Review: 64 Audio U18t (with lots of comparisons including Andromeda, Ara, og Solaris and more)

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by rhythmdevils, Dec 24, 2020.

  1. Rockwell

    Rockwell Almost "Made"

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    If you're looking for a technically capable, highly detailed, tonally correct IEM then the u12t is indeed one of the easiest recs on the market right now. That said, I found the signature to be a little dry and thin overall and, if you're willing to sacrifice a bit of the technical chops, the Andromeda (to me) is a much more satisfying listening experience overall. I often describe the two as the mars and venus IEMs. The u12t, with its detail, resolution and technicalities is quite intellectually stimulating...but it lacks a certain engagement factor and doesn't sweep me off my feet the way the Andromeda does. I recommend both to people a lot depending on what I know of their tastes and preferences.
     
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  2. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    where the F were you to recommend the U12T when I asked for a super resolving technical BA iem? Instead I got this POS. :p
     
  3. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    BTW these are going on a limited loaner so we will get more impressions and measurements soon. If you’re someone who knows me and you want in send me a pm.

    They have also been officially verified as legitimate via their serial number by 64 Audio. No more BS excuses.
     
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  4. Rockwell

    Rockwell Almost "Made"

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    Lol sorry...I do think the Solaris is a better IEM overall so (by my reckoning anyway) you didn't fare so badly.
     
  5. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    I was just kidding you’re definitely not required to be everywhere. :)
     
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  6. Rockwell

    Rockwell Almost "Made"

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    If you're interested here is a good comparison between the OG Solaris and the u12t by Seamon towards the bottom of the page (I guess you can't link directly to individual posts on this site).
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2020
  7. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    @Rockwell you can link directly to individual post. If you are using mobile, you may need to rotate the phone to see it but you can get the link from the reply #. See it in the bottom right corner of your post I screen captured:
    A49294E9-3711-491F-AB54-46D827F33120.png
     
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  8. Rockwell

    Rockwell Almost "Made"

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    Thanks! I modded my post above accordingly.
     
  9. ufospls2

    ufospls2 Friend

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    When I tried the U12t, Tia Trio, Fourte, and U18T, the U18T was my least favourite of the bunch, by a lot. With that being said, I could see why some might enjoy it.
     
  10. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Was thinking about picking up the u12t for sbaf loaner ... oh mother o' geez. what the hell. $1999.

    Sorry, I'd rather know jack shit about IEMs because I am a American.
     
  11. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    U18T arrived yesterday and it didn’t take long to determine these are remarkably average at best. It blows my mind they retail at 3k.

    • The cable really sucks. It feels like it could break fairly easily. To prevent unnecessarily tangling after storage, you need to move the chin slider up to the housings to store in a regular iem case.
    • However the stock 64 Ears case does work, if a bit time consuming to use and it is crush proof.
    • The more open of the two Apex models is the better one to use for this IEM. I believe this is the M15. The M20 just exacerbates what is not good with the tuning.
    • The U18T sounds remarkably average at best, and I don’t mean average to summit-fi models.
    • The bass lift starts rising around 500hz, so it’s suffocating and pervasive at all times. It lends to congested stage feeling that is oddly narrow even though the Apex modules prevent the boxy, closed in feel of sealed armature designs.
    • Due to the very early start of the bass lift, the midrange is a bit on the woolly side. It’s just flat and boring.
    • The treble is somewhat contradictory in that it is complete devoid of sparkle and shimmer you expect in lifelike sounding cymbals and hi-hats. It sounds flat and dull. Yet it can be annoying on some songs. Playing with test tones, there is definitely something going on in 12k to 17k. If I raised the test tone volume to inspect these areas, I was greeted with ice picks to the brain. These are definitely audible! In fact, I barely have to turn the volume up from normal test tone testing to hear them. No matter the presence, the U18T treble is devoid of any air and sense of space.
    • Every song I listened to sounded congested/woolly, flat and just very boring.
    • Added impedance up to 2.7 ohms, has no appreciable effect in that it doesn’t make it better. I suppose I need to try my 33 ohm and higher adapters if I can garner up the energy to try. I just don’t have the desire to try.
    • These do not look or feel like a 3k iem. Reminds me of the U10 I owned years ago. It feels comparably cheap.

    While I can believe the U12T might actually be pretty good, as it will fix most (not all) of the tuning problems of the U18T, I just have no desire to seek it out b/c these seem grossly overpriced.

    In case it’s helpful, here is a pic of the U18T nestled in its crush proof case. I do like the little spots to place the right angle plug and keep it from moving around. That’s a nice touch. Personally I would like to see more padding inside.

    726CA5BF-7F3D-41E6-89D2-CB4E4D2408B8.jpeg
     
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  12. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    Is this Audio-GD poop all over again?
     
  13. Claud

    Claud Living the ORFAS dream

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    You are going to be more interested in IEMs when you get to my age and your hearing is better in one ear than the other. DAPs have the "balance" feature. This is a feature missing in most Hifi and headphone amplifier equipment.
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I need to set these guys straight and offer a more fair and balanced review when I get them.
     
  15. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    you figured out how to get them into the case! I tried every angle but that one apparently.

    I found the upper midrange to be nicely resolving enough for a 1.5k iem but the rest was mediocre at best.

    Did you use my nozzle adapters? Did you have trouble getting a good fit due to the long nozzle? What tips did you use? :D
     
  16. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    The length of the nozzles are good for me. I have long and fairly straight canals. I kept your tip stopper adapters on there; that was really good fix. Pretty crazy they don't have anything to keep the tips from sliding down. I'm using Ortofon tips (my preferred tip usually for comfort and fit, although I tend to think Spiral Dots are generally the best sounding tips)

    In general it is pretty resolving, particularly in the midrange but tonally it’s so off it’s hard to pay much attention to the good stuff going for it.
     
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  17. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Today I decided to try some added impedance. 33 ohms are way too much, really making it lean and intensely bright. 15 ohms got it closer to right. With 15 ohms AND the M20 (more isolation; M15 was too lean with 15 ohms) Apex modules, bass was much improved. It was more neutral and removed upper bass stuffiness. However the drawback is the treble was a bit intense with some music. I don’t think anything is going to save the treble tonality and timbre on this in-ear but I’m guessing 10 ohms might be the sweet spot for getting it to sound it’s best. Too bad my 10 ohm adapter bit the dust a couple of years ago.
     
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  18. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    Note: I should proofread my comments, but my lack of desire is too high to even care at this point.


    I never heard anything from 64 Audio before. This is mostly because I don’t live in NYC or in LA where there’s a chance that you might be able to demo them. Also, I don’t feel like spending four figures on getting an IEM unless it is special. This is my first 64 Audio IEM that I had the displeasure of hearing, and it is a major turn off from trying out any of their IEMs in the future. To be on point, these sound to me not a TOTL IEM, but more like a $500-$800 IEM that sounds super average and nothing special.

    I dunno why these cost $3,000 MSRP. I have a feeling the Dealer Markup is like $2000 on these. These don’t feel or look like a TOTL IEM. To me, it seems like it only cost $100 to make a pair of these. I dunno if there’s something wrong with the BA drivers in both Right/Left of the U18t, this is a bootleg (which per the loaner thread these are confirmed to be legit), or my ears are utter crap, but man I’m not even close to being impressed with these. I don’t see the point of 18 BA drivers in this thing, these are super average. Or maybe my ears are not small enough for these to be a hit for me?


    Gear List used for impressions
    :

    Thinkpad X260 via Roon or Foobar2000 via UPnP Output Component or BubbleUPnP > PI2AES [Toslink Output] > Massdrop x Airist R-2R DAC (RDAC) > Zampotech SW51+

    Roon or UPnP > PI2AES [Coax Output] or Pioneer DV-79AVi DVD Player (CD Transport) [Toslink Output] > Schiit Bifrost 2 > DNA Starlett

    IEMatch was used in High Mode (2.5 Input Z)

    Tips used: Final E Tips Large Size


    Packaging and Design:


    I didn’t get the original box, or the included tips. I did get the IEM with its carrying hard case. I thought it was weird at first, but this is most likely the only thing that I like from the U18t. It’s nicely laid out in the inside, and you can wrap the cable on the inner pole of the hard case. Per the screenshot that @shotgunshane provided, it prevents the IEM from being crushed. The dehumidifier pack I can tell would be useful in the big IEM markets due to extreme humidity in the Asian markets. However, for me it was a minor annoyance to take the U18t out and put them back in its hard care. However, the materials to make the hard case should be no more than $5 to make for a $3,000 brand new IEM. Gross.

    The apex modules that are in the case and on the U18t are a bitch to take them out and put them back in. Since I don’t have small ears, I have to use my big hands to try to change them out. Of course you don’t need to swap them out all the time, but I would be careful if using tweezers on these. If you have big finger tips, try to find someone who has smaller hands with smaller finger tips to swap out the modules. I guess I’m not the target audience on these I guess.

    The IEMs themselves look normal, they don’t have the IEM jewelry look that is a turnoff for me. However, when I feel them I don’t think they look or feel like $3,000 IEMs. I dunno, I’m having a hard time telling why these look like $3,000 IEMs. The design don’t brother me unlike some other people here, but I wish the 64/Tia font is smaller.

    I can’t forgive the stock cable. If there’s anything that is completely wrong with the $3,000 MSRP price of the U18t, it’s this cable that is barely better than the stock cable that comes with the Moondrop Starfield that retails for $109 new. Cable is thing, looks cheaply made, feels too tight on the ear loop, and feels like it only cost $2.00 to make in bulk. I wouldn’t be surprised that people would get the U18t and go nuts on getting a three figure IEM cable and perhaps dissing the cord. No thanks for me.


    Sound:


    It’s pretty damn average to be on point. It’s a BA IEM, but I have to admit even with its downward treble it is more substantial than cheaper IEMs. This is expected, but….where’s the air? Where’s the sparkle? Am I missing something here on the treble? This sound kind of muffle to me. It could be the ear tips, but the Final E Tips normally don’t mute out the treble for me. I then try IEMatch to see if changing the Input Z does anything here...the answer is no as explained in a post here I believe. If the recording is too boosted in the top, you’ll hear it here. If it is too muted the recording in the top, you’ll hear it here as well. I’m just struggling to understand why a $3,000 IEM is just not special in the highs.

    Before I go on the rest, I want to talk about staging. With the two desk setups I feel the staging is a little too upfront for me. Some might say it is the desk amps being used with IEMs, I have to disagree. I used other IEMs like the IER-M9, JVC HA-FDX1, and Gaudio Nair and those IEMs for me do have minor staging changes between the two desk setups that I referenced above. With the U18t to me these have limited breathing room for the music notes. Or perhaps it is the tips that I am using. Honestly, the more I listen to the U18t the more I just stop caring about it.

    Mids….well to me they are kind of forward in the upper mids area a bit. I’m sensitive to this area, but the U18t doesn’t bug me. What bugs me is what make the $3,000 U18t any special in the mids? Donald Fagen’s voice in The Nightfly comes out ok, but perhaps too head-focused. Instruments sound what they are, but honestly they aren’t convincing enough. It could be the tips that I am using, but most of the time the mids are kind of flat sounding to the point of being 2Dish. I still don’t get the point on why these cost $3,000.

    Lows to me are standard BA tightness but without the specialness like the Campfire Audio Ara where the extra BA drivers for bass gives it better bass. That’s not what I’m getting here with the U18t. I dunno if it is the tips, but it feels it is bleeding a bit in the mids? If you want rumble or a little more omph, you aren’t getting it here. I feel like at times I’m missing some bass extension, I dunno. I wouldn’t want to use these with electronic music or bass heavy music. I think the IER-M9 does a better job with bass details than the U18t if I have to be honest, and that retails for $900 new in the US. IER-M7/M9 are great from Sony BTW.


    Conclusion:

    For $3,000 I can use that money to go to Vegas and have a fun time on sinful activities. That’s a much better value than getting the U18t. These don’t look, feel, or perform like a $3,000 TOTL IEM. Even the Campfire Audio stuff in my experience performs better than this IEM. I honestly think people get this for the cost value while they are lacking something else in size. 18 BA drivers are such a waste for an overpriced product like this. People gotta eat and a business like 64 Audio needs to survive. However, the cost/performance ratio is one of the worse that I ever had the displeasure of putting in my ears. While it is your money at the end of the day, this is such a waste of money to the point I wish I can flush them down the toilet after I pee/poop on them.

    Major nope from me, I’ll take the Vegas trip for $3,000 + one Pepe.gif.

    P.S.:

    A nice friend is letting me borrow the Moondrop Blessings 2. For a slightly above $300 IEM, I feel these are leagues better than the overpriced junk that is the U18t.


     
  19. Rockwell

    Rockwell Almost "Made"

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    LOL ouch...not a Campfire fan I take it.
     
  20. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    Some of their stuff is quite good, but I was referencing that I think their near TOTL line stuff that is much cheaper is better than the U18t by a long shot. Of course for some people they will claim that SBAF has a bias for Campfire Audio and they will mostly say Campfire Audio by default is better than U18t. I have to disagree on that part since in my ears as I type this is the Moondrop Blessing 2, which I feel is so much better than the U18t and it only cost $320 to get.
     
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