Rank #17: the Custom Art 8.2


Custom Art’s revamped flagship returns with an organic tuning, focusing on a smooth and non-fatuiging presentation. With a price well below the TOTL average and certainly within this shootout, the 8.2 is one of the more affordable options for entering the high-end ciem game.

Custom Art 8.2
-Drivers:                    8 BA drivers
-Design:                     4-way crossover, 4 sound bores
-Impedance:             17,5
-Sensitivity:               118 dB
-Fit:                             Custom

 -PRICE:                       €1100


The industry standard Plastics One 3-wire OFC cable has a warm tonality, which primarily results from its rolled off upper treble, and lightly enhanced upper-bass. The midrange is linear, resulting in an overall neutral note size. While the mid-bass is warm and natural in tone, it’s not particularly controlled. Accordingly, the loose bass results in a warmer stage structure. This affects the airiness of the stage as well as its transparency; especially since its top end does not extend very far. However, while the cable doesn’t perform very well when it comes to resolution and transparency, its warmer tone results in a fairly smooth and natural signature.

The specific pairing with the 8.2 is neither good nor bad. It doesn’t negatively affect its tone, while it also doesn’t contribute to a better performance.

Sound impressions

The 8.2 has a warm tonality, resulting from an enhanced bass presentation and laidback treble. It presents music as a unified ensemble, like a band that’s been playing long enough together to be able rely on each other blindly. Naturally, the coherent presentation is primarily due to the 8.2’s smooth signature. For when it comes to the analytical – organic dichotomy, the 8.2 is an outspoken member of the latter. Not only the bass is warm; a soft treble response results in a gentle sound, pushing the spotlight towards the lower frequencies.

It’s a tuning that gives the 8.2 the appearance of a midcentric signature, although the midrange itself doesn’t necessarily have an added body or forwardness – it’s a fairly linear midrange. The aim of the tuning is presenting an organic and smooth listening experience, with a focus on a non-fatuiging sound rather than detail retrieval based on apparent clarity. Due to the enhanced bass and linear midrange, instruments have good size and are well proportioned within the stage dimensions. Vocals in turn are fairly neutral in their overall size and density.

The 8.2’s stage has more width than depth, with an average amount of height. Both the stage positioning and vocal presentation are slightly forward. Its layering ability is fairly good, as is its imaging. The overall space is large enough for the instrument positioning, although the 8.2 relies more on its width for its separation. Altogether, the presentation is very coherent, with a realistic portrayal of a stage. However, the stage isn’t particularly airy due to relaxed pace of the mid-bass, and its overall warmer tone – especially since the laidback treble can’t compensate for the warmer bass (the warmer stage is depicted in light gray). Accordingly, the back row feels somewhat subdued in the presentation – notes aren’t as upfront in their articulation. The warm stage affects its transparency, but also the cleanliness of the presentation. Its separation isn’t bad by any means, while it isn’t a top performer either.

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About Author

Nic is currently in pursuit of a PhD degree in social neuropsychology, while trying not to get too distracted by this hobby. In pursuit of theoretical knowledge by day, and audiophile excellence at night. Luckily for him, both activities are not mutually exclusive which helps to lighten the workload. Always on the go, Nic's enthusiasm for hi-fi is focused on all chains of the portable system: iems, cables and daps.

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