DISCLAIMER: 64 Audio provided me with the tia Fourté Noir in return for my honest opinion. I am not personally affiliated with the company in any way, nor do I receive any monetary rewards for a positive evaluation. I’d like to thank 64 Audio for their kindness and support. The review is as follows.
In 2016, industry giants 64 Audio changed the game with the introduction of tia technology: Revolutionary in-ear designs that entirely omitted tubes as a medium of sound transfer. Personifying this new tech were the custom A18t with a mix of tia and semi-tia armatures, as well as the tia Fourté; the company’s pinnacle with four entirely tubeless drivers inside its universal shells. At release, it instantly drew acclaim for its speaker-like staging, resolution and detail. But, there were some who took issue with its coherence, calling it a tad too coloured. To relieve those qualms and as a reflection of chief engineer Vitaliy Belonozhko’s evolving palate, 64 Audio presents this limited Fourté Noir: Their masterpiece, remastered.
64 Audio tia Fourté Noir
- Driver count: Three balanced-armature drivers and one dynamic driver
- Impedance: 10Ω @ 1kHz
Sensitivity: 114dB @ 1kHz @ 1mW
- Key feature(s) (if any): apex pressure-relief system, tia drivers, a fully-tubeless design
- Available form factor(s): Universal aluminium IEMs
- Price: $3799
- Website: www.64audio.com
Packaging and Accessories
The Fourté Noir comes in 64 Audio’s premium retail packaging. I really admire the thought they’ve given to the unboxing experience here. I imagine it would’ve been easier to just copy-and-paste the packaging from their custom in-ears, so it’s great to see 64 Audio go the extra mile and give the Noir the extra dressing it deserves: A larger footprint, high-res prints and a contrast of textures that you’d be more likely to find from a Sennheiser, beyerdynamic or AKG. Highly impressive.
Removing the outer sleeve reveals a matte-black box that folds open to display the in-ears, as well as a modest array of accessories. You get 64 Audio’s standard-issue carrying case, a dehumidifier, a shirt clip, a cleaning tool, 6 pairs of tips, a product manual and a 64 Audio sticker. Also, the Noir’s new premium cable comes with a 3.5mm adapter, since it’s now terminated in a 2.5mm balanced connection. While I would’ve loved to see some extra bling at this price – like a leather case for greater wow factor – I think 64 Audio have dutifully provided all the essentials here to get you up and running.
I’m an admirer of 64 Audio’s carrying case. The form factor makes it dead easy to store in a backpack or musician’s case, and the internal layout is maximised through the use of cleverly-designed structures. These include the pockets for the IEMs to sit in (so they don’t bump into each other during transport), the posts to securely coil your cable around, as well as the specifically-shaped spaces to store your shirt clip, dehumidifier and apex modules. While it is not metal, the case nevertheless feels extremely robust from every latch to every joint. And, the plastic design makes it very lightweight too.
Build and Wearing Comfort
The earpieces themselves are built exceptionally well. The all-aluminium shells feel robust and tank-like. But, they aren’t too heavy either, allowing them to sit securely in the ear without any weight. The faceplates sit flush against the shell as well, along with the copper patina inlay. Unfortunately, there have been a few reports online of the inlay loosening itself from the faceplate, but 64 Audio have been quite responsive in getting those units RMA’d. And, I’m sure all this will only improve their processes in the future. Finally, the single tia bore comes with a wax guard too for longevity and hygiene.
Cosmetically, the Noir differentiates itself from the original Fourté with its sleek, all-black design. Personally, I’m a fan of both aesthetics, but I know several people who’ll enjoy the Noir’s stealthier look. This new finish also highlights the IEM’s gold-and-green patina faceplates, topped off with 64 Audio and tia logos. I love how striking the faceplates look, though I wish the logos would’ve been applied to a layer above the patina inlays, instead of printed directly onto them. That way, they’ll give off a subtle three-dimensional effect above the patina, as well as add an extra contrast of colour and texture.
The shells have a relatively small footprint, which should make them accommodate a larger range of ear shapes. For my ears, the bottom half fits extremely well, but the top half is a tad too flat along the cymba. I think a slight bulge there ala Lark Studios’ universals would give the Noir a more secure, reliable fit and greater isolation. My only other concern is the lack of a lip on the nozzle to keep tips secure. I’ve regularly had either of the two tips stuck in my ear upon removing the IEMs. But, those two minor quirks aside, I’ve had no issues whatsoever with regards to the Fourté Noir’s comfort and fit.
apex is 64 Audio’s proprietary relief system designed to free the ear canal of built-up pneumatic pressure. By acting as a vent in an otherwise-sealed environment and releasing this pressure, apex allows the eardrum to move more naturally, which greatly delays the onset of listening fatigue. It also contributes sonically by extending the soundstage and adding to the in-ear’s airiness. Although users are typically given the option to choose between M15 and M20 apex modules to achieve the desired frequency response and isolation level, the Fourté Noir comes with a pre-set internal apex module.
tia stands for Tubeless In-Ear Audio and it challenges the concept of using tubes as a medium to transmit sound waves from the driver to the ear. 64 Audio posits that these sound tubes and their accompanying dampers cause unwanted resonances that compromise transparency and resolution. By removing them from the equation and opening up the balanced-armature driver, the diaphragm is allowed to radiate freely into an open space; improving its performance.
The Fourté Noir takes this a step further by using acoustic chambers to further shape the sound of those drivers. This method of tuning does not introduce resonances, fulfilling 64 Audio’s goals of maintaining transparency and resolution.
A New Look – 64 Audio’s New Website
The in-ear monitors weren’t the only ones to get a makeover. To commemorate their 9th anniversary and the launch of the Noir, 64 Audio have completely revamped their official website. It now features a more modern, picture-dominated aesthetic, which I love. Navigation is easier than ever, as you’re always a click away from the main menu, whether you’re gazing at in-ears, sorting through accessories, reading about technologies or in need of some immediate customer care.
Speaking of customer care, the Support section has been truncated into four distinct categories, in order to streamline the troubleshooting process into its simplest and fastest form. 64 Audio have taken the same approach towards the in-ear browser. What was once numerous, discrete pages is now a single, unfolding menu where you can toggle through different use-cases, as well as universal and custom formats, to ensure you have all the options you could ever need.
Finally, the website features an all-new IEM designer as well. The new tool is – again – much sleeker with a clean, intuitive UI. But, the biggest leap over its predecessor is in the real-time pre-visualisation aspect. Instead of CG renders that could differ from the actual product, 64 Audio have laboriously incorporated real-life photography into the live previews. That way, they’ll be as identical to their real-life counterparts as possible, and it’ll also avoid potential let-downs in the design.
Now, in the time I’ve used 64 Audio’s brand-new site, I haven’t encountered any bugs per se. But, since it is in its early days, it’s probably bound to happen. This is why 64 Audio is enlisting your help in making their site as problem-free as possibly. If you do run into any issues, you can simply email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call at 833-64AUDIO.