Custom Art provided the FIBAE ME free of charge for the purpose of my honest review, for good or ill.
Piotr Granicki, founder and stalwart leader of Custom Art, is a true friend of reviewers. In point of fact, he started off as a reviewer. More than that, he’s a friend of THL. When I reached out, he already knew of me, my reviews, and my tastes in audio gear. He had just the item for old Pinky.
Though of course, filled with sly Polish cunning, he weaved a web of mystery round the earphone he was making. He told me only it was bassy as Satan’s farts, and a collaboration project. No matter how many photo’s I sent him of my bared thighs, Piotr held his silence and maintained the secrecy.
Until he officially announced the Massdrop + Custom Art FIBAE CIEM. Also known as the FIBAE Massdrop Exclusive. Or FIBAE ME. Or just ME, for when I’m feeling cute.
There are already three FIBAE IEMs on CA’s website. A one-driver (FIBAE 1), a two-driver (FIBAE 2), and a three-driver (FIBAE 3). Piotr made special point to inform me the six-driver FIBAE ME ought not to be considered the FIBAE 6. This is a Massdrop-only product and does not fit in amongst his own line of earphones. One day we may have a FIBAE 6, and it will likely sound very, very different.
So what the shitsticks and jellywicks does FIBAE mean? Flat Impedance Balanced Armature Earphone… you ignorant goblin! The gist is, by making the BA driver resistive instead of inductive the performance of the monitor is not governed by the output impedance of your source. Have a DAP with unreasonably high impedance at the Headphone Out? This can be devastating to sensitive, low-Ω IEMs. FIBAE don’t give a shit! Its frequency curve remains constant.
It’s a brilliant technology, and yet another sign the future of this industry is headed in an interesting and innovative direction.
The FIBAE ME houses six of these resistive drivers. Two Balanced Armatures for the subwoofer, one for basic lows, one to cover mids and highs, and two for tweeter range. ME utilizes a 4-way crossover. Efficiency is rated at 113dB, with 6.6Ω impedance. You get 10hz-18Khz +/- 20dB into IEC 60318-4 coupler… whatever the bleeding f**k that means.
It’s a bad-ass design, and a stout performer.
In spite of its six-drivers, this CIEM is small. The smallest I’ve ever owned. It’s actually a little difficult to get out of my ears, as ME sinks so deep inside. Nonetheless, it’s perfectly comfortable, with immaculate seal and isolation.
My particular unit is a recreation of an old design I came up with for my first CIEM, the Rhapsodio Solar. Ever since I sold that, I’ve missed the beauty of those hues and textures. So I gave Piotr the same description as I once gave Sammy, just to see how different their interpretations might be. Indeed, while they both possess a deep, red shell and ebony faceplate, the results are dissimilar enough that each stands as a unique creation.
Rhapsodio Solar BA10