Released in 2017, the tia Trio is a hybrid design IEM that has stood the test of time. Its design is simple, but its performance is incredible. Let’s take a closer look to see how three years after its release, Trio remains one of the best three driver hybrids in the world.
The Build and Design
Tia Trio shares a number of basic design queues and materials with the rest of 64 Audio’s IEM line. The IEMs themselves are fairly small, and should make for an easy fit for most listeners. Compared to other 64 Audio IEMs, Trio has an almost aged, vintage look of a smooth patina to the metal. It uses a three driver design, with two balanced armature drivers and one dynamic driver.
In the box you get the IEMs, cable, a selection of silicone and foam eartips, and a small, sturdy case. The package is very nice, and the TrueFidelity foam tips provided are a bit softer than most foam tips. If you like the enhanced low end from foam tips, but find them uncomfortable, it’s worth trying these out. The standard 64 Audio cable doesn’t have the strongest aesthetics or ergonomics, but it performs quite well technically with a silver plated copper core, and a design that proves to be resistant to noise and microphonics.
The first thing I noticed about tia Trio wasn’t the tight, punchy bass, or the well executed treble, it was the incredibly natural, lifelike presentation. While there’s certainly a bit of accentuation in the bass (and a nice linear extension into the subbass), and a bit of a cut in the mids, Trio doesn’t hit like a classic “v” shaped tuning. Instead it feels tight, coherent and transparent across the frequency spectrum.
Let’s talk about the bass. First off, it hits, and it hits hard. But it hits with loads of texture and with total coherence. It’s like getting punched in the face by Mike Tyson in slow motion. You’re getting hit – hard – but you can also appreciate the detail and stitching in his boxing glove and the excellent form in his stance and punch in the moment before you’re knocked to the floor.
The mids, as I mentioned, are a little pulled back, but still excellently executed. They’re just dripping with detail, and there’s not an ounce of smearing or mud to be heard anywhere in the mix. Likewise, the treble adds plenty of air and brightness, but it never crosses the line into being sharp or harsh. While baritone male vocals occasionally feel slightly recessed, tenor vocals and most female singers shine.
The soundstage and imaging are excellent, adding to the all-around natural, lifelike presentation. While not “massive,” there’s a good sense of space that seems appropriate for all but the most massive of orchestras. Everything is well layered, with a good sense of separation between instruments and voices, as well as a good sense of positioning.
Iron Maiden’s “Flight of Icarus” opens with grisly sounding distorted guitars over a galloping drum and bass groove. Trio delivers every ounce of dirt in the guitars, with the impact of the drum and bass below them, but it’s the little details that really help the Trio shine. The splash of the cymbals is fast and tight, as is the snap of the snare drum. Listen closely and you can decode the slightly different textures of the dueling guitars to your left and right. And of course the Trio helps reveal nuance in Bruce Dickinson’s voice that is at once guttural and operatic.
On “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson, the Trio delivers clear musical highs and deep round bass. The high end of the guitar is bright and clear, with percussive strums you can almost feel. At the bottom, the bass has an impact that hits with a smooth, round thump. The timbre is natural and lifelike, with the sort of detail and texture that puts you in the room with the music.
On Patricia Barber’s “What a Shame” the Trio delivers the ambience of a smoky basement jazz club, and you’re front and center as the band lays down a slow groove. You can practically see the band on stage, as Trio provides an excellent sense of space and positioning. There’s just a hint of accentuation to the bass, while the rest of the band feels balanced and nicely layered. The vocals are in the middle of the mix, but remain very clear and personal.
The opening, hopeful piano chords of Taylor Swift’s “evermore” have a deep, but delicate resonance. Swift’s vocals are out front and sound open and vulnerable with an airiness to them. As the music swells and Bon Iver’s multiple vocal parts come in, the listener is enveloped in ethereal harmonies. Trio paints the whole picture deftly balancing the dynamics between the simple, personal nature of the first half of the song, with the soaring, powerful heights of the second.
Comparison: 64 Audio Nio, U12t, tia Fourte
To really get a good sense of the Trio’s sound and capabilities, I ran it up against the 64 Audio Nio, U12t, and tia Fourte (basically the rest of 64 Audio’s universal IEM line except the U18t which we didn’t have on hand for a demo). Each one definitely has a unique personality and a number of aspects to compare and contrast with Trio.
Smooth and balanced were two of the words I would use to describe the Nio. The Trio has a similar balance, but replaces the smoothness with a greater degree of punch and clarity. Going back and forth between the two, you can hear that Trio takes a similar signature, but makes the bass tighter, the higher more clear and airy, and the mids more detailed. It really just feels like Trio adds a ton of resolution to the same tuning: like Nio is HD and Trio is 4K.
Despite the massive difference in design, the U12t and Trio are probably the most similar of the bunch. Both feature great technical performance and an addictive, musical tuning. The biggest differences come in the low-end response and upper mids. The U12t can’t match the level of impact and texture in the low end that the Trio provides, but it provides a more neutral overall response with a little more detail in the mids. Trio also has a just generally more natural presentation of instruments, while the U12t has a more just a little bit more depth to the soundstage, and stronger imaging.
Interestingly enough, while Trio is theoretically just a Fourte with one less driver, they actually had a significant difference in sound signature. Fourte adds soundstage, imaging, space and detail, but at the cost of a less musical tuning. The Fourte seems quite a bit bright next to the Trio, and might be a little bit harsh for the treble sensitive. With a softly played piano or quiet vocal, the Fourte provided a transcendent listening experience, with an incredible sense of space, positioning, and transparency, but in most listening, the Trio provided a more natural, musical sound.
The Bottom Line
Trio balances texture and impact in the bass with clear mids and airy revealing highs. It blends detail, clarity, and resolution, with an engaging tuning. In short, the tia Trio is the total package, and an absolute top of the line IEM.