Review: 64 Audio A18 t – 18 BA Orchestra!

Disclaimer: The 64 Audio A18 t was provided free of charge for this review. I paid for my impressions, shipping them to the US and for importing the finished product. The model will not go back. Many thanks! 64 Audio is not a site advertiser.

About 64 Audio

64 Audio is a US based company that specializes in making custom and universal in ear monitors, but has recently dipped their toes into making studio/live belt packs. As you can find out in the interview we did with them a few months back, 64 Audio started out as 1964 Ears and has renamed themselves a little over two years ago. Their core of employees is the Belonozhko brothers who all manage different departments. They have been around for a little over seven years already, and have started out because of a project their CEO, Vitaliy, has been working on – an in-ear monitor for his wife. This project later on became what we know today as 64 Audio.

They are also one of the few companies that develop new technologies in order to give their customers the best and safest listening experience. They have introduced TIA (Tubeless In-ear Audio) and APEX (Air-Pressure EXchange), both of which can be found in their custom in ear flagship, the A18t. You can consider TIA as some sort of hat-less balanced armature driver that fulfills its job in a special sound-chamber and doesn’t put out sound via a regular tube and dampener system. This way the treble frequency response is more extended and the resonances of the tubes are eliminated, giving a more enjoyable listening experience.

APEX is an interchangeable system that drastically reduces the pneumatic pressure on the eardrum, which can be found on regular custom IEM designs, and therefore enhances the safety of your hearing.

64 Audio also is one of the very few companies that 3D prints your custom IEMs. It works like this: you take your regular impressions at your trusted audiologist, send them to 64 Audio, they scan them with their hardware, edit the scan to make it printable as a custom in ear and then 3D print them. The entire process took close to three weeks for them to finalize my A18t.

64 Audio also closely works with many professional musicians, artist such as Alessia Cara, Seal, Bon Jovi or Beyoncé are known as their clientele. This definitely says a lot about their reputation.

If you’re keen to know more about the chronological history of 64 Audio, you can find out here

About A18t

The A18t (or A18 Tzar) is considered 64 Audio’s flagship of custom in ear monitors, there only is one other model ranked higher, the Tia Fourté. Which only comes in a universal form factor though. Both models can be considered as co-flagships. We’ve seen quite a number of companies doing the same recently, positioning not only one but two different models at their top of the line. I think it is a nice thing to offer your customers two outstanding choices.

The A18t, as its name already spoils, is constructed with non-less than 18 balanced armature drivers per side. Eight bass drivers, eight mid drivers, one high-mid driver and a single TIA high driver can be found in its impressive driver count. Especially the TIA high driver does an outstanding job, but more on that a little later.

The A18t also comes in an universal reincarnation in form of the U18t, but since I’m a big sucker for customs, I am happy to review the custom-built version of it.

The review continues on Page 2!

Review: 64 Audio A18 t – 18 BA Orchestra!
4.7 (94.05%) 37 vote[s]

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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.

    11 Comments

    • Reply December 14, 2017

      Thurein

      Hi Linus,

      Did you managed to compare for JH Layla and also use WM1Z DAP?
      I am curious to read for your findings. 🙂
      Thanks.

      Thurein

      • Reply December 14, 2017

        Linus

        Hi Thurein,
        I don’t have a Layla yet to compare, sorry. I also don’t have the WM 1Z. Would love to compare, but for now it’s impossible for me…

    • Reply March 3, 2018

      Julian Robasto

      Thanks you for the enjoyable in-depth review, Linus.

      Yet I’m left with one standing question: How effective is the Apex technology? I’m considering either A18t or A12t, partly due to Apex, which purportedly mitigates ear fatigue, protects the eardrum and allows playing a lower volumes. Any substance in those claims?

      Would you spend the extra $1,000 to move up from the A12t to the A18t? I know, it’s very subjective and the rule of diminishing return comes down to bear. Still I’d love your opinion.

      Best wishes!

      • Reply March 4, 2018

        Linus

        Hi Julian,

        thanks for your comment, much appreciated.

        Apex is supposed to prevent ear fatigue and give a healthier listening experience due to removed pneumatic pressure. As for the lower volumes, you have to consider they block out ambient noise by 20 respectively 15 dB. Non-apex iems lower noise by 26db…

        As for A12t to A18t, I can’t say much for now, as my 12’s haven’t arrived yet, but I will make sure to compare these two to each other as well as some other monitors in the upcoming review. That will not see the light for some more weeks though. From what I’ve heard so far, the 12 is noticeably darker, take that with a good grain of salt though, as said I’ve not heard it yet… 🙂

        As always, best is to audition side by side with your own gear and favourite music. You are the only one that can make the final call.

        Hope that helps.

        All the best,
        L

    • Reply April 19, 2018

      MFHRaptor

      Which of the two 64 Audio flagships has a more open sound and greater headroom, A18 Tzar or Tia Fourte?

      • Reply April 19, 2018

        Linus

        Tough question, but I’d say Fourté is a tad ahead.

    • Reply May 8, 2018

      Brian Kang

      Thank you for your review. You have convinced me to buy a pair for myself and they are on the way. How would you compare the leonidas and tmetal for the a18s? Im stuck having to choose between them. Might even consider going for a mix of leonidas and mars or tmetal and tricopper to tame the highs.(heard the highs might get fatiguing with these cables)

      • Reply September 28, 2018

        Linus

        Hi Brian,

        sorry, it seems I have overlooked your post. My deepest apologies for the late reply.

        In the end that heavily depends on how well you’re managing treble. In the recent past I have been enjoying the Leonidas x A18t pairing a lot. Especially with the M20 module, which is less treble forward.

        Hope you like the A18t as much as I do. They’re special.

    • Reply January 28, 2019

      Jimmy

      Hi Linus, great write up on the aftermarket cabling! How does the Leonidas II you more recently reviewed compare to the PlusSound EXO T-Metal and LabKable Samurai III when used with 64Audio A18t CIEM?

      My preferred sound signature:
      -clear vocals with enough weight to bring out the emotions
      -vocals slightly forward like my custom JH Angie but more holographic
      -HD kind of clarity n details retrieval without sounding dry and causing ear fatigue e.g. the universal Beyerdynamic Xelento but with just the right amount of bass n rumble (Xelento can be a lil bit too bassy)
      -spacious and holographic soundstage which is not just wide but also deep

      Can you please help me pick one out of the 3 cables for my A18t which is still in production? I am not able to demo any of them so I can only purchase based on what I read. I’ll be pairing with my Hiby R3 and looking to upgrade to Astell & Kern SR15 A&Norma in the near future.

    • Reply March 14, 2019

      Andre

      Hello Linus, thanks for the great reviews for the A12t and the A18t.

      I had the Campfire Andromeda and loved their signature (sparkle without ever hitting siblant levels and with large head-stage for PC games). But, I wanted to try something higher in tier so I decided to upgrade to the U12t and sold the Andromeda.

      The U12t fills in the lack of sub-bass which the Andromeda lacked for me but it feels a little more muddy when it comes to positional tracking in games. (maybe because it is not as airy and focuses a lot on the lower frequencies) However, for music and movies they are great with their strong bass which I thoroughly enjoy. I currently run them as my daily drivers.

      I’ve heard mixed opinions on people saying they don’t think the 1k upgrade from the u12t to the u18t would be worth it. (I know diminishing returns exist in this hobby)
      Some say the u18t are too analytical/revealing and can ruin certain music which are poorly mixed.
      Some people even said they can equalize the u12t to make it more towards the u18t’s signature.

      I was wondering if going from the u12t to the u18t would be a worthwhile upgrade for me? Would switching from the u12t to the u18t be a good idea if I were to use them as daily drivers?
      I know both IEMS have different signatures and the u18t is more neutral but seeing as I enjoyed the Andromeda I don’t know if this would be a problem.

      I know the best way to determine this is to try them. So I am currently on a waiting list on the loaner program from 64 audio to get a chance to demo the u18t when they are available.

      Thanks again,
      Andre

      • Reply March 14, 2019

        Linus

        Hi Andre,
        thanks a lot for stopping by and leaving a comment.

        If the upgrade would be ideal for you, I can’t say, as that’s your decision in the end. The 18 definitely is more precise and clean than the 12t, but for my personal enjoyment I pick the 12 over the 18. The A18 though is more capable on a technical level.

        If you’re missing the air and clean signature of Andromeda, the 18t would definitely fill that void. It’s a mighty IEM that can really wow me. But as you said, it’s 1000$ more and that’s a lot.

        Cool, you already requested a demo from 64. Please let me know how you like them. It’s always interesting to see what other people think. 🙂

        Cheers

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