Review: 64 Audio A12t – Knock Out

64 Audio A12t

 

Comparisons

With the ever increasing list of In Ear Monitor manufacturers, we also see a long list of monitors in the same price range and with a similar amount of drivers around. The driver wars are long over now, and there are actually a lot of flagships out there using only a hand-full of them. Even the Tia Fourté by 64 Audio themselves only features four drivers per side. Mentioned prices are in US Dollars and for custom built versions, except for the Fourté, which is only available as universal fit.

Noble AudioKaiser Encore (10BA, 2099$)

The Kaiser is the brighter of the two. It concentrates more on upper midrange and treble. Bass on the Encore is lighter and does not possess the powerful punch the A12t brings in. The A12t’s low ends also show more resolution, it’s sub-bass is tighter and harder hitting. 12t’s midrange is smoother and more emotional with more body. The Noble goes for clarity and details, while the 64 is warmer. You’ll be able to enjoy your music easier with the musical tuning of the A12t.
Sound stage dimensions are about the same, though I’d say the 12 has more depth than the Encore and the Noble might be a tick wider. We’re not talking miles here though.

Noble Audio – Katana (9BA, 2099$)

Katana has a more neutral tuning with looser bass. The A12t is more extended on both ends, has more punch down low and definitely more bass-resolution.A12t’s bass is faster, more in control and has more body. Mids are smoother on the 64, Katana’s are more neutral and dryer. Voices are more three-dimensional with the 12t. The 64 has more bodied mids. Katana goes for high precision and has a more forward upper midrange. Treble of Katana is tuned with slight warmth, while in contrast the 12t’s is more neutral with good clarity and crispness.

64 Audio A12t

64 Audio A12t

AAW – W900 (1DD/8BA, ~2100$)

The W900 is AdvancedAcoustik Werkes hybrid flagship monitor. I saw that they have introduced an updated version of it at CanJam Singapore. This one is of course the first generation.
The A12t to me sounds more enjoyable with a softer and less aggressive treble. The AAW’s bass might be arier and more organic, but the resolution and drive of the A12t can’t be touched. 64 Audio’s bass is more in control and better separated from lower mids. Midrange is more natural on the A12t with nicer body. Both have an exceptional sound stage, but to me the AAW goes wider.

JH Audio – Layla (12BA, 2725$)

Layla is also a twelve BA per side monitor, though in a 3×4 configuration. Layla does reach deeper, but has a much softer bass and sub-bass compared to the A12t. The 64 is more resolved and accurate with harder punch and rumble. I find Layla to be fuller and thicker, but the A12t more transparent, better layered and with higher separation. Layla is more laid back in treble, less resolving and darker tuned. The A12t is more extended in highs, crisper and more precise to my ears. Mids are smooth on both, but Layla has a darker lower midrange. Vocals are excellent on both. Though both monitors are very enjoyable and fun, I find Layla to be more to kick back and sink in, while the A12t keeps wowing me more.

64 Audio A12t

64 Audio A12t

64 Audio – A18t (18BA, 2999$)

Revamped former flagship agains current flagship. That’ll be interesting. I’m comparing both with M20 module here. There are a few differences between the two. The A18t has a more elevated upper midrange and treble presence. Its resolution and transparency is coming out on top when comparing it to the 12t. The A12t has a more pumping low end response, 18t’s mid-bass is more forward with bigger body. The midrange of A12t is smoother and more relaxed. The A18t reveals details with surgical precision and insane accuracy, here the 12t falls short. Not by a big margin though. Mids appear more recessed on the A18t than on the 12t. The 18 creates a more holographic sound stage that goes far out of your head. It goes a good bit wider than the 12t’s. The precision of the A18t is something truly astonishing. Even small tones in the back of a recording are tickled out with ease. The A12t is able to do that too, but not as masterful as the A18t.

64 Audio – Tia Fourté (1DD/3BA, 3599$)

The bass presentation on both aren’t too far apart in my opinion. The Fourté has a similarly resolved and dynamic low end, but to me is airier and more realistic especially when listening to acoustical recordings. The midrange of the Fourté is evenly smooth and transparent. It creates a bigger soundstage with incredible dimensions. The treble is definitely more forward and crisper on Fourté. High notes can be too forward for some people, and I know some prefer the richer and more laid back tuned A18t over Fourté. That’s the thing about preferences, everyone’s got their own. A12t’s high notes are more neutral and less sharp. The sound stage of Fourté is again wider and deeper, with higher layering abilities. Both have easy imaging with pin point accuracy.

64 Audio A12t

64 Audio A12t

Conclusion

The A12t is perfectly finished, with one of the most gorgeous and simplistic designs in my inventory. Peeking at the TIA high drivers through the transparent acrylic has become kind of an obsession of mine when I don’t have the A12t in my ears. The interchangeable module system works really well and gives you the option to tune the sound to your preference. I found the M20 module better fitting for my taste.

64 Audio has made quite an impact on my listening experiences. The A12t has won me over with a few short sessions and has made it quick on my shortlist of top monitors. With its thunderous bass, smooth and emotional mids and the superb TIA extension the A12t convinces me on all fronts. Together with the high resolution, big sound stage and great transparency the A12t puts a wide smile on my face when listening to my favourite albums.

I fully recommend the A12t to anyone who’s looking for a powerful and smooth monitor that excels on technicalities and can be hooked up to virtually any source with its linear impedance behaviour. It certainly sets the bar high for its competition to take the crown as CIEM of the year. Exciting times ahead.

On to the list of recommended Custom In Ear Monitors you go.

As promised here are the measurements from 64 Audio. Special thanks to Vitaliy for providing them!

The first picture shows the Tia Trió’s impedance curve without active LID technology:

64 Audio A12t

64 Audio A12t

This is the Trió with LID:

64 Audio A12t

64 Audio A12t

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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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