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ThieAudio Legacy 3 Review: Best of 2020?

Stunningly good

Christopher Coke Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

This has been an amazing year for headphones. Whether you’re a gamer, music lover, or just like listening to podcasts and audiobooks, 2020 has proven that you don’t need to break the bank to enjoy each of those things to their fullest without excellent and affordable earphones. Today, we’re looking at the Legacy 3 from ThieAudio. Available for $119, they feature a triple driver hybrid array, beautiful painted shells, and onboard EQ switches. Let’s take a closer look.

Specifications

  • Current Price: $119 (Linsoul)
  • Sensitivity: 108dB SPL/mW
  • Frequency range: 20Hz-20KHz
  • Impedance(KHz): 8.6-9.5
  • Driver: 
    • 2 Balanced Armature, 1 Dynamic Driver (Per Ear)
    • 1HI (BA)+ 1MID (BA) +1DD
  • Noise isolation: 26dB

ThieAudio Legacy 3 Unboxed

ThieAudio has gained a good amount of traction this last year, riding high on their Voyager line of headphones. That line was based around a trifecta of Knowles Balanced Armatures.  The Legacy line, on the other hand, uses only two balanced armatures and marries them with a dynamic driver for enhanced bass. It’s a hybrid design that is sometimes referred to as a “tribrid” because of the presence of three drivers for each ear. 

If you’re new to the world of earphones, or shopping for an upgrade from a department store set, you read that right: there are three drivers in each earbud, each responsible for its own section of the audio spectrum. The dynamic driver (the conical driver you probably think of when you imagine a speaker) is responsible for the bass, its strong suit. The mids and highs are each handled by their own balanced armature, which, interestingly, is commonly found in hearing aids due to their excellent frequency response. Instead of having one speaker responsible for everything, and potentially pushed beyond its limits, the Legacy 3 narrows the scope, crossing over between drivers for a pristine, distortion-free sound.

Segmented nozzles to separate frequencies/driver output

At $119, you expect a premium package and you definitely get one here. The box is large and textured with leather-like printing. Inside, you’ll find a nice, if large, carrying case, an excellent rope-like braided cable (ending in 0.78mm pins to attach to these buds or any others with that connection method), and three sets of silicone ear tips. You also get a small tool to adjust the EQ switches on the back of each bud. 

The earphones themselves are shaped in a typical “universal fit” IEM mold. They’re formed to match the grooves of your ear and deliver one of the best fits I’ve ever had with an IEM. Once I found the proper fit tip for each ear, they stayed absolutely snug whether I was shaking my head or even running around the yard with the kids. If you’d rather, Linsoul (the storefront offering these buds and one of the biggest “gateway sites” to find Chinese HiFi headphones) even offers a Custom IEM service for an additional $70 where they will match these earphones to a scan of your ear so they’re tailored just for you. That’s an incredible value, frankly, as Custom IEMs often cost hundreds of dollars.

 Mystique style

The Legacy 3 is available in two stock colors or can be completely customized. I was sent Mystique, which is the black, blue, and gold version and looks outstanding. Clockwork, on the other hand, is almost steampunk with tiny golden gears molded into the shells. If you’d rather craft your own style, Linsoul has a selection of 18 shell colors ($25) and 51 different faceplates ($35) to choose from. Just like their CIEM service, this is something I haven’t seen under the $500+ price point and is darn cool.

Onboard EQ switches

Returning from the Voyager are ThieAudio’s onboard DIP switches which allow you to tweak bass and treble up and down. Want a little more bass? Set “1” to the up position to reduce treble and “2” down to boost the bass. Configure them in the opposite to add more detail to your music. Just… don’t look in the manual for what they do. ThieAudio leaves these switches frustratingly unexplained. 

In truth, the differences are subtle. Depending on the track, they were hard to notice. Still, I found the default position to be my favorite, so stuck with it.

Detachable buds allow for cable upgrades in the future

Which brings me to the most important part of this review: how do they sound? I started this review by saying that it’s been a good year for earphones and the Legacy 3s have been one of the best surprises yet. They sound great, full of energy, and are just tons of fun to listen to. 

Sound is a subjective thing. I could tell you that the bass is tight (it is) or that the vocals are forward, singing boldly right into your ear (they are). I could describe how there is just enough high-end detail to hear texture that would otherwise be missed in a less well-rounded earphone.

Instead, do you know what stands out to me? The energy. These headphones have oomph that isn’t limited to volume. That tight bass I threatened to tell you about makes for an electric backbone to thrust what you’re listening to forward while the vocals and mids add make tracks blossom. Listening to Moments by UPPERROOM, the Legacy 3 made the live recording sound expansive, really playing up the atmospherics and reverb, but intimate thanks to the vocals — almost like you’re sitting on the stage in a hall. 

That same energy applies to games, too. These earphones don’t have the widest soundstage (not even close, actually) but they make in-game action sound more intense than most other earphones I’ve heard. Gunshots have a powerful crack. Team callouts and footsteps come right to the forefront. The positionality and layering is excellent, but I would still suggest using Windows Sonic for the added soundstage, but they performed great — much closer to a high-end gaming headset than your average in-ear monitor. 

2-pin connection

Final Thoughts

With a year so filled with great IEMs, choosing the best IEM at a given price really becomes a matter of taste. The Legacy 3s are closest to the Moondrop Starfields in price, but since the Legacy uses two balanced armatures in addition to its dynamic driver, it’s sonic signature is remarkably different: more energetic, more detailed mid-range, better for gaming, and overall a lot more fun — and I still love the Starfields! 

What I can say for sure is this: these are the earphones I’ve been reaching for. These are the earphones I spent $69 on a Bluetooth neckband for to have the option to go wireless. They’ve re-inspired me to choose music over podcasts and are way more fun for games than I ever expected them to be. At $199, I would have no problem recommending them. At their actual price of $119, they’re a steal.

 
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.
9.0Amazing
Pros
  • Energetic, fun sound
  • Triple driver array - one each for bass, mids, and highs
  • Onboard EQ switches
  • Comfortable, secure fit
  • Stylish, but highly customizable
Cons
  • DIP switches are poorly explained
  • Soundstage is more constrained


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