Seems there is plenty of innovation in the custom in-ear monitors market in Poland these days. Custom Art is the second ever company in the world to manufacture a silicone shelled custom in-ear monitor (CIEM) that uses a standard 2 pin detachable cable.
Why has it only been done once before? Silicone shells are not rigid like acrylic or printed shells and present different challenges for long term durability with detachable cables. It is important to stabilize the connector so it doesn’t weaken over time or rip out with typical use, and the cable shouldn’t come loose while in use. Two other companies have developed their own, proprietary detachable cable systems for silicone shells: Sensaphonics, the first with a detachable cable, and ACS for their Live! series which also incorporates microphones in the shells. Spiral Ear, a Polish company, was the first to develop a silicone shelled CIEM with a standard detachable cable, however the Spiral Ear CIEMs are designed to be used with longer than standard pins.
Using a detachable cable helps with durability, as the cable is usually the first thing to go with any earphone. Making the detachable cable compatible with standard cables that acrylic shelled CIEMs use allows the use of the multitude of aftermarket cables that are out there, expanding your selection and price options. From an audiophile/audio enthusiast perspective, different cable pairings can result in different changes to the sound signature and overall sound quality. It is not uncommon to upgrade their “rig,” as the entire source chain will determine the ultimate sound quality level.
Pairing a high cost CIEM with a low cost source leaves performance on the table, and to get the most out of a CIEM, doubling the investment with a source such as the Astell & Kern AK120 or iBasso DX100 playing high bitrate/sample rate files with improve the experience. Adding an aftermarket cable such as the Effect Studio Thor or Whiplash Audio Hybrid V3 cable can improve the little things such as imaging, instrument separation, and clarity even more, which trained ears can appreciate. This may seem expensive, but when you compare the total price to even a moderate home system, this can be a steal!
The accomplishment of Custom Art is an important step forward for the company and silicone shelled CIEMs. Just as the entire portable audio market is greatly expanding from entry level through the ultra high-end, more and more CIEM companies are popping up, including several I know of that are developing silicone shelled CIEMs. But it is good to know Custom Art is continuing to improve, and they are helping to establish the bar set by Spiral Ear.
As with all detachable cable CIEMs, the price is a bit higher. Pricing is as follows:
In Ear Monitors: PLN (non-detachable / detachable)
Music One – 759PLN / 900PLN
Pro100 – 859PLN / 999PLN
Pro210 – 1000PLN / 1200PLN
Pro330 – 1999PLN / 2300PLN
In Ear Monitors: EUR (non-detachable / detachable)
Music One – €189 / €225
Pro100 – €215 / €250
Pro210 – €250 / €300
Pro330 – €500 / €575
If you want more information on the various silicone shelled CIEMs, please click on the manufacturer’s links, or you can read my preview of the Custom Art Music One and reviews of the ACS T1 Live! and Spiral Ear SE 5-way Reference. Also, |joker| has reviewed the Sensaphonics 3MAX and will be publishing his full review of the Music One in the near future.