Review: CustomArt FIBAE 2 – Surprising!

6. Sound

 

On CustomArt’s page we find the following: FIBAE 2 comes as an evolution of Custom Art’s sound, merging energetic and full-bodied bass of Ei.3 with high resolution and detail retrieval of Music Two. As a result, you get an incredibly versatile monitor with big, immersive, yet open soundstage, powerful lows, smooth, thick, engaging mids and detailed top end that is never harsh.

Nowadays it doesn’t matter as much anymore if you’re listening to a 2, 4, 8 or 10 driver as one can easily sound better as the other but this two BA-driven FIBAE 2 really impressed me with its top quality sound. If you had no clue what you were listening to you wouldn’t believe this only is a 2-driver, it’s that impressive.

One of the first things you notice is how incredible good the stereo image and left-right separation is. The sound signature of the FIBAE 2 in general is one with a full bodied sound, with great impact and musicality. The level of detail and the richness of sound for a double driver is incredible and it’s one of the, if not the, strongest point of this monitor. In this regard I agree 100% with how Piotr described his latest creation, this is impressive. For custom inears the sound is very open and spacious and the sound stage is larger and deeper than what you would expect from a 2-driver.

Bass, mids and treble are full bodied with good impact and this monitor delivers them with such an energy that makes the FIBAE 2 very engaging and addictive. You get a rich sound with good impact presented in a very musical way, what’s not to love about it? The FIBAE 2 isn’t bright or veiled but it isn’t the clearest sounding monitor either, it’s got a little dark touch to it. Another very strong point is the spaciousness, lovely decay and the extension the FIBAE 2 displays, cymbals in example don’t just cut of but you’ll hear them till the very end.

The layering and depth at this level is very good but there of course are monitors (like the VE8 and Encore in example) that are a lot more impressive, but the FIBAE 2 never was positioned to beat the TOTL monitors. But if you’re talking about some of the very best monitors on the market in the FIBAE 2 review, you just know this monitor simply is extremely good.

Bass has great body and comes delivered with good impact giving the sound that engaging character. Bass goes deep and has rumble but it isn’t the most precise/detailed or layered bass possible. Yet (again) this for a 2-driver is very impressive already. While the sound signature of the FIBAE 2 isn’t supposed to change with the source you’re using, I did find the bass presence to depend somehow on the source used. In example the AK70 made bass have bigger impact than the more neutrally tuned HUGO 2. The mids have an equal amount of body and they flow nicely from the bass. The mids are so rich and natural and are a pleasure to listen to. Some might find the voices to be a tiny bit more to the front and while I like really the voices they, in songs with big bass, sometimes get a weird positioning which is hard to explain. It’s not that there’s anything wrong though, au contraire: the mids are engaging and musical at all times.

Treble is musical, energetic and balances the bass and mid impact perfectly delivering a total sound that’s coherent from bottom to top. Treble maybe isn’t the furthest extended as possible but it’s rich, dynamic and musical without ever becoming harsh. I like the FIBAE 2 with a lot of musical styles but I have to say that the musical genres where bass and treble are most important, simply sounded the best on this monitor to me. While I love it with rock it absolutely got me hooked with dance music and old-school rap.

7. Source

With the FIBAE technology the type of source used only has very little impact on the monitor’s sound signature but there to me still is an audible difference when switching sources. As the example of the AK70 above showed, the difference mostly can be found in the bass region and the amplitude of the body the sound comes delivered with. There’s no big change in layering, treble or detail for that matter.

That does make this monitor easier to review as there just is less to experiment with and talk about. At the same time that also means you can no longer tune your monitor’s sound exactly the way you want or are used to, as changing amplifier, tubes or opamps just doesn’t have the same impact as it usually has.

8. Comparison

As there are no other monitors around the office with the same driver count or technology used, this is a bit more difficult. The monitor in my collection that comes closest to the FIBAE 2 is the Ei.3 from CustomArt itself.

The FIBAE 2 sounds more spacious and natural than the more intimate sounding Ei3’s but that last one has excellent separation. The FIBAE’s sound is richer and has better decay but the EI.3’s is better layered. The FIBAE’s mid body is also bigger compared to the lighter tuned Ei.3 but that Ei.3 for sure has bigger bass with more impact and better layering.

Both are very good sounding for their driver count but the new FIBAE gets my personal preference because of the rich sound, spacious presentation and thicker mids.

Conclusion

I really like this dual BA-driver and it performs even better than I expected it to. The build quality and comfort are good and with its musical, rich character it will win you over in no time. Like I said earlier it can’t compete with the very best on the market but the fact that we’re thinking about them means it is a really good monitor, especially for the price it’s going for. The FIBAE 2 delivers extremely good sound and that with only 2 BA drivers, it’s almost unbelievable. So yes, I’m putting it on our recommended CIEM list!

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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.

2 Comments

  • Reply October 6, 2017

    Gurtej Virdi

    Excellent review. Been looking at buying my first CIEM, and these are on my list, think you might have just convinced me to get them… By any chance have you heard the ACS Evolve? They are the other CIEM been looking at as they are similarly priced. Time to save up!

  • Reply October 7, 2017

    LLK

    What a very great review! I think there is no better site in terms of ciems alone, well done Lieven!
    But I digress, I would like to get some opinions on whether to get MMCX or Two Pin connections on a CIEM, which one has bigger variety when it comes to aftermarket-cables, which one is more comfortable, which one has a more reliable connection? If someone coule answer all these questions to this ciem noobie then I’d be very thankful!
    Cheers from Germany

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