Thieaudio has come up with a beautiful-looking set here, with beryllium and Knowles drivers to boot.
The Thieaudio Legacy 2 features a 10mm beryllium dynamic driver and a Knowles ED29689 balanced armature driver. For the past few months in CHIFI, beryllium drivers have been all the rage, and many companies are riding on the beryllium hype train.
Beryllium is light but has a high modulus of elasticity (a substance’s resistance to being deformed elastically). This potentially allows a beryllium driver to be low in weight, yet very rigid and strong. If implemented well, beryllium drivers theoretically can provide fast transients coupled with minimal distortion.
So, all the premium ingredients are in place, such as a Knowles driver and a beryllium driver, but will a gourmet meal be produced?
Thieaudio was launched in 2019 as a creative endeavor of Linsoul Audio. The goal of Thieaudio is to serve as a creative platform for gathering the best teams of engineers to inspire revolutionary audio products for audiophiles and professionals alike.
In a very brief period of time, Thieaudio has created a number of well-regarded products, including the Phantom planar magnetic headphones, as well as an extensive range of in-ear monitors (IEMs), from cheaper to more expensive.
- Form: IEMs
- Drivers: 1 x Knowles 29689 balanced armature driver + 1 x 10mm beryllium driver
- Impedance (Ohm): 32 Ω
- Sensitivity (dB): 108 dB/mW
- Frequency Response (Hz): 20 Hz – 20 KHz
- Removable Cable: Y
- Cable: 1.2m, 4 cores silver-plated
- Source Plug: 3.5mm
- Cup/Shell Plug: 2-pin, 0.78 mm
- Mic: N
- Noise Isolation: 26 dB
The Thieaudio Legacy 2 comes in nondescript black packaging. The accessories included with the Thieaudio Legacy 2 are rather good, as befits a pair of IEMs at this price point. (I’ve definitely seen worse at this price range!)
Everything is pretty usable out of the box, and I don’t think one has to source for aftermarket accessories.
In the box
- Thieaudio Legacy 2 IEM
- 6 pairs of silicone ear tips (S, M, L) – 3 clear (shorter, slightly wider bore) and 3 black (longer, slightly narrower bore) pairs
- Faux leather storage case
The white tips tend to boost the upper frequencies a tinge, whereas the black ones tend to boost the bass frequencies for me. Eartips are as personal as shoes though, as we have different ear anatomies (which can affect pinna gain and fit, which in turn affects sub-bass), so this is a kind of a YMMV situation.
No foam tips are included in this packaging.
The included cable is made of 4 cores of silver-plated copper, it is very well braided with minimal microphonics. It coils up well and is not tangly. I won’t talk about cables changing the sound signature, as this is a controversial can of worms in the audiophile hobby, but suffice to say, the provided stock cable is quite nice.
Although there is no lettering on the cable to indicate side, the cable is color coded with a red base to indicate that it is the right side. So Red is for Right, as per standard convention.
A chin cinch comes with the cable, adding a useful feature to secure the cable down during use.
The included case is a welcome addition and has the Thieaudio logo embossed on it. The insides of the case are lined with a velvety material and it features a magnetic clasp.
Quite a nice casing and one I think the fashionistas among us won’t mind bringing out!
The shell of the Thieaudio Legacy 2 comes in a very nice amalgam of blue hues. It is quite a unique design in the sea of dime a dozen black or silver colored IEMs we see on a regular basis.
On the shell of each unit is also engraved a unique serial number, so that gives a sense of exclusivity in joining a members’ club in owning a set!
There is a vent on the shell, as per most IEMs that use dynamic drivers. This vent does let in a bit of noise, but overall, the Thieaudio Legacy 2 have above-average isolation, though it might not beat some unvented pure balanced armature types in the isolation department.
The manufacturers claim a 26 dB passive isolation on the Thieaudio Legacy 2 in their spec sheet. I would say it is probably a bit lower than the advertised value. Overall, isolation is still pretty solid on this set, and I have no qualms using them outdoors, or even for stage monitoring.
The shells of the Thieaudio Legacy 2 look like semi customs and are made of resin. The shells are very light and comfortable, with a concha protrusion to provide some grip. I’ve worn this set for hours with zero discomfort whatsoever.
I didn’t find any driver flex for myself, but driver flex is partially dependent on ear anatomy and the types of tips used, so YMMV once again.
As discussed above, for the past few months in CHIFI, beryllium drivers have become very popular, and many companies are using this material for drivers.
Indeed, each Thieaudio Legacy 2 IEM does boast a beryllium dynamic driver to handle the lower frequencies, and a Knowles 29689 balanced armature driver to handle the higher frequencies, so there are pretty premium ingredients used here in this set.
With an advertised impedance of 32 Ohms and a sensitivity of 108 dB/mW, the Thieaudio Legacy 2 can be driven from lower powered sources. Although, having an amplifier on hand will help them to scale better in the areas of soundstage, dynamics, microdetails, and perhaps bass tightness.
Thieaudio Legacy 2 Sound
The Thieaudio Legacy 2 are a warm U-shaped sounding set, with a coherent and organic tonality. “Smooth” is the keyword here, the tuning is quite atypical from the usual shouty or upper mids/treble boosted CHIFI sets we see (or rather, hear) on a regular basis.
”Smooth operator” describes the Thieaudio Legacy 2 in a nutshell
While the tonality is good, unfortunately, the Thieaudio Legacy 2 are bottlenecked in technicalities and timbral accuracy.
The Knowles drivers used in the upper frequencies for the Thieaudio Legacy 2 seem to have a lack of edge definition and bite. Dynamics are blunted as such. Imaging and microdetails are also below average at this price point. Instrument separation is thankfully pretty good on the Thieaudio Legacy 2. Soundstage on the Thieaudio Legacy is quite wide, but is lacking in depth and height.
The Thieaudio Legacy 2 has some BA timbre in the midrange and the treble (probably the frequencies handled by the Knowles BA driver). So timbral accuracy isn’t as legitimate as a dynamic driver when acoustic instruments like strings, brass, and woodwinds come out to play. This may not be so apparent for music genres that incorporate synthetic instruments, but if you listen to classical or jazz, the BA timbre might be an issue.
Bass on the Thieaudio Legacy 2 descends linearly from the mid-bass to the sub-bass.
The bass quantity here is just slightly north of neutral and this is not a basshead set. The sub-bass is not the most extended, and while it does have a slight rumble with tracks that have a big sub-bass element, it won’t be a jaw-rattling visceral type of sub-bass.
Unfortunately, the mid-bass isn’t the most textured or detailed, and can end up sounding one-noted at times. The mid-bass speed is quite adequate, but there is a slight bleed into the lower mids. Some might like the added warmth the mid-bass bleed gives to the lower midrange, but some might want a tighter bass, so it is a YMMV situation.
The lower midrange is a tinge recessed as per the U-shaped tuning. This area is warmed by the slight mid-bass bleed, giving the lower mids lushness and a full-bodied sound.
The upper mids are boosted a bit, but they are far cry from the commonly seen shouty sawtooth budget CHIFI upper midrange. The Thieaudio Legacy 2 is hence quite suited for longer listening sessions and is on the non-fatiguing side. Though as a consequence, vocals on the upper midrange may sound a bit distant and may not cut through when instruments play around the same frequency as the voices.
The lower treble on the Thieaudio Legacy 2 continues on from the slightly boosted upper mids, it is generally non-fatiguing and quite safe for treble-sensitive folks. The upper treble rolls off, and this set does not have much sparkle or air. As such, some micro details and clarity are lost, however, sibilance is very mild or non-existent.
Trebleheads may need to look elsewhere, to be honest.
This is the first Thieaudio Legacy model I’ve tried, so I can’t compare them to the other models in the lineup. I’ve excluded single dynamic driver type IEMs from comparison as well, as the different driver types have their pros and cons, but I’ve done some A/B testing with 2 other similarly priced hybrids around the USD$100 mark that use Knowles BA drivers too.
Vs. TRI Starsea
The TRI Starsea have four tuning options via switches, so they can be tuned from neutralish to U-shaped to a mild V-shaped set. As such, the TRI Starsea may be more versatile than the Thieaudio Legacy 2.
Both sets feature resin shells that fit well and have a semi-custom appearance. The TRI starsea have slightly better isolation.
The TRI Starsea also have a slight BA timbre in the higher registers, with a thinner note weight. In the area of technicalities, the TRI Starsea have a better soundstage, with improved clarity and microdetails over the Thieaudio Legacy 2. The TRI Starsea are an airier set, especially on some switch settings, and they feature faster and tighter bass over the Thieaudio Legacy 2.
Vs. Tingker TK300
The Tingker TK300 are a basshead V-shaped set. They have a much more uncomfortable fit than the Thieaudio Legacy 2.
The Tingker TK300 feature a slightly better timbral accuracy, and also have a bigger soundstage and better imaging than the Thieaudio Legacy 2. The Tingker TK300 feature much bigger bass quantity and deeper subbass extension than the Thieaudio Legacy 2, with more textured bass.
Where to Buy
The Thieaudio Legacy 2 are a smooth and non-fatiguing, U-shaped hybrid with great tonality. The included accessories and shell design are nice, and the fit is amazingly good. Unfortunately, the Thieaudio Legacy 2 don’t have the technical chops to back up their nice tonality. The touted beryllium drivers here also don’t seem to add value to the bass frequencies.
If they were a sub USD$30 set that we are talking about (eg BLON BL-03, which have great timbral accuracy and tonality but weak technicalities), folks can close one eye. But near the USD$100 region, it is not enough to just ace tonality and fall short at technicalities, or vice versa. Folks purchasing at this price segment are fussier and there’s huge competition against other big boys.
The Thieaudio Legacy 2 are a beautiful one-trick pony, featuring a coherent and organic tonality, but below-average technicalities.
Having said that, it is easier to find something with good technical performance than something with good tonality in CHIFI nowadays. I laud Thieaudio for getting the tonality aspect right in this set, if perhaps only nitpicking on a lack of extension in the sub-bass and higher treble.
If Thieaudio could add better microdetails, soundstage, imaging, and dynamics to their next IEM, but keep the great tonality, I think they would have a bestseller on their hands! I truly look forward to their successor IEM that incorporates this!