For most of their history, 64 Audio has stuck with two main IEM designs: higher driver count all balanced armature IEMs designed for professionals first – but loved by audiophiles too – and low driver count hybrid IEMs designed for audiophiles. When they were working with artists to design a bass reference IEM, it became clear that they needed a dynamic driver to achieve the best results. From there, N8 and its universal version, Nio, were born as 9-driver hybrids: one dynamic driver and eight balanced armatures.
Volür adds a new dimension with an audiophile model that builds on Nio’s foundation with a 10-driver, dual dynamic, hybrid design. Priced at $2499, Volür combines the technical know-how that brought us classics like the U12t with the focus shifted to purely enjoyment and engagement with the music. Is Volür the next step in 64 Audio’s evolution?
Build and Design
64 Audio has a pretty good thing going with their design: durable, but attractive aluminum shells, sometimes visually enhanced with a colorful faceplate, and Volür gives us a great execution of that basic design. The dark gray finish and holographic faceplate make Volür one of 64 Audio’s best looking IEMs to date. Despite the high driver count and two dynamic drivers, Volür provides the same simple, lightweight design we’ve come to expect from 64 Audio.
The package is also exactly what we’ve come to expect from 64 Audio. You get a leather case, a cable, eartips (SpinFit, wide-bore, and foam), a cleaning tool, a shirt clip, and a selection of Apex Modules. 64 Audio has been slowly increasing the number of options you have available to adjust the isolation with Apex Modules, and now there are x4 modules included with Volür. The m15 (dark gray) is installed in the IEMs out of the box, providing a balanced sound and 15dB of isolation. The mX (black) opens it up to only 10dB of isolation, with the m20 on the other end closing it off to 20dB of isolation. The m12 is the newcomer to the series offering 12dB.
Some of 64 Audio’s promotional materials noted Volür’s lineage going back to Nio, and coupled with the dual-dynamic drivers, my expectation was for Volür to deliver the same sort of big, powerful bass as Nio. Much to my surprise Volür delivers one of the most clean, transparent, neutral tunings that I’ve heard from 64 Audio.
The bass is highly natural with strong extension. It demonstrates incredible texture and gives you clear insight into the instruments in the low end. The overall feeling is fast and accurate, with impact that hits exactly where you need it.
The mids are full and detailed, providing a natural delivery with strong note weight and timbre. Vocal presentation and dynamics are excellent, with some tracks even capturing the subtleties of the singer shifting around the microphone in a way that few headphones can.
At the top, you get a revealing, well extended treble. Volür offers the sort of resolution that you’d expect at a flagship level, with crisp cymbals and almost impossibly clean attack and decay. Volür does a good job of walking the line between “revealing” and “unforgiving,” though some older recordings might end up with a touch of harshness in the highs.
If you’re looking for a wide soundstage, Volür delivers, with a great sense of space and a three dimensional presentation. Volür’ imaging is very lifelike with a holographic sense of separation and positioning, combined with a good sense of body and weight to the instruments.
These observations are based on the stock m15 Apex modules, but you can change quite a bit by swapping the modules. m12 and m15 are very close, with m12 feeling just slightly wider, and adding a little bit of energy at the top. mX is the most open, least isolating module, and subsequently provides the widest, most airy sound. mX also attenuates the bass slightly, making it more appropriate for classical and folk than for rock and pop. On the other hand, m20 adds isolation and elevates the bass, while narrowing the soundstage.
Hans Zimmer’s compositions are one of the best arguments out there for HiFi headphones. The intricacy, and the dynamic range on a track like “Mountains” from the Interstellar soundtrack just can’t be fully captured just with a “good tuning.” The level of clarity and depth that Volür retrieves from even the most subtle background elements of the recording is mind blowing. That subtlety helps you appreciate the full range of the build and crescendo, and when the crescendo hits, the sense of depth, width and the total immensity of the scale that these tiny earphones can deliver is incredible. Volür’s dynamics deliver the cinematic scale in a way that such a masterfully created piece of music deserves.
Volür gives a great sense of realism to the classical guitar and xylophone in the intro to “A Farewell to Kings” by Rush. You get a front row seat to the studio in the way you can hear the tension of the strings on the guitar in which notes reverberate and which are muted, along with the haunting ringing of the xylophone. Volür’s imaging positions the band in a fairly narrow space in front of the listener, but the drum set seems to extend across an impossibly wide stage, giving an exaggerated feeling to the fills. The guitar has excellent clarity, revealing the dirt in the big overdriven chords, and the shimmer in higher sustained notes. Likewise with the bass, you can pick out every note in Geddy Lee’s masterful performance.
The kick drum at the start of Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” has a big, physical, wet thump, and the cymbals add a nice splash that complements it nicely. The level of realism in the drums, and the tactile sensation you get from each hit adds a new dimension to the song. The vocals on the verse feel slightly overshadowed by the grooving bass and drums, but move more forward on the chorus. The general vocal dynamics were excellent on this song, getting bigger, smaller, softer and louder in a way that works alongside the imaging and lets you visualize the performance as you hear it.
Comparison - FiR Audio Neon 4, 64 Audio U12t
With 10 drivers and a $2499 price point, Volür’s closest neighbor in 64 Audio’s lineup – in theory at least – is the $1999 12-driver U12t. In looking for other comparison points, the FiR Audio Neon 4 gives us a 4-driver hybrid with some similar characteristics. In spite of different driver counts and tech, they might be more similar than you’d expect.
In terms of build and general design, Ne4 and Volür are pretty close, while U12t – not without its charms – lacks the flair that sets Volür and Ne4 apart. The general quality of the stock cable, package, and other elements is similar across all three, with Ne4 potentially losing a point or two for the harder to manage AtomXS system, which accomplishes the same thing as the Apex Modules, but requires tools to remove, making it harder to swap on demand.
Sonically they also occupy similar space, with U12t and Volür only having very subtle differences, while Ne4 stands out the most from the other two. Ne4 has a stronger bass emphasis and warm color. In the bass, U12t has slightly more bass quantity than Volür, but Volür has stronger texture and a more tactile presentation of the bass. Ne4 provides a similar level of bass quality, but with significantly more bass than either. If you want depth, rumble, and physical impact, Ne4 has plenty.
While Ne4 triumphs in the bass, it loses some degree of detail in the midrange compared to the other two. U12t has generally strong mids, but Volür has the most natural timbre and strongest vocal performance of the three. In the treble, Volür, U12t, and Ne4 have similar characteristics, but Ne4’s treble is overshadowed by the bass to some degree, sometimes drowning out aspects of the really good treble quality.
While Volür’s vocal imaging is some of the best out there, U12t’s overall stereo image is stronger, offering more precise holographic imaging. Ne4 presents a large soundstage, but doesn’t have the same quality of imaging separation as U12t or Volür.
Overall, Volür offers something very similar to U12t, but with some notable upgrades. Ne4’s Kinetic Bass and stronger low-end emphasis really stands out with rock, pop, and related genres. In some ways Ne4 feels like a complement to U12t, while Volür feels more like an upgrade – that is, unless you’ve always just wanted a U12t with bass that feels like a Mac Truck punching you in the face, in which case Ne4 might be the upgrade you need.
The Bottom Line
Volür impresses with a great build, classic design, and a sound signature that provides a strong dose of realism. Between the timbre, imaging, and resolution, Volür hits like flagship models with significantly higher price tags, and secures its status as one of the best IEMs of 2023.