64 Audio Fourté Blanc

riverground

Headphoneus Supremus
Fourté Blanc: Elegant in Appearance, Fun on Sound.
Pros: Aesthetics, Enjoyable sound presentation while still maintaining a detailed sound. And did I say aesthetics already? Because it’s just so beautiful.
Cons: Honestly, it’s just the price for what is practically 2016 tech in 2022. Aside from the new DD implementation. But hey, it’s a very limited product release and it’s apparently the last one they’ll make for the Fourté.
64 Audio Fourté Blanc
Initial Impression


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Intro

Let’s start off this short impression of the new 64 Audio Fourté Blanc with a big thank you to the guys over at Bay Bloor Radio in Toronto for allowing me over 2 hours in a private room to have a small shoot and do a comparison to the regular Fourté.

The Blanc is much like the Noir that came before it, being an alternative flavour to the already amazing Fourté. And just like the Noir, it is also a limited edition item with only 500 available.

I adored the Noir when I heard it. In my opinion, the Noir gave a more meaningful impression than the regular Fourté. So, I am delighted to say that the Blanc gave me the same emotional “hit” as the Noir. Even though I may have not heard the Noir for a very long while now, I can still recall the feeling I had listening to it. The overall presentation of the Blanc doesn’t step too far away from the formula the 64 Audio team had made for the Fourté. As most of you here checking my impression may already have an idea of how the Fourté sounds, my impressions will mostly focus on what makes the Blanc different from the Fourté. And hopefully, it’ll help you decide whether the differences might be right for you.


Design

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First off, the difference in the design of the Blanc is well… it’s Blanc! (laughs)
Gone are the bright orange faceplate and the black shell of the Fourté. Instead, we get the beautiful ceramic-coated white metal shells on the Blanc. Even the “oxidized” copper faceplate gets this thicker layer of lamination, making the faceplate look more like the Nio’s and U6t’s elevated faceplates. I really like this addition, and it’s extremely pleasing to look at. While I loved the all-black design of the Noir, the Blanc just has this elegance in its design. I really wish I had one to take back to my home studio for a proper shoot. Maybe 64 Audio could help with that? (wink)


Sound

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Alright, moving on with the sound differences. (Do note that the unit was just freshly unboxed, so if you believe in “burn-in”, that might change some of the “disadvantages” I’ll be mentioning below. I’ll definitely come back to the shop after a week to see if those disadvantages are still present after the shop has been burning them in.)

The bass of the Blanc has a tad more impact and a longer-lasting rumble compared to the Fourté. The Blanc definitely has the better bass presentation for me. However, the downside of the added impact and decay is the lack of clarity and speed in its bass technicality. As an example when the drop hits in the track Naughty by Irene & Seulgi, the added warmth in the Blanc’s mid-bass masks a bit of the sub-bass notes, making it sound somewhat slower and less “detailed” compared to the Fourté’s snappier response. Nonetheless, it is important to note that although the Blanc somewhat “underperforms” compared to the Fourté with faster bass tracks, the Blanc’s overall “fun factor” is still superior in the bass department. For this type of tuning, I’d take the more “fun” approach than the “technical” one.

Another difference to note is that snare hits on the Blanc have better snap and attack compared to the Fourté. Cymbal hits have more weight to them on the Blanc as well. But the Fourté has that edge and spice up top. The Blanc is just ever so slightly softer in the upper treble, so it’ll heavily depend on what type of treble presentation you like better between the two. The track Real Life by Senri Kawaguchi shows these differences clearly.

Moving to the midrange, to my ears, the female vocals have a bit more air and bite over on the Blanc. I would really like to view the measurement of the Blanc to see if there are some changes over on the upper mids compared to the Fourté. It’s not a huge difference, but definitely noticeable for higher-pitched female vocals like Soutaiseriron’s vocal performance on the track Kerberos. In general, female vocals just sound sweeter and quite a bit more engaging on the Blanc. Much like with female vocals, the added forwardness makes the string instruments that much more pleasing to listen to.

In terms of imaging, I didn’t particularly notice much difference from the already excellent imaging from the Fourté. Though in the staging department, the Blanc appears to have a touch smaller staging. This might be due to the more intimacy in the midrange. It’s still a sizeable stage, just not as large as the Fourté.



Conclusion

64 Audio wanted to give the fans another chance to experience the Noir through the Blanc, and they’ve done a splendid job. They made this release for those who weren’t able to snag up the Noir when it had been released. Even so, I still would’ve liked to see more “improvements” or “differences” on the Blanc as it commands such a high price from a model with the majority of its technology from 2016. But as it is a limited release and the retail model comes with a special cable, I would still say the Blanc is up on my wishlist of IEMs I wish to own, and it sits at the comfortable 5th spot on my current top 10 rankings. I honestly would love to see the next Fully Tubeless Tia model have a removable APEX module, as I would see having the ability to tune the bass without having to rely on EQ as an added advantage. But hey, I know it’s wishful thinking. Though, I’m sure the 64 Audio team will be up to the task with that one.

Until the next review guys! (I do have two full-length IEM reviews on the backlog and a somewhat short headphone review coming up soon.)


-Matz


My Review Playlist:


Apple Music

Spotify

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riverground
riverground
@toaster oh definitely! It’s just that, while I also don’t like what the other brand/s do/es, it’s just that with how “old” the tech is now inside the Fourté it’s just a little hard to look past it but hey, for BA tech, nothing can sound better than Tia still though. That’s why I wish I had the funds to get the Blanc. It’s the same with the PHöNIX for me for example. I love it, but it having no pressure relief it made it painful to my ears. I definitely put the U18s even on top of it. Heck, I even found the U18s more pleasing overall than the bird up top. But the bird has better bass and mids. But being a fully sealed IEM as well. It can’t stay in my ears for longer than an hour max. Same thing why even though I loved the Wraith I still sold it. I dislike being sensitive to ear pressure build up.
toaster
toaster
Yup…the lack of pressure relief was a big reason why I ultimately let go of traillii and erlky. Both are fantastic iems, but I’ve decided that moving forward I’m sticking to vented offerings. It helps that jewel and xe6 don’t sound too shabby, either…also pretty keen on mentor, and still considering picking one up in the future.

64a iems have great pressure relief, of course, with apex. And they also sound pretty good as well. 😎
riverground
riverground
@toaster Jewel is definitely great! Xe6 too for some genres. But yeah, them having vents are a bonus lol

I wonder how the Mentor would be since it's not vented like the Mason.

Trance_Gott

1000+ Head-Fier
64 Audio Fourté Blanc - The masterpiece from 64 Audio!
Pros: Very coherent tonality
Amazing technicalities
Mids "to die for"
Superb soundstage and imaging
Cons: I don't found anything maybe the price?
The Fourté Blanc is a limited edition IEM of 500 pieces, which is based on the Fourté technology.

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As you would expect from such a limited and exclusive IEM, the packaging comes across as very luxurious. This green fabric box design perfectly matches the design of the IEM. Inside you will find a leather case for storing the Blanc, a 3.5mm connection cable, a cleaning brush, a clip and tips in 3 different sizes. The tips are foam, silicone and a version of the CP155 from SpinFit. In an additional box is a beautiful silver cable with 4.4mm connector, which was designed exclusively for the Blanc. This is a mixture of pure silver strands with copper OFC silver plated. It is fantastically finished and by using a sleeve it has no negative microphonic effects. Individually, this cable costs $999!!! In my review, I drove the Blanc balanced over this cable, of course.

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When I unpacked it for the first time, it hit me when I read the "1 of 500" on the packaging. Of course, I did not receive the serial number 1 of 500, but one of 500😊.

The shimmering green faceplate in the white shell looks elegant and timeless at the same time. In the pictures you can only guess how good it looks in reality. The white shell is a cream-colored ceramic coating. The inner values have also been upgraded compared to the regular Fourté. A special cable made by Cardas is used for the wiring and the Mundorf Supreme, which is well-known among high-enders, is used as the solder.

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The Blanc is the second reinterpretation of the Fourté from 64 Audio. Previously, a limited Fourté Noir was released, which was completely sold out after a short time. Since I entered the IEM theme a little later, I unfortunately missed the Noir at that time. I never bought the regular Fourté, because it is supposed to sound too bright and thin and many reviewers confirm this. I am not a fan of the very bright headphones and IEMs and like a fuller presentation down low. Similar to the Noir, the Blanc (according to 64 Audio) goes in the direction of a warmer tuning compared to the regular Fourté with more bass presence. However, with the Blanc specifically, the dynamic woofer has been improved and distortion greatly reduced. Like any Fourté, the Blanc contains a total of 4 drivers. A dynamic for the low frequency, two TIA drivers for the highs and midrange and one BA driver for the high-midrange.

For the sound test, I use the Blanc on my Shanling M8 in balanced cabling with the exclusive 4.4mm silver cable. Since the Blanc can be operated very efficiently, the "low gain" setting on the M8 is quite sufficient.

My reference among the IEMs so far is clearly the U12T from the same house, which has an impeccable tonality for me, which I could not experience with any other IEM before. Many IEMs have come and gone for me in recent times. A Legend X, which of course builds up a fabulous pressure in the lower range, but has clear tonal weaknesses. A Vision Ears Elysium, which plays super clean with great mids, but builds up too little pressure in the lower range. The legendary Erlkönig, which is trimmed for musicality and not for reference sound. Recently, I was also able to compare the Tia Trio with the U12T. In the end, I narrowly decided in favor of the U12T, which simply seems more balanced from bass to treble, although the Trio offers the more fun and punchy bass that the BA driver of the U12T can't quite deliver. However, for me, tonality is paramount above all else! And here, the Trio seems a bit too sharp in the upper registers and lacks the audibility in the mids compared to the U12T.

For testing, I mainly use the JVC SpiralDots++, which are in front for me in terms of sound and comfort. The AZLA Xelastecs are even more comfortable, but the Blanc sounds a bit thinner with them. The Complies T500 sit bombproof and isolate the best, but you have to forfeit some airiness.

How does the Blanc sound? In one word: sensational! When I first put on and playes Obama of the Counting Crows, I had downright goose bumps. What a performance! This abysmal and punchy bass, the large stage with this razor-sharp imaging and then these mids "to die for". But now slowly in order. My first few hours of listening were spent with just the Blanc, with no other IEM or headphones for comparison. Reference track for reference track I reeled off one song after the other and the evenings became longer and longer, because I could hardly stop. The plan was actually a comparison against other IEMs like the U12T, but in the end it turned out a bit different than expected. To further explore the quality of the Blanc I had to reach for my Focal Utopia 2022, Hifiman Susvara and RAAL-requisite SR1b, all driven by the Niimbus US4. So a fulminant ensemble with which the Blanc had to compete.

To my surprise, the Blanc is tuned very similarly to the Utopia 2022. A slightly warmer, more neutral tuning with enough low end without coming across too harsh at very high volumes. Here, compared to the U12T, you notice that it has a slight midbass hump and doesn't have the listenability of the Blanc and Utopia 2022 in the lower registers. And certainly not this "dynamic" impact, which the BA driver of the U12T simply can not provide. The Trio was much better at this, but it's not as balanced and you can't follow fast bass passages as effortlessly as with the Utopia 2022 or Blanc. The voice reproduction is perfectly staged to the rest of the spectrum and it sounds so real! When I close my eyes, I can literally hear the vocals in front of me. Not too restrained or too forward, just the way I like it! The TIA middriver does a terrific job here, surpassing the midrange of the U12T. Even the Utopia doesn't sound as natural as the Blanc. Here I have to use the king of mids, the Hifiman Susvara, which shows both the limits of what is possible today. The distance of the Blanc is really strikingly small to the Susvara and in contrast to this it scores with the fuller sound and is in the stage representation on a par with the Hifiman flagship! The Utopia 2022 sounds much more cramped on stage and can only keep up with the Blanc in terms of low-frequency imaging. In terms of instrument separation, both the Blanc and Utopia 2022 are a scalpel. I can concentrate on any sound event and hear every little detail. Could it be any better! Yes, but for that you have to go to the specially designed ribbon driver based RAAL-requisite SR1b. My absolute reference when it comes to resolution. You get that in abundance, but the tonality and musicality of the Blanc clearly tops the SR1b. There is perhaps only one other headphone that also offers more resolution than the Blanc and that is Audeze's flagship LCD-5, but not without EQ! With the Blanc, I would never think of trying to EQ anything. Everything from bass to treble is so coherently staged. Here I would not know what else to improve.

I had to get to the bottom of this detached and brilliantly acting bass and try the Utopia 2022. The Blanc has minimally more quantity. But to my astonishment, I can't determine a winner in bass precision. Both have impact, audibility and speed "to the max". With really fast metal, however, I have the feeling to be able to follow the bass passages with the Blanc a bit more, because a double bass is outlined more strongly. The Utopia 2022, on the other hand, delivers minimally more impact. The latter is not surprising since the Utopia is the punchiest headphone of its kind. That the Blanc comes so close in a direct comparison is a great achievement on the part of 64 Audio and that the attributes of speed and precision have been pushed to the extreme. I always thought that a BA bass driver had an advantage over a dynamic driver in terms of speed. Legend X is nowhere near as fast and inflates too much. Tia Trio's bass is also punchy, but doesn't have the speed of a U12T. Elysium is fast, but has little low end. With the Blanc, I was proven wrong. 64 Audio has really done a great job here with improving the woofer. How I would love to test this directly against the Noir or the regular Fourté.

What genre does the Blanc feel most comfortable in? I really tested through everything from classical, jazz, pop, rock to metal. The Kleiber Concerto Beethoven No. 5 from 1974 has to be heard with the Blanc. Such depth, separation, brilliance and authenticity of the instruments, just brilliant. Jen Chapin's interpretation of Master Blaster with probably the gnarliest saxophone ever. Pure goosebumps and a spatial representation that only the Susvara can top. Pop, rock and metal are insane fun once the bass kicks in and you can follow any sound event effortlessly with striking accuracy. The Blanc is a genre master and any genre works well with it, provided the recording is also good. The Blanc has a reference sound, and due to its high resolution, mistakes in recording do not go unnoticed.

My conclusion about the Blanc, well done 64 Audio! You have really delivered a masterpiece here and I can hardly imagine more IEM. I am sure that the Blanc will remain my reference among the IEMs for a long time until perhaps a new top model from the same house sees the light of day. A very clear buy recommendation from me. Who can afford it grabs and no longer looks back to other models. If you consider what you have to pay for a Utopia 2022 or Susvara in combination with the Niimbus US4 (even without amp!), the Blanc, which works well with the M8, is not too high in price. It even beats the Utopia 2022 in total attributes and ranks just behind the Susvara.

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dsrk
dsrk
@Trance_Gott
Nice review, short and sweet. They are way out of my league yet I read it. "mids to die for" got me :smiley:
T
tubbymuc
Nice review!
Trance_Gott
Trance_Gott
Thanks to all!
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