Meet the Noirte!
PROS: updated Fourte tuning with a deeper more impactful bass and a fuller body more natural mids, new 8-core SPC balanced cable.
CONS: universal only, non-replaceable internal apex, price.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
The rumors about a new 64 Audio release started circulating right before the recent CanJam SoCal where it was on the display as a “mystery” IEM in an unmarked shell without any additional info. I did receive my review sample of Noir a few days before the show, but due to a gag order until the official release date, had to keep it quiet even so it was very tempting to say something while reading CanJam impressions and guesses posted in 64 Audio thread on Head-fi. It seems that those who heard this “mystery” IEM at CanJam mentioned resemblance to the original Fourte, while others let their imagination run wild with various guesses of exotic driver configurations.
Well, the cat is officially out of the bag, and we can put rumors to rest now. The new release is a special edition Noir version of their Fourte hybrid IEM. Reading between the lines, I think 64 Audio had so much confidence in their original flagship that they didn’t want to change too much about it, and instead decided to update the tuning based on the feedback from their customers. And since the tuning was updated in a warmer direction, I guess that would explain a name of “Noir” given to this new 64 Audio flagship. So, let’s find out more about the “darker” side of Fourte – its Noir twin!
Unboxing and Accessories.
The packaging box Noir arrived in is similar to other U18t/Fourte/U12t/Trio models, a large box in a removable sleeve with an eye-popping 3D image of Noir on the front and a detailed info on the back covering the design updates. Under the sleeve you will find a black box with a magnetic latch cover and a secure foam cutout for IEMs and accessories.
The accessories include a custom storage case (more details below), 64 Audio sticker, product manual, premium cable and 2.5mm to 3.5mm pigtail adaptor, and a set of foam (S/M/L) and silicone (S/M/L) eartips.
In a storage case, everything from a wide and easy to handle latch to an air valve eliminating build-up of inner case pressure when you close it, to a separate storage sections for each shell with a removable rubber lining, a custom built-in cable winder, a spot to plug right angled headphone connector and to place the included round dehumidifier container, as well as a built-in organizer to hold securely a shirt clip (included), a cleaning tool (included), and pockets to hold 2 sets of apex modules (depending on IEM model) – all this was custom tailored and well thought of. There is even enough room if you decide to use a thicker replacement cable. And you can customize the case with your name etched on the top.
Noir comes with a new 48” premium cable featuring ultra-low resistance silver-plated oxygen free copper wires, using 8 separate inner-twisted conductors vs 4 used in previous 64 Audio models. Doubling the number of conductors typically reduces the resistance of the cable, but the cable didn’t feel thick, still very light and pliable. Headphone plug is a straight gold-plated 2.5mm TRRS balanced connector with a metal housing and a nice grip. Y-splitter is small, rounded, plastic, with 64 Audio logo; chin-slider is small, black, plastic, with a tight sliding control. Closer to the connector, there is a memory wire surrounded by a heat-shrink tube. The actual 2pin connectors have an angled plastic housing mold which extends a cable with a more natural shape bent over the ear. To improve the conductivity of the signal cable, 64 Audio also used a premium Mundorf SUPREME Silver solder.
While the 2.5mm TRRS (BAL) to 3.5mm TRS (SE) adaptor wasn’t included with my review sample, the final product packaging will have it as part of the stock accessories. I assume that pigtail adaptor will use the same SPC 8-conductor wires and Mundorf silver solder.
I’m a cable believer because I hear the difference, either a subtle or a more pronounced, and I have mentioned in many of my other reviews that intent of my testing with different cables is not to stir up a controversy, but rather to share my experience of what I hear. Feel free to skip this section if the talk about cables offends you. In this test, I compared various premium cables to 64 Audio new stock 8-core SPC cable. I did volume match because many of these multi-conductor thicker cables have lower impedance which usually results in a louder sound that could be misleading when analyzing and comparing to a stock cable.
Last, but not least, I usually mention that despite the sound changes during cable rolling, nothing is night’n’day. In theory, cable shouldn’t function like an EQ to drastically change the sound, it’s there for refinement of it. Here is how I hear the sound changes with Noir while using LPGT as my reference source.
Stock 8core SPC (baseline) – deep sub-bass, strong mid-bass punch, fuller body lower mids, smooth natural upper mids, detailed crisp well controlled treble.
HSA Redcore – tighter faster bass with a better control and slightly more mid-bass impact, more transparent detailed mids with a touch more forward presentation, crisp well controlled treble.
PlusSound Tri-Silver – a little more relaxed sound with a slower bass (attack), mids sound smoother, warmer, and more natural, crisp well controlled treble.
Effect Audio Leo II Octa – a little more relaxed sound with a slower bass (attack), mids sound smoother, warmer, and more natural, crisp well controlled treble which is a little smoother.
DITA OSLO – a little more relaxed sound with a slightly slower bass (attack), mids sound smoother, warmer, fuller, and more natural, crisp well controlled treble which is a little smoother.
PWA 1960-4W – a little more relaxed sound with a slower bass (attack), mids sound smoother, more natural, and more transparent at the same time, well controlled detailed treble with a more natural tonality.