Introducing your contestants
Nio. The newest addition to 64 Audio’s high-end hybrid family, Nio was launched in mid-2020 and ranks as the highest driver count hybrid in the lineup, with eight BA drivers (including one Tia high driver) complementing its 9mm dynamic, for a total of nine drivers (hence Nio). Unlike the other three IEMs, Tia does not incorporate the full ‘Tia System’, as it eschews the tubeless acoustic chambers for a more traditional tubed design.
Nio is the only one of the four IEMs with swappable Apex modules, making it uniquely versatile in its ability to switch between tunings. In my opinion, Nio is also the flashiest looking of the bunch, with a striking blue abalone faceplate surrounded by a polished chrome rim and a glossy piano black paint finish.
Trió. Introduced in 2017 alongside the all-BA U12t, Trió (aka Tia Trió) is 64 Audio’s second Tia System IEM to feature a tubeless, single-bore design fronted by a nozzle-mounted Tia high treble driver (the first being the flagship Fourté). At the time, Trió was also the first IEM, along with the U12t, to feature LID technology that smoothed out the impedance response of its drivers, making the sound more consistent between the sources it was connected to.
With an internal M15 Apex module, Trió doesn’t isolate quite as much as the other hybrids (although Nio ships standard with the M15 module, it can also use the included M20 module for more isolation, and both Fourté flagships include a built-in M20 module). It’s also the blandest (or least blingy, depending on your taste) design, with a dark grey faceplate and a matte black body that’s rather understated considering its explosive sound.
Fourté. If memory serves, when 64 Audio announced their newest flagship in the latter half of 2016, it sent ripples through the luxury IEM market, not least because at $3,600 Fourté was one of the most expensive IEMs ever made, surpassing the price of most full-size flagship headphones at the time. While I want to focus this review on sound rather than cost, it’s worth mentioning if only for the heightened expectation the Fourté shouldered then.
Fourté was the pinnacle of what Vitaliy and his team had been working on for years prior – the Tia System. It was considered unorthodox if not revolutionary, with its distinctive burnt orange rim and genuine copper patina faceplate, and unquestionably remains one of the most unique, albeit polarising, high-end IEMs to this day.
Noir. Also known as Fourté Noir, 64 Audio’s limited edition, black-coloured, blue-accented flagship was more than just a different looking, different sounding Fourté. With only 500 units made, you could say Noir was a one-off design and shouldn’t really be part of the discussion (as it is no longer available for sale), but its appeal goes far beyond what its rarity suggests.
Noir features a re-tuned version of the original Fourté’s dynamic driver, larger venting chamber, all-silver internal solder, and a newer 8-wire stock cable (which, incidentally, wasn’t used in this review). The subtle but very audible change was made, as rumour has it, to better match Vitaliy’s sound preferences three years on from the launch of the Fourté, yet remains as polarising as the original despite its more approachable tuning.