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Thieaudio Elixir Review: The New Single Dynamic King Under $250?

Christopher Coke Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

Thieaudio is a brand that seems dedicated to pushing the envelope. Whether that’s unique designs or value for the dollar, you can always count on it to deliver something interesting — and that’s definitely the case for the IEM we’re looking at today: the Thieaudio Elixir. Featuring a uniquely designed single dynamic driver, stronger magnets, and a beautiful burlwood design, this earphone aims to impress at its $209 asking price. Let’s dive in and see how it does.

Thank you to Linsoul for providing the sample for this review.

Specifications

  • Current Price: $209 (Amazon
  • Key Features:
    • Paramount Resolution, Mature Sound - The Elixir project aimed to capture the spirit and emotion of the sound while maintaining a natural tonality that stays true to the recording. The latest driver innovations and acoustic engineering strategies resonate with an analog texture unique only to the playback from the Elixir. Intended more for luxurious listening sessions rather than stage performances, the Elixir is the audiophile’s dream of a personal vintage sound system.
    • Innovative 3-Dimensional Velocity Transducer - The soul of the Elixir lies within its newly developed 3-Dimensional Velocity Transducer. A completely innovative driver which is composed of beryllium-coated interweaving layers of multi-walled carbon nanotube sheets, resulting in higher tensions and more responsiveness. The structure of the driver utilizes stronger pole magnets and a completely copper voice coil. These uncompromising driver components relay a sound texture of vintage and analog.
    • Balanced and Natural Tonality - The Elixir have been meticulously tuned to deliver a natural and balanced sound that is free of any harsh abnormalities or lacking at any frequency interval. This meant the treble had to be detailed and resolved. Following the now well-established natural decay curvature found in all of Thieaudio’s signature series in-ear monitors, the Elixir’s upper frequencies deliver a smooth yet precise relay of every minuscule detail in the music.
    • Handcrafted Care, Quality that Lasts - Each Elixir unit is handcrafted from precision printed and CNC components. Each driver unit is manually tested and pair-matched before being hand-assembled. The beautiful anodized aluminum bezel ensures the color won't fade off even with time. The faceplate is milled from a limited quantity of solid genuine burl woodblock, which is coated before being embedded within the aluminum bezel. Every Elixir is full of our handcrafted care.
    • 26AWG High-Quality Litz Cable - The Elixir comes with a high quality 2 core of 92 wires 0.06mm Single-Crystal Copper and 24 wires 0.06mm Silver-Plated OCC Copper Litz Cable upgrade cable. It has 3.5mm single-ended cable termination. Additionally, having the 0.78mm 2-pin connectors means that the cable can be detached and changed to fit your needs. Hand paired specifically for the Elixir, the stock cable perfectly complements the aesthetic and sonic pleasures of the Elixir.
  • Driver: 3-Dimensional Velocity Transducer Diaphragm Dynamic Driver
  • Connector: 0.78mm 2PIN
  • Cable: 2 Core OCC + OCC-silver plated Litz Cable
  • Cable Length: 1.2m
  • Frequency response range: 20-40KHZ
  • Plug Type: 3.5mm
  • Sensitivity: 112db
  • Impedance: 18ohm

Thieaudio Elixir - What Is It?

With the Elixir, Thieaudio is stepping away from its usual hybrid design philosophy. While most of its line-up uses a mix of different types of drivers, the Elixir features a single dynamic driver design. That doesn’t mean it’s simple, however, as this driver is a unique design exclusive to Thieaudio. 

The company refers to this new design as a 3 Dimensional Velocity Transducer. Unlike a traditional dynamic driver, its diaphragm is composed of multiple beryllium-coated layers of interwoven carbon nanotube sheets. This design allows it to be denser and remain more rigid, increasing the responsiveness of the driver. This is paired with stronger magnets and a completely copper voice coil. This design is intended to increase the resolution and technical performance of the earphone and lend it a “vintage and analog” sound. 

In layman's terms, this design is intended to let you hear more than competing single dynamic driver earphones without jumping the shark in overall pricing. At $209, it’s only a bit more expensive than many of the competing single DD earphones, like the recently lauded Moondrop Kato, which is currently $189.99. Spoiler alert: the Elixir is a better package overall, which makes the extra $20 feel worthwhile for what you’re getting in return. 

One of the highlights of this release has been the craftsmanship that has gone into its design. The final look is beautiful, in my opinion, with faceplates made from finished burl wood. The gold ring around each face is anodized aluminum, so will never chip or scratch. The black inner housing is simple and matches very well. Each Elixir is handcrafted, including manually matching the drivers before assembling them into the finished unit, and the result is a very striking yet elegant-looking set.

Inside the box, you have your choice of silicone or memory ear tips in small, medium, and large. There’s also a compact faux leather carrying case like we’ve seen on prior Thieaudio releases. 

The included cable is quite nice. It’s a simple two-core design that is coiled up to the Y-splitter. It’s a dark copper color and matches the earpieces well except for the silver accent pieces at each end. It’s soft and flexible, so easy to coil and manage without worrying about unnecessary tangles. 

Thieaudio Elixir - Fit and Comfort

Since the Elixir only uses a single dynamic driver in each side, each earpiece can be quite small. I prefer silicone tips and was able to find a secure and comfortable fit easily. If you have trouble finding a fit on other earphones, I recommend moving to the memory foam tips as they will better conform to your ears and provide an improved seal. Regardless, this isn’t a set you’ll need to worry about hurting your ears. They’re well designed and small enough to nestle right into the natural contours of your ear and hold their place well without causing irritation.

Thieaudio Elixir - Listening Impressions 

The Thieaudio Elixir isn’t exactly about balance, but it also doesn’t overplay its hand with loud bass or treble-centric details. Instead, there’s a slight push in the bass and upper midrange to make your music and entertainment sound rich. I would definitely say the Elixir is a warm headphone, but there’s nothing muddy about it. In fact, the technical performance and details punch up from their $209 price point. For my tastes, that’s just about perfect: warmth and sub-bass while still offering plenty of details and high resolution listening.

Bass: The bass on the Elixir reaches low and can deliver plentiful sub-bass rumble. Moving up from the bass you can “feel” the low-end fills out nicely and offers a good impression of texture. These earphones deliver an impactful kick. The bass isn’t loud enough to satisfy true bass-heads, but I think Thieaudio has balanced the low register well to hit a middle ground here for a wide variety of music and entertainment. You could easily use these for gaming and be able to enjoy cinematic moments and still be able to hear all of the important details that exist higher in the frequency range (like footsteps, callouts, and gunshots).

Mids: The mids on this set are recessed until about 1kHz, which is one way in which it’s able to sound so clean. Sharpness in the mids sounds rolled off but doesn’t sacrifice detail to do so. In fact, it’s between the mids and highs that a lot of the technical performance of the Elixir shines. Transients hit cleanly and micro details pop out (like the sound of the strings sliding against the fretboard on Thomas Leeb’s version of Don’t Worry, Be Happy, or the subtle differences between how he picks each string).

Treble: Treble on the Elixir is extended but well presented. It doesn’t sound sharp, but the driver can reach and retrieve the important frequencies that detail to give guitars their proper shimmer and generally make music sound airy and clear. Treble is well-tuned and enjoyable for long listening sessions. 

Soundstage/Imaging: First off, the imaging on these earphones is outstanding. The natural clarity of the 3D Velocity driver makes it easy to put together a stereo image with surprising depth for such a small, closed-back earphone. The sound isn’t compressed in any way, and while it’s not as wide as an open-back earphone, it’s spacious enough to sound natural and fun.

I found the Elixir to be an impressive choice for gaming, too. That deeper soundstage and great imaging pays dividends in being able to pick out enemies in shooters and to enhance immersion in single-player RPGS. As always, be sure to turn on Dolby Atmos or Windows Sonic for the best experience. 

Overall Impressions and Final Thoughts

The Elixir has become my new single DD earphone. It’s tuned impeccably well, and doesn’t fall into the trap of needing to be perfectly balanced. It is well balanced, so no one frequency band overtakes the others, but I’m glad Thieaudio went with a warmer sound. It’s proven to be very versatile, whether I’m listening to metal, acoustic, electronica, or plugging into my PC for competitive gaming or MMOs. The heart, the real balance, it finds is between delivering that warm-natural sound and having excellent technical performance and detail retrieval for the price. It leaves nothing on the table compared to its competition, and is one of the best single dynamic driver IEMS for its price as a result. 

The Thieaudio Elixir is excellent and should be at the top of your list as one of the best IEMs under $250. 

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes. Articles may include affiliate links from which we may earn a small commission to help support the site. Authors do not earn affiliate revenue or commissions.

8.5Great
Pros
  • Great value
  • Small and easy fit
  • Very well rounded and easy to listen to
  • Great resolution for the price
  • Deep soundstage for the form factor
Cons
  • Mid-bass could be higher


GameByNight

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