Between 2016 and 2022, Fourté was our highest selling universal in-ear monitor (UIEM) model. Its legacy cemented in high-end audio history with the ground breaking technology that it introduced to the world. We broke down the history of Fourté and the tia™ technology in this blog post here.
In 2019 we released a slightly re-tuned and redesigned version called Fourté Noir. This was a fully blacked-out design with the same patina copper faceplate chips. The sound was slightly warmer and coupled with the upgraded internal solder and supplied 8-braid cable resulted in better transients and smoother high-frequency response. Noir surprised us all and turned out to be an incredible success; we spoke directly to 64 fans and made something entirely for them.
Fast forward a few years, and our R&D department discovers a brilliant way to reduce distortion and improve linearity in the low frequency band of some of our hybrid IEMs.
The acoustical low-pass filter used in Fourté’s Low-Frequency driver was originally designed as an inertance filter using an aluminum (previously Kapton) membrane. Our redesigned filter is a high precision textile mesh material which reduces distortion by half and improves linearity in Fourté Blanc. This is due, in part, to the reduction of back pressure on the driver and quelling of all turbulence effects between the filter and driver cone. The measured improvement is so significant that we’ll see this trickling down into our other hybrid products like Nio, N8, and the original Fourté.
We thought the perfect way of introducing this to the world was to give Fourté a send-off in the form of a final limited edition version called Fourté Blanc. Noir was an all black version so the most obvious choice for this was all-white. While getting a good black color from anodizing aluminum is hard enough, achieving white through that process is simply impossible.
Ceramic coating is used to execute the pristine white color of Blanc’s shell since there are currently no good white PVD or anodizing alternatives which would achieve the shade of white required. The coating is a custom mixture that is applied in-house. Getting the consistent pristine white that we required had us testing numerous vendors. While some got close, we just couldn’t see ourselves committing to anything less than perfect, so we decided to build a ceramic coating process in our main production building.
The shell is first prepped and anodized to harden and insulate the aluminum, which would otherwise be soft and conductive. The roughly 25 μm anodization is technically a second layer of protection for the outer shell underneath the final ceramic coating. The ceramic is sprayed on and the shell is baked to harden; activating the full strength of the very durable coating.
No Stone Left Unturned
Fourté Blanc’s distortion and linearity advances couldn’t be overshadowed by degradation due to any single component. Every aspect of Blanc was scrutinized to the highest possible degree. We over-engineered above and beyond to ensure that every possible advancement was exhausted.
The shell is milled from T6061 Kaiser Aluminum billet. Kaiser Aluminum Corporation is an American aluminum producer making aluminum mill products for the most technically demanding applications like the aerospace industry. Their T6061 aluminum alloy was chosen for Blanc’s shell because of its corrosion resistance, strength, machining characteristics and excellent appearance after anodizing.
For the first connection point we deployed Cardas Audio’s 27 Gauge Grade 1 (Ultra) Low-Eddy Copper, made right here in Oregon; since Blanc’s dynamic LF driver is the first connection point in the signal path. This solid-core wire isn’t as effortless to handle as our typical multi-stranded litz wire which is flexible, making it easy to work with and shape. The solid copper wire is routed with precision to avoid breakage and achieve a clean path. Although it complicates the assembly process, the perfect structure of Cardas copper continues below the surface, which leads to its superior electrical and thermal conductivity.
Previously used in only one other 64 Audio UIEM, Fourté Noir, we replaced all standard solder with Mundorf’s MSolder Supreme SilverGold. The advantages of silver solder are boosted by adding the purest Gold which lowers the melting point; a considerably higher purity than is required by any standards. The production process is more involved due to the removal of the original solder on the driver pads and application of the Mundorf solder which doesn’t flow as easily because of high levels of silver and gold particles. The remarkable conductivity combined with a high liquidus temperature reinforce Blanc’s unparalleled sound qualities.
In addition to our 3.5mm Pearl Premium Cable, Blanc includes an exclusive new 4.4mm Balanced Shielded Silver-Core Cable. The pure silver shield acts as a Faraday cage effective against electric fields while reflecting electromagnetic radiation and reducing interference from outside noise onto the signal. Our purist pursuit led us to deploy this new wire topology along with fully custom-machined hardware that cannot be found anywhere else.
- 0.3 Ohms Total Impedance
- Pure Silver Shield
- Silver Plate OFC 6 x 6 x 1
- Pure Silver Center Wire
- Balanced 4.4mm Termination
- Custom Machined Hardware
While Blanc was being engineered, we already were looking to perfect its packaging presentation. We wanted Blanc to be distinctly different from our other IEMs since it is so limited in nature. The idea was to design a sleeve, covering the white magnetic box, that would look so clean and elegant that rather than hiding the box in the attic you’d feel compelled to store it in a visible please; a bookshelf perhaps. To achieve this we partnered with Premier Press, right here in Portland Oregon.
The green color of the sleeve is derived straight from the patina copper of the faceplate chip. The paper we use is dyed on all sides to avoid white edges. This paper is then mated with a textile material to give it that hard-bound encyclopedia feel. This ins’t just a pattern printed onto the sleeve, this linen metrical makes each sleeve wonderfully unique, similar to each faceplate chip being truly unique. The lettering is then hand pressed in white, or more accurately, it is individually foot-pressed using a manually operated machine. The letter pressing is another element that makes each Fourté Blanc unit a truly exclusive experience because of its subtle hand-pressed imperfections.
The resulting packaging is something that feels great in your hands and looks amazing on display.
Blanc is tuned very similarly to Fourté Noir, with some subtle improvements in the low-frequency band due to the new low-pass filter and copper wire implementation, resulting in lower distortion. Lows reach deep while maintaining realism, giving space for upper bass and mid-range punch/presence. This accuracy in the mid band is not only a result of its own amplitude but because of the quick transient response of the high-mid section. The high-frequency band is left sounding pure and clean.
Tia’s classic sound-stage presents the depth of the stereo field rather than just the width. Recordings with sudden wide panned instruments seemingly come from behind the listening position. Perception of effects and tiny details is deepened. Vocals are centered yet tucked to the back of your head, giving them space while gluing them into the mix.
A Perfect Sendoff
Rounding off Fourté’s industry leading legacy, Blanc delivers a fresh perspective, both cosmetically and technically. It is our first “dealer-exclusive” release which means the only way to get one of the 500 units is through our global dealer/distributor network, which you can find here.