64 Audio A6t – Whole Lotta Love

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Select Comparisons

Empire Ears Phantom ($1799)

The Phantom is Empire Ears’ flagship in the professional space; posited as one of the most natural-sounding, tonally-transparent in-ears on the market today. And truly, that’s what most separates it from the A6t. The Phantom is tuned to be as colourless in tone as possible, allowing the source components and music to dictate its colour, so to speak. By contrast, the A6t’s crisp, lively signature allows it to possess a clear, articulate and musical profile at all times. Of course, whether either quality is good or bad will depend on the listener; some will prefer adaptability, while others consistency. Many of these discrepancies can be attributed to the treble. The Phantom maintains a linear upper-treble and a lower-treble that peaks around 6kHz. The former gives its transients a softer edge, but the latter makes it prone to brittleness with poorly-produced tracks. Again, the Phantom is less coloured – but also less forgiving – than the generally-lively A6t.

This is because of both in-ears’ lower-mid presentations as well. The A6t presents a more laid-back lower-midrange in an effort to create cleaner transients with greater contrast against the background. Conversely, the Phantom emphasises lower-midrange harmonics. The typical audiophile would call this presentation – in addition to the linear upper-treble – veiled, but it certainly has its upsides too. Instruments come across richer, fuller and more robust, even though they aren’t necessarily as defined – like a protein drenched in a buttery sauce to help ease it on the palate, so the meat doesn’t come across as fibrous or gristly. Now, that’s not to say the A6t is fibrous or gristly at all, but lower harmonics are placed further back in its soundscape for a drier presentation. This means the Phantom has the more natural, life-like timbre, but the A6t benefits here in cleanliness and detail. So, it’s certainly preference; moreso than performance.

Alclair Audio Electro ($1499)

Alclair Audio’s Electro is the A6t’s philosophical doppelgänger: A six-driver IEM imbued with innovative technology aimed at professionals and audiophiles alike. Although they share several similarities, distinct differences exist between them too. The first of which is bass. The Electro possesses a calmer mid-bass, so bass drops and kick drums come through with less thickness and weight relative to the A6t. But, in terms of physical impact, the two are surprisingly similar. This is because of the Electro’s impressive extension, as well as a slight sub-bass lift. So, it punches about as hard as the A6t does with bass-heavy tracks, but without as much fullness. It maintains more headroom that way. However, with less bass-laden tracks, the Electro may lack oomph to some; too nonchalant. As always, bass comes down to preference.

The Electro also possesses an upper-mid focus, so it comes across more saturated and direct in projection. The mic sounds closer placed toward the vocalist’s mouth, so to speak. But in terms of sheer forwardness, the two aren’t dissimilar because of the A6t’s 1-2kHz hump. Simply, it’s a difference in timbre and structure, rather than level. The key difference in vocal presentation actually lies in the upper-treble. The A6t has a brighter upper-treble, which leads to sharper articulation. The Electro is more laid-back here; opting to sacrifice that last morsel of detail for a more easygoing sound and a longer-lasting listen. Despite this, the Electro goes toe-to-toe with the A6t in imaging and separation. The former’s electrostatic drivers render spatial cues with outstanding finesse. Although the tia driver performs just as well, there’s an effortlessness with the e-stats that the tia may lack. But again, it’s a very, very close race between the two.

Verdict

Amongst the sea of sub-$2000 do-all in-ears in the market today, 64 Audio’s A6t emerges as a true cut above – thriving on youthful zing, tonal finesse and an outstandingly solid midrange. While it boasts a similar liveliness as its peers, a unique physicality accompanies its rhythmic drive. Instruments are not only fun to listen to, but they’re tangible as well. Although it may lack the effortlessness and transparency of 64 Audio’s monstrous flagships, the technology that’s trickled down onto the A6t ensures admirable performance at a fraction of the cost. With 3D-Fit and apex, you have yourselves one heck of a package. Whether on the go, on stage or behind the desk, the A6t unfailingly delivers punchy, accurate, refined audio. It may not necessarily be 64 Audio’s poster child, but I smell a clear bestseller for years to come.

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About Author

Church-boy by day and audio-obsessee by night, Daniel Lesmana’s world revolves around the rhythms and melodies we lovingly call: Music. When he’s not behind a console mixing live for a congregation of thousands, engineering records in a studio environment, or making noise behind a drum set, you’ll find him on his laptop analysing audio gear with fervor and glee. Now a specialist in custom IEMs, cables and full-sized headphones, he’s looking to bring his unique sensibilities - as both an enthusiast and a professional - into the reviewer’s space; a place where no man has gone before.

9 Comments

  1. I’ll be demoing the 64 audio (A6t’s N8’s and a12t’s) JH Audio (Lola) and Empire Ears (Legend X and Phantom) soon. It’s going to be tough finding the ‘perfect’ pair! 😉

  2. Hi Deezel,

    I am currently comparing the A6t, A4t and the Empire Ears EVR and I can’t seem to make a decision as all three sound pretty good to me. I really like the EVR due to it’s natural-neutral sound signature however I am really drawn to the soundstage, sub bass, and clarity of the 64 Audio offerings. However I’m just afraid that the treble might be too bright for me on the A4ts/A6ts after extended periods of listening. Which CIEM would you think is better for a guy that’s purchasing his first CIEM?

    Thank you,
    A. H

    • Hello A. H,

      If the store you’re demoing these in-ears at carry Empire Ears’ Vantage IEM, I’d implore you to give that a shot. It’s in a similar price range as the A6t, and it may have most of the elements you’re looking for. If you’re looking for the soundstage, sub-bass and clarity of those models with a less hot treble, I may be able to suggest some alternatives.

      Lime Ears’ Model X is a brilliant all-rounder. Their flagship Aether was my first premium IEM all those years ago and the Model X takes that signature to the technical playing field of 2018-2019. They also just announced a revision of the Aether called the Aether R, but that’s obviously quite a bit pricier than the Model X or A6t. The only drawback to the Model X is that sub-bass. It isn’t as guttural or primally satisfying as the A6t’s. Perhaps the Aether R will have more of that, but I haven’t heard it, so I can’t confirm. I compared the Model X to the A6t in my review of the former here: https://theheadphonelist.com/lime-ears-model-x-easy-breezy-beautiful/

      Alternatively, you can also check out IEMs from Kumitate Lab. Their Meteo has the same likeable, mainstream, neutral-natural signature that the A6t and Model X have. But in addition, the soundstage it’s able to produce is some of the best I’ve heard regardless of price. It bests even some flagships I’ve heard. Its bass is also really impactful and guttural without being muddy, warm or mucking up the image. Their new flagship Focus possesses a similar signature, but with some technical improvements and a bass-control system as well. Kumitate Lab also produces gorgeous-looking designs. But, they are a rather small company, so turnaround times may fluctuate by moderate degrees depending on their workload. I’d recommend you e-mail them for further clarification.

      Please don’t hesitate to ask any further questions. I hope this helped!

      Cheers,
      Daniel

  3. I’m in the market for an custom mold IEM that will be used mainly for audiophile listening, but also in a live setting (drummer)

    I’ve been using the Shure 846’s for many years, before that the SE535. I love the 846’s for just about everything, love the tuning! great lows, mids, but I like the laid back…some call lackluster highs, I have pretty sensitive ears and the 846’s are great, but I’m looking for something maybe a step up as far as soundstage. I’ve been looking at 64 audio a12t.

    • Hi Ryan,

      If you’re moving up from the SE846 and its signature low-end, I’d probably recommend you go for 64Audio’s N8. It has a similar focus in terms of tonal balance, and its single dynamic driver will give you a wonderfully guttural low-end that balanced-armatures can’t compete with. That’s perhaps the most natural upgrade from the SE846.

      The A12t will sound more balanced overall. You probably won’t get the bass quantity of the SE846, but a boost in quality is guaranteed. The A12t – compared to the SE846, A6t and N8 – will sound noticeably more refined; more effortless and “free” in how it produces detail. If you enjoy a punchy sound while you’re drumming with a killer low-end, the N8 is a great option. If you prefer a more balanced sound with vast-sounding overheads and a controlled (yet high-quality) low-end, the A12t is the one for you.

      Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Daniel

      • Thank you! Really this is the type of feedback I’me looking for. I know everyone has their own preference on what “sounds good” Being you know I like the sound signature of the 846’s, are there any other IEM manufactures/models I should look at?

        I’ve reached out to a few companies and have a chance to get a hold of a few demos. I have the JH Audio Layla at the moment, to be honest It’s a fantastic IEM, just not enough to shell out the $. I feel the 846’s have a similar soundstage and image, although the JH seem to be a bit more resolving in highs without being harsh or sibilant. Thanks again! Oh, BTW my main source foe listening is a Sony Wm1Z, which has a beautiful full-warm sound.

        • Hey Ryan,

          I think Empire Ears’ X Series of IEMs are worth a try. They implement dynamic drivers as well for the low-end. The models I’d highlight would be the Vantage and the Legend X (though, it’s not much cheaper than the Layla to be honest). For a Layla-esque signature, the Empire Ears Phantom is worth a listen, as well as the Vision Ears VE6XC – which I’ll be posting reviews of very soon. 🙂

          Cheers,
          Daniel

          • Thanks. I have a few set’s I’ll be demoing soon. 64audio (N8, A12’s A6’s) Jerry Harvey (Lola) and Empire ears (Legend X and Phantom. Going to be hard finding the ‘perfect’ pair. 😉

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