Review: 64 Audio N8 – Luscious

64 Audio N8

 

Aftermarket Cables

I know, cables are a hot topic. I like to use them to alter the sound, if needed, to a certain degree and to see how a monitor responds to them. As always, cables are not meant to turn the performance around by 180 degrees, but rather enhance certain aspects. My favourite line about that matter is the slogan by Audioquest – “Do no harm”. That’s exactly what a cable should do in my opinion, don’t hurt the signal that goes to your monitors or speakers.

Like with everything in life, there is no all-round solution for everything, and with cables and in-ear monitors it’s the same. You will have a hard time finding one that suits every single monitor of yours. It’s all a matter of mix and match. The below list are some of my cables that I found particularly well performing with the N8.

Effect Audio – Leonidas

The Leonidas is the first cable I ever held in my possession, and for that it will always enjoy a special place in my audio-heart. Paired with the N8, the bass gets a tighter grip with slightly higher resolution. Mids are a tad smoother and overall perform higher resolving with very good micro-detailing capabilities. The Leonidas adds a bit more sparkle to the top end while also enhancing imaging and sound stage dimensions in width.

Effect Audio – Limited Black Edition Leonidas

The Limited Black Edition Leonidas only differs in used components to the regular Leonidas. It uses black barrels and comes with the incredible PSquared plug and Ferrite Guard. If you’re not a believer in cable sound, you probably don’t care much about plug materials either. The LBE Leonidas pairs wonderfully with the N8 and gives it higher resolution and especially a more open stage with impressive layering. Bass again is tighter bound, reaches deeper into sub-bass and gets enhanced resolution. The midrange sounds more transparent and has more air in it. Vocals become a tad more emotional yet still keep their weight and body. Treble is brighter and sparklier. The N8 brings out a wonderful amount of details with the LBE Leonidas.

64 Audio N8

64 Audio N8

The PSquared plug previously was exclusive to a very few models of Effect Audio, but they recently have made it available to their entire range. So you can get a regular Leonidas and add this special plug to it, that should get you near to the performance of the LBE Leonidas.

Effect Audio – Ares II (Bespoke 8 wire)

While not being the most portable cable due to its eight-wire nature, the bespoke Ares II offers very nice enhancements in sound. It doesn’t drastically colour the sound of the N8, but elevates its technical performances. The N8 does receive higher resolution and new dimensions in terms of width and depth. It reaches wider and deeper with enhanced layering and imaging. So if you’re a fan of the base-tonality of the N8, but want to push it further in that regard, the bespoke Ares II should be at the very top of your list.

Plussound – X (GPC)

Plussound’s X series is what I consider the pinnacle of portable IEM cables, no other cable so far has beaten it in comfort. Slap it behind your ear and it’s gone. You won’t notice it at all. The GPC X adds a bit of oomph in the low ends and gives the N8 a faster punch. The GPC X is a nicely transparent cable that gives treble a touch of warmth. Overall it’s a very nice pairing with the N8, but it might be too much for someone who’s not into bass-heavy signatures.

Double Helix Cables – Clone Fusion

The Clone Fusion is a very different cable. It uses a wire size of 22 AWG and a mix of pure Copper and Silver. While it does add weight to the low ends, it also adds resolution to the entire frequency range. It brings the bass a little more forward with bigger body. Mids keep their lush appearance, yet are better resolved with nicer texture. Treble shines a little brighter and sound stage goes wider and deeper. Imaging and rendering is taken to the next level. Overall the signature became more dynamic and refined to me.

64 Audio N8

64 Audio N8

Labkable – Amethyst

The labkable just recently was reviewed here on Headfonia, and it did surprise me with its high resolution. While I’m not a fan of the looks and build quality, it pairs really well with the N8. The bass gets better controlled, midrange more resolved and airy and treble brighter and more energetic. Sound stage goes wider and a tad deeper. Especially imaging becomes easier achieved.

PW Audio – 1960s (4 wire)

The 1960s elevates the N8 to new levels to me. It stretches the sound stage in a noticeable manner in all dimensions. The N8 gains in resolution, air and transparency. It reaches deeper into sub-bass and higher up top into treble. Midrange to me is higher resolved, vocals are more emotional and instrumental separation is achieved better. Highs are less rich but sparkle brighter than before.

Personal favourites here are the Clone Fusion, 1960s and the LBE Leonidas.

Sources

The sound impressions on page three are all done with my reference audio player, the SP1000. For the N8, or any warm monitor for that matter, I always like to use more resolving and neutral sources. Pairing the N8 with a warm source to me usually results in too much warmth for my taste. Don’t let my taste keep you from enjoying it with your source of preference.

Chord Electronics – Hugo2

The Hugo2 is one of my favourite products. Not everyone likes the highly resolving and slightly brighter sound o f it, I love it. The Hugo2 masterfully controls the dynamic driver, gives it more resolution and control, while being dynamic and fun with excellent texture. The midrange is also well resolved with wonderful texture and body. Emotions are found throughout all of what Hugo’s mids have to offer. The sound stage stretches nicely wide and deep. Layering and instrumental separation are done just perfect, with the right amount of air between each instrument. Treble is crisp and clean, extends very wide and is nicely soft to not become sibilant.

64 Audio N8

64 Audio N8

Chord Electronics – Mojo

The Mojo adds a certain amount of weight to the low ends, that makes them slightly more relaxed, yet bass is tighter. Mojo is also a source with great resolution, and that is obvious with the N8 too. Its midrange is well resolved with nice transparency. There is good body in each instrument, giving them a natural tone. Lower mids in particular appear thicker with the Mojo. The sound stage does go wide and deep, but is not at the level of the top end gear. Where I find the pairing to struggle a bit is surprisingly the treble. Where high notes are richer with the Hugo2 or SP1000, they don’t convince me as much with the Mojo.

Schiit Audio – Lyr 3 (with Qutest as source)

The Lyr 3 is a fully discrete tube amplifier with impressive output power. It spits full six Watts per channel into 32 Ohms and has an output impedance of only 0.3 Ohms. It is capable of handling much harder to drive headphones than the N8. But to me a hybrid usually tends to improve with higher power. The SP1000, though rated with 4V RMS, does not do the job best. These 4V are actually measured in condition no load, so practically they don’t say much…

The N8 does not pick up any hiss from the Lyr 3, which is surprising because generally a tube amplifier creates at least slight hiss. The N8’s bass is even better textured with higher resolution and control. What stood out to me was the level of layering the Lyr 3 revealed in the N8. While the Lyr 3 is also a lusher sounding amplifier, I don’t feel the pairing to be too much. It’s all very well controlled with great speed and air. The midrange is nicely bodied with good emotions and instruments are separated with care. The sound stage does stretch a noth wider and deeper. Treble is softer compared to the Hugo2 or SP1000.

The last page is about Comparisons and Conclusion

Review: 64 Audio N8 – Luscious
4.7 (93.92%) 125 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.

    26 Comments

    • Reply July 24, 2018

      crinacle

      Huge missed opportunity to compare with the Empire Ears Legend X IMO…

      • Reply July 24, 2018

        Linus

        Hi Crinacle,
        thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. 🙂

        I decided to take the comparison out, because I wanted to keep the review short and only have sub 2000$ CIEMs (with the exception of the Encore) in there. I can still add it though if you want.

        Cheers!

        • Reply July 27, 2018

          James

          Please give a comparison of N8 vs Phantom and/or Legend X! I’m having a lot of trouble deciding.. thank you

          • Reply July 27, 2018

            Linus

            Hi James,

            thanks for your comment.
            sorry I wanted to do that earlier, life got in the way…
            I’ll update the review with a comparison to the Legend X today, I’m still waiting for my Phantom to arrive.

            EDIT: A comparison has now been added.

    • Reply July 24, 2018

      Naveed

      Hi Linus,

      This review, (even though I already got most of the spoiler earlier through your kind comments on the teaser article), is God send to me 🙂

      As I am having the demo for selecting A12t or N8 today in couple of hours time.
      So far my impression from your analysis is N8 probably suits more for me, as I would prefer a more comfortable listening over a longer duration, instead of technically better sound on a short duration.

      Also I have ears that can get heavy very quickly, just by having an IEM in, even if its not playing any music. I hope Custom IEM and apex gonna help me over there and with its more organic soulful properties I can finally able to enjoy my music over a longer duration.

      Cheers,

      • Reply July 24, 2018

        Linus

        Hi Naveed,

        I was wondering when you’re going to pop up 😉
        Very glad you like the review, and I’m so excited for you. Please let me know how the audition went.

        The N8 really is great if you want to enjoy your music. The 64 Audio customs are the best fitting ones I have, so there shouldn’t be anything to worry about. I have read from many people that apex helped them with ear-fatigue. I never really had a problem with that though… ears differ 🙂

        Again, thanks for your kind words. Much appreciated.

        Cheers, have a great audio-day ahead!

        • Reply July 27, 2018

          Naveed

          Hi Linus,

          Yes I went there mate, finally. And finally fall in love with both (A12 and N8t) at the same time:)
          Love at first sight (or first hearing) =]
          I actually also demoed A6, as wanted to make sure additional drivers really makes a difference to me and at my desired volumes.

          I started with A6 as wanted to step up and observe any difference. A6 was surprisingly good. I am used to of Sure SE-535 and the difference was obvious. Every instrument sounds independent and clear and the sound stage and depth all at a different level for a triple driver fanboy of Sure. After seeing its size, I thought it will be uncomfortable in my ears, but it was actually once again very good in this regard. Maybe apex module was helping me somehow. Or maybe it’s placebo effect, whatever it was, it was working. Also liked all the low, mid and high, nothing was over the top and I really loved it.

          Then I moved to A12 (it was the older non-tia version). The overall sound was very similar to A6 but I could notice some level of refinement, maybe because of additional drivers were helping with already very controlled distortion. Once again, I really liked the Audio 64 approach to keep the sound signature neutral, laid back and complete. So I finally picked it over A6.

          Next N8t, and I completely agree with you, it’s completely different sound compare to A6 and A12. You could imagine the two A* models like siblings and N8 as a distant cousin, from the same family background but still distant, quite distant.
          It was very pleasing, much more revealing in general (other than bass), maybe because of tia driver? (as the demo A12 was non-tia). I really enjoyed it but at this end I really enjoyed A12’s approach more, it was more relaxing for me. N8 was grabbing my mind little bit more, which I both liked and disliked.
          Also the difference in bass is very noticeable, to me N8 bass was staying longer, was more diffused and moving farther in distances, comparatively softer and it reaches to me more frequently. On the other hand A12 was a harder beat and responded quicker. I can’t tell which one I like more (bass wise), but I must say I am more used to of listening A12 kind of bass. N8 is very unique and different.

          Overall I feel more satisfied with A12 so ordering my custom A12t. I hope it will be as neutral and relaxed as A12 is, and Tia won’t make it too revealing and engaging like I noticed N8 =]

          Once again many thanks my friend for all your detailed response on my queries.

          Have a great day 🙂

          • Reply July 27, 2018

            Linus

            Hi Naveed,

            wow, that sounds quite like a journey. I’m happy you found what you’re looking for. You demo’d the A6, A12 and N8. That must have been fun. Though the A6 and A12 are no longer in production as far as I know.

            Can’t really say how the A12t compares to the A12, but from what I understand the A12 was warmer and less revealing than the A12t. It is neutral to some degree, but has a slight warmth and smoothness in it that makes it very enjoyable (to me).

            Congrats on your audio purchase, it’s a great monitor.

            No worries, I’m happy to help.

            Thanks, hope you’ll also have a great day.

    • Reply July 26, 2018

      Mac

      Hi Linus,

      Thanks for your review.

      I really interest to buy one ciem ,because of my ear canal left and right not equal ,that make me strict to fit ear tip tighter and feel bad when noticed a sound left-right not equal.

      Now I’m using encore along with AK se100 and lionheart 8 wire (To increase bass and vocal warmer than stock cable) I still enjoy the instrument separation from encore but encore have a little bit lack of deep bass as I loved.

      Do you think I should go for N8 or A12t ?

      Thanks for your oppinion.

      • Reply July 26, 2018

        Linus

        Hi Mac,

        thanks for your comment.

        If you’re used to the Encore and you like it, I’d suggest going with the A12t because the N8 might be too warm for you then. The A12t does have powerful bass and a great, smooth midrange with very precise imaging. The Encore though is richer in upper mids and treble. For a more detailed comparison see my A12t review 🙂

        Hope that helps.

        Have a great day.
        L

    • Reply September 6, 2018

      Gustavo Carvalho

      Hi Linus.

      Nice review, i`m on the fence between the N8 and the legend x, mainly looking for a warm sig with bass emphasis (my reference for this kind of sound is the HE 500), i currently have the UM Merlin v1 and sometimes find myself having to crank up the volume for the bass to come alive just enough to be hurt by it`s sibiliant highs.

      i`m actually leaning toward the N8 but am afraid that it`s mid bass is too soft, i also listen mostly to rock, folk and a few IDM songs.

      Which one do you think that will make me happier?

      Cheers!

      • Reply September 6, 2018

        Linus

        Hi Gustavo,

        thanks a lot for your comment, much appreciated.

        If it’s bass impact you want, go for the Legend X.
        I’m not sure though if the Legend would be the best candidate for folk, as it’s bass can be too much for some genres. The N8 has a more balanced tuning, with also great low ends. Both models don’t really lean towards sibilance, so that’s covered…

        Best of course would be to audition them first, if you have the chance.

        Hope that somehow helped.
        If you need more info, don’t hesitate to ask. Happy to assist.

    • Reply November 13, 2018

      Jeff Geer

      I hope this is the right place to leave a comment regarding the N8 giveaway..there is no clear location or link from the giveaway entry page to be sure..
      Either way ..i would love to try out these awesome looking (and probably amazing sounding monitors)

    • Reply November 16, 2018

      sigit hartarto

      as usual. getar review. thanks

      • Reply November 16, 2018

        sigit hartarto

        Great*
        btw I’m wondering how will oriolus mk2 or reborn compare to 64audio N8?

        • Reply December 25, 2018

          Linus

          Hi Sigit,
          sorry for the late response, I don’t know how I missed your comment.
          It’s been too long since I’ve listened to the MK2, I don’t want to compare them based on memory, especially if the last session is over two years in the past… Sorry I couldn’t help more.

    • Reply December 25, 2018

      AlexX

      Hi Linus!

      Thanks for great review!

      Do you happen to have Schiit’s Modi (humble Modi 3 version) as DAC and Magni as amp combo?

      Because that’s what I currently have, and I am contemplating getting myself N8 customs… So wondering whether that’s a good combo (numbers check out, but they’re merely numbers…;-) )…or I should perhaps also invest in a bossier amp?

      • Reply December 25, 2018

        Linus

        Hi Alexx,

        thanks for your comment. Much appreciated.
        Unfortunately I don’t have the Schiit stack, but I think you’d be safe with the N8. It does enjoy additional power but doesn’t crave insane Watts.
        The N8 is a fantastic monitor which I enjoy to bits. If you have the chance give it a go. I think 64 Audio has a loaner program for US citizens if you’re interested in it. I’m not sure if they’re offering the N8 for that too, but definitely worth a shot.
        Cheers and merry Christmas.
        L

    • Reply December 25, 2018

      AlexX

      Checking if comments are getting through, they seem to be fond of getting lost 🙂

      • Reply December 25, 2018

        Linus

        Hi Alexx,

        sometimes it takes manual confirmation for some comments to get accepted by the system. Like this time in your case. 🙂

        Cheers

    • Reply January 13, 2019

      Alisemizer

      That’s nice

    • Reply February 6, 2019

      Ryan Eagon

      Great review! I’m using a WM1Z with Shure 846’s. I’ve grown accustom to the “Shure House Sound” wonderful mids with laid back highs, and of course the wonderful lows and sub-bass of the 846’s is hard to match.

      I’m looking at a custom monitor IEM for personal listening and also live use (drummer)

      I’m leaning toward the N8 or A12t. Thoughts?

      Also, does 64 audio do digital scan impressions?

      • Reply February 6, 2019

        Linus

        Hi Ryan,
        many thanks for your comment.
        If you want something more like the 846 you might want to give the N8 a go. It’s definitely the lusher of the two if you’re after some meat in the sound.
        The N8 definitely would be a good choice as a drummer. I’m playing drums too, but haven’t been in front of a proper drum-set in years. Kids and all… 🙂
        64 Audio does make a digital copy of your physical impressions. If you’re a first time customer you will need to send them your impressions, but it can’t hurt to ask if they take scans too. Their CIEMs have the best fit btw.

        Hope that helps.
        Cheers,
        L

    • Reply March 2, 2019

      Claire Chua

      Hey Linus,

      I’ve been really stuck between whether to get 64audio or JHaudio CIEMs, because I know most of the industry still largely uses jh audio and it seems to be more robust in terms of durability. I guess where I’m really stuck is that 64audio seems to have all this unique technology like tia and Apex but i was wondering if they really do make a difference in the ear fatigue/quality of the sound. Looking to get the N8 from 64 or the angie’s from jh.

      • Reply March 2, 2019

        Linus

        Hi Claire,
        thanks for your comment!

        You’re right, most of the pro industry uses JH CIEMs. I think JH Audio, UE and Westone are the biggest players there, though 64 certainly is catching up.

        Recently I have been giving the N8 more eartime again, as it falls right in with some of the reviews I did in the last couple of weeks, and I must say, I’m really enjoying coming back to it. It’s a great sounding CIEM. I don’t have any experience with the Angie, sorry. The only JH monitors I have are Layla and Lola, out of these two I prefer Layla…

        As for your question about ear-fatigue. Yes, I do notice that the pressure that’s built up by the closed CIEMs being higher than with my 64’s. They are more comfortable to wear over time, but the other CIEMs aren’t uncomfortable by any means either. Just depends on how long you want to listen. 🙂

        Hope that helps.

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