1964EARS V6-Stage Review

1964EARS V6-Stage
Reviewed November 2013

Details: 6-driver flagship custom in-ear from Portland, OR-based 1964EARS
Starting Price: $699 from 1964ears.com
Specs: Driver: 6-BA / 3-way crossover | Imp: 22Ω | Sens: 115 dB | Freq: 10-20k Hz | Cable: 4’ L-plug / other lengths available
Wear Style: Over-the-ear

Accessories (5/5) – Shirt clip, ¼” adapter, cleaning tool, and custom crushproof Pelican storage case
Build Quality (5/5) – Aside from its triple-bore configuration, the V6-Stage is similar in construction to my 1964-V3. Molding quality is excellent with no bubbles, very clear faceplates, and good finish around the cable sockets and nozzles. It uses a cable with a standard Westone socket and short memory wire section. Options include recessed cable sockets, ambient vents, custom colors, custom artwork, and various exotic faceplates
Isolation (4/5) – Very good isolation from the fitted acrylic shells
Microphonics (5/5) – Nonexistent as with most of my custom monitors
Comfort (5/5) – As with all acrylic customs, the shells are hard but very comfortable. If the earphones are uncomfortable after an initial break-in period, a refit is probably a good idea. 1964EARS does refits at no cost within the first 30 days

Sound (9.7/10) – The 1964EARS V6-Stage is the company’s latest flagship, designed for “stage, studio and everyday music listening”. It utilizes a 3-way, 6-armature configuration – a setup similar to those of the Unique Melody Miracle and JH Audio JH13 Pro. The sound signature of the V6-Stage combines near-neutral bass, a rich and clear midrange, and crisp treble.

The bass of the V6-Stage is slightly above neutral in quantity – a touch less impactful than with the JH13 Pro but more so compared to other reference earphones such as the Custom Art Music One, HiFiMan RE-600, and Etymotic Research ER-4S. Bass depth is very good and the low end is tight and controlled. In a way, the V6-Stage is the best of both worlds – it makes bassier earphones such as the FitEar TG334 sound boomy in comparison without giving a bass quality advantage to flatter sets from HiFiMan, Etymotic Research, and the like.

The midrange of the V6-Stage has a neutral tone with a smooth and rich character that prevents it from sounding “analytical”. Note thickness is good and the mids appear very natural overall. The V6-Stage is not as lean as the Etymotic ER-4S and its upper midrange is a little less prominent. Clarity is excellent –aided by its prominent treble, the 1964EARS unit has an advantage here over sets such as the FitEar TG334 and Heir Audio 8.A, and makes the more treble-shy RE-600 sound downright dull in comparison.

However, the treble is prominent enough to where recording quality becomes important. The earphone is significantly brighter than sets such as the Custom Art Music One and Heir 8.A, and its treble character has a tendency accentuate sibilance. This is somewhat source-dependent and more prone to occurring at higher volumes, but the fact remains that the V6-Stage is less forgiving than even the Etymotic ER-4S. Other than that, the treble is excellent – crisp and well-extended, carrying enough energy to balance out the overall sound, bass emphasis and all.

The impressive end-to-end extension of the V6-Stage also reflects in its presentation, which is broad and spacious. The soundstage is larger compared to most universals as well as many customs, such as the Music One. It is a touch more constrained than that of the JH13 Pro but on the whole the presentation of the V6-Stage is as well-rounded as anything I’ve heard in its price bracket.

Select Comparisons

EarSonics SM64 ($399)

The SM64 is a triple-armature universal-fit earphone that impresses, among other things, with its bass response. Compared to the V6-Stage, its bass reaches deeper and hits harder but still maintains excellent control. In the midrange, the 1964EARS perform better – while the SM64 is biased towards the lower midrange, the V6-Stage is quite level throughout, offering flatter upper mids and a more balanced and neutral sound. It sounds clearer, less congested, and more refined than the SM64 except for a bit of peakiness in the treble, which makes the V6-Stage sound a little hotter and more “tizzy” next to the darker EarSonics.

Alclair Reference ($399)

Alclair’s Reference monitor pursues a sound signature very similar to that of the V6-Stage, falling a bit short of the V6 in overall performance. Bass quantity is similar between the earphones but the Reference is slightly mid-recessed and sounds more “dry” whereas the V6-Stage has a fuller, smoother sound with a more prominent midrange. Treble performance is also similar between the two – both units have a tendency to exaggerate sibilance and sound a little “hot” on certain tracks, with the V6-Stage performing a bit better in this regard. In terms of presentation, too, the V6-Stage comes across as more versatile and convincing, with a little more imaging prowess and better balance of width and depth.

1964EARS 1964-V3 ($425)

While the similarly-priced Alclair Reference bears a strong resemblance to the V6-Stage, 1964EARS’ own triple-driver sounds quite different. The 1964-V3 is bassier and more “boomy” than the V6-Stage, with the powerful mid-bass response providing much greater impact. This results in a warmer and at times more bloated sound. The V6-Stage, with its tighter, less powerful bass, also has better clarity, especially in the midrange, and sounds more refined and detailed. It is more balanced and neutral whereas the V3 is more colored. In terms of presentation, the boomier bass of the V3 makes it a touch more congested but both units provide a good sense of space.

Westone ES5 ($950)

Westone’s flagship custom is a warm and smooth affair that emphasizes it lows and mids. The ES5 has more bass than the 1964EARS V6-Stage, but the V6 is a little more textured and controlled. Its mids are leaner and clearer while the ES5 sounds fuller and more forward in the midrange. The treble of the Westones is smoother but the overall sound is darker and a bit more muffled. The 1964EARS, on the other hand, have treble that is brighter and peakier, and tend to be more sibilant. I find the V6-Stage to sound more natural overall, though the peaks in the treble region sometimes cause it to sound a little “tizzy” in comparison. In terms of presentation, the ES5 tends to be more intimate, especially in the midrange, whereas the V6-Stage is wider and more laid-back, a-la the UM Miracle.

Unique Melody Miracle ($950)

The UM Miracle has always impressed me most with its ability to sound neutral and balanced, yet remain smooth and not at all analytical. Compared to the Miracle, the V6-Stage produces a little more bass, especially mid-bass, lending it a slightly fuller and warmer sound. The 1964EARS sound a bit more colored as a result of the bass emphasis whereas the Miracle is more neutral and balanced. The Miracle also remains flatter through the upper midrange, boasting more presence there a-la the Etymotic ER-4S. At the top, the V6-Stage is more sibilant despite having similar overall treble energy, while the Miracle is smoother and has a bit more air. The Miracle is slightly more open-sounding with a marginally more spacious soundstage.

Value (9/10) – The mid-level 1964EARS customs I’ve tried have offered solid value for money, and the new 1964EARS V6-Stage is doing the same for the flagship segment of the still-developing custom in-ear market. The earphones are very well-made and the sound hits the sweet spot, falling just warm of neutral with a bit of added bass, mids that are clear but not thin, and crisp, if slightly hot, treble. It is an extremely competent earphone that competes with pricier models such as the Westone ES5 and Heir Audio 8.A. Like the less expensive 1964-V3, the V6-Stage is an easy recommendation in its price range and, in contrast to the V3, should work for professional applications as well as consumer audio.

Pros: Great molding quality; isolation and comfort of a custom in-ear; impressive overall performance
Cons: Can accentuate sibilance


  1. Hi Joker

    i tried several IEMs today and loved the mid range of the SD2. How do u compare v6s mids to the SD2? and 1964 ears mentioned that v6s produces a 3D soundstage, is it similar to the soundstage of the sm3 v2?

    thanks in advance.

    • Pretty different – the SD-2 is what I consider a mid-focused earphone, where nothing takes away from the prominence and richness of its midrange. The bass is about even with the midrange and the treble is a bit relaxed. The V6S is different – it favors the bass and treble a little more. It’s more of a VSonic GR07 type of sound, but flatter.

      The V6’s soundstage is more spacious and open compared to the Earsonics. That’s a good thing, but it also doesn’t have that intimate, “surround” sort of presentation that the SM3 does so well. Again, different sound tunings lead to different presentations, but I think most people would agree that the V6-S is technically superior. It just doesn’t sound too similar to an SM3.

  2. PeterHasALittleTurtle

    Sorry for asking this question so long after the creation. I am new to the audiophile world. Can this be the poor man’s substitute for the UM Miracle, if I don’t mind the sibilance? the UM costs more nowadays. how hot is the treble comparing to cheaper iems? (i have heard gr07 dba-02 er4p that are quite hot imo)

    • Yes, that’s exactly what it is – a UM Miracle for $300 less and *slightly* hotter treble. Part of what makes it a killer deal.

      I would say the treble is about on-par with the DBA-02 and better than a GR07. With the Etymotic ER4 you can get smoother treble provided you can position it at the 2nd bend of your ear canal, which is tough to do. I have custom tips on my ER4 so I can manage it pretty well.

  3. I have been back and forth in trying decide between 1964 V6-S and V3s. I mainly need them for leading worship on stage, as I am a vocalist and play acoustic guitar. I want to get V6, but it doesn’t have ambient ports, which seems pretty important because I like to be able to hear the room and not be so isolated….are the ambient ports worth getting V3s? Or is the quality of the V6 which are made for stage better? Price isn’t a problem either way, just not sure what it is best for what I’m looking for and need. Thanks!

  4. I’m looking to buy either these or the 1964Ears QI (quad driver) for monitoring in my practice space. I play drums so it’s really important that bass and subbass be present. I tried the FLC 8, per your review. The highs were SUPER clear and guitar/vocals sounded great through stereo mix but I really couldn’t hear my bass drum and floor tom. I ended up boosting the bass in the mix, which drove my bandmates nuts because their cheapo over the head headpones seemed to do just fine producing those lower tones. I’m thinking about giving the guitarist the FLC 8 and getting something a little better.

    What would you recommend in the 5-600 price range?

    • The FLC8 can deliver bass if you use the +bass and +sub-bass ports. It actually has significantly more bass than the 1964-V6 and most other customs, which are usually tuned for a flat sound. The only custom IEM I can think of around that price range with more bass than the FLC8 is the Gorilla Ears GX-4b, which is the enhanced-bass version of their quad-driver GX-4. I haven’t tried the 1964 Qi, though.

      • Thanks for the quick reply Joker. I actually have the red sub-bass port installed in the back and the dark grey installed in front — the user guide was in Korean and pretty difficult to interpret. I’ll read up on those Gorilla Ears. Thanks again.

  5. Joker
    Thank you for your awesome review site I have it down to either the 1964 V-6 stage or Noble 4C
    Is the review for the 4S applicable for the 4C as I believe the only difference is shell material of Silicon vs Acrylic

    Also do you have plans to add the newer models as it appears to have been written a few years ago
    I wanted to see reviews for the 1964 V-8 as well as the Noble 3C

    Thanks in advance

    • I don’t have a definitive answer for that one. The shell material is the only difference between the 4S and 4C as far as I know, but I am not sure what the perceived effect on sound (if any is).

      I do review new earphones pretty much weekly, but I don’t have those two models in the queue.

  6. Hi joker,

    Have you heard the Alclair RSM Quads? If so, how would the V6 compare to it? They’re both around the same price.


  7. Hey ljokerl, what’s the color combination of the the v6 stage on your picture above?

  8. Hi, joker. I’ve just bought v6 stage and I want to buy the good source for it. I have dragonfly dac but the quality is not so good compare even with my grado 225. I also have cowon c2, with seems not the best source. Could you advice a good source for portable using. Thank you.

    • Not really up to date with sources these days so I don’t have a specific one to recommend. I use a HiFiMan HM-901 with IEM card and have been for the better part of two years, but of course there’s lots of other options out there. Whatever you buy, just check that the output impedance is low (<1 Ohm) and noone is complaining about hiss if you’re going to use it with BA customs.

  9. I’m considering the 1964 V3 or V6 Stage. I play bass and electric guitar. Would one be a better match based on the 2 instruments?

    Thank you,

    • If you can afford the V6-Stage, go for the V6-Stage. Overall accuracy is significantly better compared to the V3, as are detail resolution and clarity. Maybe if you were just playing bass, the V3 would be a good way to save a few hundred bucks, but the V6-Stage has superior overall fidelity.

  10. Hi ljokerl!

    One quick question about the bass quantity of the V6-Stage: What not-so-high end universals are around the same bass quantity? Maybe around the GR-07 or SteelSeries Flux? Compared to the VSD1S, how much less bass in db would you say it has?

    Thanks again. You’re a huge help!

    • The V6-Stage has similar bass quantity to the (non-Bass Edition) GR07 and more than the Ety ER4 and HiFiMan RE-400. The VSD1S is more comparable to the GR07 Bass Edition, so maybe 4-5dB bassier than the V6-Stage.

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