During the review process the most used source probably was the SP1000, as it’s my daily driver and comes to the office as well. Here I mostly hook the Fourté up to the Chord Electronics Hugo2. I usually like to connect monitors to warmer sources as well, such as the Mojo or L3 Pro by Luxury&Precision. With the 114 dB sensitivity the Fourté doesn’t require any extra amping and is perfectly comfortable mating with portable gear. If you want to shape the sound a bit, you can still give additional amplifiers a go, I won’t stop you, but to me there is no audible win for it.
Astell&Kern – SP1000
The SP1000 has a very resolving and dynamic signature on its own with just wonderful upper mids and treble. The Fourté benefits with incredible layering and separation. Bass is controlled and engaging. Mids super transparent and clean with sniper like precision. Treble is rich and energetic. For a true portable audio setup the sound stage is sublime. It incorporates a depth and width I have not experienced from any DAP other than the SP1000.
The Mojo is one of the warmer sounding sources I have used with the Fourté, also it is one of the most sold items globally and I guess many readers will be able to get a picture of how the Fourté sounds with it. Mojo gives the Fourté a punchy low end with great extension, a smooth and easy to listen to midrange with good emotions. The treble is very well extended but softer in tone. The sound stage is big with excellent imaging and separation. Compared to its bigger sibling or the SP1000 it is not as layered or extremely precise, but still very resolving and detailed. I am sure a lot of people would like this pairing.
Chord Electronics – Hugo2
The Hugo2 probably is the DAC/Amp with the highest resolution I own. Its micro detailing abilities are unmatched. Just like the Fourté it does everything with ease. Both together simply can’t step a foot wrong. It is amazing how detailed and precise Fourté can sound with the Hugo2. For some this might be a bit too forward in the upper registers again, but to me it makes Fourté so insanely realistic in terms of imaging. Everything appears right in front of you and you truly feel like you’re in the middle of all events. Bass is tightly controlled. Mids are very transparent and emotional. The sound stage is out of this world with a holographic appearance. I can only recommend this if you’re after the best pairing, give it a go and listen for yourself.
Luxury&Precision – L3 Pro
The L3 Pro is again warmer and smoother with great amounts of musicality in it. It makes up for a great pairing if you’re into a lush yet detailed sound for your Fourté. Treble is softer with a richer tonality, it doesn’t have the bite from other pairings but certainly is easier on the ear for many. Midrange is nicely bodied and emotion-filled. You’re trading some of the resolution and transparency for a softer and warmer sound. If that’s something you fancy, check out the L3 Pro.
The Fourté’s price tag makes it hard to compare it to other in ear monitors, so I’m just going to compare it to some of the other flagships I have here. All of them are in custom shape though. There is 64 Audio’s own co-flagship, the A18t. Jerry Harvey’s twelve driver Layla. Noble Audio’s Kaiser Encore and Katana. Empire Ears makes its Headfonia debut in a review with their recently released Legend X.
All mentioned prices are for their custom built variants. Some manufacturers offer their universals a bit cheaper. Comparisons are done with the stock cable, as that is what you will be getting in the end.
Noble Audio – Kaiser Encore (10BA, 2099$)
The Kaiser Encore is not too different from the Fourté. Both sport a similar tuning with more forward treble. Mids on both are greatly transparent with good imaging abilities. Though the higher rendering and resolution of Fourté makes it even easier to distinct between the instruments. Fourté’s bass goes deeper with more body. This is a part that I find lacking on the Encore. It does have a good bass response, but it at the same time has a lighter approach than most other top of the line monitors. Both monitors have an exceptional and outstanding tuning of highs with a more forward appearance. The Fourté is by far more extended and cleaner up top, where Encore has a richer upper-mid segment. The sound stage of Fourté is bigger by a good margin in width and depth, whereas they don’t differ too much in height. Fourté overall has a more holographic transported picture.
Noble Audio – Katana (9BA, 2099$)
Katana is a neutral monitor with high precision and musicality. Fourté is more treble-forward compared to Katana, which has more accessible highs with a hint of warmth in them. Fourté again is more extended. Its bass is airier and more organic with bigger body. Katana misses out on sub-bass rumble and extension, while it has also a lifted mid and upper bass presence. Midrange on Katana seems lighter and hollower. Both models have a generous sound stage with impressive instrumental separation, but again, Fourté manages to tickle out a higher resolution and renders with bigger care. Fourté’s sound stretches wider and deeper around your head.
JH Audio – Layla (12BA, 2750$)
Layla and Fourté couldn’t be more apart in my opinion. Layla is a good margin fuller and darker. Her treble is much softer and laid back compared to the energetic Fourté. Layla extends maybe a touch wider into sub-bass, but Fourté reproduces bass more organic, airier and tighter. Of course Layla offers you the ability to tune bass response to your liking. Midrange of Layla is not as clean or transparent than Fourté’s. Layla does not create a sound stage like Fourté’s, it’s noticeably smaller and more compact held.
64 Audio – A18t (18BA, 2999$)
Many people ask for this comparison as they are torn between the two flagships. Both share the same core-DNA but like most siblings they are also different in their own character. Fourté is brighter and more energetic in highs, where A18t is warmer in lower mids with a rounder and more forward mid-bass. Both models have incredible transparency and resolution. The A18t to me is a portion fuller in its mids, where the Fourté has a the ability to portray the sound more in front of you. The A18t is no slouch when it comes to that either, but the smoother mids of Fourté just make it easier to see everything before you. Both models again have a sick treble extension. Fourté to me sounds clearer in that regard, whereas the 18 has a richer tone. Both are wonderfully airy and clean. The 18t can also be bought in a custom shell for the best possible comfort, if that’s something you’re concerned about, with the M15 module you can also get a more treble-forward tuning, although you trade in a good amount of bass body for it.
Empire Ears – Legend X (2DD/5BA, 2299$)
The Legend X is one of the newest monitors in my possession and it is one hell of a contender. Just like Fourté the Legend X doesn’t seem to make any mistakes. The dual Weapon IX dynamic drivers of the Legend produce a very visceral and pumping low end. Fourté’s to me is higher resolutioned though. The Empire monitor has more mid-bass body and a warmer lower mids department. Overall mids are lusher and fuller with the Legend X. Fourté is more precise in mids, with higher resolution. Stage dimensions wise the Fourté surpasses Legend X by a good bit. The top section of Legend X is softer and not as forward as the Fourté’s, the 64 Audio extends even wider into treble with more air. Instruments are separated very well on both models, with high imaging capabilities. Fourté as well as Legend X have impressive layering and imaging, where you can feel and see everything in front of you.
The tiatm Fourté doesn’t come cheap, but what you get in return is an incredibly unique signature that does everything so easyily. I have yet to come across tracks that just don’t sound right with the Fourté. I once let a colleague of mine listen to the Fourté, he is really into two-channel HiFi, and he also said that it is like nothing else he has ever heard. It reproduces music so effortlessly with an insane ability to cover all emotions while keeping all details in front of you.
It is a monitor that is unlike any other on the market. Not only for its sound, but also because of the internal construction and the out-of-the-box thinking of 64 Audio. I am a person that admires innovations and different ways of thinking. 64 Audio did exactly that when they came up with their tiatm Fourté. Its build quality is outstanding, and the fact that each pair is 100% unique with the different Copper patinas makes it even more attractive. The only thing I would like to see is a bigger selection of supplied tips.
If you are a fan of brighter signatures with head-scratching clean sound and you have the money to burn, go for it, there is nothing like the Fourté on the market. It sounds mighty impressive straight out of the box, but bring an aftermarket cable in the chain and experience it in new ways. Fourté plays well with any source, no matter if ultra high end digital audio player or cheaper audiophile solutions. Fourté will always bring out the best.
Here’s the link to the Recommended Universal IEM ist, on which you will now find the tiatm Fourté.
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