The first characteristics that spring into mind when listening to the FIBAE 3 are clarity, drive (speed) and vocals. And all that with a musical and engaging presentation. You get a really good level of detail overall and especially the upper mids and treble section profit of this.
For only three BA drivers the sound stage is very good but it is wider than it is deep. You from bass to treble get a really good sense of spaciousness and the airy presentation feels very natural. You get great clarity from top to bottom but at the same time the FIBAE 3 has an overall smooth presentations. Beside maybe the mid bass a little I wouldn’t label the Fibae 3 as warm sounding.
The FIBAE 3 has a good low-end with good body. It’s speed and tightness is above average but on some tracks it could be a little tighter. Bass is a little elevated and as a result it is present more than neutral, but it’s not a bass heavy monitors, it’s only a few db bass boost. Bass goes deep when needed but it’s quality over quantity in the end.
The mids flow perfectly from the bass section but there is no sign of the bass bleeding into the mids. The upper mids are slightly more forward than the rest of the mids section and I really love that superb more forward upper mids part with awesome vocals. The lower mids aren’t behind that much so we can’t speak of a v-shaped signature here, it’s really not the case.
Next to the vocals I’m a big fan of how Piotr tuned the treble section. You get sparkling, energetic treble and it in combination with the bass and upper mid part, makes the FIBAE 3 sound very engaging. The treble section has nice extension and is very vivid, yet it never goes near the harsh side at all. This is treble I can live with day after day.
The lifted bass, energetic voices and sparkling treble perfectly contrast each other, but overall the FIBAE 3 has in the end has a good balance. Tuning-wise Piotr did a terrific job with these and while driver count isn’t everything, it’s incredible that he can get such a top level sound out of only 3 drivers. Chapeau!
With the FIBAE technology the type of source used only has very little impact on the monitor’s sound signature. Yes you can still notice and listen to the impact different sources have on the sound, but the signature stays unchanged. 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 your source just doesn’t have the same impact it usually has.
Thanks to our revolutionary Flat Impedance technology, FIBAE 3 will retain its sound signature with all audio players, sound cards, amplifiers or just a smartphone
My favorite source with the FIBAE 3 is the AK SP1000 as I think it is the perfect source for BA driven monitors. The SP’s characteristics match perfectly with those of the F3, and as a result you get the best possible result. The AK70ii from the same Astell&Kern in general is warmer and slower sounding and it presents the sound with more body. With the AK70II the clarity level is a bit lower and the over presentation is a tad slower but the bass is still engaging and that treble sparkling and softly energetic.
The Cayin N5ii has that same bass bump and with its more neutral tuning I find it to make the FIBAE 3 sound excellent. After the SP1000 this is my fav source for the Fibae 3: clarity, energy, good speed, powerful bass and sparkling treble. Excellent.
With the Fiio X5iii there is noise audible but that’s because of the X5iii. The sound here is somewhat between that of the AK70II and that of the Cayin N5ii. It’s faster than the AK but not like the Cayin. Bass isn’t as tight as on the Cayin, but the treble is more like the Cayin’s, though it’s not as clear and energetic sounding.
The Chord Mojo also is an excellent source for the FIBAE 3: it’s fast, detailed, sparkling on tup and energetic all over. You get body in bass and mids but it isn’t the most airy or spacious presentation. It’s still a great combo though with excellent bass and energy.
Even though it shouldn’t make a big impact, the FIBAE 3 from my old Samsung Phone gets you the biggest low-end body but bass isn’t as tight and treble isn’t as sparkling. It’s a darker sound somehow but it is mostly fun. Knowing how the FIBAE 3 can sound with a better source, I do prefer not using my phone with this monitor.
8. Short Comparisons
The most obvious monitor to compare the FIBAE 3 with, of course is the FIBAE 2. Next in line logically is the Ei.3, another 3-driver custom form CustomArt’s lineup, although that one doesn’t sport the FIBAE technology.
The FIBAE 2 is different sounding overall compared to the FIBAE 3 and its presentation is more coherent but also more intimate. Bass wise the 2-driver has more impact and with the lighter lower mids and forward treble, I do find it to be more v-shaped than the FIBAE 3 is. The treble section in the FIBAE 2 already is sparkling but its presentation is less airy and extended compared to the F3’s, which sounds wider and more spacious. Coming from the 3 going to the 2, your ears need to adapt to the different tuning but once they’re used to it, it’s clear the FIBAE 2 also is an excellent performer. The FIBAE 2 might have the best impact and punch but the FIBAE 3 has the best dynamics, transparency and spacious sound, with more extension.
Compared to the CustoArt Ei.3, the FIBAE 2 is closer to that sound signature than the FIBAE 3 is. The F3 is more spacious and richer where the Ei.3 has a more intimate presentation with less extension. Bass punch in the Ei.3 is bigger but less tight and the bass isn’t as detailed. The same goes for the mids and treble section, where the FIBAE 3 clearly sounds richer. I still do love the depth and layering of the Ei.3 and I even might like it over that of both the FIBAE versions. The Ei.3 has a darker feel over it but it’s musical and very engaging if you can live with less clarity.
So far I have liked every single monitor Piotr has created and it’s no different this time. The FIBAE 3 is a step up from the two-driver version in all possible ways.
The FIBAE 3 delivers a very impressive, top quality sound and the extension, naturalness and spaciousness it shows from only three balanced armatures is impressive.
Looking at our recommended CIEM list, I just have to replace the twin-driver with this new version, as it to me is remarkably better when it comes to technicalities and naturalness. FIBAE 2 is still excellent but the FIBAE 3 just is even better.
FIBAE 4 soon?