Thieaudio has been the brand to watch in the ChiFi space since it’s introduction back in 2019 as the house brand for Linsoul. We’ve seen some great earphones from them since that time, including the Legacy 3 (reviewed here) which was easily one of the best IEMs of 2020 with its triple-driver design and excellent tuning. Today, we’re looking at the Legacy 2, Thieaudio’s latest and most affordable release yet. Coming in at $99, it’s out to challenge a busy market with dual-driver design that includes a Knowles 29689 balanced armature and a beryllium-coated dynamic driver to drive the bass. Let’s take a closer look and see how it fares.
- Current Price: $99 (Linsoul)
- Sensitivity (1KHz): 108dB
- Frequency range: 20Hz-20KHz
- Impedance (1KHz): 32Ω
- Driver: Knowles 29689 + 10mm Beryllium
- Noise Isolation: 26dB
- Earphone connector: 0.78 2pin
- Plug: 3.5mm
- Cable: 1.2m
Overview and First Impressions
Thieaudio is known for its hybrid earphones and the Legacy 2 is no exception. I’m not sure whether the “2” in the name is a result of its entry-level positioning in the Legacy product line or if it refers to the two drivers in each earbud, but both fit the bill. The Legacy 2 is the new entry-point to Thieaudio’s IEM line-up at only $99 and features two drivers in each shell. An IEM becomes a hybrid when it blends driver types, and here we have a 10mm beryllium driver (very likely coated at this price, not pure beryllium) and Knowles 29689 balanced armature.
If you’re wondering why that matters, consider this: different types of speakers have their strengths and weaknesses. There’s a reason virtually every subwoofer you see uses a dynamic driver (easily identified by its conical design). Dynamic drivers do a great job with bass reproduction, moving a lot of air for a great sense of impact — they’re also not shabby for the rest of the spectrum, but low-end is definitely their strong suit. Balanced armatures excel in the mids and treble frequencies, which is one reason why they’re frequently used in hearing aids. Pair the two with a bit of electronics called a crossover, and the Legacy 2s are able to split what sounds are generated by each speaker allowing each to play to their strong suit for improved sound quality.
Here, Thieaudio has used a beryllium dynamic driver. Beryllium is a stiff alloy and even a coating can improve the speed and clarity of a driver, allowing sound to present more true to life. It’s also large at 10mm and that greater surface area allows it to move more air for a better presentation than many smaller drivers. The balanced armature, on the other hand, is identified by a cryptic number, 29689, but the important thing to know here is that it is fairly neutral before vendors apply their own tunings. It’s also been used in a number of earbuds and is a proven commodity — it’s capable of sounding great. All in all, even though we have physically fewer drivers to keep the cost down, the choice of which are included here is promising.
Like other Thieaudio products, we have a fairly generous assortment of accessories. Included in the box are six sets of silicone ear tips in both white and black. The black set are a touch stiffer and seem to have a slightly narrower bore. There is also a leatherette carrying case that’s held shut with a magnet behind the fabric. There is also the cable, which is silver and braided with metal ends and gold contacts. The company doesn’t share specifics beyond its 1.2m length but it’s quite nice and very flexible without any microphonic noise making its way into your ears.
The earphones themselves are beautiful. They use blue resin shells with face plates in glittery, swirling aqua that appears hand-painted. They’re some of the nicest looking IEMs I’ve seen in a while. They’re currently only available in blue, however, so if you’re not a fan of the color you’re out of luck at least for now. One thing to note here is that the 2-pin connector for the cable is flush with the surface of the shell. That increases its compatibility with aftermarket cables but does leave those pins more open to getting bent if anything should torque the stem.
One interesting change this time around is that Thieaudio has removed the tuning switches found on most of its other Legacy IEMs. These would allow users to tune their sound for more bass, mids, or treble. In practice the impact was very minor, so I don’t mind seeing them removed here if it saves on cost.
For $99, we have a solid package all around on a great- looking IEM.
Fit and Comfort
The Legacy 2s are a universal IEM. Unlike earbuds, the shell is contoured to match the folds of the outer ear to help hold it in place for a secure fit. They’re fairly standard in size but if you have smaller ears, they may feel a tad large. This is a similar design to the in-ear monitors used by performers when they’re on stage without being entirely custom molded to your ear.
Like always, comfort and sound are predicated on finding a proper fit. For my part, that meant using a medium in my right ear and a small one in my left. With the proper tip, both the ear canal and outer-ear work to support and secure the Legacy 2s and deliver a comfortable, firm fit. If you like to wear IEMs when working out, these are an excellent choice as even vigorous head shaking couldn’t unseat them. I didn’t experience any discomfort even after several hours of use.
Listening and Use Impressions
The Legacy 2s have a relatively balanced sound that tends toward brightness to my ear. Bass is slightly elevated, which leads these to have a U-shaped sound signature. Here is the frequency response graph provided by Linsoul:Frequency Response via Linsoul
This tuning lines up with my personal tastes well, so I’m inclined to like and recommend these earphones. I tend to listen to a lot of rock, metal, and, when I’m writing, melodic chillstep and some hip-hop, and there really wasn’t a genre that the Legacy 2s couldn’t deliver on. That said, they definitely sounded best with hip-hop and electronica as electric guitars could sometimes take on an edge in specific classic rock tracks, like “Jessica” by the Allman Brothers. This behavior wasn’t present on most other tracks, however, even those with significantly more drive like Angel Vivaldi’s “Dopamine.” Clearly, this is a specific interplay between certain guitar tones and tracks, so your mileage may vary, but I found these to generally sound relaxed which made the edge stand out when it was present.
Bass response here is fast and wide. The beryllium driver makes a noticeable difference, especially in tracks with fast-hitting kick drums or movies and games where deep sounds come fast and frequently. The Legacy 2s are reasonably thumpy but don’t have the same sense of impact as the 3s or 4s but still hold down the fort when called on.
Tonally, they’re a very enjoyable listen that immediately reminded me of the Legacy 3s. The 3s don’t have the same edginess with certain kinds of guitars but are brighter overall with very similar bass response. I did find the 3s to have slightly more detail and treble extension, which I attribute to the brighter tuning and additional balanced armature driver.
As is often the case with in-ear monitors, the soundstage is relatively tight. They wouldn’t be my first choice for gaming where your sense of space directly impacts your immersion in the game, but they do response well to Dolby Atmos (moreso than Windows Sonic). You can use them for gaming, to be sure, and are a good choice for a boost to sound quality on your Nintendo Switch, but are best suited to listening to your favorite music.
At $99, the Thieaudio Legacy 2s are a solid value and a great way to experience what mid-tier chifi has to offer. You’ll find them a noticeable step-up from big US brands at the same price and enjoy a better fit and aesthetic than your average hundred-dollar bud from Skullcandy or Sony. If you can afford another $20, I would still recommend the Legacy 3, but if you’re looking for a hybrid earphone under $100, these are a great choice.The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.