Craft Ears is a polish company that makes hand-made IEMs. Four is their middle model, and the custom version you’ll meet in this review costs 580 euros.
This model of Craft Ears Four is a custom-fit IEM, but what does it mean? It means it is made only for your ears. The earphone’s shape is perfectly matched with your ears, so the noise isolation is way better than regular IEMs, and the overall comfort too. When you put them into the ears, you can easily forget about them. They can’t fall out, you don’t have to adjust them. Only putting in is a little harder, but with some practice, it isn’t a problem. Sound also changes, but how and why? You’ll read about sound changes later, but I can tell you why it changes now. So, in a few words, the sound comes straight to your eardrums, the end of the bore is placed deeper. Another change is the fact that there are no tips. So, as different tips can change regular earphones’ sound, the CIEM remains the same.
About Craft Ears
If you’ve read my older review about the UIEM version of Craft Ears Four, you probably know them. If not, let me acquit you to their business.
So, Craft Ears is a Polish company placed in Poznań. They’ve just celebrated their second birthday, so it’s a pretty young company. It doesn’t mean they don’t have any experience. Jędrzej is doing a really great job, not only with the sound but also with customer service.
Every IEM made by them has lifetime support and 2 years on components without any questions asked, which is a pretty rare thing that is really good for all clients. If the sound wouldn’t please you (trust me, it will), you can return them in 14 days covering only the cost of non-renewable components.
Besides that, they supply many polish artists with their CIEMs. You can check the full list here. Who knows, maybe your idol is using Craft Ears product?
Build quality and design
Okay, I have to write it. LOOK HOW BEAUTIFUL THEY ARE! I think that design proves how good of a job they are doing at that part. I described my idea to Dominika, and she did the rest with her own hands. These guys have no limits. Whatever you would like your earphone to look like, they will do it. You can check their other works here.
But okay, this paragraph is called build quality – and well, you have nothing to be worried about. It’s a really solid IEM, with probably the tightest connectors I’ve ever used. I can’t even take it off the left earphone, so it never will drop by itself. That’s a problem if you would like to change the cable, and I think you will want to do that quickly. Not because of its quality, but the cable that arrives with CIEM version is longer than the regular IEM cable. This one has 1,6m in length, and that’s just not the most comfortable thing to wear when we’re walking around the city.
On the other hand, it’s great with the PC or laptop. I’m not aware of pulling the cable whenever I move as it is with the 120cm cables. Compared to the UIEM version I’ve reviewed, the new one has a looser weave and better-looking metal 2pin connectors. By that little change, it looks more premium. The rest remains the same. The 3.5mm connector and splitter are very discrete and tiny, so you don’t take notice of them.
Besides that, inside the box, you’ll find a metal round case or peli case (paid extra), cleaning tool, and simple cloth with the Craft Ears logo.
Oh yeah, that’s what I like. If you’ve listened to the Craft Ears Four in the UIEM version, the CIEM is something different, more accurate, and delicately colder. But that’s still a fun provider, with a more neutral sound signature that isn’t an analytical one and lets you cut off the surroundings thanks to the splendid isolation. The excellent sound quality will let you fall in the music.
The bass doesn’t sound like the typical armature bass. To be honest, it reminds me of the speedy response and slams from Final Audio A8000, which is almost four times more expensive. The low frequencies are the part where everyone should be excited and happy about. The subbass is incredible, it snarls in the background, being not as rich as the UIEM version, but with many sound sources (because not all of them show that part correctly), it’s on the spot-on quantity. Midbass also doesn’t have any weak points. It’s highly textured with a lot of air, so even when the drummer pulls up his sticks is easily noticeable, and if you focus on that part, even for the second, you’ll have “wow, that’s nice” in your mind.
The kickbass isn’t as big a fun provider as with the UIEM version but still makes my head bobbing with faster music. The slower one makes my foot knock the beat, so the bass is always a big thing with impressive speed, texture, and detail level. Obviously, it never covers the midrange or the treble, so all parts have their own shows.
The midrange might feel pretty pushed back after looking at the graph, but I never got that feeling. I would even say that the higher part is pushed to the front compared to the rest. Vocals are balancing between texture and smoothness without exaggeration in any way. In terms of the playstyle, the midrange is natural, with a slight move to being bright. Of course, that’s not a game-changer. It’s a subtle thing. Besides that, the vocals are powerful, and they’re “allrounders,” I’d say because it’s the part that swings the most in the space, but I’ll continue that part later. Detail reproduction is another great thing, but the cable and SE connection limits that. Using even a cheap, balanced cable and balanced source moves the microdetails to another level.
The treble is unbelievably flexible. Once it can be soft, pushed back and played in the background to not distract the listener from midrange and bass, making the overall feeling rather dark. On the other album, let’s take “After Hours” by The Weeknd that isn’t my favorite artist in any way. To be honest, I’m listening to him only because of the highest quality production and the fact that he’s one of the most famous artists right now. But okay, enough about my taste. Listening to the album mentioned before provides a more blinky and delicately shouty type of treble, not as delicate as some Kendrick Lamar tracks.
So, the best word for the treble is transparent. It can be anything the track and source mean it to be. Always with excellent extension and beautiful, accurate details. Thanks to its possibilities, classical music sounds beautiful. Instruments have a feelable shape. They make an impression of moving away when their sound ends.
The soundstage is the thing that changed the most compared to the UIEM version, where it was magic, with fading through, flying around, and so on. The CIEM’s soundstage has grown up from this teenage rebellion, calmed down, but still has some raid in its playstyle. Especially in the vocals part. After all, that’s a vast, deep, and high soundstage. Sometimes the vocals are set too deep for me, but I think not everyone will take this that way. As I mentioned before, the treble has a nice fading out at the end of each sound. That makes the sound more friendly to listen to, kinda intimate. Imaging is just an “ohh, yas” thing.
I haven’t heard such good imaging in any earphones at this price range.
The precision is another strong point of the CE4’s soundstage. It’s reliable in games and charming in the music, with a strong mark on the distance that makes the depth even more visible.
CE4 CIEM vs. CE4 UIEM
That’s probably the most important thing for everyone interested in the CIEM version because, well, you can’t test the CIEM before buying them.
So, the UIEM version is warmer, with more fun in the whole frequency range. The subbass and treble are more noticeable, with less flexibility of the high tones. The soundstage also changes a lot. The UIEM has more mystic things in the sound. There are no hard pin-points. Everything is flying around. The CIEM provides a more reliable type of presenting the soundstage, with marked positions that also can start swinging, but not as hard as the UIEM sound. So, in a few words, the CIEM is more correct while the UIEM has a more fun-to-listen style.
CE4 CIEM vs. Campfire Audio Vega 2020
Well, those two are absolutely different. Vega has a way heavier sound in the bass, less air in the soundstage (but imaging remains on a similar level), and calmer treble. I think I wouldn’t say which one sounds better. Both of them are great earphones, but just different.
CE4 CIEM vs. Campfire Audio Solaris LE
Comparing these two is quite funny because they are kinda similar, unlike the previous comparison. Not totally, but there are so many common parts. Much fun, a lot of air, crispiness in the mids. The main difference is the bass, which is quite tighter and leaner in CE4 (that’s normal given that Solaris has a DD driver). The second one is placed in the midrange, where CE4 pushes the female vocals to the front a little more. The last difference is that the Solaris treble is more massive when CE4 has a slightly more analytical style.
CE4 CIEM vs. FIR Audio VxV
And yet again, totally different pairs of shoes. When the Fours lets you start dancing to the music anywhere, the VxV calms you and provides a slower heartbeat (not recommended for low-pressure vessels). CE4 sound can go lower and higher to show you a feeling of a better depth in the sound. The FIR will have a more neutral playstyle as it is the “Every day carry.”
Besides that, both companies show another approach to the customer. FIR has stickers, a cute backstory, attachments, and the rest. Craft Ears has a more conservative style that I like because I do not focus on all those parts. It makes a good first impression, but those are the things that stay in my mind for seconds. Of course, not everyone will take it in the same way as I do, but you get my point, right? The only thing I have to give attention to is the design, and as I mentioned before, they can do anything you want.
You don’t need much power to empower the CE4, so the main thing is to match the source’s signature with the CE4 and your taste. I love Fours with SMSL SU-9&SH-9 combo and EarMen Eagle the most. Those combinations provide the most subbass and fulfill the whole frequency range with dynamic and powerful sound.
xDuoo XD-05 Plus slightly cuts the treble and soundstage but provides the most significant sound, but the soundstage doesn’t make such a great first feeling, its depth is decent, but it loses too much on the width IMO.
When the Eagle, SMSL combo, and TC44B provide a nice subbass, the TR-AMP and XD-05 Plus don’t have much to show at this point pushing the subbass back, so the lowest thing you’ll hear is the midbass.
If you’re looking for a CIEM with limitless design possibilities with probably the best SQ in its price range, you might have found it just right now. Excellent build quality, fun-providers, easy to drive. Could we really ask for more? As a little off-topic, I remember Paweł’s face when he plugged them into his ears and said, “heeey, they are really good!”. Well, I must admit that’s true, and welcome the new CE4 as my daily driver.
One extra info – till the end of the march you can buy their products with 10% discount, enjoy!
Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
- Headphones – Campfire Audio Vega 2020, Meze Rai Penta, Final A8000, Unique Melody MEST, Campfire Audio Solaris LE, Fir Audio VxV, Craft Ears Four UIEM
- Sources– Cayin N3Pro, JDSLabs Atom stack, SMSL SU-9 + SH-9, EarMen Eagle, EarMen TR-AMP, ddHiFi TC44B