Fit: Universal w/foam and silicone tips Transducer type: Six precision balanced armature...

64 Audio (1964 Ears) ADEL U6

Average User Rating:
4.75/5,
  • Fit: Universal w/foam and silicone tips
    Transducer type: Six precision balanced armature drivers
    Transducer configuration: 2-low, 2-mid, 2-high
    Quad Bore Design
    Integrated 3-way passive crossover
    Hypoallergenic, hard acrylic shells
    Impedance: 22 Ohms
    Sensitivity: +/- 115dB SPL @ 1mW
    Freq. Response: 10Hz – 20 kHz
    Noise Isolation: -18dB with ADEL™ Auto Module

Recent User Reviews

  1. Wyville
    5.0/5,
    "64 Audio U6 - Smooth and effortlessly natural"
    Pros - Smooth and natural, accurate tonality, very versatile, APEX, good value
    Cons - Slight congestion with complex classical music, a hint of veil, additional cost of M15 modules
    64 Audio U6

    Disclaimer
    These U6 are on loan from @ostewart of Sound Perfection Reviews and will be returned afterwards. I am not being compensated for this review in any way. Also, I have not done a lot of reviewing, so be sure to check out Oscar's review for a more experienced perspective.

    64 Audio U6
    • 6 balanced armature drivers
    • 2-low, 2-mid, 2-high
    • Quad Bore Design
    • Integrated 3-way passive crossover
    • Impedance: 22Ω @ 1kHz
    • Sensitivity: 115dB/mW
    • Freq. Response: 10Hz – 20kHz
    • Noise Isolation: -20dB with apex m20 module, -15dB with apex m15 module

    Links:
    http://www.64audio.com
    https://www.facebook.com/64audio
    http://www.soundperfectionreviews.com

    64 Audio
    Sound engineer Vitaliy Belonozhko founded 64 Audio as 1964 Ears in 2010, naming the company after "a pinnacle year for Rock music" and a historic year in audio innovation. Their first IEM was the 4-driver 'Quad' and since then the company has evolved considerably. Not only has the driver count gone up from 4 to 18 in their latest TOTL A18/U18, they have also produced a number of other interesting technological innovations. Most notably in 2016, a year after their rebranding to 64 Audio, their APEX, Air Pressure EXchange, and TIA, Tubeless In-ear Audio, technologies. The latter technology was incorporated in their most prestigious (and expensive) model to date, the coincidentally also 4-driver, tia Foutré. History has come full circle!

    Background
    My interest in the U6 and 64 Audio in general came from their APEX technology and the 64 Audio 'house sound', which I understood to be quite warm and smooth. I like warm and smooth. I enjoy hiding myself away from the big bad world in a comfortable blanket of warm sound. My own private little bubble. And I don't want that bubble to burst because of sharp treble or so much detail that a London Tube at rush hour feels calm in comparison.

    APEX comes in because I used to have CIEMs and after only a few weeks had to have them reshelled to universal fit because they caused all sorts of pressure-related issues (through no fault of the manufacturer, btw, I'm just weird). Since then my ears have become quite sensitive to pressure changes and I was very curious to see if APEX could help there. I also listen to a lot of classical music and due to the slightly open nature of the APEX module, I was also curious to find out if that would make symphonies sound more airy and natural.

    U6.JPG

    Build quality and fit
    The U6 come in a very nice case that has special compartments to protect the IEMs individually, as well as convenient places for the cleaning tool, shirt clip and any extra Apex modules you might have. All this protection is very nice, but the build quality of these IEMs is excellent. They will probably be able to stand up to quite a bit of abuse, but I babied them nonetheless because they were not mine.

    The fit is generally excellent and should suit most people very well. My only point of concern was the long length of the stem that caused some discomfort to my ears after (very) long listening sessions. This probably has to with my canals narrowing more than usual. Nothing too bad and I still managed to use them extensively for my review. Were I to buy my own U-series, then I would consult with 64 Audio if it was at all possible for them to cut a tiny bit off the stem to optimise comfort.

    Source
    All listening was done with my AK70, a neutral warm DAP that is more organic in how it presents the music, rather than analytical. Listening was done with the M20 module and stock cable.

    Presentation
    The U6 present quite a large and natural sounding stage that is in part the result of the APEX module. They are characterised by a smooth and non-fatiguing presentation that is of a high quality, a quality that might not be apparent upon first listen. What jumps out is a strong prominent mid-bass, which is compensated by a quite linear, perhaps slightly attenuated, but well extended treble. The resulting image has a sophisticated smoothness; it retains plenty of detail, but the U6 present that detail with velvet gloves. Not weak, mind you. The U6 are bold and confident with quite thick notes and a stable image with clear positioning of realistic sounding instruments. This is a signature that is fun and enjoyable all day long, as it is as non-fatiguing as it gets.

    The main consequence of the presentation is that there appears to be a very thin veil over the signature, meaning it takes a while before the details start to become apparent. This is certainly very enjoyable and hardly noticeable with music such as indie rock, but sometimes causes just a bit too much smoothness in delicate string sections of classical music. For vocal jazz such as Madeleine Peyroux though it is great, as it sets a lovely warm and intimate feeling stage.

    Despite the intimate feel, the stage is large with good depth, which aids in separation. Because of the thicker note size the depth helps with the separation of more complicated pieces of music such as classical symphonies, but occasionally the layers will obscure one another a little and cause some congestion during very challenging sections.

    Bass
    The U6 have a strong and full-bodied mid-bass that is well controlled, detailed and adds delicate warmth to the entire signature. With the M20 module it has a dominant presence in the signature, not bass head dominant, but enough to create a fun and engaging signature that works very well with, for instance, the energetic rock from Imagine Dragons. During the song "Thunder" the U6 will make it impossible to sit still.

    The sub-bass reaches quite deep and again works very well with rock and dance music, giving a strong impact that emphasises the rhythm set by the music.

    For classical music this is all a bit too much, but I couldn't help but enjoy the Nutcracker here. There is a section I often use to test the bass performance of IEMs and that is when the clock strikes twelve and a fight breaks out between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King. At this point the piece becomes very dark and oppressive and the U6's presentation of this is nothing short of spectacular. I had the biggest smile on my face! The dominant mid-bass rolled in from the back of the stage like dark clouds looming over everything else and the sub-bass impact further emphasised this dramatic moment. Key here was the amount of control the U6 had over this dominant bass presence. Everything else was still there, but the whole image darkened and became oppressive with tangible emotion. It was a deliciously naughty treat and really showed off how capable the U6's bass is.

    Mids
    The mids of the U6 are really quite impressive, but it takes a while to be able to appreciate just how good they are. The mids are warm and smooth and this is what comes across most clearly, yet after listening for a while details start to emerge and the listener is treated to vocals and instruments that sound natural and are full bodied. This works exceptionally well for smooth vocal music such as Madeleine Peyroux. The U6 create an intimate atmosphere where her voice is like a whisper in your ear and well-positioned, accurate sounding instruments complete the image of a jazz club with the listener in prime position. I would say that male vocals, such as Eric Clapton, sound more natural than female vocals, which have a hint of warmth to them.

    Although the U6 are not the ideal choice for classical music, they are still very capable of dealing with complex symphonies and most notably because instruments sound realistic. There is a good distinction between similar sounding instruments such as the flute and clarinet. Such instruments often work in harmony and when playing the same note can be difficult to distinguish. The U6 do this well and it helps to more accurately portray the nuances of a particular piece and its interpretation by the conductor. That the U6 are not an ideal choice for classical music is most clearly illustrated by a complex and layered piece such as Brahms' symphony No.4. The multitude of layers is a bit too much for the U6 to separate properly and causes some congestion. Still, the symphony retains a harmonious sound, which is quite a feat because it could have easily sounded disjointed.

    Treble
    The treble seems quite linear, although perhaps a bit attenuated, and well extended, which, in combination with the prominent mid-bass, results in the U6's characteristic smoothness. This smoothness is very clear in the treble, which is even and has a hint of warmth to it that makes it pleasant and inoffensive. I would not call it a sparkling treble. There is certainly a quality treble, but it is pushed into the background a bit. To return to the Nutcracker, I find that some of the fairy-like sparkle is missing and as a result a key part of the characteristic emotion of the piece is lost. Likewise cymbals in heavy metal are pushed somewhat towards the background, creating a much darker sound.

    I am sure I could easily live with it, but the U6 have a lot of potential for fine-tuning that is hidden beneath that thin veil and uncovering it is quite easy. Whether or not this is an interesting route to go down depends on musical preferences and I will do my best to illustrate the trade-offs versus the stock sound.

    U6_APEX.JPG

    M20 vs M15
    The most obvious means of fine-tuning the signature of the U6 is of course by switching from the M20 APEX module to the M15. As the specifications indicate, the M15 are a little more open and the isolation is reduced from -20 to -15dB. This is still a decent level of isolation and in return you get a larger and more airy stage, and the mid-bass is toned down a little with the sub-bass not hitting quite as hard. This is a more balanced sound and it reveals more details in the upper mids and treble, such as the texture of strings, helping violins sound less smoothed over. There is also better separation and this means that the U6 perform better at classical music, although still not optimal.

    Female vocals sound more natural as that hint of warmth is removed, but this comes at a cost. Rather than sitting up front and centre at a performance by Madeleine Peyroux, you are placed a bit further back. More details come through, but that warm and intimate setting is not quite as strong anymore. For that I prefer the M20, for everything else I find that the M15 offer a better balance while still largely retaining the warm and smooth sound of the U6. A great advantage of the M15 is that they show off the natural sound of the instruments a lot better.

    Cables
    Fine-tuning the sound of the U6 beyond switching between APEX modules can be done with high quality aftermarket cables that offer a number of advantages. I personally do not like the stock cable for its memory wire, it is just a bit too stiff, and aftermarket cables can have greatly improved ergonomics. Cables now also have clearly defined sound characteristics and it opens up the option of using a balanced out if your DAP has one. 64 Audio have recognised this as well and offer a Premium cable of their own, which is a silver-plated copper cable with options for either 2.5mm or 4.4mm balanced termination alongside the normal 3.5mm single ended.

    I only had two cables at hand: the Effect Audio Ares II and Eros II, and both were balanced. The balanced out on my AK70 provides a warmer and more laid-back sound with an increased soundstage, especially in depth, a darker background and improved imaging.

    Eros_Ares_U6.JPG

    -Effect Audio Ares II (balanced, M15)-
    The Ares II is an atypical copper cable that adds some brightness and improves treble extension. Adding the Ares II creates a very engaging sound with a holographic stage. The mid-bass gets a bit more presence with the M15 and the sub-bass hits deep again, but unlike with the M20 and stock cable there is no veil, instead the sound gains a lot of clarity and even sparkle in the treble. It is a bit warm for classical music, but the increased stage, blacker background and slightly thinner note size, mean the positioning and layering is greatly improved. Now the U6 handle Brahms' No.4 with ease and the instruments sound even more realistic with strings getting a lovely texture and definition to them. It is very much a warm, fun, and above all effortlessly natural sound, although because of the large stage it does not regain the intimacy of the stock U6 with M20.

    One of the things I love with this pairing is listening to Astronaut Ape, a type of mellow EDM with lots of bits of sound throughout the stage. It really benefits from the large and holographic stage and when I first listened a didgeridoo came in that blew my mind. There was so much texture and detail to that low, guttural sound that I could almost feel it in my stomach. Absolutely gorgeous!

    Is it still smooth? Oh yes, very much so! It is not the velvety smoothness of the stock U6, but I am notoriously sensitive to any sharpness or too forward details and I could listen to this pairing for days... In fact, I quite happily did!

    -Effect Audio Eros II (balanced, M15)-
    The Eros II is a silver-copper hybrid cable, where two of the wires are pure copper and two pure silver. When I first tried this pairing I was listening to classical music and it sounded a lot cooler than with the Ares II, this made me a bit concerned about other types of music, as I had really enjoyed Caro Emerald's Acoustic Sessions, the soothing vocals of Madeleine Peyroux and the impactful bass of Astronaut Ape. I needn't have worried because as soon as I put on Caro I was tip-tapping away to the wonderfully textured instruments and clear vocals, Madeleine's vocals too were clearer, but still intimate and warm. In fact, with Eros II the U6 do vocals exceptionally well! Vocals have fantastic clarity and emotion to them.

    Remember that didgeridoo? That guttural sound was even deeper, with more texture and still a lot of air. The same goes for the other end of the spectrum. The treble had become airy and detailed with cymbals getting a nice shimmer and more presence. The stage was bigger still and this greatly benefitted the layering, yet the U6 still retained an intimate sound. Not as strongly as with the M20 and stock cable, but with the outstanding vocals the U6 still had something cozy. With Eros II the U6 walk a fine line between having a sense of intimacy, being organic and natural on the one hand, and becoming analytical and detailed on the other. It works exceptionally well and I absolutely adore it!

    Eroica
    This section is specifically aimed at illustrating how well the U6 scale with classical music. It is intended to provide a sense of how somewhat illusive aspects such as tonality, imaging and resolution can affect how the emotion of a piece is presented. To do this, I will focus on the first two movements of Simon Rattle's modern and energetic interpretation of Beethoven's No.3 'Eroica'.

    With the stock cable and M20 module the first movement is very smooth to the point that violins lack the bite and texture to provide the piece with energy. Because of this and the elevated mid-bass, the tympani becomes the dominant source of energy for the piece and it makes it sound slower and heavier.
    In the second movement there is a section that builds up gradually, starting with one set of violins, then another and slowly lower tones are introduces such as cellos and the tympani, while at the same time brighter instruments such as the flute and trumpets are used to add to the drama building up. However, the stock U6 become congested through the many layers and especially the brighter instruments are unable to rise far enough above the rest to capture the emotion and thus much of the drama is lost.

    Switching to the M15 changes the balance. The reduction of the mid-bass pushes the tympani further back and improves the texture and energy in the violins. Because the violins become the dominant source of energy for the piece, the overall speed is improved and this adds excitement to the fast first movement.
    The tonality of instruments, especially woodwinds, is improved and there is overall more air to the stage and better separation. Despite this the second movement still becomes congested and the brighter instruments are still lost in a sea of sound.

    Adding the balanced Ares II to the M15 really makes a difference. The stage is larger still, the note size is a little smaller, the background is blacker and the image is even more stable. The tonality of instruments is greatly improved and the resolution is higher. All these elements contribute to the violins getting their characteristic bite when the bow hits the strings with force and conveys much more energy, yet the tympani has added impact and control to work in great harmony with the strings. It makes the first movement incredibly engaging and energetic.
    The second movement starts slow and has a lot of solo sections that are presented very well. The instruments sound lush and realistic, and their emotion is conveyed effortlessly, while transitions between instruments are clearly defined yet smooth. There is still some congestion as the drama builds up, but trumpets now sit well above the rest with authority and I noticed other, more delicate bright instruments coming through that I had not heard before. All these added layers build up the sense of drama and scale of the piece and make it thoroughly enjoyable.

    Replace the Ares II with Eros II and the U6 become very balanced, the stage is opened up even further and more details come through. Some of the energy in the first movement is lost due to the cooler signature this creates and it changes the presentation from engaging and fun to serious and more accurate. Instruments have a bit less body to them and no longer sound quite as lush, but in exchange more details come through and the extra air helps during more layered sections.
    During the solo sections of the second movement instruments sound more refined rather than lush, but still accurate and effortlessly natural. Once the drama builds up the extra separation and the more airy stage presents the build up more seriously and to my ears more accurately reflects the emotional intent behind the piece. It is very dynamic without any excess. Revolution after all is a serious business and not meant to be "soap opera"-like drama. With Eros II the U6 sound grown up, like they have lost their youthful exuberance to become more focused. For classical music this is clearly the technically best pairing I have tried and the U6 perform impressively well like this.

    U6_AK70.JPG

    APEX
    As someone who has had pressure related issues I was naturally very curious about the effectiveness of the APEX modules. After having used the U6 for a while now, I am very happy with how they work. The modules certainly relieve some pressure and, more importantly, help avoid pressure fluctuations. That has made the U6 very comfortable to wear for long periods, except of course in my case for the slight discomfort caused by the longer stem. Isolation is also still quite good. Not as good as my universal Ei.3, but still capable of creating a lovely bubble to block out environmental noise and hide myself away in.

    Conclusions
    The U6 are very impressive IEMs with a high degree of versatility. The stock U6 with M20 have a unique type of velvety smoothness to them that I always feel the need to describe as "sophisticated". I absolute adore my smooth Custom Art Ei.3 and the U6 are a much more mature version of those. They have a great tonality and offer up spades of detail, and yet somehow 64 Audio have managed to give them a very even smoothness throughout the signature that create a warm intimate sound that is still set in a large stage.

    The option to fine-tune the U6 with the APEX modules and various cables makes the U6 very versatile and capable of dealing with every kind of music you can think of and they will excel at it in an effortlessly natural way. Priced at $899 they are not cheap and the M15 modules will need to be bought separately, but they still offer very good value for money and I think that says a lot about just how well these perform.
    ltltmartin, happy0713, junix and 4 others like this.
  2. ostewart
    5.0/5,
    "Buttery smooth with plenty of detail"
    Pros - Smooth sound, wide soundstage, layering and timbre
    Cons - A little too thick sometimes (can be changed with cables and Apex Modules)
    Firstly I would like to thank 64 Audio for sending me this sample, they were really helpful picking the monitors they thought would suit my music tastes and have excellent customer service. These have had well over 100hrs of burn-in, no real differences were noted.

    Gear Used: Audio Opus #2 DAP > U6
    Dell desktop > Topping D30 > HeadnHifi O2 amp > U6

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    Tech Specs:
    6 Balanced armature drivers (2x Low, 2x Mid, 2x High)
    3-way passive crossover
    apex M20 module
    Impedance: 22 Ohms at 1kHz
    Sensitivity: 115dB SPL @ 1mW
    Freq. Response: 10Hz – 20 kHz
    Noise Isolation: -20dB with apex M20 module
    https://www.64audio.com/product/1964-U6-Earphone

    Packaging, Build quality and Accessories:
    The U6 come in the same packaging as the rest of the 64 audio range, custom and universal. It is a small rectangular white box with a big picture and the brand logo on the front, and the company’s story and a bit about the Apex technology on the back. Slide off the outer sleeve and you are presented with a red inner box that has a flap with a picture of a vocalist on it. Lift this up and you’ll find the box which has the monitors and accessories in it, on the underside of the flap is a quick start guide on how to insert them properly and also a bit about safe volume levels. There is a small white tray above the box that holds the tips. The packaging is really slim and looks great; it is simple yet eye catching.

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    The U6 are built like the rest of the range, and that means they are superbly made. Each side is flawless with no visible seam between the body and faceplate, the 2-pin sockets are tight the cable is the standard affair you get with most monitors but this one has 4 separate cores. The cable is nothing special with good strain relief, but this is easily swapped out too. The Apex modules are very precision pieces and look excellent, everything just feels really well put together.

    Accessory wise the U6 come with a 64 Audio hard case which has separate compartments for each earpiece, along with holes for extra Apex modules, and a part for the cable clip and wax cleaner. The case is really nice, and has a pot of silica to absorb moisture and prolong the life of your monitors. Included tip wise are Comply foam tips in S, M and L, along with a pair of bi-flange tips, I personally like a wide array of tips so this could be improved upon. However the comply tips are really good and most will be able to get a great seal with them. Also included is a cable clip and wax tool, so overall a complete package just missing some extra tip sizes in my opinion.

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    Comfort, Isolation and Apex Technology:
    Now I have tiny odd shaped ears, so the left side fits really nice and flush, with the housing fitting into my cymba as it should. The right side however gets pushed out of my cymba due to my awkward ears. This does not affect the sound or seal, and they are superbly comfortable, they just look a bit odd. They will fit the majority of people with normal ears fine, as I have had these issues with other IEM’s too. I find Comply tips to be very comfortable, but I prefer silicone with these for sound reasons, I have some XS spinfits on them and they fit securely and are not causing comfort issues at all. I personally prefer cables without memory wire, but the stock one is perfectly acceptable.

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    Isolation depends on the Apex module used, the stock is the M20 which offers -20dB of isolation, this is a great all rounder and offers a good deal of isolation but not on par with fully sealed IEM’s. Using the optional M15 module you get -15dB of isolation, but also slightly different sound. Different sounds and levels of isolation are just one of the benefits of the Apex technology.

    Now I won’t go into detail about the Apex technology, so you can read here:https://www.64audio.com/technology

    “When you seal a miniature speaker in an ear canal, the air inside becomes trapped. As the speaker produces sound it moves the air and causes the ear drum to work excessively. The pressure exerted on the ear drum causes ear fatigue, also known as listener fatigue.
    By way of a pneumatically interactive vent the apexTM Technology (Air Pressure Exchange) relieves this pressure. With apex the sound is also dramatically improved across the spectrum, the soundstage is more expansive than ever before, and the technology is versatile allowing for a selection of isolation levels — all while minimizing ear fatigue.”

    How much of a difference this makes, I am not sure, I did find that they never became fatiguing over long listening sessions and you can push them a little harder than normal IEM’s, however I am careful with my volume levels so haven’t tested at high volumes for longer periods of time.

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    Sound:
    I will split this into the main stock sound with spinfit tips and M20 module, I will then write a little on the M15 module and other cables.

    Lows: The power and impact the lows have on these is really impressive, what is more impressive is how controlled they are, never getting in the way of the rest of the sound. One of my first thoughts was wow, these really extend low and those thoughts have not changed, you can really hear the sub-bass rumble on tracks with these.

    The bass is not overly boosted, having a slight lift with excellent dynamics and punch. They can really hit with authority, kick drums don’t sound hollow or flat carrying air with each thump. Bass guitars really cut through the mix, being easy to distinguish and follow.

    I fear that I am making the lows sound like they are boosted and that these are bass heavy, but they are not, it is just the power behind the lows is very good.

    Getting the lows to have the dynamic punch these have, with speed and agility yet still retaining fullness and impact is not an easy feat for dynamic drivers, let alone BA drivers.

    Mids: The mids cut through with excellent texture and tone, they are not clinical and don’t ever sound thin. Guitar tones are powerful and real, with excellent imaging and separation never sounding congested. Male vocals are a treat on these, listening to Thrice, Dustin’s vocals sound pitch perfect without any additional flavour being added by the IEM’s.

    Every pluck of a string and finger slide on a fret board is heard in acoustic recordings, giving an intimate performance that allows you to hear subtle details without fatigue.

    The U6 can handle both male and female vocals well, but male vocals come across a slight bit better due to a slight dip in the upper midrange. The slight dip in the upper midrange means that there is no sibilance or glare and these remain completely fatigue free. The most impressive part is how the lows are full and dynamic, yet never seem to affect the lower midrange.

    Highs: The dip in the upper midrange/lower treble region takes away a little bit of the initial impact of cymbal hits and thus the treble seems a little bit tamed and behind the rest of the sound. This is true; the highs do take a backseat somewhat but once you get past the initial impact there is really good detail and air with impressive extension.

    The highs are not upfront and in your face, but they are very well placed in the mix when it comes to imaging, and there is still plenty of resolution up top that really shines when listening to well recorded music. Even when the music gets busy the highs are never masked or subdued, they are always there adding some sparkle without fatigue. Again I will add that the tonality of the highs is very good with them sounding very natural without a hint of grain or metallic sheen.

    The separation on the U6 is excellent; they have a warmer thicker sound with the M20 module but still retain good layering. The soundstage is also a strong point of the U6 being spacious and wide, with great imaging and plenty of out of head experiences depending on the recording.

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    M15 Module, 64 Audio were kind enough to provide me with a pair of M15 modules to compare the sound of each. I won’t go in depth like above but I will try and describe the key differences.

    First off we will start with the lows again, with the M15 module the lows lose a little bit of the thicker tone that the M20 offers, they become a little less full but gain a bit more control. The lows don’t hit with as much impact as the M20 module, but they are slightly quicker and cleaner. The mid bass is slightly more prominent over the sub-bass now.

    The midrange gains a little bit more air and separation, the tonality is still spot on just they now sound a little more open. Detail is still the same, but the extra separation means they are easier to pick out.

    The highs are still smooth and fatigue free, however the extension feels a bit more effortless and the is a slight bit more presence. They are still far from being bright, but sound a bit more balanced with the M15 module.

    Overall the M15 module tones down the sub-bass a little without losing extension, the lows are also a little bit leaner and more in line with the rest of the frequency response. The mids gain some extra air around notes and better separation, and the highs gain a little more presence without any additional peaks. They still retain a smoother sound in general, but sound a little more linear with the M15 module over the thicker more impactful sound of the M20 module.

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    Cable wise, I know many people do not believe in differences; however I believe they can make a small difference and that synergy is key.

    I have a homemade Toxic Cables silver plated copper cable, and also an Effect Audio Ares II on hand and personally prefer the toxic cables one. I found that using that cable with the M20 module, the lows tightened up a little with some added sparkle up top. The separation also got a little better; these are small differences but added to my overall enjoyment of the U6.

    The Ares II adds some sparkle, but I found that I wanted the lows to be a little more controlled which it does not offer, it retains the full bodied sound of the stock lows. With the M15 module the Ares II works very well, the soundstage is also a little enhanced with it, but I think I still prefer the M20 module + Toxic Cables sound, it is tight, balanced and non fatiguing.

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    Conclusion: $899 is a lot of money to shell out on headphones, add a little more if you want the M15 modules, but you can really tweak the sound of these with cables and modules if you like. The stock sound with the M20 module is thick, smooth and yet still with plenty of detail to be heard. They offer a warm and non fatiguing sound that a lot of people will enjoy. The power that the lows have to offer and the pitch perfect midrange is stellar yet I found myself craving a little added sparkle.

    By just swapping out to the M15 module, the U6 offered a more balanced listening experience without any added peaks or harshness. They still offer a smooth slightly fuller sound sound with the M15 module, but it gains better balance and control, with a bit more air at the expense of a little bass impact. I highly recommend listening to the U6 if you can, as it is an excellent IEM in its price range and the build quality and customer service is all excellent.

    Sound Perfection Rating: 9/10 (Smooth, non-fatiguing, pitch perfect mids, realistic bass, layering and detail retrieval, ability to tune the sound with Apex modules)



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  3. twister6
    4.5/5,
    "A worthy sidekick to a true flagship!"
    Pros - resolving, detailed, natural sound, ADEL module, slim design, accessories (the case!!!), great pair up with many sources.
    Cons - additional cost of MAM/S1/B1 modules, not for those craving revealing/analytical sound, benefits from cable upgrade (subjective).

    Before I start my review, I would like to Thank 64 Audio and Asius Tech for providing me with a review sample in exchange for my honest opinion.
     
    Manufacturer product website: https://www.64audio.com/product/1964-U6-Earphone
     
    * click on pictures to expand
     

     
    It's never easy to work on a review of another in-ear monitor model after doing in depth coverage of the flagship from the same manufacturer.  I was very impressed with a sound tuning and ADEL technology behind 64 Audio U12/A12 flagship which I covered in my review HERE, but afterwards received a number of questions asking how it compares to one of their mid-tier models featuring half of the driver count.  The price/performance ratio topic always gets a lot of attention, and I'm starting to notice that more people, who previously got caught up in a tangled web of driver number wars, are now taking a step back to re-evaluate their priorities.
     
    You also have to be realistic about the law of diminishing returns, but in case of the latest 64 Audio A-/U-series models, regardless of the number of drivers or the price or the custom vs universal fit, they all feature innovative ADEL technology that acts as a secondary eardrum to absorb the harmful pneumatic pressure and to reassure a safer listening while avoiding the risk of hearing damage.  Since I already covered about 64 Audio and Asius Technology (creators of ADEL) in my original U12/A12 review, please use it as a reference for addition info.  The intent of this review is to focus on their 6-driver U6 model, and to go into more details about its performance, comparison, and pair up.
     
    As a spoiler, I want to say ahead of my write up that if you are expecting a conclusion with "Don't waste your money on U12 because U6 is almost as good" – it’s not going to happen because no matter how you look at it, the U12 is still a flagship in its full glory.  But U6 sounds great as well, and got one important trick up its sleeve where some might even consider it instead (or maybe in addition to) of U12.  Want to find out more?  Then, let's move on to the review!
     
    Unboxing and Accessories.
     
    Even so I wasn't planning to cover the info already mentioned in my original U12/A12 review since the packaging is identical, I can't help myself but to gush over it again.  Regardless of the model or the paid price, everybody is treated like VIP with a compact packaging box that has just enough room for a 64 Audio custom travel/organize case, portable dehumidifier container (goes inside of the case), and 64 Audio sticker.  If you are receiving Universal series version, you will also get a pair of Comply foam eartips in S/M/L sizes and a pair of medium double-flange silicone tips.
     
    The cover of the packaging sleeve features a company logo with a picture of monitors corresponding to either Universal or Custom fit design.  When you slide a sleeve off, you will see a flap with a picture of a performer and “Hear Everything” underneath – what to expect when using 64 Audio monitors.  Where it gets more interesting, once you lift the cover flap up you will find a Quick Start Guide with a lot of great pointers about headphone listening safety, volume advisory and proper way to put in-ear monitors in your ears.  Right from the start you get a sense of 64 Audio and Asius Tech really caring about your ear health, one of the main benefits behind the featured ADEL module.
     
    I did mention that everybody is treated like VIP, but don’t expect champagne and caviar - instead you will get one cool custom case.  Everything from a wide easy to handle latch to an air valve eliminating build-up of inner case pressure when you close it, from an individual earpiece storage areas with removable rubber lining to a custom built-in cable winder, and including a place to plug right angled headphone jack and to place a round dehumidifier container, as well as a cover with a built in organize to hold securely a shirt clip (included), a cleaning tool (included), and up to 2 sets of ADEL modules – everything is custom tailored and well thought of.  There is even enough room for a thicker replacement cable, though a straight jack will not fit into right angled storage pocket so keep it along with a cable.
     
    When you placing the order, you can also specify to etch your name on top of the storage box to personalize it.  While everybody uses an off the shelf Pelican or Otterbox storage cases with a pre-cut foam insert, 64 Audio went one step ahead with their own custom designed case which protects your headphone investment and keeps everything organized inside of it.
     
    Unboxing.
     
    64audio_adel_u6-01_zpssen1jhxu.jpg   64audio_adel_u6-02_zps4xo2ud56.jpg
    64audio_adel_u6-03_zpsazmozfdy.jpg   64audio_adel_u6-04_zpsvcxkldnn.jpg
    64audio_adel_u6-05_zpsmjorn10u.jpg   64audio_adel_u6-06_zps4aixpjqv.jpg
     
    Accessories.
     
    64audio_adel_u6-07_zpsq5kax2in.jpg   64audio_adel_u6-08_zpsld39ikkl.jpg
    64audio_adel_u6-09_zps03vputdm.jpg   64audio_adel_u6-10_zpshfig6nan.jpg
    64audio_adel_u6-11_zpsm8uebhp0.jpg   64audio_adel_u6-12_zps7kxev76q.jpg
    64audio_adel_u6-13_zpsh2eombt8.jpg   64audio_adel_u6-14_zpspdzlnszl.jpg
    64audio_adel_u6-15_zpsgn1mo17f.jpg   64audio_adel_u6-16_zpsboz4aosf.jpg
     
    Cable.
     
    All 64 Audio IEMs/CIEMs feature a replaceable cable with a standard universal 2pin connector, reassuring you can use different after market cables to customize the appearance and to upgrade the sound.
     
    If I'm not mistaken, the bundled stock cable was actually updated and now features a more durable design.  The cable utilizes a regular OFC wires in a tight soft black rubbery jacket, with 4 separate twisted conductors keeping L/R ground connection separate going into the right angled gold plated headphone jack with a nice rubbery housing and a decent strain relief.  The y-splitter is just a piece of a shrink wrapped tube and chin slider is a clear short piece of the tube as well.  This chin slider has a good friction and doesn’t feel loose.
     
    Next to the 2pin connector you have a piece of flexible memory wire in a soft shrink wrapped tube, and the connector itself has a red/blue dot to indicate Right/Left designation.  With a pre-shaped memory wire, there is no worry about mixing the polarity of 2pin connectors between earpieces since it has the same orientation, but when dealing with replacement cables – polarity of the connector has to be consistent, both pins facing the same way especially when you don’t have a memory wire.  Also keep in mind, universal series models only have a surface mount socket because there is not enough room for a recessed one.
     
    64audio_adel_u6-17_zps0srfa4rc.jpg   64audio_adel_u6-18_zpsyelkk6nt.jpg
    64audio_adel_u6-19_zpsetdpqv0o.jpg   64audio_adel_u6-20_zps4sesxsgj.jpg
    64audio_adel_u6-21_zpsnm9ce7ji.jpg
     
    The stock wire does its job and seems to be built ok.  But in case of U6 with replacement cables the sound change was noticeable enough for me to switch and never look back.  As my usual disclaimer, not everybody believes or hears the audio benefit of replacement cables.  I’m not trying to convince anybody, but rather sharing with you my personal experience.
     
    U6 has a very impressive sound tuning, but with a stock cable and even some silver plated (SPC) replacement cables I felt that performance was held back, especially when it comes to mids.  I went back’n’forth numerous times, listening from different sources, even at different times of the day just to make sure my mind is not playing tricks on me, and I consistently came to the same conclusion that a stock cable makes mids sound flat and a bit dull.  But once I replaced the cable with pure silver wires – not only did bass become more articulate and tighter, but also mids came to life with more sparkle and better dynamics.
     
    I actually hear the improvement in audio performance not only with pure silver, using Whiplash latest TWag v3 T (Teflon) series, but also with pure copper (TWcu) cable where it added a little more texture to the low end.  Trying it with Litz SPC (Linum) or regular SPC (Noble cables) had a more subtle effect, but not as noticeable as with other two cables.  Just keep in mind, as much as I enjoyed the sound improvement with TWcu – it's 8-conductor braided cable where you are dealing with extra weight and reduced cable flexibility.  With TWag v3 T-series, the silver wires are thinner and more flexible, and it’s not an issue that Whiplash doubled the number of conductors to 8.  But be prepared to deal with some serious microphonics effect, especially amplified by ADEL module due to reduced isolation.  I’m actually found that TWag v3 T-series sounded better than TWag v3 and TWau when paired with U6, but I had to use an electric tape wrapped around R/L sides of the cable between the memory wire and the wooden chin slider.  That reduced microphonics significantly since the cable was no longer rubbing against my chin.
     
    Cable replacement is not a must have upgrade, and I don’t expect everybody to hear the same level of improvement as I have.  But for me personally, after trying U6 with different cables and settling on the one with pure silver conductors – I didn’t want to go back to a stock cable.
     
    Whiplash (TWcu and TWag v3 T-series).
     
    64audio_adel_u6-30_zpsbssg7nlx.jpg   64audio_adel_u6-31_zpsutfftunj.jpg
     
    Design.
     
    My U12/A12 review covered Custom IEM experience where I used 64 Audio on-line Designer to customize A12 and then enjoyed on-line tracker which keeps you up to date with every single step of the design/manufacturing process as you wait for CIEM.  With Universal IEM the ordering process is a lot simpler since everything is already preconfigured and you don’t need to customize anything.  It’s not exactly an instant gratification since you still have to wait a few weeks, but typically the wait time is based on the current queue of orders rather than delays associated with a custom model build.
     
    All Universal series models have a similar design shape and use hypoallergenic hard acrylic material.  They all have a non-transparent solid piano black finish with “ADEL” printed on the right earpiece and “64 Audio” emblem on the left earpiece.  The faceplate is flat, and the overall shape kind of reminds me of a guitar pick with one trimmed side.  While the faceplate side of the shell has a more defined edge, inner side of the shell is more rounded and smoother.  The nozzle is quite extended and at 8mm probably the longest among my other IEMs, but that reassures a deeper insertion and a more secure fit, at least for my ears.  Also, the nozzle has a slightly thicker part in the middle where 64 Audio etches a number corresponding to a driver count, plus this thicker part helps in keeping eartips from sliding off.
     
    The nozzle has a quad bore symmetric design where 3 of the bore openings go to sound tubes connected to corresponding clusters of 2-low, 2-mid, and 2-high balanced armature drivers, and the 4th bore opening goes to ADEL module cavity which is aligned opposite of the nozzle on the faceplate.  Even so nozzle is extended, it feels pretty sturdy.  Obviously, the internal design of each shell has 6 balanced armature drivers partitioned in 3 groups of 2, and also an integrated 3-way passive crossover.  The impedance of 22 ohms reassures compatibility with many different sources, but sensitivity of 115dB means that some low level of hissing to be expected with more powerful sources.
     
    Though the thickness of universal series shell is relatively slim, it still sticks out a bit out of my ear meaning no luck with falling asleep while wearing these.  Another thing to keep in mind, even so all universal series models have the same exterior shape and finish, U12 is thicker in comparison to accommodate twice as many drivers, but we are only talking about a few extra millimeter of thickness.
     
    Design.
     
    64audio_adel_u6-22_zpscydqn82e.jpg   64audio_adel_u6-23_zpsltnaxfju.jpg
    64audio_adel_u6-24_zpstwkb8tw2.jpg   64audio_adel_u6-25_zpsc8f8pgfp.jpg
    64audio_adel_u6-26_zpsx5legcps.jpg
     
    U12 vs U6.
     
    64audio_adel_u6-28_zps2wcqafyl.jpg   64audio_adel_u6-27_zps6h0jfff6.jpg
     
    The fit.
     
    64audio_adel_u6-33_zpsuhj0uai2.jpg
     
    ADEL modules.
     
    Stephen’s Ambrose Diaphonic Ear Lens (ADEL) module was a big topic of discussion in my U12/A12 review, and I’m not going to rehash it.  But definitely would like to talk about the effect of default non-adjustable S1 module versus newly introduced B1 module and the fully adjustable MAM module and how they reflect on U6 performance.
     
    Unlike S1 module used in U12/A12 where default signature had a noticeable mid-bass boost, the same module in U6 accounts only for a slight mid-bass boost since this monitor has a more balanced signature.  As a matter of fact while I found the bass in U12 w/S1 to be a bit too much for my personal taste, in U6 the S1 module added a nice punch without being overwhelming.  But at the same time I felt that upper mids were slightly recessed and soundstage had an average width.  Switching to B1 in U6 reduced some mid-bass punch and made an overall sound signature more balanced which also lifted the mids.  Another very noticeable change was an improvement in soundstage, making it wider and more open in comparison to w/S1.  As much as I was enjoying the extra mid-bass boost with S1, the sound with B1 was more to my liking.  You also have to keep in mind that due to S1 dual lens design (vs B1 with a single lens) the isolation will be better with S1, and it also explains the difference in soundstage expansion going to B1 with less isolation.
     
    One might question if they even need MAM adjustable module with availability of S1 and B1.  In reality, S1 sounds like a fully closed MAM module, while B1 sounds like MAM module being close to fully open.  Basically MAM module has a flexibility to fine tune the sound/pressure, including individual non-synchronous adjustment of right/left sides, while S1 and B1 are like fixed presets.  For me personally B1 tuning hits a sweet spot and I’m planning to keep that module in permanently.  Also, having a “fixed” B1 module is great for those who are OCD about MAM continuous tuning since there is no click feedback.
     
    When you switch to manual MAM module and start adjusting it, you hear the effect of a subtle sub-bass roll off and also reduction in mid-bass quantity, but the change in U6 was not as drastic because you don’t have the same low end impact to begin with in comparison to U12.  Also, similar to U12, you can hear the bass being lowered, becoming more balanced as you turn/open the dial and before the ADEL module is fully open the quantity goes back up.  In U6 with MAM fully open, I hear the bass quantity being somewhere in the middle between the highest level (MAM fully closed) and the lowest level (MAM 2/3 open).  It’s not just a reduction of bass quantity, but also the effect where bass is more transparent and I hear it instead of feeling it.
     
    At the current moment 64 Audio is still working on finalizing their ordering form to reflect different modules, so make sure to specify which module (S1 or B1) you prefer in the notes/instructions space when placing the order.  If you don’t specify it, they will send you S1 by default.
     
    S1 vs MAM vs B1.
     
    adel_b1-01_zpsyjocbaov.jpg   adel_b1-02_zpsi6dsfg8u.jpg
     
    Sound analysis.
     
    Once I put B1 module in and switched to a silver cable, there was no going back for me because U6 scaled up to a fine balanced signature with resolving and detailed natural sound wrapped in a smooth warm tonality.
     
    Starting with a bass, sub-bass extension goes deep with a nicely textured velvety smooth rumble. The quantity is just perfect, not too exaggerated and at the same time with enough presence to give bottom end analog quality, typical of dynamic driver performance.  Mid-bass has a nice punch with a moderate speed, not the fastest attack or the longest decay.  Sub-bass and mid-bass are nicely balanced, linear in quantity, well controlled, and with analog tonality, not typical of BA driver performance.  The bass has a good level of articulation with a natural timbre, but it wasn't as multi-layered, accurate or highly articulate as I found it in U12.  As I mentioned before, with S1 module you get a little more mid-bass boost while B1 balances it out with a more linear performance.
     
    Mids come alive with a silver cable, becoming more dynamic and layered, rather than being flatter as I hear it with a stock cable.  Lower mids have a smooth warm body which is not too thin or too thick, definitely a little leaner then U12, especially since you have a more balanced bass which doesn't overwhelm the mids.  Upper mids are organic, smooth, with a good retrieval of details which actually scales up with a cable upgrade.  The mids never get harsh or grainy, they stay very organic and natural, not too smooth where the details are lost and also nowhere near micro-detail level.  It's a similar phenomenon as I found with U12 drivers, yet they are smoother than a typical BA performance - it sounds smooth analog, but nowhere near the warm and congested dynamic driver performance.
     
    Treble in U6 takes a little backstage due to a warmer tonality with a scaled down quantity.  It's well defined with a good clarity, but not as extended and with reduced airiness.  You definitely never have to worry about sibilance or harshness, but if you are a fan of a crispy and crunchy upper frequency details you will have to lower your expectations.  The treble details are not muted - just sound more natural and smooth.
     
    The soundstage expansion is very good (switched to B1 module), with above the average width and height, and a slightly above the average depth, creating soundstage which spreads around you while still providing some intimacy.  Also, U6 has a decent layering and separation, but not as much air between the layers.  The sound never gets congested and you have a good separation of instruments and vocals, but it's not on the same level as holographic imaging of U12 flagship.
     
    64audio_adel_u6-32_zps1dqlqc2u.jpg
     
    Sound comparison.
     
    The question about how U6 stacks up against U12 was the most dominant one after my U12 review, thus I'm going to spend more time going over that comparison.
     
    Both U6 and U12 have a similar warmer tonality, but U6 is definitely more balanced in comparison.  They have a similar sub-bass, but U12 has a stronger and more aggressive mid-bass punch.  U12 also has slightly more body in lower mids and a little brighter upper mids with more sparkle and airiness in treble.  One noticeable difference is higher level of transparency and slightly better dynamics in U12, especially when it comes to mids.  I also found U12 to have better layering and separation with more air between the layers.  And U12 also stands out with a more holographic soundstage expansion while U6 has a good soundstage expansion but not as wide and more intimate.
     
    B1 module really helps U12 in balancing out low end impact and in clearing up lower mids while opening up upper mids and adding a touch more sparkle, but if you are comparing using S1 module, some might prefer U6 over U12 because of a more balanced signature and less aggressive bass.  With introduction of B1 modules, the sound of U6 and U12 scales up and at the same time creates a bigger gap between these two IEMs.  But this comparison takes a whole new turn if you factor in the audio source pair up.  U6 is not as picky and will sound great from any source, even my lo-fi laptop with a noisy built in sound chip.  In contrast, U12 is more picky and shows its superiority when using better sources like my PAW Gold or Opus#1, especially playing high res files.  But paired up with my Note 4 or my mid-fi DAPs or my noisy laptop, the gap between U6 and U12 sound quality shrinks to the point where in some cases I even preferred U6 because it was more forgiving, while U12 lost its shine and sounded a bit muddy.
     
    For some reason I didn't notice this as much when reviewing U12, but it became more apparent when I reviewed and compared U6.  The bottom line: if you’re building a TOTL portable audio rig or planning to use high res usb DAC/amp (like Mojo or HA-2), it makes sense to invest extra money to go with U12.  But if you are planning to use a variety of different DAPs, or straight from your smartphone or laptop - U6 might be a more versatile alternative.  And of course, if you are on a budget, U6 has an impressive price/performance ratio.
     
    64audio_adel_u6-29_zpsfhfrmyxe.jpg
     
    Here is how U6 stacks up against other IEMs/CIEMs.
     
    U6 vs ES60 - ES soundstage is wider and has a little more depth/height.  ES low end extension is very similar, including quantity of sub-bass and mid-bass which sounds similar to U6, but the bass has a little better layering and more articulation.  ES lower mids are leaner while upper mids are a little brighter; where in comparison U6 is smoother and more organic while ES is more revealing down to micro-detail level.  The same with a treble, where ES treble is brighter, crispier, and more airy, and with a better extension.  ES has more transparency and better retrieval of details. Overall, ES is closer in performance to U12, and similarly to U12, ES scales down when driven from lower res sources.  The decision argument between U6 and ES60 is similar to U6 and U12.
     
    U6 vs W60 - both have a very similar soundstage expansion (using U6 w/B1), nearly the same width/height, while W60 has a little more depth.  Very similar sub-bass extension and quantity, but U6 has faster and tighter mid-bass and overall bass is more articulate and better controlled without spilling into lower mids, while W60 mid-bass spill a bit into lower mids. W60 lower mids are thicker, upper mids are warmer and less detailed in comparison, and treble is not as crisp, not as bright, and lacking airiness in comparison.  U6 is brighter, more revealing, more detailed, with more airiness and cleaner mids.
     
    U6 vs UM Maestro - UM staging has the same width and height, but with more depth.  Low end extension is very similar, and you hear a similar quantity and quality of sub-bass and mid-bass, though UM bass is a little tighter.  Lower mids are very similar as well, but upper mids in UM are brighter and a little more revealing, in some brighter tracks even harsher in comparison.  UM treble is also a little brighter and crispier, but not a night'n'day difference.  These two actually have a lot more similarities, where UM sounds closer to U6 than U12, but it still a little more revealing and detailed in comparison to U6.  Also, similar to U6, UM pairs up good with lower res sources.
     
    U6 vs K10UA - K10 staging has a similar width and more depth/height.  Sub-bass is more rolled off and mid-bass has a faster and tighter punch, sounding more BA rather than more relaxed and thicker like U6 which has a more dynamic driver bass performance.  K10 lower mids are a little leaner and upper mids are more detailed, brighter, and a little more upfront. K10's treble is brighter, crispier, airy, and more extended.  K10 sounds brighter and more detailed and revealing with more transparency, while U6 is warmer and smoother and more organic/analog.  In a way, U12 is kind of in-between of U6 and K10UA, taking the best of both worlds.
     
    U6 vs Savant - Savant staging has a similar width and slightly more depth/height.  Sub-bass has the same quality but slightly less quantity, mid-bass is very similar though a little faster than U6.  Savant lower mids are nearly the same, and upper mids are a little brighter and with a little better retrieval of details. Treble also a little brighter, crispier, and has more airiness, not as rolled off as U6.  Both pair up great with low res sources.  Overall, U6 is smoother and more organic and with a little more analog-like performance in comparison to Savant which is a little brighter and slightly more revealing at the top.
     
    When it comes to pair up with different sources, I already mentioned that U6 is more forgiving and not as picky if you connect it to either lo-fi vs mid-fi vs summit-fi sources.  That doesn’t mean that it will take any low quality source or poorly recorded file and make it shine.  It will reflect the quality of the source, either if it’s warm or neutral or bassier, but I still found U6 to sound good with everything, though hissing level varied.  For example, there was absolutely no hissing with AK120ii, DX80, X5ii, and my Note 4.  But I did hear a little bit of hissing with PAW Gold, N5, L5 Pro, Opus#1, and my ThinkPad laptop.
     
    Conclusion.
     
    I really wish I would have reviewed U6 before U12 because then it would have been in a spotlight without constant comparison to its flagship big brother.  Don't get me wrong, U6 stands firmly on its feet and proudly carries Stephen's ADEL technology.  And you can’t discount the most important factor of these multi-driver monitors – the sound quality of 6 fine-tuned BA drivers with a nicely balanced signature and resolving, detailed, natural sound that has a smooth warm tonality.  I personally recommend using B1 module if you want a more balanced sound versus S1 module if you want to enhance your mid-bass.  Also, I’m a big fan of U6 cable upgrade with silver wires which brings more excitement to the sound, especially with a more dynamic and detailed performance of mids.  All together you have one fine tuned multi-driver coherent performance that will sound great from any source and will do right by your ears health!
  4. Brooko
    4.5/5,
    "64 Audio ADEL U6 – Real Evolution"
    Pros - Sound quality, soundstage, technology, design, build, fit, comfort, case, tunability, accessory options, service (64 Audio & Asius)
    Cons - Modules take a while to get used to using, auto module S1 doesn't showcase full capability
    U619.jpg

    For larger views of the photos (1200 x 800) - please click on the individual images

    INTRODUCTION

    This is going to be a long review – I'll get that out up front. My time with the U6 has been a journey, and I need to cover quite a bit of it – because without understanding that journey, you won't really get a proper understanding of how much my feelings toward the U6 have changed over time.

    Preamble
    As a bit of a preamble, I had an accident with my hearing about 17 years ago. I'd always had pretty good hearing, and even back then I wouldn't classify myself as a loud volume listener. My wife and I were invited to a Jimmy Barnes concert in a closed indoor venue. I'm not a fan, but it was my wife's employer so I was obliged to go. The venue had a low ceiling. Jimmy sang (screamed – told you I'm not a fan) at full volume, and there was nowhere to escape. After two hours it was finally over, and when we got outside I found that I couldn't hear anything but ringing for two days. I knew I had done some damage – I didn't know how much.

    Fast forward to today – I am 49, I have permanent tinnitus, and basically nothing left above about 14-15 kHz. The worst thing for me has been the constant ringing. You learn to live with it, but I would give anything to be able to hear pure silence again. Anyway – I've learned to drop my listening volume even lower and nowadays an average between 65-75 dB is pretty common for me when listening to music

    Discovering 64 & Adel
    So with that out of the way, lets take a step back in time again, this time to October 2014. I'd posted 38 reviews on head-Fi, and was still finding my straps as a reviewer. I owned some pretty good triple hybrid IEMs, but nothing I would call “flagship”. For reference I had my full sized T1 and HD600. But I was still looking for that certain IEM which could stop me looking to upgrade.

    And then I was alerted to the 1964 and Adel collaboration for multi-BA earphones on Kickstarter, and the by-line “World’s 1st Earphones that save your hearing & your music!”. I duly started researching the technology, it looked pretty sound, and so I ponied up USD 480 + freight for the U6 – drawn to the idea of the balanced signature. It was more than I'd ever paid for an earphone – but given my love for music, I simply couldn't pass up the opportunity of something that could safeguard the hearing I have left for the future.

    Getting the U6 / First Impressions
    Just before Xmas 2015 the U6 finally arrived (I think it was November). You can imagine my excitement at finally getting them. I didn't have the MAMs (manual modules), just the stock modules. They were gorgeous – fit was perfect – so I plugged them in, turned on my X3ii, and was floored. I couldn't believe I'd spent the money I had, and the tuning just left me cold. The bass was amazing – textured, extended, and wonderful. The treble was different to what I was used to – smoother, but still had great detail. But the mid-range was simply not to my taste. Female vocalists didn't have that euphony I crave, and the transition from lower to upper mids just sounded flat. Over the next 2 weeks I listened as much as I could, but the feeling remained. Disappointment doesn't come close to what I was feeling.

    So after a year of waiting, and less than 2 weeks of having them, I packed the U6 up and sent it 18000 km around the world to a friend to get his impressions. His comments mirrored mine, and he was brutally honest – calling the mid-range souless. So I got the U6 back, and over time I continued to use them, and slowly began to get acclimatise to their signature. I'll add at this point that I was waiting for the 64 Audio custom case and accessory pack – at which stage I would sell them and recover my costs.

    Time – the great leveler
    But as luck would have it, my case was lost in transit, I continued to use the U6 whilst awaiting a replacement, and slowly I gained a better understanding about my own physiology, and also my brain adjusted to the U6's sonic signature along the way. I now know that I have a particular sensitivity to the area between about 1.5-3 kHz (all humans do – it's just that mine is particularly acute in this area). And if I bumped the upper mid-range at around 2 kHz, the U6 sounded spectacular. I now knew these were destined to be a keeper.

    The benefits of being a reviewer – intro to Steve and Stephen
    It was about this time that my friend Alex (Twister6) put me in touch with Steve (who you guys know as Canyon Runner), and this eventually led to being able to talk one-on-one with Stephen Ambrose. This of course led to getting to trial the MAMs, measuring them, and also having in depth discussions with both Steve and Stephen and understand the technology better.

    And here we are today – with me reviewing the 64 Audio Adel U6 (not a review sample – my personal pair), and hopefully giving you some insight into how they sound. And also my thoughts on why I think the combination of the Asius technology, and 64 Audio's tuning is an evolutionary step in personal audio.

    ABOUT 1964 EARS / 64 AUDIO
    1964 Ears was started by Vitaliy Belonozhko, a sound engineer who has been working with musicians and production companies in the Northwest for more than a decade. Not long into his career he discovered the advantages of IEMs over traditional floor "wedges”. After trying out a few brands it was apparent to him that a better and a more affordable solution to in-ear monitoring was needed, and 1964 Ears was formed in 2009.

    Why “1964”? Because to Vitaliy that was a breakthrough year – both in terms of some landmarks occurring in music (Stones, Beach Boys, Dylan), but also because it was the birth of the first In-Ear Monitor by Stephen Ambrose. Since then Vitaliy and his team have been producing, refining, and developing both custom and universal monitors for both musicians in the industry and also for ordinary consumers. Recently 1964 Ears was shortened to the now familiar 64 Audio we see today.

    I pulled the next bit straight form the website, and I think it sums up 64 Audio quite nicely:

    Everything about that special year (1964) was life changing, and it left an indelible mark on everyone who lived it or later learned of it. 64 Audio’s sole focus is making that same mark when it comes to personal audio. It was Syd Moore who once said, “disregard for the past will never do us any good. Without it we cannot know truly who we are”.


    We know who we are.

    ABOUT ASIUS TECHNOLOGY / STEPHEN AMBROSE
    Fifty years ago, Stephen Ambrose invented the world's first wireless In-Ear Monitor technology (IEMs). Already a professional musician at age 12, he began modifying swimmer's earplugs with tiny speakers and clay and completed his first In-Ear Monitor in 1965. This was the first time full spectrum high fidelity sound was delivered within a fully sealed ear canal by an In-Ear Monitor. Touring for decades with hundreds of performers including Stevie Wonder, Simon & Garfunkel, Diana Ross, Rush, Steve Miller, Kiss and many others, Stephen was able to perfect and commercialize his IEM designs and was the sole provider of in-ear monitors to the professional market for well over a decade.

    Greatly concerned over the increased risk of hearing loss due to the use of personal listening devices, Stephen began extensive research with grants from the NSF and NIH and pioneered new scientific discovery into hearing loss (specifically from the use of IEMs). To solve the problem, he invented and patented a revolutionary “second eardrum" called the Ambrose Diaphonic Ear Lens (ADEL™) which absorbs harmful in-ear pressures.

    In early 2014, Asius and 1964 EARS, joined to design and manufacturer the 1964ADEL line of earphones.

    A NOTE ON SERVICE
    One of the things I've learned with audio, and especially since becoming more popular with my reviews, has been that manufacturers make mistakes, components are not always perfect, and no matter how good a company is, products can have defects. The measure of the company is how they deal with those situations. I want to mention this specifically so I can give you a feel for my own experiences with both 64 Audio and Asius.

    When I ordered the U6, I realised there would be a wait, and because I was traveling to the US, I tried to arrange with 64 Audio to pick up my U6 from friends in the US. Unfortunately I missed the window for the delivery, but 64 Audio made sure they arrived, and my colleagues forwarded them to me. When it came to the case (being sent later) – it was lost in transit, so I exchanged a couple of emails with Alex at 64 Audio, they checked the situation out, and we arranged a replacement. At around the same time I had a cable fault with one of the connectors, sent them a photo, and they arranged immediate replacement. I actually sent the faulty cable back so they could check it out – but I wasn't obliged to do this. 64 Audio were impeccable in their communication, they arranged the replacements, and at no stage did they make onerous demands. They simply wanted to make sure that I was happy with the product – and I am. That is great service.

    I could also say the same about Steve and Stephen at Asius. With the first trial MAM unit, when testing I over-rotated the dial and broke one of the modules. No recriminations, they just wanted to know how it happened (so they could correct it for subsequent models), and they wanted to get me replacements as soon as possible so that my experience with them was up to my (and their) expectations. I also wanted to know more about the tech, so they've made themselves available, taken their time to listen, explain, and gone out of their way to ensure the explanations are being understood. Since then I've skyped them a couple of times, and may assist them with a couple of videos in future to help answer some questions (which I've already had answered – but the information might be good for others).

    Both companies are passionate about what they are doing, but more importantly they care about their customers. And that to me is both reassuring and very refreshing.

    DISCLAIMER
    I purchased the 64 Audio Adel U6 as part of the KickStarter campaign for the KS price. This included the MAM module and A1 auto module. I have since been given the B1 module to include in the review (gratis). I have no other affiliation with either 64 Audio or Asius, and any work done (Spreecast, reviews, or future videos) is unpaid, and being done voluntarily on my part – because I believe in the product, and want to review it.

    The 64 Audio U6 I am reviewing today can be currently purchased from 64 Audio's website for USD 899.

    PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'.

    I'm a 49 year old music lover. I don't say audiophile – I just love my music. Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up. I vary my listening from portables (including the FiiO X5ii, X3ii, X7, LP5 Pro and L3, and iPhone 5S) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > USB > iFi iDSD). I also use a portable set-up at work – usually either X3ii/X7/L3 > HP, or PC > E17K > HP. My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Beyer T1, Sennheiser HD600 & HD630VB, and AKG K553. Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs, and lately it has mainly been with the Jays q-Jays, Alclair Curve2 and of course the Adel U6. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present is listed in my Head-Fi profile).

    I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences. I am not treble sensitive (at all), and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880. I have a specific sensitivity to the 2-3 kHz frequency area (most humans do) but my sensitivity is particularly strong, and I tend to like a relatively flat mid-range with slight elevation in the upper-mids around this area.

    I have extensively tested myself (ABX) and I find aac256 or higher to be completely transparent. I do use exclusively red-book 16/44.1 if space is not an issue. All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line). I tend to be skeptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables, and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences. I am not a ‘golden eared listener’. I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 49, my hearing is less than perfect (it only extends to around 14 kHz nowadays).
    I've now had the Adel U6 for around 6 months, and in the time I've had it, I've used it with practically all the sources at my disposal – including FiiO's M3, X1, X3ii, X5ii, X7 (AM1, AM2 & AM5), L&P's LP5, L5 Pro and L3, my iPhone 5S, and also most of my portable and desktop sources. In the time I've had the U6, the only changes I've observed have been adjusting to the different modules, and also slowly becoming more used to the U6's default signature. I've noticed no “burn-in”, and testing with different amplifiers has not revealed any marked sonic improvements when blind tested (the U6 is relatively low impedance and high sensitivity, and IMO requires no further amping with a decent source).

    This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.

    THE REVIEW

    PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
    When the U6 initially arrived, it was just with the small portable 1964 Ears carry case, and a few accessories. It wasn't until later that the actual case arrived – so I'll simply describe some accessories I've been given so far. As far as I know, if you purchase from 64 Audio, the default total package includes:

    1. The U6
    2. New 64 Audio 3D printed case
    3. 1.2m detachable cable
    4. Comply eartips in S, M, L
    5. Cleaning tool
    6. Dehumidifier (for the case)
    7. ADEL auto module
       
    U602.jpg U601.jpg U603.jpg
    The U6 custom case, and initial zip carry case.
    The carry case was handy - but ultimately a little small
    The 64 Audio custom U/A series case

     
    The case is the big difference here, and I'll try to go through it in a bit of detail. Normally if I'm given a case this size, I never use it – too big to carry around. I use the 64 Audio case all the time despite it's size. The case is totally 3D printed and measures a fairly hefty 115 x 70 x 35mm (excluding clasp and hinge). It's more like a smallish pelican case. It has the 64 Audio logo embossed on the top. It is very hard, very solid plastic, and should do an extremely good job of protecting your investment.
     
    Inside (top cover) is a place to hold two extra sets of modules, a shirt clip, and cleaning tool. The module holders are brilliant – because I've recently received the B1 modules, so I have a place for 1 set (fitted) and the two spares. Ideal! There is also a soft piece of foam strategically placed to fit over the compartment holding the U6.

    U604.jpg U605.jpg U606.jpg
    Dehumidifier, shirt clip, cleaner, S1 module and tips
    The case, inner pocket and dehumidifer
    Fully loaded and ready to go

     
    The bottom section has a split compartment to house both ear-pieces. Each of these has a slit (for the cable). Inside is actually a rubber holder to ensure there are no hard edges putting pressure on the IEMs. The cables then run to a split T pole arrangement so that you can wind the cable around. Situated around the pole are 4 raised slots for the 3.5mm jack. So no matter how you end up winding, you have a handy slot to inset the jack, and secure the cable. The whole set-up takes very little time to pack or unpack, is very protective, and just really well thought out. The icing on the top is in the clasp itself, and also in the case (its not evident until you actually look closely). The top cover has a small ridge around the rim. The bottom of the case has a small recess/groove. When the case is closed, it is essentially air-proof/moisture proof. To assist with the pressure of opening or closing, the clasp houses a small pressure manual valve. It opens when the clasp is pulled open, and engages when it is snapped shut. Really clever.

    U608.jpg U609.jpg U610.jpg
    Cable winding mechanism
    Tongue and groove for airtight seal
    Sealing vent on the clasp

     
    I could not ask for much more regarding the included accessories. Some may miss a 3.5-6.3mm adaptor or an airline adaptor – but most of us already have spares – so I don't regard this as an oversight at all.

    TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
    (From 64 Audio's website)

    I’ve listed the main specifications for the 64 Audio U6 below.

    Type
    6 x balanced armature driver IEM
    Driver configuration
    2 x low, 2 x mid, 2 x high
    Crossover
    3-way passive
    Current Retail
    From $899 (64 Audio direct website)
    Freq Range
    10 Hz – 20 kHz
    Impedance
    22 ohm
    Sensitivity
    115 dB SPL @ 1mW
    Jack
    3.5mm gold plated, right angled
    Cable
    1.2m, removable (2 pin)
    Weight
    18g incl cable and tips
    Isolation
    -18 db (with S1), -10 db (with B1)
    IEM Shell
    Hypoallergenic hard acrylic
    Body shape / fit
    Ergonomic, cable over ear

     

    FREQUENCY GRAPH
    The graphs below are generated using the Vibro Veritas coupler and ARTA software. I must stress that they aren’t calibrated to IEC measurement standards, but the raw data I’m getting has been very consistent, and is actually not too far away from the raw data measured by other systems except for above 4-5 kHz where it shows significantly lower than measurements performed on a properly calibrated rig. So when reading the graphs, don’t take them as gospel – or at least remember that the area above 4-5 kHz will be significantly higher in actuality. It is my aim to get this system calibrated at some stage in the future.

    In the graphs below – you’ll see the channel matching (which is unbelievably good and testament to the QC going into driver matching by 64 Audio). This will also give an idea for the base sound of the U6 with both the S1 and B1 modules.

    What I’m hearing (subjective) – noted before I ever had these on the measurement bench.

    S1 (normal default)

    1. Pretty good bass response – relatively flat and pretty well extended but with a mid-bass rise. The bass is quick and well textured.
    2. Very clean and relatively coherent mid-range which to me slightly favours the lower mids, and is a bit gentle in the upper mid-range around the presence area (2-3 kHz) which I am particularly sensitive to. So for me this flattens the transition between lower and upper mid-range, and female vocalists lose a bit of euphony. Has a tendency to sound flat to me.
    3. Well extended but smooth lower treble which falls short of excessive sibilance (for me) yet remains detailed with sufficient air for clarity.
    4. There is a bump in the lower treble, but the overall feel for me is one of balance (bordering on slight warmth), rather than a V shape.

    S1moduleschannels.png B1CSD.png B1moduleschannels.png
    S1 module and frequency graph
    B1 CSD - very clean
    B1 module and frequency graph

     
    B1 (new module)

    1. Compared to the S1 you immediately notice the cut in lower bass, and a little in bass impact as well. But the bass is again very clean and coherent, and its speed is really good. Sounds cleaner overall than the S1.
    2. Mid range remains similar to the S1 – I like the B1 a little more than the S1, but still prefer to EQ the mid-range a little in the 2-3 kHz presence area. Overall though still clean and coherent. Fantastic with male vocals and still quite enjoyable with female artists.
    3. Treble is practically the same as the S1 – I notice no difference.
     
    BUILD & DESIGN
    When I first saw the 64 Audio Adel U6, I was surprised it wasn't a lot bigger. Six drivers into a tiny shell, and managing to keep the housing quite svelte – 64 Audio has done a wonderful job here. The earphone casing might look shiny and plasticy, but the shell is actually a hypoallergenic hard acrylic. So without being able to state for sure – they should stand the test of time quite nicely. My U6 measures 22mm across, is 16mm tall (from the cable exit to bottom of the shell), and approx 9mm deep (main housing). The shell itself is seamless, and there are no ports. The inner face is smooth and rounded and extremely comfortable to wear, with no sharp edges or protrusion. On this internal face the serial number is also printed – in small embossed type.

    U627.jpg U626.jpg U625.jpg
    External face - with MAM fitted
    Internal face and nozzle
    Quad bore + view of internal face and serial

     
    The nozzle protrudes from the inner face by 15mm, and is angled slightly forward and upward. The actual nozzle piece itself is 7mm, has a very slightly raised ridge for tip retention (no real lip), Is quad bore and just a shade over 5mm in diameter. Normally I'd be pretty grumpy not having a lip – but because of the generous length, and the slight ridge, I've had no issues with my preferred tips coming off.

    The outside face is smooth and flat, and very simply printed with “ADEL” on the right earpiece and “1964 EARS” on the left. At the forward apex of the front face, directly opposite the nozzle, is the hole for the Adel modules. This is 6mm in diameter, and if you blow through it (with no module), you can clearly feel your breath on the other side – it essentially opens a hollow conduit from the outer face to inner face.

    U623.jpg U622.jpg U628.jpg
    Looking down - very smooth and "hard angle" free exterior
    2 pin connector and socket
    Adel module removed revealing pathway from rear to nozzle tip ​

     
    At the top of the body is the 2 pin socket for the removable cable. On the U6, the cable is not recessed, but the connection seems pretty sturdy to me. The cable is 1.2m long, has approx 6cm of memory wire, and consists of two sets of twisted pairs (one from each earpiece), which stay separate from earpiece to jack through the entire cable length. This is perfect for anyone wanting to re-terminate to balanced. The Y-split is just simple heat-shrink (with a clear piece of plastic above it for a cinch), and below it the two twisted pairs join to become a twisted sprung quad cable. The jack is gold plated, right angled, and has excellent strain relief.

    U631.jpg U632.jpg U633.jpg
    The very good stock cable
    Heat-shrink Y split and clear cinch
    4 conductors (2 x twisted pair) from IEM to jack

     
    I cannot fault a single part of the build or design at this point – it really is impeccable.

    FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION
    I touched on the comfort earlier. The shells are very smooth, beautifully rounded, and basically disappear for me when worn. What is better is the extra length of the nozzle and also the angle because it means I can get a more secure seal, and with a wide variety of tips.

    So far, I've been able to fit and use successfully – the default Comply tips, Spin-Fits, Sony Isolation tips, and even Shures standard tips (takes some stretching but they do work). Ostry tips fit fairly shallow, and with no lip come off easily, as do Spiral Dots. There should be enough options to suit everyone, just know that without a lip on the nozzle, if you have a shallow fitting tip, it may become lodged in your ear.

    U640.jpg U630.jpg U629.jpg
    Mathew (14 year old son) showing the fit
    Pinnacle P1, Primacy, Ul and A83
    The secret to the fit is the nozzle length and angle

     
    Worn over ear the U6 sits well inside my outer ear, so lying down and listening is never an issue, and I’ve been able to sleep with them intact. Cable noise worn over ear is very slightly microphonic if the cable is worn loose, but cinched or tucked under clothes it is amazingly silent.

    Isolation is advertised as -18 dB for the S1 and -10 dB for the B1 auto modules. The MAMs vary depending on how open the port is. I was asked to do a test (by PM) involving listening with the S1 with 80 dB background noise – so I simulated it with a youtube video and my monitors measuring room noise at an average of 80dB. I then used the U6 without music – and you could pretty clearly still hear the ambient noise (dulled but still present). Playing music and the background noise becomes a quiet drone – with the MAM's you can close the port and dial it back even further. I still wouldn't use these for air travel – but they provide enough isolation for use in a semi-noisy environment (and no issues with office etc).

    U641.jpg U642.jpg U621.jpg
    Ostry tips (left) came off, but spin tips (right) were perfect
    Sony Isolation and Shure Olives (you have to really force them)
    Default Comply = perfect for me

     
    So for me anyway – fit, comfort, and isolation are pretty close to perfection again.

    ON CABLES

    U634.jpg

    This is simply an aside, and is just here in case I'm asked. I notice other people have asked about after market cables, and their effect on sound. I'm a cable agnostic – but since I had some available from another couple of pairs of IEM's I've borrowed, I thought I'd check them out (measure them). The first ones I tried were the silver, and immediately I thought I could hear a difference. And there was! The silver cable was about 1 dB louder. When I matched the frequency response volume for volume – the response was to all intents and purposes identical from 20-30 Hz through to about 5 kHz.
     
    cables1.png cables2.png cables3.png
    All cables measured together
    Silver vs stock
    Stock vs stock reversed - this could be audible!

     
    There are some variations after that – but given that:
    1. the variations are still only about 1 dB until you get to 9 kHz
    2. beyond about 7-8 kHz with real music, you aren't really going to notice minor differences
    3. my coupler is probably responsible for some upper end differences

    I'm pretty safe in saying that what I thought I heard was placebo. This was repeated for silver plated copper and another generic copper cable. The biggest difference was when I plugged the stock cable the wrong way around (bass drop off – see graph), and this was repeated with the other cables too. So my personal advice – if you want an after-market cable, grab one for the aesthetics rather than the sound. If it works for you and you think you hear a sonic change – just check first to see if you haven't reversed the polarity. And with the stock U6 cable – this means the coloured dots facing forward (at least on mine anyway).
    Need to clarify this point in case anyone gets the wrong impression - the correct way for the cable to be inserted is with coloured dots toward the rear of the IEM - ie facing upward when worn. 

     
    THE MODULES
    The stock S1 and B1 ADEL modules are physically identical externally, with the B1 being black and the S1 being silver. The are 8-9mm tall, 6mm in diameter, have two bands on the body (with rubber inserts) to hold the modules in place, and a top cap or “lid”. This is ideal for removal – you just slide your finger nails under each side and smoothly pull. The very top cap has a central relief port. I've already described (briefly) the sound differences – so let's move to the MAMs (or Manual Adel Modules).

    U616.jpg U617.jpg U618.jpg
    Left to right - MAMs, B1 and S1
    MAMs, B1 and S1
    MAMs closed and open

     
    These are also silver, have the same physical appearance as the auto modules, but instead of the fixed cap you have a turnable dial. With this dial, you can basically go from fully closed to fully open – there are a set of 6 ports under the dial. When fully wound down, the ports are open, and when up the module is closed. It takes 10 quarter turns (two and a half full rotations) to go from fully closed to fully open.

    When using the MAMs, they are labeled right (red dot) and left (blue dot). You need to make sure you the right one for each earpiece. Note for Steve and Stephen – my dot have almost already come off – I'm not sure if this is purely because they were early prototypes or not – but something you should look at (better markings). Both dials rotate the same way – forward and down opens, back and up closes.

    b1vss1modules.png b1vss1vsMAMmodules.png
    B1 vs S1
    B! vs S1 vs MAM open and closed

     
    The MAMs change the sound quite drastically – so I've graphed each quarter turn going from closed to open so you can see some effects. These measurements are consistent and repeatable.

    The first full rotation – closed, to Q1 is very subtle, then after that Q2 and Q3 drop the bass a lot and hump the lower mid-range. The second full rotation remains with a lot lower bass again, but slowly rising while the lower mid-range slowly moves forward. The last 3 steps of the rotation (toward fully open) head toward quite neutral bass (still with a drop off in the sub-bass), but the mid-range bump now flattens, and slowly moves toward the upper mid-range. At fully open, it is close to my ideal signature with a nice flat transition to 2 kHz and a gentle slope down after that. Does it solve my mid-range issues – most assuredly!
     
    MAMfirst4q.png MAMsecond4q.png MAMthird4q.png
    First full turn of MAM module from closed in quarters
    Second full turn of MAM module in quarters
    Final turn of MAM module in quarters to fully open

     
    When first using the MAMs I got pretty lost with getting the correct tuning. I'd encourage anyone ordering them to experiment, and give yourself a good chance to get used to the changes, because it can be pretty daunting losing some of that lower bass. Over time though – you will adjust, and for me it is worth it. I'll cover this in the sound section. When you first start out with the MAMs – go watch this video from Vitaliy at 64 Audio. It is quite simply brilliant and the easiest way to understand how to use the MAMs. I ended up using the humming method and was able to equalise and dial in my ears pretty much perfectly. And if you have asymmetrical canals (like me), being able to dial in each MAM perfectly is incredible. With practice you'll get to know exactly where your sweet spot is. Mine seems to be one almost fully open, the other about a turn and a quarter from open.

    So which module? For isolation you can't go past the S1, but the sound can end up a little bassy. I still use the S1 though, and often just a little EQ to get to where I need to go. If you want a nice open sound and don't like tinkering, the B1 is great – and I think the module a lot will gravitate to. The black looks really cool too. For those who want the most control – the MAMs are brilliant. I use these most often.

    One more tip for the modules – if you think you aren't getting much change – take them out, seal them with your lips and blow very gently into the internal cavity (you'll be able to very faintly feel air from the other side). I don't know why – but sometimes this seems to free up the module a little. I noticed this when measuring both the B1 and the MAMs. Not sure if it flexes the ADEL module slightly – but afterwards I get much more consistent results – both measuring and listening.

    THE ADEL TECH (in laymans terms)
    I thought I’d attempt to explain very briefly my understanding of the ADEL tech, and what it is supposed to do. I’ll also explain how it has changed the way I listen.

    When we use an inner ear monitor, we do things that are very different from listening to open headphones or speakers. Firstly we close and seal the canals, and Stephen’s research has indicated that this leads to a couple of issues. By sealing the ear canals, we actually turn our heads into a big amplifier. If this sounds weird, try doing any exercise (to get your heart beating), and then plug your ears, listen and then unplug your ears again. Yep – you’ve just amplified things enough to hear your internal body functions. On top of that, when we seal the ears, and play sound directly into them, Stephen has been able to deduce (in frequency vs phase tests) that not only are the sound waves amplified, but we also create pneumatic pressure. Our ears have an inbuilt defense mechanism called the acoustic reflex which works really well to dampen loud sounds so that we don’t feel the full force. But typically what has been happening is that in listening to IEMs, we are triggering that acoustic reflex early, which is dampening the sound, so we turn the volume up, which further triggers the acoustic reflex – and the cycle continues until the reflex is overwhelmed, and we are putting sound waves at dangerous levels into our inner ears, and hearing damage ensues. The other side effect of dampening the sound is that when the mechanism is triggered, our ear drums are pulled tauter, and results in degradation of sound.

    So can this be fixed? Enter the ADEL technology. What ADEL does is provide a membrane which absorbs some pneumatic pressures so that the acoustic reflex is not triggered too early. As a result we get to a safe listening level at far lower volumes. And without the damping effect, the sound should also be much cleaner, and more like listening to open cans or speakers. A side note though – if you listen loud, ADEL will not be able to stop you damaging your hearing. Some user sensibility is essential.

    But let’s take a look at my own situation. I use IEMs a lot. I also suffer from permanent tinnitus. I’ve trained myself to listen to music a lot quieter over the last 10 years or so – and my average listening level (depending on environment) would be around the 65-75 dB mark. Even though I do listen relatively quietly, I have noticed that wearing IEMs for a long time still tends to irritate my tinnitus (causes it to flare up or intensify), and I’ve always worried that I may be causing further damage.

    Since getting the ADEL modules and U6, and especially since getting the manual modules, I’ve noticed that my measured listening level is more in the 65-70 dB level with the U6, than in the 70-75 dB. And when I volume match at my normal listening levels, and then listen at the same dB level – the U6 tends to sound slightly louder to me. The other thing I’ve noticed is that with the U6 I am often lowering the volume rather than raising it. With my other IEMs, it is often the other way around. I've also noticed that my tinnitus stays a lot better behaved – even after extended use. I know a lot of things can affect it – but I do believe the U6 with ADEL technology is helping.

    For me the differences aren’t huge (in SPL) but at low listening levels, the U6 simply sounds clearer. I know this is anecdotal, but it is genuinely what I am noticing. Your own mileage may vary. For resource to look further into ADEL, I recommend the following:

    Asius website : https://asiustechnologies.com/tech
    Recent spreecast : http://www.spreecast.com/events/n64-audio-adel-discussion--2
    Kickstarter website : https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1043330169/realloud-technology-that-saves-your-hearing-and-yo/description


    Again – I have no affiliation with Asius, and can only tell you what I am experiencing.

    SOUND QUALITY
    OK – lets get down to where the rubber hits the road. You guys know how at first I didn't particularly like the sonics (mid-range), but how I've adjusted over time. I debated how to present the next bit to you and in the end decided to simply use the B1's (for consistency). I used the FiiO X7 with AM2 module. Tips used on the U6 were the standard included Comply foam.

    U636.jpg

    The following is what I hear from the 64 Audio Adel U6. YMMV – and probably will – as my tastes are likely different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline). For the record – on most tracks, the volume level on the X7 was around 23-25/120 which was giving me around an average SPL around 65-70 dB and peaks at around 75-80dB (A weighted measurement from my SPL meter).
    Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks.

    General Comments
    I already described the default sound of the U6 with B1 briefly early in the review. I've now had almost 4 months with the U6 so I've had more than enough time to adjust to them, and had the B1 module for around a week. Now when I use this module, the first things that come to mind are that it is very balanced, still a slight hint of mid-bass warmth, but with a very relaxed (although well detailed) upper end. Mid-range is extremely good for male vocals, but I do find that the transition from lower mids to upper mids – particularly for my female vocalists – is good, but not excellent (for my personal tastes). I can achieve “great” by switching to the MAMs though, or adding a very slight bump in EQ between 2-3 kHz.

    Overall Detail / Clarity / Resolution
    Tracks used: “Gaucho”, “Sultans of Swing”

    Really clear in the vocals, and that sense of overall balance in the mix is really good. The funny thing with this is that usually I like a slightly brighter overall presentation, but I've become really accustomed to the U6's slightly more relaxed presentation. And the U6 is not a bright IEM – but there is enough in the lower treble that you are getting really great resolution overall – snare clicks, fingers on strings, cymbal decay – nothing is missing, but its just not highlighted like a brighter IEM like the 2000J.

    Sound-stage & Imaging
    Tracks used: “Tundra”, “Dante’s Prayer”, “Let it Rain”

    Amber Rubarth’s binaural track Tundra is my staple for measuring depth and width of stage as it provides good cues and you can get a really accurate sense of distance with different earphones. The U6 sounds really open with this track, but the sense of distance is still not massive. I've heard a lot of people say the U12 stage is massive, but I'm not getting this with the U6. Distance is at the periphery of my head – which is normal for a good iem, but it is the sense of openness and overall imaging which is really excellent. Everything exists in a very clear and defined space, but unlike some IEMs, it actually feels as though I'm sitting in the actual studio. Very natural presentation, and enveloping rather than massively spacious.

    “Dante’s Prayer” is next and I use it because I know this live track well, and I know (from video) where the real placement of instruments is on stage. The miking never gives a real sense of depth in the performance, but can often give a good idea of imaging. There is a nice sense of location, and the contrast between piano, cello and Loreena's vocals is very good. This track is actually miked reasonably intimately and that comes through clearly with the U6. It is simply reflecting the music. My main reason for using this track though is that it's a live performance and the applause at the end can be quite immersive with a really good set of headphones (though few earphones have so far achieved it). The U6 gave me goose bumps the first time I critically listened – it wasn't a recording – I was there. Very immersive, very natural, and rivalled my HD600 for this feat. Stellar.

    The last track in this section is Amanda Marshall’s “Let It Rain” and I use it for two reasons – it has been miked to give a holographic feel (which the U6 flat out nails – very spacious), and it’s a good track to test sibilance (I know it is in the recording). At my normal listening levels, the sibilance is there, but not overly highlighted. The other point I'd make with this track is that the mid-range (being mainly female vocal based) is slightly muted. I know that either using the MAMs or my EQ bump can transform it though.

    Bass Quality and Quantity
    Tracks used: “Bleeding Muddy Waters”, “Royals”

    I use three main tracks for bass tests, and the first is usually Mark Lanegan’s “Bleeding Muddy Waters”. If an IEM nails the overall feel (dark and broody), whilst maintaining quality and texture of Mark's vocals (gravelly rough) with no bass bleed – then it is a winner. The U6 manages almost everything – great tone, no bleed, and marvelous texture. Probably the one thing missing is a bit of impact – but by now I've got used to slightly less bass quantity – and day by day I'm enjoying this new type of presentation more.

    Lorde’s track “Royals” is my sub-bass impact test – and the U6 + B1 actually manages to surprise with very good extension and even a bit of rumble. It isn't head-shaking by any means, but its there, and its extremely good quality. Ella’s vocals are very clear (again they need just a little lift for my tastes). Actual mid-bass slam should be mentioned as well. It's not visceral, but there is a decent amount there. Really impressive.

    Female Vocals
    Tracks used: “Aventine”, “Strong”, “For You”, “The Bad In Each Other”, “Howl”, “Safer”, “Light as a Feather”

    I'll get it in the open now – the U6 with B1 isn't my ideal for female vocals (which make a large part of my library). For me they just sound the tiniest bit subdued. There is no hollowness for Aventine -which means they are tuned really well – but for my tastes, they are just ever so slightly recessed.

    I'm going to break my own rules here and go ahead and give them the EQ bump on the X7 – simply because I know how good they can sound. So it's a +2dB at 2 kHz and +1 dB at 4 kHz (combined it gives the curve I need). I go back to Obel, and the sweetness is there again, with the female vocalists overtones just jumping more into the foreground.

    London Grammar is practically perfect – Hannah's tonality is great with this setting – it's like she's in the studio with me. And when Feist and Florence kick in with the added bass on their tracks you get to realise how dynamic the B1 module really is. Fantastic contrast between the depth and speed of mid-bass and the soothing (and soaring) upper mids.

    Norah is the star of the show here though. Smooth, sweet and husky/sultry at the same time. This is the type of presentation which has me once again thinking “end-game”. I just wish it was the default tuning – but it is pretty easy to accomplish – and fortunately I've never been hung up on using EQ to get the signature I like.

    Male Vocals
    Tracks used: “Away From the Sun”, “Art for Art’s Sake”, “Broken Wings”, “Immortality”, “Hotel California”, “Keith Don’t Go”, “EWBTCIAST”

    Back to EQ off for the next section. I don't need it. The U6 isn't just good with male vocal rock – it is truly exceptional. Vocals are deep, textured, and able to convey a real sense of emotion. Guitar is effortless and perfectly balanced with enough mid-bass slam to make classic rock seem natural.

    Acoustic music (Eagles / Lofgren) is phenomenal and it is clear that any string based instruments in particular are a joy to listen to. The sense of space again with live music is just so natural sounding. I slipped Seether's acoustic cover of Pearl Jam's “immortality” into the mix this time, and the clarity and texture of male vocal presentation is highlighted again. Shaun's vocals are raw, emotional, and powerful.

    My final test is always Pearl Jam though – Vedder has always been my litmus. Great presentation and fantastic balance. Cymbal decay is very good. Eddie's vocals are deep and well textured. This is more than a pass.

    Other Genre Specific Notes
    I'm not going to go into depth with this section – except to say that there isn't a genre I haven't enjoyed with the U6 – and that includes electronica. Even a bit of Trance or Trip Hop has enough overall bass to be very enjoyable.

    AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS
    The U6 is not a hard load to drive, and amping hasn't shown me that I'm missing anything. With my iPhone 5S I only need around 25% volume for my listening level, and the 22 ohm impedance means that most sources (with up to 3 ohm output impedance) should be fine, and not muck around with the multi-BA configuration. With my X7, I'm only using 25/120 with the AM2 and it is by no means a super powerful amplifier unit.

    About the only time I really have felt a gain with using an amp has been the X3ii and E17K combo – and that is purely about tonality. Adding +4 treble on the E17K really brings out the upper mids and lower treble a bit more – which really suits my personal tastes.

    SPECIAL SOURCES?
    U637.jpg

    So were there any sources which really stood out for me with the U6? They all sounded really good – it is simply an easy IEM to pair. But there is one particular source I just love with the U6, and again it has to do with overall tonality. Luxury & Precision's L5 Pro and L3 both have an EQ setting “Jazz” and it clearly brightens the tone a little – especially around the upper mid-range. With either the S1 or B1 modules I just engage this setting and it is pretty much perfect for me, no matter what the music is.
     
    COMPARISONS
    This was such a difficult one to try to think through because I don't have a lot of higher end IEMs. The hardest part was volume matching simply because the U6 sound slightly louder at the same measured SPL. So this has been the one time I've disregarded proper volume matching (because of the effect of ADEL).

    So for this exercise I've chosen my other dual BAs – the q-Jays and Alclair Curve, and matched as best I could. For the U6 this time, I used the MAM's fully open. For a source, I used the L&P L3 – and used with both no EQ and with the Jazz setting.

    • U6 $899 vs Curve $249

      U638.jpg U6vsCurve.png
      64 Audio ADEL U6 vs Alclair Curve (new)
      64 Audio ADEL U6 vs Alclair Curve (new)


      The build on both is impeccable, but for fit and comfort, the ergonomics and smaller size of the Curve are ultimately a winner. Both disappear when fitted but the Curve is simply one of the most comfortable IEM's I've ever worn. The Curve is also much better on isolation – regardless of where you sit the MAM on the U6. With the L3 on no EQ, the Curve have noticeably far more bass impact and reach lower – but the U6 sounds both cleaner and quicker. The mid-range on both is very similar (strikingly actually) and the bigger difference I think is that the Curve overall sounds a little warmer, has less treble (smoother but darker). The U6 also sounds a lot more open and more spacious – yet the overall stage size is similar. For default signature here – I prefer the U6's more open and cleaner signature. If I engage the Jazz EQ it definitely sweetens up the U6's upper mids, but the Curve also gets some really nice gains here. Ultimately I prefer the sonic signature and balance of the U6 – but it highlights again for me how good the Curve is, and how it really needs more recognition.
    • U6 $899 vs q-Jays $400

      U639.jpg U6vsqJays.png
      64 Audio ADEL U6 vs Jays q-Jays
      64 Audio ADEL U6 vs Jays q-Jays


      I reviewed the q-Jays a while ago on Headfonia, and immediately afterward arranged to buy the review set (yep paid real money – that is how impressed I was with them).

      The build on both is again stellar, but again for fit and comfort, the smaller size of the q-Jays ultimately comes out on top. The q-Jays are much better isolaters as well (at least as good as my old Shures), and again this is the price you pay for using the ADEL units. But again the ADEL units give you that spacious, clear and open sound – so it really is a trade-off.

      This time it is the U6 which has slightly more bass, but both sound very clean, quick and clear. Mid-range is almost identical but the extra lower treble of the q-Jays really lifts them. Note here though, some have found the q-Jays to treble happy, peaky and a little sibilant. I don't so YMMV. Despite the slightly brighter nature of the q-Jays, the U6 still sounds cleaner and more defined – again I think this is a lot to do with ADEL. I still slightly prefer the mids on the q-Jays overall though.

      Like the Curve – engaging the EQ lifts both IEMs, but I think it benefits the U6 more than the q-Jays. I can live with the q-Jays without any EQ at all – again it is a signature that has grown on me slowly over time.

    In both cases, would I say that the U6 is worth 3-4 times the Curve or twice the U6? The answer would be no if you were basing purely on bang for buck. But even with diminishing returns, the U6 still represents value to me, and if I was in the same buying position initially, but this time armed with the knowledge I have now, I'd still buy them. The only question for me would be whether I would upgrade to U10 instead – and that will be a question to hopefully answer at another time.

    64 AUDIO ADEL U6 – SUMMARY

    Sorry for the long review – I really couldn't do this any other way. I hope some of you have stuck with me along the way and that it has been somewhat useful.

    The U6 by itself is a very good IEM with an excellent acrylic build, small form factor (for the number of drivers) and very good accessory package. Fit is excellent and with the longer nozzle I have no issues getting a great seal, and with very good comfort as well. It has a pretty flat signature with decent extension at both ends, and good texture and tonality. For me personally I'd like a bit more top end, and a slightly better transition between lower and upper mids (personal preference).

    Add the ADEL technology, and you get a lot more control on tuning, a more open and spacious sound, and a very much cleaner and quicker presentation. In my case it also helps reduce fatigue (my tinnitus is much better behaved), and I can listen at lower volumes without compromising music quality.

    At a current RRP of USD 899, the U6 is not a cheap IEM, and if you factor in the MAM module you're looking at a 1K IEM, so it constitutes a considerable investment, but one which I would make again without hesitation. The ongoing development of the technology will (IMO) yield even more benefits as time goes by.

    If I have any regret at all – it is just that I didn't have a chance to also compare the U10, because although I can tailor the U6 to my ideal signature, I would have liked something which was s closer to my ideal out of the box. I'm going to get Steve/Stephen to talk to Vitaliy at some stage and see if I can borrow a U10 for a month and do a review comparison – as I do think ultimately it could hold the secret to my own personal end-game (the U6 is already practically there).

    4.5 stars from me – practically perfect.

    FINAL THANKS
    I'd just like to take the opportunity to mention and thank Steve and Stephen at Asius – I look forward to seeing your progress gentlemen – and especially the bubble tech. And also Vitaliy, Alex and everyone at 64 Audio. You are indeed masters at what you are creating. Thank you for the exemplary service, and allowing me the pleasure of the experience of your product. Absolutely no regrets.

    U613.jpg U635.jpg U615.jpg
    64 Audio ADEL U6
    Great from any source
    A little bit of magic

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