Pros - Smooth, balanced, non-fatiguing, masterful with all genres, great mids and beautiful highs, coherent
Cons - Could do with a touch more bass slam, about average soundstage
I feel compelled to write this review because I honestly think this monitor doesn't get enough lime light.
I won't go to great lengths about the company as there're lots of information about it that you can find on their website (https://thecustomart.com/)
I'll keep my review to a magic number 3.
3 things that got me started on my CIEM journey with CustomArt
1) Great customer service from Piotr and his team.
2) Great value
3) Made by music lovers for music lovers
I've previously owned and used Sony V6, ATH-M50x, Beyerdynamic DT1350, Bose QC15 (only when I'm travelling), ATH-IM03 (the first iem I liked enough to buy). I keep all my things pretty well, so I don't have much excuse to change them! I decided to get iems as I wanted something compact and easy to carry around and felt that headphones were too cumbersome and bulky for my daily use. Having done a lot of research, I sorta settled to getting iems with 2 to 4 balanced armatures. These were within the price range I could accept and at the same time generally had a sound sig that I preferred. I owned the ATH IM03 for about 8 months before deciding to go customs. Essentially I had to use different sized/shaped tips on my left and right ears in order to get a good fit, and because of this, the sound quality varied slightly depending on how I adjusted them. So I decided to get myself some impressions and voila, I have a slightly larger canal region in my left ear, as compared to my right. So after much searching, I chanced upon some pre-owned Pro 330v2 on CustomArt's facebook page. I chose silicone over acrylic also because I wanted to see if I could use them in place of the Bose QC15 when I was on the plane/train. There weren't very much reviews on the Pro 330v2, probably only 3 to 4 at the time of my purchase, but given what I've read about Piotr, I decided to give it a shot, so I took a leap of faith and purchase the pre-owned Pro 330v2. I just want to say that during all the mail exchanges, I've always received responses in a very decent time and with the relevant information needed. When I first received them I had a fit issue with my left side, while my right side was perfect. I sent in another impression just for comparison with the first one that I sent, there were some differences, so they did a refit for me and when it came back this time, voila. Both sides were on point! Let me just say, fit and finish were really good and far exceeding my expectations. Silicone is really a god-send, slightly squishy, really easy to put them in once I got the hang of it and the noise isolation and comfort were amazing! So Kudos to the team at CA for their customer service and value delivery. Piotr is also an avid head-fier and music lover, so there all 3 parts covered! Just know that CA is company backed up by good people, (I've dealt with Piotr and Kamil) and if you're just starting out with CIEMs, do seriously consider them.
3 things that I really love about the Pro 330v2
1) Masterful in all genres
2) Organic and natural tone, non-sibilant
3) Smooth, balanced, non-fatiguing yet clear
The monitors are slightly dark-sounding, very slightly. These are definitely not bright sounding monitors. Even then, they are still really balanced. If you look at the current CA website, the description given about the sound signature is pretty much spot on. Back when I bought the monitors, when CA was still using their previous website, these monitors were touted to sound similar to Spiral Ear 5-way Reference or the Sennheiser HD650, which probably is about right. The monitors have a good stereo separation along the X-Y Axis where imaging is pretty good. A clear hall mark about these monitors is the very strong central image it displays. It doesn't have too much apparent height nor depth, but if its in the recording, it will show itself. It's also a very revealing monitor in that it can tell you if a mix has been well-done or not. This has allowed me to differentiate that not all 16bit or 24bit recordings are the same quality!
I pair the monitors with a DX90 with the rockbox mod, and my DX90 has well over 800hrs burned in. Low gain is enough and the background is black, silent, no hiss. Hit the play button on some of my pop rock songs and WOW!!! The electric guitars really sound big, huge, glorious, with the distortion very nicely rendered, with enough bite, but yet not to the extent of being annoying or piercing. With these, I heard things that I didn't notice before in my music, which is a compilation of 16bit 44.1khz to 24bit 192khz flac.Vocals sounded alluring with good body and yet with little to no bass bleed into the mids. I really enjoyed listening to all my rock albums, especially those with guitars. With these monitors, it became immediately apparent that almost all my headphones have been V-shaped mainly, with the exception of the DT1350. The mids rendered by the Pro 330v2 however to me are significantly clearer and more articulate than the DT1350 and I really enjoy this about the Pro 330v2 very much. So you get it, mids are really wonderfully done on the Pro 330v2, great for vocals and rock guitars!
Highs are another great point about this monitor. The highs are airy and have very good extension. They extend smoothly and have no sibilance at all! So for all of you treble-sensitive people, these monitors will bring you the treble you need, but in a very smooth and enjoyable fashion. The treble is to me very beautifully rendered and breath-taking.
Lows, great quality. Textured and possessing very good extension. The sub-bass doesn't hit you immediately, but seems to follow or appear after you've heard the bass. it's not a slow bass, but it's neither very fast either. I think the balance between fullness and tightness is well done here. Comparing to the IM03, the bass on these felt very slightly slower, but at the same time more natural and pleasing. It has only a very slight bloom which is to my liking as I prefer.
Soundstage or depth is not apparent nor is it very big or deep. What it does instead is that it allows you to hear cues in the recording that give an idea of the size of the recording atmosphere. But if it is there, you'll hear it clearly. Breaths, reverbs, echo can all be discerned. While this doesn't give it a 3D or holographic feel, it makes it real.
These monitors let you hear the music as it was intended, and in a very smooth and enjoyable manner. They may sound a bit flat on first listen, but the quality of the voicing is apparent. Give it some time, and you'll start to enjoy it. The tuning is slightly laid back and not very aggressive. It can still kick butt on EDM or dubstep, though there are probably other monitors out there more suited for it.
Honestly, at the price point, they are really value for money.
Custom art pro330v2 review
During the rapid growth of the portable audio industry, Poland has been the new rising star in this industry, with famous brands like spiral ears, lime ears etc. custom art is one the newest competitor into the industry, but please do not be fool by this ‘new entry’ company, peter/Piotr as the man behind this has a great amount of experience before hand, as a review & D.I.Y er’s.
Custom art is the new step to his ambition and dedication towards the audio world, and custom art does offer a whole selection of silicone ciem, ear tips and cable etc. There are 2 series of silicone ciem, and the first is the pro series, with the 1, 2 and 3 driver models, which are intended for both stage use and audiophile. The second is the music series, with the 1 and 2 driver models, and this line is more focus for the audiophile. Such separation reminds me of the westone um series and westone series, which gives a great range of choice for the customers.
What I have on hand for review is their current flagship model which is the pro330v2, the newest version of the pro330, and the solution to the damper failing issue which occurs to the previous version. I have chosen sky blue with a gradient clear canal and custom art company logo on the faceplate. The package also includes pelican box, soft case, wax removal tool and drying aid, which keeps the moisture from building up. The sky blue is clear which enables a clear look on the drivers, wiring and a clear view on how they are arrange into this master piece. The wiring shows the left side is blue and right side as red, a very user friendly design which avoids mix up when wearing them.
The shells are smooth with a good layer of lacquer on top which gives it a glossy look, along with a few small bubble in between, but the amount is totally acceptable. But there is a slight fitting issue on the right side, near the triangular fossa region, causing the ciem not able to sit completely in my right ear, not sitting as steady as the left side, which I believe is an easy fix for peter.
Despite the problem it has, the absolute comfort makes the silicone shell extra special, it is comfortable in my ears like it doesn’t exist, which surpasses acrylic in a different level. Isolation is another advantage, it’s better than the acrylic, but only a small improvement over it. During the isolation test in the metro subway, I can still hear surrounding sound and metro broadcast when I wear the ciem with small volume of music, but It is definitely less obvious then the acrylic.
The sound of the pro330v2 is tilted towards a warm signature, musical with high resolution, detail and laid back. Such characteristic provides a smooth and fatigue free listening experience, an atmosphere where I can listen to them for hours without feeling fatigue, which is suitable to those who listen to music for long period of time in a daily basis.
The bass is not neither deep nor strong, but refine and crisp, with slight warmth in addition. The bass can achieve a great depth, but it doesn't possess a very bassy sound. The decay is slower than expect, linger a bit before it dissipate. It is also very well balanced with the rest of the spectrum, and it can deliver a dynamic & quality bass when the music demands for it. Therefore it is not an earphone for those bass enthusiasts, but a fair amount which will satisfy most audiophile.
The presentation of the mid is smooth, laid back and well center. The vocal and the instrument are well position with great layering, and align with the vocal sitting in the center slightly ahead of the instrument. The timbre is well positioned and natural sounding, along with great extension, which result in a very clear, clean and well balanced sound. And the sound is not fatiguing but the detail still remains, an earphone which is capable of both is not common, cause the usual case is where the sound signature has a high detail with fatiguing sound or the other way around, peter did a great job in nailing the problem and found a happy medium between the two. Extension is not that exciting, but pleasing and sufficient with the addition on an airy sound.
The overall sound is coherent, where each spectrum is well connected and a very impressive imaging, it’s accurate with a good sense of direction. The pro330v2 provides a very unique experience to user, if everyone is interested in looking for a warm yet balance signature, look no further because the pro330v2 might the one for the job.
Peter has successful launched the custom art with the large variety of product, especially the silicone ciem, where only a handful of company provides ciem in silicone. But custom art entry models is the one making this company stands out from competitor, where they provide a high value to performance ratio silicone ciem, the pro100 and the music one. Before the existence of custom art, the silicone ciem cost a lot higher than acrylic and one driver model are rarely in the market. And the custom art higher end models provides a tuning so unique and different to what most other brand has achieved, especially when demo units are widely available in Hong Kong, the custom art has brought me nothing but surprise.