1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

Custom Art FIBAE 7

Rating:
4.75/5,
  1. antdroid
    Fibae 7 Review
    Written by antdroid
    Published Jul 21, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Warm DF Tuning
    Very comfortable and lightweight
    Very pleasant tuning. Good midrange
    Cons - lacking a little bit of subbass and treble extension
    [​IMG]





    When I was considering buying a Custom In-Ear Monitor (CIEM) a while back, a company that seemed to get a lot of recommendation for being a good entry level audiophile CIEM was Custom Art, based in Poland. They were considered relatively inexpensive, while delivering capable and likable products.



    Up until now, I still had not ever tried a Custom Art product, but with Headphones.com adding more inventory of new brands this year, and Custom Art being one of them, I was asked recently if I wanted to take advantage of the Community Preview Program at The Headphone Community, and try out the all-new flagship from Custom Art – The Fibae 7, in a limited edition universal-fit Anniversary Blue color.



    The Package


    The Anniversary Blue Fibae 7 was sent to me with just the neoprene zip up carrying pouch, along with a few tips and the IEMs and cable. I do not know if the real unit will have any additional packaging to go along with it at this time.



    The cable features a 2-pin connection and is a bright white/silver colored cable that is thin and lightweight and very easy to handle and use. There’s a chin strap cinch that is useful if you want less cable movement and the connection at the source is a right-angled 3.5mm jack.



    The Fibae 7 features 7 balanced armature drivers and features a patent-pending “Flat Impedance” design. The seven drivers include 2 sub-low, 1 low-mid, 2 mid-high, and 2 top firing tweeters and while most multi-BA IEMs feature low impedance which can cause wild fluctuations with sources, the Flat Impedance technology uses is supposed to minimize any source impact on sound.



    [​IMG]







    Listener Profile
    Before I hit the sound category, let me give you a little look into what I find neutral and what I am using in this review. First off, I tend to lean towards the Diffuse Field target as a neutral signature as opposed to the Harman Target curve which is popular today. My own preferred curve is somewhere in between the two, but more of a warm DF curve with less treble emphasis. As a reference, I currently am using the qdc Anole VX as my daily driver IEM, and before that the Campfire Solaris. I also really enjoy the Moondrop Kanas Pro and ER2XR as a more budget tier IEM that fits my sound signature well.



    My sources used in this review include the RME ADI-2 DAC and it’s 3.5mm IEM output, and 4 different portable sources: The Astell & Kern SR15 A&Norma (warmer DAP), Pioneer XDP-300R (cooler and airy), Fiio M11 (neutral-ish airy), and the Samsung Galaxy S10e phone. I ended up using Final Audio E tips with the Fibae 7 for most of the usage.



    Tuning


    The CustomArt Fibae 7 quickly reminded me of a warmer, more detailed and more exacting version of the Etymotics ER-series of in-ears. That is, a diffuse-field tuned IEM that has a slight bump in the bass region that provides a little more warmth and energy. I have not heard the ER4XR before nor have I heard the ER3XR, but given that they are less elevated than the ER2XR that I do have, I imagine that the Fibae 7 is on-par with that type of sound profile.



    [​IMG]







    Some will find the bass a little lacking, depending on where you come from, but for me, the bass is nicely defined, has some extension, though don’t expect any low-end rumble, or punishing impact. Bass lines are well layered and textured, and provide plenty of detail. As this is a multi-balanced armature IEM, the bass is fast and quick and may not provide a basshead that needed slow decay and punch. It’s also not tuned to do that. Instead, you’ll be rewarded with a nice clean presentation that provides enough elevation to give a little body to the male vocals and the lower midrange.



    Speaking of which, the mids are very coherent. Transition between bass to lower mids and into the upper mids is smooth and I find very appetizing. Male vocals have a little bit more body than female vocals, but both are equally weighted in terms of presence.



    The upper registers of the Fibae 7 are pushing the boundaries of being harsh, but is toned down just enough to provide none of the harshness to me, and also no sibilance. CustomArt made a good balancing act here, and I was rewarded with clean, airy soundscapes and clarity. Treble isn’t quite as extended as I had hoped, but still does not seem like I am missing much with it rolling off.



    Imaging is pretty well done here. There’s clear separation of instruments despite it having a soundstage that is between the ears. Depth and height aren’t as big as I would like, and this IEM is more of a left to right soundstage than a 3D holographic one that I have gotten more used to with the Solaris and the VX more recently.



    In some selective track listening….


    Daft Punk’s Contact:

    This track from Random Access Memories starts off with a spacey soundscape and radio transmissions which sound a little more intimate that I would like. The transition into the main song doesn’t quite have the impactful drum kicks and sustained decay either, but instead hit with tight precision as do the cymbals, which aren’t overly splashy and sound on point. During the busiest section of the song, which is one the most busy tracks in my normal rotation, I found that the Fibae 7 handles it well and never sounds congested or smeared. When comparing to the Campfire Solaris in this track, I found the Solaris to struggle a little bit more with the congestion, however details were more resolving and defined, and the bass impactful and bigger with the Solaris than the Fibae 7.



    M83’s Atlantic Sud:

    This is a track where the Fibae 7 really excels in. Despite being made by the dancey-electro-rock band M83, this is a slower piano ballad featuring Mai Lan trading her beautiful French vocals with M83’s Anthony Gonzales back and forth. The Fibae 7 handles this song with grace and elegance and is ultra-smooth throughout. Both male and female vocals bounce of each other with ease and equally distributed.



    Some other genres to note:

    The Fibae 7 isn’t going to be the best for music that requires a big bassline or big drums like electronic dance music, hip hop, and the like. It’s well suited for vocals, vocals and more vocals. It also plays well with most rock



    Comparisons


    [​IMG]







    Campfire Solaris

    The Solaris is a much bigger and heavier IEM, over doubling the weight of the Fibae 7. The fit can be challenging with the Solaris, as I personally experienced this and documented it in my previous review of the Campfire product. The Solaris provides a bigger dynamic driver-led bass section that punches, extends, and feels more lively than the Fibae 7. It also provides greater warmth and musicality to the signature. The Fibae 7 is tighter, faster, and has less hollow vocals, but may sound a tad boring and sterile when compared to the Solaris. It also has a much smaller soundstage in all directions than the Solaris.



    [​IMG]







    Meze Rai Penta

    The new Rai Penta is the flagship IEM from the Romanian outfit, Meze. The major aesthetic difference between the two is the Rai Penta uses a very attractive CNC machined aluminum alloy shell that is quite a looker. Both feature very similar sound signatures, a warmer diffuse-field-like tuning. The Penta plays it just a tad more safe though, with less extension on both sides, but has punchier bass. On a detail resolution stand point, I find both on par with each other, with maybe a slight nod to the Penta.



    [​IMG]





    Campfire Andromeda

    The Andromeda features both more elevated and punchier pass than the CustomArt Fibae 7, but lacks the midrange presence and vocal clarity. The Andromeda provides much more treble sparkle than the Fibae 7 but I find the Fibae 7 more tonally correct and more coherent in general. It’s also much less sensitive to output impedance than the Andromeda due to it’s Flat Impedance technology.



    [​IMG]




    Overall



    At the end of the day, I find the CustomArt Fibae 7 a very appealing package despite a generally safe tuning approach. Its minor issues are really only present if you want big bass or need a grand soundstage, but other than that, this is a very engaging, coherent, and well-tuned package, and one that is an upgrade upon something like the Etymotics ER series.



    I do find myself really enjoying this IEM because it works for so any of the genres I listen to the most, and that’s a big plus in my books. There are some things I wish it could do better, but I’m pleased with how this one turned out and would consider it as a good reference-type tuning if I wanted to go towards a CIEM in that profile.
  2. akared
    CustomArt FIBAE7 -- Let it flow
    Written by akared
    Published Jul 8, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - - Natural signature
    - forward and bodied vocals
    - slightly bright without bring sharp
    - imaging
    Cons - - not the most resolving TOTL
    - universal shells on larger side
    Disclaimer: the F7 was purchased directly from the CustomArt, Poland with full retail price. I am not affiliated with the company nor do I receive any kind of incentives or rewards for writing this review.

    Introduction: When it comes to the FIBAE line-up, I don’t think that lengthy description is needed given that the previous models such as F2 through F4 have been extremely well received by the audiophile community. Personally owning the F2 and F3 (both universals), I have grown to love CustomArt’s house sound – clear, forwardly positioned vocals, fun bass and never fatiguing signature. When Piotr announced the F7 anniversary model, I jumped right on and hope that they would have maintained the traits I love, SQ-wise, and the F7 does not disappoint!


    Build quality and fit: The anniversary model comes in universal only – the blue/lagoon-ish shell is gorgeous and the build quality is perfect as to be expected from CustomArt. The shells, though, are much thicker than those of F2 and F3 – kind of obvious since there are 7 drivers on each side. To my ears, the fit of the F7 is kind of tricky: using the same sized tips on both sides, the ‘tightness’ are not the same. I am not saying that there is any king of sizing inconsistency – I am mentioning this because my ears are not of the exact same shape and this does affect the sound that I perceive which I will talk about later in the review.
    TL;DR – perfect build quality as always.

    66175019_467916847373671_900471968422166528_n.jpg

    Sound: Piotr describes the sound signature of the F7 as “most natural sounding IEM in Custom Art’s portfolio” and, from my experience with his products, I couldn’t agree more. The overall signature of the F7 is, indeed, natural in a sense that no frequencies overshadow another. The elaborate, the bass is powerful enough to ‘feel’ and is not lacking by any means, the mids are dense and, consistent with the house sound, vocals are bodied and forwardly-placed, and highs are prominent without sibilance.

    Bass: Starting with the lows, the F7 definitely has a sub-bass bias over mid and upper bass. The bass extends really low where kick drums are easily felt while the control remains excellent. Rumbles are present and can really draw the focus if the tracks demand. While the bass is strong and fun, it is not stepping anywhere near the basshead territory. Mid and upper bass are not recessed, but they are not accentuated too much so they don’t occupy too much space in the audiovisual landscape and thus allows for other frequencies to cut through clearly. Speed is fast given the quantity and layering is very well executed given that the bass is BA-driven. On that note, bass texture is still not at the same level as the bass from dynamic driver (W900 comes to mind) but for what it does, the F7 renders its bass with grace and power. The bass has dimensions and dynamics -- definitely not your typical one-note bass associated with BAs.

    Mids: Midrange, to me, is the area that makes for breaks the IEM. My attention is, most of the times, on the vocalist(s) or instruments that drive the melody such as guitars or piano and the F7 does put those elements under spotlight. I have always loved that CustomArt execute vocals in a way that, does not really matter what the sound signature is (natural or V-shaped), the vocals always cut through with ease. The F7 follows the same path but with extra refinement – Vocals are of sufficient sizes, however, they are exceptionally dense and bodied while remaining not too warm nor too bright and without any sibilance – truly an exceptional balance. I can see, though, that this placement of vocals can be too forward for some: on some tracks (tracks where bass is not the focus – Asian tracks with vocals plus old school instruments such as drums, guitars and bass), vocals can come out as shouty at high volumes.

    One quick note: I do notice slight left ear bias in the midrange, especially with vocals, where I feel like the sound pressure on the left side is a little bit stronger that the right which gives a feeling of the vocalist being placed slightly to the left of the stage instead of the center stage. This could be due to the insertion problem I mentioned earlier in the fit section or some slight channel imbalance.

    Highs: The highs of the F7 is slightly forward and are really well extended. The higher octaves are easily heard and the presence of highest of highs contributes to the air that suffuses throughout the entire frequency response. The presentation of high frequency is exceptionally balanced – I don’t hear any bias towards lower treble, mid or high treble that to me, that is such a feat that gives the high frequency such a natural timbre. One other thing about the highs that impress me is, again, how the frequencies are presented with such body and authority without being sibilant.


    Technicalities: The F7 impresses with its exceptional balance across the frequency range but how does it perform when it comes to technicalities? The first minute of listen did not give that ‘wow’ factor – the F7 does not try to impress by pushing details at you nor surrounding you with ridiculously big soundstage. Resolution-wise, the F7 is not the most resolving IEM out there (offerings like Empire Ears Zeus and Vision Ear VE8 come to mind). Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely NOT saying that it is not resolving since it is definitely not the case and resolution is relative (as I will elaborate more in the comparison section). However, once you let the F7 sit in for a little while, it will start to show its prowess – spatial cues rendering is top-notch – you can really pinpoint where each note originates from thanks to its 3D soundstage and excellent imaging ability. This is not a stage that totally surrounds you with a wall of sound (think FAudio major) or with depth and strong bass (think Empire Ears X line-up) like most of the V-shape IEMs. Instead, the F7 offers soundstage that is more natural – it gives the feeling of being in an semi-open space as opposed to being in a concert hall. I used the word ‘semi’ here because it is definitely not the most open sounding IEM but I have heard a lot of this really ‘open’ sounding products that sacrifice the integrity of the stage for the sheer size and openness. I would say that the F7 strikes a great balance between openness while maintaining the coherence of the stage. Speaking of coherence, the presentation of the entire frequency range sounds coherent – as if the F7 is driven by a single driver. Natural timbre is maintained across the frequency range and not one part of the spectrum stands out as outlier – remarkable feat for 7-driver IEMs. Note size is average; however, it is the density and power of each note that stands out. Note edge is distinct – each note has its own boundary and does not bleed over not does it blur out the overall presentation and this gives the feeling of space and separation. For me, personally, this ability really grows on me the longer I listen to the F7 as I kept discovering the little spatial details (Oh, I did not know that this note comes from behind my head!) from even the tracks that I have been listening to repeatedly. Kudos to the CustomArt team :)


    Select Comparisons

    CustomArt FIBAE3: I did a number of sessions of A/B-ing the F3 and the F7 because my initial impression of the F7 is that it is like the F3 on steroids. I would stand behind that statement but with come elaborations. I feel like the F7 has a similar overall frequency response to the F3 ina sense that they are both quite a W-shape IEMs. Starting from the bass, both IEMs have sub-bass focus. The difference comes to the power and layering where the F7 hits harder and extends slightly lower – kick drums sound more physical. The upper bass of the F3 feels more bloated next to the F7 – there is more definition that results from the more resolved note edge on the F7. The mids share similar forwardness but the F7 is much more bodied which can make the F3 sounds hollow. The F3 has bigger note size and more diffuse note edge while, again, the F7 is more defined and is much denser – this gives vocals throaty quality. Comparison of the highs follow the same trend – notes are clearer on the F7 and are more controlled. With its more defined notes, the F7 offers better separation and significantly improved imaging. Timbre is better and more natural (organic) on the F7 as well due to its denser notes while the sheer sized is more confined. One thing that contributes to the slightly plastic timbre of the F3 is that even though the notes are big and on a brighter (leaner) side of the scale, the transient is quite slow. F7 have that problem handled and now the timbre is much more natural. F3 is ‘open’ sounding, but the stage feels small coming from the F7.

    CustomArt FIBAE2: The F2 is what started it all for me – I fell in love with it and then bought the F3 and later the F7. My beloved CustomArt house sound started with the F2 – nice and bodied bass, forward vocals and present but not offensive highs. Back when I got the F2, its ability to render spatial cues blew my mind. I was watching a movie with the F2 and on many occasion I though someone walked into my room – turned out it was the room in the movie. Wow. F2 gives this feeling of being in a live-performance and being surrounded by the performers. Comparing the F2 to the F7, I found that the F7 improves the good traits from the F2 and brings them onto new heights by enhancing the technicalities such as resolution and separation. Switching from the F7 back to the F2 feels like putting a resolution filter on – I am not saying that the F2 is not resolving – it is just not as resolving as the F7 and there is a ‘blur’ factor coming directly from the F7. Maybe this is also because of the more lifted mid-bass on the F2 that slightly bleeds and blur out the entire presentation (again, the word ‘blur’ is relative). Vocals are more forward on the F7 and highs have significantly better extension. As with the F3, the stage dimensions are more extended on all three directions on the F7.


    Verdict: The F7 is my favorite TOTL IEMs yet. With sublime technicalities equipped with toe-tapping musicality without pushing the details at your face, the F7 strikes a balance that I have never heard before on the market and in a good way. Currently, my pair is back at CustomArt for reshelling into customs and I can do more comparisons and update my impressions once I got it back.
    1. pinkzeppelincult
      Solid review! Any chance you can do a more detailed comparison with the Zeus? I love the latter for the most part but I've always wished it had a better bass extension and less mid-bass bias. Would the 7 do the trick?
      pinkzeppelincult, Jul 17, 2019
      akared likes this.
    2. akared
      Hi there! My apologies for the delayed response. To me, the F7 still can't match the Zeus in terms of sheer resolution and clarity even though the F7 itself is very capable and resolving. The F7 is smoother in the midrange and treble while the stage dimensions are bigger on the Zeus. The bass on the F7 is noticeably fuller and denser and you can feel the slam much better than the Zeus.
      akared, Jul 22, 2019
      pinkzeppelincult likes this.