In this preview post we quickly check out the all new A18s by 64 Audio. It‘s their 18BA co-flagship CIEM retailing for $2,999 USD.
Disclaimer: This post is part of our First Look series, where we give a brief overview of products that are in the review queue. A full review of the A18s will come in a couple of weeks.
In November 2016 64 Audio announced their 18 driver flagship IEMs – the A/U18 Tzar. It was hauled as the world‘s very first In Ear Monitors to use 18 drivers per side. It was the beginning of many proprietary technologies to come out of Vancouver, Washington. The Tzar and the Tia Fourté were the first of their monitors to bring forward a tube-less design. While the Fourté completely got rid of all tubes, the A18 still had some in it.
After that, 64 Audio has kept on pushing new technologies like Linear Impedance Design (LID). Which eliminates the negative effects of high output impedances on IEMs. With LID you can plug your monitors into whatever source you find and it would still keep its intended signature. A big bonus for touring artists who use wireless monitoring systems on stage.
The A18t has served as 64‘s flagship CIEM for a long time. But it was at this year‘s Winter NAMM show when they introduced the co-flagship and second flavor of the A18t – the A18s.
The A18s boasts the same 8/8/1/1 driver setup as the A18t, but ultimately it uses different drivers. Unlike the A18t, the A18s comes equipped with LID, as its main focus group is the professional musicians. The A18t still serves as the ultimate tool for audiophiles.
I have seen a bit of confusion regarding the A18s online, as some people thought the missing „t“ would indicate that there is no tia high driver in it. But I can clarify, that there is an open driver sitting at the end of my A18s‘s nozzles. Personally, I am relieved to see 64 Audio hasn‘t jumped on the bandwagon of e-stat drivers and still goes out with pride using their tia drivers.
It possesses the same technical skills as the A18t, but puts more weight and blood into the music. The A18s has a mildly warm and full sound, that makes listening to music almost breathtaking. The A18s manages to present music with an organic and natural sound, but without losing the surgical precision the A18t got famous for. To me, the A18s combines the best worlds of the A12t (full and energetic) and the A18t (insane precision and balance).
It has only been a week since I received my custom A18s, but I feel confident to say, that it is one of the most exciting releases this year. It certainly has made the uncomfortable isolation situation a lot easier to overcome on a daily basis for me.
These are just short impressions taken from a few days listening during the Home Office hours. Of course we’ll go deeper into details for the full review, where we’ll learn how the A18s fares up against other giants of the industry.