Review: Custom Art Harmony 8.2 – Sound Done Right

The Harmony 8.2 has great detail retrieval but looking at the H8P that’s no surprise at all. L/R balance is very good but the 3-Positioning could be a little better. Piotr managed to make the 8.2 detailed and musical at the same time, in fact it’s a great mix between a more analytical and a musical monitor. The tuning is fairly neutral but it does have a little more bass body and the mids – which also have great body – are a little to the warmer side while the treble section is easy to listen to.

Bass is tight and fast, just like in the H8P, but it has more body with the same great punch. Bass goes quite low with good layering yet there still is a little room for improvement. To me the 8.2 has the right amount of bass and it’s always fully under control. While this isn’t a monitor for bass heads or fans of really deep rumbling bass, I’m convinced the mast majority (like me) will love how Piotr did the bass tuning on this one. The mids are where the 8.2 shines most: they’re musical, detailed and they have a good amount of body that’s perfectly in line with the bass. Like I said the mids are tad warmer sounding but that contributes to the musicality. What I really love about the mids is how natural they sound. It’s like they’re singing right next to you and I really like that. Some might call them a little more forward but everything just fits in perfectly. Looking at everything, the mids have the best layering of the Harmony 8.2.

Treble is softer than on the H8P or it seems that way because of the weightier mids. Treble is detail and precise while staying musical. They maybe don’t have the furthest extension but you will never feel you’re missing out on anything and you’ll never find them to sound sharp or harsh. Listeners who expect more of treble might be more interested in the H8P which is pretty famous for its treble.

The 8.2 is a good all-round performer with –to me at least – the mids as their best part but the whole package simply is really good. It might not be as flashy or draw as much attention as a Noble K10 or UM Maestro but the 8.2 always delivers a quality sound with all sources. The 8.2 is like any really good Barcelona player such as Iniesta where the K10 would probably be Messi, if you know what I mean.

7. Competitors/Comparisons

The Jomo Samba is the TOTL 8-driver from the Singapore based Jomo Audio. This monitor is part of their Pro series and it is an incredibly good ciem as well. The Samba is more spacious and has better layering throughout but the Harmony 8.2 has more bass and especially mid body, this makes voices jump out even more than on the 8.2. Samba’s sub bass goes deeper on the other hand and it has more rumble. Especially the mids are very different and Samba’s treble is more energetic and further extended. Two great monitors, two of my personal favorites.

custom-art-harmony-8-2-4

The 8-driver Legend R is less tight and fast and has a very airy presentation compared to the 8.2. CA’s unit also has more body and the special thing about the bass is that it is hidden more in the Legend R. When needed it will show up with great depth and rumble though. Treble is about the same imho. The Unique Melody Maestro 12-driver has a wider and deeper stage with an airier presentation and better separation. The 8.2 does have more mid body then the Maestro while treble is more extended on the Maestro. On the 5-driver Lime Ears Aether bass is completely different as the sub bass switch lets you choose the amplitude but overall I would say sub bass reaches deeper but the 8.2 has more mid bass body and bass is tighter and faster. The 8.2 also shows more mid body and treble is further extended on the Aether.

8. Driveability & Sources

The Harmony 8.2 (118dB @1kHz @0.1V & 15 Ohm @1kHz ) is easy to drive and it doesn’t really need any amplification. Yes it will sound slightly different from the source or amp you’re using but there’s no real need for any special amplification in my eyes. According to Piotr “the 8.2 works with any sound source – high or low impedance, keeping differences in frequency response to minimum. Now, with higher sensitivity, bigger headroom and lower overall impedance, you can fully enjoy Harmony 8.2 from any DAP”

Straight from the Chord Hugo there is noise or hiss. It has a wide sound stage, nice layering and it sounds a little smoother, I really like this combination. Out of the ALO CV5 there’s some audible noise in the background but you do get the added tube smoothness, in some way it’s comparable to the Hugo but the CV5 does makes the voices very smooth.

Straight out of the Cayin i5 DAP (unbalanced only) you immediately notice how easy it is to drive the 8.2. Volume wise I never went over 15 out of 100. The full bodied i5 adds a little bit of bass and body in exchange for a little less detail and precision. There’s only very little noise audible on quiet passages. The latest L3PRO from Luxury&Precision nails it sound wise and especially in balanced mode it makes the 8.2 a little more spacious sounding with really good depth. They still need to work on the UI though, but the sound is sublime. The Chord Mojo delivers great dynamics and makes the 8.2 both musical as detailed, I do miss the depth and layering of the Hugo however. The AK70 + 8.2 is full bodied like the i5 but it’s more refined and completely silent. On the top level AK380 the 8.2 sounds precise and detailed with good depth and width but it’s a more forward sound, especially the vocals.

Fio’s newest A5 (the E12 replacement) is dead silent but seems a bit too powerful for the Harmony 8.2 as volume is too loud even at the lowest level (just past the channel imbalance)

Conclusion

After comparing it to my other customs it really shows that the Harmony 8.2 is a great monitor that takes the best bits from other monitors and puts them all together. There still is room for improvement in the sub bass and treble compartment but overall this is an excellent monitor that performs no matter what source you are using and no matter what music you’re listening to.

Custom Art and Piotr have done an excellent job with the Harmony 8.2 and I personally am very happy with the upgrade, I really do think it is a better general performer than before. This definitely is a recommended custom and you get a lot in return for the reasonable asking price. Put this one on your list!

Review: Custom Art Harmony 8.2 – Sound Done Right
4.2 (84.44%) 9 vote[s]

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.