64 Audio A18s Review

64 Audio A18s

Package:

 

64 Audio provides a very basic package. The A18s arrives in a slim box that holds nothing more than the hard-plastic carrying case inside together with a round sticker. In the case you’ll find your monitors neatly separated from each other, and the cable wrapped up. You’ll also get both apex modules, a shirt clip and a cleaning tool. 64 Audio supplies their premium cable with the A18s, which you can get in black or white.

For the pro-user this certainly is enough, but the audiophile crowd usually likes to be spoiled. For them, the presentation and accessories might not be enough. Especially when you see how other companies like Vision Ears, qdc or Empire Ears present their products.

On the other hand, I think it’s great that 64 Audio doesn’t use any over-sized packaging, reducing waste and resources.

Customization:

One of the most important tools when buying a custom IEM is a designer. As customer, you need a good visualization of how your CIEMs will look like. 64 Audio’s tool is one of the best out there for that purpose. What they do different than most companies is, that they use photos of real sets to show you what yours could look like.

64 Audio offers a lot of different options to customize your new monitors. You get five different shell colors: solid black, clear transparent, translucent charcoal, translucent red and translucent blue. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, you have to keep in mind, that they are 3D printing your shells, so colors are limited.

64 Audio A18s

64 Audio A18s

For the face plates you have a lot more options to pick from. You get five solid, 18 translucent and eight glitter choices. On top of that you can also get twelve wood options and nine specialty selections. The special face plates are brushed aluminum, rose gold, abalone, carbon fibre and others. Solid and translucent colors come free of charge, while you have to pay extra for the others. Depending on your choice this can be an extra of 100$ per side.

In the next step you can customize your face plates further. You could for example have your own artwork printed on them, or you can get silver or gold logos. The custom artwork will cost another 50$ per side and can only be printed on translucent or solid colors.

As mentioned before, you can pick between a black or white cable. This one will be in 3.5mm unbalanced termination. In the last step you have to provide your name, initials and something to be printed on the case. You will also be asked, if 64 Audio has your ear-impressions on file (given you’re a returning customer), or if you are sending new ones.

One very nice feature of the design tool is, that you send them as a link to your dealer or to save them to continue editing later. You just have to click on “link to this design” and you get a unique link.

I’ve been a little hesitant with my set’s design. First I wanted a special artwork printed on them, but it was too detailed with too fine lines, so it was not possible to realize. After that I picked a transparent shell, Teak wood face plates and silver logos on top. They turned out nicely.

Build Quality and Ergonomics:

64 Audio is one of the few companies that 3D prints their CIEMs. The process is, they scan your impressions and then trim and detail them on a computer. After that, they are printed and lacquered for a cleaner look.

I consider 64 Audio’s build quality to be very high. There is no sharp corners, no spilled lacquer or any hairline blemishes anywhere. Both sides are finished very well and are of excellent symmetry. The 2-pin sockets are recessed, which gives the cables extra support, but renders some aftermarket cables useless.

The apex modules on my A18s stick out more than on any other custom I have from 64 Audio to this day. It makes swapping modules easier though.

64 Audio A18s

64 Audio A18s

64 Audio’s customs are one of the best fitting ones I have. The nozzle goes in pretty deep and the canals are thicker than on some other monitors. With the A18s I can’t break the seal, even if I try to. The nozzle features a horn-bore design, where there is approximately two millimeters of space between the tip and the protective mesh.

The metal mesh is here to prevent any debris or ear-wax to fall into the monitors. The open tia driver especially has to be protected from that, as anything that falls in, could damage them. I recommend to clean your CIEMs on a daily basis after each use. Scrap out any unwanted dirt and store them in a dry box, best would be to throw in the supplied silicone dryer as well.

For maintenance I usually put my CIEMs in a hearing aid dry box every few months and clean my monitors with a dedicated vacuum from FiR Audio. If you are a heavy user, I suggest you do the same to keep your A18s or any other monitor at their best.

Comfort wise nothing beats a good custom IEM. The A18s twists into my canals and fills the entire room in there. I never ran into a comfort issue myself. Should you need a refit, make sure to request that in the time window 64 Audio provides, which is 30 days. 64 Audio themselves recommend that you use your CIEM for two weeks after getting them, to adjust to the fit, if there still is discomfort make sure to get in touch with them regarding a refit.

Normally custom IEMs isolate by at least 26dB, with 64 Audio that depends on the apex module you are using. The m20 module takes down ambient noise by 20dB, while the m15 lowers that value to 15dB. This means, that outside noise is more likely to leak in than with other CIEMs. Personally, I haven’t found that to be an issue for me though.

All about Sound on page three!

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A daytime code monkey with a passion for audio and his kids, Linus tends to look at gear with a technical approach, trying to understand why certain things sound the way they do. When there is no music around, Linus goes the extra mile and annoys the hell out of his colleagues with low level beatboxing.

    7 Comments

    • Reply April 30, 2020

      Josh

      Elysium is from Germany, not Italy.

      : )

      Thx for the write up.

      • Reply April 30, 2020

        Linus

        Hi Josh,
        thanks for your comment.
        VE is from Germany. The designer of the Elysium, who works for VE, is Italian. 😉
        Cheers

    • Reply May 2, 2020

      Giovanni

      Would you make any comparisons with Fourte/Fourte Noir? Thank you.

      • Reply May 3, 2020

        Linus

        Hi Giovanni,
        thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

        The A18s certainly is closer in sound to the Fourté Noir than the Tia Fourté. The Tia Fourté is brighter, lighter and sharper overall. I know people had problems with the Tia’s top end. It can be quite pushy and forward. The A18s doesn’t sound like that at all. The Tia Fourté does have superior technicalities though. It spreads a wider stage and has an overall airier presentation.

        The Noir and the A18s sound more alike than the Tia Fourté and the A18s. Both have a warmer signature, but the Noir to me sounds a bit fuller and thicker. The bass on the Noir is also denser and thicker. It has more impact and punch as well. The A18s is a bit thinner in the mids, but not too much really. The Noir is just a hint fuller bodied. In treble I think both are pretty similar. The staging is also rather on par with them. The Noir however presents the musicians more in front of you than the A18s.

        Hope that helps.

    • Reply May 3, 2020

      Giovanni

      Thanks for your detailed answer Linus, seems you have a preference for the Noir which, from what you say, has a bit more of everything. Is that a correct understanding or A18s has also area were it does things better than the Noir?

      • Reply May 4, 2020

        Linus

        Hi Giovanni,

        it really depends. The Noir is a fabulous monitor, and one of the very few universal IEMs I pick for non-review listening sessions. But the A18s has a certain transparency in the mids, which the Noir hasn’t. The Noir has fuller notes, which is not to everyone’s liking. The A18s has a sound that’s a bit airier. Also I can switch signatures with the A18s by replacing the apex module. Can’t do that with the Noir.

        Hope that helps.

    • Reply May 5, 2020

      Giovanni

      Thank you Linus for the additional comments, this is helpful.

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