The exterior design of Noir is nearly identical to Fourte where both have a similar shape shells with rounded corners, machined out of a solid piece of aluminum, with a smooth anodized finish, and a faceplate with a patina inlay. While both shells are black, Fourte faceplate is copper and Noir faceplate is black, matching its shell. Since this is universal design which you can’t customize, having a more neutral color is always a plus, especially since I remember how some people were having a hard time accepting U18t and Fourte colors. But just like with everything else, it’s hard to make everyone happy.
For me personally, shells have a comfortable fit, don’t stick out too far out of my ears, not too light or too heavy, and the nozzle has a perfect length. Unlike U18t where you have a replaceable apex module, just like in Fourte the apex module in Noir is internal to the shell and therefore not replaceable. 64 Audio specifies -20dB isolation which corresponds to internal M20 module. Similar to Fourte, upon closer examination you can see a larger hole drilled on the bottom of the shell facing forward so it’s not blocked by your ear – this is dynamic low driver back vent. There is another smaller pinhole vent, on the back, which is part of internal M20 module. I’m not going into all the details about apex modules since I already covered it in all of my 64 Audio reviews, just that Noir with its built-in apex module has a similar fatigue-free listening experience with an open-back like performance and no ear pressure build up.
Inside, it’s the same as Fourte hybrid 4-way design with a single dynamic driver for lows, one TIA BA mid, one BA high/mid, and one TIA high. Even the spec is the same with 114dBm sensitivity and 10 ohm impedance. BAs are typically self-enclosed with a single opening port, and usually grouped and tubed (in multi-BA IEMs) to be routed to a specific bore in the nozzle. Open BA (TIA) driver has one of the enclosure walls removed, to enable direct-radiating of the inner diaphragm which no longer has a 4-wall confinement. Inside the shell, 64 Audio partitioned the space to create acoustic chambers which allow drivers to be placed without sound tubes (tubeless design), allowing to fine tune the driver sound performance while eliminating any artifacts of resonance associated with tubed sound routing. And just like in Fourte, the high TIA driver of Noir is in the nozzle which acts as another acoustic chamber where everything gets mixed before going to a mesh covered single bore opening.
Up to this point some might question if anything at all has been changed in the design of Noir. There are a few changes with one particular having a more significant impact on the sound. The tuning of the dynamic driver was refined by changing the venting in the shell which improved the impact and the rumble of the bass. Also, 64 Audio recognized the importance of internal wiring, and to keep the path short and pure between 2pin connector and drivers they used a silver Litz wires, a 7-strand construction (0.1mm each strand with 99.9999% pure soft annealed silver insulated by Teflon). They even used a premium Mundorf SUPREME silver solder which supposed to improve conductivity due to its high silver content. It’s hard to tell the exact impact of silver wiring/solder on the sound, unlike new venting of the DD, but in theory this should help eliminate any unnecessary distortion and improve the conductivity of the signal.
I analyzed Noir sound performance across different sources while playing a variety of my favorite test tracks, such as Agnes Obel “The curse”, Sandro Cavazza “So much better” (Avicii remix), C-Bool “Never go away”, Ariana Grande “Break up with your girlfriend”, Ed Sheeran “Shape of you”, Galantis “Hunter”, Iggy Azalea “Black widow”, Indila “Boite en argent”, Robin Schultz “Oh child”, David Elias “Vision of her”, and Michael Jackson “Dirty Diana”. Also, considering hybrid design of Noir, I let it burn in for 100hrs to make sure its dynamic driver is fully conditioned. Based on what I’m hearing, there was a change between the sound out of the box and 4-5 days later playing uninterrupted in the loop, and it was quite noticeable due to bass settling down and mids coming up. My recommendation: don’t judge these IEMs straight out of the box.
Another comment, eartip selection is VERY crucial in here. The impact and the depth of the bass will punch through regardless of eartip choice, but the lower treble will attenuate going from silicone to foam. We all have a different hearing level, with a different sensitivity to treble. Per my personal sound preference, I used stock foam eartips during my sound analysis.
I hear Noir as having W-shaped signature with emphasis on all three main frequency bands, from a deep powerful impact of the bass to a smoother fuller body organic mids/vocals and a crisp well defined treble. The tonality of the new tuning is smoother and more natural, a little less transparent since thicker lower mids add a little coloring to the sound, but nevertheless the retrieval of details is still very good, just less analytical. I also find the tuning to be more coherent in comparison to the original Fourte since in Noir the bass blends in better with mids.
The bass of Noir hits hard, like a basshead quality dynamic speaker, with a very deep and slightly elevated sub-bass rumble. But it’s not exaggerated, though you can feel it. This is not the fastest bass, average speed attack and decay, more typical of analog DD performance. Lower mids are a little thicker with more body which gives overall tonality more warmth and more naturalness, especially noticeable in vocals which sound more organic and smoother. This is not the same as leaner and brighter tonality of the mids in the original Fourte, and because of that Noir loses some transparency due to a shade of coloring. That also affects some layering and separation of the sounds since mids are a little thicker, and I don’t hear as much air between the layers. The sound is not congested at all, still very resolving, just being smoother. When I listen and compare Noir to Fourte under the same test conditions (especially foam eartips) with a focus on treble, it [treble] sounds similar. But due to a fuller body of Noir, the perception of upper frequencies is a little smoother, less crisp, and with a more controlled sparkle.
The soundstage is very wide, spreading far from left to right with less (in comparison to Fourte) out of your head presentation that gives the soundstage a more oval shape and brings you closer to the sound itself. Stereo separation and imaging are pretty good, with a convincing placement of instruments and vocals; and even with a wide soundstage it still sounds realistic, not exaggerated. As far as the transparency goes, I already mentioned the sound being a little warmer and with some coloration, so it’s less transparent than original Fourte. Layering and separation is good, but not exactly on the same level as Fourte.
Here is a quick rundown of various eartips I tried.
- Stocks foams – warmer smoother tonality with more attenuated treble peaks.
- Stock silicone – stronger bass, brighter upper mids, treble is as crisp as Fourte.
- Symbio Mandarin W (hybrid foam/silicone) – stronger bass, brighter upper mids, crisper treble.
- Final Audio Type E – stronger bass, brighter upper mids, some sibilance, crisp treble.
- Spin-Fit – stronger bass, brighter upper mids, a bit of sibilance, more controlled mid-treble.
- Spiral Dots – stronger bass, warmer smoother tonality, crisper treble.
Due to a tubeless design and tia driver sitting right at the tip of the nozzle, firing straight into your earcanal, the depth, width, bore opening, and material of eartips will play a very important role here. If you are sensitive to brighter upper frequencies and want more controlled treble, you have to go with foam eartips. But if you want a good balance between natural tonality and crisper retrieval of details – Mandarin W tips do a great job.