One of the most memorable IEM models I ever listened to was the Tia Fourte. The yuge soundstage and uniquely intricate highs made me a 64 Audio fan for life. So, being a big sucker for warm sound signatures, I was particularly excited to test out 64 Audio’s latest creation, the Tia Fourte Noir. At a cool $3800, will these IEMs suit your ears and listening style? Let’s find out in this 64 Audio Tia Fourte Noir Review.
IN the BOX
Though the Tia Fourte Noir felt comfortable, I can’t say that the eartips and shell contours made for a custom-like fit. And you may not get as much sound isolation as you would from the more classic musicians monitors, like Shure or Westone. In fact, depending on your ear canal size, you may feel that the seal isn’t snug enough. That being said, the Noir certainly feels light and unobtrusive.
The Noir sports a dynamic driver for the lows and 3 balanced armature for the higher frequencies (1-mid, 1-high mid, 1 high). And 64 Audio has retuned its dynamic low driver to increase warmth and richness in the lower frequencies. We’ll see if it worked, below.
64 Audio has also upped its game with respect to its 2-pin cable. Boasting 8 individually insulated conductors, the Noir’s cable is advertised as having lower resistance than previous models. In theory, this should translate into smoother high frequencies. And unlike previous models, the cable is also balanced, with a 2.5mm termination. So, I was kicking myself for not bringing in my FiiO Q5 to work today. Luckily, 64 Audio has also thrown in a 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter. I used the adapter for this review and connected the IEMs to the new Dragonfly Cobalt. A sweet combo if you’re willing to go with an unbalanced connection.
The shells themselves are made from black aluminum, and the faceplates are copper-patinated. If you’re familiar with your grandmother’s favorite earrings, you’ll know that patina is a film that naturally forms on copper (often green) after long exposure. However, it can also be done artificially. So, the faceplates on the Noir may start to change color over time. But probably after the warranty period.
Though the name suggests a dark sound signature, don’t expect a particularly massive bass response from the Noir. Punchy and warm, yes. And you’ll get some good subbiness when listening to hip-hop as well. But the low-end is far from overkill and maintains the great overall balance that 64 Audio is famous for. In fact, this bass profile works just as well for pop music as it does for jazz or classical. Double bass plucks, for example, though rich and deep, presented a natural timbre and avoided that bloated feel you get from too much bass presence (or too much cheese). And classical string instruments, though smooth, revealed plenty of substance and nuance. So, certainly, even with all of it’s warmth, the Noir remains a versatile IEM.
If you can’t live without clear and present low-mids, the Noir is your IEM. Although the Noir displays a relatively even balance here, the lower-frequencies in this range get just a touch of extra attention. Listening to Imagine Dragons’ Next To Me, for example, the choir in the low-mids usually sounds a bit recessed, even on IEMs with an even balance. But in this case, the choir was so highlighted that it helped to drive the chorus. So, if you appreciate a particularly fleshy and full-bodied rock or pop-rock chorus, the Noir might be the best option amongst the 64 Audio line-up. Warm, while remaining very clean, the separation in the low-mids is also spectacular. In fact, I’ve rarely heard such well-delineated guitar strums in that range. And again, the other impressive characteristic is the speed and energy of these earbuds. Playing Fleetwood Mac’s Big Love, the snare took center stage with fast and powerful impact. Indeed, it’s an extremely tight and entirely vivacious sound that makes you want to take a shot of tequila and twerk.
There’s a little extension here. So you will hear more snap and sparkle in the highs than you would from one of 64 Audio’s more neutral IEM models. Listening to pop, for example, percussion was crispier than a frozen Saltine, adding extra funk to lively tracks. Clarity in this range remains fantastic as well. String solos were as transparent as I’m used to hearing from the brand, even if there was a touch of smoothness in the presentation. In fact, that fluidity translated beautifully to airy presentation of vocals. Whitney Houston in this range, for example, was breathy, velvety perfection (though she’d sound great even through tin cans).
No IEM brand can beat 64 Audio in this department. And the Noir is no exception. Not only is this IEM vastly spacious, but the imaging is spot on. In particular, gradations in depth were incredibly precise, bringing more dimension and nuance along this axis than I’m used to hearing from my test tracks, even in the priciest of IEMs.
If you want a little warmth without the sacrifice of separation and great balance, it’s tough to beat the Tia Fourte Noir. Although it presents a highly versatile sound signature, the Tia Fourte Noir avoids boring neutrality. The highlighted low-mids will give plenty of meat to your rock and pop-rock tracks, while the incredibly clean profile will make for a spotless acoustic piece as well. And if you like your pop tracks to sound tighter than David Beckham's ass, the snappy Noir will do that for you as well. Gilstening, airy highs and a drool-inducing soundstage doesn't hurt either. In fact, it almost makes me want to sell my car.
You can pick up the Tia Fourte Noir here: