Maybe a few of us might not have heard about this Warsaw based Polish brand but those who are aware of Custom Art know that they make some of the best IEMs in various price ranges. They have been making IEMs since 2012 and have some excellent IEMs under their belt. The one that impressed me the most was the Fibae 3. It was an exceptional IEM (at least for me) and still is an excellent IEM for those seeking accuracy and precision with excellent control over sharpness while delivering excellent details. The Fibae 7 too is regarded as one of the best flagship IEMs. Known for their excellent BA tuning and flat impedance technology, they have cautiously ventured into IEMs with hybrid drivers. What I have here with me is their latest Fibae 5 multi driver tri-brid IEM.
Even though this is a tri-brid IEM, their Fibae technology has been carried over to the Fibae 5 and the end result is something exceptional for an IEM under $1500.
Priced at $999 for universal and $1099 for the custom variant this IEM goes head on against a handful of popular IEMs in the market like Monarch Mk2 and Kinera Nan’na 2.1 and I will compare it with Mest mk2 and Sony Z1R.
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UNBOXING AND ACCESSORIES:
Believe me when I say this, I was relieved and slightly sad with the contents of this IEM.
The big relief being the more retail oriented packaging, unlike the shoe box design of the Fibae 4, the 5 ships with a more presentable packaging. We get a paper outer covering that tells us about the brand and the content of it. The flap open cardboard box is of okay quality. All the usable stuff are placed inside the large travel case. It’s big and will keep the IEM safe from not so serious forces. That’s where I am a bit sad. The last gen had Pelican carey cases and this hard but cloth covered one cannot provide as much safety as the Pelican case.
The set of tips we get with this universal version is minimal. 3 pairs of rubber tips in 3 sizes and a pair of double flange tip is all we get. We get a set of tuning acoustic filter with the installation tool. And…. That’s it.
This is a huge improvement from the last gen cables. The cable I got with Fibae 4 is a dual core stiff and a bit too much memory prone, it has a mind of its own and doesn’t feel supple or soft to the hand.
This new 8 core cable is much better, supple and soft to the touch. It has little to no memory issues and no need to worry about microphonics either. The components used are of decent quality with minimal profile. The cable slider looks cool while the 3.5mm jack and Y splitter are average. Thankfully the cable guides are very supple and doesn’t exert any pressure while providing very good grip.
BUILD AND ERGONOMICS:
This universal unit doesn’t have filled out shell like the all BA Fibae 3 and 4. Fibae 5’s resin made shells looks nice but the the black plate is not as intriguing as the Fibae 3’s wooden design. The shape, design and ergonomics are very similar to the 3 and 4 but are a bit improved too. It is not as ergonomically designed but I find it hard to name an ergonomically designed IEM in the price range (if fit is a concern get the Custom version).
The flattish shell design with the nozzle flowing out of the shell might feel a bit odd to some but once placed inside this IEM has a very good fit. The nozzle too is not big and doesn’t feel odd when used with foam or small tips. There are no vents but a port that can be partially closed with the acoustic filter. On the inside we get Pressure Optimizing Design which in their words normalizes the pressure in front of the DD and expands its sound stage and enhances imaging.
Let’s talk about the build quality. Will this stand a drop from 3 feet on the floor? It can, Custom art is known for their build quality, the IEM feels solid and sturdy in the hand but try not to drop your IEMs, just to be safe.
PAIRING WITH SOURCES:
I have used a handful of Custom Art IEMs and even when they were BA based IEMs, I never faced any issues when it comes to source matching. Thanks to the Flat impedance technology Fibae IEMs are not demanding when it comes to sources. Most of them will sound very good with any source. Same is true for Fibae 5 too. It has an impedance of 10ohm and sensitivity of 109db which is plenty loud. I have paired with weak sources like my Mobile phone and powerful sources like Micro Signature and the response from this IEM is pleasantly uniform. There are no compressed or jarred feelings with the Note 10 pro max.
Yes, the qualities of the source do reflect on the IEM, Fibae 5 with Micro Signature sounds open and slightly fuller with pleasing tonality and timber. When paired with a dongle like Shanling UA5 we get excellent balance and details with slightly tighter notes. In conclusion I can say that one can pair this beautiful IEM with mostly anything but yes, it’s an expensive IEM and do it favor and get at a decent dongle for it and it will not disappoint you.
I fell in love with Custom Art thanks to their Fibae 3. It was an excellent IEM for those looking for excellent balance and for me it’s an upgrade to the Er4sr. I was heads over heel for this IEM. Extension at both ends was excellent with superb accuracy and precision across the spectrum. Then they introduced the Fibae 4. This was different. More drivers but this was made for a smoother experience. The transparent and grippy nature of the Fibae 3 gave way to a smoother and calmer signature in Fibae 4. I liked it but I am purist, I wanted details. After more than 2 years, here we are with this Beautiful sounding IEM. I know what I can expect from Custom Aart but they never had me hooked to their bass notes but the unexpected happened. Among all other things Custom Art has exhibited their technical abilities with this IEM. Fibae 5 is exceptionally balanced and delivers some of the best details with deeper punchier bass when compared to more expensive and critically acclaimed IEMs like Mest mk2 and Effect Audio Gaea.
This has a pleasing sound signature with a natural and neutral timber which isn’t dry or bloated. Tuned for accuracy, Fibae 5 doesn’t disappoint. It has slight bit of warmth with the lower end but that too can be tamed with the Acoustic filter.
P.S. This part of the review is without the Acoustic filter.
I am a bit strict with the lower end. It’s something I want but not a lot of it. What I want is deeper bass that isn’t slow or boomy. The Fibae 3 is a drooling worthy IEM in this regard, the deep reaching sub-bass is pleasing, so is the Fibae 5 and what we get additionally are fuller note. Custom Art have tuned this DD exceptionally well. It has an Empire Ears W9+ kind of feeling but has slightly smaller impact area and without the boominess. It has excellent sub bass rumble and one of the deepest sub-bass extensions under $1500. I need to mention that this lower end is nowhere close to bass head levels but it is something I will call engaging and thumpy. It’s not slow but isn’t as rapid as the Fibae 3. The decay speed is a hair slower than Mest mk2 giving it the required amount of weight and body. This extra bit of weight doesn’t leave me asking for more. Area of impact too is sizable too with good amount of air movement.
Mid bass as usual is a bit fuller, providing the required amount of meatiness. What we get is high quality texture and layered notes. Dynamics on the other hand are slightly tilted towards the softer side. I love a lower end that can distinguish between harder upper bass notes from softer sub bass notes. Fibae 5 is perfectly capable of this but upper bass notes do not have as much prominence as sub and mid bass notes. It still does much better than what Mest mk2 and Gaea thanks to their lack of sub-bass extension and rumble.
If you are following me, you know that I love the mid range and a balanced presentation is what I like. Powered by two BA drivers this mid range is what made me fall in love with the Fibae 3. Clean, crisp, and accurate. No need to worry about the crossovers either. The region of upper bass to lower mids has very good definition with nice transparency.
This mid range is nicely balanced with uniform emphasis and a lot of texture. I love its consistency too. It has to be one of the most transparent mid range which isn’t lean or peaky but maintains high quality energy and details. Instruments have well defined body and texture. Notes have very good build, they gain energy quickly, rise with very good texture, providing an aptly sharp finishing region and vanish into thin air. This tuning is worthy of admiration. They are sharp but not edgy or raw or aggressive. It’s Deja Vu for me, just like the Fibae 3. Thanks to the faster decay speed, this mid ranges provides some of the best separation and air between instruments (needless to say the instrument placements are superb). There are no upper mid harshness or aggression to worry about either.
Vocals retain the consistancy we get with the instruments. The Resolution and timber are vivid and lifelike. The Control it shows with varied pitches in tracks like “Stornoway – (A belated) Invite to eternity” and “Halsey – Castle” are captivating. I am unable to stop myself from admiring the transparency, texture and clarity this IEM can maintain without getting thin or sharp. Another great thing is, Fibae 5 doesn’t have any perceived dip in instrumental energy around the vocals (steering clear of W shaped signature).
After delivering an impressive mid range Fibae 5 doesn’t let us down with its treble performance. Coming from balanced upper mids there are no demons in the lower treble region. In fact the whole treble region is devoid of any unnecessary, uncomfortable, sharpness or peaks while retaining high quality transparency and clarity.
Aided by two Planar drivers, one for highs and another for ultra highs, this treble region has restored my faith in Fibae lineup. Keep in mind that I didn’t get a chance to work on Fibae 7 while the Fibae 4 is very good, it doesn’t have the endless type of extension we get with the Fibae 3. Thankfully this 5 is more like the 3, we get excellent extension with very good transparency till the end. Yes, the energy does start to drop a bit in the upper treble region but that’s there to make this IEM comfortable for longer listening sessions. What we do get is the right amount of spark and lively presentation which most of us like. All the instruments have very good definition and resolution. The sparkly and tingling instruments provide excellent contrast and crispiness making the whole experience lively and engaging.
Layering and separation too are excellent with very good contrast between back and foreground acts across the spectrum.
IMAGING AND STAGE:
Fibae 5 has a cylindrical stage. It’s bigger within and closer to the head but gets slightly smaller and maintains this as notes move further from the head. It has above average height, one of the best X-axis width and decent Z-axis depth. It has a well rounded stage distribution and no area feels busier or cramped. It places most of the instruments and some of the vocals out of the head while bass and rest of the vocals are placed inside the head.
Imaging is excellent with top notch cue placement and plenty of air between instruments. Thanks to Planar drivers, sonics are much better than what we get with Monarch mk2. There is no boxy or restrained feeling.
SOUND QUALITY WITH ACOUSTIC FILTER INSTALLED:
This acoustic filter basically restricts the bass port affecting the movement air inside the shell resulting in reduced bass body. The decay is faster, area impact is smaller, sub-bass extension is similar but has reduced rumble. The biggest difference is with the mid bass, it’s not as meaty or full bodied. Yes, the dynamics are slightly improved but it already is very good without this filter.
The overall tonality is slightly less juicy and analogue. This filter doesn’t have much effect on the rest of the spectrum. They do sound ever so slightly dry but that’s like splitting hair.
Is it worth it? Installing this filter isn’t exactly a walk in the park, and I struggled to place and take these filters out and the change it brings to the SQ isn’t exactly worth the effort. Fibae 5 loses its wholesome feeling with this filter.
Let me give you an example, with the filter the Fibae 5 is like the current gen F1 cars, pinnacle of tech, but the wholesome and natural feeling of the V10 (Read as without filter) isn’t exactly what we get with this V6 engine. Some might like the V6 but if I have the option, I definitely want the V10 feeling.
Vs Sony IER- Z1R:
Vs Mest mk2:
I have a lot of admiration for Custom Art. They have some of the best IEMs in their respective price ranges. I still love the Fibae 3 and the Fibae 5 is a rediscovery for me after the Fibae 4. What I enjoy a lot is the Empire Ears like Bass impact, paired with some of the best balance and details without being bothered by aggressive notes.
If you are not a bass head and like detailed and transparent notes, Fibae 5 is the best all round IEM under $1500. This IEM has something for everyone and the excellent control over note’s aggression makes this an easy recommendation. If I have to rank, I will place this IEM along with or over the Gaea and Mest mk2.
Those who want soft and smooth notes can look at other options like Fibae 4 and DUNU Zen Pro but none have the Technical abilities similar to the Fibae 5.