The Custom Art FIBAE 4 is the company’s latest FIBAE monitor featuring a quad-driver balanced armature design. It is priced from €725.00.
Disclaimer: The Custom Art FIBAE 4 sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank the team at Custom Art for giving us this opportunity.
To read more about Custom Art products we reviewed on Headfonics click here.
Note, this review follows our new scoring guidelines for 2020 which you can read up on here.
FIBAE 4 is the next logical step for Poland’s Custom Art in its FIBAE range of custom monitors. However, as with each previous FIBAE launch the company always has a very definite tuning in mind. It would be all too easy to keep a similar tuning and simply up the resolution in line with the driver count. I think a lot of people might go for that. But that’s not the CA way of doing things.
This time we are going full-on musical with a tuning that firmly established the FIBAE 4 as a potential pick for modern pop, RnB and potentially some sub-genres of EDM.
We ‘cracked open’ the FIBAE 4 for the first time last month in our First Contact feature and immediately we felt those looking to go from FIBAE 2 might want to consider FIBAE 4 as their next upgrade.
As ever price or a good value proposition is firmly on the table with a starting point of €725.00 for the FIBAE 4.
FIBAE™ stands for Flat Impedance Balanced Armature Earphone. This is a patent-pending design Custom Art developed back in 2016 and since then have rolled out FIBAE 1, 2 and 3 monitors with the tech at the heart of each monitor.
In summary, FIBAE promises to deliver flat impedance and phase via a series of specially designed balanced armatures to negate the problem of output impedance dependency.
Why is that important? Basically, every headphone jack as an output impedance rating that affects the tonality of your IEM to some degree. Manufacturers have taken strides to reduce this as a factor in their DAPs and amps with a sub 1Ω impedance being almost the norm.
Inductive To Resistive
However, this is not always the case. Some can range well over 1-ohm such as the original HiBy Music R6 at 10Ω and many balanced outputs come close to 2-ohms. The FIBAE pitch changes balanced armature designs from inductive to resistive in order to cancel out impedance mismatching and delivers an optimal sound no matter what jack you plug your IEM into.
Custom Design Process
The store is a bit similar to the new Vision Ears online store and I also like the stock design options. It may not be quite as complex as the 64 Audio Store but it does have more realistic pictures and more interesting choices. I still think 64 Audio need to come out of their 3D-cacoon a little and expand their design choices a lot more.
Using the store is really nice and easy with plenty of flexibility. You can customize each individual earpiece (left or right) in terms of shell, nozzle, and faceplate. You can also put your own custom artwork and text onto your creation.
Using the CA store process you are offered up to 13 different shell and tip designs. After that, you have a huge choice of up to 39 different plate designs. These range from translucent acrylic colors, to exotic woods such as amaranth as well as more modernistic tones such as carbon fiber and aluminum.
Note, like the FIBAE 1, Custom Art is not offering a silicone option with the FIBAE 4 that you can get with the FIBAE 2 and FIBAE 3. This will limit some of the options in your socket choices when designing your FIBAE 4.
The starting price of FIBAE 4 is €725. Of course, these are custom designs so you have a little interaction with the pricing as you go along and pick out your custom design. Just remember the more you add the more you pay.
I calculated that each option cost roughly around €13 – €25 and only the basic clear shell will keep it pegged at €725. For example, amber colored shells, Zebrano plates, and the free logo will set you back around €800.
This particular design is ala carte or off the menu. I suspect the price to be close €800, perhaps a shade lower. To be honest I find the FIBAE 4 pricing to be more than reasonable, even for the premium plates. I have seen some other stores add 100’s of dollars to the price for similar plates and designs so kudos to Custom Art for keeping prices reasonably affordable.
Other options to the right of the screen include the cable type and socket type. Recessed will cost you an additional €10 or you can opt for the free non-recessed connector option.
Cable choices are 2-pin in silver or black free of charge or an optional silver cable with inline remote and mic for an additional €25. All cables are designed to be fully detachable. I estimate the maximum cost of a FIBAE 4 with all the premium options and the most expensive add-ons to be around €860 all in.
Accessories & Packaging
If there is one weakness in the Custom Art presentation it is the whole retail packaging. This is not unique to FIBAE 4. In fact, pretty much every Custom Art monitor comes in the exact same packaging with the same accessories stretching back to 2015 when we first started reviewing them. The competition has moved on with fancier retail packaging and more elaborated accessory line-ups.
Granted the price point €725.00 may place some restrictions on the opulence of the packing. However, the black mini-shoebox, Peli 1010 hard case, and small blue soft zipper case are more functional than wow. I still love the little “Hi” support and FAQ guide pamphlet inside the Pelican container that has shades of Apple when they were more creative than today’s corporate nonsense.
Aside from the Peli 1010 and zipper case you also get a wax pick tool and a drying pellet and your obligatory warranty card. If you happen to buy the universal version you will also receive some ear tips in varying sizes but it does mention exactly what type of tips they are. I presume silicone and, in the case of the sound signature of the FIBAE 4, I think something silicone or hybrid might be ideal.
Ear Impressions Short Guide
The impressions guide and Q&A from Custom Art is absolutely brilliant. Perhaps one of the best in the business in recent memory. It’s not just a simple do this and that but addresses all your concerns in a few simple question and answer formats.
To quote, simply because I could not say it any better myself:
Impressions have to be made from soft silicone material. Dreve, Egger and Westone brands are recommended. It is suggested to use foam or cotton swabs to protect eardrum.
Impressions have to be made past the second bend and shall include: full concha, helix, crus helix, tragus and antitragus.
Note that Custom Art do require open jaw impressions so bring a bite block to your usual audiologist to keep your jaw steady whilst open to prevent the clay impressions from poorly curing. Then it is a simple case of packing them securely and sending them to Custom Art through your favored courier.
Page 2: Build & Sound Impressions