Custom Art is based in Poland and has been started by head-fi member piotrus-g (Piotr), who is an experience high-end in-ear monitor connoisseur and has decided to join the growing list of manufacturers. He decided to use silicone for the shells and has made a splash on head-fi in his start, which offers two single driver CIEMs as well as a dual and triple, and expanding to the first ever 8-driver in silicone CIEM, the Harmony 8.
Piotr has nice write-ups about all of his products, including the Music One, which is as follows:
“Custom Art Music One is dedicated for all audiophiles and music enthusiasts looking for a bang for a buck.
Thought behind the design: To challenge 2-way systems and other expensive IEMs with just a single driver combined with advanced acoustic tuning.
Sound: Balanced across the spectrum. Deep yet not overwhelming bass resembling dynamic drivers. Clear vocals and detailed midrange. Extended and precise highs. Bright detailed and spacious in overall signature. Best for acoustic, pop, r&b, rap and electronic. 100% Custom Art house-sound.
These IEMs are meant to be used with low impedance sources (such as iPod/iPhone, Sansa Clip, Fiio Amps) for best possible performance. High impedance sources will reduce bass response and increase high frequencies. Use of external headphone amplifier is highly recommended.”
The description makes the Music One seem like a great buy and I am looking forward to reviewing it to see just how it stands up using my ears.
HOW TO ORDER & OPTIONS
The Custom Art order page has a form to fill out and print to send in with your impressions. Once the online form has been completed, just hit the submit button. Piotr will let you know when to pay.
Options are available at the above link, and the calculator will let you know the cost.
– Detachable cable: +141PLN/€36
– Special colors: +60PLN/€15
– Custom artwork: TBD
Custom Art also offers an ownership transfer program for 300PLN (~$110). When they receive the transferred product for a reshell, the drivers checked to make sure they are working properly and the process is underway. If there are any issues with the drivers, there will of course be an extra charge, and artwork/custom engraving is extra.
12 month worldwide warranty
The Music One is a silicone shelled custom in-ear monitor with a single balanced armature driver and a permanent cable. The silicone is a biomedical grade covered with skin-safe nano-silver particle lacquer for a bacteria free surface. The driver is vented and uses a horn nozzle design.
– 109dB @1kHz @0.1V
– 41 Ohm @1kHz
– 10Hz-18300Hz (+-20dB into 711 ICE coupler)
The Music One comes with an Otter Box case, smaller zipper case, cleaning tool, and desiccant. The protective Peli 1010 case is perfect for serious protection and the smaller case for maximum mobility. The desiccant will help maintain the shell color and driver integrity when stored in the Otterbox case. 8/10
The cable is not detachable, so the quality is quite important, and it is very good. Using a coated cable with an excellent balance between flexibility and being rubbery, the tangle resistance is very good with no microphonics and no memory. The cable does spring back to a straighter position when coiled unless it is twisted while coiling, but this doesn’t affect ergonomics and helps with tangle resistance resulting in a very ergonomic experience with performance that one of the best I have experienced from a stock cable. Searching for a negative, the shorter than typical length from the shell to the Y-split took some adjusting, but this isn’t a big issue. Durability has been good and the feel inspires confidence, with better performance than most twisted stock cables. All Custom Art CIEMs have a detachable cable option now, but the Music One is one CIEM I feel comfortable recommending with the permanent cable. 7/10
FIT & FINISH
Silicone shells I have seen have had relatively large variation in finish and many aren’t all that impressive looking. The Music One finish was good, but not great, and the canals are color coded and the rest of the shell is translucent with writing on the faceplate area. Overall, the shells look very nice, but there are some issues including two voids, most likely from air bubbles on the left channel. These voids don’t affect comfort or function, and my unit does happen to be numbered 0003, so by now I would expect this issue to be resolved. The 5/10 score does not seem to be indicative of the current work coming from Custom Art as can be seen on Custom Art Facebook page, which appears to be of much higher quality. 5/10
Isolation is about on part with acrylic shelled CIEMs, which I believe is due to a few reasons. The canals of my Music One are not the widest, yet they provide an excellent seal and are very comfortable, plus the concha portion (outer portion of the shell) isn’t as thick as my other CIEMs, which makes sense due to the single driver that is almost completely in the canal. Whether or not the vented nature of the driver has any impact is unknown, but could play a minor roll. I have talked with Piotr about the isolation, and he could make the canals thicker and add more material to the concha section, which would no doubt increase the isolation. It is good to know you can get more or less isolation, and if isolation is of utmost importance to you, it may be worth mentioning it to Piotr. Isolation is a 5/10.
Disclaimer: My review is done in a comparative way using similarly priced IEMs and/or CIEMs for perspective and to determine performance. In this review I try to accurately portray the product under review, presenting strengths and weaknesses, the sound signature, characteristics, and technical performance as opposed to providing flowery dialog of performance without perspective. My ultimate goal is to enable you to make an informed decision about what product is right for you. Take the review as a critical look at the product and not a sales pitch or marketing fluff. I believe gear should be selected based on the sound signature you want and/or the specific use, not solely on technical performance or unsubstantiated hype. Here are some quick references for more information: My review technique, Thoughts on reading a review, Custom IEM information
The Music One received 100+ hours of burn in as is customary before serious listening. The following custom IEMs were used for comparison: Etymotic ER4S, Alclair Reference, EarSonics SM64, ProGuard P2+1, Ambient Acoustics AM4 pro, and MEElectronics A161P.
Bass: Being a single balanced armature driver, the bass isn’t expected to compete with dynamic driver earphones or multi-BA earphones, and it doesn’t. But, you do get quite good bass for a single BA driver CIEM, especially with an amp or high-end source. The bass gives a sense of depth and power, even if it ultimately falls short of providing that power compared with higher-cost products. Most single BA IEMs don’t recreate the sensation of bass, but the Music One still lets you know there is something going on in the bass region. The bass is warm and liquid, not possessing too much detail, but never leaving a sense of lack. There is plenty of bass for many tracks that aren’t necessarily bass heavy, recreating pounding, reverberant bass and something that is easy to adjust to. The Music One does extend all the way down, but the ability to recreate certain bass notes in the lower regions is limited, which can give the impression that the bass is rolled-off due to the limited reverb capability inherent with single BA driver designs. Given the price, the bass is very well done.
Midrange: While I would say there is a very nice balance to the Music One, the midrange is the focus of the sound, and it has a nice blend between thickness and clarity. Comparing with the similarly priced ER4S, the Music One presents with more detail and yet also is more musical. The midrange is on the mid-forward side and the presentation space isn’t extremely large, at least unless the FSM-02 V2 amp is used, which really synergizes well with the Music One. Integration from top to bottom of the frequency spectrum is well done, and the overall midrange performance is excellent.
Treble: There is an excellent balance between the treble and the rest of the spectrum as the Music One is brighter than the SM64, except in the upper-most registers, and not quite as bright as the ER4S. One of the characteristics that differentiates the Music One from many others in the price range is the note decay, which is very natural with good reverb as opposed to the typical analytical presentation. The treble is another strong point of the presentation.
Presentation: Balanced and musical come to mind when listening to the Music One. The balance across the frequency spectrum and the coherence are both very good, excellent in fact, even though the presentation is a bit on the mid-forward side. This is due to the balance both above and below the midrange that allow the headphone to stand back and let the music take over. It does this without spectacular transparency, but excellent note decay and PRaT.
While the soundstage presentation isn’t the largest, it is well proportioned and when paired with a synergistic amp, can impress. The weaknesses come with very fast music and/or complex tracks. While the Music One isn’t slow, it doesn’t have fantastic dynamics, impact, and speed compared with more expensive IEMs/CIEMs, but competes within the price range. Complex tracks can become a bit more simplistic that more expensive products, but they don’t really get congested. Still, given the price and positives, the Music One has a presentation that competes with the big boys from a musicality standpoint.
Volume performance: The Music One performs well at all volume levels. At low volumes, the presentation is still musical as the midrange is the focus while at loud volumes with a good amp the bass doesn’t exceed its capabilities due to the sound signature and deep-bass roll off.
The Custom Art Music One is a balanced yet mid-focused custom in-ear monitor that turns the recreation of sound into music and technically performs fine considering the single BA driver. Extension at both ends isn’t great, but works within the sound signature. Spatially, the Music One doesn’t have a large space, but the presentation depth and imaging are very good for a 3D experience. Transparency and coherence are both very good resulting in a CIEM that doesn’t just recreate music, but recreates the emotion and feeling within the music, even if on a smaller scale than much more expensive headphones.
Page 2: Comparisons, source matching, conclusion