The Next TIA wave!
PROS: more affordable TIA/APEX tech, U12t being a noticeable upgrade from U12, Trio being an impressive alternative to Fourte, interchangeable APEX modules (U12t/A12t), premium cable and accessories.
CONS: still a premium price, Trio is universal only.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
Manufacturer website: 64 Audio. Available for sale directly or retailers like Bloom Audio (Trio, U12t).
Right before RMAF’17 show, 64 Audio posted a tease of two new iems, labeled as Sample X and Sample Y. One (Y) had a close resemblance to Fourte shell with no visible APEX module and the other one (X) had a more “traditional” shell with interchangeable APEX modules. During the show, visitors were encouraged to listen and to guess the driver config of these new 64 Audio iems, and afterwards when the veil was lifted – we learned about U12 TIA (U12t) and TIA Trio (Trio) upcoming new IEM models.
Ever since introduction and release of U18 Tzar and TIA Fourte, 64 Audio has been flooded with requests to implement TIA tech in their other custom and universal models, and U12t (including A12t) and Trio is the answer. I received both Sample X and Y units for a sound evaluation and comparison, and was also sent first production pictures, featured in this review. Hopefully, when production versions become available, I will update my review with final pictures. Since the samples I received have the final sound tuning, that section of the review will remain unchanged. Also, I would like to mention this review going to be a little different, with more focus on the sound analysis and comparison within 64 Audio family, along with a number of DAPs and cable pair ups.
*** Update: the review has been updated with pictures of the production U12t and Trio units.
Both U12t and Trio have the same premium packaging as U18 and Fourte, and offer an identical unboxing experience. The only difference is corresponding U12t/Trio cover artwork, and all new details on the back about each design.
Both U12t and Trio arrived with accessories similar to flagship U18 and Fourte models. That included their popular Custom Case with cleaning tool, shirt clip, and a small dehumidifier. Furthermore, U12t and A12t will include both M15 and M20 APEX modules.
Along with that, you will also find a new Premium Cable and a set of new TrueFidelity foam eartips. I originally received TrueFidelity (S/M/L) eartips for testing separately, and used it for U12t and Trio sound evaluation in this review. TrueFidelity foams are not like your typical Comply tips, being softer and more comfortable. But the most important, they are relatively transparent when it comes to the sound. I usually find Comply tips to boost the bass and to attenuate the upper frequencies. Here, the new foam tips performed like my regular silicone tips, providing excellent isolation and comfort while keeping the sound transparent, only taking a little edge off the treble.
The new premium cable features ultra-low resistance silver-plated oxygen free copper inner-twisted 4 conductors. Headphone plug is gold-plated 3.5mm TRS oyaide connector with a black housing. Y-splitter is small, rounded, plastic, with 64 Audio logo, and chin-slider is also small, black, plastic. There is a memory wire surrounded by a heat-shrink tube. The actual 2pin connector now has a new angled housing mold for a more natural wire bend of memory-wire section of the cable.
64 Audio also offers an optional Premium cable which has the same wires but could be configured with either 2.5mm balanced or 4.4mm balanced connectors
I always try to be clear: don’t expect a cable to drastically transform the sound like an EQ adjustment. With different pair ups, including a source, a cable, and earphones/headphones – you can refine the sound, from a subtle to a more noticeable level. You already invested into a pricey IEM and in case of Trio and U12t you’re getting a premium stock SPC cable. Do you have to spend hundreds of dollars more to refine the sound? It’s not a necessity, and I used the original 64 Audio SPC cable included with Fourte/U18 for my sound analysis in this review. But as long as you have realistic expectations about diminishing returns, the aftermarket cables below can give you various degrees of refinement to take these IEMs to the next level, as I hear it.
U12t – cable comparison.
SPC to Ares II – soundstage is a little deeper, lower mids are more neutral, and overall tonality is a touch brighter and even more revealing. One thing I did notice, sound has more transparency.
SPC to Lionheart – both, soundstage width and depth are improved. Bass sounds tighter, more articulate, mids are a little leaner and more forward, especially when it comes to vocals. Also, I hear more sparkle in treble.
SPC to Ref8 – both width and depth of soundstage are improved. Very similar improvement as I’m hearing it with Lionheart, bass it tight but I find Lionheart to be a little tighter with a touch shorter decay. Both have a leaner mids and more revealing forward upper mids. Both add more sparkle and more definition to treble, though Ref8 has a little more treble crunch.
SPC to TWau – adds more depth to the soundstage. I also hear a little more rumble in sub-bass, and a tighter mid-bass with more control. Unlike other cables where mids sounds a bit leaner, TWau makes mids more revealing, more detailed, while keeping the original neutral body of the sound. Treble is well defined and airy, with a touch more sparkle but not as much as some other cables.
SPC to 1960-4w – soundstage expands in every direction, typical of this cable. I’m hearing more sub-bass rumble with a nice texture, mid-bass is tighter and faster, lower mids are still neutral, not leaner, but upper mids scale up in transparency, resolution, and retrieval of details. Treble is airy, with a nice crunch, not too much over the top.
SPC to Truth Cu – widens the soundstage, tightens the sound, and I noticed a little blacker background which results in a sharper transient of note on/off. Not a drastic change, but a nice refinement.
SPC to Horus – widens the soundstage and improves depth as well, tightens the sound, blackens the background which results in a sharper transient of note on/off. Sound is a little more revealing with extra level of micro-details retrieval, including improved layering.
Trio – cable comparison.
SPC to Ares II – more soundstage depth. I hear a little more sub-bass rumble, and upper mids pushed a touch back, perhaps as part of soundstage perception depth. Bass is a little tighter but overall not as much difference.
SPC to Lionheart – more soundstage depth and width. Better defined sub-bass rumble with a higher quantity and faster/tighter mid-bass. Lower mids retain their body, upper mids are as micro- detailed and more revealing without sounding thin. Treble has a little more airiness and sparkle.
SPC to Ref8 – soundstage has more depth. I hear a boost in sub-bass, more rumble, while mid-bass is very similar, not too fast or too tight. Lower mids are neutral with nice body, and upper mids are a little smoother and pushed back a bit. Treble is crisp and well defined, but overall upper frequencies are a touch smoother.
SPC to TWau – soundstage is a little deeper. I hear sub-bass being cleaner, still the same amount of rumble but it sounds more controlled. Mid-bass is similar, the same decay speed, keeping bass more analog and not as tight. Lower mids have a decent body, making sound more natural, and upper mids while micro-detailed, a little smoother and more natural in comparison. Treble has moderate amount of sparkle and airiness, but well controlled and not too crisp. Really like this pair up.
SPC to 1960-4w – soundstage is wider/deeper. Bass has a cleaner sub-bass rumble, and a similar more analog mid-bass punch (not too tight). Lower mids retain their body and upper mids are more revealing and more transparent, a little brighter. The same with a treble, a little brighter and crisper in comparison.
SPC to Truth SPC – widens the soundstage, tightens the sound, and I noticed a little blacker background which results in a sharper transient of note on/off. Not a drastic change, but a nice refinement. Here, in this pair up I prefer Truth SPC over Truth Cu because Cu makes upper frequencies brighter and splashier, while SPC kept it a little smoother in comparison.
SPC to Horus – widens the soundstage, tightens the bass, especially noticeable with a bit shorter decay, blackens the background which results in a sharper transient of note on/off. Sound is a little more revealing with extra level of micro-detail retrieval, and improved layering. Also, I hear more airiness and better control of treble.
U12t, and its custom A12t version, is suppose to be TIA version of the original U12 model. The new driver configuration will be as following: 4xBA lows, 6xBA mids, 1xBA high-mid, and 1x TIA high. This model will have TIA single bore design nozzle and replaceable APEX modules where both M15 and M20 will be included.
Trio is based on Fourte, scaled down to 3-way hybrid design with 1x Dynamic Driver mid-low, 1xBA high-mid and 1x TIA high. The shell has a familiar TIA single bore design nozzle, and also two vents in the shell. Identical to Fourte, you can see a larger hole drilled at the bottom edge of the shell facing forward so it’s not blocked by your ear – this is dynamic driver vent. There is another smaller pinhole vent, on the back, which is a part of internal APEX module corresponding to M15.
Both have a similar shape of the shell and an overall size found in corresponding U18 and Fourte pairs, machined out of a solid piece of aluminum. Those are slick and durable anodized aluminum shells with rounded corners and a smooth finish. The shells have a dark metallic finish on the inside and a brushed aluminum finish on the outside with a slightly different faceplate inlay. Also, U12t faceplate is more silver around the edges, while Trio has a different gunmetal shade.
Page 2: Sound analysis and comparison, Pair up, and Conclusion.
34 thoughts on “64 Audio TIA Trio and U12t TIA”
Hi Twister, great comparisons! I was wondering how the Harmony 8.2 and U12t stack up in terms of resultion and microdetails? Thanks!!!
U12t is ahead of it!
Excellent review Twister, Really enjoyed the read.
Would love to know your thoughts on your absolute favorite for EDM music.
For me in particular, I love progressive trance/deep house with lots of bass presence and vocals.
I’ve been eyeing down the CA vegas but after reading this, seems like the TRIO really fit the bill. I keep reading about how Vegas can be very fatiguing and mids are ‘recessed’, would love to know your thoughts on this as well. Any other suggestions from other brands are welcome.
“favorite” constantly changes. Right now it’s a toss between U18, IE800S, and Trio. Not sure if VEGA is the best for EDM if you want faster sound, and VEGA could sound different depending on pair up, thus references to “fatigue” where 6k peak can go up and down. I think for what you are describing, Trio might be it. I highly recommend you to attend your local CanJam shows where 64 audio always present (upcoming NYC, then later SGP, SoCal, London, Shanghai, RMAF)…
I read your review with great interest. Highly enjoyable; the comparison approach is two birds in one stone: revealing and stacking up at the same time.
I’m in the market for CIEM and the 64 is quite appealing, especially the Apex technology, which should on paper relieve fatigue and protect the eardrum. Do you feel those claims have substance?
At that price range, all manufacturers have superb offerings. However, in your opinion, is there any product that pulls ahead? One that is truly stellar givn the price? A loud bang for the buck, excuse the pun.
I don’t have issues with my ears thus can’t comment on health benefits, but aware those with tinnitus feel relief. I look at apex as sound modifying filter/module which micro adjusts the tonality and soundstage. In terms of the best price performance ratio, you need to be more specific about price range. Plus a lot of it has to do with a sound preference. Usually people talk about best bang for a buck while discussing budget stuff around $100… When you go to higher end iems like 64audio, it’s about finding the sound you like. There are many choices around $2k, and I’m a big fan of their sound signature. U18t is one of my favorite iems.
Much obliged for your response, Twister,
Yes, I misfired with my questions. Let me try again: my current IEM is Shure 846, which I’m pleased with, but custom should be more fitting to my life style-at least on paper. Due to lack of time and opportunities-part and parcel of living in Thailand-I have to take a leap of faith and purchase one “blind” on my next visit to the USA. Thus, I relay on reviews, calling up vendors and my hunch…
I’ve been considering the JH Roxaane, Nobel Kaizer Encore and a few others, but more than one arrow has pointed in the direction of Audio64, not the least the Apex technology.
So, what advice would you give me? And more so, which plunge of faith would you recommend? My budget is 2k to 3k.
Iem preference is such a subjective thing, my recommendation would be to try to avoid blind purchase, especially when it comes to CIEM which you won’t be able to sell as easily if you are not satisfied. While in US, you can’t just walk into a store and order one on a spot. But there could be one solution, just learned about it today. There is a store in NYC, audio 46 (located on 46th Street), which I heard will start carrying full line up of 64audio iems which you can listen to at their location. Of course, not sure if you are going to visit US on east or west coast, but if in NYC – look them up… Other than that, U18t is a great choice and you can get it in both iem or CIEM. The same with U12t.
Well advised, and thanks for the usual tip
Gratitudes and cheers!
Do you think it is worth to upgrade from U12 to U12T? so far, I’m in love with U12 especially following your recommendation to pair it with alo ref8.. Or should I go with Trio instead? My music mostly on EDM, hiphop and Top40. Occassionaly, I also listen to Jpop and Audiophile.
Looking forward with your suggestions.
Now I also in dilemma, whether to keep Opus2 or just use HIBY R6 for my daily use. What do you think?
Do you have R6 now? I would use that for daily use. R6 pairs up exceptionally well with U12 which was originally tuned for high output impedance sources. So, U12 with ref8 and R6 will be already a big sound upgrade over just U12 with a stock cable and Opus#2. Save yourself money, enjoy that pair up 😉
So do you think it is worthy yo upgrade to U12Tia from U12? Yes I have R6 with me now.
Btw, I have problem connect the ref8 with U12, the pin ref8 little bit loose when i plugged it to U12, while using stock cable is firm. Do you encounter same problem like this?
With 2pin connector, if you slightly spread the pins apart, just tiny bit, it will tighten the fit. Going to U12t is an upgrade, is it worthy? I guess it’s up to you. Are you going to get U12t and compare with U12? Many people who upgrade to u12 are those who find it too bassy and not as detailed up top. In your pair up with R6 and ref8 cable you find it perfect. That’s why I don’t know if you still gonna like brighter sound going to U12t. If you have both side by side, you can decide 😉 Your ears are the final judge!
gosh, I just sold my U12 and only keep the ref8 cable with me.. Is it very bright U12T and no warm signature anymore? I like more U12 compared to U10 because of lack of bass in U10 but find U8 over bass. So U12 was perfect for me and I thought U12T will be an upgrade…
But still good U12T pair with ref8?
No need to panic. You have M20 and M15 apex modules and stock spc vs ref8 cable. Lots of fine tuning options.
How would U12T compare with AAW 900? Currently deciding between this 2 as their prices are similar. Would prefer a laid back treble that is detailed with good separation and extension.
W900 sounds more congested in comparison due to thicker lower mids. Thanks to TIA driver, U12t treble will be crisper, but it’s not harsh, just adds to a better definition. I used to enjoy W900 a loto more but now it sounds more congested in comparison to many other iems.
Thank you for providing such a detailed and well organized review!
I am considering to upgrade from Andromeda to U12t or Trio.
May I know how you would compare between those three?
BTW, I might upgrade the cable as well, I used the gold-silver cable with Andro, but I feel gold will make some negative effect in macro-details and treble. Which cable is better if I wanna wider soundstage, forwarded mids and crisp treble between ARES II+ and Lionheart?
Regarding cables, go with Lionheart and make sure it has Psquare connector. If you like Andro, imho the upgrade will be going to Trio, it will maintain the same signature with improvement in tonality (more analog quality deeper bass and better controlled treble).
Hi Twister, thanks for the wonderful review. I’m currently using an Empire Ears Zeus XRA (which I left it at the XIV switch most of the time) but I will be changing to the 64 Tia Trio very soon. While the Trio has a wonderful bass, its mid is quite laid back compared to the Zeus XIV I’m familiar with. May I asked your opinion on aftermarket cables that would help pushing the mids more forward without changing the characteristic of the bass and the Treble too much? My budget is around 200-300usd.
Thank you in advance
Oh, I knew the answer to this off top of my head 🙂 but still wanted to double check by testing. 100% what you are looking for Trio is EA Ares II 8wire bespoke cable which is $300, actually. It brings mids forward and improves the resolution and retrieval of details.
Thank you very much! I’ll definitely try it when I get my Trio.
Wonderful review Twister, Really enjoyed the read.
I’m currently using a trio and very staisfied with the bass ,
but I feel the vocals of trio is a little bit thick and nasal .
May I asked your opinion on aftermarket cables that would help making the vocals thiner without changing the characteristic of the bass and the Treble too much.
How would Trio compare with EA THOR II ?
The best pair up of Trio I heard is with Janus D but we are talking about $1.3k cable… I recommend Ares II 8wire version, only $300 and will do exactly what you need.
Any chance you’ve heard any other good cable pairings with the Trio?
I love Leo II, that cables is something else!
Favorite cable pairing with the U12T?
Tbh, I went back to stock cable, liking it! But Ares II is a nice pair up as well, for only $150, unless you want to upgrade to $2k 1960-4W cable 😀
Damn, that 1960 cable’s bass description sounds really similar to this Hakugei triple alloy cable I tried once that made the A12T’s bass sound uncannily like a DD. I gotta try that when I get back to Singapore. Any other good cables worth mentioning alongside that and the Ares?
If you want something warmer and resolving, try Oslo and Leo II
Hmmm.. Now I am deciding whether I should get the Horus octa or the 1960-4w.
for which one, Trio or U12t? Horus is a bright cable, will make Trio harsh.
I’m constantly wandering for the best IEM for Rock and Metal music, by now, it’s the Trió IEM + Plussound Tricopper cable…
Do you hear any other IEM pairing that do the things better than this in this style of music?
It’s not exactly my type of music, but I think Mest MKII might be a good one as well. Mest bass is tighter and treble less harsh.