Review: Custom Art Harmony 8.2 – Sound Done Right

Disclaimer: I sent back my H8P to Custom Art to get it updated to the new configuration, the Harmony 8.2. The update was free of charge in return for this honest review.

 

Custom Art

Custom Art is a Polish based company that was founded in May 2012 by Piotr Granicki. Piotr was a reviewer at the time he started his own company and with the experience he had, he was convinced he could make great sounding monitors. The special thing about Custom Art is that they offer the choice between acrylic and soft silicone monitors. CA is particularly known for their silicone units even though their acrylic ones are also perfectly built. The big advantage of silicone is that the fit and as a result the isolation is even better than with acrylic units. A downside is that silicone is harder to work with and that the sound tubes and sockets don’t glue optimally to the silicone (so is said). Silicone also requires more maintenance. Both my 8HP are silicone while my Ei3 is an acrylic version. Click here to check out the full comparison between silicone and Acrylic.

Custom Art’s popularity increased a lot compared to a few years ago. Beside the fact that they simply make great monitors (best advertising there is) they also got a lot of new clients by successfully offering special editions on Massdrop. I of course visited Piotr’s Custom Art booth at Canjam Essen where he let me listen to his new FIBAE technology: Flat Impedance balanced Armature Earphone. In my Canjam Europe report I wrote: “With the Fibae technology it won’t matter what DAP or source you will be using. These 4 and 6.5Ohm units (if I’m not mistaken) will sound exactly the same no matter the source. The 4-driver especially sounded very good”. It certainly means we haven’t seen the last from Piotr and Custom Art yet.

The Harmony 8.2 & the H8(P)

The Custom Art Harmony 8.2 is an update of the previously reviewed H8(P) and it’s Custom Art’s new flagship monitor. You can only upgrade from the H8(P) models to the new Harmony 8.2. The Harmony 8 (Pro) is/was equipped with 8 drivers for each ear and it actually was the first 8 driver made with a silicone shell. The H8(P) has dual lows, dual low-mids, dual full-range and a dual tweeter. The Harmony was created to be a link between their Pro and Music series. It combines the musicality and accuracy of both series, tuned in “Harmony” to create a very coherent sound. The main difference between the normal version and the Pro version can be found in the treble region. The goal of their 3-way crossover in a Single Phase configuration is to make all the 8 drivers sound as one driver, and to deliver more details and a more spacious sound.

The idea behind the Harmony 8.2 according to Piotr is to have a sound that’s between both versions. Expect improvement in sub-bass region (cross-over from Ei.xx but more tamed), more vocal presence and less lingering in highs and less highs quantity (compared to H8P), more headroom for better depth without sacrificing width and spaciousness. The 8.2 features an updated driver configuration and crossover what results in improved headroom and a full/natural sound. The Custom Art 8.2 of course is an 8-driver custom monitor, it has a 4way cross-over in Single Phase configuration and it uses a dual low, dual full-range, dual mid, dual tweeter.

custom-art-harmony-8-2

Specs:

– 118dB @1kHz @0.1V
– 15 Ohm @1kHz
– 17,5 Ohm DC
– 10Hz-20000Hz (+-10dB into 711 IEC coupler)
– Damper-free design
– Silicone body
– Detachable cable

Breakdown

In contrary to a normal review I will use the same breakdown as I always do for my Custom Inear reviews:

  1. Build quality & Comfort
  2. Personalisation
  3. Cable
  4. Price & Accessories
  5. Customer Service
  6. Sound
  7. Competitors/Comparisons
  8. Driveability & Sources

1. Build quality & Comfort

My silicone Harmony 8.2 monitors look great and I can’t see or feel any flaws right away. Build quality compared to the H8P has gone up even more and the silicone now looks completely bubble free and slick. Except for the wiring the internals look very symmetric. As you can maybe spot in the picture, CA uses a mini PCB when the monitors are silicone, in acryl monitors they do not. The H8P also had 4 bores to deliver the sound but in the 8.2 there bores are further apart and instead of using glue, they now are fully inside the silicone which should make them more durable (and there’s no glue residue anywhere). The printing on the outside and inside of the monitor also is as clear as it gets (mine just say CA-1200 on both insides).

Where the sockets last time were flush, they now are recessed. It does look nicer and it probably is safer, but it also is a little harder getting your aftermarket cable inside. The advantage is though that silicone is flexible and you can just stretch it a little if needed. I didn’t have any issues trying different aftermarket cables. With eight drivers inside, the CA Harmony 8.2 is very small and it perfectly disappears inside your ears.

The fit of the 8.2, just like last time is perfect and I didn’t need to send them back for a refit. I’ve gotten used to using silicone monitors but I do remember that they can be a little harder to insert and remove in the beginning. On the other hand the comfort in the long run is even better than with acrylic monitors, to me anyway, but acrylic doesn’t bother me that much either. The fit and as a result the comfort and isolation is excellent. No sound comes in and goes out and you don’t have to turn up the volume all the way to listen to your music. I even think these are the monitors that isolate best out of my whole collection. I really can’t think of anything bad to report here, I don’t know how it could be even better.

By default, CA uses blue and silver wiring for left IEM and red and silver wiring for right IEM. If you want to change the wiring to all blue, all red or all silver that is possible though. CA uses clear tubing as the only option for silicone IEMs and it is the default option for acrylic IEMs, however upon special request CA may make acrylic IEMs with blue, red or black tubing. If you wish to change tubing color that is also possible.

By default the serial number is made Blue on the left and Red on the right ear piece, the serial number is a mandatory part of each IEM.

It continues on Page Two after the click HERE or below

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

19 Comments

  • Reply November 1, 2016

    Chris

    Hi,

    Great review. I have basically the same impressions from using Harmony 8.2.
    I’m struggling to find the right companion for them though (DAP. DAC/amp). Currently I’m using Questyle QP1R and Cayin I5 but both have noisy outputs and the hiss bothers me a lot.
    I’ve also tried them with Mojo and Pioneer XDP-100R (any many others before Harmony:) ) but the synergy with both of them didn’t wow me.

    After your review I’m considering L&P L3. Does L3PRO sounds different than L3? Would you recommend this pairing?

    • Reply November 1, 2016

      Lieven

      Hi Chris. Thank you.

      I can see why those pairings aren’t the best to you. The L3Pro mostly is more powerful for full sized cans, and the sound is only a little different. The problem with L&P is the User Interface though. Have you considered the AK70 as a DAP?

      • Reply November 1, 2016

        Chris

        I’m used to dealing with poor UI in DAPs so that’s not a big issue.

        I haven’t yet tried AK70 but in 4 days I’m going to Audio Video Show so I’ll get to try it and many others (though there’s limited value in testing gear on show – the noise, the crowd…).

        Piotr recommended Colorfly C10 but knowing Colorfly I’m worried there’s gonna be hiss as well…

        • Reply November 1, 2016

          Danny Utoyo

          Hi Chris,

          If you are not bothered with ancient and poor UI, you can try HM901S

          It gives some major boost on staging and treble department especially when you run it on balanced connection. Its pretty quiet and silent too, their stepped potentiometer is really good.

          • Reply November 1, 2016

            Chris

            Hi Danny,

            Thanks for the suggestion but badly designed UI of L3/L3PRO on a big touchscreen is still way ahead of what Hifiman has 🙂
            I’ve owned HM901 with balanced card for a year and while it sounded great with re600 balanced I couldn’t stand the price/quality ratio… The terrible screen, the plastic body, clipping while using potentiometer. I know some of those issues were adressed in the updated version but I still think it’s overpriced.

            I would gladly pay that much for a DAP with great build quality, amazing OLED screen, streaming, 256GB plus 2 microSD slots, powerful output and amazing sound. But it costs 2000$ in my country… I’ve actually paid 300$ for new QP1R which not only sounds better but is also has much better build quality and UI and usb DAC…

  • Reply November 2, 2016

    Danny Utoyo

    Wow 300usd for new QP1R, where do you live?

    • Reply November 2, 2016

      Chris

      Normally it goes for 600-700$ new and 450$ used. It was one time deal – I got lucky 🙂
      Usually DAPs are more expensive in Poland than in other European countries.

      For now the best sound I’ve got from Harmony was through Meier Corda Quickstep (with either QP1R or I5 as DACs). No hiss and more air. Still, Harmony soundstage is a bit too congested for my taste. If I don’t get used to it I’m probably going to get rid of them and try Andromeda.

  • Reply November 2, 2016

    Barun C

    Great review Lieven. Have been waiting for this review for a while. I got my pair of 8.2 Harmony in July and I have not looked back since. I am using an acrylic shelled CAH 8.2 with silicone isolated guts inside.

    Currently it is the best pair of IEM’s I have in terms of Bass, Mids, Imaging, overall it is a very intoxicating sounding IEM with an intimate/emotional presentation. To me the sound signature is reminiscent of the taste of Belgian Praline Chocolates.

    They sound great even with the default Plastics One cable but I tried the Nocturnal Audio Hydra V2 and it sounds even better. The treble has opened up a bit with the Hydra and I am yet to experience any hiss from the QP1R, HTC One M8 & iBasso DX50. I am very happy with Piotr’s customer service as well.

  • Reply December 21, 2016

    ElMariachi

    Nice review! I’m thinking about upgrading from H8p to 8.2. Do you have any regrets?

    • Reply December 21, 2016

      Lieven

      Not a single one 🙂

      • Reply December 21, 2016

        ElMariachi

        Thanks!

  • Reply May 22, 2017

    Syracuse

    Hi Lieven. My setup is an iPod touch connected to a Mo-jo and a Vorzamp Pure II. Will the last one give good synergy with the 8.2? Thanks

    • Reply May 22, 2017

      Lieven

      Yes these amps are incredibly good.

  • Reply July 3, 2017

    Syracuse

    Thanks Lieven. You said that the Thor Copper will improve the sound compared to the stock cable. Which cable would be best for the 8.2 on a budget. Something from Linum or the Thor? I had the 8 pro and while the 8.2 is better in many points clarity and dynamics are lacking for me.

    • Reply July 3, 2017

      Lieven

      Maybe something silver based? The Linum Music will do great too and is very affordable (plus great comfort)

  • Reply July 3, 2017

    Syracuse

    It’s more sound than ergonomics that I’m searching. The price difference between music and BAX is very small in Europe. It’s so hard to decide on cables you never heard. Some say the Ares II is an excellent match but the Linum costs half. I’m more like Nathan in that regard, sceptical until proven wrong. If I can read between the lines the lower impedance of BAX should go well with the 8.2. Have you tried SuperBax on the 8.2?

    • Reply July 4, 2017

      Lieven

      I haven’t tried the Superbax as I can’t use my prototype cable with recessed sockets. The normal bax will give your music some more impact but it won’t necessarily increase clarity and dynamics

  • Reply July 4, 2017

    Syracuse

    I understand. Thanks for the response

  • Reply August 6, 2017

    Hieu Vu

    Hi there,

    I’m looking to purchase my first CIEM. I mainly listen to Yuki Kajiura’s orchestra instruments + Latin-like vocals, piano, violin, cello (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btmSuNcxiIU ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iddZ_OvwL7Q) and Kalafina (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okkzd3FLYJo) from anime like Fate/Zero, Kara no Kyoukai, Puella Madoka Magica. IMHO this kind of music needs good soundstage and good separation. I also need good positioning audio since I will use this for CS:GO. I’d prefer it to be a bit forgiving with low res files since I use Facebook and Youtube quite a lot.

    I initially wanted affordable CIEM (CA Fibae 2/AAW W300AR ~ 500 eur), but then I see that some 2nd hand TOTL CIEMs are being sale at just a little bit more, for example:
    – CA Harmony 8.2 at 600$
    – Noble K10 at 700$
    – UM Mentor V1 at 400 eur

    What do you think I should go for? Thank you very much

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