About Custom Art Harmony 8.2
by Wish Audio
by Wish Audio
The Custom Art Harmony 8.2 is an update of the previously reviewed H8(P) and it’s Custom Art’s new flagship monitor. You can only upgrade from the H8(P) models to the new Harmony 8.2. The Harmony 8 (Pro) is/was equipped with 8 drivers for each ear and it actually was the first 8 driver made with a silicone shell. The H8(P) has dual lows, dual low-mids, dual full-range and a dual tweeter. The Harmony was created to be a link between their Pro and Music series. It combines the musicality and accuracy of both series, tuned in “Harmony” to create a very coherent sound. The main difference between the normal version and the Pro version can be found in the treble region. The goal of their 3-way crossover in a Single Phase configuration is to make all the 8 drivers sound as one driver, and to deliver more details and a more spacious sound.
Build & Design
Piotr has a long-standing reputation for his craftsmanship, and my 8.2 can only bear witness to that. The 8.2 fits excellently, snug and precise without any pressure areas. The fit is a bit different than usual. It goes in slightly more downward and deeper, sitting around the bottom part of the inner ear. Even within the canal the fit remains snug in a positive way. Overall the isolation is outstanding, and I rate the fit among highest in my current lineup. With its 8 BA drivers, its size is slightly smaller than most of my other ciems, which manifests itself primarily on the lower part of the outer ear. The 8.2 sits almost flush within the ear, slanting more inwards towards the bottom.The wood plates are the very same quilt maple plates with engraved logo though this time the logo color is a shade lighter and more blended with the wood plates. The silicone finish on the new 8.2 is also smoother and less pitted than the original.
Custom Art has changed the stock cable with the 8.2, it is not the same as the 8 instead of selecting a Westone type EPIC cable. Physically that is not a bad thing actually since it’s light, pliant, and very easy to work with suffering from no memory retention and very little microphonics.
It folds tight and takes up very little space in the carry case also. The cable itself is terminated by default with null 2-pin config ala Westone style which is very handy.
The Harmony 8.2 is not so much of an upgrade but rather almost a totally new experience with a slither of the original Harmony. Compared to the original this new 8.2 sounds more dynamic, a little more intimate in some respects with the vocal presence heightened, and most importantly it has treble with a more noticeable brilliance over the 8.
The 8.2 has a mid-centric signature, with a slightly warm tonality. The aim of the tuning is on presenting an organic and non-fatuiging listening experience, rather than a focus on detail retrieval based on apparent clarity.
The result is high quality bass; quick and detailed, while adding a juicy punch. The balance between sub- and mid-bass is linear, resulting in nice texture as well as impact – this isn’t a bloated, softish kind of bass. The sub-bass is well extended and hits hard and clear, rather than sounding soft or veiled on impact. The bass has good speed with a well-timed decay, rather than evaporating in thin air like we sometimes see in multiple BA designs. It adds a sense of naturalness, contributing to the overall quality. In addition, the 8.2 offers a good amount of bass resolution; the definition and separation of bass lines.
The midrange is the center focus within the presentation, although the bass to midrange is very linear. The 8.2 has its main presence in the center midrange around 1 KHz. This brings the vocal presentation slightly closer, and gives vocals good size and power – singers sing like they really mean it. It isn’t overly deep or chesty, but it has enough fill to give vocals good density. In overall size, both tones as well as vocals stay close to neutral – a balanced presentation. The instrument timbre can be considered natural, as their isn’t an overly amount of coloration.
The center midrange presence gives it a slightly warm tonality, with good body to instruments and vocals. Depending on your source, it can have a slight preference for male over female vocals. With a warmer dap like the Plenue S the overall focus is on smoothness, depth, and warmth, although the combination can be a bit much – resulting in a more outspoken warm and mid-centric signature, and somewhat lacking in airiness due to the warmer atmosphere.
Treble on the 8.2 is cleaner, more forward sounding, and with improved extension than the old 8. Clarity has definitely increased but sensibly Piotr has ensured it is not so peaky to sound harsh or bright.
Having said that lower treble is a little muted in comparison to its brilliance range where the greatest amount of sparkle and energy resides. I have always preferred my upper treble to have more sparkle than anything peaky in the lower treble, far less distracting and fatiguing.
Overall, the treble response is very linear, besides a slight dip in the lower treble. This takes some light and air from the presentation, but keeps it sibilant free. This makes the 8.2 very easy to listen to, contributing to a smooth listening experience.
The 8.2 has a very neutral presentation, tuned with slightly warm and engaging mid-centric signature. The stage impresses with its width, while its bass will serve as a reference point for future comparisons. But most of all, its presentation is very smooth and natural. The treble tuning comes down to preference; it is purposefully designed as non-fatuiging, to ensure long listening sessions as well as being applicable for stage monitoring. On the other hand, it probably won’t suit listeners that value a certain amount of sparkle and overall treble quantity. I personally feel a neutral to bright source can balance the 8.2 and really make it shine, although a warmer source can add a nice emotional touch.