Custom Art Go One: Wireless Winner – An In-Ear Monitor Review

Presentation

If you’re familiar with the Custom Art house sound, you’d hear that the Go One fits that bill immediately. It’s a monitor on the warmer side of neutral, filled with instruments that are meaty, dense yet vibrant, and ever-so-slightly on the softer side in attack. Cymbals shhh… more than they tizz, and snare drums smack more than they crack. It’s a smooth, easy, yet still open sound, and that’s because, unlike a lot of Piotr’s models in the past, air and separation aren’t compromised this time around. Like his more recent output, strong treble extension allows this Go One the headroom and background sharpness needed to carve detail. So, even with those lightly-feathered transients, you won’t get a fuzzy image with blurs or veils, nor will notes mesh together and lose their identity. It’s a continuation of the open, refined warmth that Custom Art have been getting better and better at, and it gives the Go One a cozy, pleasing signature that’s never short on clarity, airiness or cut.

A lot of that clarity comes from the Go One’s well-executed, mid-forward signature. Instruments like horns and vocals will make their presence known, but, again, with a degree of softness and ease when they project; not brash or tinny at all. In imaging terms, that also means you’ll get instruments that are larger than neutral; great for engagement. But, again, this is with all the air and background blackness needed to ensure they don’t bleed into each other too. The Go One’s stage is averagely-sized to my ears compared to IEMs I’ve heard in the $1000 range, which is actually a complement to its MSRP. It adequately fills the head, but rarely, if ever, expands out of it. Still, this monitor does do well with what it’s given. Unlike some of Piotr’s older models, which I’ve criticized for having uneven dimensions, you get a nice spherical shape here. And, again, it layers and separates very tidily. So, though not mind-blowing, a solidly safe and reliable performer, the Go One is.

Bass

The Go One’s bottom-end sits very naturally in the mix. Overall, it lies just behind the midrange, and it’s about level with the highs. And, on a micro scale, I’d say it has just a bit more mid-bass than sub-bass, which actually comes across fairly life-like on the vast majority of tracks I auditioned it with. It’s not gonna send waves of rumble that wash over you in EDM tracks, for example. But, for most acoustic kick drums and bass guitars, the ratio between verve and tone works incredibly well for my tastes. There’s then a dip through the upper-bass into the lower-mids to prevent an excess of warmth, which feeds into the separation and clarity I described earlier. The tonality of the bass is barely warmer than neutral, and I feel it’s a tonality that works perfectly for the Go One. Kick drums aren’t bloated, nor are they too compacted. So, again, they sit nicely in the mix and fill out the groove, and I think it’s exactly what you want for a set-it-and-forget-it everyday carry.

Technically, the bass is probably quicker and tighter than one would imagine from a single-DD, budget model. It’s a taut bottom-end, yet one that always reminds you it’s coming from a DD. So, you shouldn’t have any concerns if you’re looking for that telltale thwack. Texture and extension are both impressive for its $700 price point. It’s not the cloudy, pillowy kind of bass that one would typically find. Instead, it’s got very good tactility and grit, so enjoyers of EDM – despite the slighter amounts of rumble I mentioned earlier – will probably still find lots to love here. Bass notes typically appear in the form of solid jabs around the centre of the stage. There isn’t too much spread or boom past that, but there’s just enough, again, to give kick drums a natural amount of decay. So, all in all, unless you want lots of rumble or boom, I feel the Go One’s bass will please most. Again, its main strengths are reliability and solidity, with above-average technique at its price tier to boot.

Mids

The Go One’s midrange is, by a little margin, its main event. There’s a forwardness and intimacy to instruments, but not in a way that’s bright or intense. Though the in-ear does have energy at 3-4kHz, I’d say the area that stands out most to me would be the 1-2kHz range. An early lift there gives the Go One’s instruments meatiness, density and muscle. Again, you’ll hear lots of that chesty smack on snare drums, and both violins and pianos will have a slightly heavier timbre to them too. So, when you’re listening to, say, acoustic guitar plucks or horn stabs, don’t expect a light, thin, floaty quality. They’ll have an earthiness and oomph, that’s then capped off with good projection at 3-4kHz. Again, don’t worry about any upper-mid brashness or nasal-ness. It’s a subtle lift, and all it does is give sounds a bit of punch. It tapers off around 4-5kHz anyway, preventing those shrill, metallic qualities from ever appearing, and leaving you with a solid, smooth, yet sufficiently-vibrant midrange.

Now, midrange technique is actually where the Go One has me most impressed. I’ve heard many other in-ears in its price tier, and a lot of them have been guilty of having clear, vibrant midranges that, despite this, come off flat or dull. And, the reason for this is a lack of dynamic range. You can make your snare drums sound as crackle-y as you want, but they can’t truly leap forward and thwack unless you have some proper technique behind them. That’s what the Go One’s got. Notes on the in-ear palpably move and ebb, whether it’s shrinking at a diminuendo or roaring open at the other end. Though it’s obviously not at the level of monitors twice or triple the MSRP, there’s a real life to the Go One’s presentation that keeps it interesting hours into the listening session. Again, whether it’s the gentle twinkle of a piano or Jennifer Hudson belting her lungs out, the Go One captures those dynamic swings much better than many of its peers, and it’s what elevates it beyond its tier for me.

Treble

As previously mentioned, the Go One’s treble is slightly on the mellower side. Transients will tend to sit on par with, if not a bit behind, the body of the note, So, you’ll get a softer attack, along with a certain timbre to, say, drums, which I described in Presentation. Despite the feathered tonality, there’s impressive precision to this top-end too. That delicateness does not translate to a fuzziness or a washiness. You can hear where notes come in and out with really good confidence, and those entrances and exits are done cleanly as well. Much of that is down to the extension of this top-end, which delivers a stable backdrop for those transients to travel. It’s also responsible for that dynamic ebb-and-flow the Go One’s got in its mids. If, however, you like a lot of crispness and crackle, it might come off a bit shy. Razor-like transients are not its forte. What it’s got is a delicate, pleasing top-end made for safe playlist hopping, without tripping into dark, muffled or rolled-off territory.

And, that last line must truly be emphasized. Because, though the treble is, again, more refined and feathered, there’s not a feeling it’s been blunted or dulled. It’s capable of resolving drum skins, cymbal tails, nylon strings, etc. And, beyond that, you’ve got a healthy amount of air here too. Instruments have ample room to breathe, between them are pockets of clean space, and, once again, you’ve got live, open dynamics to go with it too. As said on Presentation, Piotr’s also elevated the holography of the Go One. While the image still largely confined in the head, there’s a much more even, spherical shape to it, compared to Custom Art’s previous entry models. And, the IEM’s stereo spread is strong as well. Whether it’s percussion or stereo-panned guitars, the Go One pulls off the surround sound feel impressively for an in-ear at its price, and its centre image is just as solid. So, tonal preferences aside, Piotr’s pulled off a strong, resolving treble here that punches well above its price tag.

General Recommendations

The Go One is Custom Art’s go, no pun intended, at an everyday carry, and that naturally nudges its signature into certain directions. But, it does a couple things better than your average EDC too. Here are three that make the Go One a standout:

A mellower tonality with air: Like the FIBAE Black before it, the Go One manages an impressive amount of openness and headroom, despite its more refined treble. It won’t force air, yet it achieves it still through technology and technique, which results in an EDC that won’t get claustrophobically muffled or boringly dull after extended listening sessions. 

Forwardly and dynamic-sounding mids: The Go One sports Custom Art’s signature midrange lift, but not in a way that’s at all harsh or intense. There’s a subtlety to the bump, which speaks to their tuning. And, it isn’t a saturated, always-bright midrange either. It’ll sit back when told to, then leap forward when needed, resulting in a colouration that’s as engaging as it is accurate.

Fullness with decent holography: The Go One’s Pressure-Optimising Design gives it an image that fills the head, along with instruments neatly-arranged in an even array. Despite bigger, denser notes, this headspace will remain well-layered, well-separated and well-spread, which gives this EDC a lot more to chew on than the music merely playing in front of you.

Despite all the punching the Go One does above its price tag, it’s still an IEM with limitations, just like any other. Whether it’s its warmer, calmer tonality or certain aspects of its technique, down below are criteria the Go One is not able to fulfill:

Bright, crisp, hard-edged delivery: Virtually the entirety of the Go One’s profile swerves from that crisp, clinical, clarity-emphasised style. From its warmer low-end, to its forwardly mids, to its feathered treble, there’s an inherent smoothness to the Go One, despite its apt separation. If you want that cutting sound, you may wanna give the FIBAE 3×3 a go instead.

Out-of-head imaging: Although I’ve praised the Go One’s spherical image and its tidy imaging, it remains on the intimate side as far as expansion is concerned. It isn’t a spatial godkiller that’ll handily compete with top in-ears twice its price. So, if that vastness is a mandatory prerequisite for you, you will have to venture much further up Custom Art’s CIEM repertoire.

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ABOUT AUTHOR

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Deezel

Church-boy by day and audio-obsessee by night, Daniel Lesmana’s world revolves around the rhythms and melodies we lovingly call: Music. When he’s not behind a console mixing live for a congregation of thousands, engineering records in a studio environment, or making noise behind a drum set, you’ll find him on his laptop analysing audio gear with fervor and glee. Now a specialist in custom IEMs, cables and full-sized headphones, he’s looking to bring his unique sensibilities - as both an enthusiast and a professional - into the reviewer’s space; a place where no man has gone before.

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