Nothing noteworthy
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    ARISTOTLE

    Introduction

    Around 260 kilometers from the Baltic Sea and nestled on the Vistula River sits Poland's capital and largest city: Warsaw. It was here in 2012 that a former reviewer and enthusiast of portable audio gear Piotr Granicki founded Custom Art. Since then the company has seen remarkable success, placing themselves among the elite of Custom In-ear Monitor producers yet are still providing some of the best price vs performance custom IEMs out there.

    In 2015 CA (Custom Art) delivered a new technology which they call FIBAE, which stands for Flat Impedance Balanced Armature Earphone. If you've heard of this before then you'll know what it does but for the people out there who don't know, it basically means that earphones fitted with FIBAE will allow their owners to forgo the hassle of trying to find the right source to pair them with. You can read more details about FIBAE technology here: https://thecustomart.com/fibae/

    The FIBAE 2 sports dual balanced armature drivers, one handling the lows and mids while the other one takes on treble duty. Early impressions from various sources have been positive and now they're here at Prime Audio. So without further ado let's take a look and a listen to the Custom Art FIBAE 2.

    Disclaimer

    This product was provided for the purpose of an honest review. I'm not affiliated with the company and all observations and opinions here are my own, based on my experience with the product.

    The FIBAE 2 starting price is 1900 PLN / 475 EUR and can be ordered directly from the Custom Art website: https://thecustomart.com/

    Specifications
    • Single Low/Mid, Single proprietary High
    • 113dB @1kHz @0.1V
    • 7.1 Ohm @1kHz (+-0.5 Ohm 10Hz-20kHz)
    • 10Hz-16500Hz (+-10dB into IEC 60318-4 coupler)
    • Silicone or Hollow Acrylic body
    Package and accessories

    The FIBAE 2 arrived in a black, cardboard box, inside which you'll find a very nice PELI 1010 hard carry case as well as a more portable clamshell carry case. The good stuff is found inside the hard case and includes the FIBAE 2 earphones, wax cleaning tool, drying pellet and a welcome brochure/warranty card that includes the CIEM manufacture date and serial number. There's not a lot included but it's really all you need although it would have been nice to see a cleaning cloth included.

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    The included 2-pin detachable cable seems to be the standard type that come with many CIEMs. It's a little thin above the Y-split but it's very supple, lightweight and unobtrusive. It comes with a chin slider and terminates in a L-shaped plug. Strain reliefs are good from top to bottom.

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    Build, comfort and customization

    On the website's order page they have a great customizing application that let's you browse the various colors and styles available. You can personalize almost every part of the CIEM such as the faceplate, shell and canal color and logo for each side. There are a bunch of options available but just for kicks when asked which colors I wanted I told the guys to "have at it" and let them decide on the design. I think it was a good decision as the final product looks fantastic in my opinion.

    What I ended up with is blue faceplates with a swirling, galaxy like design, complete with cosmic dust and glittering stars, matching shells and the Custom Art logo in white. The faceplates join seamlessly with the shells and there are no visible flaws or bubbles in the acrylic. The end result comes together in a CIEM that looks and feels fantastic and feels premium and durable.

    Fit and comfort are great. I can wear these for hours without any hint of discomfort. The seal remains consistent when I'm talking or moving my jaw. The fit of course relies on sending the team at CA a good set of ear impressions to work with so if you're planning on ordering something make sure you read through the impressions requirements on the website and let your audiologist know exactly what is required to get the best result.

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    Sound

    The FIBAE 2's sound is much like it is described on the website: "bold, powerful, yet smooth". It has a warmth that belies its cleanliness and clarity. Often when we think of a warm IEM we think of muted or veiled midrange but that isn't the case here. There's a rythms and timing that makes the FIBAE 2 feel like it's always ready to go at the starting gun but is never rushed or frantic, rather there's sense of effortlessness and confidence in its presentation. Despite the warm undertones the tonal balance is such that no particular section feels exaggerated or subdued, it's all on the table in an engaging but non-fatiguing manner. Music with the F2 is full bodied but still feels lithe and agile without any of the sluggish characteristics and coloring that often accompany such body in IEMs with a low driver count.

    Bass has a wonderful definition and texture giving kick drums that initial impact and attack, paired with just the right amount of decay to give the low end power while maintaining a conservative level that doesn't intrude over the midrange or treble. They don't have that fake sounding snap that some IEMs have but one that sounds more natural and intensely satisfying. Often the more entry level tiered products will try to wow you with a meaty bass, that makes you feel as if you're getting smacked upside the head with a down-filled pillow but the FIBAE 2 delivers a more balanced, very controlled and defined one that is cohesive in the overall spectrum and elicits an emotional response.

    Something that really enhances the immersion factor is the resonance in the shells from bass notes, even those that aren't the highlight in a song but just an accompaniment. Even at tame levels the bass produces a visceral and physical experience and all the while maintains its mature composure. A good example of this effect is "K.O.F" from iamthemorning's Belighted album. The bass has that powerful presence yet doesn't in the least hinder or obscure the often timid sounding vocals of Marjana Semkina. Sub-bass is equally as impressive and just as mature as its mid-bass counterpart. It's not going to rock your world with quantity but the quality of it is sure to leave a smile on your face.

    The FIBAE 2's midrange is intoxicating and engaging and seems to put emphasis on the middle region more so than the usual upper midrange boost that's so popular and what I sometimes think of as "poor man's detail". Instead the FIBAE 2 brings the forwardness down the range a little so deep male vocals sit back a little further than those of Loreena McKennit. Listening to "The Gates of Istanbul" from Loreena's An Ancient Muse just about had me prostrating in front of these CIEMs in unadulterated worship in awe of her melodic crooning and the exotic mix of traditional Celtic string instruments. Again my will to remain dignified almost collapsed when I heard the guitars in "The Lonely Views of Ondors" from The Art of Navigating by the Stars.

    Heck, for this section I almost feel as if I could write down all the superlatives I can think of and still get it right. Ludovico Einaudi's "Indaco" sounds majestic and hypnotizing. Many an IEM has fallen prey to the heavy piano notes in this track but the FIBAE 2 makes me feel as though I'm listening to it live and the subtle and delicate segments sound every bit as impressive as the crescendos.

    Treble is presented at a tasty level to complement and balance out the bass and midrange. The extension and timbre are excellent and it gives the FIBAE 2 energy and gusto but it remains smooth and non-fatiguing. However if there is inherent sibilance in a recording you'll still hear it, as I discovered with my usual test song for sizzle: Utada Hikaru's "Traveling". In a normal scenario though the treble is a true delight. There's a kind of raw effect to the treble (which in a way contradicts my earlier comment about it being smooth) that gives it a unfettered energy but one that is extremely well controlled without granularity. The FIBAE 2 has plenty of air up top and an dynamic openness that defies the warm undertones present throughout.

    Soundstage and imaging are the icing on the cake with the FIBAE 2. Those properties mentioned about the treble really come into play here, as does the natural decay found across the board but where this CIEM really shines is in its stereo separation. In "The Last Dive of David Shaw" from Departure Songs by We Lost the Sea the stereo separation and soundstage are astoundingly impressive. Headroom is expansive, wide and deep, yet the positional cues are precise and easy to visualize. The FIBAE 2 can dissect music and hurtle separate elements at you from anywhere in the space with perfect timing and positioning. What might sound like a wall of sound on a lesser platform is apportioned and individual instruments are isolated and presented as if they're partitioned and the effect is probably the best I've heard in a mid-tier product.

    Sources and compatibility

    So does the FIBAE technology work? Quite simply: yes it does. It does indeed. Across all the sources I tested with the frequency response remained consistent and the differences you'll hear are the nuances and properties of the DAC driving things. So rather than trying to find synergy with a chain that has the best power or impedance output you can enjoy scaling of a different kind - the FIBAE 2 is a great tool for discerning the inherent nature of your various DACs. Just plug them into something and you'll be rewarded.
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    Comparisons

    inEarz Fusion (price unannounced at the time of writing)

    The Fusion is inEarz' newest six driver CIEM which is due for official release very soon. It's perhaps not the fairest of comparisons considering the Fusion has three times the driver count and will likely cost significantly more but I can only use what I have on hand to compare with, which at this stage is very limited as far as CIEMs go.

    The Fusion has a more weighted bass but it's not quite as textured as the F2 and doesn't have the same defined edge and transients. Despite having more quantity in the bass the Fusion smooths it over and doesn't hit with the same aggressive rawness that makes the F2 so fun to listen to.

    Midrange is more forward on the Fusion but again its transients are less defined and have a rounded edge which makes the presentation smoother and less gritty. Where the Fusion pulls ahead here though is its instrument separation and rendering of complex passages. It has a cleaner and more refined approach and superior resolution.

    The FIBAE 2 has a more energetic treble where the Fusion once again goes for a softer and less aggressive one, putting more emphasis instead on it's upper midrange. This give the FIBAE 2 a slightly lighter and more airy high end. I'm not going to crown either IEM as a winner here because they're both excellent in their own way. What I will say though is the FIBAE 2 gives an extremely strong performance against far more expensive and more technically complex alternatives.

    M-Fidelity SA-50 ($970 USD)

    Again not the most ideal comparison, the SA-50 is M-Fidelity's new flagship model with over double the driver count (5 per side) and roughly double the price. M-Fidelity describes it as A revelation in balance and details, space and dynamics."

    The SA-50 has all the bass impact of the FIBAE 2 but brings it with more clarity and refinement. In fact clarity is a staple of the SA-50 and makes many other IEMs sound a bit veiled. It's midrange too, has superior clarity and resolution. What the FIBAE 2 brings to the table is that raw excitement - like the shackles are off and it's time to party. The SA-50 has a ludicrously crisp and clean treble that doesn't excite the same way as the FIBUE 2 but will amaze you with its clarity and extension.

    One area that FIBAE 2 dominates the SA-50 is in the amount of customization and color options available and the online tool gives you a visual representation in real time to help you choose the perfect design. In contrast the M-Fidelity customizations are quite limited but they sure deliver a fantastic sound.

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    Conclusion

    The FIBAE 2 just knocks it out of the park and ticks all the boxes in the process. Every aspect is done right, from the customization options, build quality and price to the dynamic, energetic and ever so emotive musicality that it brings to the table. Let's not forget also that you can plug it into pretty much anything and still get amazing results thanks to the FIBAE technology.

    This should be a wake up call for manufacturers and consumers alike who believe you need a huge driver count with a price to match in order to make an outstanding IEM. I can't wait to see how the competition responds and what Custom Art can do next (spoiler: FIBAE 3 will be available soon).

    If you've thought about going the CIEM route before then this has to be an ideal place to start. Even if you've got several CIEM's already and have the itch for another this one deserves your consideration.

    Maybe one day I'll even learn how to pronounce the name!

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    peter123 and Evshrug like this.
  3. Deezel177
    5.0/5,
    "Custom Art FIBAE 2 - Dynamite!"
    Pros - Value for money
    - Source-independent sound
    - Dynamic presentation
    - Superb stereo separation
    - Admirable clarity
    - Available in both acrylic and silicone
    - Top-class build and customer service
    Cons - Overall transparency and resolution
    - Darker tone isn't for everyone
    - Treble can get brittle with poorer recordings
    - Minimal accessories
    Custom Art is a Polish manufacturer helmed by the reigning King of CIEM Customer Service, Piotr Granicki. Having spent almost a decade in the DIY community, Piotr started Custom Art in 2012 with a clear focus towards value-for-money performance and a clinical expertise in both acrylic and silicone IEM production. Custom Art – now one of the biggest players in the CIEM industry – is looking to break new ground with their Flat Impedance Balance Armature Earphone (or FIBAE) technology. FIBAE-equipped IEMs are designed to maintain a consistent sound signature regardless of source. One of the first two out of the gate is the FIBAE 2: A dual-driver monitor that jabs far beyond its price range; delivering dynamics, musicality and engagement you’d be hard-pressed to find in the sub-$1000 market.

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    Custom Art FIBAE 2
    • Driver count: Two balanced-armature drivers
    • Impedance: 7.1Ω @ 1kHz
    • Sensitivity: 113dB @ 1kHz
    • Key feature(s) (if any): FIBAE technology
    • Available form factor(s): Universal acrylic and custom acrylic/silicone IEM
    • Price: €475
    • Website: www.thecustomart.com
    Build and Accessories

    The FIBAE 2 comes in a black mini-shoebox with a Peli 1010 nestled snugly inside. The Pelican case houses the IEMs themselves along with the standard set of accessories: A cleaning tool, desiccant and Custom Art’s signature “Hi.” brochure. As I mentioned previously in my Lime Ears Aether review, these are the bare essentials for a custom in-ear monitor at any price point. Although I won’t be knocking off any points, I would’ve loved to see a microfibre cloth, an airline adapter or a cleaning spray of some sort for silicone CIEMs. At least the brochure gives it some personality.

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    The FIBAE 2 is my very first silicone IEM. Having owned six acrylic monitors with varying builds, fits and finishes, the FIBAE 2 is certainly a unique wearing experience. Overall, it fits slightly tighter than my acrylic Custom Art Harmony 8.2, but it forms far less breakable seals and adheres to the skin more effectively too. As a result, you get superior isolation and comfort, and a stronger feeling of seamlessness between your inner ear and the bodies of the IEM. It does take a few days to break in the silicone’s initial density and rigidity – and to learn how to properly push them in and pull them out – but they’re an absolute joy to wear and use afterwards.

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    Both physically and cosmetically, my FIBAE 2 is an incredible achievement. Piotr is one of the most collaborative and open-minded folks in the industry when it comes to customisation. The final design we came up with is the culmination of over 20 e-mails, and tons of effort and experimentation on Custom Art’s part. Consisting entirely of bespoke options, my personal unit bears a distinct black-and-gold theme, with elements that react differently and dynamically to light. From the mica-infused black-and-gold shell to the cut-out and laser-engraved faceplates, the FIBAE 2 is easily one of the best-looking and best-built IEMs in my entire collection.

    FIBAE Technology

    Custom Art’s goal with FIBAE technology is to produce IEMs that perform consistently regardless of the source’s output impedance. This was done, according to Custom Art, “By changing Balanced Armature driver character from inductive to resistive…”

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    As seen in the graphs above, the single FIBAE driver’s impedance remains unchanged throughout the entirety of its frequency response. Its equally-consistent electrical phase plot also affirms that the driver is – in fact – resistive in nature. Piotr has confirmed to me that the FIBAE 2 performs just as brilliantly under these conditions. Pragmatically, what this means is no matter what amp circuit you use, FIBAE IEMs will constantly output the exact same signature.

    But, there is a case to be made for sound signature vs. sound quality, because they are not one and the same. In terms of frequency and CSD response, FIBAE IEMs will perform independent of the source, but the data that’s fed to them – i.e. instrumental fidelity, spatial cues, micro-detail retrieval, etc. – will be determined by the DAC’s ability to resolve that information. Theoretically, FIBAE-equipped IEMs are the most ideal linearly-scaling transducers available today. And, in the real world, this is absolutely true. I’ve listened to the FIBAE 2 on several sources – including the Chord Mojo, the Onkyo DP-X1, the Astell & Kern AK70-Kai, and the Macbook Pro – and the only differences I’ve found were with regards to soundstage accuracy, image solidity, micro-detail audibility and left-right separation. The IEM’s signature was left perfectly untouched, and I was left entertaining the prospect of a neutrally-tuned FIBAE IEM for proper gear evaluation. But, I’m getting ahead of myself; onto sound impressions.

    Presentation

    The FIBAE 2 is an IEM that’s primarily driven by dynamism and liveliness. Although it has its own specific flavour and atmosphere, how it portrays music isn’t necessarily dictated by melody, colour or tone; rather, it shines through rhythm, texture and energy. It’s akin to the contrast between a guitar solo and a drum solo. The former emotes through harmony and tonal colour, while the latter does so through pace, kinetics and flow. The FIBAE 2’s stage is more-or-less absolute, with dimensions, note sizes and temperatures that hardly ever shift from song-to-song. It’s a stage with great proportions – one of the widest, deepest and best-layered out of any 2-driver IEM I’ve heard – and one that’s bolstered by a charming richness. A musical warmth belies its instruments – endowing them with body, substantiality and weight – but, despite this, its impressively black background makes way for top-class separation as well. Instruments and vocals aren’t the most well-outlined or well-defined, but they are dead easy to locate with spatial stability and stereo imaging that’s simply unrivalled at this price point.

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    The FIBAE 2 carries the Custom Art house sound through-and-through. Embodied by a slightly darker tone, the FIBAE 2 attains its richness through an abundance of decay and an absence of peaks. By softening transients and allowing them to roll-off slowly over time, the FIBAE 2 acquires massive headroom, smooth dynamic performance, and tons of harmonic texture. When a cymbal is struck, most IEMs accentuate the CRASH! before dropping drastically in SPL as the cymbal sizzles out its overtones. On the other hand, with the FIBAE 2, what you’d hear is a punchy crash… followed by harmonics that linger at a similar level. What this adds to its presentation is a unique texture somewhere between smooth and coarse – almost like film grain – as well as a laid-backed-ness that associate the FIBAE 2 and its brethren with words like organic. However, where this falters is in transparency. Due to a lack of transient energy, instruments struggle to pop into the foreground of the soundscape, and the images they produce begin to blur as a result. But, its fantastic separation, stage organisation and pitch-black stage compensate for this to an admirable degree.

    Bass

    The FIBAE 2’s bass is the driving force behind its powerful presentation. It’s beautifully rounded, naturally accentuated, and achieves a balance of punch and tone that’s awe-inspiring at its price point. Although the FIBAE 2’s low-end is tilted towards the upper-bass, it is ultimately defined by its foundation: Luscious mid-bass warmth and vivacious sub-bass energy. Kick drums constantly sound vintage; showered in tonal richness that’s unquestionably analog, and wooly and enveloping upon impact. Bass guitars also benefit from gorgeous sub-bass texture, enriching them with grit, tension, and verve. With all that said though, due to its inclination towards impact and roundedness, the FIBAE 2’s bass isn’t the most revolved. Its saving grace, then, comes in the form of air. Because of its upper-bass emphasis and admirable extension, the FIBAE 2’s lower registers are beautifully lit; deftly juggling clarity and punch in near-equal proportions. It’s not a bass that looms over the rest of the soundscape shrouded in darkness; it’s one to be felt, heard and seen.

    The key word here is electricity; the FIBAE 2’s bass is packed to the brim with spunk and sparkle, and it never fails to completely command a song’s pace, momentum and flow. But, despite its snappy nature, the FIBAE 2’s low-end is strict, disciplined and considerate from start to finish; often to an utterly impressive degree. At its price bracket – where big,brave and bold are the norm – Piotr dodges what sells, and instead caters to what engages: Linearity, balance and coherence. It neither bleeds nor blooms, perfectly recognising its place in the mix. It follows dynamic cues to a tee; growling thunderously when called upon, and simmering in patience otherwise. Even unto the midrange, the FIBAE 2’s low-end displays incredible restraint. While it does contribute slightly to note body and vocal weight, it spends most of its time sat back; letting its lower-midrange do most of the heavy-lifting. The FIBAE 2’s lower-registers embody the qualities that define a professional bass player: mature, mindful and controlled, yet exciting, engaging and downright infectious all at the same time.

    Midrange

    The FIBAE 2’s midrange is stunning at its price. Again, compared to the rest of the competition, the FIBAE 2 does not deserve a midrange this engaging, musical or multi-faceted. But, Piotr is no stranger to defying expectation, and he’s gone for gold here; delivering instruments that seduce with ease, and captivate with richness, depth and detail. The FIBAE 2’s vocal presentation is bolstered by a hefty lower midrange. While it isn’t the most substantial in thickness or weight, it ultimately prevents voices from becoming overshadowed by the bass and lower treble. And – despite a slight lack of forwardness – vocals are imbued with strong dynamic energy; displaying a persistent and powerful presence no matter how busy the entire ensemble becomes. Authority also impresses here. The FIBAE 2’s lower midrange sports great solidity and texture; male baritone vocals, grand pianos and cellos throb with aplomb and resonate without restraint, all whilst maintaining a deep, open and pitch-black background in the process. Bravo, Piotr. Bravo.

    F2-2 (ref).png

    Although the mids are mostly linear, the FIBAE 2 does exhibit a modest hump just before its upper-midrange. While the more typical upper-mid peak would’ve given the FIBAE 2 greater articulation, it would’ve been at the cost of tonal balance. This bump, instead, serves as a compromise of both; benefitting both natural continuity and detail retrieval. Plus, what this pre-upper-mid hump provides is a shift in dynamics. In drums, instead of focusing transients on cymbal crashes, the FIBAE 2 directs them towards snare shots. This beautifully enhances the interplay between the kick and the snare with liveliness and fun, whilst also preventing the former from dominating the percussive ensemble. However, this bump does have side effects of its own. Although most female vocals sound just as natural and smooth as male vocals do, some may find this tuning unflattering. Vocalists like Renee Olstead and Nikki Yanofsky – who sing with a brighter timbre – can end up sounding throaty and hoarse. But, overall, this is a small price to pay for a key component in the FIBAE 2’s addictive signature; an engaging midrange that balances richness and clarity like a pro, and does so with impressive gravitas, tenacity and depth.

    Treble

    The FIBAE 2’s treble is what fuels its impressive detail retrieval. Admirable articulation, openness and texture all compose a top-end that brilliantly blends clarity and smoothness. Extension and linearity are its strongest suits; allowing transients to decay with excellent grace and further solidifying the richness that runs throughout its entire signature. The FIBAE 2’s treble is attenuated, but it is a tad bright in tone, adding sufficient liveliness and air. Although, despite its modesty, the FIBAE 2’s top-end isn’t the most forgiving. Hotly-mastered recordings may sound just sizzle-y enough up top, that they risk entering unnatural territory. That’s not to say the FIBAE 2 has a harsh treble, though; it’s tonal balance in this specific range is just so fragile, that immersion can quickly fall apart when its top-end is properly provoked. Nevertheless, with most competent recordings, the FIBAE 2 runs like a dream. Dynamic performance – as usual – astounds; complementing its low-end like bolts of lightning that precede a guttural thunderstorm. If the track allows, the FIBAE 2’s treble will remain behaved, but you can never take away its enthusiasm and energy; neither to its benefit nor its detriment.

    Here’s where the FIBAE 2 showcases its most notable strength: Stereo separation and imaging. Although I touched on this in Presentation, it’s a feature worth revisiting because of how impactful it is to the listening experience. Thanks to the FIBAE 2’s impressive top-end extension, its resulting soundscape is about as good as a blank canvas. But, where it differs from the rest of the competition is in its ability to produce individual canvases for the left and right channels. Absent is any cross-feed between the two extremes, and the presentation you get in the end is effortlessly segregated, spatially transparent and as rock-solid as the Eiffel Tower. Hi-hats, ride bells, percussive embellishments, rhythm guitar plucks, secondary stringed instruments; these are all tertiary sounds that produce higher-pitched micro-details typically panned to either side of the stage. But, where they’d usually get lost in favour of the centrally-focused leads, the FIBAE 2 reproduces them with utmost care. As a result, the FIBAE 2 is my weapon of choice when it comes to mixing channel balance. Levelling overhead mic’s, rhythm guitars, and back-up vocals are easier to do here than on my Empire Ears Zeus-XR! It’s a phenomenon that can easily be overlooked, but it is what makes the FIBAE 2 unquestionably special, and it really shows how far a mid-tier IEM can go with a little bit of treble extension up its sleeve.

    Select Comparisons

    F2-4.png


    Unique Melody Miracle v1 (now discontinued; the v2 retails at $1049)

    The Unique Melody Miracle proves an interesting foil to the FIBAE 2. It has thrice the drivers, twice the price, and it was once the reigning champ of the bang-for-the-buck TOTL market. Comparing the two – more than anything – was a test to see just how far we’ve come when it comes to driver efficiency, tuning sophistication and value-for-money. Can 2017’s David truly slay 2014’s Goliath? As we always do, let’s start from the bottom.

    In terms of bass quality and quantity, the Miracle can’t hold a candle against the FIBAE 2’s visceral low-end. The Miracle has a lean, gentle and feather-like bass that lacks any real texture or weight. The FIBAE 2, by contrast, has a superior sense of tangibility, physicality and power. Despite the Miracle’s cleanliness and finesse, the FIBAE 2 answers back with greater authority, restraint and extension. With impact, resolution, and tonal balance all comfortably in its back pocket, modern technology has obviously propelled the FIBAE 2 forward, where the Miracle unfortunately falls behind.

    The Miracle poses a better contest in the midrange. Due to its more neutral tone, the Miracle is equipped with greater clarity and sophistication. Although the FIBAE 2 performs better technically – with superior resolution, layering and separation – it has a distinct richness that it can’t shake off because of how it presents harmonics and decay. The Miracle also presents vocals more linearly. Because it has a leaner lower midrange and the more traditional upper-mid peak, it reproduces instruments with superior transparency, but without much power either. Despite a similar lack in forwardness, the FIBAE 2 betters it here through stronger dynamics and a more engaging presence.

    Both IEMs have attenuated top-ends, but where they differ is in tone and dynamics. The Miracle has a softer, warmer and more forgiving treble; it relies instead on its upper-mids for clarity, The FIBAE 2 commits to the opposite, where it uses its brighter, zingy-er treble to induce excitement into the overall experience. The FIBAE 2 also presents higher notes with a more palpable sense of energy, and a greater emphasis towards imaging accuracy and stereo separation. The Miracle chooses not to bother, allowing its treble to properly conclude its signature without much in the way of theatrics.

    F2-3 (ref).png

    Astell & Kern/JH Audio Rosie ($899)

    The JH Audio Rosie is a rather underrated IEM. Although it was once the entry-level of Jerry Harvey’s Sirens Series line-up (now superseded by the Michelle), the Rosie is yet another Goliath to the FIBAE 2’s David. With triple the drivers and (almost) double the price, the FIBAE 2 again finds itself the underdog of the match-up.

    The Rosie is equipped with a mid-bass-focused low-end. Defined by a brighter tonality and a drier texture, the Rosie excels when it comes to bass articulation and definition. However, like the Miracle, it lacks the guttural-and-visceral-ness that the FIBAE 2 possesses. The FIBAE 2 – though similar in extension – possesses a more powerful sub-bass, as well as a musical warmth throughout its lower registers.

    The Rosie presents its midrange similarly to the Miracle. It’s clean, airy, transparent and largely focused on the upper-midrange. Vocals and instruments sound more clean and crisp here than on the FIBAE 2, but they lack proper presence and weight. The Rosie’s midrange is also pushed further back, while the FIBAE 2 compensates with lower-midrange heft, endowing its voices with richness, strength and allure.

    Again borrowing comparisons to the Miracle, the Rosie has a more polite treble than the FIBAE 2. Although they are similarly bright in tone, the Rosie’s top-end rolls off quicker than that of the FIBAE 2. But, it has a more accentuated treble, which contributes air to the rest of its presentation at the cost of naturalness and warmth. Spatially, the Rosie impresses with its diagonal imaging. Instruments aren’t only presented at the left, centre and right of the stage; the Rosie also places instruments at 10 and 2 o’ clock with astounding accuracy. However, when it comes to stage stability, resolution, and strict left-right separation, the FIBAE 2 still comes out on top.

    Verdict

    Without question, the Custom Art FIBAE 2 is an absolute knockout; not just for its performance, but also for what it represents in the industry as a whole. Amongst the current crop of IEMs – where exorbitant prices run wild and driver counts rise by the second – the FIBAE 2 is a product that confidently challenges the norm; delivering stellar sonics and groundbreaking technology in an extraordinarily small package. From lowest lows to highest highs, the FIBAE 2 skilfully balances clarity, dynamics and musicality; crafting an endlessly engaging, beautifully bombastic and superbly separated soundscape that’ll leave you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Whether it’s playing out of a mobile phone or a $3,000 DAP, you won’t be able to resist the odd head-bang every now-and-again as its two “measly” drivers serve punch, after punch, after punch. At €475, the FIBAE 2 blows its competition out of the water; effectively setting a new standard for mid-tier IEMs to strive for, and proving that driver count in the modern age is only but a number.

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    Evshrug, Kerouac, ryanjsoo and 4 others like this.
  4. subguy812
    5.0/5,
    "Driver Wars be Damned"
    Pros - Scales well, Signature consistent with multiple sources,sound quality
    Cons - No glaring cons
    20170929_072605_HDR-01.jpg

    CUSTOM ART FIBAE 2


    https://thecustomart.com/fibae-2/
    https://thecustomart.com/shop/acrylic-products/fibae-2-acrylic/
    https://thecustomart.com/shop/silicone-products/fibae-2-silicone/

    A Little Technical Stuff:

    Single Low/Mid, Single proprietary High

    113dB @1kHz @0.1V

    7.1 Ohm @1kHz (+-0.5 Ohm 10Hz-20kHz)

    10Hz-16500Hz (+-10dB into IEC 60318-4 coupler)

    Silicone or Hollow Acrylic body


    Custom Art FIBAE 2
    -MRSP: Custom fit $475 EUR /At the time of writing it equates to $560 dollars


    I want to thank Piotr from Custom Art he provided me with a demo of the FIBAE 2 to review. Piotr answered all of my questions quickly and was very pleasant to communicate with. After reading comments from his longtime customers, it is clear that my opinion of Piotr and how he conducts business is as positive and aligns with the majorities sentiments. Thanks Piotr, Great Job!

    20170929_072500_HDR-01.jpg

    My interest was piqued with Custom Art(CA) and I wanted to hear the Harmony 8.2 but I thought what the hell I will reach out to Piotr and ask him what product he developed that he was proud of but wasn’t receiving the attention it deserved. Fingers crossed and hoping for CA’s TOTL, the Harmony 8.2, his prompt reply was the FIBAE 2(F2). In that same breath he said I have demos of them readily available unlike the Harmony 8.2 demos, which would require a little wait on my part. I quickly replied with a hearty “Send them on man I will give them a shot”, and a deal was done. Being a dual BA driver, I was curious, yet skeptical (sorry for my doubt), about spending any real quality time with the F2 after all I am the upper middle-class of the audiophile world and accustomed to a gazillion drivers and half of a gazillion crossovers per monitor, the audio aristocracy (insert nose in the air meme). More drivers are better, right? It was only normal that my reviewer’s ego and fragile sensitivities would take a swift kick in the ever lovin’ family jewels, right? After all, I wasn’t offered his top dog, but again I asked him what he wanted me to give a listen too, and he was right on.


    All joking aside, I truly appreciate the opportunity to review any quality products and there is some serious mojo in these IEM’s. So many times, the audiophile focus is on higher priced, higher driver count IEM’s and I guess I am not immune to that mindset as I was not expecting all of the goodness that I was about to hear from the F2. The sound is rich, full has some incredible stereo separation, with an impressive amount of sub bass but yet allows the details to shine through.

    As you read the review remember that these are universal demo units and not CIEM’s. I know if you asked Piotr he would gladly sell you a universal pair of F2’s but my gut is that they pride themselves as a custom house, it is the “ART” part of their company name.


    I unpackaged the FIBAE 2 and included in the demo package was a Pelican 1010 case, a black stock cable and the F2 and a few eartips. To me it is important to review with the stock cable because not all consumers believe in cable upgrades nor do they want to feel obligated to spend more money after they just made a large purchase in order to possibly receive marginal returns on their investment in sound quality. It is worth the mention that I am going to deviate slightly from my prescribed review format and talk about upgraded cables and the incredibly positive impact they have on this IEM, more about that later. To my ears, with the F2 the upgrade is not about marginal returns.

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    Curiosity had me looking for some reviews, or any press on the F2 for that matter and I found very little, one non-English review that I probably wouldn’t have found it if it wasn’t mentioned on a CA thread. During the writing of this review there has since been another F2 review written, I haven’t read it yet, but I will after I write mine. It is always fun to see how thoughts align. I am excited about the opportunity to write this review. I will say right now, spoiler alert, I love the signature of this IEM. I wholeheartedly agree with Piotr, these deserve attention. Not only do they deserve attention, they deserve praise, great job! They honestly haven’t left my ears, not only because I am writing this review and need to listen to the product but even in my leisure listening time because I enjoy the sound signature so much along with the quality I hear from any source I try. It will be a sad day when Piotr sends the return label for the F2.

    Let’s delve into why I enjoy them and what can be expected when you purchase the F2. Tuned for enjoyment with an abundance of musicality thrown in and yet the F2 is fairly detailed, and can be enjoyed with any source.

    A Little Marketing Hype:

    FIBAE 2 is a dual-driver mid-level IEM utilizing the world’s first, patent pending, Flat Impedance design. Featuring single low-mid and single proprietary high frequency drivers for bold, powerful, yet smooth sound.

    What is the FIBAE technology all about? Below is from the Custom Art website and will explain it better than I can.

    FIBAE TECHNOLOGY

    Flat Impedance Balanced Armature Earphone (FIBAE™) technology is world’s first, revolutionary, In-Ear Monitor design providing flat impedance and phase. By changing Balanced Armature driver character from inductive to resistive we solved one of the oldest problem in the industry – dependence on output impedance of sound source for correct earphone output. With FIBAE™ technology your earphones will always perform best from any DAP. Single and multi-driver configurations available.

    FIBAE 2 comes as an evolution of Custom Art’s sound, merging energetic and full-bodied bass of Ei.3 with high resolution and detail retrieval of Music Two. As a result, you get an incredibly versatile monitor with big, immersive, yet open soundstage, powerful lows, smooth, thick, engaging mids and detailed top end that is never harsh. Tuned for enjoyment and fun without sacrificing details. A great choice for both audiophiles and stage-performing artists.

    Let me touch on this a second. Many times, you read marketing hype from the manufacturer’s website and shrug it off as only hype. I tried three sources and the sound signature was consistent and unchanged with all of the sources. I did notice an upgrade to the quality of sound with different sources and different cables. The F2 scaled masterfully allowing for an expanded soundstage and improved separation and an exact imaging. I am trying to make a big distinction here between the sound signature and sound quality. Knowing the FIBAE technology was developed to maintain consistency with an array of sources I would say they succeeded in their goal, in a big way. It is the real deal!

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    WHAT’S IN THE BOX:

    · Carton box
    · Peli 1010 case
    · Zipper case
    · Wax pick tool
    · Drying pellet
    · Warranty card

    The above items are what you would receive if you place an order from CA. As mentioned mine was a demo only so I don’t have a retail package to show you.

    Review Setup:

    My review was written utilizing two sources, Opus #2 and LG G6 and Shanling M2s. Obviously, the demo F2 being a universal IEM I had to experiment with a variety of tips. Piotr recommended a dual flange eartip but those have never worked for me and I found the JVC Spiral Dot tips and their wide bore gave me the best seal and sound. I started listening using the stock cable for the review but found myself quickly spoiled by the quality achieved when cable rolling. I love the Ares II cable with the F2 and when I was pleasure listening it was my cable of choice, partly because of ergonomics. Opus#2 and the balanced 2.5mm Ares II was a match made in heaven and once I completed writing this review and my critical listening with the stock cable, I never returned to the stock cable.

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    Build and Quality:


    The F2 demo was the acrylic variety. I looked closely at the F2 to see if I could spot any imperfections. I did not notice any glaring blemishes, no bubbles, no seams. The area where the faceplate attaches to the main shell was free of issues as they should be. I did not notice any problems with the connectors being raised on inadvertently recessed. I really like how the tubes seamlessly become part of the canal as you can see a defined outline around each tube. I need to say although there were not any real build issues I still felt that these were not built to the same level of quality as my Zeus or EarSonics EM10 for that matter. I wish I could better verbalize why I felt so, but it is what it is. My perception is my reality. For a universal demo I think the quality is fine and my perception should not be a deal breaker. Who knows, my perception may be based on the demo design, color etc… I want to say that the F2 has a real small footprint as they rest in your ear and I never had any comfort issues, the fact there only two drivers could contribute to the footprint but in a large part I feel it is due to design. I have fallen asleep with them in my ears and I didn’t wake up in pain. Very comfortable for me which of course is a major plus.

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    At the start of the review I provided links for you to design your IEM’s. With CA there are actually two options of shell material and thus two links above. One is the acrylic model, I am reviewing, and the other is a silicone model which I would love to try but did not have opportunity to do so. From comments I have read from people that own silicone shells, the pros of silicone are an incredible seal and comfort. The cons are maintenance and durability for the long haul. I cannot personally attest to either the pros or the cons. Within the design pages you can choose either shell option and then start to design your IEM. I played with the acrylic design section and found plenty of options for shell, face plates, canals and logos. Anyone should be able to personalize a design that they will be proud of.

    Moving on to the sound section….

    I touched on the FIBAE technology above so I don’t feel the need to revisit it. It is worthy to mention again that the F2 truly scale well to level of source that you use. If you upgrade your cables and use a quality source, such as the Opus #2 you will be rewarded with a truly wonderful sound quality. I don’t want you to think that you need something other than the stock cable but if you have another aftermarket cable or are on the fence about purchasing one, this would be the IEM in which you would reap the benefit of your upgrade purchase.

    As I was joking earlier in the review about these being two drivers, I will say that it is simply amazing what companies such as CA are doing with less drivers. The Dita Dream being a single DD, the F2 with its two drivers and even the DUNU DK-3001 with its quad hybrid setup clearly show that a super quality signature can be achieved with less. I do own or have owned IEM’s with 10 – 14 drivers so when a two driver monitor sounds as good as the F2 it deserves kudos.

    20170929_072543_HDR-01.jpg

    If you asked me about my initial impression and what immediately stands out, my answer would be easy. One of the first things I would mention would be the stereo separation. The level of stereo imaging you can expect from the F2 is really wide and distinct, the stereo image is that good. The second thing I would mention is its musicality and its level of dynamic energy. The F2 are simply a joy to listen to with all of your tunes, any genre.


    Presentation

    This is a fun, musical yet detailed IEM. Custom Art has done a great job in presenting the consumer an IEM that if great to use with all genres of music. The bass has a nice sub presence and extends north throughout the bass regions with ease. There is never any harshness or any offending bite in the treble. The overall impression you are left with is a sound that is full in its body and rich to your ears. The level of detail is just right and it reveals itself with decent clarity. I never heard any graininess or veil in the mids but it lacks the absolute clarity of say, the Dita Dream, but then again the Dream excels at clarity.

    I am hesitant to mention comparisons of IEM’s that cost at least four times what the F2 cost but as a reference point the F2 doesn’t reach the level of detail and resolution of the EE Zeus, but it does have a degree of openness and air that surpasses the EarSonics EM10. I only mention this as a reference point and not as much a comparison. To that point, I have just mentioned three TOTL IEM’s, with the least priced being the Dream at $1800, in a mid tier IEM review. Custom Art has their TOTL Harmony 8.2 but I am mentioning other manufacturers TOTL options as reference and I think that speaks highly as to the level of quality that the F2 produces. This is a difficult monitor to place in the hierarchy of IEM’s, it is obvious it is not CA’s TOTL and I don’t think it was developed to compete with TOTL offerings but it does so many things well.

    The musical notes have a great decay and linger just as they should. The F2 are after all BA’s and while there are faster IEM’s and IEM’s with more snap when the drumstick strikes the skins the F2 hold their own.There is a spaciousness to the sound. The stereo imaging I have previously mentioned helps to create the width and spaciousness. It is not the type of stage that creates a holographic illusion but the type of stage that has width. For example, music such as The Beatles reveals so much activity to the far left and far right and the stereo imaging is so noticeable. The height and depth of the stage is only average. To summarize, the F2 are rich, energetic, moderately detailed and never congested.

    I must touch on using an aftermarket cable. All of the positive attributes of the F2 I have mentioned are “clearly” accentuated with upgraded cables. I have used the Effect Audio Ares II, Dita Truth Copper and Whiplash SPC and the RSD Golden mk3, and all of the cables brought out the best of the FIBAE technology. My favorite pairing was the Truth Copper unfortunately the ergonomics of that cable in my opinion are best suited for stationary listening and not portable use such as exercise or walking the dog. I chose the Ares II for my portable listening and because I do not like to continually switch cables it was my go to. The clarity of the F2 was a touch better with both cables but all other aspects were noticeably enhanced, including the soundstage. If you don’t believe in cables bringing out the best in an IEM then that is your opinion and I respect that, but with the FIBAE 2 it is a clear sonic difference and we can just agree to disagree.

    Bass

    As I have briefly touched upon the bass has a nice sub depth when you have a great seal and the right tips, of course this would not be a worry with a proper custom fit. While there is a solid rumble it doesn’t compete with the rumble of a 64 Audio U12. The rumble in the F2 is there and is really just the right amount as to not leak into the other frequencies. The bass isn’t the DD type of bass that has a snap and depth of layers but it reaches low and creates a presence, it is a quality bass. I have heard more detail in bass notes with other IEM’s as well as better bass layering but overall it is a very enjoyable experience. The quantity of bass is what helps to provide the foot tapping musicality that engulfs you. After all, enjoyment is what this is all about. When hit with some power or volume you really can hear how well the bass is delivered to the listener and then you can truly feel the rumble. The mid bass is a bit difficult for me to distinguish from the lower mids, not really a criticism but the tone is so close. Plug in some early Police and listen to the bass it gives you goose bumps. Nuff said!

    Mids

    It really is a pleasure to hear these mids. The voices are placed between the middle and front of the stage and male and female vocals have a great tone alike. The warm, rich mids do not sound veiled but there is not so much detail that the listener ever feels fatigued, the clarity is a bit above average. The musicality doesn’t obviously stop with the bass as the mids carry on the signatures tradition. I feel that the tuning of these two drivers is just perfect. Warm, rich, musical and non-fatiguing. I really appreciate an IEM that delivers a sweet mid-range as it is so important to the overall experience.


    Treble

    The treble has a very smooth character. It doesn’t extend as well as some I have heard but it provides a tame energy. It may be a bit reserved for some that prefer a brighter signature. I am not one of those people I will take warm and smooth treble over anything even close to shrill. It holds its own place in the signature and doesn’t take the spotlight but rounds out the finishing touches. I tried some of my “harsh” tracks and it handled them respectfully and never gave me the biting on tin foil with dental fillings feeling when something is shrill. I don’t want to give any impression that the treble rolls off or is a weak link, on the contrary, it knows its place. Effortless, subtle and yet dynamic… When a track features cymbal crashes and high guitar notes it wakes up and delivers front and center.

    In Closing

    This was a difficult review for me to write. It should have been easy, two drivers, no knobs or switches, no modules but I felt that the Custom Art FIBAE 2 performed so well for being only a two driver IEM. I enjoyed my time with the F2 so much. It delivers an outstanding performance on all fronts. I found myself wanting to draw comparisons to much higher priced IEM’s. This is one of those fine examples where less is more. It is so rich and full in its signature and the fact that the signature remained unchanged from source to source was quite impressive. The F2 also scaled up so nicely and the quality of the sound clearly improved with a quality source and the addition of upgraded cables. I can easily and safely recommend these if you are in the market for a warm, rich, never fatiguing IEM. This one doesn’t break the bank relative to so many higher driver configuration IEM’s. Value for the money is very difficult to discuss because of the subjectivity, but I found myself throughout the review making references to higher priced IEM’s. It is unfortunate that I don’t have any other mid-tier IEM’s in my stable to compare. I do feel the comparisons are a testament to the F2 and the quality of sound they deliver.

    I see no reason the FIBAE 2 shouldn’t be on your short list to purchase or at least try to demo.

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