I Tried the Thieaudio Hype 10 and Determined Diminishing Returns Don’t Mean Disappointment

There's a whole lotta hype around the 10. (From: Trav Wilson)
There’s a whole lotta hype around the 10. (From: Trav Wilson)

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When the hype is dialed up to 10, it comes with maximum expectations.

Thieaudio Hype 10

Our Review Guidelines ⧉
Evaluated over: 4 weeks
Bottom Line

The Hype 10 cater to BA hybrid IEM enthusiasts with a smooth, rich sound. They're very well made, albeit on the large side for smaller ears. They have a smooth, engaging sound. Yet, at half the price, the Hype 4 offers similar tuning. Regardless, the Hype 10 are a distinct, bass-forward option worth considering.

General Usage
Audiophile Usage
  • Design
    outstanding 100
  • Build Quality
    outstanding 100
  • Comfort
    good 80
  • Pairing
    outstanding 100
  • Value
    average 60
  • Bass
    outstanding 100
  • Mids
    good 80
  • Treble
    good 80
  • Sound Quality
    good 80
Dynamic, BA, Hybrid
18 ohms
88 db/mW
IP Rating
5 g
What We Like 😍
  • Relaxed and fun sound signature
  • Deep, fast, controlled bass
  • Ergonomic shape
  • Modular cable
What We Don't Like 🤢
  • May be too large for small ears
  • A difficult value proposition in the Thieaudio lineup
Thank you to Linsoul for providing the Thieaudio Hype 10 IEMs for review purposes.

I’ve been a long-term fan of Thieaudio’s products, and I’m especially impressed by their tribrid (electrostatic EST + balanced armature BA + dynamic driver DD) IEMs. The Monarch (MKI) knocked my socks off – and are still a favorite – while, more recently, the Prestige LTD wowed me.

So, when Thieaudio announced they “are putting together all of our acquired knowledge into the new Hype series,” I was definitely excited. Sign me up for the best!

The Hype (or Hybrid Performance) series forgoes EST drivers and pairs dynamic drivers with various balanced armatures. There are three models: Hype 2 (2DD+2BA per IEM), Hype 4 (2DD+4BA), and today’s focus, the Hype 10 (2DD+10BA). Yup, you counted right; that’s 12 drivers crammed into each side.

The Hype 10 sport the same dynamic driver setup (called Impact2) as their younger siblings, but with more than double the balanced armature driver count, the price increases similarly, and the Hype 10 cost more than twice the Hype 4.

The type of balanced armatures used differs between the three models.
“We promise that the Hype series will live up to its name.” – Thieaudio

Nearing the competitive kilo-buck price bracket, the Hype 10 not only need to justify their performance against others at that price point but against the far less expensive 4 and 2.

Let’s find out if you’d be better served by buying two 4s and a 2 to make 10 or if the whole is actually greater than the sum of its parts.

One Minute Review Video

Watch: Thieaudio Hype 10 short review #shorts

Design and Build

Thieaudio IEMs are immediately recognizable by their ergonomic seamless black resin shells and beautiful starry faceplates. While some other Thieaudio models allow for faceplate customization, the Hype 10 only have a single option. It’s a red and blue space motif with trailing solar flares – eye-catching and attractive without being too flashy.

A single faceplate design should mean quicker order fulfillment.
Thieaudio IEMs are very distinctive. (From: Trav Wilson)
Thieaudio IEMs are very distinctive. (From: Trav Wilson)

The 2-pin connector is recessed, and there is a prominent vent with a mesh cover on the pointy end of the shell. A Thieaudio standard, lipped metal nozzle holds securely onto ear tips. “Hype-10 B-1115 L/R” is written in orange on the inside surface, making the IEMs easy to identify.

This is the typically great Thieaudio build quality I expect.

The plugs are easily popped on and off. (From: Trav Wilson)
The plugs are easily popped on and off. (From: Trav Wilson)


The included cable is constructed from high-grade silver-plated OCC. Thieaudio says it “provides a little more clarity and refinement compared to the previous generation.” Regardless of claims, it is supple, well-made, and works a treat.

The cable appears the same as the one included with the Prestige LTD.

I prefer the white pearl color of the original Monarch cable to the brown of this cable, but the replaceable 4-pin swappable plugs (2.5mm, 3.5mm, and 4.4mm) are perfectly serviceable. Plugs, chin chinch, and splitter are all made from sturdy-feeling black metal.

The Hype 10 are chunky. (From: Trav Wilson)
The Hype 10 are chunky. (From: Trav Wilson)


If you haven’t stuck one of Thieaudio’s pairs of TOTL mega-driver IEMs in your ears, you may be surprised by their bulky size. Simple math tells us that adding more drivers increases the size of the shell. If you have particularly small or sensitive ears, you may be unable to fit them comfortably.

The Hype 10 are marginally larger than both the Monarch and Prestige LTD, mainly seen in the increased thickness of the resin nozzle.

Their smooth contoured shape offsets the bulk, and I can wear the Hype 10 fairly comfortably for hours, but every time I go back to them, it does take a period for my ears to acclimate.

It is crucial to find the proper ear tip fit to snugly hold the IEMs in your canals and allow you to position the Hype 10 properly – not to mention getting the best sound from them.

Under the Hood

Bass is delivered via a pair of 10mm composite diaphragm dynamic drivers positioned in line (isobaric) within each IEM – Thieaudio calls the setup Impact2 (“Impact Squared”). Additionally, Thieaudio tuned the Hype with a 300Hz bass shelf with a ~10dB bass boost.

Two Danish Sonion 28UAP Balanced Armature drivers add to the bass, while a pair of Sonion E50DT BA are responsible for the midrange. American Knowles SWFK 31736 series ultra-tweeter BAs create the treble frequencies.

All these drivers are paired with a 4-way crossover with four independent sound bores.

There are a lot of moving parts to blend and tune for coherent, high-quality sound reproduction.

12 drivers per IEM. (From: Trav Wilson)
12 drivers per IEM. (From: Trav Wilson)

How Do the Thieaudio Hype 10 Sound?

I primarily listened to my typical mish-mash of genres, file formats, and source material using my go-to portable setup of a Hidizs AP-80 Pro-X mated to a Chord Mojo 2. After much tip rolling, I ended up with the Spinfit CP145 ear tips as the best fit for my ears.

The Hype 10 are reasonably easy to drive from most sources with a 105dB/Vrms@1KHz sensitivity and 18ohm impedance. Depending on your predilections, you can choose to drive them from a simple Apple dongle or something like the Mojo 2, as I did to ensure the highest quality source.

The Hype 10 have a reasonably resolving nature enhanced by a big low end. Elements are easy to pick out, but there’s plenty of thump to get your head nodding and toes tapping.

It’s a forward sound that is more in your face than the Prestige LTD but less clear and detailed. Compared to the original Monarchs, the Hype 10 are fuller and more low-end focussed.

The comparatively crystalline high-frequency response of both the Prestige and Monarch seems to back up my extended-treble expectations regarding the inclusion of EST drivers vs BAs in IEMs.
Frequency response measurement of the Thieaudio Hype 10 as measured on a IEC 603118-4 compliant occluded ear simulator (OES). (From: Trav Wilson)
Frequency response measurement of the Thieaudio Hype 10 as measured on a IEC 603118-4 compliant occluded ear simulator (OES). (From: Trav Wilson)


Shelving the bass at 300Hz allows for a meaty sub-bass presentation without unwanted midrange bleed. There’s lots of low-end authority, and the signature leans towards a fun consumer-based tuning. I expect that most folks, bassheads included, will probably enjoy this ‘loudness switch engaged’ type of performance.

Thankfully all that low-end is multi-textured, reasonably defined, and not lost in a one-note mess that some overly bassy IEMs can become with EDM and bass-heavy music. Overall, the low notes hit and decay quickly and with definition, which is likely a benefit of mixing dynamic drivers (known for impact) and balanced armatures (known for speed) in this frequency range.

Janelle Monae’s Pynk has a lovely weighty bassline that is highly satisfying when played on the Hype 10.


Compared to the TOTL tribrids in the Thieaudio lineup, the lack of EST drivers and reliance on balanced armatures makes the midrange jump out on the Hype 10. It’s not overly warm or thick but simply more evident in the mix. Vocals and instruments assert themselves, ensuring I pay attention to the music.

As a result, I find these IEMs make multitasking difficult.

Mid-heads (is that a thing?) will really enjoy the smooth, organic-sounding midrange performance of the Hype 10. Guitars sound particularly rich and textured, and the Hype 10 seem to especially like Jack White’s music catalog.


In case I haven’t made it clear, the Hype 10 have outstanding BA treble performance but do not provide the same ultra-resolving listening experience as the EST tribrids in Thieaudio’s arsenal. And that’s ok. Companies should strive to have a ‘house sound’ with various flavors to choose from. Want a more incisive pair of IEMs? Then try the Prestige LTD.

With the Hype 10 in your ears, you’ll pick up plenty of detail with decent air. They are far from too bright, and the lack of listener fatigue will be appreciated by many. The Hype 10 are reasonably energetic and articulate without being analytical or aggressive. Cymbal hits, in particular, stand out and sound natural.

The Thieaudio Prestige LTD (left), Hype 10 (center), and Monarch MKI (right). (From: Trav Wilson)
The Thieaudio Prestige LTD (left), Hype 10 (center), and Monarch MKI (right). (From: Trav Wilson)


Going from the measurement graphs, the Hype 2, 4, and 10 all share a related sound signature, and, as a result, they chart similarly. The Hype 10 is the most efficient and loudest of the bunch at the same power output.

The nuances and differences, of course, come down to the divergent BA driver setups within each set.

In his comprehensive review, my colleague Rudolfs concluded, “if you like the Hype 2, then upgrading to the Hype 4 is a no-brainer – they offer the same sound signature but more and better.” But does this apply to the Hype 10 when the price difference jumps from USD$100 (Hype 2 to 4) to USD$400 (Hype 4 to 10)?

There are improvements, but can the cost of the Hype 10 be justified?

Without sounding dramatically different, each successive model builds on the strengths of the last. The 10 offers a more refined presentation than the Hype 4, with bigger and more defined bass and a smoother, sweeter high-end. Technicalities scale up as well.

But if it’s worth it, is ultimately up to your tastes and wallet. The investment is significant.

I’m a card-carrying, EST-enabled IEM junkie. I can’t get enough of that unique, airy presentation. Listening back-to-back with the Prestige LTD, the Hype 10 are far more efficient and louder, with a thicker and weightier presence. In A-B comparisons, the separation and space seem wider and more distinct with the Prestige and the Monarch than the Hype 10.

Admittedly, all these Thieaudio IEMs sound great, and it comes down to personal preference. I also admit my tendency towards brighter-sounding IEMs may be connected to unfortunate age-related hearing realities (hush you).

The Hype 10 are great sounding but are they worth the cost? (From: Trav Wilson)
The Hype 10 are great sounding but are they worth the cost? (From: Trav Wilson)

Where to Buy

Who Should Buy This?

Far be it from me to tell you how to spend your money.

If you want my advice, give a few pairs of Thieaudio’s IEM lineup a serious listen before you buy. Before committing, try the Hype 4, Hype 10, Prestige LTD, and Monarch MKIII, and find out your preferences.

Admittedly, that group has about a thousand dollars of spread in price. But that allows you to decide how much is worth it, enough, or too much – for you.

If you are willing to stretch your purchasing budget up near USD$1000 and prefer BA hybrid IEMs, you’ll find much to love in the Hype 10. They’ve got a smooth, full sound that is effortless to enjoy.

Final Thoughts

The Hype 10 are a great pair of IEMs that most discerning listeners will enjoy – with the caveat that those with smaller ears may find them too big for comfort. It’s the value proposition that is their most significant hurdle.

At less than half the price, the similarly tuned Hype 4 just can’t be ignored when auditioning their big brothers.

Without EST drivers, I find it more difficult for high-end IEMs to wow me. YMMV.

The Hype 10 offer a compelling alternative within the TOTL Thieaudio range with their own unique and fun flavor. Bass and midrange-focused listeners will likely gravitate towards their engaging sound signature. Whether they justify the cost jump up from the Hype 4 will be up to your ears and wallet.

Foam and silicone tips and the three interchangeable cable plugs. (From: Trav Wilson)
Foam and silicone tips and the three interchangeable cable plugs. (From: Trav Wilson)

What’s in the Box?

  • Hype 10 IEMs
  • Modular cable with 2.5, 3.5, and 4.4mm swappable plugs
  • Foam tips (s, m, l)
  • Silicone tips (s, m, l)
  • Microfibre cloth
  • Carrying case

Technical Specifications

  • Form: IEM
  • Driver: 2x dynamic driver (Impact2), 2x Sonion 28UAP BA, 2x Sonion E50DT BA, 2x Knowles SWFK 31736 BA
  • Shell/Cup Material: Resin
  • Impedance (Ohm): 18 Ohm
  • Sensitivity (dB/mW): 87.55 dB/mW
  • Frequency Response (Hz): 10 Hz – 40 KHz
  • Removable Cable: Y
  • Cable Type: Silver-plated OCC
  • Cable Jack: 3.5mm SE, 2.5mm, 4.4mm Balanced
  • Mic: N
  • Weight (g): 5g (including ear tip)

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