The original Fourté enjoyed quite a unique position in the market for a long while. There haven’t been many IEMs that came close to it in terms of sound or technical construction. Today, we have seen new driver developments and rising prices. Since the Sound section of this review contained many references to the original, we won’t go over it again here.
The below list of comparisons should aid you to get a better picture of how I hear the Noir. Comparisons are done using the respective stock cables and mentioned prices are for the custom built variants. Some companies offer their universal models at a cheaper price. I used the Hugo2 for comparison, as it is one of my main reference units.
Let’s take a look at how Fourté Noir compares against its siblings in the 64 Audio line-up as well as other competing products of similar price or sound.
64 Audio – A18t (18BA; 2,999$)
The m20 loaded A18t and Noir aren’t too different in my opinion. Both have a superb low end, but the Noir does have more kick in it. The dynamic low end definitely pushes more air than the eight balanced armatures of the A18t.
Both IEMs have very good body in the lower midrange, the Noir however sounds fuller and warmer to my ears. The A18t has a more transparent midrange overall, that sports more weight and lesser body in the vocals. The A18t sounds faster and more precise to me. It has a darker background and portrays instruments in a clear spotlight. The Noir does have that warm air around the instruments which the A18t is free from.
The Noir as well as the A18t stretch a mighty sound stage. To my ears the A18t edges out the Noir in terms of width, while the Noir might go a touch deeper. Both monitors have excellent imaging and layering, and I can’t pick one out as a clear winner here. Where the A18t might come out as top-dog is sheer resolution.
The A18t is lighter and brighter up top. Fourté Noir features a richer sound in its upper mids and treble section, whereas the A18t can become a touch dry in certain areas. The A18t has a more technical sound with razor sharp separation and precision, while the Fourté Noir sounds more soulful to me. It brings different levels of emotions to the table.
64 Audio – tia Trió (1DD/2BA; 2,299$)
The Trió is one of my few other all-tubeless IEMs. Like Noir it features a richer and warmer sound. It also has a dynamic low end, that features good punch and kick. The Noir however does possess a harder and tighter punch.
Noir stretches a wider and deeper sound stage and comes out with more resolution. It edges out the Trió in layering and texture as well. Both have a similar amount of body in their sound, but Noir does sound a touch fuller and thicker to me. Trió is lighter and seems more transparent in the midrange to me. Trió possesses more upper mid energy and bite to me. E-Guitar solos sound more powerful on the Trió to my ears, with more energy.
Treble wise the Noir presents a more laid back approach in the lower treble segment. It seems more extended as well as Trió. Trió sounds a touch more prone to sharpness in its treble. Noir does bring in more air into the spectrum. It separates instruments more carefully and more precise in contrast to the Trió.
Empire Ears – Wraith (7BA/4Estat; 3,499$)
Empire’s newest flagship is building up on their highly successful Zeus. It presents a pretty different signature to the Noir. Wraith features an overall lighter sound. Noir has more punch and authority in the lows. It places lower pitched instruments more prominently than Wraith. The Wraith has more focus on the midrange and treble section. Noir does extend deeper into sub-bass with more rumble.
Both monitors create a very big venue in terms of sound stage, the Wraith however does go a bit wider. Noir goes deeper. The new EE has higher resolution, separates instruments and musicians sharper and portrays them on a pitch black background. It captures minute details with ease and makes them audible with pin point precision. It does so with a clearer picture than Noir.
Noir sounds more organic and fuller throughout. It has a richer lower mid and bass section, whereas the Wraith has a wetter upper mids and treble area. Noir has a clearer and more direct approach to its highs than Wraith. When it comes to handling complex situations both monitors perform really well. Due to the darker background of Wraith, I’m giving the EE the nod here when it comes to big orchestras.
JH Audio – Layla (12BA; 2,750$)
Layla is one of those monitors I came to love during my ongoing journey. I have set the bass dial to 2 o’clock, as this is my preferred setting for Layla. In comparison, Noir has a more dynamic low end, that possesses more authority, punch and thunder. It goes deeper with more sub-bass rumble and resolution. Layla has a softer bass in comparison, that has a more fluid presentation than Noir’s.
Both monitors have a warmed up lower midrange. Noir does put more weight in the lower instruments in comparison. It sounds fuller and more organic, while the Layla does have a tendency to sound a bit veiled, especially with the stock cable, which does not do the monitor justice at all in my opinion.
Noir sounds more spacious, it creates a bigger sound stage with better layering. It images more beautifully to me as well. Layla does have a slightly fuller and richer lower treble, but it does not extend as wide as Noir, as upper treble seems a bit cut-off in comparison.
Overall Noir has higher resolution and better precision and accuracy to me. Noir has a darker background and better instrumental separation. Some instruments sound woven into each other with Layla in comparison.
I have known about the Noir for quite a while now, and according to 64 Audio I was the very first person outside of their facilities to have gotten a demo unit. I had mine for over two months now and during that time I’ve spent many hours with the Noir.
Since my review of the tia Fourté my taste in audio has changed a bit. Where I was after the highest resolution before, I can now completely enjoy audio with good body and soul. The Noir does deliver on both ends though. It’s detailed, precise and couples that with good body, emotions and an organic sound that satisfies on many levels.
I’ve heard that there were prototypes floating around before the official release of the tia Fourté that had a warmer, more analogue sound. Could it be that Noir presents that tuning? Is it what the tia Fourté could’ve been if it wasn’t changed to a hyper detailed and brighter sound? Whatever the answer is to those questions, it’s awesome to have a choice now. Those who want the head-scratching clarity of the original are as much taken care of, as those that want a fuller and slightly warmer sounding Fourté.
Saw your post on instagram and went to your webpage immediatly! These are so end-game worthy.
You have reviewed some other aftermarket cables since this review( Horus X, Code 51, Eeletech Iliad…).
Could you please tell me which pairing do you prefer and why ?
thanks for your comment.
For the Noir I pretty much always use the Eletech Iliad. It brings out the even more resolution and gives the bass superb texture. I also like what it does to the top end, as it gives highs more pronounciation. The Iliad also stretches the stage noticeably and enhances other technical parameters such as layering, imaging and background darkness.
A cheaper option would be the Clone Silver from DHC. It also gives a darker background, better imaging and resolution. The Clone Silver gives the Noir an immense technical power. It adds texture to the whole scene and controls everything extremely well. It doesn’t stretch as wide or deep as the Iliad sound stage wise, nor does it create the same holographic sense, but it’s also a full 1000 USD less than the Iliad.
Hope that helps.
For people who are looking for a brand new pair i found one here : https://www.hifi-portable.com/en/universal-in-ear-monitors/25-64-audio-fourte-noir.html
That helps a lot 😉
I was interested in the Iliad, and obviously, this should be a good option.
I will consider too the Clone Silver, I do not know this cable.
I will keep you in touch.
Thanks again, I really appreciate what you do on this blog 🙂
happy to help.
The Iliad sure is fantastic and the same goes for the Clone Silver, but be warned DHC has a lead time of up to 12 weeks and I’ve seen people complain about the communication with them. Eletech is much easier to communicate with.
I love the Clone Silver, I have three of them.
febriyanto valentino s
I owned the fourte prototype directly from Vitaliy during Portable Audio Festival Indonesia in March 2017 and i could say that the Noir couldn’t match the analogue sound of the prototype. From depth, layers, and emotion. The prototype soundsig will not affected too much by changing the 3.5 cables. Use the balance cable and it will take the prototype to another level.
To : FEBRIYANTO VALENTINO S
Which cable do you use ?
I cannot believe you use the stock one when I read you…
Anyone looking for a brand new pair (possibly the last)?
Found one: https://reverb.com/item/36248173-64-audio-limited-edition-fourte-noir-new-in-box