Let’s face it, there’s no substitute for wired sound quality. Bluetooth has come a long way since it was invented to transmit low bandwidth MP3 files, but even with the latest ‘hi-res’ Bluetooth codecs, there’s still a perceptible loss of quality with resolving IEMs, and they don’t come much more resolving than the 64Audio U12t.
But there’s a catch. You’re not always going to want to use your high-performance IEMs for Bluetooth music for this exact reason. The compression that’s only mildly apparent with lesser gear is suddenly blatantly obvious. Even if you’re getting anywhere near the maximum bitrate of AptX, that’s still well short of the bitrate of a CD-quality lossless flac file, let alone hi-res.
Throw in poorly recorded or mastered music and the cumulative result is a pale shade of what your IEMs are capable of. This is no fault of the UTWS1. In fact, with the right IEMs, it blows away just about any other true wireless IEMs available today. It’s purely a limitation of the Bluetooth protocol, combined with the far weaker amplifiers used as a necessity for wireless convenience.
That said, I found the sound quality of the UTWS1 surprisingly impressive. Being careful to select well-mastered music, I missed my cable far less than I thought I would, especially since I was able to untether myself from my phone and DAP and walk around the house without a worry.
If I have to be critical, it was immediately apparent how the smooth, pristine vocals in Lily Kershaw’s sublime “Unrequited Night” started to sound slightly wobbly in parts, and the electronic drums didn’t hit quite as hard or with as much texture on Lorde’s “Royals”. Switching to classic rock, Boston’s “More Than A Feeling” left me wishing the vocals sounded fuller and the guitars had more crunch, and the violins weren’t nearly as precise on Max Richer’s “Winter 1”.
Again, this is no real fault of the UTWS1. For a true wireless system, it performed well above what I expected. “Well obviously,” I hear you saying. You can’t compare a $2,000 IEM to your typical $200 or $300 true wireless set. Except with the UTWS1 you can do just that. If you already own high-performance IEMs, the UTWS1 will turn them into high-performance true wireless IEMs for the sum total of $45.
Closing thoughts after the break…