Review: Custom Art Harmony 8.2 – Sound Done Right

2. Personalisation

 

Custom Art of course, like any company, offers a whole series of personalization options. You can see the result of CA’s creativity on their Facebook page where they keep an overview of a lot of their hand made monitors. My silicone H8P had a kind of purple marbled and just like the first time I didn’t ask Piotr anything special design-wise. It turns out he likes the purple and the new monitors look somewhat similar to the old ones, just better imho, with a see-through purple color and face plate. One faceplate has the CA logo on it while the other just says “Harmony 8.2”. It’s all good to me as long as the finish is good, they’re in my ears anyway and last time I checked I can’t see what’s in my ears without using a mirror anyway.

CA offers standard colors and special colors. Next to that you can have a different canal color, a gloss (default) or matte finish and they have an impressive selection of wood for the face plates. If you want something particular they will check with you if they can do it and how much it’ll cost. Like with most companies, there almost are no limits as long as you pay for it.

For an overview of CA designs, check here. You can also create your own design with CA’s newest IEM creator here: http://thecustomart.com/shop/silicone-products/harmony-8-2-silicone/

3. Cable

The Harmony 8.2 came delivered with a stock cable just like it is the case most of the time when you get ciems. Lately however some custom inear companies have been offering upgrade cables from aftermarket cable makers and some are even using these special aftermarket cables as their stock cable, in example the Jomo Samba that comes with an effect audio Ares II cable. The more companies will do this, the more others will have to follow the same trend as the consumer will see it as something “normal”. I myself replaced the stock cable with 2 different cables. A balanced version of the EA Leonidas cable, which for the moment is my favorite balanced cable sound and comfort wise. The other is the good old EA Thor Copper in Single ended mode. The stock cable will work just fine but you’ll get even more out of your favorite monitor with a better cable, and it doesn’t need to be a $700USD one, like the Leonidas is. Thor goes for $149 on EA’s site.

Leonidas shows you all the fine detail and has a wide, spacious presentation with great layering. Thor is more concentrated but you get great bass body and mids. Of course you can also buy a balanced cable and use an adapter to use it in SE mode, I myself use the one that came with the Fidue A91.

4. Price & Accessories

The Harmony 8.2 comes in the standard Custom Art package with a Pelican 1010 inside a black box. Inside the Hard box you’ll of course find the monitor with the stock cable, a dry capsule, a cleaning tool with a little cloth and finally a comprehensive manual with the serial number. It’s a full package and there’s nothing special to say about it really, it has all you need.

custom-art-harmony-8-2-5

Depending on where you are located you’ll pay a different price for the 8.2. The non-EU price starts at 3900PLN / €975 / $1062 (VAT excl.) European Union inhabitants have the pleasure of paying VAT and prices start at 4400PLN/€1100/$1199 (VAT incl.). Of course you need to add the cost of your impressions and the shipping to Poland to that price. For a TOTL 8-driver that is a very competitive price.

If you’re already a CA client and they have your impressions, then you shouldn’t have to send new ones to them. I think CA keeps your impressions for about 2 years. If you already own the H8(P) like I did, the upgrade to the 8.2 will cost only: 1050PLN/€260/$283 (VAT incl.) when you’re inside the EU and 850PLN/€199/$214 when you’re outside of the EU (VAT excl.)

5. Customer Service

Just like last time I didn’t really go through the typical way of ordering the monitors using the form, as I just arranged everything by email. To order, Custom Art in the new site works with a very clear order form. There also is a new CIEM creator tool like many of the other companies have, as mentioned above.

I have to say I have heard nothing but good about their customer service, the number of happy clients in the Head-Fi thread proves exactly that. I’ve always received a prompt reply to my emails and Piotr is even on Head-Fi replying to questions. If I remember well it only took two weeks or so to get my upgraded monitors back so I really can’t complain there. I suggest contacting Custom Art directly in case you’re wondering about their actual delivery time.

As mentioned CA is always tries to give the best service possible and they’re always ready to look at your specific requests for customization of the monitors. Top European quality!

6. Sound

Custom Art describes the Harmony 8.2 as following: “The 8.2 provides excellent sub-bass response, mid-bass is now more tamed and better-controlled. Vocals are more upfront without being too intimate or narrow, yet still emotional and natural. Clarity is improved over both previous versions and so is detail retrieval. High frequencies are leveled out in the middle between pervious Harmony 8 and 8 Pro outputs – not too little and not too much. We also improved depth of the soundstage without sacrificing Harmony’s renowned soundstage width and imaging”.

The three keywords that come into mind are: Resolution, detail and vocals. The 8.2 produces a dynamic and balanced sound but in comparison to most of the “reference” monitors it has a little more bass body and slightly warmer mids. But this actually is a good thing. The 8.2 delivers bass, mids and treble as one complete part and even though it isn’t fully neutral it’s quite linear comparing bass and mid body.

The Harmony 8.2’s soundstage is fairly wide but its presentation isn’t the airiest resulting in a precise and more intimate sound. I can’t call it concentrated by far though and instrumental separation is good, they’re just a little closer together. Depth is good and so is the layering (especially excellent on high res recordings) but the sound stage is wider than it is deep. The Jomo Samba in example goes deeper and has better layering but the Samba is king in this area. The 8.2 still is good though, let’s say it’s the prince and with high resolution recordings, you’ll hear how detailed, precise and layered the 8.2 really is.

Sound continues on Page Three, click HERE

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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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