Life at the top is good, twice as good.
Pros – Superb detail. Stellar layering. Incredible overall sound. A bit better bass (to me) on the Tzar. Stunning sound.
Cons – Only a few tips included. Cable while sounding wonderful, looks quite average. For this price some might like some customization. Nitpicking really, nothing wrong
A combined review of the 64Audio tia Fourté and the U18 Tzar. Stunning is an insult.
64Audio tia Fourté & U18 Tzar
With Resolve. A transitive verb, obsolete : dissolve, melt
Followed by resolution. To cause resolution of (a pathological state):
a: to deal with successfully : clear up (resolve doubts, resolve a dispute)
b: to find an answer to
c: to make clear or understandable
My emotional image of what a TOTL IEM should sound like has been resolved. Completely. Fully. Entirely. Wholly. Followed by the resolution that what I DO hear is so close to perfect that I do not fathom how we could go higher. Completely. Fully. Entirely. Wholly.
The two 64Audio models are the best IEM’s (let alone headphones…) I have ever had the honor of hearing…period. This will come as no surprise to anyone paying attention to Head-Fi or theheadphonelist.com over the last year+. While the Fourté’s brethren the A18 placed third in the shootout, I will never be able to discern what would concert in making not one but TWO others better. My ears cannot handle it. I do not have good enough hearing to discern the differences between 1st & 3rd. That said, I CAN hear the difference between the DITA Dream (luckily also on hand), and my Unique Melody Maestro V2’s. Maybe discern the difference is a poor choice of words…decide WHAT or WHY 1st & 2nd are better would be closer to the truth. And truth is in the eye of the beholder.
My son, Pinky & I had a mini-meet a couple of weeks ago. In conversing beforehand, he asked what he should bring for me to hear. The emoji I sent back, was that smary sideways smirking look, which said really??!! That said, I did politely ask for the Fourté, knowing he had recently picked up a pair and was smitten like a teenager looking at his first, well….never mind about that image. Strike that, please. Pinky cordially obliged, bringing many other fine wares to peruse. He wanted to try my Maestro’s, having only had a brief listen in the company of Lawrance at a meet in St. Louis. I was more than happy to return the favor. Many other listening devices were on hand, including his Cayin N5ii (which he held away from me in a death grip), the iBasso DX200 he had on hand, as well as my personal Shanling’s, both M3S and M5. A cornucopia of listen bliss was had, and this only heightened my anticipation regarding the 64 products. I will admit that we like a slightly different signature, so the devices were tailored differently than I would. That said, he did point out that the Opus#2 (which I held in death grip) was not running any EQ settings.
The pair was magnificent. Stunning is a hyperbole used quite a bit for audio products. Stunning does not begin to describe the nirvanic sound piercing my ears. An intoxication of the type, where I almost had my son drive home…almost. He refused giving ME that smarmy look, because we were in the Prius. So, I had to sober up on “lesser” gear. Which I will add was damn fine listening.
Fast forward to the day. I was only able to listen briefly to assure the tour peeps, that all was well and good, and copacetic in 64-land. It was. My first full day is actually today. And I am not disappointed. Driven through my M5, this is Zenith material. I cannot stress this enough. This is not hype. This is Lamborghini Veneno territory of IEM’s. At this point in time, there are only 1-2 competitors with which to compete (in my mind…). Maybe a better comparison of the top three would be the first episode of The Grand Tour, where Clarkson, Hammond & May finally do get the McLaren P1, Ferrari LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder together in that epic Hypercar shootout. Throw in the Lamborghini and you have that foursome and you could easily label the four I have as those above. My goodness we do.
Another positive from that mini-meet was a search in earnest by me for a wonderful Opus#2. Hearing that wonderful device made me a believer and gave me the push to dive in and find my own…it is in route as I scribble. The pair will be back together very soon. So, as luck would have it, I have four wonderful units with which to listen for a short time. Even the few days together allowed me appreciation of company’s vision regarding their TOTL IEM. A joy it is to participate.
64Audio U18 Tzar
64Audio tia Fourté
DITA Dream (with Van Den Hul Truth cable)
Unique Melody Maestro V2
Shanling M5/iBasso PB3
Pretty irrelevant, since as usual I’m late to the party and everyone has pretty much described what sounds good or what they used with this critter. I did listen to a variety, trying to cover many genres. Needless to say, they ALL sounded good.
Ever since my feeble mind deciphered that I would in fact have an overlap with the 64Audio pair & the DITA Dream, I was hamster-wheel-like ciphering that I could include my Maestro V2 and do a four-way shootout! Well, not really, but more a dedicated listen for an extended period of time, as I was off on Holiday for the day. Halfway through, and I have drawn some stark (to me, but no one else on the planet most likely…) conclusions. So here it goes…
The tia Fourté is good. Damn good. Really, REALLY good. So good in fact, that any further superlatives would be drooling on the case (in hopes of not on the IEM itself) and pretty much pointless. But dear reader, that is not the point. The point for me anyway will be to try and describe the differences in how I hear the four. If I can portray the diffs, then imagine what a competent person could do…
I was able to give a dedicated listen to the Fourté for several hours. I wanted an uninterrupted session, since that would probably be the only time I could. The airiness with which sound is presented is otherworldly. There is a reason the Fourté had the best resolution of this group. It is incredible. An interesting history of the usage of Audio Resolution can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-resolution_audio
To me resolution is sheer definition. To have something so precise and perfect that everything is in place. No mistakes, no misplacements, no errors whatsoever…and this to me is a very strong point, one that cannot be underrepresented. That said, showing overly-detailed response can be antithesis of what some want. Here, it is the perfect melding of sound signature, imaging, sound stage (almost, Maestro V2 is marginally better), timbre and any other audio terms you would like to throw in. Only in separation does the Maestro beat this vaunted unit. And to my tired ears, it really is a push.
I would consider the Fourté on the same level as a Hypercar such as the Porsche 918 Spyder. It may not be the fastest, nor handle the best, but it is the quintessential melding of all to form the package, which does what you want, when you want. The Tzar to me has better bass sound, and slightly better control of that bass. If I had to make one change to the Fourté, that would be it. In fact at this current moment listening to Bob Marley, on the Tzar, I prefer that signature to the Fourté. The Tzar is an incredible critter, in it’s own right. Consider the Tzar the Veneno of the group.
I lush superlatives on the 64 Audio pair almost to the point of love. Well…yes, because there is nothing I have heard IEM-wise that is better. Some come close, but to me this IS my pinnacle so far (a point I mentioned in not only my Pinnacle P1 review but also Vibro Labs Aria reviews, eons ago…). I have heard nothing better than these two. @Faithguy19 warned me that I had better get the DITA Dream listening done early, because once I heard the 64Audio’s, they would not come out of my ears. He is absolutely-almost correct. What good would that do me, if I did not compare to what others I had worthy of inclusion? So he is correct, you do not want to take the 64’s out, at all, ever; but must in order to bring/restore your sanity and depth of perspective. Especially when you have other fine wares in hand.
As stated above, the Tzar’s are wonderful on their own. Many on the tour thread extoll the virtue of the Fourté, but neglect the Tzar. Recently on a Facebook thread, someone posted how he was awaiting the arrival of his Tzar. I will have to go back and congratulate him on an extraordinary purchase, well because it IS. In fact the longer I go, the more I appreciate their tuning, and prefer them to the Fourté.
Wait….wait a bloody minute! Did this loser just state he actually prefers the Tzar to the Fourté??!! Blasphemous! Plagarous! Ridiculous!!! Incredulous!!! Hippopotomous!!! Well, yes, I did. I did in fact say that. Taking the Tzar out of my moldy ears, I replace them with the Fourté, and hope to explain. As incredible sounding as the tia’s are, they are too bass shy in quality to me. That does not mean the bass, which is there is poor sounding, far from it. Rich, engulfing and crystalline clear it is. But there just isn’t enough of it for my tastes. I have moved to where I prefer not to EQ anything, and if I had the Fourté, I’m afraid I would have to do that. And yes, I have sufficient amperage in modular units, that would allow for that “deficiency.” From the first moment I put the U18T into my ear, I fell in love. Not the love I feel for my Maestro, no that is pure unadulterated love. A love, which could best be described as longing. Like that perfect vacation where you KNEW right away, you would come and retire once the time is up on your occupation. A place you dream about, which guides you towards that destination. A place you think of often, and will attain eventually. Much like Lake Superior and my soul. A place I hold so dear to my center, that it drives me. This is how I feel about the Tzar, as I listen to Dave Matthews Gravedigger. Then of course I put the Fourté back in, and while the sound is that crystalline clear of a -30 degree Fahrenheit day, cloudless and snow gleaming, it lacks that feel. That finished touch of when the snow and wind and vivid possibilities come about during the storm. That is the Tzar.
If the Tzar is that wonderful and possibly life-threatening Superior winter storm; the Fourté is the crystalline clear afterwards, where everything is perfect. Not a sound, but simply beauty in that silence. And, the Maestro is the lifelong companion I would want along for that ride. Warm, inviting, excellent of tone and separation, it is a vivid reminder of what one can have for less than ½ the price of the others. Not a compromise at all, but the companion you cherish wisely. And I do.
The layering of the Fourté is beyond repose. It is exemplary as you can separate each layer of music and tone completely. The same can be said for the Tzar, but with a bit of a darker tone. One as stated I prefer. This would be that perfect Dagwood sandwich, well thought out, but ultimately for our consumption and well worth the thought.
The build of the 64 products is exemplary (as it should be…). Presented in a fairly plain container, they took the approach of the product matters more than the container. I would concur. Included is a humidor-like container with which to display the critter. My only qualm here is that the cable is wrapped around a split “post, “ rather tightly. While it works, I would almost spend for a Pelican, and throw in the desiccant. Included tips are few with three of foam (REALLY nice ones and silicon), plus most at this purchase would use their preferred tip, hopefully after trying out many. I did use the foam Comply-like tip because that is my tip of choice. Matching the sound I prefer, a darker warmer sound, the foams provided me with that outlet.
Not much has been said regarding the Dream. All focus has been upon the 64 pair for this aspect, but I will add that the Dream with the Truth cable is well worthy of inclusion into this quartet. A wonderfully Germanic-type build is the stellar star platform on which a very, very good IEM is built. Bass of rumbling quality, surprising to be honest, the DITA would be that McLaren P1 crashing the above party. Somewhat raw to drive (ask Hammond…), but worth its entry in gold. With a bass note driving very good resolution, separation and imaging, I do liken the Dream to a Panzer tank. Built to withstand the enemie’s ultimate charge, it can be defeated. You simply need find it’s weak point. Not easy to drive, and a bit thin of sound compared to the other three, it is good in its own right. Mid range detail is superb to me. Tying together with the exuberant bass, the Dream can be that expensive pair you throw into the gym bag. It is built that well. And while I appreciate the addition of a $499 cable, designed by VanDenHul, it is a PITA to coil and keep straight. Unforgiving and constantly coiling that is enough for me to dump it in favor of other special cables.
Held of its own, and after adjusting away from the 64 products, the Dream comes into its own. That polite thinner sound can draw you in because of the details presented. With excellent to me treble sound, hearing that guitar pluck of David Gilmour makes the Dream sing. Faltering a bit on the piano staccato, it is still all well and good. This is the morning coffee pair, as you look over Lake Superior on a summer’s day before the wind has picked up. Enjoying that solitude is most definitely not to be missed. But for the rest, you will need to finish over on my Dream review. This one is for the 64’s.
I find the SPC cables a conundrum for both of the 64’s. Plain, simple eminently coilable they just work. And you know I like things that just work. It is a testament that sometimes a simple item just proceeds, without getting in the way.
Once I figured out how to run Tidal on the Opus, I listened to both the Tzar and Fourté for the evening exclusively on Tidal. I must say, that the combination of the Opus#2 and Tzar was stunning. A level of detail I had not fully understood came about and right knocked me back. This was a very good combination, with excellent detail retrieval, separation and imaging. I would state that the soundstage did suffer a smidge, but I have never been one to quibble regarding soundstage.
I then put the Fourté in, and was taken aback even further. That superb level of detail became even more crystal clear. Verbiage of song I had not heard from Tidal became almost second-nature. Precise, sharp, crystalline-clear and full the Fourté simply excelled in this format. I will say that on a couple of Dave Matthew’s songs, the overall sound became a bit thin, but I blame the limitations of Tidal, even though it is of high quality (I have a paid subscription for this purpose alone). I do believe this exact combination is the one Tidal was looking for when they gave us the paid subscriptions….now only if they would stay in business…
It has been two days since the pair left our humble area. I had all but forgotten about them, only realizing that I need finish this review whilst I listen to the next project…and I do reminisce about that sound. I can still (imagine) remember the level of detail in which the Fourté took me in completely. To me, the defining point of an exemplary unit, that detail allows all, completely to be heard the way the musician intended. Every note, every fault, every nuance heard, and laid naked the way composer meant. I vividly recall the bass, which drove me to like the Tzar more. A bass, which I rate up as some of the best quality/quantity ratio I have heard. I was enthralled when I heard it, and am still.
If people did not demand products of this cost, then they probably would not be manufactured. Kind of like that Hypercar foursome mentioned above. If demand did not warrant, then they might only be engineers dreams….wait, who am I kidding?!
I thank @64Audio for this incredible honor, and the faith they have shown the Head-Fi groupies. And, without @Barra managing these tours (he be a busy boy!!), it would not be possible.