Review: CustomArt Ei.3 – Big & Bold

Disclaimer: The CustomArt Ei.3 was sent to me free of charge for the purpose of this review

Custom Art Poland

I’ll do a short introduction about CustomArt for those who haven’t read my CustomArt Harmony 8 Pro review yet. CustomArt is a Polish based company that was founded in May 2012 by Piotr Granicky. Piotr/Peter 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 CustomArt is that, in contrary to most other CIEM makers, they normally use a soft silicone to produce their monitors. The big advantage of this is that the fit (and as a result the isolation) for the one using the monitor 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).

After all this time Piotr finally felt comfortable to start making acryl monitors and that brings us to this review of his new budget 3 driver Ei.3. Piotr contacted me himself with the news of the unit and checked if I was interested in reviewing it. Of course I immediately agreed to do the review, I quite like the H8P and I wish I had more time to enjoy it.

The Ei.3

After having reviewed several 4, 5, 6 and 8-driver models, reviewing the 3-driver Ei.3 was a welcomed change. The Ei.3 (Ei stands for three in the Aztec language), in contrast to all the other monitors CustomArt made, will only be made in acryl and not in silicone. That’s perfectly fine for me, although I really like how my silicone H8P feels in my ears too. They’re really comfortable and the fit is superb. Both monitors couldn’t be any further apart; the Harmony 8 is the 8-driver TOTL reference model and the Ei.3 is the budget starter 3-driver ciem.

The Ei.3 logically has 3 balanced armatures per ear piece in it’s made in a 3 way configuration with a dual bore system. Driver wise we have one sub, one full-range and one tweeter. The number of drivers of course doesn’t mean everything and it’s all about how the drivers are used and tuned. I have actually listened to 4 and even 5 driver monitors that didn’t even come close to the Ei.3’s sound quality.

Specs are:

– Three Balanced Armature per ear-piece
– 3-way configuration
– 118dB @1kHz @0.1V
– 65Ohm @1kHz
– 10Hz-17000Hz (+-20dB into IEC711 coupler)
– Acrylic body

The Ei.3 is the only 3 driver custom I own for the moment. The only other 3-driver I had in the past was a Hybrid ciem from Custom Ears but they stopped making it and I sent back my unit. That means comparing the Ei.3 to other 3 drivers will be kind of difficult for me.

Breakdown

Just like I do with all my other custom monitor reviews, I will be going over the next topics:

  1. Build quality & Comfort
  2. Personalization
  3. Cables
  4. Price & Accessories
  5. Customer Service
  6. Driveability & Sources
  7. Sound
  8. Comparisons
  9. Conclusion

Build quality & Comfort

As mentioned earlier in this article, CustomArt has always focused on making silicone monitors and Piotr only felt comfortable to start producing acryl monitors. When I received my first set of Ei.3 several months ago, I have to say I wasn’t too pleased with how they looked and I sent them back to Piotr immediately with pictures and my feedback. Of course CA is/was still learning how to work with acryl in the most optimal way and I understand you don’t get to the required level from one day to another but this wasn’t something I would want to receive as a paying client. However, do take in mind my Ei.3 were one of the very first to be made.

I could tell Peter (logically) wasn’t too happy with me sending them back with my remarks but then a few days later he sent me an email to thank me for pushing him to improve the quality of the shells. I was kind of relieved as I wasn’t feeling good about it myself. A few days later already Peter sent me a few pictures showing the improvement he was making on the shells and then a week later or so, my new set of Ei.3 arrived. To be honest, they’re still not up to the level of my other acryl monitors build quality wise but that was months ago and I’m sure that in the meantime Peter has become quite good at making acryl shells. I love my flawless Harmony 8 Pro, so I’m convinced Peter can make an Ei.3 from the same quality.

The outside shells are still pretty thick and I can still spot a few bubbles here and there but the quality in that short time has really improved. The face plate closing isn’t the easiest job but it still could have been cleaner and more precise. My Ei.3 came with flush cable sockets and that’s perfectly fine with me, I’m not really sure if CustomArt offers recessed sockets. Edit: CA confirmed they can do flush and recessed sockets.

At the same time the Ei.3 is quite small, they fit perfectly and they’re extremely comfortable. They disappear right into my ear and they certainly are amongst the most comfortable ciems in my collection. One of my friends would probably remark the internals aren’t perfectly symmetric comparing left to right, and while he has a point, I don’t really focus on it too much. I can agree with him that the internal build quality shows just how skilled and precise the makers are but at the same time it doesn’t really have an impact on how they sound. With the Earwerkz Legend R in example, the earpieces are almost mirrors of each other and the internal wires are even isolated with tubes. Lots of people love that extra touch but is it really needed?

The thing to remember is that CA showed great build quality improvement over a very short time and I’m sure that all Ei.3’s that leave Poland now are as good as, if not completely, flawless. Looking at the Massdrop Ei.XX Edition, you can already see improvements have been made.

It continues on the next page after the click below, or 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.

9 Comments

  • Reply September 22, 2015

    Patrick12a

    Hi Lieven,
    love the detailed review!

    I was really looking forward on getting the Ei.3s with a Linum Cable. You mentioned that the sound changes quite a bit with the Balanced Linum Cable.
    Would you know, if the Linum Music Cable would change the sound up that much?

    • Reply September 22, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      thank you. I should have the Music somewhere at home, I’ll see if I can find it for you

      • Reply September 22, 2015

        Patrick12a

        Awesome thanks! I’ll be waiting eagerly on your reply 🙂

  • Reply September 23, 2015

    derSchallhoerer

    Would you consider the Ei.3 an Upgrade to an Stagediver2 (custom vs universal beside), Lieven?

    • Reply September 23, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      Not an upgrade, a sidegrade

      • Reply September 23, 2015

        derSchallhoerer

        Thanks Lieven. I guess then that there is no real need for me to get them, since i really love my Stagediver.

  • Reply November 28, 2015

    Wyd4

    I currently have a pair of asg2.5s that I love. But they can be too dark at times. Never fatigueing and bass that can turn your brain to mush but not a lot going on up top.
    I am looking for a pair of iems to compliment the asg2.5. While I am happy to change sound Sig from the asg I am not one to go for something lean in the bottom end (ety etc). Wondering if this would be good match.

  • Reply February 5, 2016

    Ant

    Will you be reviewing the ei.xx?

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