64 Audio U18t Review

64 Audio U18t Review

Taking a break from K-Pop music and tween breakup songs, I’ve cued up my usual test tracks for a stab at the 64 Audio U18t.  Retailing for a decidedly solid $2999, this top-shelf earphone will doubtlessly be gracing many audiophiles’ Audition Lists.  But how does it sound?  And how does that sound compare to other models in the 64 Audio lineup?

64 Audio U18t Review

64 Audio U18t Review

The U18t comes with the usual accessories one would expect to find with such a high-end model; there’s a solid plastic carrying case, a cleaning tool, 6 pairs of eartips, a shirt clip, and two pairs of interchangeable modules (for adjusting sound signature and reducing air pressure).

Like every other model offered by 64 Audio, the U18t exudes an unmistakable air of quality craftsmanship.  Solid in the hand with only a slight amount of real weight, the aluminum housing discreetly encase a whopping 18 drivers.

With six in the lows and another six in the mids, the remain two drivers handle the high-mids and the highs.

The whole setup is completed with a 4ft (1.2m) detachable cable featuring a 2-pin connection.

Specifications

Frequency Response:  10-20,000 Hz
Nominal Impedance:  9 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL):  115 dB

As we can see from these specs, the U18t sports a fairly standard frequency range with only a slight dip in the lows.  Impedance lands exceedingly low at 9 ohms, and this level of efficiency means it will work just fine with personal audio players or other low-output devices.  Sound pressure level strikes me as being fairly loud at 115 decibels, and I never felt the need to listen beyond 50% volume.

Low End

In the low end, the U18t exhibits a clean and natural sense of detail.  There’s no real emphasis here in the lows, but the sound still manages to sound lively and energetic when needed.  Lacking tons of impact or throbbing depth, the bass on the U18t comes across as subdued but somehow still accurate.

Midrange

The mids are perhaps the most characteristic part of the U18t’s overall sound.  Not necessarily forward leaning, they still seem to steal most of the focus from the lows or the highs by virtue of the sheer amount of detail on display here.  The detail is excellent, the fidelity is on point, and the whole sound waxes rich and intoxicating.

High End

Detailed and delicate but still vibrant, the high end on the 64 Audio U18t offers an impressive listening experience.  High highs sound just piercing enough to be natural, but the sound never seems to grow too harsh or uncomfortable.  Granted, this high end isn’t as sparkling or crystal-clear as that of the Tia Fourte, but it’s a close second.

Soundstage

There’s a strong sense of placement and depth between instruments.  This is some impressively spacious headroom, made even more impressive by the fact the U18t is an earphone.  Even as an in-ear design, this kind of space might rival some full-size open-back cans.

Other Observations

Soundstage is probably the best I’ve heard in an earphone yet – perhaps tied with the U12t, and with a slight edge over the Tia Fourte.  64 Audio has been impressing me again and again with how open their in-ear headphones can sound, and if you want tons of headroom in a small package, forget about any other challenger.

There’s also no better reference sound out there.  I know Hifiman has the RE2000, but that thing pales in comparison to the level of detail and clarity you’ll get with the U18t.  The subtle edge to the U18t’s sound is the way it lends a sense of space and dimension to almost any track, allowing different elements and layers the chance to breathe.  It’s a godsend for intricate classical compositions, or energetic jazz numbers, but it’s equally indispensable for sample-laden hip hop tracks.

Recommendations

If you’re looking for a similar level of balance in terms of sound, but want something less reference and more fun, consider opting for the cheaper U12t – at $1999, this model offers more bass while keeping the impressive mids and highs.

For those wishing for more dynamism in general, the Tia Fourte may provide a better sound, though at a higher price ($3599).

However, if you’re a reference sound junkie (like This Guy), and your eyes roll back at the thought of near-perfect audio fidelity, the U18t is the only earphone you need.  This baby does it all, and it does it will a high level of clarity and precision you just cannot find in any other earphone on the market right now.

Final Analysis

For reference sound, the 64 Audio U18t takes the cake and frosts it twice.  With a $2999 price tag, this expensive earphone guarantees the best sound won’t be had on the cheap.  However, for those who can afford this level of sound, a world of high fidelity and uncompromising audio bliss await.

 

Get it for the best price here:

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