1964 Ears is a relatively new company that offers custom in ear monitors as well as custom tips, reshelling services and noise reduction plugs. They are based in Portland, Oregon and offer a wide range of custom in ear monitors from a single driver all the way up to a quad driver and all at an affordable cost when compared to the prices of the competition.
1964 Ears as a company emphasizes a couple of points. They want to deliver quality products at affordable prices while having great customer service. I have sent many emails and definitely to the point of excessive and the majority of them were answered in a timely fashion and typically within 24 hours. I find their customer service team to be excellent and rarely do you have the chance to communicate with the owner of a company and I find that to be a good thing. It also lets you know that 1964 Ears is not a huge company. My dealings with 1964 Ears has been nothing short of excellent.
Of all of their custom in ear monitors their triple driver model or simply the 1964-T was the one that seemed to suit my preferences and being quite affordable for a triple driver custom at $350. The 1964-T incorporates two bass drivers and one driver for the highs in a two way crossover.
Trip to the Audiologist
Custom in ear monitors unlike universal fit cannot be picked out and bought in a store expecting to have a listening session later that day. If you are unaware of the process you will have to find an audiologist and make an appointment for ear impressions. Typically the prices range from as low as $20 up to $100 depending on your location and who you go to. Mine came out to $50 for both ears from an experienced audiologist and when located in midtown Manhattan that is a very reasonable price
The entire process takes around 20 minutes and while it isn't painful it is a bit uncomfortable. I recommend going to someone who is experienced with making impressions for custom in ear monitors. That way you lower the possibility of having a need for a refit and if you were to need another impression your audiologist can either do it again for free or discount the price depending on who you go to.
The actual process is simple. The audiologist puts a cylindrical shaped cotton dam inside your ears to prevent anything from going too far. Your audiologist will then mix two materials and put that in a syringe. Before that material goes in your ears be sure to have a bite block already on and if unavailable I suggest biting your knuckle but not too hard. The material then goes in your ears and after a couple of minutes everything is removed from your ears and they are inspected to make sure it looks correct. My audiologist then gave me a small box to put the impressions in to mail it to 1964 Ears.
Source: Audinst HUD-MX1, Cowon J3
Phones: 1964 Ears 1964-T (Triple Driver unit)
Bitrate: A mix of mp3 to FLAC
Frequency Range: 30-17000 Hz
Sensitivity: 113 dB
Impedance: 37 Ω
Driver: triple balanced armature (dual low, single high in a two way crossover)
Starting off with the bass the extension is good although it does roll off a tiny bit towards the sub bass however it doesn't take much away from the experience that I get from the 1964-T. The quality of bass is good. It has good texture, speed and resolution. Impact is enough for me but those of you who know me should know that means that bass heads need not apply here. I would not call the bass here light or heavy but neutral. Notes are well controlled and never is it out of place, too slow or too fast.
Moving on to the midrange there really isn't anything added or taken away here. Everything that should be heard is here and whether that is a bad or good thing depends on you. There is no overly forward or recessed midrange which is something I prefer. There also is no wow effect that instantly grabs your attention the moment you press play. Detail, resolution, clarity and speed is good here. There is also a hint of warmth in the midrange but not overly so where the bass bleeds into the midrange or when details are harder to make out.
Moving to the upper midrange and treble things begin to smooth out here. Usually if the frequency starts to smooth out around here that means that sibilance won't be as much of an issue unlike phones that have a peak here that make sibilance appear out of nowhere. This does not mean that the 1964-T is completely devoid of sibilance as there are tracks where it can't be helped but those that are borderline may be aided by the presentation here. There is still good detail, resolution and clarity here just like the rest of the spectrum. Extension is also good and goes to the limits of my hearing. However the 1964-T is a bit more forgiving in nature than my other pair of customs but still very resolving. This may help if your source including bit rate and recording is not up to par.
The sound stage of the 1964-T is not the largest but isn't artificially large like some phones I have heard but good enough for me. It doesn't mean that the music is presented as if the band is singing right next to your ear but isn't the largest of stages. It does have good width and depth presence and gives you a good idea of locational cues and where things are placed. Imaging isn't as precise and clear cut however if that is what you want.
Lastly the 1964-T it does have a slightly laid back signature but is very neutral and more so than any other phones that I have heard prior to owning these. I consider these something that would make a good reference for comparison due to its neutrality.
Universal vs Custom
I figure I'll get asked this a lot so I'll include my opinions on this topic from my personal experience of the difference between universal earphones and custom earphones in terms of sound only and in this case the 1964-T but it can apply to my other one as well. I won't include comfort, isolation or anything else unrelated to sound.
I find that the 1964-T as a whole package is better than any universal I have owned including my favorite universal in the CK10 which I have bought, sold and then bought again and currently in my possession. The 1964-T doesn't “destroy” the CK10 or top universals in every single way leaving them in the dust but as the whole package it does things better. There may be some things universals do better but it is not better by much. When looking at the whole package meaning bass, midrange, treble, sound separation, detail, resolution, speed, etc. I find customs to be better. Universals may be better in one area or even some but definitely not better in most of them.
I also find the customs can scale up better than universals. Out of an ordinary source such as my J3 the difference between the two is there and you should easily be able to tell the difference but it isn't miles apart. When upgrading sources, amps, files, recordings the gap between the two increases as your audio chain gets better and better. Whether this is worth the investment is up to each individual user and I feel that it was worth it for me.
The 1964-T offers a great value at $350 not including the cost of impressions and shipping to 1964 Ears. When you have been in head-fi for a while like I have including the years that I have lurked here it was not that long ago when entry level to the custom world was the UE5c at a much higher price than what the 1964-T cost. There was also such companies such as FreQ as well as other companies that tried to fill the market's desire for affordable custom but it didn't work out. I feel that 1964 Ears is a company that has the potential to be one of those companies that offer affordable customs and they are off to a great start.
The 1964-T is a very neutral earphone with good extension although it does roll off a tiny bit at the lowest of lows. There's no magic lush midrange or forward upper mids. It has a flat response for the most part and makes for a good comparison with other gear and for those who value neutrality. At the price these are going for you can't really go wrong if those characteristics are what you want.
It is a great time to be in the market for a custom. There are so many models with many different companies so there is something for everyone whether your budget is in the affordable range or the money not an object range.
Thanks for reading. If there are any errors please let me know. Also if you have any questions I will be glad to answer them to the best of my ability.