Review: 64 Audio A12t – Knock Out

64 Audio A12t

 

Aftermarket Cables

Adding an aftermarket cable can often bring some pleasant changes to the sound, but it can also go the other way. In my opinion it is very important to find the right match for a monitor. Though it has to be stressed, that not every monitor responds the same to cable alterations. Don’t expect a cable to change the sound of a monitor by 180°, you can fine tune the sound with cables, but you can’t magically make them into new beasts. On my pursuit to audio nirvana I have gathered quite a few cables at home already, most of them I like for distinctive qualities or how they match with specific monitors. Here are a few pairings I found particularly good.

Effect AudioLeonidas

The original Leonidas cable beholds a special place in my audiophile heart as it is one of my absolute favourites and go to cables for new monitors. With the A12t attached to it, I hear a wider sound stage with clearer positioned details. A smoother midrange and clean treble with enhanced transparency. This is an excellent pairing that I could listen to for hours.

Effect Audio – LBE Leonidas

Sublime – truly by the means of this word. The stage gets wider and deeper with crazy resolution where even the finest details are portrayed with wonderful accuracy. Treble gets more energy and sparkle. Bass is perfectly controlled as before. Transparency gets to almost A18t levels. Midrange kept its smoothness in tact with all the emotions and body. This pairing has marked the end of my search for the best sparring partner for the 12t. Word on the street is that Effect Audio is soon coming to an end of the production run for Leonidas, and I honestly hope that, if they’re going to bring out a new version, it will be like LBE Leonidas. More people should be able to enjoy and hear what I’m hearing. This is ridiculously good.

64 Audio A12t

64 Audio A12t

PlusSoundExo (GPS)

PlusSound categorizes their cables by the amount of wires used for braiding. The Exo series consists of four wires and this very cable is their gold-plated silver version of it. I’ve been holding on to this for quite some time now, and you can expect a full review of it very soon.
The GPS Exo is also a smoother cable with great details and sound stage, a well controlled bass and harmonuous midrange. All that gets transported into the A12t. An even smoother midrange, sparklier treble and a tightly bound bass is the outcome. Sound stage size does stretch a notch further on the X-axis.

I have also tried the A12t with a few other cables, most of which though have brought out elevations in specific regions that were not to my liking. They were either too full and boomy bass or too bright and sharp treble. The three above have been the most pleasant to me, thus I only included them in this section.

Sources

Most of my listening time has been done using the Astell&Kern SP1000. Since it’s my daily driver it gets the most playtime. That heavily plays in the before menitoned sound-description. Unfortunately I don’t have any high output impedance gear to test the LID technology. Should I run into something worth mentioning I will make sure to add it to this review. In the meantime the following list of products has to suffice.

Chord Electronics – Hugo2

The Hugo2 is one of my favourite sources and the A12t pairing with it is exceptional. Wide and expanded sound stage. The combination brings out a lot of details with superb resolution and layering. Hugo2 has a more neutral character with slight warmth in lower mids and treble. High notes are silky soft and very extended. Bass is fast, punchy and delivers great rumble and resolution. Vocals are nicely holographic and smooth, with good emotions and blood. Instruments carry decent weight with perfect separation. Transparency is one of the best I’ve heard. Midrange overall sounds organic and natural.

64 Audio A12t

64 Audio A12t

Chord Electronics – Mojo

The more pocket-sized Chord FPGA DAC/Amp is warmer with great textured bass. It’s a more relaxed and laid back than the Hugo2, but also highly resolving with a wonderful sound stage. Treble is a notch softer, mids are full and engaging with a natural character. Bass goes deep with good punch. There is wonderful separation and transparency in the Mojo-A12t combo. If you’re in for a highly resolving, yet warmer and enjoyable pairing, this is it.

Luxury&Precision – L5 Pro

With most of my IEMs there is noticeable hissing with the L5 Pro, not with the A12t – it’s completely silent. It’s a very smooth and organic sound, with wonderful layering. Sound stage is not as wide or deep as with the Chord’s or the AK, but it still is great. Treble is sparkling and crisp, not overly forward but on the slight north of neutral side. Mids are full with big body. Transparency is good, but not the best. It’s a nicely engaging and energetic sound,

Luxury&Precision – L3 Pro

Just like between the Chord brothers, the L3 Pro is the more laid back between the LP DAPs. It’s smoother, more musical and definitely more relaxed than the L5 Pro. I love the easy to like signature of the L3 Pro. When I’m on business trips for my daytime work, I almost always take the L3 Pro for its low weight and small formfactor (compared to the SP1000). Sure the UI isn’t the best, but the sound convinces with a warmer tone. It goes really well with a lot of my monitors, and the A12t is no exception. Though sometimes I’d wish for more transparency and less warmth. The emotions of this pairing are wonderful though. Treble is not the most extended, but rich and nicely warm.

Comparisons and Conclusion on the last page

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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.

    39 Comments

    • Reply April 25, 2018

      Albert Cheng

      whats the difference between the LBE leonidas and the normal one? I believe the LBE leonidas is no longer being made?

      • Reply April 25, 2018

        Albert Cheng

        Ah, i just noticed that you said effect audio may be replacing the old leonidas with the black edition, how sure are you (i must get my hands on it, i have an a12t too)

        • Reply April 25, 2018

          Linus

          Hi Albert,
          thanks for your comment.

          EA is coming to a production end of original Leonidas cables, but they’re not replacing it with the Limited Black Edition – I just hope, if there will be a successor, that it will be like LBE Leonidas, because it is stellar.

          LBE Leonidas was a limited run of only 30 cables, they are all gone as far as I know. (at least they cannot be bought from EA anymore)

          Hope that clears things up.

          Enjoy your A12t!

          Cheers

      • Reply April 25, 2018

        Lieven

        Please check our Leonidas article in which all is explained. the black version was a ltd edition

    • Reply April 26, 2018

      John

      Have you had a chance to try EA Thor II? I’m wondering how it would pair w/ the A12t. Thanks!

      • Reply April 26, 2018

        Linus

        Sadly no, I wish I could though.
        If I get the chance to try Thor II I’ll let you know!

    • Reply April 30, 2018

      Kojo

      Hi . I currently own the cosmic ears ce6 (bass version) .I know the A12t technically will sound better , but are there any similarities? .the A12t is currently 3x the price of the ce6 , but since I haven’t heard it before, I’m not sure if the A12t are actually 3x better than the ce6. Could you please share your opinion on these 2?. I know one has more drivers than the other, but ultimately is the sound that matters . Thanks.

      • Reply April 30, 2018

        Linus

        How I wish I could help you Kojo, but unfortunately I have zero experience with the CE6. Sorry. If you somehow have the chance to audition the U12t, please give it a go, it is excellent.
        Cheers,
        L

        • Reply April 30, 2018

          Kojo

          Oh that sucks , because I thought you’d know since the cosmic ears ce6 is on your list of custom iem recommendation, and your description of how they sound gave me the impression that you’d heard them..sorry

          • Reply May 1, 2018

            Linus

            Lieven has reviewed the CE6, unfortunately he hasn’t heard the 12t though.

    • Reply April 30, 2018

      Albert C

      I’m guessing the plussound gold plated silver is less transparent than the normal Leonidas?

      • Reply April 30, 2018

        Linus

        Hi Albert,
        Thanks for your comment.
        The plussound is smoother than Leonidas, but they’re not too far apart imo. Leo is more transparent, yes.

    • Reply November 18, 2018

      Mark

      New to in ear monitors and I’m thinking of getting either the UE 18+ Pro or the 64 Audio A12t. You give them both a great review and it’s hard to know which to go for. I know the A12t is $500 more expensive but I’m hoping that there might be a Black Friday sale coming up.

      If you had to pick one of these, which one would it be?

      • Reply November 18, 2018

        Linus

        Hi Mark,

        thanks for your comment.
        I can’t speak for the UE, but the A12t is amongst my very favorites. I don’t know if 64 has any plans for a black Friday deal, but if they do I strongly recommend to consider the A12t as your next purchase. It is a fantastic monitor.

        Cheers

    • Reply November 21, 2018

      Yoshua Evantius

      Hi, thanks for the wonderful review, i just wanna make sure, the graphic for impedance curve is for trio or a12t? thanks.

      • Reply November 21, 2018

        Linus

        Hi Yoshua,

        thanks for your comment.
        Yes, that is the impedance curve of the Trió, supplied by 64 Audio’s very own Vitaliy Belonozhko.

        Hope that helps.
        Cheers!

    • Reply November 21, 2018

      Yoshua Evantius

      I really like the way you explain things, my taste in sound signature is quite similar i think, i like a good amount of bass and treble that can give a bite, borderline painful yet pleasing bite.
      i want to ask your opinion, i’m interested in either buying a12t or a18t after i read your review, my question is, do you think a12t with m15 modul is enough or just go with a18t? Thank you very much. 🙂

      • Reply November 21, 2018

        Linus

        Hi Yoshua,

        thanks a lot for that, much appreciated.
        The A18t is technically superior (resolution, imaging, stage etc), no question about that, but the A12t has this incredibly powerful bass and bass resolution that makes it hard to forget.
        The beauty of buying one of the two is that you get both modules. The M15 and M20. I personally prefer the M20 with the A12t.
        It all comes down to preferences in the end, and truth be told, I more often grab the A12t than the A18t when I get some me-time with audio.

        I hope that helped you make your decision. You can still score some nice deals right now when you order a new CIEM from 64, as they are running their annual Black Friday promotions. A12t is 15% off and A18t even 20% what I saw.

    • Reply February 6, 2019

      ILKER ONIER

      Hi Linus,

      Thanks for the review. I’m seriously considering between u12t and kaiser encore and since you reviewed both of them within 2 days you might have a pretty good opinion. You think kaiser is more analytical while a12t is more entertaining. But which one is the endgame? I own Xelento, se846, ie800s, Angie and shozy & Neo bg. Sp1000m and wm1z for source.I’d appreciate your help very much as I will place the order soon.

      Best Regards

      Ilker

      • Reply February 6, 2019

        Linus

        Hi Ilker,
        thanks for your nice comment!
        I didn’t review them within two days, but rather over a year apart, but that’s not the question. 😉
        The A12t to me is one of my absolute top monitors, which I pick mostly for my personal listening time. The Encore mostly gets out when I need to do comparisons.
        The SP1000M is a nice source and plays well with the A12t and the Encore. I have only heard the WM-1Z at a limited time, so no calls on that one for me.

        Don’t forget that you’re getting one monitor with two signatures with the A12t by swapping out the APEX modules. It’s really neat if you like to change things in seconds.

        A detailed comparison of the two is in this review, as I am sure you have seen.

        Hope that helps.
        Cheers,
        L

    • Reply February 6, 2019

      Ilker Onier

      Dear Linus,

      Thanks for your kind reply. One last question. Should I shoot for U18t to get the one iem to rule them all or U12t is totl on its own?

      Best Regards

      Ilker

      • Reply February 6, 2019

        Linus

        Hi Ilker,
        wow, that was one quick reply.
        I personally prefer the A12t for my preferences, but the A18 is superior in technical abilities. Again, a detailed comparison is in the review.
        It’s all about what you prefer. The A18 does come out on top in a few things, but the A12t is just a touch smoother.
        Is there a way you can audition both? That’s always recommended, especially when we’re talking 2-3k USD items. If you’re in the US you could check with 64 Audio for loaners, I heard they’re doing this if you are based in the States.

    • Reply February 6, 2019

      Ilker Onier

      Dear Linus,

      I want to order it now that’s why it was checking your reply every ten minutes. I live in Qatar and there is no way I can audition them. Just I don’t want to regret my decision with u12t later. Still many reviews say u18t is more detailed but u12t is more fun to listen. But does this mean u12t is missing tons of details or just by an 1/10th of an inch which is most of the time indistinguishable like wooden ears which I happen to have?

      Best regards

      Ilker

      • Reply February 6, 2019

        Linus

        I see.
        No, it’s not extreme like that, I’m sure you’d be very happy with the 12t too, it is also detailed and brings out every note. The 18 just tickles out the nuances more finely. The 18 has better imaging and puts the instruments on a blacker background. Still, the 12t isn’t far behind.

    • Reply February 6, 2019

      Ilker Onier

      Thanks a lot, that saves me a lot of money, enough for Kaiser Encore or Campfire Solaris. Any suggestions?

      • Reply February 6, 2019

        Linus

        No problem.
        I have never heard the Solaris. Can’t help you on that one. Sorry.

    • Reply February 10, 2019

      ILKER ONIER

      U12t arrived. Awesome iems. Thanks for the help. Amazing amazing amazing.

      • Reply February 10, 2019

        Linus

        Hi Ilker,
        thanks for the message. Glad the U12t does convince you as much as it does convince me.
        Happy listening!

    • Reply February 12, 2019

      Ilker Onier

      Dear Linus Hi again,

      I’m very very happy with U12t, I’m thinking I might go for the top as well. What do you think about U18t Vs Fourté?

      Best Regards

      Ilker

      • Reply February 14, 2019

        Linus

        Hi Ilker,
        it’s great to hear you’re happy with your purchase. The 12t is something special, I agree!
        The A18t (I only have the custom version) is more accessible in the treble, the Fourté does have a reputation for being bright and revealing, which might not suite everyone’s taste. If you’re not a fan of that, you might be better off with the U18. For a more detailed comparison I would suggest hitting up the Fourté review here: https://www.headfonia.com/review-64-audio-tia-fourte/
        Have a great day!

    • Reply February 13, 2019

      ILKER ONIER

      Just a not: U12T is soooo good that it made me sell all my other iems, none of them are close, not by million miles, it is that good. I’m talking about Xelento, se846, ie800s and Angie.

    • Reply February 14, 2019

      ILKER ONIER

      Hi Linus,

      Thanks, Twister6 said the exact same thing. Just now I received my Kaiser Encore and it’s very bright and harsh. If Fourte is anything similar it would be a disaster for me. Hope Solaris is not similar too.

      You have a great day too!

      • Reply February 14, 2019

        Linus

        Hi Ilker,
        no worries.
        If the Encore is too bright for you, then the Fourté will be too.
        Thanks!

    • Reply February 24, 2019

      ILKER ONIER

      Hi Linus,

      I ordered U18t instead. U18t is something else really, such separation and soundstage is amazing. And my 2 cents for Solaris; it is very musical. I had my eyes onto Fourte for better bass but man Solaris is good.

      • Reply February 24, 2019

        Linus

        Hi Ilker,
        couldn’t agree more.
        18t really is something else. 🙂
        I’m glad you found your poison. As said before, if Encore is too bright, Fourté will be too. So it’s good you didn’t order it before.

    • Reply February 25, 2019

      ILKER ONIER

      Hi Linus,

      Hope you will have a chance to review Solaris as well. I want to compliment my setup with one full size can and thinking of Focal Utopia or Meze Empyrean. Considering U12t and U18t would you recommend any of them or I’m just fine with what I have ?

    • Reply March 25, 2019

      Josh

      Hi Linus,

      Thank you for the review…you definitely know quite a bit about Effect Audio Cables. Do you know much about the newest line? If so, would you suggest the Thor II or the Leonidas II with 64 Audio A12’s? Your help is sincerely appreciated.

      • Reply March 25, 2019

        Linus

        Hi Josh,
        thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.
        There are a few EA’s in my arsenal of cables, yes. 🙂
        I can’t speak for the Thor II, but the Leonidas II is an excellent match for the A12t in my opinion. It’s also included in the respective Leo II review:
        https://www.headfonia.com/review-effect-audio-leonidas-2/3/

        Hope that helps!

        • Reply April 18, 2019

          John

          Hi, I’m looking between the A6t and the A12t. Have you tried the A6ts? Do you think the 12s are worth the increase in price? Which do you think is “better”?

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