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Golden Ears: Thieaudio Hype 10 Review

Christopher Coke Posted:
Hardware Reviews 0

Thieaudio has come out swinging with its latest line of in-ear monitors. Aptly titled “hype” (hybrid-performance), it began the new series with the Hype 2, followed by the Hype 4, and each were met with wide acclaim. Today, we complete the trifecta with the Hype 10, an absolutely premium pair of in-ear monitors packing a whopping 12 drivers in each side. These earphones are the most expensive Hype yet, coming in at $899, placing them deep in Golden Ears territory. Let’s take a closer look and see exactly what they have to offer over their predecessors. 


  • Current Price: $899 (Linsoul
  • Drivers: 2DD+10BA
  • Sensitivity: 105dB/Vrms@1KHz 
  • Impedance: 18Ω@1KHz
  • Frequency Response:10Hz-40kHz

A Quick Introduction to Golden Ears… 

Welcome back to Golden Ears! This is our semi-regular column dedicated to the world of high-end audio. In this series, we look at premium audio products that all promise a next-level listening experience. But what exactly do you get when you spend a little, or sometimes a lot, more? That’s what we aim to discover, helping you to find out just what’s worth investing in to upgrade your listening experience for music and gaming alike. 

For this article in particular, we’re looking at the Thieaudio Hype 10, a flagship pair of earphones priced at $899. At this price, it exists in the upper-range of the personal audio market, beyond typical consumer pricing and well into enthusiast territory. As such, discussions of value are more subjective than ever. For many listeners, that pricing is simply out of reach, and no matter how good they are, they will seem like a terrible value. For others, passionate audiophiles with plentiful expendable income who consider audio their primary hobby, may have a different opinion.For products like this, ideas of value are very subjective; one person’s steal might be another’s exorbitance, so we’ll largely be leaving that to the side today.

On the topic of scoring, it’s important to note a couple of things. First, while we wish we didn’t have to do it, it’s a reality in today’s search-driven publication space. Second, when dealing with “golden ears” caliber products that often cost great deals of money, we expect these products to be at least Good (7) but hopefully Great (8), Amazing (9), or even Masterpiece (10) level. Though there are certainly products tha aren’t very good at every price range, a quick review of web publications shows that the score range is usually a bit tighter with these next-level listening products. Fittingly so — they should sound great! 

Given that expectedly tighter score range, it’s more important than ever to explore the nuances of what sets these products apart. What is their goal? Who are they for? How are they built? What are the intricacies of their listening experience? All of these things matter more and the number matters less. We are always going to be honest and forthright in all of our content, but take the time to hear the story each product is trying to tell, and you’ll understand it that much better. 

Thanks for joining us again, and enjoy the article!

Thieaudio Hype 10 - Design and Key Features

The Thieaudio Hype 10 is the latest in the brand series of Hype earphones. These in-ear monitors each carry the same theme, which is that they follow a hybrid design. Every model, which includes the Hype 2 and Hype 4, are built around a combination of dual dynamic drivers in balanced armatures. As the number in the name increases, so too does the number of drivers Inside each shell. In fact, the number refers explicitly to the number of balanced armatures. 

With that in mind, the Hype 2 has two BAs, the Hype 4 has four BAs, and the Hype 10 has 10 BAs. Each model also has two dynamic drivers which cover the bass. That brings the total driver count for the Hype 10 up to a solid dozen drivers per side. That's more drivers than your average surround sound system each packed into tiny little shells devoted to each ear.

The question is, why? If you're new to the world of high-end audio, it surely will seem a little crazy to use that many drivers per side when so many earphones use a single dynamic driver and call it a day. I know I certainly had that question when I first began exploring this hobby. 

It's more than just marketing and has tangible benefits that you can hear in every single song or game you listen to. With that said, sheer driver count is not the end-all-be-all of sound quality or even sonic performance. Just ask the masses of budget brands that market their earphones almost explicitly on the number of drivers, meanwhile all but if you may not even function. It has far more to do with how the engineers tune the earphones and balance the sound between all of those drivers. That's what differentiates a high quality IEM, like the Hype 10, from the budget sector even if it has the same amount of drivers.

In this case, this driver array is segmented into four distinct frequency categories using a device called a crossover. Thieaudio has specially selected high performance drivers from both Knowles and Sonion that excel in each of the four designated frequency ranges. Knowles SWFK 31736 ultra-tweeters cover the highs to ultra highs, Sonion E50DT drivers cover the mids, and Sonion 28UAP drivers support the dynamic drivers providing the bass. This arrangement provides extension from 10Hz all the way to 40kHz with smooth transitions between the frequency registers. 

The bulk of the bass is provided by a pair of dynamic drivers working in tandem. These drivers are positioned in an opposed orientation inside an isobaric chamber. Thieaudio calls this its IMPACT2 system and is intended to act as a subwoofer platform for the rest of the frequencies. The company has leaned into this with a 300Hz bass shelf that boosts the low end by nearly 10dB. this is a pair of earphones that relishes in its bass but doesn't overdo it and bleed into the mids beyond a slight bit of warmth.

Having such an extensive driver array also gives the company more room to fine-tune its sonics. Having specially designed speakers for each segment of the listening experience, that can each be adjusted to match the exact listening experience the company intends, gives the sound engineers more tools at their disposal. Each of the drivers also starts at a place of excelling at its given frequency range. Simply put, this array provides more granular control over the final listening experience that simply isn't possible with single or even several driver earphones. 

At the same time, fitting all of those additional drivers means that the Hype 10 has to be physically larger than either of its predecessors. It's much closer in size to something like the Prestige LTD or Monarch MKIII. Pair this with wider than average nozzles, and it is certainly possible that some users may find this to be too large to use comfortably for long.

For my part, I really didn't struggle with this. The earphones use a UIEM form factor which is modeled after data on thousands of real ears. Despite its some bulky shape I found that it fit well with the proper tips. It's made of smooth resin and doesn't have any hard angles to create pain in the outer ear. The larger nozzles can be an issue but with small tips, especially the included memory foam, I found it to be workable with my fairly average sized ears.

As I have remarked with most of Thieaudio's higher-end offerings, I wish that they were a bit more generous with the included accessories. You get the same selection of small, medium, and large silicone tips and small, medium, and large foam tips, as well as the same zippered carrying case found with the prior two models. In truth, this is probably enough for most people to be able to find a comfortable fit, but when you're charging $900 for a pair of earphones it's only fitting to go above and beyond with the accessory package.

The Hype 10 is significantly more expensive than the Hype 4. For that extra investment, you're getting a much higher driver count, of course, but the cable has also been upgraded. It appears to be the same cable that’s included with the Monarch MKIII, which retails for about a hundred dollars more. It’s a silver-plated copper cable that’s thick enough to feel premium but still soft and pliable. It has metal casings around each end and modular terminations for 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced and 3.5mm single-ended. It connects to the earphones with standard 2-pin connections, so if you do happen to upgrade, or need to replace it, it’s a universal fit replacement.

The other change coming with this set is the faceplates. There’s only A single option available this time and follows a galaxy theme. There is a bed of stars beneath and what appears to be a meteor streaking into the upper right on top of a magenta field. It looks quite nice and is rather unique. I am always a fan of providing faceplate options, which are not available here, but hopefully the universal plate will mean less prep time and faster shipping.

Thieaudio Hype 10 - Listening Impressions

With the background out of the way, let's get into sound. We need to begin with how easy or difficult these are to drive. With a sensitivity of 105 dB and an impedance of 18 ohms, they are quite sensitive. You won't need any exceptional amplifier or equipment to run these, however, it only makes sense to use a dedicated deck of some kind to do their positioning justice. You can get away with a relatively low-cost source and still have them perform at potential, but I did find that they sounded the best with a bit more power and a warmer source overall to complement the bass.

Image Credit: TechPowerUp via Squig.Link

In the picture above, I’ve stacked the frequency response graphs of all three Hype models. These are courtesy of TechPowerUp and gathered from the frequency database squig.link. Graphs can provide a valuable data point to compare the overall frequency balance of a set of earphones. They are not the end-all be-all of how an earphone sounds, however. This graph is a perfect example of both of those points.

The first thing that we can tell from examining these is that the frequency balance between all three is very similar. And in fact, when you listen to them they all sound very similar. That doesn't mean there are no differences. As you scale up in tier the performance of each improves. They do not sound radically different in sound balance, but the presentation of sound definitely has unique characteristics for each set. 

But let's break down the tonality in case you missed my review of the Hype 4. Starting with the low end, the bass reaches deep. There is a lot of texture and tangible rumble. The two dynamic drivers deliver powerful response but stopping the shelf at 300Hz allows the mids to stay clean. It’s a fantastic presentation for a music library that consists of electronic music, rock, and metal. 

The low end is the perfect encapsulation of why IEMs can be so good for gaming, too. Impactful, cinematic, engaging, immersive. These are the words that come to mind when I think of this set of IEMs for games. Well many sets around this price lean into audio file tunings, which is to say more treble-centric tunings, the Hype 10 comes in with the power.

Thieaudio's use of balanced armatures to bridge the three main frequency divisions is also very smart and well done. The BAs come in to enhance the texture and presentation of the bass and gracefully slide into the mids. 

The mid-range is very smooth and natural. There's just a hint of warmth coming from the bass that accentuates male vocals. Overall, however I don't find it to be unusual sounding at all. This is a set where you can hear singers of both genders and forget that there may be any coloration at all and just enjoy the music. Mid-range instruments are also very good and natural sounding with lifelike timbre. I especially like guitars and pianos. Cellos also sound fantastic and have a sweetness to them that is very fun.

The highs are crisp and sparkling, but are never over accentuated or sharp. They draw out the upper harmonics of those mid-range instruments and remove any form of veil, providing the overwhelming impression of clarity. Percussion also sounds particularly good here. Hi-hats snap through the mix while kick drums come in with the percussive thud. Pop, hip hop, rock, and other genres that are driven by drum sets and electronic kits really sound fantastic here.

At this point, it's worth bringing in the comparison to the Hype 4. Each of the things I said here also applies to that model. What you're really getting here are gradations of improvement, especially in the lows and highs. Despite what the graph shows, the bass is audibly louder on the Hype 10 versus the Hype 4. It's more powerful and more refined. Textures are tighter and the response overall sounds slightly faster with a touch more punch.

The mids, on the other hand, are extremely similar. I struggle to notice any difference between them. That's not necessarily a bad thing because the mids were excellent on the Hype 4.

The highs sound smoother on the Hype 10. Percussion pops ever so slightly more there is a better sense of air, that is likely due to the use of Knowles drivers for the highs instead of the Sonion the Hype 4. It is a more refined presentation overall.

It's when you get into the technicalities that the Hype 10 pulls into its own. There's a cohesiveness to the sound that's difficult to put into words but is present in actual listening. The sound stage is more spacious. Not dramatically so but it is noticeable immediately. Imaging is slightly better too. Detail retrieval also seems slightly higher, although it's a very close call. Add the small differences in sound signature and you have an IEM that just sounds more refined.

Linsoul actually has a great presentation of this where you can hear it for yourself.

I typically take these sound demos with a grain of salt. But listening to all three side by side I actually find this to be quite accurate.

Is It Worth Buying?

The Hype 10 is a great set, no doubt. But should you get it over the Hype 4? It's typical in the space, the audio files will pay extra to chase minor improvements in performance, but in this case, with the Hype 4 so readily available and so much cheaper, it becomes a much trickier proposition. Both sets deliver elevated bass smooth mids and slightly elevated yet still smooth trouble. Both sets deliver good technicalities and lots of detail. Both sets have good sound stages. Both are good for music and gaming alike.

While the Hype 10 is better, it’s very hard to justify paying more than double the price for such a similar sound, even with the improvements it offers. I can’t help but think that this would have been better positioned in the $500-600 range, close enough to the Hype 4 that it doesn’t seem so out of reach, and far away from the Monarch MKIII, which is also similar but better technically due to its electrostatic drivers. 

So while it’s great, it’s just not a good value. I can see what Thieaudio was going for here. The same sound signature at different levels of technical performance. It just so happens that the Hype 4 hit the sweet spot and made the Hype 10 a much harder sell by proxy.

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes. 

7.1 Good
  • Tight, detailed bass
  • Spacious soundstage with great imaging
  • Natural mids and crisp highs, highlighting instruments and percussion
  • Great for gaming as well as music!
  • Very similar tuning to prior Hype models
  • Pricing it much higher than Hype 4, but close enough to Monarch MKIII, that it feels oddly positioned
  • Single faceplate option
  • Limited accessories


Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight