Headed by Vitaliy Belonozhko, 64 Audio are an IEM company which have grew into one of the most exciting and refreshing ventures in the world of portable audio solutions. Incorporating ground-breaking technologies, the firm are not shy to challenge traditional audio standards and in doing so, step into the unchartered territory.
An example of just this is their new TIA (Tubeless In-Ear Audio) technology which is the world’s first open balanced armature speaker designs said to bring unparalleled levels of resolution and transparency to recordings. With a diaphragm that is fully unobstructed, the design topology aids deliveries of frequencies in a linear and true to source fashion while eliminating unnecessary resonances and dampeners. Coupled to this, is their apex technology which works in a similar way to their previously ADEL modules. The end result being the reduction of pneumatic pressures relieving the ears of exhausting sound pressures when compared to conventional monitors. Not only does this have the potential to prevent long-term hearing damage but the modules have the added benefit of creating a wide stereo field.
The Box & Accessories
While 64 Audio have stepped up their retail packaging since I last reviewed their U12 monitors, there is still room for improvement given the expensive nature of their products. The packaging itself is minimalistic with a slide out box with a professional photo of the IEMs themselves along with the 64 Audio logo and ‘Made in the USA’ badge.
Inside is a black cardboard box which opens up to reveal a tray insert of 6 eartips (3 foam and 3 silicone of varying sizes), the earphones themselves and a pedestrian travel case. The case houses a cleaning tool, dehumidifier and shirt clip.
The Design & Build
The Tia Trio come in a two-piece metal suit with the faceplate heralding a brushed aluminum finish. The styling here is very much clean and a departure from 64 Audio’s usual avant-garde aesthetics as can be seen from their other two flagship products – the Tia Fourte and U18 Tzar. Compared to Meze’s Rai Penta, the Trio has a more straightforward curvilinear affair compared to the former’s more angular albeit soft curved approach.
The nozzle design is fairly prominent, however the monitors rest nicely against the conchae of the ears. The IEM uses a regular 2 pin connection with flush sockets connected by memory cable wiring. The cable itself is neatly braided with a Y-split that houses the 64 Audio name and terminates in a weighty and solid L-shaped 3.45mm jack.
The Fit & Isolation
The Tia trio’s housings are similar in size to both the Tia Fourte and U18 Tzar. While these monitors are not the smallest in size, comfort levels were aided by the deep nozzle and memory wire cables. They certainly sat better when compared to Campfire Audio’s Solaris and Atlas models.
Isolation levels, are above average although the apex modules does trade-off some of this due to its inherent design. One way of improving this is to secure a deeper fit with a pair of double-flanged ear tips.
With the implementation of the Tia technology, the bass extends magnificently low with guttural depth and projection. In Wolfie’s ‘Outta Earth’, the lower frequencies have a perfect mixture of authority, decay response and body. Compared to the U18 Tzar, the Trio’s bass has greater body at the expense of speed. However, the dynamic driver really wins out here with fantastic out-of-head rendition of low frequencies. While 64 Audio’s previous U12 (non-tia edition) boasted more voluminous bass lines, the Tia Trio does so in a more controlled fashion and it is really quite impressive to hear. The Tia Fourte takes this to a higher level of refinement with bass which has a rapid decay response. However, this comes at the compromise of the body and analogue feel of the Trio’s lower frequencies.
The Tia Trio features FXC (Frequency eXtension Chamber) allowing for greater control over midrange frequencies of the dynamic driver. This allows for greater levels of coherency in a hybrid design where both dynamic and balanced armature drivers are working in tandem. Next to its elder brother, the Tia Fourte, the Trio’s midrange frequencies are fuller and smoother compared to the former’s slightly more distant sounding vocals. Tonality is outstanding with a great balance of transparency, smoothness and musicality. Despite its more intimate presentation compared to both the U18 Tzar and Fourte, the Trio’s midrange frequencies are richer with less of a focus on leading transients and hyper-accuracy. For those interested in more of a lush delivery of vocals, the Tia Trio would make a fine addition to the inventory. In ‘Cruisin’ by Smokey Robinson, falsetto notes are heard with refinement and good dynamics amongst the undercurrents of extensive bass notes. Compared to Campfire Audio Solaris, the Trio’s vocal notes are less in body but offer similar levels of transparency and resolve. However, the Trio tactfully avoids harshness and glare in its presentation of midrange frequencies.
The Tia drivers are an outstanding bit of technology which elevate the Trio’s treble into airy, detailed and extensive territory. While not as bright as the Fourte, the Trio manages to incorporate a good level of sparkle to uplift the Tia Trio’s tasteful tuning. Compared to Meze Audio’s Rai Penta, the Tia Trio evokes greater detail in the upper frequencies with more extension while the former goes for an arguably more natural timbre. The lack of sibilance coupled with its sheer dynamics allow users to listen to the Trio for hours on head without fatigue or discomfort.
The Soundstage & Imaging
The Tia Trio boasts a larger than average soundstage with good projection of sonic cues in both height, width as well as depth. Imaging is also top quality with excellent separation of both instruments and vocals alike. The extensive treble gives a nice bit of contrast to the analogue bass giving the IEMs both a solid musicality factor as well as an added push in soundstage.
The U12 has a sensible rating of 5.5 +.5/-1.5 Ω and 104 dB allowing it to be relatively easily driven.
Questyle QP2R Digital Audio Player
The synergy with this pairing is fantastic with great technicalities, spatial separation of music and good punch in macro-dynamics in the lower frequency ranges. The overall signature of this DAP is neutral with an analytical lean of notes which helps bring out the potential of the Tia Trio.
This player also has fantastic levels of resolve and depth. However, the soundstage is more intimate with a more mid-forward presentation. There is less of a smooth tonality with notes leaning slightly thinner than when compared with the Questyle DAP.
With both DAPs paired with ALO’s brilliant CDM amplifier, there is more midrange bloom and body with a lusher delivery of vocals. Soundstage dimensions are also pushed further out and the harmonic distortion brings a slightly softer but still resolving take on tracks.
This might be overkill for an IEM but this pairing in desktop formulation really brings out the best of the Tia Trio with fantastic micro-detail, large soundstage as well as good body of sound and midrange bloom.
The Tia Trio is a departure to the Fourte’s more grandiose and resolving presentation. Instead of hyper-levels of attack, detail and space, the Trio opts for a warmer delineation of sound. That is not to say that the Trio is devoid of any detail as it delivers in spade but in what some may consider a more palatable and fatigue-free listen. The dynamic driver of the Trio has greater levels of extension and depth but at the expense of the tactility of the Fourte’s bottom-end. Midrange frequencies are brought closer forward and there is slightly more coherence in this department in line with both the lower and high frequency ranges.
The U18 Tzar is the more reference product of 64 Audio’s line-up. Frequencies presented on the U18 are more linear compared to the slightly w-shaped presentation of the Tia Trio. The Tia Trio is also smoother in nature with a more organic feel compared to the U18t’s more detail-accentuated and balanced tonality.
The Atlas is more of a musically tuned IEM compared to the relatively more fine-tuned Tia Trio. Both offer a slight dip in the lower mid-range frequencies with the Atlas offering more powerful and authoritative bass compared to the more resolute lower frequencies of the Tia Trio. While both stray away from harshness and glare, the Tia Trio invokes a finer balance of musicality and technicalities with the Tia drivers aiding better micro-detailing, sense of pace as well as attack. The Atlas, on the other hand, aims to impress with its ‘grander’ sound and thunderous bass.
The Fidelity IEMs represent Dita Audio’s strive for reference quality tuning in a more rounded and smooth presentation. Compared to the Tia Trio, both offer good levels of clarity with the Fidelity possessing more body and thicker notes amidst a laidback sound. The Tia Trio possesses greater resolve with a more extensive and accentuated treble. Preference wise, the Tia Trio certainly wins here with tactile yet pleasant sub-bass extension as well as an intelligible midrange amongst detailed highs.
Since the release of the flagship Tia Fourte, 64 Audio wanted to fine-tune and deliver yet another compelling product in their already impressive collection of monitors. While the Tia Trio remains unsung amongst its more top-tier siblings, it really is an IEM that has its own unique selling point with an unrivalled tonality excelling in both coherence, detailing and dynamics. Drawing on world-class technologies which aid hearing preservation, open drivers which output transparent & resolving sound, and now increased control over midrange frequencies, the $2299 Tia Trio is certainly money well spent. While the Trio would not be considered a pure analytical IEM or as reference-sounding as the U18 Tzar, the levels of detail coupled with the mild warmth and vocal body rests in line with a masterfully tuned ‘fun’ yet resolving IEM. With that said, these certainly deserve at least an audition. Stay tuned for more…
64 Audio Tia Trio
Retail: $2299 (at time of writing, 64 Audio have a 30% off deal)