Fidue A85 ($399): The Fidue is a more mid-forward earphone with a brighter top-end and cooler, more neutral bass presentation. Being a hybrid, it has a little extra rumble within its sub-bass, and it is similarly a little fuller due to slight mid-bass emphasis. However, rather than emphasizing its upper-bass like the thicker Fibae 2.0, the A85 employs a modest dip that creates a thinner, cooler midrange. The A85’s midrange is also a lot more forward and it has greater clarity on account of its brighter signature. That said, it isn’t nearly as natural as the Fibae 2 and resolution is lower with less background detail retrieval.
Upper mids tell a similar story, the A85 is a lot smoother and refined here than within its lower mids, but still more aggressive than the Custom Art. Chiefly, the A85 has considerably more treble energy than the FIbae 2, mainly within its lower treble. The A85 isn’t an especially bright earphone in isolation, but compared to the more laid-back FIbae 2, its sound has considerably more lower-treble bite and middle-treble air. This contributes to a rather expansive stage on the A85; the Fidue doesn’t image as well as the Fibae 2, and its layers aren’t as defined, but it has great space and terrific separation that the warmer F2 can’t match.
64Audio U3 ($499): The U3 has a similar u-shaped signature to the Fibae 2 yet it too is a brighter and more vibrant earphone. Bass is cooler with a focus on sub as opposed to mid-bass, and a more neutral upper-bass response. The U3 also possesses greater extension, delivering a little more slam and rumble. Resultantly, the U3’s bass is more defined and articulate; it lacks the natural decay of the Fibae but has similarly excellent control. Mids are a little recessed on both, but the U3 is the more transparent earphone as it is more neutral in tone. They are slightly bright, producing a revealing sound with clear male and female vocals, but the U3 does lack a slither of body.
That said, the U3 is still a refined and natural sounding earphone if not as organic as the Fibae 2. The U3 has a more aggressive lower-treble presentation that contrasts to the smoother Fibae 2. As such, it brings details to the fore more apparently though its actual retrieval is similar. The U3 also has more middle-treble contributing to an airy sound with greater attack. Combined with 64Audio’s M20 APEX modules, the U3 produces a far grander, more separated stage than the Custom Art in-ear. However, like the Fidue, it lacks the layering of the Fibae 2.
Plussound Prism ($550): When switching between the Prism and Fibae 2, Plussound’s earphone sounds notably more mid-focussed though it’s actually a thicker, warmer earphone. The Fibae 2 possesses far better sub-bass extension with the Prism providing little rumble and slam. That said, the Prism has a small mid-bass emphasis providing fullness to its low-end and a notable upper-bass hump that institutes their warmer midrange. As their mid-bass is more restrained, their low-end sounds very nicely defined similar to the U3 though they aren’t nearly as dynamic as the more extended, more linear Fibae 2. The Fibae 2 easily has the more transparent, resolving midrange presentation whereas the Prism can sound a little dry and blunted.
Of note, their aforementioned upper-bass emphasis institutes quite a warm lower-midrange subject to a little muffle. Their darker signature has a small dip preceding lower-treble, producing smooth female vocals that lack a little extension but also a lack a lot of clarity. The Prism employs a modest lower treble boost to aid top-end clarity and inject some energy into their otherwise smoother sound. However, their emphasis sounds isolated, delivering thin notes. Still, the Prism delivers nice extension and high resolution, but I do feel that the Fibae 2 better executes the same style of tuning.
Campfire Audio Polaris ($599): The Polaris has an immediately more V-shaped sound, intended to pursue engagement over accuracy. Its low-end is full with heaps of impact on account of its great sub-bass extension and elevated mid-bass. The Fibae 2 is more balanced and more agile, delivering greater definition and separation. That said, the Polaris lacks the upper-bass colouration of the Fibae 2, so its midrange sounds clearer and a little cool as opposed to warm and organic. The Polaris also pursues high levels of midrange clarity through its brighter signature. And, to avoid fatigue, it does so through a scooped lower midrange as opposed to a forward top-end. As a result, lower mids are quite recessed, a little thin and notably dry.
The Fibae 2 is easily more linear and though it is not necessarily more transparent, it is more resolving. Upper mids are redeeming on the Polaris through their greater presence and more natural presentation. The Polaris does sound slightly glossy as it implements a modest lower-treble emphasis, but female vocals sound clear and extended while the Fibae 2 sounds smoother and more refined. Treble is aggressively detailed with a gradual decrease partway through their middle treble. This grants heaps of attack, shimmer and air while maintaining a clean, dark background. The Fibae is less aggressive but retrieves more detail overall. It also has greater extension and higher resolution than the Polaris, though its less revealing nature makes this less apparent.
The Fibae 2 carves out a welcome space around this price range through its unorthodox yet carefully considered signature. Custom Art’s extensive customisability, fantastic build quality and quick turnaround all serve to further solidify the reputation that made them an industry leader to begin with. Add in prompt aftersafter salece and a comprehensive refit service, and Custom Art ensure an optimal ergonomic experience with every unit.
And it’s in listening that the Fibae 2 really impresses; their exceptional resolution and synergistic blend of emphasis’ producing a very resolving yet versatile sound. I’m especially enamoured by their background detail retrieval and imaging, all indicative of a linear signature with a strong technical foundation. Though not the best choice for those wanting absolute transparency and clarity, the Fibae 2 is easily outstanding among the warm/smooth earphones I’ve tested.
The Fibae 2 can be customized and purchased from Custom Art’s website here in acrylic and here in silicone. The earphones start at 1900zl which equates to ~$550 USD at the time of writing. I am not affiliated with Custom Art and receive no earnings from purchases through this link.