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CustomArt Ei.3 acrylic custom IEM

Rating:
4.77778/5,
  1. Jesse Oh
    Custom Art Ei.3 – A good entry to the custom world
    Written by Jesse Oh
    Published May 16, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Bass goes low with satisfying impact and rumble, customization options, perfect fit, PRICE!
    Cons - Treble lacking, mids slightly unnatural, not ideal for acoustic recordings
    20170515_115641.jpg 20170515_115750.jpg
    Let me start this review by saying that I am relatively new to the world of audiophilia. The only notable iem I have owned prior is the ATH-IM70, although I have tried and own(ed) a decent amount of low end to high end headphones. This is my first review on head fi.

    I won’t mention accessories or go into too much detail on build quality, as you can read all about those in the reviews prior. Let me just say that I was very happy with the design.

    (I purchased these myself and what follows are my 100% honest impressions)

    Ordering

    I must say custom art’s ciem order page is superior to most others out there on the net, letting you see what each option looks like in real time on a custom shell. This can result in you fiddling over the options for a long time, designing hypothetical iem shells and evaluating them endlessly, which I can confess I did.

    Even when I reached my final design and ordered, I changed my mind and sent Piotr my new request, which he was happy to take! Just over a month and they were in my hands.

    Fit

    Being a newcomer to custom in ear monitors, it took some time for me to get used to inserting them. Initially when I put them in I thought I couldn’t get a proper seal. Turns out they “click” into the cymba portion of the ear when enough force is applied. Once I figured that out, I had a perfect, secure fit. Isolation is impressive; you can still hear outside noises but they are quite faint, the edge is taken out of them. They are vastly more comfortable than my im70’s which was my main issue with those; those just never felt secure. Props to Piotr on that front.

    Sound

    The first feature I evaluated in the Ei.3’s sound signature was its bass response; bass is often the first thing we notice in any sound signature and this works to the Ei.3’s advantage, because the bass is full and extends well into the lower registers. I enjoyed its impact and rumble quite a bit, and it was fast enough not to sound overbearing. Listening to old-school trance and techno was a blast (“Forbidden Paradise 5” trance mix [1996] and Drexciya – “The Journey Home” [1995]), and I found myself upping the volume in spite of myself.

    I am not adept at describing mids so I will simply state that the sound of the ei.3 is not hollow or distant. Vocals have presence without sounding too laid back or too forward; there is nothing particularly noteworthy about the Ei.3’s vocal performance. Switching straight from the Audeze LCD 2 however, the upper midrange is significantly less natural sounding; female vocals sounded a bit unnatural. I am aware that this is hardly a fair comparison, but something to note anyway. As I used the Ei.3 on its own for longer, I grew accustomed to them and this became less of an issue.

    Now highs – this is where the Ei.3 falters. Treble takes a general downward slope past 6K or so, which we can generally see from Crinacle’s measurements shown. The result is a lack of air/sparkle in the sound. I prefer warm sound signatures in my headphones, and I was surprised by how warm the Ei.3’s were if that is any indication. I don’t think that many people accustomed to high or mid-fi audio will be 100% satisfied with this ciem’s treble.
    Ei.3 FR.png
    These aspects in combination give the Ei.3 a thick, somewhat weighty sound and non-fatiguing sound signature. This is great for beat-centric electronically produced music like techno, trance, house, juke, DnB/Jungle, dubstep, UK garage and hip-hop. But contrary to what other reviews have stated, I find the Ei.3 to be inadequate for acoustic or vocal-centric music like rock, jazz or soul/funk. Listening to Alice in Chains’ “Nutshell”, the Ei.3 was too congested, with not enough detail or air. I hesitate to say “muddy” because that is going to extremes, but there is a certain muddiness to the sound which reveals itself in natural, acoustic recordings but isn’t really there at all for electronically produced tracks.
    So when Piotr markets this ciem as a product best used for electronic music, he is 100% right and is obviously fully aware of the Ei.3’s strengths and limitations when promoting them this way, because the Ei.3’s do shine in that regard. However I have to disagree with some of the points made in other reviews which pitch this ciem as a balanced iem capable of handling all genres.

    Verdict

    As an avid consumer of electronic music, these ciems are a great start for me. I can forsee myself using them as my main portable/outdoor drivers for many years into the future. And at the price they go for, you really can’t do better.

    Value: 10/10

    Design: 9/10

    Fit: 10/10

    Sound: 7/10
  2. Wyville
    A welcome addiction - Review of the Custom Art Ei.3
    Written by Wyville
    Published Apr 13, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Very engaging and musical CIEMs, excellent quality bass, smooth and clear mids, fatigue free treble, outstanding value for money
    Cons - Treble might be too polite for some, stock cable might be a little annoying for some people with glasses
    Disclaimer
    I do not have any affiliation with, or am being compensated by, Custom Art or Aid2Hearing. With this review I wanted to put into words some of the things I have been learning recently and hope it will benefit others. This is also my first review and reflects my impressions as someone quite new to critical listening.
     
    Custom Art Ei.3
    3 balanced armatures (1 x low, 1 x full-range, 1 x tweeter)
    3-way crossover
    Vented woofer for improved bass response
    10Hz-17000Hz (+-20dB into 711 IEC coupler)   
    118dB @1kHz @0.1V          
    48 Ohm @1kHz
    Acrylic body only
     
    Links
    https://thecustomart.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/thecustomart/
    http://aid2hearing.co.uk/
     
    Background
    I recently became more seriously interested in moving into a higher segment of portable audio because I use music to manage my ADHD, a neurological condition that reduces my ability to focus on anything that does not have explosions and falling anvils in it. Despite having the attention span of the dog in the movie Up (squirrel!), I still work as an academic and use music to help me focus, relax and blow off steam when I need it. This made me curious about sound quality and signature, and I wanted to explore how it could help me use music more effectively. That is where Head-Fi came in.
     
    I felt that for me personally “enjoyment” would be the key term and thus I did not set out to find the most technically superior IEMs, but rather those that would cause an irresistible urge to booty shake. The key criteria: comfort, isolation, engagement and smoothness
     
    The audiologist
    Because the Ei.3 are so (relatively speaking) affordable, starting at €340, they make an excellent introduction into custom IEMs for many people, myself included. I will therefore briefly mention the process of getting my custom IEMs.
     
    I went to Aid2Hearing in London, which is run by the very charming and skilled Gisele Flower. She also happens to be the UK distributor for Custom Art. During my first visit I auditioned a number of IEMs to see if anything fit my needs. I ended up selecting the Ei.3 and booked another appointment for a week later in order to get my ear impressions done. This is a very important step and having it done by a skilled audiologist is essential. Gisele was clearly a perfectionist, as she took two sets of impressions on both sides and did a third one on the left just to get the last bit of detail out. For those who are new to it: Impressions are made by inserting little spongy bits to protect the ear drums and then injecting green goo to fill your ears. The goo takes a little time to set during which you sit there for three minutes drooling all over yourself because you have to keep your mouth open a little. This is made easier with the use of a bite block and less embarrassing if you bring tissues. The more detailed the impressions, the more there is to work with for Custom Art (or any other company) to get the perfect fit. Gisele selected the best impressions to be sent over to Custom Art and we went through the design I had come up with so she could place the order and take care of everything. She’s a star!
     
    I believe Custom Art keep the impressions in their archive for a period of two years after the initial order, making it easier to order another pair of CEIMs with them if you feel like upgrading or adding a complimentary pair.
     
    Enter the agonizing wait…
     
    Custom Art
    Custom Art is a small company based in Poland. It was founded in 2012 by Head-Fi member Piotr Granicki (@piotrus-g) with the aim to deliver affordable, high-quality CIEMs in silicone and later in acrylic.
     
    My own experience with them has been wonderful. Although Gisele took care of the order for me, I still had regular contact with Piotr and his colleague Kamil throughout the process. Their response was surprisingly quick. At one point I was quite literally chatting to Kamil through emails, taking only minutes for a reply to come back. It made the whole experience a lot of fun and really emphasised that I was working with fellow enthusiasts who understood how caught up you can get in wanting all the nice new shiny things, especially when it comes to a custom order.
     
    The build time for my Ei.3 was around six weeks, a little longer than the standard four to five weeks. I find this perfectly acceptable, especially considering that the website clearly states turnaround depends on workload and I knew Piotr was travelling through Asia at the time mine were being built.
     
    In terms of customer service Custom Art is five stars all the way and they do it for everyone in equal measure. Nobody and everyone is special at the same time.
     
    The design
    Custom Art, like other CIEM companies, offers a design tool on their website where you can spend days on end trying out various colour combinations and designs. (Yes, that is an admission of guilt.) Their Facebook page also offers a large number of photos to get inspiration from. If you want even more options it is always possible to contact Piotr and discuss the feasibility of your creative outbursts.
     
    CEIM_CH.png
     
    I went only a little extravagant and, inspired by the fresh combination of sky blue transparent shells and solid white faceplates I had seen earlier (see Acain’s review), decided to add some custom artwork. I love Calvin & Hobbes, as it almost reads like my biography, and so they had to go on the Ei.3. The artwork also fit the fun and engaging sound signature of the Ei.3 perfectly. It was easy enough to test out my design on the website and when I found I had placed Calvin and Hobbes just right, contacted Piotr to make sure the design was possible.
     
    Design.jpg
     
    Fit and isolation
    Comfort and isolation are key criteria because I use my IEMs to reduce distraction while I work, and environmental noise when I travel through London… on the Tube… that glorious achievement of mankind’s ingenuity in solving the problem of how to cram as many people as possible in the smallest space available. Yes, I wear them a lot.
     
    Normally when I am in the warm comfort of a London Tube at rush hour my brain tries to kill me by following every conversation, every bit of music leaking from headphones and, when above ground, every annoying caller telling their loved one they are just five minutes from home and will remember to pick up milk for tonight’s curry. The Ei.3 have changed that dramatically. The fit was perfect first time and the level of isolation they provide is remarkable. What struck me most was that when I travel through London, I automatically lower the volume, rather than increase it as I used to do. The fit and isolation are so good that I can have a very low level of music in the background and it makes for a very pleasant experience despite being packed in like sardines. The same goes for when I try to do some work at home. I live across from a construction site, this is London after all, and I can’t hear any of it. Just the delicate tunes of Haydn’s piano concerto, and I can listen to them all day long without any issues because the Ei.3 are very comfortable.
     
    Despite being very comfortable there are two things I have come across, not related to the fit of the Ei.3 themselves. One I have had before and that is that after several 8+ hours a day my left ear develops some issues that persist even without my IEMs in. I still need to figure out what that is, but I think I know a good audiologist I can visit for that. Then there is the cable. The stock cable is a perfectly good cable for the job, but I wear glasses and these have memory wire. Unfortunately I started to experience discomfort from them and could not find a way to solve it. Eventually I decided to replace the cable and while looking around Custom Art offered me a cable from Effect Audio for a good price. This cable solved the issues with the memory wire and to my surprise paired exceptionally well with the Ei.3. I highly recommend anyone interested in the Ei.3 to have a look at a higher end cable because it takes the already musical and engaging Ei.3 to an even higher level.
     
    Source
    All my impressions are based on use with the Astell & Kern AK70 without equaliser and using the stock cable. Much like the Ei.3, the AK70 has an engaging sound that is detailed, yet smooth and I think makes for a great pair.
     
      Ei_3.jpg
     
    Sound
    This is where it gets interesting because the sound is key to how effective the Ei.3 can be in my case. When I auditioned the IEMs, I was specifically looking for a sound signature that would draw me in and push all distraction away. Equally, because I am highly sensitive, I am also sensitive to certain tones such as sharp treble. The EIMs thus needed to be smooth, but not too smooth because engagement also comes from details and layering.
     
    It would be unfair to do a detailed comparison because I did not listen to them long enough, but I tried the Noble Trident, Savanna, Sage and Ducle Bass before I tried the Ei.3. My favourite was the Dulce Bass, which I dare say was technically superior to the Ei.3 with more clarity and detail retrieval. However, I listened to the Dulce Bass and Ei.3 back to back and the Ei.3 just made me forget the Nobles. This was exactly what I was looking for. The sound signature pulled me in and did not let go. It even stayed in my head for several days. To me the Nobles were great, but slightly more analytical and required a bit of effort when listening to them (or perhaps just required a longer audition to appreciate). The Ei.3 in comparison were effortless and made me forget I had created a playlist with carefully selected test tracks. Instead they made me greedy to listen to everything. It was instant, infinitely enjoyable addiction. After getting my own Ei.3 I listened for about 50 hours or so before writing down my more detailed impressions.
     
    Bass
    When I first listened to my Ei.3 I had a slight moment of panic because I thought I lost the bass. It took me a while to realise what it was. See, I am used to listening to the Shure se215 and Trinity Vyrus, both dynamic drivers with elevated, bloomy bass. I got so used to an ever-present and overpowering bass that it took a few hours of listening before I could appreciate just how good the bass of the Ei.3 is. It is very well controlled with little bloom, rather it hits fast and precise with impact and texture. It is like a swift, well-placed kick to the back of the head. Moreover, it is only where it should be and leaves the mids completely unspoiled. That is what I needed to adjust to the most, the bass not overpowering the mids. 
     
    The Ei.3 are certainly capable of a bit of sub-base rumble, but they are not bass-head IEMs. Still, when I put on Device’s cover of Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Wish’ it really shows the quality of the kick in the bass. Not bloomy, but impactful nonetheless and certainly a better quality impact than the bass of my se215 or Vyrus. This bass works really well in the overall signature and shines with its quality. It is like a heartbeat that creates an impactful and energetic rhythm, which I think is a key component to why the Ei.3 are so thoroughly engaging.
     
    Mids
    I love the mids of the Ei.3. They are clear and detailed with a hint of warmth and smoothness. I love how both male and female vocals are presented, smooth and natural with a good balance between the two when I listen to vocal pieces such as Mozart’s Requiem. Oh, and I absolutely love the voice of Agnes Obel with these.
     
    To me the mids do not sound forward of recessed, but are placed in such a way that they form the core of a very coherent signature. I feel the notes are a bit thicker and this gives the experience of the sound stage filling up at times to create a full sound, like a sound bubble with organically flowing music everywhere. These sound-flows touch, but don't merge and do not feel congested. It is still detailed while sounding full and it immerses the listener in the music.
     
    Treble
    The treble is pretty spot on what I wanted it to be. It sounds natural and has a little bit of sparkle, but not too much. I can imagine that for some the treble is too polite and I occasionally would like a little more sparkle myself. In Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker for instance there are a lot of sparkling elements, indeed it was intended to incorporate toy instruments, and here I see the politeness of the treble detracting a bit from the performance. Still, this is what I expected as a trade-off to a signature that is completely free of sibilance. The treble is delicate, polite and natural sounding, with just enough sparkle to enjoy for long listening sessions without a hint of fatigue. That is exactly what I need it to be.
     
    Soundstage, clarity and separation
    Because I can’t compare the size of the soundstage to other IEMs in this price range I can only say that to my ears the stage is a good size with a clear sense of space in width, depth and height. It does not come across as vast, but certainly not restricted either. It extends in all directions and creates a sense of music existing all around the listener. There is air around individual instruments when only a few are present and the whole stage fills up when more instruments come into play. With large orchestral pieces this leads to a very full sound where the detail is not in your face and yet it is still there to be found when you look for it. “Smoothly detailed” I would call it.  
     
    As mentioned earlier, I know that clarity and separation can be improved upon, but the balance Piotr gave the Ei.3 works exceptionally well to create that thoroughly engaging signature. The bass, mids and treble appear to each have their own task at which they excel and that never spoils the others. They work in such unison that the whole becomes a coherent signature that is natural, thoroughly engaging and non-fatiguing, even after hours of listening.
     
    Presentation
    Despite the Ei.3 being tuned for Rap and EDM, I feel they excel at acoustic music as well. Live performances by Sting, Eric Clapton and the Foo Fighters sound so very good. The instruments sound realistic, especially pianos and guitars, and the emotion of the singer is quite tangible. I also love The Rolling Stones’ album Blue and Lonesome, which is presented with so much energy through the Ei.3.
     
    I mainly listen to classical music though and classical music from the 19th century often contains a story, one of revolution and revolt against the established order or one of love and personal tragedy. The music is meant to convey deep emotions and instruments are key to evoking the right emotional response with the listener. Light and airy wind sections can evoke a sense of triumph, while and thunderous tympani can create a dark and stormy atmosphere symbolising a struggle or even malicious intent. Getting the separation of these elements right while maintaining the harmony within the piece is very challenging. Instruments also need to sound realistic or some of the emotion is lost. The Ei.3 does this quite admirably well considering they were not tuned for it. Instruments, especially the wind sections (brass and wooden) sound realistic, although violins a bit less by comparison. Details are maintained quite well during complex and layered orchestral pieces and only occasionally do I notice some details missing or a bit far back, but only when I listen critically. When I just listen I do not notice it at all. The whole presentation is one of smooth, organically flowing music that conveys the emotion of the pieces really well and allows me to drift away in the music. It is coherent, musical and engaging.
     
      Book.jpg
     
    Conclusion
    The Ei.3 are not detail monsters or analytical masterpieces, but despite not having heard many, I still fully expect they are among of the most engaging and musical CIEMs available. They are clearly built by someone who really knows their stuff. These will compel you to shake your booty, nod your head and tap your feet, or allow you to just float away in the gorgeously smooth music. If musical enjoyment is your aim, give these a try and experience instant addiction.  
     
    Additional note
    At the time of writing Piotr is introducing his new FIBAE™ technology, which stands for Flat Impedance Balanced Armature Earphone. The first models are close to being released, which will be a one-driver, FIBAE™ 1, and a two-driver, FIBAE™ 2, model. These will technically be the successors to the Music One and Music Two, although both lines will co-exist until the 30th of June 2017. They will also sound different. The FIBAE™ 1 will sit between the Music One and Music Two, while the FIBAE™ 2 will be a combination of the Music Two and the Ei.3. Because the FIBAE™ 2 starts at €475 it means that the Ei.3 will continue to present a very affordable entry-level CIEM that in my opinion offers exceptional value for money.
      ranfan, Intensecure, Necron99 and 3 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Layman1
      It's my first time reading a review by you (checked out your profile page and apparently you're a fellow London resident! Small world, haha).
      Excellent review, that makes me extremely interested to try them!
      NB: "It is like a swift, well-placed kick to the back of the head"; not sure this is really selling it to me though :wink:
      Layman1, Apr 13, 2017
    3. linux4ever
      Outstanding review. Loved it. I've been eyeing Ei.3 and Harmony 8.2 along with UERR. LEt's see if I end up getting them all :wink:
      linux4ever, Apr 13, 2017
    4. Wyville
      Thanks! Collect them all! :wink:
       
      @Layman1 I have seen a few fellow Londoners around here already and know that Gisele is very popular in the Head-Fi community. If you are interested in trying the Ei.3, I can highly recommend visiting her! She had the FIBAE 1 and 2 at Headroom, so she might still have those to try as well (and plenty of other stuff from Custom Art, Noble, UE, etc).
       
      Don't worry about the bass though. It is just a polite kick to the back of the head, not a bass kick that will rattle your teeth to the point of bankrupting the tooth fairy. :wink:
      Wyville, Apr 14, 2017
  3. mrazik
    Best start in to custom world
    Written by mrazik
    Published Apr 2, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Sound, fit, comfort, price, isolation and sound
    Cons - Did not found any
    First of all, please let me say thank you to Piotr from Custom Art, who provide to me nice discount in exchange of my honest opinions in this review attempt.
                    Ei.3 are very special to me. They are mi first real custom earphones made based on my ear impressions. I was hesitating for long time and I always prefer universal versions because I did not believed, that custom shell can make so big different and because of liquidity later, when I like to collect funds for new audio adventures. So I´m believer now, that is for sure. Who did not try yet, can´t imagine level of comfort, isolation and general joy from listening. But there is really huge different. For impression I visit local audiologist in neighborhood and I got my impression. That was more than month before I placed order to CA and I did it for different purposes. I got at that time EE Athena VIII CIEM and I was considering to get them re-shelled for my ears. Problem is that get it done here in Europe is a bit complicated and despite of fact, that CA were willing to do so, I found is not fair to them. Instead I sold Athenas and I choose one model from Custom Art line. It took few more weeks, than I make-up my mind and I finally choose Ei.3. Of course I got a lot of questions before I placed my order and I like say thank you again for Piotr and Kamil patience. So on the end I placed order and after 4 weeks I got them. My first custom made earphones.
                    I choose simple black design on shell and on face plate, just with CA logo mentioned on face plate. Nothing special, but I really do like it a lot. Except earphones you will get stock cable, cleaning tool, warranty card and simple manual. That all was packed in Peli case size 1010. Nothing extraordinary, but good enough.
                    CA earphones are very well made, with no visible flaws. My only very minor criticism is regarding to logo print on face plate, that would deserve a bit more attention, but I got opportunity to test CA Harmony model in European tour and there was not this issue at all, so it is not for sure some consistent issue.
                    Fit, fit is excellent. It took for me a bit get used to, but when I did, I can´t say anything else than it is superb. I would never expect, that I be so much happy with custom shells. Isolation is nothing what can be compared to any universal earphones I ever got. I believe that many of you, who have custom earphones already is this normal, but for those who are hesitating, please do not. With custom shells will open new universe of listening for you.
                    Sound, well how to put it right. I´M MOST HAPPY DUDE UNDER THE SUN. Really Ei.3 got me and from day I got them from Fedex, I did not listen practically no other earphones from my collection. Ei.3 are ,, only “ 3 drivers units, but way how they are tuned is breath taking. It seem, that well tuned earphones with lower count of drivers are much better for me, than earphones with 6, 8, 10 or more drivers. Recently I got chance for short listening HUM Pristine ( two drivers only ) and that confirm that in full. Back to Custom Art Ei.3. What at CA achieved with Ei.3 is unbelievable. Sound is a bit on darker side, but it is perfectly balanced between all 3 bands. Ei.3 Have 3 balanced drivers in 3 way configuration (Single Low, Single Full-range, Single Tweeter ). Most impressive part of sound is bass, no discussion about that. Bass is deep, strong, confident and arrogant in most positive sense of that word. Middles are velvet in perfect coherency with bass, articulated and transparent. Trebles sound to e on first listening a bit recessed, but they are not really. Before Ei.3 I listen a lot my Spartans or earphones with dynamic drivers so compare to that got Ei.3 a bit less presence of trebles, but generally again highest band is perfectly tuned and integrate in to rest of sound spectrum and after longer session I did not missed anything. Details, airiness, sparkle. That all is underlined with decent sound stage, separation and clearness.
    I must confess, that I do not use stock cables. I have my own inventory of decent aftermarket cables, so mostly I´m not taking stock cables even out of box. In this case I tried my PlusSound Xseries cable, but result was not anyhow amazing. So I replaced PlusSound by Forza AudioWorks copper series and I liked sound much more. It become to be more bodied with even more impactfull bass and very wide sound stage. But I suspect, that silver will get me a bit more sparkle on top end and will keep strength of low end. So I switch cables again and I now have Ei.3 paired with Beat AudioLab Signal cable. This combination is heaven for me. Sound is as before, balanced with strong bass, velvet middle, and well integrated trebles. Only trebles are now more airy and sound is more open. Compare to FAW copper cable is sound stage a bit narrower, but is still very good. Generally sound of Ei.3 is like sound from very good floor standing speakers. Another benefit is that Ei.3 are versatile in terms of music genres. Of course there are some which sound really exceptionally, like classic music perform by big orchestra. There will take you your earphones in to concert hall. It is hard to described, it is better to experienced. Ei.3 do not suffer from hiss and they are not sibilant at all. There are only positives I can mentioned. Only ,, negative “ is that with Ei.3 left me my hunting mood for to try new and another earphones J .
    Ei.3 will be perfect choice for anyone who would like to get maximum from his iPhone. In combination with Hiby music player, you can get sound which is not equal to price you will pay for this gear. I mean that performance you will get for your money you will hard to find elsewhere, even for more money. But even in combination with dedicated players you will be not disappointed. I tried with Shanling M1 and xDuoo X10 and with both are Ei.3 nice to listen. Ei.3 are not analytic and have no reference sound signature. But for those who are considering entrance in to custom made world, I believe Ei.3 are good starting point. In fact I do believe that many of those who will choose them, will not feel desire to go further. That good, according to me, they are.
     
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    1. Kerouac
      The Ei.3 really seems 'bang for buck' the way it's tuned. Welcome to the wonderful world of customs mate...now your wallet definitely is screwed :wink:
      Kerouac, Apr 2, 2017
  4. HiFiChris
    Custom Art Ei.3: Great sounding CIEMs with just an Entry-Level Price Tag
    Written by HiFiChris
    Published Dec 27, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - incredible price-performance-ratio, great craftsmanship despite the low price, engaging yet still natural sound, detail retrieval, UIEM's soundstage
    Cons - treble definition lacks slightly behind more expensive in-ears, UIEM only available on explicit request at the moment
    IMG_2298.jpg

     
     
     
    Preamble:

    If you have a hobby that isn’t just a hobby for you but a real passion that means a lot to you, you will probably eventually turn into an expert in this field over time.
    For Piotr Granicki, everything started with a high passion for music and in-ears. Over time, this evolved into the hobby of designing and building custom-moulded in-ear monitors (also referred to as “CIEMs”) which requires good mathematical skills (for calculating the resistor and capacitor size of the crossover and tubing length plus diameter as well as value of the acoustic damper elements for the desired sound), dexterity (for making the moulds based on the ear impressions and then for crafting the in-ears) and more.
    Piotr has managed to achieve what some people want to but often don’t dare to do – he turned his passion and hobby into a successful business, Custom Art, and is now building custom-moulded in-ear monitors for a living, and is doing it really well, based on feedback from customers and reviewers (not much surprisingly as he has got everything that is needed – the passion, the knowledge and the gear).

    The Ei.3 (http://thecustomart.com/ei-3/) was Custom Art’s first acrylic-only CIEM – all of their previous creations were built with silicone that takes more time to build and is more expensive and difficult to deal with in the end. The Ei.3 is meant as an engaging but still natural sounding, affordable CIEM with a powerful bass, starting from less than €300 (€275 outside of the EU, €340 inside) with a basic colour scheme and finish.
    The Custom Art products were already really reasonably priced for hand-crafted CIEMs compared to other big brand companies’ products that have distributors in the EU, but with the Ei.3, they introduced an in-ear with three drivers and three acoustic ways, probably making it the world’s most affordable three-way BA-only CIEM on the market.

    If you are like me and prefer the fit and handling of universal fit in-ears over CIEMs, you can also kindly ask Custom Art and they might make an exception and build a UIEM for you. There is no guarantee that the sound will be identical, but it might be extremely close/similar if your ear anatomy is very UIEM-friendly (when I got my UERM CIEMs, I could compare them to the universal demo model and the sound was extremely similar so that I really wished back then that they were also available as UIEMs).


    Before I go on with my review, I want to take the time to personally thank Piotr and Custom Art for sending me a sample of the Ei.3 (on request built universal fit housings) free of charge in exchange for an honest, unbiased review and comparison.


    Technical Specifications:

    Price (depending on colours and designs; starting from): PLN1359/€340 inside the EU, PLN1100/€275 outside of the EU
    Drivers: 3x BA per side
    Acoustic Ways: 3 (1x back-vented woofer, 1x full-range, 1x tweeter)
    Sensitivity: 118 dB @ 1 kHz @ 0.1 V
    Impedance: 48 Ohms @ 1 kHz
    Tonal Range: 10 Hz – 17 kHz (+/- 20 dB into an IEC 711 coupler)


    Delivery Content:

    Just like the CIEM variant, the universal Ei.3 arrived in a Peli 1010 case with transparent lid (I would personally prefer a solid lid with inner padding and a Custom Art logo on the outside), containing the in-ears, a cleaning tool as well as a drying capsule and a warranty card that also contains other interesting information. As a universal model, mine came also with a selection of different ear tips.
     

    IMG_2285.jpg   IMG_2286.jpg



    IMG_2292.jpg
    Looks, Feels, Build Quality:

    I don’t want to go too much into detail here, mainly because with the custom-moulded in-ear, you have a plethora of different colours and designs to choose from, along with different faceplates and finishes (as with all CIEM manufacturers, some are included in the base price whereas some cost an upcharge). Custom artworks, pictures and texts are possible, too.

    If anyone is wondering, the design I got is metallic amber-coloured bodies with metallic black faceplates and golden negative Custom Art logos. On the inside of the bodies, coloured serial numbers in red and blue to match the correct sides can be found. The Ei.3 has got a dual-bore design with a larger and a smaller sound outlet at the end of the nozzle.
    The build quality of the acrylic bodies is excellent and the faceplates are connected seamlessly to the bodies.

    The twisted/braided black cable consists of three strands below the y-split, has got a transparent chin-slider above it and has got good strain relief on every single transition. It is actually a quite commonly used and reliable cable for CIEMs and many higher-end UIEMs.
     

    IMG_2291.jpg   IMG_2289.jpg
    IMG_2293.jpg   IMG_2295.jpg

    IMG_2300.jpg   IMG_2294.jpg

     

    IMG_2299.jpg
    Comfort, Isolation:

    Here I don’t want to go too much into detail, because the fit of a universal demo/universal model will greatly depend on one’s individual ear anatomy, and because the fit and comfort of the custom-moulded in-ear will highly depend on the quality of the ear impressions that reach the lab (so best be sure to let a good and experienced audiologist take the ear impressions if you decide to go for any CIEM, and best bring along the instructions on how to properly take the ear impressions that most CIEM manufacturers have to download on their website).

    The universal version has got an excellent fit in my ears and seals easily. I would personally also definitely encourage Custom Art to also offer universal fit versions by default on their website.

    Due to the closed acrylic bodies, isolation is logically really high.


    Sound:

    My main sources for listening were my iBasso DX90, my Chord Mojo + Leckerton UHA-6S.MKII stack, the Cowon Plenue M2 as well as the LH Labs Geek Out IEM 100.

    I used the largest silicone tips that were provided with the universal fit version for listening and testing.

    Side-note: Although this was not the case with my UERM CIEM and its universal fit demo version, it might of course be that my impressions of the universal fit Ei.3 might be different from its custom-moulded version to some degree.

    Tonality:

    The sound description on the Custom Art website is very fitting in my opinion, which is actually not that much surprising, considering Piotr’s/Custom Art’s background and transparency.

    What you will get is an emphasised but not overwhelming bass that appears to be strong but doesn’t bleed into the mids and also never sounds overpowered or out of place. It is definitely not a IMG_2290.jpg
    basshead in-ear and it doesn’t even have that much overall quantity but just enough to add some fun to the music – the majority of in-ears with a dynamic driver for the lows is bassier, and the same goes (to a lesser degree) for some of the bassier BA-only in-ears – if the track doesn’t have a deep-reaching bass on it, the Ei.3 won’t add anything unnecessary.
    Just as the description says, the Ei.3 has got a great balance between accuracy and engagement.
    The bass digs deep into the sub-bass and comes along with a powerful slam in the midbass and upper bass, along with some warmth in the root that doesn’t colour the midrange.
    The midrange and vocal range sounds natural, realistic and uncoloured. It is overall quite spot-on uncoloured to my ears.
    The treble sounds overall smooth and even without any offensiveness except for a slight clarity lift in the upper highs that is however not harsh sounding either.

    Going more into detail listening to sine sweeps, I hear the lows to start slowly and evenly climbing around 600 Hz, then reaching their climax around 100 Hz. It can be kept upright in the midbass and sub-bass and only ever so slightly loses quantity below 35 Hz. My ears tell me that quantity-wise, the lows are a bit more than 7 dB more present compared to a diffuse-field flat in-ear, which is what some people would still consider balanced – just as mentioned, the bass is anything than overdone.
    Between 1.5 and 3 kHz, I hear the level to be very slightly in the background, but it comes back right after. I can spot an emphasis between 7.1 and 8.5 kHz. The super treble above 10 kHz is then slowly losing quantity (there is not as much subtle glare and extension above 10 kHz as with some other in-ears, however the extension is still good).

    I hear the sound as being overall very coherent and with a good balance between fun and accuracy. It is not neutral but also not too sounded and everything sounds realistic – there is nothing that sounds out of place and instruments sound realistic. Chris-approved.

    Resolution:

    Not always but very often, in-ears with three acoustic ways have shown to sound somewhat more resolving in the midrange than in-ears with only two acoustic ways – I remember when I imported my Audio Technica ATH-IM03 from Japan, I initially thought that it was a triple-driver in-ear with two acoustic ways (2x lows, 1x mids/highs configuration) based on what I had read so far. When I first listened to it, I thought “hmmm, to me the midrange sounds somewhat more detailed than with most two-way in-ears and has got that extra resolution and different ‘character’” – this “character” is more IMG_2297.jpg
    what you feel subliminally and is nothing that I could really put into words. Anyway, what I assumed to know and what I heard did not match, so I did some additional research and found out that the ATH-IM03 actually had three acoustic ways, so what I had just got to know finally matched with what I heard.

    The Custom Art Ei.3, this I can already say, is quite a bit better for its price than I expected it to be, based on hearing some other entry-level CIEM demos (I am mainly referring to the UE4 Pro when saying this).

    The Ei.3 doesn’t have the hardest BA-sound but takes a less aggressive bottom-end approach that is however extremely nicely made – its bass is fast but not as fast as with a few other BA-based in-ears (if I had to put it into numbers, I would say it has about 70% absolute speed, while 7 is ironically the number that is stated on the Custom Art website in the “bass quality” section), yet it has got great quality. What I find really tempting, addictive and extremely well-made about the Ei.3’s bottom-end is that its attack is a little bit on the softer side to give a really gorgeous and visceral bass and sub-bass, however it decays quickly and doesn’t leave any bloom or softness. Yes, it is quick, clean and detailed down low, which is also why I personally and subjectively prefer the “character” of a Balanced Armature bass over the one of a dynamic driver (with just very few exceptions regarding some single-BA in-ears). And what I also find excellent about the Ei.3’s lower end is that while the BA driver dedicated for it is vented, it doesn’t sound too slow or soft which I think is sometimes the case with the InEar StageDiver SD-2 and Fischer Amps FA-4E XB (as opposed to the regular FA-3E that is also using two back-vented woofers but sounds arid/tight, clean and quick).

    Despite the description on the website of being “the best pick for EDM or [R]ap genres”, the Ei.3 doesn’t fall short in the vocal range at all – voices sound detailed and the in-ear’s speech intelligibility is high. The Ei.3 is also perfectly suited for someone who probably mainly listens to vocal music but doesn’t want the midrange to be forward or have a favour for either male or female vocals.

    While the treble doesn’t lack details, it lacks the last bit of openness or separation and sounds a bit congested, but what the hell, the Ei.3 is an extremely fair priced and very affordable custom-moulded in-ear that sounds great overall and has got a really nice soundstage (I will get to this in a moment in a separate part of my review), and I can really tell you that I don’t believe that there are that many (or any?) other CIEMs at this price point that a) offer the same technology + quality or b) are on the same technical level – for example, Ultimate Ears’ most affordable CIEM, the UE4 Pro, does not only cost more than the Ei.3, but is also inferior when it comes to precision and details.

    What I have briefly read about the Ei.3 in terms of other peoples’ impressions is definitely no lie – it is a well-built CIEM with an outstanding price-performance ratio.

    Soundstage:

    To my ears, the Ei.3’s soundstage sounds quite open, three-dimensional and what could be considered “holographic”. Expansion to the sides is a little wider than where my ears are positioned, and IMG_2287.jpg
    there is really good spatial depth and height, although I would say that the stage is somewhat wider than deep.
    The layering and depth sound believable, which is something where many Balanced Armature-based in-ears fall short in this price range, however the Ei.3 doesn’t.

    The positioning of instruments is good and precise. The separation is good but not perfect – instruments don’t bleed into each other by any bit but aren’t as focused sounding when playing busy tracks as with some higher-priced in-ears either, however I have a hard time thinking of a lower priced multi-BA in-ear that noticeably surpasses the Custom Art in terms of absolute spatial precision or comes even close (the Pai Audio MR3 is the only model that comes into my mind here).

    So yeah, I honestly think that the soundstage is great – it sounds very three-dimensional with very good layering and an excellent reproduction of spatial depth and height. This is, to my experience, quite rarely found in a BA-based in-ear in this price range.
    The very convincing and three-dimensional soundstage of the Ei.3 was actually also one of its attributes that lead to a very big grin (that actually really stayed there for a few hours) after I first listened to it, as I really hadn’t expected this level of resolution and imaging already at this price for a CIEM. Even the soundstage alone justifies the price (in my opinion).

    ---------

    In Comparison with other In-Ears:
     

    IMG_2301.jpg

    IMG_2302.jpg


    Noble Audio SAVANNA:
    The SAVANNA is a pretty neutral in-ear. Compared to the Ei.3, it has got less bass but also a bit of a roll-off towards the sub-bass, and no peak in the upper treble but an even and flat/neutral upper end.
    I would say that the Noble has got the more detailed midrange and treble, and while the SAVANNA has got the slightly faster bass attack and the Ei.3 the slightly faster decay.
    Both in-ears have got a convincing and three-dimensional soundstage while the Noble has got the somewhat cleaner separation between single instruments and slightly larger spatiality.

    Fischer Amps FA-4E XB:
    The Fischer Amps has got the somewhat more present bass and root that unfortunately also bleeds into the midrange, making voices sound full and somewhat dark. In the upper treble, it is the brighter in-ear out of the two and accentuates cymbals more.
    I would say that both are about comparably resolving in the midrange. The FA-4E XB sounds somewhat better separated in the treble, however the Ei.3 has got the somewhat less soft and faster bottom-end that also sounds more detailed to me.
    While the FA-4E XB has got a really solid soundstage, it always fell short compared to some other in-ears in its price range that are really good in this regard (e.g. the SD-2 or ATH-IM03). The Ei.3’s soundstage is larger to my ears and has also got the more precise placement and separation.

    iBasso IT03:
    This is going to be interesting – a hybrid in-ear with a fast dynamic bass vs. a multi-BA in-ear with a bottom-end that heads a little into a more dynamic direction.
    The IT03 has got slightly less presence in the upper bass but a bit more in the sub-bass, slightly making it more a sub-bass focussed in-ear. The iBasso has got the brighter midrange that still sounds balanced but has got the somewhat greater preference for highlighting female vocals. It is also a little brighter around 5 kHz.
    When it comes to the bass character, both in-ears are surprisingly close together. The Ei.3 however has got the faster decay, making it the overall more arid/tight appearing in-ear in the bass. In terms of resolution, I would say that the Ei.3 has got the somewhat more detailed lows whereas the IT03’s treble is a bit better separated. I see both as being comparably resolving in the mids.
    The IT03’s soundstage appears a little less deep but a bit wider in comparison and also seems to have the somewhat cleaner separation.

    DUNU DN-2002:
    The DUNU has got slightly less bass but the fuller lower vocals, making it the somewhat warmer in-ear in comparison. Its vocal range sounds a bit warmer than the Custom Art’s but isn’t really coloured. In the middle highs around 5 kHz, the DUNU is more laid-back.
    Directly comparing both, the DUNU has got the more impactful and softer appearing bass, which is not much of a surprise though given that it is a multi-BA vs. Hybrid IEM comparison. I would say that both are on the same technical level in the mids and that the DUNU is slightly better separated in the highs.
    The Ei.3’s soundstage appears a bit wider while both seem to have identical depth to my ears. The Custom Art’s soundstage is slightly better separated to my ears.

    Audio Technica ATH-IM03:
    Important thing to note: I am driving the ATH-IM03 from a very low impedance output and using the stock silicone tips that will sound sometimes more and sometimes less different (with the original tips, the in-ear sounds brighter in the highs, making the sound rather v-shaped) to about all third-party tips that I’ve tried.
    The in Europe very hard to obtain (I had to import mine from Japan) and despite my large ears oddly fitting ATH-IM03 has got a tonality that is relatively close to the Ei.3 with just very slightly more bass, the very slightly more distant mids in comparison and a comparable treble.
    The Audio Technica however takes everything to a slightly higher technical level, having the tighter bass, somewhat more detailed midrange and also better separated and differentiated treble.
    In terms of soundstage, the ATH-IM03 appears to be comparable in terms of dimensions but features the more precise spatial cues with the sharper instrument placement and separation.

    Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10:
    The Triple.Fi 10 is a more v-shaped in-ear with a more distant and slightly hollow and thin appearing midrange. Its treble is brighter and splashier than the Ei.3’s and its bass is also very slightly more present.
    Talking tech, I find that the Ei.3 is the technically somewhat more advanced in-ear out of the two. While the Triple.Fi 10’s bass is a bit faster in terms of attack and slightly tighter in comparison, the Ei.3 seems to be more resolving in the lows as well as mids and has got comparable separation in the highs.
    I never heard the Triple.Fi 10 as having a three-dimensional soundstage but always found it flat, rather wide and oval. The Ei.3 has got more spatial depth and the better layering while the UE’s stage is a little wider. Both are comparable in terms of instrument separation.


    Conclusion:

    Besides the great craftsmanship you get with it, the sound quality of the Ei.3 is really good, too. It offers a visceral bass that is present but not remotely overwhelming or overdone (it is actually not even far from being balanced) and also doesn’t bleed into the midrange, yet gives you enough quantity to enjoy some good bottom-end rumble and impact. Furthermore, its detail retrieval is very good IMG_2288.jpg
    for the price and the soundstage is rather large and especially nicely textured, layered, three-dimensional and authentic sounding.
    So what do you get? An engaging sounding and still not too much sounded in-ear with great value and a three-dimensional and convincing soundstage for a good price.

    The thing left to desire is the last bit of separation in the highs and on the soundstage with busy tracks. Is this a turn-off? Definitely not! How much was the price again? Around $300? This, in all honesty, is quite a bargain for the total package (and here I am not even taking into account that the Ei.3 in-ears are actually CIEMs which take more effort to make and are therefore usually more expensive than similarly performing UIEMs – with the Ei.3 however, you get a great sounding acrylic CIEM for a very affordable price without any real CIEM competition).


    My rating is 95.55% overall (with my usual 70% sound/value (94.5) and 30% build quality/fit/comfort (98) weighting) – yes, it can be assumed that I think that it is an excellent in-ear for an excellent price, and that I also personally quite love it (I think the Ei.3 will be my go-to in-ear for outside listening for a bassy but not bass-heavy in-ear with a precise sound along with a convincing soundstage).
      jant71, piotrus-g, Raketen and 7 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Vekk
      so, would you recommend people buying ei3 if i already have noble savanna? 
      Or is it too identical? worth having both?
      Vekk, Jan 22, 2017
    3. HiFiChris
      @Vekk
       
      It totally depends on what you are looking for. They're definitely not too identical.

      Years ago before I joined Head-Fi (, at the time when I registered in a large German audio community and became a very well-respected and -reputed member), I bought various headphones and in-ears for the joy of many different sound characters and tonalities. And it still is this way although there are certain models that have established as my tonal references for certain purposes (neutral for stationary listening, v-shaped/bassy/bright for occasionally on the go and in-between, and so on, even though using an EQ would be more wallet-friendly and I can properly operate an EQ and know what frequency range is response for what and so on, however having a wide variety of gear is just more fun to me).

      If you really like the SAVANNA's overall greatly neutral tuning and are not looking for another in-ear with a more "exciting" sound signature (as in a few dB more bass and a bit more treble sparkle), I don't see any reason to get a different in-ear. However if you are like me and enjoy diversity, the Ei.3 is a great companion that is still quite "humanely" tuned without exaggerating something, but without neglecting the fun and power.

      That said, I actually love (yes, love) both - the SAVANNA as an overall quite neutral in-ear for stationary listening (along with the ER•4S, ER•4SR, UERM, FA-3E, SD-2, MR3, SE425, ...), and the Ei.3 as a more engaging companion for in-between as well as for walks, commuting in the city, when being outside, ... (along with the MR2, IE 800, ATH-IM03, FA-3E again, Triple.Fi 10, SE846, Finder X1, ...) - and I am "privately" using both quite frequently.
      HiFiChris, Jan 22, 2017
    4. Vekk
      @HiFiChris thx you for the insight,and yes, i'm looking for something abit different in sound signature from my er4s and savanna. I used to have sony xba-a1ap for that "fun" factor but i lost it, and now i have been looking for new pair to fill that role.Im really sucker for good uiem like ei3. I'll definitely keep it on my to-buy list.
      Vekk, Jan 25, 2017
  5. MrButchi
    High sound quality custom monitors for an entry price
    Written by MrButchi
    Published Aug 22, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Incredible bang for the buck, subs and bass that will 'shake your brain good', balanced Custom Art house sound
    Cons - Highs have a short sustain and decay, not the deepest soundstage
    INTRODUCTION AND DISCLAIMER
     
    My name is Jérémie, I’m a 36 years old audiophile from Paris. I think I’ve always had audiophilitis, but things only started to get bad last year when my SM3v2 died in February 14. Looked for a replacement, and 18 months later I now have 3 customs (H8Pro, SE5 and Ei.3), one universal (SA7, having sold my SM64), have bee, through a handfull of DAPs, and just got started with headphones (HD800 plus Lyr2/Uberfrost combo).
     
    In the end, I just love music. That’s all it’s about. I love to feel the details, the attention that the creator thought of and put into his creation. I’m also a sucker for violins and drums, which are my favorite instrument.
     
    I am a big fan of Piotr whom I met when I got the crazy idea of pre-ordering the H8Pro. Being a curious guy, and Piotr being such a great dude, we starting exchanging quite a bit, and ended up setting-up a quite successful group buy on the French forum I mostly hang out on in November 14.
     
    Bottom line is I started to know Piotr was looking into acrylic circa November 14, when he sent me an empty acrylic shell along with my H8Pro and SE5 reshell. We then talked some more, and we discussed about me beta-testing Ei.3. In the end, he developed things much faster than expected, and my beta-testing never was (not that I think that it would have been that useful anyway). Yet, on April 1st (no joke), I received a package with the Ei.3 which were featured in Custom Art’s Facebook presentation.
     
    I ended up posting first impressions after having shared them with Piotr you can find them here http://www.head-fi.org/t/761086/custom-arts-first-foray-into-acrylic-ciems-ei-3/15#post_11468402. Then, I decided to lay low, since I did not pay for my Ei.3, and wanted to let people post their impressions, feeling that the free factor would kill the credibility of my review. I was then swamped in work and finally found the time to type this review during my summer holidays.
     
    METHODOLOGY
     
    I listened EXCLUSIVELY to Ei.3 until almost the end of June. I started with my classics (Dire Straits and Foo Fighters mainly) and blended with my test list. The test list is the one I used for my review of the H8P (listed on Custom Art’s Facebook), with the addition of some tracks after discussion with Piotr. The listening was done directly out of my iPhone 6 for about 60%, out of my Fostex HP-P1 for about 5% and out of my Lyr2/Uberfrost stack for the remaining 35%.
     
    After this brain burnin period, I started listening again to my faves, that is H8P and SE5. I quickly dismissed my SA7 which lag too far behind, and decided that Earsonics SM64 would be a good comparison, albeit being universals, in view of the fact that they can be had for a price similar to that of Ei.3 in France. A friend of mine lent the SM64 to me in July, and I used them on my test list for about two weeks, before blending listening with Ei.3, H8P and SE5 according to my mood.
     
    Please note that I am NOT a basshead (some people even call me a treble head, but I think they are wrong), I am NOT the typical Ei.3 target, since I mainly listen to rock (around 85%), and only 10% of my listening is EDM, Rap or Hip Hop (for the curious lads, the 5% remaining are classical and soul. DUH). I also listen at levels which are usually considered as very moderate to very low. This point I cannot stress enough. Listening at different sound levels will likely lead to different experience, although, as you’ll see, I did turn up the knob.
     
    ORDERING AND PACKAGING
     
    Let’s get this not so interesting yet important to the experience part out of our way first.
     
    Ciems being the very specific and hard to test devices they are, the ordering process with Custom Art usually begins with a first round of email or forum exchanges with Piotr in order to confirm that your choice is good and that the design you are contemplating is doable. Some freaks (think me) push the envelope and ask Piotr for some new stuff he isn’t yet offering. It happened to me twice (first I asked for a carbon fiber faceplate with engraving, and then  for solid color shells for H8P and SE5 which was a very “work in progress” thing at the time).
     
    Bottom line is, Piotr offers top quality personalization, both in terms of colors and faceplate, and he is always open to discussion. I am not saying he’ll be able to realize ANY project you have in mind, but be sure that if he tells you no, it’s not out of laziness, but because he really can’t do it at that time.
     
    I have not witnessed any other actor in the Ciem business which puts as many efforts to please his customers as Piotr does. Now, don’t take my word on it, just surf one on the Custom Art threads on HF, and make your own opinion.
     
    I won’t get into much more details at that point because many have done it before me (see for instance acain’s Ei.3 review at http://www.head-fi.org/products/customart-ei-3-acrylic-custom-iem/reviews/13636), and also because my Ei.3 came in a rather bare package (but then, there is only one pair which bears the CA-0001A number).
     
    I’ll use this space to comment on isolation. In my experience, silicone isolates better, especially H8P and SE5 which are filled with drivers and other material. Ei.3 isolation is still very good, well above any universal I’ve tested. However, with only three drivers per side, little electronic material, and acrylic shells (which dampens less bass than silicone), isolation is a little less than what I get with H8P and SE5 in the French transportation system). Which is a good thing – I almost got killed twice crossing the street with H8P (but that’s another issue).
     
    11071069_776214935832663_6844232535524952867_o.jpg
     
     
    THE SOUND
     
    I won’t go into another lengthy disclaimer, but take all Ciem reviews with a big grain of salt, because they rely on the perception of one person on a non-universal product. In the end, I provide a somewhat detailed comparison of Ei.3 with SM64 on a range of tunes so you can make your own idea about the biases I have.
     
    Please note that Ei.3 are extremely easy to drive, giving extremely solid performance out from an iPhone 6, and they did not exhibit signature swings when using various cables such as Linum BAX or Linum Music (or at least I didn’t notice any).
     
    First impressions
     
    As mentioned previously, I am not a basshead. What I expect from bass is that it’s there, clean (not muddy, and a little on the tense/dry side), and not overwhelming. If you know a little about H8P and SE5, then you know that I am used to well textured, not overwhelming with some but not too much subs. Also, both Ciems are not very “wow effect”-like, meaning that the first listening will not necessarily blow your mind (the long range listening will however take care of that for you).
     
    Ei.3 is pretty different in that regards. You put them on, and BOOM, the bass hits you, and you can’t help but love it. But then, hey, I listen to four to six hours of music a day, I’m not gonna let the first nicely boomy Ciem blow me away like that right? Wrong. At first, I could not find something really wrong. Truth be told, I had a gut feeling. Well, it took me nearly two months to put words on that gut feeling. More on that later.
     
    To sum up, my first impressions with Ei.3 where “Crap, that’s almost TotL level. This is amazeballs!!!”. Or, as another Headfier put it quite nicely (blujay, here : http://www.head-fi.org/t/761086/custom-arts-first-foray-into-acrylic-ciems-ei-3/75#post_11590551), the Ei.3 put on quite a magician act.
     
    Soundstage and separation
     
    The soundstage of Ei.3 is pretty large. It is on par with that of H8P and arguably larger than that of SE5. It is however relatively shallow (I tend to believe that is directly related to the highs, see below), which is a little compensated by a more upfront presentation than that of H8P.
     
    In other words, the soundstage is much closer to you, which makes for an engaging experience, and leaves some room for expressing depth in spite of the relative shallowness of the soundstage.
     
    The separation is exemplary, and you will miss almost no details (listening to ‘Telegraph Road’ or ‘On Every Street’ by Dire Straits will confirm that) as far as they are reproduced (again, see the treble section for more details).
     
    All in all, Ei.3 play one or two price categories up as far as separation is concerned. For soundstage, I’d say it’s one price category up.
     
    Bass
     
    Well, let’s start with subs first. Because after all, those are the guys that Piotr was really after when he designed Ei.3. His exact words were: “I wanted to create something to shake your brain good”.
     
    And he did. Just listen to Massive Attack’s ‘Angel’, or Iggy Azalea’s ‘Black Widow’, and you’ll undoubtedly be convinced. The subs hit hard and fast, in a controlled manner, without bleeding or tremoring. And they also know how to shut down when they’re not up anymore (see the details of ‘Black Widow’ below).
     
    The bass are not forgotten however. They offer great presence and texture. They are sharp and quick, just as I like them, and never falter.
     
    Mids
     
    Ah mids. Those are probably the true magician act of Ei.3. As mentioned above, I had a gut feeling early on. But I couldn’t quite put words on it. In my early impressions, I wrote that Ei.3 sounded somewhat “matte”, as opposed to crystalline.
     
    After hours and hours of listening, when I came back to H8P and SE5, it finally dawned on me : the Ei.3 mids actually trick you. They sound perfect, but they’re not. Now don’t get me wrong, they are excellent. But at first, I thought they were TotL. And TotL for 300$ usually means that you’re nuts or wrong.
     
    Here is the trick: Piotr knows how to get the main harmonics of the mids perfect. At least to me it really is. And at the same time, Ei.3 hits you straight with its strong bass. So at first, all you really retain from the mids is that main harmonic. And it’s awesome. Now, if you make a conscious effort to filter out the bass, and start comparing Ei.3 to TotL Ciems like I did, you find that the mids are dense, they are quick, but that they don’t have that sharpness and purity that H8P brings to the table. But then again, I’m comparing Ei.3 to a Ciem which is close to 4 times its price…
     
    Treble
     
    The only part of Ei.3 which kinda left me wanting for more. Basically, they’re great for their category, no doubt about it. They are as non-fatiguing as it gets, and they’ll give you 95% of the detail that is out there.
     
    But they do tend to shut out fast, not meaning that high frequencies are ignored, but that sustain and decay are pretty short. I wrote that very early on, and that was confirmed in the CSDs that Piotr posted later on.
     
    The result is that cymbals and other high instruments don’t resonate as much as I would like them to, and that can be a little turn off on rock music. But then Ei.3 was designed with EDM, Rap and Hip Hop in mind. I’m the guy who tries to make them a TotL allrounder.
     
    Musicality
     
    Under this somewhat BS name I will try to discuss the intangibles of Ei.3 sound reproduction. I usually do not include that category in my reviews, because what is musical to one is lack of detail and separation to another and yaddy yadda.
     
    But, when comparing Ei.3 to SM64, what really struck me out was how much all of the above blended so well together, how Ei.3 manages to cover some of the above described minuses by sounding so “united”.
     
    FINAL THOUGHTS
     
    So there you have it. According to me, Ei.3 is the best bang for the buck I have encountered. Designed primarily for EDM, Rap and Hip Hop, it performs imho admirably on all genres (except maybe orchestral classical), and clearly performs WAY out of its price range.
     
    When you had to that the service quality that you get with Custom Art, the comfort of Ciems as opposed to universals, and the personalization possibilities, honestly, you’d be silly to put your money on another product if you’re looking at a 300$ ciem budget.
     
    Ei.3 / SM64 HEAD TO HEAD COMPARISON
     
    To finish through, please find below a detailed comparison of Ei.3 with SM64 on some tracks which I have each listened to at least 400+ times. Comparison has been made on an iPhone 6 with Lightning LOD to Fostex HP-P1 (SM64 are known to demand good amplification to give proper bass, and iPhone 6 is just too weak in that regards).
     
    Volume matching was made by hand, which you may doubt, but after two hours of straight comparisons, trust me, you get it about right. For full disclosure, mean level was 8h45 for Ei.3 and 9h45 for SM64.
     
    Iggy Azalea – The new classic – Black widow
     
    What to look for: subs and their cuts (starting at 1’50)
    Ei.3: subs are well established, a constant tense humming which cuts sharply and resumes with the following « boom ».
    SM64: the humming is much lighter and less textured, less tense. It is hard to tell if it is proper subbass or bleeding bass.
     
    Daft Punk – Random Access Memories – Doin’ it right
     
    What to look for: subs.
    Ei.3: clean engaging subs. Not the biggest soundstage ever, but the job is done nicely and it just sounds right.
    SM64: the sound is leaner and more ample, which really flatters my ear. But the bass tends to bloat and bleed, overall sounding more boom-boom than truly impacting.
     
    Daft Punk – Random Access Memories – Contact
     
    What to look for: all of the song. It goes crescendo all along, just the way I like it. The drums are very important, as they are recorded, but mixed with deep resonating booms and with saturated samples, as well as with a bass line which drives the final climax starting at 2’47.
    Ei.3: it is balanced, punchy and dynamic. All of the above is there, without any interference or disappearing, even if depth is somewhat lacking. The experience remains exhilarating to me, due to the unity rendered by Ei.3. The volume knob goes up and up and up, to unreasonable levels.
    SM64: the sub impact is much less than that of Ei.3 (not that I expected it to be otherwise). The cymbals are much more precise but also a tad metallic. Starting at 3’20, things go seriously wrong in the final climax. The bass line bloats and devours the drum line, of which almost only remain the overly metallic cymbal. Ok if you listen to SM64 alone, but catastrophic imho when passing after Ei.3.
     
    Savant – Alchemist – Fat Cat Shuffle
     
    What to look for: bass texture, spacialisation, bass deflagrations ( starting at1’18).
    Ei.3: bass are precise, and their texture is excellent. The deflagrations of the bass beats leave a loud hum but never bleed. They also cut sharply when called for. The whole is very lively, in spite of so-so cymbals and a shallow soundstage.
    SM64: soundstage is much bigger than with Ei.3, but bass beats hum “fatter”. Bass cuts are a little slow. Bass texture is quite good, and the spacial effect are well rendered in the wide 3D soundstage.
     
    The Avener – The wanderings of the Avener – Lonely Boy
     
    What to look for: guitar clarity, echo depth at 1’00, attack at the beginning, quality of hand clapping
    Ei.3: guitars could be sharper, purer, but they’re still quite good. The bass line is really nice and well cut starting at 1’00, with a good depth by Ei.3 measures. Guitars sound a little matte as opposed to crystalline (as an acoustic guitar should sound). Globally not technically optimal (the voice is for example purer on SM64 with more echo depth but similar width, see 2’27), but it sounds incredibly well overall.
    SM64: bass immediately appear boosted. Guitars are clearer, but located too far as compared to the rest, as well as hand clappings. The same goes for the beat starting at 0’48, which is to much in front instead of providing a natural rythm. Beautiful depth around 1’40-2’05. Overall to boomy, wowing you at first, but not sounding “together”.
     
    The Avener – The wanderings of the Avener - Castle in the snow
     
    What to look for:  grain of voice, echoes (drums at 1’00), voice depth all along, for example at 2’41. Ability to smoothly mix original song with added electronic samples.
    Ei.3: very musical, not overly spacious compared to SM64. The shallowness of Ei.3 soundstage shows. However, the width of the soundstage makes up for it at 2’41.
    SM64 : seems better technically. The voice is nicer, purer, but backwards. Too bad as it reduces engagement. Sounds globally more airy, which suits that tune.
     
    The Avener – The wanderings of the Avener – To let myself go featuring Ane Brun
     
    What to look for:  acoustic guitar, beat, musicality (violins at 2’35).
    Ei.3: guitars are not as nice as with SM64. Likely due to Ei.3 cutting high too quick. But the more upfront soundstage and the mids density makes it all fun and games.
    SM64 : too airy, almost ethereal. Lacking in unity? Probably due to the backwards mids.
     
    Dr DRE – 2001 – Still D.R.E
     
    What to look for: flow, impact
    Ei.3: FAST, make you want to bobble your head.
    SM64: bigger and cleaner, but also much slacker, less engaging.
     
    Foo Fighters – Wasting Light – Rope
     
    What to look for: bass line (rare item to look for in Foo Fighters), doubled voices (big feature of Wasting Light album), chorus, and the cowbell at 2’55. For cowbell amateurs :
    [​IMG]
    Ei.3: bass line is precise, could be a tad more upfront. But boy it does the job right., be it for driving the chorus or for driving the instrumental parts prior to the doubled voices. The second voice, higher, is a little less readable, but it all sounds so well together. The cymbals are there, but more as a concept, as they lack precision : the impact is there, but there resonance is much (way) too short.
    SM64: here again, bass feels boosted. Bass line is very much there but it lacks precision, as if the main frequency was bloated. Separation and soundstage are excellent, but the voices are again a little backwards. They are distinct, but almost too much, having less magic when added to one another. The cymbals are very precise and clean. They show why the SM64 highs are somewhat called for being a little metallic (but 1) I’m not too sensitive to sibilance; and 2) it is only normal that cymbals sound metallic now is it ?!!)
     
    Foo Fighters – Wasting Light – Dear Rosemary
     
    What to look for: the intro, which echoes the end of the previous track (“Rope”), the little bells, the stop and block created by the drums and guitars, the doubled voices starting at 0’50, including on the chorus, the rise starting at 3’04.
    Ei.3: engaging intro, very so-so little bells. Drums play their role perfectly, and provide a strong rythmic sense. The voices combine perfectly, and it sticks up with you, but in a good way. The final rise really makes you want to shake your head and to pump up the volume. Ei.3 really do this tune justice.
    SM64: the drums sound a little metallic, and the stop and block is not quite as good. The little bells are however beautiful and super sharp. Lovely. Bass line is also excellent, and voices mesh up superbly together. The second voice really comes to life as compared with Ei.3, but both are yet a little too much backwards. Result is I don’t shake my head as much, and the volume knob does not move up. The high toms lack impact at the end (3’50).
     
    Foo Fighters – Wasting Light – Arlandria
     
    What to look for: in the beginning, the echo of the scratched guitar rythmic part, the separate guital parts at 1’30 (scratched on the left, melodic on the right), the little bells and the doubled voices on the chorus, the bass echo which moves from left to right and back between 3’12 and 3’36 ; the tom triplets (see 2’14, 4’02 or 4’18).
    Ei.3: in the intro, the scratched rythmic resonates in the depth direction at the center. The drums and the frontal scene induce instant foot tapping despite the lack luster little bells. The melodic guitar on the right lacks purity, crystal sound. The whole is really fun thanks to the drums.
    SM64 : in the intro, the scatched rythmic resonates far to the right, which is really fun stereo-wise, but probably less realistic than with the Ei.3. For the rest, the more airy and technical highs make the tune nicer, especially since the voices don’t feel backwards here. However, the drums are a lot less engaging for some reason. Too bad.
     
    Foo Fighters – Wasting Light – Walk
     
    What to look for: all of it. Again a tune which goes crescendo in intensity. First, melodic guitars which are lateralised, then the bass tom, the rest of the drums, and the little bells before the 2’05 break. And it starts again crescendo at 2’45, adding an instrument with each repetition. Several end teasings before the drum finish circa 4’02.
    Ei.3: this tune sums up the essence of my Ei.3 experience. Not the most perfect technically, but it grabs you by the guts, and I pump up the volume knob to unreasonable levels (fortunately not for too long).
    SM64: from the begining, it’s cleaner and more airy than Ei.3, which is really flattering to my ears. The bass tom is however less precise, a little bloated. Cymbals are a little too present, and once again the drums are less engaging. Result is the same: less guts, less volume knob turning, and less foot tapping.
     
    Edit : slightly edited my grades to reflect a more generalistic view. First grades were in view of the pricing, which, after talking it out with my friend Sirenia, I believe is not a good thing to do.
      Rollk2, H-ermes, AmberOzL and 2 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. H-ermes
      Where is my lawyer? Reviewing stuff on Head-Fi... H.
      H-ermes, Aug 25, 2015
    3. hitead
      Great review!  I received my ei.3 and am waiting for a proper source to pair it with(used iphone 6 before).  Definetly easy to drive!
      hitead, Nov 30, 2015
    4. MrButchi
      Thank you :)
      MrButchi, Nov 30, 2015
  6. acain
    Entry level price with a Hi-End Sound for a custom monitor
    Written by acain
    Published Jul 26, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Balanced sound, very controlled bass, $300 for a custom with 3 drivers
    Cons - Only offered in a custom right now so ear impressions needed.
    INTRODUCTION
     
    Let me introduce myself my name is Adam I am a 38 years old, I have been into audio equipment since I was in highschool. I don’t consider myself an audiophile, I am just an average guy that loves music. I like to listen to my music with the best possible audio quality. My journey to Head-Fi started one day doing a search on the web for headphone reviews. Just about all searches for headphones and earbuds brings you to Head-Fi, after lurking for a couple weeks I finally made an account and here I am writing reviews. Being on Head-Fi I have learned so much and I am learning something new every day.
     
    My reviews are written geared towards the average consumer since most web searches direct you to Head-Fi. Head-Fi reviews get more traffic than most pro-audio magazines or any designated review site, you won't find my reviews filled with audiophile terms or due I use graphs, meters, or charts. The only charts and graphs I care about are the quarterly ones that come in the mail about my 401K.  
     
    I mainly listen to music using in ear monitors or headphones, I rarely use speakers. When listening to music I prefer to listen to music from the 1970s to the 90s. Anything but country or what ever my daughter forces me to listen to. Being a member of Head-Fi I never thought of making friends all over the world. If you're new to this site, and have a question about audio there are many people here to help and guide you. This is the best website that I have come across there are so many good people here.
     
    I was recently in the market for a pair of custom in ear monitors, I wasn’t sure of what to get with all these companies putting out new products. I finally made up my mind when I saw a posting in a thread for Custom Art’s new Ei.3 triple driver custom. Custom Art’s owner Piotr Granicki also known as Peter, is a member of Head-fi known as  @piotrus-g. I have run into him on some of the forums without even knowing he was the owner of Custom Art. Custom Art is located in Warszawa, Poland and manufactures their products in Poland.
     
    Custom Art is known for their silicone in ear monitors and recently Peter decided to jump into acrylic. You can find some of Peter’s silicone creations on Custom Art’s Facebook page, I have to say they are a work of art. His silicone artwork is like Noble’s acrylic pieces, you could say he is the silicone king of in ear monitors. That just sounds dirty, if he ever gets out of the custom business he could always do breast implants. Peter has had a fear of producing acrylic monitors do to acrylic never agreeing with him and has had trouble working with it. Myself being into DIY customs, producing acrylic shells is an art in itself.
     
    Before I get started I would like to say thank you to Peter for helping get into the Ei.3s. I am not employed or being compensated for this review, and is based on my honest opinions. You can order the Ei.3 by going into the Custom Arts contact form and emailing them. The product is not listed on the web page yet, but just shoot them an email and they will be more than glad to help you. This is the crazy part they only cost around $300 for a triple driver custom, far as I know these are the most affordable triple driver setup out there. I live in the US and was a little worried about how hard it was going to be to ship out my impressions, since they were going to Poland. You will need to fill out a customs form, that can be done right online through what ever carrier service you choose. I went with USPS the cost was very cheap, filling out the customs form was pretty self explanatory it was pretty easy to do. Here is the link directly to Custom Art.http://www.thecustomart.com/index.php
     
    Customer service is a big part when looking to purchase customs, getting into customs you will for sure have a lot of questions. Peter himself or one of his colleagues were very fast to respond to any of my emails. Peter also manufactures the shells and tunes them himself and checks for quality. I asked Peter how he could charge such a low price for his acrylic monitors this was his response, “I believe acrylic is much less time consuming to produce and finish, much easier to handle large quantities thus lower price. The same earphone in silicone would probably cost almost twice as much”.  You might take notice Custom Art doesn’t really advertise their products, but go by word of mouth. Just recently they celebrated their 3 year anniversary, that says alot about what kind of products they must be turning out. Let’s finally see how Custom Art’s first offerings of acrylic monitors sound and look.
     
     
    SPECIFICATIONS
     
    - Three Balanced Armature per earpiece
    - 3-way configuration
    - 118dB @1kHz @0.1V
    - 65 Ohm @1kHz
    - 10Hz-17000Hz (+-20dB into IEC711 coupler)
    - Acrylic body
     
    IMG_3455.jpg
     
    IMG_3449.jpg
     
     
    PACKAGING
     
    Custom Art’s Ei.3s were dropped off by some carrier, I forget what company it was but they were packed securely in a box. Opening the shipping box the monitors came in a 1010 micro Pelican case. Pretty much standard for customs, although I have seen some monitors triple the price come in a tin can. Not much to say about the packaging, I was surprised to see a Pelican case at this price point since they're not cheap by them self.
    IMG_3454.jpg
    IMG_3457.jpg
     
    ACCESSORIES
     
    If you have ever purchased customs before you already know accessories are very limited. You really don’t need anything except a case and the monitors and the cable. Custom Art provides a nice 1010 Pelican case for storage. They also include a small moisture absorbent disc, can’t think of the correct name but it removes moisture from the air when you place the monitors inside there carrying case. You also receive the standard cleaning tool for removing wax from the sound bores. Of course they also come with the cable that’s a 2-pin connection, with the plug and 2-pin being gold plated. Almost forgot you get a welcome card with the serial number and the manufacture date of the monitors. There is a 12 month warranty incase anything malfunctions.
    IMG_3461.jpg
    IMG_3498.jpg
     
    IMG_3501.jpg
     
    BUILD AND FIT
     
    Lets see if the Master of silicone can do the same with acrylic, Custom Art is one of the only companies that I know of that offers silicone monitors with unique designs and endless shell color combinations. Ok on to the acrylic build and fit, getting into customs you can expect a refit sometimes. One of the biggest problems with customs not fitting is the impressions may not be 100 percent correct when taken. Be sure you get your impressions done by a reputable  audiologist, and make sure they follow the instructions provided by Custom Art or any other custom company.
     
    I left the design and colors up to Peter, I did let him know I am not into flashy or real bright colors. Ei.3s I received were a transparent blue with a solid white  faceplate. The Custom Art was written down the side of each faceplate in black lettering. For being Custom Art’s first rodeo with acrylic monitors, you would think they have been at it for a long time. The shells were completely bubble free and nice and clear to see the 3 drivers inside. Looking inside the shells the drivers and wires are very neatly placed with just the right amount of adhesive to keep them from moving. The sound from the 3 drivers are sectioned off to a dual bore design. If you look closely you can see the acoustic tuning filters inside the hearing aid tubes. The faceplate being married to the shell looked seamless as if it where one solid piece. Peter must have read my mind blue is my favorite color, I am  just glad he didn’t send me a pink or purple pair.
     
    Having owned 5 different pair of customs, I was glad to see these wouldn't be going back for a refit. The Ei.3s fit like a glove inside my ear canal with a perfect seal. Out of the 5 pairs of monitors I have owned over the last 2 years this is only the second time they were a perfect fit. Depending on the company and the amount of drivers some monitors can stick out pretty far, the Ei.3s sit nice and flush and don’t protrude out far. Overall I couldn't be happier with the build quality, and the fit was dead on. If you're looking for your first pair of customs and never had experience wearing them, it can take a couple days to get used to having something jammed in your ear that fills every nook and cranny. Be patient after you are used to them you won't even know they are their, and they won’t fall out like universal monitors.
    IMG_3504.jpg
     
    SOUND
     
    All my listening was done with hi-res files using my Samsung Alpha cell phone, AK100II, Fiio X1, and Lenovo laptop with the Apogee Groove. The Ei.3s are pretty easy to drive from any source, but pairing them with an amp gave them an even bigger and fuller sound throughout the whole frequency range.
     
    So from reading how they are advertised I was thinking they were going to be bass heavy and overwhelming. They are tuned for music like hip-hop, edm, dubstep, and electronica and so on.  The overall sound to my ears would have to be more balanced than anything. But when the music calls for the lower frequencies the Ei.3s really come to life. They reproduce bottom end that you usually only get with a dynamic driver. Ei.3s reach down to sub-bass levels and have a very nice rumble. Mid-bass is just as good, detailed and very open sounding it’s done with more quality than quantity.
     
    Before hearing the mid-range I was expecting it to be slightly laid back, but that’s far from the case and it’s well balanced with just as much detail and clarity as the rest of the frequencies. The mids have a nice smoothness to them that keeps you engaged with the music. Bass never spills into the mids, and the mids never sounded warm.  When listening to songs that doesn’t call for bass the mids really shine and reproduce vocals effortlessly, that doesn’t mean the bass takes over when called for, I am just trying to say there just very good. The upper frequencies are crisp and well balanced with everything else. They are never bright or harsh and sound very clean and crisp. The Ei.3s sound good with every kind of music I threw at them, with rock and roll the impact of the kick drum is absolutely amazing. Snare drums and cymbals sound very defined and real. Listening to hip-hop and electronica really showed me what they are capable of. The bass doesn’t steal the show but it is very prominent with this type of music and is done very well.
     
    Being an in ear monitor the soundstage is right where you would expect it to be it’s not the biggest or smallest. Instrument separation is done very well giving you a good sense of where everything is at with placement. The only monitor that I have on hand to compare it to would be the UE900S, although being a universal and $100 more and 1 more driver. The Ei.3 just has a bigger and fuller sound overall,even with 1 less armature.  The higher frequencies of the UE900S are slightly more detailed and more forward than the Ei.3s. The mids of the Ei.3 compared to the UE900S are more upfront with the 900S sounding more distant. Ei.3 bass compared to the 900S is more impactful and tighter and better controlled. 900S bass can’t even compete with the Ei.3s, the 900S also don’t go as low as the Ei.3s with sub-bass.
    IMG_3516.jpg
    IMG_3492.jpg
    IMG_3520.jpg
     
    FINAL THOUGHTS
     
    A custom in ear monitor with 3 drivers for $300 that sounds as good as monitors double their price, how can you go wrong. This is the only product I ever gave a 5 star rating, the only improvement that I could think of is the higher frequencies, maybe having them slightly lifted and more prominent . There is nothing wrong with them it’s just how my ears hear it. The Ei.3s are detailed across the board and have a very nice impactful low end, they may not please bass heads being more balanced than anything. Out of all the balanced armature designs that I have heard in this price range the Ei.3s are going to be a game changer if enough people get to demo them.
     
    If I didn’t know I would have thought they were a hybrid design, that’s how well they sound. I have never heard a balanced armature design were the bass has a nice airy feel to it like the Ei.3s do. Being Custom Art’s first go at acrylic monitors you would have thought they have been at it for years. I would highly recommend saving up some money and go out and order a pair of Ei.3s, there is nothing like the comfort of a custom in ear compared to a universal. You won’t have problems with them falling out, you won’t have to worry about people asking to borrow them either since they will only fit your ears.  You will also get very personal customer service which is a bonus when buying customs for the first time. I still can’t believe the asking price for what you are getting, forget about them being customs just based off the sound they are worth it.
     
    One of my favorite things that I have used the Ei.3s for is watching action movies at night when the kids are sleeping. For instance the the sound of bullet casings falling to the ground is unbelievably awesome. Or in the movie Top Gun when the jets take off, the rumbling of the jet's engines is so realistic, if I had hair on my head it would be blowing backwards from the thrust. Thanks for reading if you ever have the chance to demo these, do yourself a favor and try them out. These are the best value customs that I have ever heard before.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. acain
      Never heard the dunus
      acain, Aug 3, 2015
    3. nmatheis
      I recently got the chance to test out the E1.3 universal demo and find this review spot on.  The bass was already good with the universal demo version, and I can only imagine it improves with the custom version.  I might knock it back a half star for lacking a bit of energy in the upper frequencies, but I know this is what Peter was after with these so it's not fair to fault them for that really.  You just have to know that going in.  
       
      For a CIEM targeting EDM & HipHop, these really are a great all-rounder!
      nmatheis, Aug 3, 2015
    4. gemmoglock
      Hi @acain how do the treble of the UE900 and the Ei.3 compare? Thanks for the review!
      gemmoglock, Apr 10, 2018
  7. AmberOzL
    Addicting and Relaxing
    Written by AmberOzL
    Published Jul 25, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Price, terrific low end quality and quantity, natural and musical tonality, 3D soundstage, perfect fit + isolation, relaxing sound
    Cons - Clear acrylic shell shows very minor flaws but Peter is improving himself day by day, instrumental separation is average considering the price
    You fellas all know the Custom Art from Poland and its awesome owner Piotr (Peter) I guess at this point. He has variety of ciems and services from remolding to making custom tips for universal iems. I can say many nice things about him but if I start with that this review might be a very long one [​IMG] The subject of this review is his first ever acrylic ciem, the Ei.3. It is an inexpensive yet addicting monitor from Peter. The thought behind the design of this ciem was simply the getting the harmonies right and clean with correct tonality. Distortion is low and vibrations are smoothed. It is supposed to be relaxing, easy going, non bothering sounding ciem and I tell you, it is 100% correct. Peter did an awesome job with its tuning and created a very serious challenger in mid fi ciem while keeping the price is at only 300 bucks. As far as I know it is the cheapest ciem with 3BA 3WAY configuration.
     
    IMG_5631.jpg
     
    Let's start with the design.Ei.3 has 3 balanced armatures per side and it has 3 way configuration as I mentioned earlier. My monitor came with clear acrylic shells with white and black icewood faceplates for left and right sides. I must say I am a person who likes dark and never lights up his room. That difference helps me to get the correct one in my dark room and I like it to be honest. Also they look stunning. Peter's faceplates are really getting to the top level in this industry. However though, my clear acrylic shell has very few and minor flaws. There is seriously nothing big and you have to focus to see the imperfections however as a reviewer, I must mention them I guess. Then again, they don't bother me and I love the way they look. Peter is new in this acrylic shell thingy. I am sure he will get better just like how he improved himself with silicone ciems. Fit and isolation is perfect. It is interesting though, Peter used the same ear impressions when he was using to build my Harmony 8 and the results are different, slightly but different. Ei.3 fits better and more comfortable also the fit stays undisturbed easily as opposed to H8. So let me clarify, I like both their fits and have no complaints. However somehow Ei.3 is more comfortable and its fit is harder to disturb. The H8 is silicone on the other and has its advantage on isolation, it is superior. Ei.3's isolation is better than your average acrylic ciem though, the canal section is long and it helps to reduce the outside noise by a large margin.
     
    Each side has 2 sound tubes, one big and one small. Big one has some kind of filter but I don't know anything about the technical stuff and how to build ciems so I am not the one to talk about their effects on sound. The cable... Oh I have a nice love and hate relationship with it just like the previous Custom Art cables. Don't get me wrong, they are awesome, both on sound wise and ergonomics. However I wish the Y-Split was positioned lower. It somehow disturbs me by touching my neck and chin easily. A few quick words on the sonic of the cable compared to the some other default cables from the other manufacturers. To my ears, Custom Art's cables have very very slight emphasis on low end thus it is slightly warmer. Some other cables I had a chance to compare are mostly slightly brighter with a tiny little bit of wide soundstage. I must say though, the differences are seriously minor and you need to focus hardly to get them, if you can. Mostly you wouldn't feel much difference basically. The cable is braided and mine is in clear transparent form, which suits nicely to my ciem.
     
    Accessories are pretty standard too, you get your 1010 Pelican Case, cleaning tool, desiccant. Nothing fancy here but it doesn't leave you wanting more. A cleaning cloth maybe? Yeah why not but I am sure I wouldn't use it. For 300 bucks you get a complete package you don't need anything else to maintain your monitors. The case is very high quality too as you know, Pelican is some kind of default case in this industry with Otterbox but Pelican is easier for me as it doesn't need bear power to be opened.
     
    I am gonna try to explain the sound section in 3 parts as usual, bass, mids and treble. However I think I should give a short summery of it in here in advance before getting into the details. Ei.3 meant to sound big and I mean big. It is designed with EDM and rap music in mind so the emotions, smoothness, musicality and tonality were the main points. I don't think it is a detail monster or transparency king, but it does its job fairly good, never gets behind the other ciems in this price range. Its bass.. Man it made me addicted to it. You wouldn't believe this bass comes from 300 USD ciem. It is seriously good. So if you are a bass lover or generally listen to EDM, rap and what not, I guess Ei.3 would suit you incredibly good.
     
    Bass... Well it does hit big I tell you that. Don't think it is just about the boom effect and quantity. Its quality is also something to be heard definitely. So when I say it hits big, you might think it is a basshead ciem? No way, it is not. It is quality and rumble capabilities are making you addictive not the sheer quantity. Yet it has an enhanced bass but it is not like the bass means everything in this monitor. To my ears its rumble is energetic and dynamism is just calling you to enjoy the harmony. Bass is like the generally balanced iems a little bit of boosted section. It gives you some energy, liveliness and rumble while it doesn't become the main point of the presentation. I think it is a good thing, it makes the monitor more all rounder. It has punchy kicks but it is not too fast to leave you desire more from it. It stays in the air to keep you satisfied with its rumble while not becoming over boomy to take a huge space in stage. In short, the bass section is the best part of the monitor. North of neutral but not at the bass head territory.
     
    Midrange... Balanced, not laidback, not overly forward, just slightly lifted. It has a nice emotion when it comes to vocals. It is not mid centric and it is not creamy, organic tone that I love but it has its merits. It is smooth, it is in nice harmony with both bass section and treble. It has the relaxing signature of the monitor so easy on the ears especially for long listening sessions. Is it a detail monster? No. Is it a transparency king? No. However it was not the point of this ciem. You see, it is designed to be a non bothering, smooth sounding one and I truly believe it is successful on this. Is it a bad thing? Nope. I still think it does fairly well for a 300 bucks monitor. Long story short, the mids are balanced, has nice vocals, smooth but average when it comes to instrumental separation and transparency. Do I like it? Hell yeah cuz it suits perfectly fine with the soul of this monitor. I wouldn't make the mids more detailed even if I had a chance, it would ruin the soul and turns this ciem into something without a purpose, a lost soul.
     
    Treble... Slightly forward, energetic and lively without ever becoming harsh or too hot. I like them, I simply like them. It has the perfect balance for me. It doesn't rape my ears with brightness or hotness but it gives me some treble without a problem. I like the tuning here. I am known as a man who can't tolerate the hot treble but Ei.3 has forward and energetic treble without becoming problematic. What can I ask more? I think the extension is above average but it is not like it goes and goes towards to 20khz (yeah I know I know how many of us hears it anyway). Still I believe you can hear the roll off. It has a natural liveliness it doesn't sound digital or metallic. Again, yes, we come to the same thing but it is one of the best things of this monitor. Tonality... Treble has an exceptional tonality. It is not the airiest or has the biggest room to breath and widens the soundstage. It does keep things balanced and doesn't do a bad job on cymbals, flickers and so on. Maybe I would say the treble notes are a little bit sticky and doesn't resolve very good, if it was 500USD+ ciem but it is not and it is again tuned perfectly for this signature.
     
    Presentation... It is natural, focused and 3D. Size wise I think it is average, nothing too big but helps on focus and keep things energetic. Coherency and realism are good though the problem I mentioned earlier, the separation of instruments might leave you wanting more. Positioning is fine there is no problem with that and it is not like it is veiled or it is laidback you can't pick or focus on anything. That kind of presentation does things best with EDM, rap and some popular RnB. Well, you got your answer, the tuning, the idea behind this ciem.... It does its magic and just calls you enjoy and don't split the hair into two pieces.
     
    Last words on sound section? The tuning is so clever it calls you to enjoy the music only don't bother about the every minor tiny little bit detail. How I feel like when I put them into my ears? Relaxing but not falling asleep. It is smooth but it is not "one thing best/one thing worst" type of ciem. It does everything good or great and does nothing specially bad, just average maybe. It excels in its bass capabilities to my ears and balanced tuning. Its tonality is one of the biggest strengths of it. Musicality and smoothness are just the cherries at the top of the cake. Vocals? Yeah you got them fine. I think it is a fairly good all rounder but does miracles at EDM, rap and RnB. It is balanced, has a warm bass boost and energetic treble without pushing the mids into an abyss. It even actually lifts them up very slightly and clears the vocal.
     
    I think Peter is successful on creating what he wanted. Unless you want a detail monster ciem/iem, you can't go wrong with this one. Again, I don't think they suck at this either, it is just they are average for the price but oh boy they do a lot of things great or perfect punches way above the price point. It has an entry fi price tag on it but to my ears this ciem can be a serious challenger to the mid fi segment. It doesn't do one thing best and leave other things at bad positions, Ei.3 does everything balanced or around the borders of balanced section and becomes a nice musical monitor.
     
    Ok get a load of this. Some days I just take Ei.3 with me and leave H8 at home. Is it better than H8, nope. However it doesn't leave me wanting more. Whatever I throw at it, it keeps the smile on my face. I just like this ciem and its tuning. It is not the highest detailed ciem, it is not the basshead unit, it doesn't call the midcentric iem lovers or treble heads. However, it does everything just good with a nice balance and a hint of warmth.
     
    That's the review guys, I did my best to translate what my ears telling me. Hope you enjoy it and it helps you to decide if you are in a market for inexpensive ciems with nice sounds.
     
    Test Albums:
     
    TOKIMONSTA: Midnight Menu, Half Shadows, Desiderium (Reviewers note: Send help, I fall in love with TOKIMONSTA, it is becoming really hard for me to listen to something else)
    2Pac: Me Against The World, All Eyez On Me
    Amy Winehouse: Frank and Back to Black 4CD Box Set - Deluxe Edition
    Avicii: True
    Burial: Burial, Untrue
    Cake: Fashion Nugget
    Daft Punk: Homework, Discovery, Humans After All, Random Access Memories
    Disclosure: Settle (Deluxe Edition)
    Django Unchained OST
    Fort Minor: The Rising Tied (Deluxe Version)
    Gorillaz: Gorillaz, Demon Days
    Jay Z: The Blueprint, The Blueprint2 The Gift and The Curse, The Black Album, The Blueprint 3
    Joss Stone: The Soul Sessions, Mind Body & Soul
    Justice: †, Audio, Video, Disco
    Kanye West: The College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation
    Lana Del Rey: Born To Die (Paradise Edition)
    Milky Chance: Sadnecessary
    Sky Ferreira: Night Time My Time
    The Great Gatsby OST iTunes Deluxe Edition
    Thom Yorke: The Eraser Rmxs
      peareye, piotrus-g, KaraSinek and 6 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. AmberOzL
      @ardacumhur Glad you like it. I did my best to explain what I am hearing :)
      AmberOzL, Jul 27, 2015
    3. hakushondaimao
      Nice job. Am getting one of the review pairs soon, and look forward to trying them out even more based on your review..
      hakushondaimao, Aug 7, 2015
    4. MrButchi
      A very emotion-transmitting review. Soeaks tonthe ears. Congrats !
      MrButchi, Aug 23, 2015
  8. Cotnijoe
    CustomArt Ei.3: Redefining "Budget" Custom IEMs
    Written by Cotnijoe
    Published Jul 3, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Stock Cable, Clean and Natural Sound, Fantastic Value
    Cons - Slight Softness with Bass Impact
    Introduction:
    CustomArt is a relatively new custom IEM company that has very quickly grew into one of the big names in business. Hailing from Poland, the company has a well-respected line of products that have been made available as touring units thanks to the generosity of Piotr, the man behind CustomArt. I was one of the Head-Fi members that have had time with the tour units, and I was fairly impressed with what Piotr had to offer.
     
    While the CustomArt tour units continue to circulate, however, Piotr has cooked up something new from his lab, and it’s quite a departure from his current line of products. Traditionally a company that makes custom IEMs out of medical grade silicone, CustomArt has recently released their first acrylic product – the 3 driver Ei.3.
     
    Piotr offered to put the Ei.3 on tour as well, and I was lucky enough to be one of the first to receive the demo unit. Since this is a demo unit of a custom IEM, my impressions are naturally of the universal version and may vary slightly from the actual custom fit version. However, it should nonetheless provide a fairly accurate impression of the actual version of the Ei.3.
     
    Edit: Some changes were made to my impressions of the bass after suggestions of using a smaller bore tip.
     
    Packaging and Accessories:
    I won’t go into too much detail here. Since this is a demo unit, there are naturally some things missing. The packaging is simple. It came in a well-padded envelope. Inside the envelope is a hard Pelican 1010 case with the unit inside. Besides the IEM, a set of comply tips were provided. That’s it. Since the real deal is a custom IEM, tips wouldn’t be included anyways. Either way, moving on to more exciting and important things.
     
    IMG_0096.jpg
    Demo Ei.3 With Pelican Case
     
    Build Quality:
    The build of the Ei.3 is also something I won’t be able to get into in too much detail. However, I can offer some insight here. Upon inspection, there are no bubbles to be seen on the shell. There are, however, a few smears on the inside of the shell that I’m guessing to be some sort of glue. I assume that the actual custom Ei.3 with be near flawless as there is a lot more space to put the drivers in. In addition, Piotr products have generally been beautiful to look at and very well built. Piotr also notes that he has since improved his skills at crafting acrylic IEMs, so it only gets better from here on.
     
    I would also like to note that Piotr makes some fantastically comfortable IEMs. I’ve bugged Piotr before about considering making universals, but it seems that there are a few road blocks preventing that. Oh well… a man can dream though.
     
    The Cable:
    I have to make a special section here to talk about the stock cable that CustomArt offers or I would be committing a crime. Along with the Noble Cable, CustomArt’s stock cable is the best stock cable that is offered by any company that I know of. Now, the debate of whether cables make a difference in sound is always a big debate, BUT assuming that upgrade cables do improve the sound, I honestly don’t think it’s worth it. The Ei.3’s sound certainly can stand on its own without some expensive upgrade, and my God is this cable comfortable.
     
    The stock cable is so fantastically flexible and retains absolutely no memory. Bend it however you like or wound it up any way you like, and it’ll straighten right back up. It defies physics and does it so beautifully that it makes me tear up a bit. I give the stock cable that CustomArt offers a 6 out of 5 rating, because it’s redefined what a stock cable can offer. And yes, I do like it better than the Linum cables. The Linum cables, while incredibly comfortable, retain memory like there’s no tomorrow, and are so light that I can’t hang my IEMs around my neck for convenience when I’m not using them.
     
    Listening Impressions:
    Listening was done using my iBasso D14 “Bushmaster” with my laptop running Foobar as my source. Music of all genres and of varying quality (with the exception of DSD) was used for my listening impressions.
     
    CustomArt advertised the Ei.3 as having more of a consumer oriented tuning, so I was mentally preparing myself to hear what a “Beats by CustomArt” tuning would be like (ok… maybe not Beats). Of course, I expected the sound to still be relatively neutral, following what seems like CustomArt’s house sound, but I was not prepared when I heard the Ei.3 – it was completely different from what I was expecting.
     
    Bass
    To put it simply, the bass was not what I was expecting at all. I consider my HIFIMAN HE560’s bass to be near ruler flat, if not very close to that. If that’s the case, then the bass of the Ei.3 is only a tiny bit north of neutral. It’s not accentuated as much as I had expected. The bass is very slightly boosted, remains tight and extends fairly well for a 3 driver IEM. The Ei.3 does still roll off a bit in the lower region, but that is somewhat to be expected as its inherent is almost all balanced armature IEMs, especially those with less drivers to cover the frequency range. In addition, the bass seems to have a slight softness on impact, causing it to sound a little inarticulate in comparison to the crystal clarity that the Ei.3 offers in its midrange and treble. Overall bass performance is good and fun, but lags a little behind the fantastic midrange and treble.
     
    My experience with CIEMs is that the custom fitted version does tend to give better bass extension than a universal version, so I would expect the bass extension and performance to improve with the custom product.
     
    Midrange
    This is where things start to look better for the Ei.3 – very good in fact. The Ei.3 is a fantastic choice for vocal music. The midrange is fluid, smooth, and slightly warm, all while remaining neutral. Detail is good, but not amazing. Switching from the Noble Savant to the Ei.3, there is an obvious decrease in the overall level of detail. What does make the Ei.3 midrange good and hit beyond its asking price, however, is its fantastic clarity. Everything sounds very clean and nothing feels oddly colored in any way. Instruments have good texture as well good separation within the soundstage, despite the soundstage being fairly average. The precision in imaging is very good, but does lack the last bit of finesse that makes high-end balanced armature IEMs incredibly laser-precise with pinpointing instruments within the soundscape.
     
    Overall, the midrange of the Ei.3 is wonderfully natural and presents a very clean sounding listening experience.
     
    Treble
    The treble of the Ei.3 has all the qualities, in my personal opinion, that make a good treble response. The Ei.3 has a quick, clean, and smooth treble that is far from fatiguing. Like the midrange, the treble is clean and uncolored and with extension that's not amazing but not bad, starting to roll off as it nears 16 kHz. The Ei.3 never feels dark or closed in, despite the sound being fairly forward and more “in your head.”
     
    I think the only real room for improvement in the treble is that I feel there is a slight lack in overall texture in the upper midrange and treble. I think many will enjoy the sound of the treble as is, but I would personally like just a bit more bite and texture out of the sound, especially when it comes to cymbal and high hat hits.
     
    Sound Comparisons
     
    CustomArt Ei.3 and Earwerkz Supra 2 (CIEM)
    I consider the supra 2 to be the king of value as the supra is fantastically detailed and natural sounding for a 430 dollar CIEM (or 390 for the universals). So being about 100 dollars less, how do the two compare?
     
    In terms of sound signature, the supra and the Ei.3 are more similar than they are different. However, the way in which the music is presented is quite different. For me personally, the past year or so has been fantastic, as more and more companies seem to be nailing the sound signature which I consider to be “natural” – which is generally a very slight V-shape with just a tad of extra energy in the upper mids. I would consider both of these IEMs to be close to my ideal sound signature. This sort of signature can often come forth as being fairly dry or boring, but the Ei.3, in particular, is a very musical sounding IEM.
     
    Directly comparing the supra and Ei.3, the supra has a punchier and lower extending bass, a more aggressive upper range, and an overall more forward sound. The overall sound of the supra are crisper but dryer with better detail and overall texture as the presentation of the music from the supra are fairly analytical. Compared to the supra, the Ei.3 can feel as if it has a softer attack on the music as it’s not as sharp sounding as the supra (not to say they’re harsh sounding). While the supra are more detailed than the Ei.3, I think many will prefer the musical and smooth sound of the Ei.3 over the supra’s sound. The Ei.3 also has the benefit of having a better soundstage than the supra, particularly in terms of depth and width. The supra’s one big weakness to me is its very underwhelming soundstage.
     
    In summary, I find those who enjoy a more analytical but energetic sound will like the supra, while those who enjoy a smoother, more musical, but slightly less textured and detailed sound will find the Ei.3 much more appealing.
     
    CustomArt Ei.3 and RHA T20 (With Neutral Filter)
    In my opinion, both IEMs are very good and have their own strengths in different areas. To me, comparing the two is a classic scenario comparing dynamic and balanced armature drivers.
     
    Typical of a dynamic driver, the T20’s bass extendsl deeper than the Ei.3’s bass, and also has much more authority and rumble. Overall bass of the T20 is a bit more accentuated with a little more midbass bloom in comparison, but really not by much. The T20 is by no means a bass monster. While lacking the authority that the T20’s bass has, the Ei.3 bass has tighter impact that causes the bass of the T20 to feel like it lacks a bit of focus in its impact. Despite that, I do feel that the bass department of the T20 is superior to that of the Ei.3 as its more textured and realistic.
     
    In the midrange is where the balanced armature drivers of the Ei.3 really flex their muscles though. Vocals are presented beautifully on the Ei.3 with crystal clarity and good detail. Instruments are also well textured and clean. Compared to the clarity and naturalness of the Ei.3 midrange, the T20 has a slightly veiled tonality. While the midrange of the T20 is good, it doesn’t quite have the detail, texture, and articulation that the Ei.3 can output.
     
    Treble between the two I find to be fairly close. The T20 has slightly more treble energy and overall extension while having slightly less treble texture and a longer decay. The Ei.3 bring more realism to the instrument and can pick up more micro-details and nuances than the T20.
     
    Soundstage on the T20 is noticeably larger, especially in terms of width. However, the imaging of the Ei.3 is much cleaner and accurate. Instrument separation is also better thanks to its fantastic clarity.
     
    Priced at 240 dollars, I think the T20 is a very good sounding IEM. Being around 100 dollars more than the T20 (300 + 50 for ear molds), it would only make sense that the Ei.3 is an upgrade to the T20 – and it is. Bringing better clarity and realism to the music, I do find the Ei.3 to be an upgrade in sound over the T20. However both IEMs deserve praise for what they’ve accomplished at their respective price points.
     
    IMG_0097.jpg
    RHA T20, Earwerkz Supra 2, CustomArt Ei.3, with iBasso D14 "Bushmaster"
     
    Ending Thoughts:
    I like the Ei.3. Piotr continues to do great work and the Ei.3 is certainly one of the most affordable, yet fantastic sounding, CIEM available on the market. At the 300 dollar price point, I can’t think of a better recommendation for a CIEM than the Ei.3. While still a few steps behind the detail oriented Supra 2 in terms of detail, the fantastically smooth and musical sound of the Ei.3 makes it a strong contender as one of the best value IEM you can find. If CustomArt is able to find a way to improve its bass performance and extension, the Ei.3 would be an absolute monster.
      dulty likes this.
  9. Loquah
    CustomArt Ei.3 - an amazing budget CIEM
    Written by Loquah
    Published Jun 26, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - The price - are you kidding? Engaging and dynamic sound. Great balance between enjoyment and neutrality / accuracy
    Cons - The clear acrylic on my set shows a few flaws, but it's so minor that I almost wrote 'none' here
    CustomArt started out as a manufacturer of silicone custom IEMs and rapidly made a name for themselves with beautifully tuned and crafted IEMs. Piotr, the founder of CustomArt was a fan of IEMs before he became a maker of IEMs so you know that anything he makes will be built for both enjoyment and performance.
     

    Overview

    The Ei.3 is CustomArt's first venture into acrylic IEMs and is priced at an insane sub-$300!! At that price it competes directly with brilliant universals like the AudioFly AF140, various DUNU and FIDUE earphones, and plenty of other contenders, but none of those competitors offer a custom fit which, if done right, will always out-fit and out-perform an equivalent universal.
     

    Specifications

    1. Drivers:  3 x balanced armatures
    2. Frequency response:  10Hz-17000Hz (+-20dB into IEC711 coupler)
    3. Sensitivity:  118dB @1kHz @0.1V
    4. Impedance:  65 ohms @1kHz
    5. Cable:  detachable, ~4 feet long
    6. Sockets:  industry standard 2-pin, surface mount
     
    Beyond the specs, I can tell you that the intention for the Ei.3 is to be a fun-sounding IEM for lovers of electronic (not my favourite genre) and bass (OK, you've got me a bit more interested now). In Piotr's own words from one of the original ads, "the Ei.3 is intended to sound big and bold".
     
    After biting the bullet and selling my beloved Shure SE846, I really hoped that the Ei.3 would fill the gap when I wanted a thumping, bass-first experience (which I occasionally do), but the reason I actually own these is important for me to share. I was contacted by Kamil from CustomArt to discuss the purchase of some IEMs at a discount in return for a review (a win-win scenario). Unfortunately I've been completely strapped for cash lately so I couldn't scrape together the funds for one of CustomArt's flagship CIEMs. As luck would have it, they soon released news of this budget beast and were kind enough to offer a pair to me at no charge in order to help get the word out so I had fresh impressions made and shipped them off to Kamil and Piotr with much gratitude and a little excitement (I say 'a little excitement' because I really had no idea what to expect).
     
    Boy am I glad that CustomArt offered this opportunity to me and I think you will be too once you read this review. Piotr and his team have set a new benchmark in price:performance ratios with the Ei.3. As you may know from my previous reviews, freebies don't equate to an automatic good impression and I'll happily say so if I think a product misses its mark, but the Ei.3s are not an example of this in any way - they not only hit their mark, but surpass it with ease in almost every way.
     

    Packaging & Accessories

    The Ei.3s come shipped in a Pelican 1010 case with a moisture absorber, cleaning tool, and the CustomArt cable. There are no frills or embellishments, but there's nothing left wanting (except perhaps a microfiber cloth). For a $300 CIEM it's a pretty good deal when you're getting both an excellent set of earphones and a high quality carry case too.
     

    Fit & Finish

    CA-Ei.3-0359.jpg During the design process, I told Kamil that I had always wanted clear CIEMs, but that I was also happy to receive whatever design Piotr chose (in case he wanted to show of his creativity and design expertise). What I received was a perfect compromise of a simple, but attractive flourish from Piotr and the clear shells I've always liked the look of, but never owned.
     
    CA-Ei.3-0354.jpg The shells and tips of my set are clear acrylic with faceplates that are translucent with a diamond pattern in them (red on the right, blue on the left). With the clear shells you can see that there are some imperfections in the shell where the inner surfaces are a little hazy and there are a few bubbles and patches to be seen on close inspection so the Ei.3 won't compare in build quality to best-in-the-business acrylic manufacturers like Noble, but this is a purely aesthetic issue which may not matter to some people and certainly doesn't worry me greatly. When you're not inspecting them closely (which is 99% off the time), the Ei.3 look great and there are plenty of design options to choose from on CustomArt's website. Also, keep in mind that opaque colours will completely negate the issues caused by transparent colours where you can see internal blemishes.
     
    Edit: Since writing this review, Piotr has informed me that this pair of Ei.3s were about the 4th or 5th set of acrylics they ever made and they have put a lot of work into further improving the quality of the finish since these. No doubt future reviews will reflect these improvements and given that these are already quite OK, the future quality is likely to be at least on par with all manufacturers.
     

    Fit

    What's more important than the up-close aesthetics is the way a custom fits your ears based on the correct use of the ear impressions provided. I have to admit that I was curious to see how well the Ei.3s performed in this regard given that they're CustomArt's first ever acrylic product. I don't know if the design process is significantly different from the silicone they made their name with, but I have to admit that I had my doubts.
     
    Well I'm almost embarrassed to think that I ever doubted the fit of the Ei.3s because they're perfect. They are absolutely as good as my Noble K10s in terms of fit and comfort and that's high praise. Even my UM Miracles never fitted as well as these Ei.3s so Piotr clearly knows what he's doing when it comes to trimming and adjusting the ear moulds to create acrylic customs.
     

    Size, Shape & Design

    Being a 3-driver custom using balanced armatures, the Ei.3 are as small as they probably can be (after all they have to fill your ear in order to stay in place). They fill the main bowl (concha) of the ear nicely, but have a flat profile that means they don't stick out of the ear so they're a lot sleeker than some of the million-driver behemoths being created now.
     
    Looking inside the Ei.3 you can see 3 distinct BA drivers. The mid and treble drivers are nested together firing into a common sound tube while the large bass driver sits on an angle to make it flatter and is a bit further from the ear canal firing into its own very narrow sound tube. The choice of tube length and diameter is part of the voodoo of frequency management and time alignment in IEM design that I won't even pretend to understand, but suffice to say, whatever Piotr has done here works to perfection. I can't tell if there is crossover circuitry built in or if the crossover points are a function of each individual driver's range of capability, but none of that really matters if the earphone sounds good, right?
     

    Sound

    The Ei.3 is meant to sound big, bold and perfect for bass lovers, and it comes from a company that I've always thought of as slightly treble and resolution-oriented so I expected a very v-shaped sound with thunderous and perhaps slightly boomy bass accompanied by some bright and energetic treble... boy was I wrong!
     
    Piotr has tuned the Ei.3 to near perfection and given that he's working to a budget (remember these cost <$300) and using just 3 BA drivers he has crafted something close to a miracle.
     

    Treble

    The treble from the Ei.3 is clean and detailed with a slight forwardness that lends the CIEMs some immediacy and energy without ever becoming harsh or fatiguing. The Ei.3s never leave me wanting more from the treble, but also never bite. If this is the CustomArt house treble tuning then consider me a fan.
     
    Strummed guitar strings have a nice edge to them and cymbals have the ability to pierce (in a good way) and shimmer. I wouldn't describe the treble from the Ei.3s as being breathy or airy, but they're perfectly balanced just below that level. In other words, breathy vocals and brushes on snare drums have texture, but it's not enhanced or over-present. There is a subtle sense of roll-off from the Ei.3 when compared to slightly more extended IEMs, but it's only noticeable in comparison and they don't sound particularly rolled-off in isolation.
     

    Mids

    I love vocals and mid-range instruments so I would have been quite upset if the Ei.3 were too v-shaped with a canyon in the mid-range, but if anything they have a very slight lift in the mids that helps to pull everything into perfect focus.
     
    Both male and female vocals are rendered with clarity and speed, but still with suitable weight. The mids from the Ei.3 are not lush or creamy so I wouldn't recommend these for people who like the heavily mid-centric sound of SE535s or SE846s, but you're not sacrificing vocals if you choose the Ei.3s - you can have your cake and eat it too.
     
    There's not a lot more I can say about the mids. They're just right and perfectly balanced with the rest of the auditory picture cast by the Ei.3. They're not the star of the show, but they're also not left out the back somewhere to be forgotten.
     

    Bass

    OK, here's the moment you've been waiting for... do the Ei.3s live up to their intention to be big and bold?
     
    Well, not exactly, but that's not a bad thing. You see, I'm measuring 'big and bold' against some of the best in the business - namely the SE846. Even so, solely on their own merits I would describe the Ei.3s as dynamic and engaging rather than big and bold.
     
    The bass from the Ei.3 is punchy and agile, but it doesn't go super deep. Music has an engaging pace and pulse from the Ei.3, but I personally don't think of them as a bass-first IEM so much as a well-balanced IEM tuned for full-frequency enjoyment which, in my opinion, is better because it's more versatile across wide-ranging genres.
     
    The bass from the Ei.3 is punchy enough to translate the percussive wave from kick drums and has sufficient rumble to give a bass (guitar or upright) its correct body and reverb. Electronic, sustained bass is appropriately solid and textured to provide the foundation for the sonic landscapes laid over the top. In short, the bass is very, very good - it's just not the star of the show and that's completely fine. Don't expect the Ei.3s to satisfy your bass cravings if you're a loud-and-proud bass-head. These are bassier than neutral, but not bass-oriented.
     

    Staging & Imaging

    The Ei.3s have a really engaging presentation that's sharply focussed, of good size, and coherent and natural.
     
    What I like most about the presentation from the Ei.3s is the clear placement of each sound. The stage isn't huge and expansive, but the sense of space is just right so that everything is perfectly placed and feels well-spaced and never congested. There's also a nice perception of height created if you listen for it, but it's all subtle enough to not distract from the music so much as enhance the overall experience.
     
    As much as I love a big soundstage, I prefer overall coherency and realism which is where CIEMs like the Ei.3 and Noble K10 both excel so I'm finding myself drawn more to those types of presentations on late.
     

    Summary

    CA-Ei.3-6212008.jpg CustomArt have succeeded in creating a massive, potentially industry-shaking statement IEM with the Ei.3. Normally statement pieces are TOTL offerings that many can only hope to one day afford, but the Ei.3 are an outstanding performer that almost all enthusiasts can afford. They are an amazing entry point for anyone contemplating the plunge into custom IEMs and are an equally good option for those already enjoying customs but looking for an additional CIEM with different tuning.
     
    I've rated the Ei.3 as a 5-star IEM not because it will outperform everything else, but because of its astounding price:performance ratio. It is everything a budget IEM should be and a whole lot more. If I had paid $600 for these I would still be impressed with their sound.
     
    The Ei.3 is a well balanced-IEM that leans towards warmth, bass and engagement. It won't compete with the best treble / detail IEMs, mid-range centric IEMs, or bass monster IEMs, but it will give you an excellently balanced sound that is completely enjoyable with any genre. In other words, the Ei.3 isn't about technical superiority in any one area. No, where the Ei.3 excels is its versatility and ability to engage the listener in every track and to make your music fun and lively without colouring it or distorting it in any way. I used the Ei.3s on two 3 hour flights recently and didn't once long for my K10s because the Ei.3s do everything extremely well. The Ei.3s won't be replacing my K10s, but they will certainly get regular use because they're such a great-sounding earphone. For the price I don't believe you will find a better earphone unless you're looking for a very specific sound signature.
     

     
     
      Shini44, monkeyboylee, Vartan and 2 others like this.
    1. SpaceGoblins
      Thank you for writing this review! I'ts very concise and interesting, well written.
      Cant wait for my own pair ^^
      SpaceGoblins, Jun 26, 2015
    2. dulty
      Thanks for the great review... These are moving to the top of the list for my first CIEMs.
      dulty, Jul 8, 2015
    3. davidcotton
      Nice review, how's the isolation?
      davidcotton, Jul 19, 2015