Review: 64 Audio A18 t – 18 BA Orchestra!

 

Custom Build Choices (Personalization)

Due to the 3D print I guess 64 Audio can’t offer too many shell colors, as you are faced with only three options: transparent, black (solid) or charcoal (translucent).
For the face plate, you get to pick your poison out of a multitude of different colors, wooden options or Premium options, such as carbon fiber, brushed aluminum, rose gold or others. To further style your face plate you also have the option to print either the 64 Audio logo, ‘apex’ or the model logo on it. Of course, you can also send in your own artwork if you want to have it printed on your CIEMs.

Does it stop there? No, it doesn’t.
You can now also put custom artwork on your protective case that ships with the model, plus you can have your name printed on its lower end. You can also pick between many different choices for your premium cable that comes with the A18t. Do you want black or white? 48“or 64“?

64 has definitely understood, that this is a very personal product and therefore needs to be designed for each and every user individually!

During all the changes you set, the 64 Audio design tool will display a preview of your custom IEM for your visualization.

All these choices will affect the final price of course, so it will vary between 2999$ and 3199$

I went with solid black shells and Wood Wenge face plates, with the wording ‘apex’ on the left piece and ‘A18’ on the right, both in silver. The cable I picked was in black with a length of 48 inches.

Package

64 Audio provides one of the most back to basics packaging out there. There is no over-designed or eccentric outer housing that holds the CIEMs. They have chosen to use a just big enough cardboard box that holds the personalized hard-plastic carrying box, in which you can find your new monitors. Each ear piece is neatly kept separated from the other by a small plastic wall. To both pieces attached is 64 Audio’s premium cable that ships with all their higher tier units, this cable alone has a market-value of 129$. It’s terminated to a 3.5mm right angled stereo plug. This cable is tidily twisted around the cable-holder on the bottom of the carrying box. You will also find a dehumidifier cap, a shirt-clip and a cleaning tool. The A18t and U18t come with both Apex modules with the M20 fitted as standard. Next to all this there was also a round 64 Audio sticker, which shortly after unboxing made it’s way on to my laptop.

All in all, packaging is very basic, nothing really outstandingly shocking. The personalized case and the premium cable are a nice touch though, so is the M15 module.

Build Quality

Now when it comes to top of the line gear we all expect a certain standard of build quality and craftsmanship that goes with it, and I have to say, happily this has been the case here. The CIEM itself is made in perfect shape, with nothing that would raise my attention or demand a refit. There’s not a single sharp corner on the shells. The face plate is perfectly finished without any signs of glue, neither on the part that attaches to the shell, nor near the 2-pin socket.
Now when it comes to comfort I have to give a massive shout-out to 64 Audio. I don’t know if it is the 3D printing or simply outstanding perfection, but these are the best made custom in ear monitors I have ever had in my ears. Yes, some customs are better made than others, all of them fit me well, but most of the time I have this pressure relieve when I take out other customs. With my Tzar it’s like I haven’t even worn them at all, they just perfectly fit my canals. No single pressure point in there.

Isolation depends of course on the module you have put in, the M20 module takes down ambient noise by 20dB and the M15 module, you guessed it, 15 decibels. This is lower than what most other custom monitors offer, as they usually go to -26dB. But to be honest, the difference isn’t that big and when you’re listening to music you won’t notice at all.

The 2-pin sockets are flushed, so you will be able to roll any cable on the A18t that you desire. We will take a look at how a few of them alter the sound of the A18 Tzar later.

This model features a single bore design, where the TIA high driver sits in the nozzle, which also acts as a sound-chamber. If you look at the top of the nozzle at the right angle and light you can see the TIA driver. I tried to capture it with my camera but couldn’t work out a decent photo, sorry.

64 Audio’s website tells us that the A18t features a four-way passive crossover design and has an impedance of only nine Ohms. Sensitivity is rated at 116 dB/mW. These numbers tell us that it is a very sensitive monitor and that it might be picking up some hiss from your source, though I did not detect any on most of mine.

All about Sound on Page 3!

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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.

    12 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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