With knowing 64 Audio’s two top offerings in custom shape, the A18t and A12t, and the price of Fourté, my expectations were quite high before I received this monitor. Of course, for 3600$ you expect the monitor to sound like nothing else on the market. I was really intrigued by the fact that the Fourté does not use any dampers or tubes. I am a big fan of the tiatm treble’s energy and presentation. An IEM that uses two tiatm drivers and is complemented by a dynamic driver and a dedicated high-mid driver? Must sound great, right? Alrighty then, let’s find out.
The low end driver does a fantastic job reproducing a visceral and impactful bass. It extends well into sub-bass with decent rumble. The driver gives great resolution and texture to the bass, it sounds nicely organic and natural with good speed and accuracy. Especially instrumental pieces sound fabulous, but don’t be afraid if you’re a fan of synthetic punch, you’re taken care of with the Fourté as well. Bass is controlled and doesn’t overshine the transparency of the mids. There is a good boost in mid-bass and upper-bass gives lower mids a nice touch of warmth, yet not to an extent where they become overly fattened or too warm. What I like in particular about the Fourté’s bass is the air that surrounds it, it makes it sound very inherent. It also has wonderful power, drive and authority with the right tracks.
Mids are well smoothed and transparent, with a wide and deep stage that goes far beyond your head with the right recordings. I really like to listen to live albums with the Fourté as it perfectly shows its abilities to paint a realistic picture with pinpoint imaging. Midrange is held quite neutral with slight warmth in the lower registers, as mentioned before. Vocals are perfectly centered and instruments appear in good distance in front of you. All notes carry good weight, body leans towards a lighter presentation yet Fourté still retains the ability to catch all emotions in a recording. The Fourté has wonderful resolution and rendering, it’s like listening to a 4K screen. Everything gets separated so well, so clear and clean.
The treble of the Fourté gets discussed a lot for its more forward tuning. Treble is something you either can handle or you can’t. Myself, I like treble with good energy, and the Fourté does not disappoint. Highs are very extended and airy, but are not sharp or edgy. The tiatm treble is something quite unique with its crystal clean yet silky presentation. I see why some people have problems with the treble of Fourté, as the hyper clean sound of it can become too much for someone who isn’t used to it.
It truly amazes me how easily the Fourté reproduces every single note of each track I fire through it. Nothing gets overshadowed, everything is just there and sounds perfectly clean with incredible separation. People who want a monitor they can just kick back with might not enjoy the Fourté and its highly resolving nature. For me, it is spectacular and leaves almost nothing to be desired.
Depending on how you want to shape the sound of Fourté you have a good number of choices for aftermarket cables. You want those highs smoothened out? There are a few choices of good and affordable cables you can look into. You want to push it all to its absolute limits? There’s something for you too. Below you will find a small selection of cables that I paired Fourté with and felt the results were astonishing.
Effect Audio – Ares II (Bespoke 8 wire)
The Ares II adds a good portion of warmth and body to the midrange while straightening the bass response with a tighter grip. The Fourté still retains it’s clean sound and transparency, treble gets softened out a bit without losing its sparkle. Sub-bass gets a touch more pronunciation and a bit more forward. Vocals and instruments become more emotional and fuller.
Effect Audio – Leonidas
Leonidas would be the cable for you if you want to push Fourté to its very limits. The sound gets even cleaner with higher rendering. Bass gets tightened with a harder punch. Mids get some warmth in the lower registers breathen in, while some additional smoothness is received at the rest. Everything becomes more holographic and open. Micro detailing is achieved at an even higher level with insane transparency. Treble keeps its energetic appearance while adding a touch of sparkle.
plusSound – X (Gold Plated Copper)
The X has been one of my go-to cables for the Fourté. It beefs up the low end, while keeping it more under control. It doesn’t necessarily alter the midrange response, but lowers the treble to a more mainstream degree. It irons out a bit of the top end bite and energy. On top of that, it is the most portable cable I have in my inventory with its dual-wire build.
plusSound – Exo (Gold Plated Silver)
The GPS Exo is another good example of how to get the Fourté to its extremes. It tightens bass, opens up the midrange and adds some smoothness to them, while enhancing upper mid richness and top end clarity. It doesn’t kill some of the resolution and separation, but keeps them pretty much in tact as they were.
plusSound – X8 (Tri-Copper)
The Tri-Copper is an one-of-a-kind cable with its tripple Copper wire variants. It uses silver-plated, gold-plated and plain Copper wires for a unique signature. The lifted lower end and harmonious midrange will make a wonderful pairing with the Fourté, while upper mids and treble become a tad richer yet less bright. This is a great example of how to make Fourté more accessible for people who didn’t like the resolving energy of it.
My personal favourites for the Fourté are Leonidas and the Tri-Copper.
What sources go well with the Fourté? Find out after the jump
Who makes custom tips for these
I’d try the ususal suspects: Snugs or Custom Art
But I think you would also have to send in your Fourté then.
Great review but I think the big question is how them compare to the mighty electrostatic KSE1500?
thanks for your comment.
That truly would be an interesting comparison. If I ever get the chance to audition the KSE1500 for a longer period (no show conditions), I will add them to the list here, but untill then, I will not be able to compare the Fourté to the Shure, sorry.
If you have a chance, check out the VE Erlkönig, I would say this a the ultimate end game iem. A perfect marriage between technicality and musicality.
thanks for your impressions on the Erlkönig. I think Lieven might be going to check it out. Not sure though. If he will, I might send/give him the Fourté for comparison. That will sure be an interesting fight 😉
Cheers and have a great weekend!
Really appreciate this review of the 64Audio Tia Fourte. I currently have a Sony NW-WM1Z and I would like to be able to connect the Tia Fourte to the NW-WM1Z via the 4.4mm balanced jack. Would you recommend some cables for this setup? Any price range is fine for me. Thanks again.
I’m currently using the Tia Fourte with 1Z, Leonidas and foam tips. It’s a wonderful combo, with the Leonidas adding some dynamics throughout the spectrum that you don’t quite get with stock cable.
thanks for your comment.
It all depends on how you want to change the signature of Fourté?
If you want to keep the key-signature but push it a bit further on technicalities, give the Bespoke Ares II 8 wire of Effect Audio a go.
If you want to push Fourté to its very limits, take a look at the Effect Audio Leonidas or Gold Plated Silver Exo (plusSound).
If you want to give Fourté a more mainstream tuning and take down those highs, check out the Tri-Copper of plusSound, I have it in the X8 version and it does wonders to it.
I expect that the PWaudio 1960s 2wire also works really well with the Fourté, unfortunately mine is currently in for repair services, therefore I can’t say much about it.
Two other cables I’m really interested in are the two Janus variants (D and B), when the review comes, I will include the Fourté in the pairings section.
Thanks so much for your review. I read it twice :). Last week I had the u12 and the U18 demos for a couple of days . This was an interesting experience. I am waiting for the Forte demo. I wanted to ask , I have a astell&Kern 300 but am afraid it might be too bright ( it was for the U18) would you suggest getting the hugo2 or changing it in favour of sp1000 ?
Thanks a lot
thanks for your comment.
If the U18 was already too bright, you might find the Fourté even more so.
My experience with the AK300 has been very limited, so I can’t really speak for it.
I’ve heard a few people say the Hugo2 is too bright for their taste. So you definitely should demo that before you make a decision.
As for going straight to the SP1000, if you want a brand new unit, you should also consider the SP1000M, it is very similar to the SP1000 in terms of performance, but it’s more pocket friendly in the sense of portability and costs. I have it for a month now, and haven’t used the SP1000 much since.
If neither of the sources changes the treble to something more manageable for you, there’s also the option to swap cables to something like the Tri Copper by Plussound, that one beefs up the U18 and tames treble. Changing eartips also can help, but I don’t have a solid recommendation for that.
The U12t isn’t for you? Since you demoed it together with the 18… The A12t is among my personal favorite monitors. 🙂
Hope that helps.
Hi Linus ,
Thanks so much for your reply. Also auditioned the Tia Forte. It sounded wonderful but for me I think I like to be more closer to the sound and the U18 is all about that for me. There were more emotions and I felt more moved by the music. The Tia Forte presented the sound from a distance and that is not for me. Perhaps too [email protected] years on the stage with the real instruments. 🙂 Also I think you mentioned it , the sound stage is wider in U18 and thus there’s was more order in that. And I am considering changing the source either to ultima sp1000 or the Sony wm1z you talked about in one of your reviews. I needed to listen. I like emotions in the music but I also like perfection in the sense of order. Even if there is a lot of happening in the song you can still enjoy it because it is not “too busy” that it becomes chaotic and not enjoyable. Do you know what I mean ? What would you suggest here ?
Thanks a lot
don’t worry, that’s what the comment section is for.
The SP1000 is extremely precise. It has the best technical performance I know, but it can also sound emotional. I really can’t speak for the Sony. I only listened to it a year ago at a show in Paris… don’t want to make any comparisons based on memory.
I love the SP1000, but you should also try to audition the smaller version (M). It has many characteristics of the SP1K, but in a more affordable and compact package.
Another DAP worth considering is the Lotoo Paw Gold Touch. If you can, you should also audition it.
Thanks a lot for help. I heard the spkm is a bit on the warmer side ( more body) but smaller stage than the spk.
Hello, Linus thank you for the review.
I own the pair of Fourte and now considering to change the original cable to an after marker cable.
I am going to choose one between Ares II and Leonidas II. I only listen to vocal focused songs (e.g. Adele – when we were young / Sam Smith – leave your lover etc, I love emotions and vocal really). If this is the case, which cable would be a better option?
I mean, if I am to choose Ares II, is this better than the given cable?
Bearcat M Sandor
Are they relatively neutral? Is there any reason that they wouldn’t work well for audio engineering?
Linus I have a final question. I read some reviews that stated that the 64 audio universal IEM sound noticeably worse that the custom fit. Because of fit ( seal) issues that’s sound signature was not as good as it the custom fit models. Did you have the same observation with any of the models ? I am thinking of getting custom tips from Custom Arts for the U18 as it is too late to change my order. Would you say that that might be better ? Thanks a lot for your time 🙂
no worries, happy to help.
I can only speak for one 64 universal and that’s the Fourté, all my others are custom. So I can’t compare the U18 to the A18, sorry. But I’d suggest trying out the U18 and then decide if you’re happy with the fit and seal and if you are not, then go for a custom tip. That should help then.
I also forgot to reply to your previous comment, sorry.
Yes, the M is more on the warmer side, compared to the SPK, but it’s still a fantastic sounding device at a smaller package. There’s a some advantages that the SPK has (more memory, additional optical output), but overall the M provides a great overall performance and package.
Happy New year!
All the best in The New Year
I promise this is the last one 🙂
I saw in your reviews that you used either sp1000 or chord Hugo2. As you know I have AK300 and want upgrade. But the question is if I buy sp1000 I will have to sell the AK300 and lose some money on this. But I wondered if I were to keep it and just get the Hugo2 ( or other good amp like woo audio wa8 eclipse ) would I have similar quality of the sound as I would from the sp1000? Or is this just wishful thinking ? Would you be so kind and let me know ? Thanks again !!!!!
don’t worry, I’m happy to help.
I’m a big fan of both, the SPK and Hugo2. Both provide me something special. The SPK is definitely the best dap out there at the moment when looking at the complete package. The AK is stellar with iems and easy to drive headphones, but can’t keep up with the Hugo2 for full sized ones. I also find hybrids better on the Hugo2. The Hugo2 to me is the best transportable DAC/Amp to date.
You shouldn’t forget that the AK is a complete source, where you only need your music on it, while you’ll need something that provides the files to the Hugo2.
I’m not very fond of stacking, and I strongly prefer single units over two or let alone three and more.
On a sound level alone, both are very close to each other in my opinion. Personally, I couldn’t do without either. Not really the answer you’re looking for I assume. 😉
Yes that is not the answer I was looking for exactly 🙂 I thought you would say sell it and get spk. But alright I will than try to sell it and look for the spk. As I think that the source ak300 might be poorer. However my thinking is that AK would serve as a transport/ HARD DISC and Hugo as DAC/AMP. and the quality would still be stellar ? Am I wright ?
sorry about that 😀
The SP1000 is an exceptional good DAP. You won’t regret the decision.
Yes, the Hugo2 is a stellar product, no matter what transport you’re using, but it has a tendency to sound even better with certain transports. Hope that makes sense.
Do you have any chance to test SP1000 or Hugo2? Maybe even side by side and together with an OTG cable?
I think I will be able to audition both together and I will have a better idea to make a decision. 🙂 Thanks so much for your time !!!!
Keep up the great work. I am a fan of yours. Greetings from Poland
no worries, glad to be able to help.
Thanks for your nice words. 🙂
Hope the audition is tons of fun. You’re in for a real treat with the SP1000 and Hugo2.
Cheers, from Vienna 😉
I am going to audition tia fourte next week. Any insight how it will differ from audeze lcdi4? Since my current set up is using sp1000 with hugo2 on audeze lcdi4.
Many thanks in advance.
thanks for your comment.
Unfortunately I haven’t heard the LCDi4. It’s one of the monitors that very much interests me, but auditioning it is quite difficult here, as no dealer wants to put one on demo. In ears are considered unsanitary by the dealers… If I ever get the chance to try then out for good, I’ll let you know.
Have a great 2019!
Is there a significant difference adding the hugo2 to the sp1000 set up? I thought the DC and the amp in spk is super good ?
the implementation on the SP1000 is excellent.
Maybe the LCDi4 is one of those monitors that sounds better with additional power. Like I mentioned in my previous comment, some IEMs (hybrids) tend to work better with the Hugo2 than the SP1000 in my experience.
However, I also noticed that the Hugo2 sounds different (better to me) when using a transport that runs on batteries. It’s my preferred setting for the Hugo2 too.
I thought of one last thing to ask you. Sorry for making it a bit of off topic. We were discussing the sp1000 but here in my country the AK 380 has become a real bargain. A 1/3 of the ultima price. Do you have much experience with listening to hat model ? Especially the copper version ?thanks again 🙂
I have had the copper at home for two weeks to try out before I decided the difference wasn’t big enough to justify the additional cost to the other AK380’s. I used to have the black AK380 before I jumped on the SP1000. The differences are very obvious when you listen to the SPK and then go back to the 380. It’s more precise and dynamic. The 380 was great, but the SPK was just better.
If you can score a 380 for a third of the price, that’s a fantastic deal. But keep in mind, the 380 hasn’t seen a fw update in a while and isn’t on the list for AK’s Open Service (sideloading apps) feature. So if you’re after Spotify, Qobuz etc, it probably won’t happen.
Thants a lot Linus.
I haven’t answered your previous post about the difference between 64 audio U12 and U18. I did like the base and mid-range in the U12 much more. But the stage was so much better. When I listened to more complex songs, whent there were a lot of instruments or just tehre was a lot of happening the u12 showed more clamped notes together weheres the U18 showed a lot more order and thus I was more interested to listen to those complex song , ofcourse I was listening on AK 300. And perhaps the situation with U12 would heva been different with SPK. but I hope that the U18 with SPK will go lower and a bit warmer than it was on my ak300.
no worries. Glad I could help.
Yeah, the 18t is something special. I wouldn’t say it plays particularly warm on the SP1000. The AK is very precise and clean.
If you enjoy the technical abilities of the SPK, you should try it with the Leonidas II, it gets even better. It’s my preferred cable for the A18.
I fully agree on the 12t/18t differences. I prefer the A12t though, but the A18 is better on some fronts. 🙂
Linus , thanks again for your honest answer. I a bit question my decision about the U18.
Hello Linus ,
I don’t want to make too many off topic questions so if you would prefer I could Pm you if you don’t wish for this thread to be messed. But I would like to ask your preferred high quality streaming platform ? I use Tidal Hifi. But I heard qobuz is better. And also does it make sense to purchase high res music ? Eg dsd etc ? Thanks again for always constructive answers and time.
I do have a Tidal HiFi/Masters account, which I however only use in combination with Roon and their Roon Radio service. It’s been ages since I browsed Tidal. Mostly because I have a well sized selection of music I like. At home we usually tend to listen to LP’s (the kids love it) unless I’m writing, then it’s Roon time with some DACs and Amps. 🙂
I heard Qobuz is supposed to be better for Classical music in particular, haven’t given it a real try. Maybe I should, but as mentioned. Streaming only via Roon Radio.
I’m not the biggest fan of DSD to be honest. You have to keep in mind that most of the DSD content was never recorded as such. It’s mostly just upsampled PCM with some remastering. I think the mastering is more important to be honest. A well produced 16/44.1 can also sound spectacular.
It isn’t always about the file types and sampling rates, one example would be the “Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik” album by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It sounds really great in 16/44.1 but also exists as 24/96 (HD Tracks download I think). The 24bit to me doesn’t really sound any better than the 16bit version, but occupies more space on your memory… Sometimes though a 24bit remaster can also sound better (like some Nirvana albums). It’s all about the mastering in my opinion.
Thanks a lot.
Do you have some downloaded albums or mostly stream ? How do you listen to lp on headphones ? Or do you convert them into digital tracks ? What is your favourite stationery setup ?
I hardly ever stream, so downloaded music it is.
For the turntable I don’t use any headphones, just my bookshelf speakers (Triangle Titus). This way the kids can listen too 😉
Favorite stationary setup? Depends on the headphones. For the HD800S it’s Qutest -> Lyr 3 (TungSol tubes) and for the Ether 2 it’s Qutest -> iHA6.
Thanks you download from Tidal ?
For your IEM you use chord Hugo 2?
Also wanted to ask you. If you were to pick just one headphone/ IEM waht would be your choice ? The reason I ask is that my journey for headphones / IEm is that I travel a lot , 5 months out of the year. So carrying big headphones and amps to hotel is a bit crazy ( I have done it before ) also in bed at night using IEM is better so I don’t wake my wife up. That was the reasoning for me to get the best IEM that I could use on all ocasions . But I guess the ether play differently than IEM ? ANYEAY WAHT IS YOUR TAKE ON THIS ? what would you advise ? Getting a separate full headphone ?
for some reason I can’t reply to the below questions directly.
I only download from Tidal what I can’t find otherwise.
Yeah, I also use the H2 with IEMs, but it’s also superb with full sized headphones.
As for the question about what to use. That’s a real tough one to be honest, which I can’t really answer… I like a lot of my IEMs for their respective strengths.
I used to also travel a lot for my previous job, and I think a CIEM is the perfect solution. It’s comfortable and easy to bring along.
I also used to carry an extra amp with me at times, but that’s passé, doesn’t make much sense imo. A good CIEM and a good DAP is all you need.
Is there an place I could sent PM to you. I would love to ask a couple of questions but don’t want to trash here with off topics. You can see my email address right?
Thanks a lot for all your help
where would you place the Forte with regard to the Empire Ears Zeus XR with Adel and their Legend X. Currently have these two CIEMs running on a variety of cables (mostly Effect Audio cables). So far my favorite combinations for these are running the Horus 8 with the Zeus XR while preferring the Leonidas 8 with the Legend X. run these from the SP1000 when on the go and route through the TA-ZH1ES at home…and for work and lower grade sounds…running through the PHA-3. been considering trying out the 64 Audio line up or the UE, but might need a little convincing .
thanks for your comment.
I only can speak for the Zeus XIV, non Adel. The Fourté probably lies somewhere in between the Zeus and Legend X in terms of bass. It has a fuller midrange than the Zeus, but more air than the Legend. The treble is more like the Zeus’ but brighter.
I’m mostly using the Leonidas II nowadays with these. I had the Horus for a bit last year, but never was able to try it out with either Legend, Zeus or Fourté. So can’t comment there…
Have a good one!
Have you bought the SP1000?
I pair mine with u18t with very good results.
Also had a chance to listen to them with AK300 before I bought SP1000 but it was way to bright to my taste even with the Apex M20 module.
Even earlier I had Hugo2 but sold it as connecting and disconnecting to my smartphone was driving me crazy. Also pairing it with Audeze LCD-XC, which I eventually sold too, was to bright.
A friend of mine actually tried Hugo2 with u18t but it was too bright to him.
So SP1000 and u18t is the solution that works great for me in my frequent travels. When I am back at home I hook up the SP1000 to analog input of my amp and enjoy it as a source.
Nguyen Thai hung
Thanks for your very honest and detailed review
I’m now looking for my dream replacement cable with my Tia Fourte. As I knew that you own a Labkable’s Samurai III. I wonder it give any sib on Fourte. Can you pair it with your Fourte and give some impression pls ?
and How does this pair comparing to Leo 2 vs Fourte.
thanks for your comment.
I’ll have to dig that one up. Once I had some ear time with it, I’ll let you know!
Nguyen Thai hung
I hope to hear back from you soon