1964 Ears has been making In Ear Monitors for a few years now. Their IEM product line was originally comprised of dual and triple driver designs, but now they have worked their way up to a full 6 drivers per ear for your listening pleasure. The V6 by 1964 Ears is strikingly similar to many of it’s competitors, but with a starting price of $650 is almost half the cost of the bigger players in the market.
IEMs are not the only thing that 1964 Ears can do for you. A quick trip to the company web site reveals quite a few unique products to assist you on your personal audio journey. 1964 also offers custom molded sleeves (that fit over universal IEMs) as well as full remolding of old drivers. Universal fit earpieces can sometimes be the weak link in an otherwise glorious listening experience. Custom molds can offer a better grip, isolation and hopefully better sound quality than the silicon drill bits that often accompany most universal pieces. You may want to check it out if you are looking for a new way to revamp your favorite pair of Shure or Monster Turbine universal IEMs. They even make custom earplugs, so you can save your hearing for when you really need it.
The V6 comes in a pretty sweet box. The size is becoming somewhat standard for IEMs these days but the high gloss and personalized etching was a nice touch. The box’s interior is lined with an extremely nice rubber and foam cushion that I hadn’t seen before. Your beautiful babies should be very safe in their new home. The accessory kit also includes your usual wax cleaning device, large headphone adapter and a headphone cable clip. The headphone clip is almost an essential piece for those on the move, as it prevents unwanted noise from the cable rubbing against your shirt or jacket. This can be extremely distractive with full custom fit IEMs and I was very glad to see it included with the package. The headphones themselves bear a striking resemblance to the Jerry Harvey line of custom In Ears. My pair of V6s felt nearly identical in size, shape and material as the top-of-the-line JH16s (previous non-freqphase version) that I own. The fit of your IEM is directly related the success of your ear mold. The traditional ear mold process doesn’t always produce the most accurate results, but sometimes you get lucky. My first pair of IEM fit like a charm right out of the gate, my second pair needed to be sent back for a refit. When you get it right however, the result is a perfect pairing of comfort and optimal noise isolation. With the right ear molds a good pair of IEMs should disappear in you ears after a while, even though most of them are made from a fairly hard acrylic material. I would also like to think that the isolation from the fit lets you achieve a higher perceived level of loudness, with a lower potential for hearing damage, but as always, take caution with the volume control. The V6s (as with most IEM) are very efficient when it comes to amplification, so always turn down the volume all the way before you plug them in. In the hours and hours I have spent A/Bing headphones I have only twice forgot to change the gain or volume control before plugging them in. Take it from me, it hurts when you instinctively yank IEMs out of your ears.
The first thing I noticed when I heard the V6’s was the expanded soundstage. Soundstage is important for IEMs. The in-your-ear-canal feeling is somewhat problematic at times, and is one of the first drawbacks of IEMs over full-size headphones. A good wide soundstage can only help. The V6 performed amazingly well in this regard, especially considering its price point. I found the bass to be sufficiently tight and defined. The V6 features two drivers for low, two drivers for mid and two drivers for high frequencies per ear. The overall bass presence was less than that of the Jerry Harvey JH16, which would make them a little closer to flat (as the JH16s have quite a bump in that region). A little closer perhaps, but not audiophile flat. There still seemed to be a little extra in the bass, but not in an overinflated sense. I quite enjoyed the V6s presentation of that side of the spectrum. Listening to the Audioslave track Show Me How To Live both bass guitar and drum danced around each other with the appropriate definition and grace they deserve. The powerful drumming of the track hit with the impact and speed of a hurled brick. Just what you would hope to expect from the textured wall of energy the band produced. Likewise I found the mids to be both substantial and smooth in delivery. The vocals from the 24/96 Dave’s True Story song Misery had a very lifelike quality to them and seemed neither forward nor too far back in the mix. Suprisingly, the edge really went to the JH16s in the treble region. It appears that the V6s actually have a bit more energy in the highs, which I liked, however the treble from the JH16s was smoother. Cymbals felt a little more comfortable under the care of the Jerry Harvey’s eight driver creation, but the V6s were no slouch, especially when you consider the JH16s are nearly 2x the cost of the 1964 Ears flagship.
I had a chance to meet with Vitaliy, the company’s CTO at this year’s Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. He and his team have every reason to be proud of their latest entry into the IEM fray. The V6 offers outstanding value for the money. Even though I normally cringe at the idea of numerically comparing something so abstract, if put on the spot, I would say you get about 90% of the performance at 50% of the cost compared to a lot of the flagship competition. Pair the V6 with a nice portable amp and you really have something that you can rock out to.