Custom Art FIBAE 3

General Information

FIBAE 3 is a triple-driver mid-level IEM utilizing the world’s first Flat Impedance design (patent pending). Featuring single proprietary sub-low, single proprietary full-range and single tweeter drivers, it delivers unparalleled end-to-end frequency 20180130_010034.jpg

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Pros: A balance hard to find, very good bass depth, not a single sharp note in the whole spectrum, as smooth as one can ask for without losing details, very good treble presentation. Fantastic stage depth. Fantastic Fit.
Cons: Would have liked a bit more Bass body and a bit sharper notes. Stage can be more rounded.
INTRODUCTION:-

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I don’t think the Custom Art Fibae 3 needs much of an introduction, still.. The FIBAE - "flat impedance balanced armature earphone" 3, housing 3 Balanced Armature drivers now leads the Fibae series with 1 and 2 under it.
They also have the triple BA PRO 330 v2 and EI.3, and their Flagship Harmony 8.2. All of these earphones have received heaps of praise from both reviewers and customers. (They have launched a single BA earphone Fibae Black very recently). All of their earphones are Custom made and are available in both Custom fit and universal fit just like mine (universal fit upon request). You can pick Silicone and Acrylic shell with Custom fit.

After the immense success of the Fibae 1 and 2, they introduced the Fibae 3 as their middle weight street fighter, with a price tag of 525 Euros, it takes on earphones like the EE Bravado, Campfire Jupiter, NCM NC5 v2, Shozy Pentacle and Eternal Melody EM-5H.

I will compare the Fibae 3 with a few other earphones, Shozy Pentacle, Shozy Neo BG 5, NCM NC5 v2 and EM-5H to name some.

You can get one for you from here:-

https://thecustomart.com/shop/silicone-products/fibae-3-silicone/

https://thecustomart.com/shop/acrylic-products/fibae-3-acrylic/

If you are from Asia, you will prefer this:-

https://music-sanctuary.com/products/custom-art-fibae-three-acrylic

ACCESSORIES & PACKAGING:-

The Fibae 3 comes in a gift box style Box with two carry cases inside it. One is a hard sided zipper case to keep the earphone when not on the move, the other one, a Pelican 1010 case is meant for travel use which will keep the earphone safe under unfavorable circumstances.

There are 3 pair of tips inside a small tips case in S/M/L sizes and a pair of double flange tip. Dehumidifier, wax pick tool and the welcome document sums up the list of things out of the box.

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BUILD QUALITY:-

Build quality is one of the biggest positive of the Fibae 3, which holds true for all the Custom Art earphones too.

There are many customization options available, some are with extra cost, you can chose different cables and one with Mic too. The Acrylic shell is very sturdy, the back plate fusion is flawless and unless you decide to drop the earpieces on solid floor (deliberately trying to break them). On the inside it implements a two bore design, one for Bass and mid and other for highs.

There is no vent in the shell, a BA don’t need one at all. The nozzle has nice depth to it and its very easy to change tips.

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CABLE:-

Custom art has a couple of cable color options. They have Black and grey color cables with both MMCX and 2pin socket. You can chose a mic cable too for extra money. Mine is the grey 2pin cable.

The 3 core braided cable has nice feel to it, there are no unnecessary layers of rubber on it, hence it's not bouncy at all. It's very supple and doesn’t tangle easily either. There is no microphonics to worry about. The cable guide is metal inserted which keeps shape once shaped to ones comfort.

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COMFORT, ERGONOMICS AND SEAL :-

All of their custom earphones have very good fitment with plenty of customization. Their universal earphones, like the one I am reviewing too have an comfortable feel to them.

It is exceptionally comfortable for a 3ba earphone, Even some single BA earphones have bigger shell size. The smaller size and ergonomically design makes it a very comfortable earphone for everyone.

Last time I reviewed the NCM NC5 v2 I complained about the Nozzle length, the Fibae 3 has an aptly deep nozzle making it more stable and secure. Fibae 3 fits like a glove to my ear without any discomfort even after hours of usage.

CAUTION:- don’t use earphones where you have to be aware of your surroundings like driving and walking on the road, stay home and enjoy your music or at gym.

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SOUND QUALITY:-

The Fibae 3 is tuned more for the consumers than for mastering use. It is meant to enjoy the delicacies of music without going too hard at them, without peaks or sibilance of any type, with a soothing approach delivering a very inoffensive sound signature.

"FIBAE 3’s tuning is a result of a carte blanche approach. Researched and newly developed drivers deliver reference sound without sacrificing punchy lows as well as improved presence of highest frequencies without adding harshness or sibilance. FIBAE 3 shares highly musical and engaging character of its bigger brother – Harmony 8.2. Consequently, this triple-driver IEM offers smooth, balanced midrange and high coherency that Custom Art is known for.

FIBAE 3 emerges as a new paradigm with only three Balanced Armature drivers that provide class-leading extension across the frequency range."

There is little to no coloration and the signature is very neutral, let put it like, its 95% like the ER-4P, but the notes have better weight to them making it more juicy. It has a nearly flat sound signature with a mild W shape to it.

Properly burned for 120hrs I am using stock tips and Plenue R and Plenue D for this review.

TECHNICALITY AND MATCHABILITY:-

The Fibae 3 is very easy to drive out of any portable device without much problem, even when using some capable mobile phones, you will still be able to get most out of it, but a dedicated dap will always bring out the best of it. 110db sensitivity means it can get very loud too. Amping is not necessary but if you have one, you can use one and you will find a bit more energy up top.

Given that the 7.3-8.2ohm impedance value, its prescribed to use a low output impedance source.

BASS:-

The lower end of the Fibae 3 is handled by one dedicated driver which is aided by a full range driver, yes the full range driver might be a mid range driver while contributing something to other two drivers, but we can't say that for sure.

The Bass region is not only very well defined and paced with plenty of precision but also has the poise of a matured tuning of the driver.

When compared to earphones like the NCM nc5 v2 and Empire Ears Bravado the Fibae 3 can be considered flat. But in front of the real flat folks like the ER-4P and q-jays the 3 is very potent. From a neutral point of view, It doesn’t lay flat on its back when a bass note arrives, it moves good amount of air with a sizeable slam. The body is not huge but is nicely rounded and meaty enough to keep me seated.

The biggest plus over the flatter ones is the sub-bass rumble, it has the most amount of energy and forwardness in the lower region. The Fibae 3 has very good extension and sub-bass presence, going as deep as 20hz, it delivers better sub-bass compared to the nocturnal Avalon. The Decay is very fast, marginally slower than the ER-4P or the q-jays, slightly slower decay gives notes a bit more weight and authority as they make their presence felt without vanish into thin air.

Mid bass is where things get as snappy as the ER-4P, its very fast as the notes size is smaller compared to the sub-bass notes, it is still present and moves a bit of air, thankfully it is not as dry as the 4P. Things get flatter even as things move to upper bass.

There is little to no sacrifices made when it comes to the balance between presence of bass and the level of details it delivers. The level of accuracy, resolution and amount of resolving details is up to competition. The amount of control exhibited by the Fibae 3 over the mid-bass and upper bass is rarely seen in this price bracket.

Even though the Fibae 3 is a bit sub-bass minded, it delivers a very detailed and textured presentation with equally better transparency. What impresses me the most is the effortlessness, it doesn’t feel like being held back.

Yes the bass is not huge by any means, but if you came for that.. the Fibae 3 will not leave you looking for it, just done expect much rumble.

MID RANGE:-

The first thing to notice with the mid range is the amount of maturity it shows with notes, its exceptionally paced with plenty of maturity with a nicely polished feel to them. The mid range sounds very lush and delivers one of the cleanest and smoothest notes with very good instrument distribution and density, sibilance and aggressive notes are nowhere to be seen.

If you look into specs, the full range driver does all of the hard work here and it delivers like a champ. Coming out of the same full range driver it delivers one of the most flawless transaction from upper bass to lower mid range. The mid range is slightly more forward that the bass region, giving it a more fuller and full bodied presentation and W shaped sound signature. Notes have a more natural tonality thanks to accurate notes width, sharpness and decay, notes don’t hound, it doesn’t bite, it just wants to cuddle.

Vocals are comparatively smoother with good enough texture to them, there is plenty of details from the word go. Male vocals sound accurate and soothing with a nice throaty feel to them, female vocals too have equally good tonality, sharpness, accuracy and smoothness to them. Both male and female vocals sound equally composed, there is no extra energy to make things uncomfortable unlike the Avalon, which can push some more spikes into the mix.

Instruments too have very good amount of details and transparency to them, picking up micro details is not a problem at all, but instruments do lack the pop thanks to the smoother presentation. Yes it doesn’t have the sharpness of the Nocturnal Avalon, which sounds slightly more transparent and cleaner. Upper mids are exceptionally balanced with the vocals and rest of the mid range with very good weight to notes. There is no sibilance at all.

The level of layering, instrument accuracy and separation is up to the class and easily beats the 64audio U3 and Earsonics ES3 with its more vivid and clearer presentation. The stage size has a cylindrical feel to it, it has exceptional depth with average height and width, aided by sonicality, the Fibae 3 can throw cues farther than most of the earphones mentioned.

HIGHS:-

The Fibae 3 delivers one of the most inoffensive treble notes. The is very good amount of energy and extension to them, but any type of spikes are kept out of the equation. The lower treble is nicely under control, but the energy increases as it goes deeper into the spectrum. The smoother notes presentation has not left the scene. Level of detail is very good.

Transition from upper mid range to the lower treble is exceptional here too with exactly same amount of energy to them, lower treble delivers very good clarity, resolution and details.

Let it be pianos, trumpets or cymbals, they have the required amount of sharpness and the finishing of the note along with the presentation, which is very good. Let it be the resolution or imaging, the Fibae 3 delivers.

Needless to say that separation and layering is up to the mark with plenty of air and space between instruments, with the bigger than average stage size, the presentation is delightful and fatigue free.

Slightly thicker and rounded notes do make the Fibae 3 sound a bit less cleaner and transparent.

COMPARISONS:- (videos)

Vs NCM NC5 v2 & DUNU DK-3001:-



Vs Shozy Pentacle, Nocturnal Avalon, EE Bravado and Eternal melody EM-5H:-


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CONCLUSION:-

With a smoother and near natural approach to the notes, the Fibae 3 delivers a effortless sublime experience. It has plenty of maturity to the notes, there is not a single spike in the whole spectrum. Not a single thing feels out of place with a beautiful imaging. Let it be, tonality, timber, weight of notes, presentation, balance, sonicality, or imaging, it excels at many things. There is clumsy feel to it at all. It slightly lacks with details and sharpness.

Yes, it cannot compete with detail hogs, The Fibae 3 sounds Veiled compared the the EM-5H, Nocturnal Avalon and Shozy Pentacle. And that how the Fibae 3 is tuned. It's not for monitoring use but for enjoying the music with very good amount of details and smoothness.

If you and to enjoy your music with exceptionally accurate tonality and timber without a single spike in the spectrum coming your way, if you just want to sit back and enjoy the music, there is nothing that beats the Fibae 3.

I hope you guys had a nice time reading the Review.

Cheers, have fun, happy Christmas, enjoy.

Attachments

Custom Art - FIBAE 3 (Universal) – Triple Detail Formula

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Custom Art Website

Fibae 3 page

Specifications
  • Drivers: Three Balanced Armature, Single Sub-Low, Single Full-Range, Single High
  • Sensitivity: 110dB @1kHz @0.1V
  • Impedance: 7.3 Ohm @1kHz (+-0.9 Ohm 10Hz-20kHz)
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz-21000Hz (+-20dB into IEC 60318-4 coupler)

Available in Silicone (Custom) or Hollow Acrylic (Custom or Universal fit) body


Price: Starting from €525.

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Design

The Fibae 3 here is the universal fit version, which arrives in a very simple package that consists of a Pelican Micro 1010 case and 4 pairs of standard eartips (3 single and 1 dual flange tips); there may be some additional accessories with either the full retail Custom or Universal versions. The cable is already attached and the connection is really tough, which should be expected for higher IEMs of this range.​

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It may not be mentioned on the CustomArt website yet, but their in-ear models are available in both universal and custom options. From this universal version, the build quality and finish is already really good. The shells are made of good quality acrylic, with a fine finish with no bubbles inside and smooth on the outer part. Of course, the color option is available for the universal fit as well, and on the design here it’s possible to see the inner setup through the translucent material. The Fibae 3 consists of a separate single Balanced Armature driver for the low frequencies, single BA driver for mids and single BA for highs, and the nozzle is divided in 2 bores.

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The ergonomics and fit of the universal Fibae are perfect. The shape is very close to a custom fit IEM filling most of the outer ear. Unlike many of the universal custom-like shaped in-ear models, which are usually a hit or miss for many people, the Fibae is much better shaped and slightly more compact with a lower profile fit; a bit tight like Custom made IEMs but still really comfortable. Obviously, the eartips selection plays an important role; the included eartips didn’t give a decent fit and seal, so I opted for the SpinFit C800 and new CP145, and wider dual-flange tips. The isolation is very high with either of them (if a bit higher with the SpinFit), lowering the outside on noisy crowded areas to minimal, and probably of the highest isolation level among universal IEMs before going to Custom made options.

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As for the cable, it is quite the standard one you would get from most Custom in-ear manufacturers, three twisted strands on the lower half and two on the upper part for each side, comfortable and low in noise. The 2-pin sockets are flushed, though the connection is very tough. There’s the usual memory wire and simple plastic tube that acts as cable slider.

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Sound Quality

Gears used: PAW Pico, Hidizs AP200, Aune M1s, xDuoo X10, Headamp Pico Slim. Music files mostly in FLAC and WAVe formats.

With a ‘Reference’ tuning in mind, right from the start the Fibae 3 strikes with impressive transparency and very high level of detail. The overall tonality leads towards the bright signature with a strong lift on the very upper midrange and whole treble frequencies, yet very controlled as an IEM at this price range should perform. The presentation is too effortless, airy, and rather neutral and despite the upper tilt, the Fibae 3 remains relatively smooth (no peaks) and well weighted for a detail oriented IEM.

Bass

For a reference tuned IEM, the whole low frequencies are presented in a very linear way with almost no added flavor or coloring to them. The balance from sub-bass and all the way up to the upper-bass is well kept, with total control and impressive high speed taking full advantage of the balanced armature features to their best. With just a single driver (and not a large one within a 3-BA configuration) the bass quantities are just slightly above of neutral for what a flat reference tuned IEM could be, with a very faint hint of warmth that exchanges fullness on notes for a ‘technically’ strong texture, accuracy and equilibrium between attack and decay. The bass is clean and thus lacks the rumble and sheer power of more musical oriented multi-BA sets, not to mention hybrid sets which add the dynamic counterpart to complete a full and richer balance. It’s not a weakness on the Fibae 3 side as it wasn’t design for that purpose. Moreover, the Fibae 3 low-end also deviates from the more clinical/analytical popular models, such as the Etymotic ER4 or DBA-02 pure TWFK setup, that are missing in sub-bass reach and overall fullness next to this CustomArt IEM.

Midrange

The whole midrange is very transparent and articulated with a very high level of detail. It has a brighter tonality easily perceived through the upper mids with a lot of sparkle and energy for upper instruments, with a slight preference for strings and cymbals over wind instruments. However, the lower mids and male vocals do not feel missing or recessed, as the midrange keeps a little bit of forwardness on the whole presentation without breaking the balance for a ‘reference’ monitor. There’s still fullness to the sound with a fairly enjoyable warmth, that while may give up on the overall sense of musicality and sweetness, it pays off with so much micro detail and a very refined linear response.

Treble

The high frequencies have a very strong lift from lower treble to the upper regions. The Fibae 3 not just classify as having a ‘bright’ tilt; there’s an abundant quantity of treble, and for some can be too much. However, the Fibae 3 doesn’t really carry a very aggressive or too hot treble, that sounds artificial or throws off the overall balance. Technically it is excellent, very resolving and too effortless. The detail is probably the best feature on the Fibae 3, with ultra fine micro detailing that at first might call the listener’s attention too much. The approach of the single BA tweeter unit acts very different from what heard from the TWFK dual drivers or the ED single (when used for ‘highs’ driver alone), as they present a more forwarded detail and can be overwhelming. The Fibae 3, while still strong in treble, is more leveled and smoother, probably due the less peaky lower treble part (just in comparison to the more treble happy tuned sets). Sibilance can be present, but more because the played track asks for that and less from the IEM itself.

While the stage dimensions are not too large on the Fibae 3, it surprisingly shows a good sense of width, especially for this specific tuned type of signature. The depth and height are less, though the imaging and precision is worth praising. The right to left channels separation is easily noticed, but the linearity and less aggressive nature makes it less engaging next to fuller sounding IEMs like the DK-3001 with its hybrid and more open design. Nevertheless, the resolution and speed is much higher and too effortless.​

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Conclusion

The Custom Art FIBAE 3 is undoubtedly a very strong contender among the mid-tier range of IEMs. It strikes with a rather flat yet balanced full range response, with amazing clarity and great resolution. It’s very difficult not to be impressed by the so high level of micro detail, speed and accuracy the Fibae 3 packs with just 3 Balanced Armature units inside. The build quality also is very solid, as far as acrylic in-ear gets with custom-like shape. The universal fit is well thought too, and a safer bet for those who don’t want to go for a full custom in-ear fit and still have a comfortable earphone with high isolation. The signature may not appeal to everyone – the Fibae 3 would not offer too much emphasis on lower frequencies nor a very strong sense of musicality in its midrange. The treble quantity is plenty, and can be too much for more aggressive genres, however, the Fibae 3 remains reasonably smooth with excellent control. Nevertheless, the high level of detail does not arrive in a too analytical fashion or very lean sound, but rather in a more enjoyable presentation.​

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ebjarrell
ebjarrell
Nice review Zelda. I've been keeping my eye on these, thanks.
Pros: Great Fit & Build, Clarity & Transparency, Sub Bass
Cons: Not a warm signature(maybe a negative)
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CUSTOM ART FIBAE 3


FIBAE 3

FIBAE 3 – Direct link to information

F 3 Design Acrylic - Design your acrylic version here

F 3 Design Silicon - Design your silicon version here

A Little Technical Stuff:
  • Single proprietary Sub-Low, Single proprietary Full-Range, Single High
  • 110dB @1kHz @0.1V
  • 7.3 Ohm @1kHz (+-0.9 Ohm 10Hz-20kHz)
  • 10Hz-21000Hz (+-20dB into IEC 60318-4 coupler)
  • Silicone or Hollow Acrylic body

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Custom Art FIBAE 3
-MRSP: Custom fit $525 EUR/$647 USD at the time of the review


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I want to thank Piotr, proprietor of Custom Art for providing me with the FIBAE 3 for review.

My first exposure to Piotr and Custom Art was in August of 2017 when we had a discussion about allowing me to demo the FIBAE 2 for review. Actually, it was regarding the Harmony 8.2 but when asked which of his offerings he was proud of but that wasn’t receiving the exposure he felt it deserved he directed me to FIBAE 2. I had the pleasure to demo and review the FIBAE2 and I really enjoyed the fun, musical signature and was in awe of the stereo separation and soundstage. Thus, I had to ask what is on the horizon for Custom Art(CA) and at that time Piotr mentioned the FIBAE 3(F3). He wrote a description of the F3’s signature and my initial thought was, after hearing the fun engaging sound of the F2, I am not sure that this was the type of signature I would enjoy. At this moment, I don’t remember the word bright being an adjective used in his description, pardon my senior moment, but the description made me feel that it was going to be a bright signature. I have always enjoyed a warmer signature but I was told that the F3 has copious amounts of clarity with some sweet sub bass thrown into the mix so I was certainly up for that challenge.

A Little Marketing Hype:

FIBAE 3 is a triple-driver mid-level IEM utilizing the world’s first Flat Impedance design (patent pending). Featuring single proprietary sub-low, single proprietary full-range and single tweeter drivers, it delivers unparalleled end-to-end frequency extension.

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 3’s tuning is a result of a carte blanche approach. Researched and newly developed drivers deliver reference sound without sacrificing punchy lows as well as improved presence of highest frequencies without adding harshness or sibilance. FIBAE 3 shares highly musical and engaging character of its bigger brother – Harmony 8.2. Consequently, this triple-driver IEM offers smooth, balanced midrange and high coherency that Custom Art is known for.

FIBAE 3 emerges as a new paradigm with only three Balanced Armature drivers that provide class-leading extension across the frequency range.

I will add my take on the marketing hype in that the FIBAE technology is not a gimmick. The overall signature did not change with each source I used. Certainly there were quality differences heard from DAP to DAP but the signature remained relatively untouched. For example, If the DAC used could deliver a more spacious sound it would render differences in spaciousness etc.. but not the sound siganture.

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WHAT’S IN THE BOX:
  • Custom FIBAE 3
  • Carton box
  • Peli 1010 case
  • Zipper case
  • Wax pick tool
  • Drying pellet
  • Warranty card
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Unboxing and Accessories:

When beginning this section of the review I was thinking that the Custom Art accessories are rather meager, and by many a company standard they may be, but considering I have customs there aren’t included eartips included and the rest of the pack-ins would be fluff. For example, wiping cloths, cloth bags and so on. None of that is included with the CA F3. The Custom Art includes the necessities and on top of that they include a seriously quality product for a fair price. I will take a quality CIEM over the branded fluff any day. I love Pelican cases and am happy that they include a portable zippered case, simple pleasures satisfy me. As far the unboxing everything comes in a rather non-descript black box. I am not sure I can drone on and on about the black box, so I won’t. Sorry nothing more to see here, move along. That said, as the CA brand moves forward it would be a nice gesture to add more pack-ins or marketing collateral to round out the complete package. The cable is the standard fare, black copper Plastic’s One cable with memory wire ear guides. After my experience with aftermarket cables and how well the FIBAE 2 performed with a cable upgrade, I quickly switched the F3 to the Ares II and haven’t turned back since.

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Build and Quality and Fit:

The F2 that I have are universal and in my review of those I was a little hard on Piotr. I thought the build quality had a bit of a cheaper look and feel, I am not sure why I felt that way and I noted maybe it was the color choices. Also, compared to my Zeus and EM10 it just didn’t appear to be the same level of quality. Anyway, I take back my criticism of Custom Art and build quality, the CIEM F3 build quality and design is superb. I left the design up to Piotr, kind of like a chef’s choice, and felt that what he returned was a tasteful, yet cool design. Piotr chose the acrylic shell as he feels the FIBAE performs better with the acrylic as opposed to the silicon shell. The build quality itself was without blemishes, no bubbles or no seams, all in all a great job!

The fit was perfect and didn’t require any time for me to grow accustomed to it in my ear. The seal was snug and there is no pain involved with wearing them. They isolate me perfectly from offending world noise on my daily walks, I have no gripes with the build, quality or fit.

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Review Setup:

My review was written utilizing multiple sources, Opus #1S and LG V30 and Shanling M3S and Opus #2. These are custom IEM’s so there is no worry as to which ear tip to choose. I listened using both a 3.5mm SE and 2.5mm balanced connection. My sample music consisted of 320kb and FLAC as well as streaming Tidal Masters and Spotify.

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Moving on to the sound section….

I feel I need to say this right off the bat, the F3 doesn’t do a hell of a lot wrong, it portrays the music as it was meant to be heard. I am attempting to compare it to another IEM I have heard and honestly, I can’t. I put on some jazz and just get lost. The tonal quality and signature just proudly strut their stuff. Crystal clarity and rich fulfilling sub bass. This CIEM was built for it’s clarity and transparency and airiness and in that objective the F3 reign supreme, however play a track with sub bass notes and the sound fills in with a joyous rumble. The sound is more reference tuned than anything else, and the mid and treble range uphold the reference moniker proudly.

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Presentation

To particularize the presentation, the F3 has a wonderful reference sound. The sound rolls out of the IEM so effortlessly, it does not appear to labor it just opens up and out flows beautiful sound. This IEM is a fine example that clarity doesn’t necessarily mean bright and harsh. The F3 is far from harsh and I have never heard a hint of sibilance. With music such as Al Di Meola’s latest release, Opus, the amount of detail and micro detail captivates the listener. Do not think that the sound is analytical and emotionless with its level of detail because emotion exudes as you hear the fingers hitting the fret board and feeling the slide of the fingers on the strings as the artist changes chords. ENCHANTING! The overall presentation has a vast stage as well as tremendous speed, with a slight decay. I listen to the F3 and the clarity evokes visions of a crystal clear and quiescent bottomless pool, that is still until the sub bass kicks in and it creates ripples in the lucid pool, wonderful, deep bassy ripples. The signature is not warm but it also isn’t hollow or without substance, it is reference and has a fairly true tonality. Going back to when Piotr first gave me his description of the sound of the F3 I would say his description was factual and articulate. My characterization probably has evoked the same initial thoughts in you as I had about the F3. With adjectives such as clarity, detail and crystal it does stir reactions that the F3 is bright, but it is certainly noteworthy that it is NEVER fatiguing, NEVER harsh and NEVER strident. The upper treble range has an expert tuning that maintains control. Vocals seemed placed perfectly with the correct centralization and depth creating an impeccable fusion with the instruments.

Bass

The sub bass is very pleasing. It is a wonderful rumble, not to the teeth rattling bass head levels, not even close. It has layers and is a very detailed sub bass that does allow for rumble that creates the only hint of warmth I can detect in the IEM. The bass is perfectly placed and is a polite rumble that would never think of interrupting the clarity and details by bleeding into even the lower mid-range or the upper bass range for that matter. The control in the mid bass is appreciated and impressive, as I said everything stays in it’s place. I think the song #41 from Dave Matthews Crash release showcases how well defined the bass is. The drum kicks and the bass lines are smooth and flowing while having distinct edging to each instrument, thus being able to easily discern the bass drum from the electric bass. The detail in the bass is very apparent and defined. The song really showcases how technically proficient the F3 is. The decay drops quick and sharp and notes don’t linger in an unrealistic fashion.

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Mids

The stage is veritably demonstrated in the mid-range of the F3. The vocals are slightly in front of the drummer but you can envision the perfect placement of how the stage would be set if you were in the crowd watching the show. There is a tinge of warmth in the lower midrange that is revealed in a dip in that range and in the range just above the lower mid-range there seems to be a slight bump. This creates a certain fullness while conserving the detail and clarity that is the hallmark of the F3. Very articulate and linear in the overall tone. I have found the mid-range to be incredible with almost all genres of music but with jazz and artists such as Dire Straits the F3 will excel. Again, song #41 from Dave Matthews(FLAC) is a sublime listening experience. Percussion, saxophone and acoustic guitar all shine. The F3 is quite obviously proud of its technical prowess as displayed in the way it struts its stuff across the mid-range spectrum.

Treble

The treble is where this CIEM separates itself from the pack. The hallmark is in the mid and upper treble ranges. It is a high energy listen without the sharpness reminiscent in many high energy IEM’s. Notes float with liberal amounts of air between them and are infused with details and transparency. This is the range that creates that crystalline pool I alluded to earlier in the review. The speed is brisk and the decay short on the cymbal strikes and there is no linger which creates the edge, the energy if you will. The treble extends well and veil or opacity be damned. The treble is the balance giver, the range that ties this package together and creates the symbiotic relationship between all of the frequencies particularly that wonderful sub bass. While the treble is majorly detailed the end-user can listen for hours without a hint of fatigue. There is no congestion in the F3, copious amounts of air around notes and crystal clear detailed treble round out the sound portion of the review.

Pairings

The F3 does not need a lot of power to drive it properly. None of my sources had an issue driving them and a couple of times I wasn’t aware of my volume and I had it bumped up fairly high and I felt the pain, a word of caution. Remember with the FIBAE technology there are quality differences heard from DAP to DAP but the signature remains relatively untouched. So regarding the pairing portion of this review there is not going to be much to point out. All of my sources drove them easily and provided excellent quality sound. My two favorite sources to pair with the F3 are the Opus #2 and the LG V30. Opus #2 being my reference DAP and the wonderfully excellent quad DAC in the LG V30.


Comparisons

I compared different sources, a multi genre, multi format playlist, while testing IEM’s for their characteristics.

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IE800S VS. FIBAE3

Soundstage in both units is very wide and I would venture to say it is almost equal with the F3 being a touch wider. The depth of the IE800S is slightly greater but the F3 has more a more holographic stage at times. The bass of the IE800S is slightly deeper and has equal rumble with better textures in the other bass ranges in the IE800S. The F3 has more transparency and clarity in its mids and upper treble while the IE800S has more richness. The IE800S mids are smoother with zero harshness and the F3 has more clarity and transparency and zero offensive harshness. The IE800S has an overall smooth, full signature while the F3 is known for its clarity, transparency and sub bass. The treble extends well on both IEM’s but what we are talking about is a tale of two very different IEM’s, but the edge in extension and stage goes to the F3. I tested the F3 using the Ares II cable.

F3 VS. FIBAE2

Soundstage has an equal width with the F3 having more depth. The FIBAE2 has a more fun, musical characteristic while the F3 is more clear and transparent. The bass of the F3 goes a little deeper and has more rumble, but the F2 has an overall warmer tone. F3 bass has more layering and texture but the F2 holds its own. Both IEM’s have totally different mids with the F2 adding a richer lower mid-range, and a more musical tone. Both are detailed in their mids with the F3 being more transparent and clear. The F3 has that treble extension at the upper range of the treble while both extend very well there is that certain treble clarity and stage that the F3 owns which sounds more neutral overall.

F3 VS. EM10

The F3 has a wider soundstage with the EM10 sounding more confined and narrow. EM10 is more balanced across the board and reveals itself as smooth throughout the spectrum. F3 has more texture in its bass and rumble in the sub bass. The F3 has more clarity and transparency in its mids and is more aggressive. The treble extends further in the F3 and with more much detail and sparkle. These are definitely two different IEM’s with two different purposes to their tuning. There are times when the mood calls for the EM10.

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In Closing

I have heard the two driver FIBAE and now the three driver FIBAE and who knows maybe I will get to hear the Massdrop version with six drivers. Both of the FIBAE options check a lot of boxes, they are different boxes, but they check their own boxes and do it very confidently.

If you decide on the F3 you will most certainly receive clarity and transparency in spades and the sub bass which is so well tuned in all of its rumbly, layered glory.

The accessories are adequate and for me all I really need or want for that matter. Some of you that appreciate a little fluff will not receive it with the F3. Awesome build, expert tuning and one of the best value companies vs. fluff…you choose.

As far as the CIEM itself, Custom Art has delivered a product that exudes sexiness, value and quality tuning. It is reference tuned, for all intents and purposes, and combined with a crystal-clear transparent signature and sub bass rumble I don’t see how the consumer can go wrong. I find it amazing how the treble in all of its clarity never even sticks its toe across the line of harshness. I am more and more amazed with Custom Art as they enhance their lineup of products. The company has some truly outside the box thinking combined with Piotr’s if you dream it, it can be done attitude toward business and you have the recipe for success. The future appears to be quite bright for Custom Art.

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