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Review: The Fabulous FIBAE 5

I want to thank Piotr and his dedicated and talented team at Custom Art for affording me the opportunity to test their latest creation in exchange for my honest review, and for being so generous with their time in creating a work of art that befits the company’s name and reputation.

By way of introduction, Custom Art is the brainchild of Piotr Granicki, a hobbyist like so many of us that, in pursuit of his ideal sound, decided to make his own IEMs to get what he couldn’t find elsewhere. The result is a company now going 10-years strong, with an impressive and growing collection of IEMs that have found favour from as many performing artists as they have audiophile enthusiasts.

FIBAE 5 is the company’s first attempt at a tri-brid IEM, and in true Custom Art fashion, goes against the ‘norm’ with an unusual combination of dynamic driver bass, balanced armature midrange and planar treble. It also eschews the neutral reference-leaning sound of its higher-end IEMs, opting instead for a sound that’s fuller and warmer. 

That said, FIBAE 5 is quite different from what I consider a ‘bass-first’ tuning, or even a V-shaped monitor (which it most certainly is not, to my ears). But before we get there, there’s plenty of other aspects of this fascinating IEM to consider, from the custom process and design, to the matter-of-fact accessories, and the relatively modest price. 

Packaging, presentation and accessories

For a company that leads with artistry, FIBAE 5 arrived in a rather non-artistic, utilitarian case inside a nondescript cardboard box, though to be fair, there’s no real need for anything else. If corners need to be cut to hit a price point, I’d rather it be packaging than sound quality. 

But I digress, everything you need is in the case, and there’s even a convenient foam block cutout to keep the IEMs from bumping into each other or getting scratched by the cable. In fact, the case is large enough to hold other small accessories in the mesh lid pocket, like the Bluetooth necklace cable that Custom Art sent me to try out alongside the stock 4.4mm cable.    

Speaking of cables, I was supplied with what looks like an 8-wire silver-plated copper cable with a gold-plated 4.4mm connector and Custom Art branding. It’s soft, supple, not too thick, with no microphonics, and the metal hardware looks good and feels robust. I tried switching it out with a few different cables, some significantly more expensive, but I keep coming back to the stock cable as the most comfortable with the best sonic balance to my ears. 

No doubt you can probably push performance higher with super fancy cables, but without getting too controversial, unless you’re buying a cable for better aesthetics or bling, I personally don’t see the sense in spending more than the value of the IEM on a cable when you can get equivalent performance for free with subtle EQ tweaks.

Custom Art also includes a small add-on tool in the box, designed to insert and remove a tiny filter that fits into the bass vent to drop the bass shelf by 3dB. I’m not sure why you’d want to neuter the bass, but I guess if your preference is for a more neutral, bright-leaning signature, the option is there.

Overall, this a very practical package of accessories, especially if you’re a touring artist who needs maximum protection for your gear and a bit of space to spare for select extras. And it’s not like you’re spending thousands of dollars for a fancy storage box that will likely get dumped in the cupboard anyway.

Continue to design and fit…

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Picture of Guy Lerner

Guy Lerner

An avid photographer and writer 'in real life', Guy's passion for music and technology created the perfect storm for his love of portable audio. When he's not playing with the latest and greatest head-fi gear, he prefers to spend time away from the hobby with his two (almost) grown kids and wife in the breathtaking city of Cape Town, and traveling around his native South Africa.

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