Review written by @Fc-Construct
Review unit provided by Linsoul
Thieaudio is an IEM company that made its splash on the IEM scene a year ago with the release of their flagship Monarch and Clairvoyance tribrid IEMs. But before their claim to fame, Thieaudio did have a few other IEMs in their lineup. In particular, their entry-class Legacy 3 had its short time in the sun before fading into obscurity as many flavours of the months do. This time, armed with their experience with the tribrid twins, they’re back with the Thieaudio Legacy 2 . Coming in at $100 and boasting a 10 mm Be DD and single Knowles BA, can Thieaudio cement their presence the hypercompetitive budget landscape as well?
What’s in the Box?
The box of the Legacy 2 is a simple black box stating its logo. Inside is the IEMs attached to their 2-pin cable and a small carrying case containing 6 pairs of silicon S, M, L tips. It’s a clean, no-frills unboxing experience. I really like the carrying case. It has a deep blue faux leather exterior with a simple magnetic flap that opens up so you can slide your IEMs inside the velvet lined case. It’s similar to previous Thieaudio cases except that it’s slightly less than half the size length wise. I find it to be the perfect size for being big enough to comfortably store the IEMs while being small enough to put in your pocket or hold in your hand. Oh, and the cable is nice too. It’s light, pliable, and has little cable memory or noise.
The IEMs themselves have an unfilled resin shell and are quite light. Pretty standard stuff. I’m pleased that the nozzle has a bit of a lip molded into it so tips don’t slip off. However the nozzle length is very short and for some that might be a problem. I personally find it quite comfortable. I get a good seal and it isolates well enough. It’s about as basic of a setup as you’re going to get.
Unfortunately, I’m not impressed with the L2. It’s a variant of the increasingly common safe tuning combination of a bass boost, good upper mids pinna gain, and tamed treble. However, it has disappointing technical performance. It takes a formulaic approach to “good sound” that undoubtedly clears the tuning bar but doesn’t do anything beyond that. To me, it sounds like it was made as an afterthought just to have a product in the budget space with no identify of its own. To use an analogy, it’s like a physics student who answers all questions correctly but doesn’t show their work or give units. The L2 “objectively” gets good marks but frustratingly refuses to go for great.
Frequency response of the Thieaudio Legacy 2. Measurement taken with an IEC-711 clone microphone. Comparisons can only be made to other measurements taken by this specific microphone. The peak at about 8-9 kHz is an artifact of the microphone. It likely does not actually exist as depicted here.
Looking at the frequency response graph, you’d think the L2 is a bassy IEM. But it doesn’t really come across that way. While it doesn’t lack quantity, the L2’s bass sounds unsure of itself. It doesn’t portray a strong, confident slam in the subbass. Though isn’t particularly boomy, it lacks the necessary note definition to have clean midbass drum notes. Instead, they sound soft and rounded out. On the upside, it doesn’t struggle with more complex tracks and there’s the occasional glimpse of nuance in tricky segments. It’s an awkward in-between feeling that leaves me wanting for some sense of direction. I generally don’t expect too much from marketing terms like “Beryllium DD”, but I am still a little disappointed. It isn’t bad but it’s certainly not what I’d classify as good. It just is.
From a tonal balance perspective, the mids of the L2 falls short of the finish line in comparison to other really well tuned IEMs. The balance between the lower mids and upper mids cause vocals to sound a tad veiled and hazy. The culprit is the low mids elevation around the 200 – 300 Hz mark. While I don’t necessarily consider it to be bass bleed, the end result is that it masks some clarity in the upper mids. Now, some of you might be asking this point: “Why not just call it a warm tuning?”. And that would be a completely valid question. Feel free to disagree but personally, I don’t feel like the L2’s tuning goes for that warm, lush, laid back, etc. tone. Instead, it seems to try for a natural, neutral sound but doesn’t quite make it. To get there, it either needs a minor recession in the lower mids around the aforementioned 200 – 300 Hz region or a couple dB of gain in the upper mids at 2.5 – 4 kHz. Or both. All this being said, in the grand scheme of things, the L2’s are admittedly quite well tuned. Unless you’ve had the chance to hear some of the best tuned IEMs out there, its mids will likely sound pleasant to you.
Tonal quibbles aside, instruments generally sound fine. Timbre is good though clearer note definition would be appreciated. I’d say that electric guitars would benefit from more bite to their sound. Vocals, as mentioned before, could use more clarity to help them really cut through the mix. The L2 isn’t the most interesting IEM to listen to but its mids don’t sound harsh or sibilant in any way.
The treble of the L2 is rather subdued but does blend in well to the sound of the L2s. There’s just enough sharpness to breathe life in the initial touch of the cymbals and hats. However it does have a dip in the mid treble that softens the note’s decay. This has the effect of making the L2 a fatigue free listen though it does sometimes cause cymbal crashes in the background to sound masked and blurred together. Overall, I’m fine with the treble response. It doesn’t have upper treble extension like many IEMs but it doesn’t sound suffocated or anything.
The sound presentation of this IEM is practically the textbook definition of average. Soundstage and imaging are alright. Dynamics face their standard limitations. Note definition and resolution is middling though at times it shows flashes of brilliance on the resolution front. Honestly, it’s hard to put words to the presentation of the Legacy 2 beyond “it’s OK”. I find that sometimes the more I listen to an IEM the more I uncover and appreciate its technical performance. But with the L2, it didn’t get any better after the first day.
Comparison to the SeeAudio Yume
The L2 reminds me quite a bit of the recent $170 SeeAudio Yume that I reviewed. Solid tuning, middling technical performance. In fact, when I first learned that Thieaudio was releasing the L2, I thought that maybe we would get a Yume for almost half the cost. But alas, that was not so. For my tastes, the Yume perfects the L2’s tuning. It essentially does everything I wished was improved: clean up the bloat in the midbass/low mids transition, add a dash of upper mids clarity, and fill in the treble dip for a more realistic treble experience.
So is the Yume worth the extra $70? Personally, I would say so. That said, you could probably EQ the L2 to the Yume or your personal tastes with minimal effort and put the money towards something like the Qudelix 5k for wireless freedom. On a technical level, they’re essentially on par with each other except for the bass where I’d say the Yume edges out the L2 in terms of impact and note definition.
Should You Buy It?
A hesitant yes. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of the Thieaudio Legacy 2. Clearly Thieaudio knows how to tune and recent ChiFi brands has made great tuning ever more accessible for beginners. This is inarguably great news for the growth of this hobby. However I can’t shake the feeling that Thieaudio, with their tuning know-how, simply slapped the L2 together to fill a product gap and called it a day. A few years ago, I would’ve been impressed with the L2. But for today’s hypercompetitive market filled with other notable IEMs, the Legacy 2’s seeming lack of effort sours my attitude towards it.
So yes, for $100 it’s still worth a purchase. But I’d suggest looking around the budget space for something that will suit your needs more closely than the L2. In my eyes, just like it covers a hole in Thieaudio’s lineup, the L2 should fill a gap in your shortlist. A default option that will work perfectly fine for everyone but not necessarily the best option for someone. And to be completely fair, I’m sure there are some out there who would prefer the sound of the L2 over the other similarly tuned IEMs out there right now. Those just aren’t my ears.