Having been slowly working my way through the tiers of universal in-ear solutions over the last 18 months, there was somewhat of a sense of inevitably that my sonic journey would take a trip into the world of custom-made in ear monitors at some point.
I have always liked the idea of getting a set of in-ears custom-moulded to fit my cavernous lugholes, but was always put off by the hassle of getting impressions done, and the top end price involved in getting a good set of bespoke monitors. As seems to be the case with most of my audio discoveries, the set of 9-driver CIEMs from Polish manufacturer CustomArt more or less found their way into my possession by accident. I was looking for something new to listen to after putting my set of JH Angies up for trade, and was promptly approached by a Head-Fi member from Hungary enquiring if I wanted to swap my 8-driver Angies for a set of 9-driver customs he had in his possession.
On doing a little bit more digging, I discovered that CustomArt don’t actually sell a model with a driver count that high. It turns out that the customs he was referring to were bespoke in every sense of the word, being a one-of-a-kind creation made by the CustomArt head honcho Piotr Granicki. A few emails to CustomArt to verify this, and the deal was done, with the thought of owning something TRULY custom being a major selling point. This is something that CustomArt only offer for previous customers who have purchased one of their flagship models, and tend not to advertise too heavily, doing these only on request. It transpires that the original owner was a previous Harmony owner (CA’s flagship 8-driver model) and had asked Piotr to put an IEM together that approximated the tuning of the legendary Hifiman HE-500.
Not having a clue what the HE-500 sounds like (I’m not much of an over-ear guy), Piotr confirmed that the CIEM should have a sound sitting somewhere between the Ibasso IT03 and the Angie I had just traded (two reference points I know pretty well). Happy that the tuning would work for me, and appreciative by Piotr’s honest appraisal that the sound would be close to TOTL (not exact, as he pointed out that the crossover network would be less finely tuned than something like the Harmony 8.2 as it was built and tuned in a matter of weeks rather than honed over months/years of experimentation), I pushed ahead with the deal, as can be seen from the shots below.
A full review will follow in the next few weeks, but the initial impressions are that the team at CustomArt definitely deserve their reputation at the sharp end of the market. Build and fit are excellent, with a smooth and classy finish and a refined and highly detailed sound from the 9 driver / 7 crossover IEM that carries just enough sub and mid bass weight to keep my inner basshead happy and a level of clarity in the mids that make listening to guitar and vocal based music a genuine pleasure. If this is a level below the company flagship Harmony 8.2, then that must be something truly special.
More to follow later, but for now, here are a few product shots…