Review : Thieaudio Legacy 3
In this review, we look at the new chifi brand Thieaudio and their 3-driver hybrid model, the Legacy 3!
Disclaimer : This unit was borrowed from my friend who purchased it as his own personal unit
Thieaudio is a brand started by Linsoul in 2019 to create revolutionary audio products for audiophiles and professionals. The first product created by them were the Thieaudio Phantom, an open-back planar magnetic headphone. Since then, they have created 2 new series of earphones - the Voyager and Legacy series. The Voyager series is targeted at musicians, whereas the Legacy series is better suited for audiophiles and music enthusiasts.
While looking up on the latest earphones in the market, I stumbled upon Thieaudio, where people were constantly talking about their earphones. As of writing, they have a total of 4 earphones, 2 in each series : Voyager 3, Voyager 14, Legacy 3 and Legacy 9. The number pegged in the model name indicates the number of drivers in the earphones.
The Voyager and Legacy series differs not only in their target audience, but also in their driver types. The Voyager series uses only Balanced Armature (BA) drivers while the Legacy series uses a mix of BA and Dynamic drivers.
My friend decided to purchase it after reading many reviews of it online and I was lucky enough to be able to borrow it from him. Now let's have a quick summary of the earphone before going into the details of it. For simplicity, the Legacy 3 will be referred to as L3 henceforth.
Sound : Balanced
Driver : 2 BA (1 High, 1 Mid) + 1 10mm Nano-Membrane dynamic driver (Low)
Socket : 2-pin (0.78mm)
Price : Starts from 119 USD
Where to buy it : Linsoul
Good detail retrieval and layering
Good build quality
High quality cable included
Included accessories could be better (Really nitpicking here)
Soundstage could be wider
Suitable genres : All-rounder, but sounds a tad better for fast-paced songs like metal, hip-hop etc.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX
The box that the earphone came in is dark green, which reminded me of the boxes that the Rolex watches comes in. It slides open to reveal a set of basic accessories :
3 sets (S,M,L) eartips
1 x SIM Tool (Used for adjusting the switches on the earphone)
1 x Semi-hard synthetic leather earphone case
1 x Legacy 3 earphone
1 x 7N 8-core OCC copper cable
The earphone case feels good and it's actually big enough to put in the earphones and more such as box of eartips or maybe another set of cables. One suggestion I have for Thieaudio is that they could include dividers or compartments in their earphone case so as to allow users to keep their things separately, such as having a small pocket for the SIM tool, or a small divider for eartips within. Though the accessory pack is sufficient, I wish they had came with more accessories such as foam tips, but that is really just nitpicking at this point.
BUILD QUALITY When first looking at the earphone with my friend, we both noted that the quality of the clockwork design earphone looked rather questionable but after receiving the unit, it actually looks and feels much better than it seems. From Linsoul's product page, it says that the shell is made from medical grade resin and you can feel that it is quite thick and can withstand drops which I think is great (please don't drop it though). It is really well-built, you can hardly tell that the earphone is actually joined at the faceplate as there are no seams to suggest that. The light blue shade of the earphone is actually slightly darker in actuality and the subtle silver logo is a nice touch to it.
I find that the clockwork design can be a real hit or miss. I used to have an earphone that had a clockwork design and though it initially looked okay, I got tired of it after a while due to the excessive number of gears on it. However on this unit, I think it was not excessive and looked pleasant. Personally, I would have gotten the "Mystique" option as I prefer swirled patterns over the clockwork.
Legacy 3 Earphone, Mystique design (Image obtained from Linsoul)
COMFORT AND ISOLATION
The earphone has a nice shape to it that fits most ears, including my friend's which was on the smaller side. It fits snugly in the ear, and was flushed against my ear.
For noise isolation, I did not have much issues with it while using the stock medium sized eartips. I found it to have a better seal than using SpinFit tips, maybe because the slightly longer nozzle of the SpinFit tips caused the earphone to be sticking out more, allowing the earphones to droop down and thus breaking the seal. Using it with the sedna earfit light eartips from AZLA provides a good seal and it sits snug in my ears while providing a wider sound as compared to the SpinFits.
I would suggest getting eartips that do not have a long nozzle to provide a good fit and seal.
I was pleasantly surprised by how balanced these earphones sounded. It reminded me of the Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10 but with better bass and less "in-your-face" mids. For a sub 200 USD earphone, I also did not expect the L3 to be such a revealing earphone, the amount of details it had was surprising and it does it effortlessly. This earphone comes with switches that allows the user to tweak the sound slightly without changing its entire sound signature. I found that I actually preferred it at the "01" setting (Switch 1 down, Switch 2 up), as it had better treble extension.
This review will be done on my Cayin N6ii (T01 Module) on the "01" setting of the L3 with the included cable and eartips.
Highs have a good extension and sound thick, making it really enjoyable. It never sounds grainy even at higher volumes and still keeps you in the groove of the song, allowing you to headbang to your music.
As a treble head, I find that the highs are sufficient but it also wouldn't hurt to have a bit more sparkle to the treble. Listening to "Sugar Song to Bitter Step" by Unison Square Garden, despite the constant high hats throughout the song, you hear it, but it's clearly tucked away in the back. I suppose the good thing about that is that it's not so tiring listening to it but at the same time, it leaves you wanting more.
Due to the highs being slightly laid back and being thicker-sounding, highs are less fatiguing but may sound less exciting. This is clearly pointed out in "You Estas" by Kana Boon, high hats are clearly there but you only hear a tiny hint of it, and crashing of cymbals are less "in-your-face".
However, I have to reiterate that the quality of the treble is still one of the better ones that I have heard. It still has a decent amount of sparkle to it though not as bright as how I normally like it to be.
Overall, the highs are really enjoyable still : It does not overwhelm the listener but keeps them entranced in the song.
Listening to mids on the L3 is very enjoyable because not only is it fast, it has some thickness to it. Electric guitars on it never sounds thin, but nuances in the upper mids are a bit laidback. Listening to "40oz" by Polyphia, you can hear that most of the electric guitar retains the details but does not shout at you. This thickness to the mids works to its advantage when listening to metal. On "ARCADIA" by Jupiter, Hizaki and Teru's guitar sounds amazing with the distortion. It has a lot of bite to it that gets you very engrossed in their playing, you'd be in for a real treat listening to their guitar solo at the 2 minute mark of the song!
Moving on to vocals, female vocals on these are clearly not lacking. Mariya Takeuchi's vocals shine in "Plastic Love" and that subtle reverb in the song is also audible, giving it that extra headspace, almost like the vocals are elevating in your head. Male vocals are also pleasant to listen to. In "Choices" by Bernhoft, when he strains his voice to hit the higher notes, those little nuances that he does at the end of some sentences can easily be heard. Overall, mids are very safe sounding while retaining details. Upper mids does not overtake anything, vocals are generally on the warmer side and comfortable to listen to. So if you're looking for an earphone where the female vocals will particularly shine when they hit those high notes, then this is not it. However, everything here is done in a way that most listeners will enjoy it. I think this is Thieaudio's tuning to have upper mids tucked in the back to have a sound that is less fatiguing overall.
The lows on the L3 definitely go low, which is what I enjoy most about a dynamic driver bass setup. Bass is also very textured, giving it a nice rumble when the bass goes deep. Listening to "So Strange" by Polyphia, near the last minute of the song, there are parts of it when the bass goes deep. The L3 is able to reproduce those subbass levels with a good rumble but it does not overwhelm you in it. Bass on the L3 is also fast, listening to "Sukiraism" by Frederic shows that it's able to keep up with the song, regardless of when the bassist is playing it on the higher or lower frets. Also from Frederic, the bass of "Togenkyo" is reproduced well, fast and snappy while not bleeding into the lower mids region. Even with many instruments ongoing, it never struggles to keep up.
One thing I also noticed about the bass in general is that it seems very directed to the listener instead of surrounding the listener in its bass, like having a surround sound of bass. This is probably due to the soundstage which would be further discussed below. In essence, the bass on the L3 has a clear distinction from the highs and mids, and never overwhelming the listener. It goes low enough for you to feel the music, and also snappy enough to keep up with more fast and challenging bass lines.
Soundstage on these earphones are average, the music always sound like they are inside your head and never out of it. You won't get a surround sound experience like listening to music in a concert hall, sounds more 2 dimensional than 3 dimensional. Thus, everything would sound very directed to you but because of the way the sound is tuned, it never sounds fatiguing. On a sidenote, if you are wondering if this is the case with all earphones from Thieaudio, I can assure you it is not as I have tried the Voyager 14 and it is spacious.
I do like the imaging on these pair, they provide rather accurate instrument placements when listening to my music. For instance, listening to "Can't Wait" from Chon, you can tell that drums are up in the front with the vocals being slightly nearer, lead and rhythm guitar on the right and left respectively with the lead guitar being closer to you. What a delight!
The switch system is a plus point as it allows you to have a slight flexibility in the sound without altering the sound signature much. In its "11" configuration (i.e. both switches up), it sounds more V-shaped, boosting the bass while making vocals more laidback. In the "10" configuration (first switch up, second switch down), upper mids and treble sounds a bit too far than what I would like. Still, I prefer it in its "01" configuration as it sounds the most balanced to me.
Comparing to the similarly priced BQEYZ Spring 1, I find that highs on the Spring 1 have a better extension than on the L3, it shines even more. I still prefer the mids on the L3 because the mids are thicker and suits the genres that I listen to better, such as rock and metal. Bass on the Spring 1 sounds similar to me, both reach the same levels though the bass on the Spring 1 sounds softer to me. Spring 1 definitely has a wider soundstage, which I prefer more. Both are good in their own right, some may say that the Spring 1 sounds "softer" but that is due to the wider soundstage, while others may prefer the L3 as it is more direct.
I am pleasantly surprised by how the Legacy 3 sounds, it is a very enjoyable earphone to listen to, never fatiguing, with balanced levels of highs mids and lows throughout. I can easily recommend this earphone to anyone because it does check a lot of boxes for me such as having a detailed, balanced sound and detachable cables. Thieaudio really has done a good job for a newcomer and they just shook up the market with its offerings, I am really impressed! If you are looking for the best bang for your buck under 200, this is definitely it!