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Thieaudio Wraith Review

Highs and Lows

Christopher Coke Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

Thieaudio has been one of the hottest names in the IEM world for several years, releasing hit after hit for in-ear fans. This month, it dropped its second-ever over-ear headphone, the Thieaudio Wraith. Featuring one of the most stylish designs we’ve seen this year and a 97mm planar magnetic driver, do these headphones have what it takes to live up to the likes of the Monarch MKII? Find out in this review. 

We would like to thank Linsoul for providing the sample for this review. 

Specifications

Note: Weight Specification added by MMORPG.com

Thieaudio Wraith - First Impressions and Key Features 

The Thieaudio Wraith has been one of the most hotly anticipated releases of the summer. Buzz has been big around these headphones, following major success with the Monarch MKII and Legacy series IEMs. Planar magnetics have also been on the rise, particularly in the IEM market that Thieaudio experienced so much success with, so the combination of a “new over-ear” and “new planar over-ear” lead to quite a bit of excitement.

Well, the release has finally arrived and I’ve been able to spend a good 2-3 weeks with it ahead of this review. The Wraith isn’t a perfect headphone, but it’s not a bad one either, and has some major wins across its design too.

Starting with its design, Thieaudio has managed to deliver one of the best looking headphones of the year. Planar magnetics tend to be big and bulky, but not so with this pair. They have plush ear pads but manage to remain fairly thin. The design is mostly matte black broken by white text. The grilles are striking, composed of a lattice-work of v-shaped bars guarding a second sheet adorned with rows of circular holes. 

The headband adds silver accents as an aesthetic flourish and a highlight of the excellent build quality on display here. The headband is entirely metal, from the silver stainless steel band to the sliding adjustment brackets. The top of the band is wrapped in leather. Two silver “Wraith” badges fix the adjustment band to the rest of the structure and the company’s name is stamped on the top of the band. Below this is a leather suspension strap that does a great job of distributing its not unremarkable weight across the entire head.

The included ear cushions are also very good, but I wish that Thieaudio had included a second set to change the sound profile. The included pair is a hybrid pad with perforated rings on the outer and inner walls and leather where it meets the face. They’re quite comfortable, but as we’ll get to in the sound section, a set of full-leather pads would likely have helped bass extension in the lowest lows. The pads are held on by velcro, so replacing them is simple, should you have another pair that fits. 

On the bottom, the jacks for the detachable cable protrude a quarter inch. I appreciate this design as a small aesthetic touch, but it also makes it less likely that you’ll miss the mark and scratch the earcup. The cable itself is decent and comes in a braided two-strand coil that’s terminated in a balanced 4.4mm pentaconn connection. It’s several feet long, which is great for home use, but not long enough for lengthy runs in a studio if you plan to use these for mixing like the marketing material implies. 

Inside those shells, the Wraith uses a 97mm planar magnetic driver. The driver is an evolution of the one used in the company’s first planar magnetic, the Thieaudio Phantom. It uses a new membrane and has a stronger magnetic field for faster, more detailed response. It also integrates something Thieaudio calls a new “structural airflow design,” which is likely a form of waveguide system that reduces traveling sound wave interference, though I’m not clear on the specifics of what this is.

The idea behind this headphone is tonal balance. I’ll let Thieaudio explain their design goals:

When our team came about designing the new Wraith, we put emphasis on releasing a product with the most optimal tonal balance that could playback at its full potential, without any further modifications. Studying the frequency response measurements of hundreds of headphones, we generated a sound signature that is acoustically accurate at every frequency interval, to suit the needs of professional audio engineers. Often difficult amongst planar headphones, we have further achieved an accurate pinna compensation that matches the sound perception induced by the curvatures of the human ear. This translates to a completely natural sounding mids and treble, particularly at the 1-3kHz frequencies that defines the clarity of vocals and instruments.

We’ll get into how well they succeed in the sound and listening section. 

At $549, the Wraith is an expensive headphone. For that money, you don’t get much in the box beyond the headphones and their cable, so it’s relying on their design and sound. On the first point, they’ve got a clear winner on their hands. The headphones look great but feel even better. They are very robust and don’t have any worrying creaking or rattling. They truly feel made to last through extended daily use. On the second point, they come in direct competition with the likes of the HIFIMAN Edition XS, so let’s see how they stack up. 

Thieaudio Wraith - Fit and Comfort

The Thieaudio Wraith nails it when it comes to comfort. At 452 grams, it’s not the lightest headphone you’ll find, but the suspension strap mostly does a good job of distributing its weight. In my testing, could wear them for about two hours before needing to take a break. Weight distribution is an important consideration for a headphone like this, because if you actually plan to use these in a professional environment, long hours can be the norm. There’s still room to improve here for that audience but for most listeners it should be just fine.

The pads are also very comfortable. My office can become uncomfortably warm during the summer months, and the perforated earpads do a good job of allowing your ears to breathe. They do get warm, but I didn’t find my ears sweating at all.

I also really appreciated the ability for these headphones to rotate and rest around my next. Often, big planars don’t allow full rotation, so it was refreshing to finally find a pair that does. It makes taking those breaks more efficient and allows you to keep wearing the headphones and keep your desk/mixing area clear of clutter. 

Thieaudio Wraith - Listening Impressions 

For this review, I did most of my listening using the iFi xDSD Gryphon. At my PC, I connected it directly to my Rodecaster Pro 2, which has surprisingly great audio output. Music was generally streamed from Spotify on Very High quality, as well as using a mix of lossless files. The Wraith isn’t particularly hard to drive, but I would recommend connecting it to a device that can provide a bit of extra power over the built-in headphone jacks in your smartphone or PC. 

For this review, I’m going to take on the discussion of sound quality a little differently than the normal separated breakdowns of the lows, mids, and highs. The Wraith is an interesting headphone, especially in the low end, and it’s not going to be a fit for everyone. Thieaudio made some interesting choices here, and I think it’s helpful to look at it a bit more holistically than your average over-ear headphone. 

To start, let’s have a look at the graph:

The biggest thing you’ll notice here are the roll-offs in the lows and highs. These are both audible, but are especially noticeable in the sub-bass. These are the frequencies that give bass tactility; it’s bass you feel more than here, the lowest of the low. Thieaudio starts rolling the sub-bass off at 100Hz — fairly high into that region — and as a result the headphones are very sub-bass light. There is just enough to add a bit of texture to what you’re listening to, but not enough to carry songs that rely on that register, like D.R.E.A.M. by Jonny Craig.

At the same time, Thieaudio has elevated the mid-bass. This is the bass most people think of when they use the term, bass sound versus bass feel. As a result, you have an interesting mix. Most songs still sound full and have the body you would expect from them, but you miss out on that sub-woofer like tactility and experience reduced impressions of texture. Dear Sara… by Andy Leech is a great example of this, because it still sounds rich and full, but doesn’t have the reach that a headphone like the HIFIMAN Edition XS offers.

It’s not what I would consider bad, especially after some of the other early impressions that have come out thus far — no shade intended at Andrew; I love his work. The headphones are certainly not thin or anemic. But Thieaudio rolled off whatever extension the drivers may have been capable of, which is a mystery, but it’s not what I would consider a game changer. 

In fact, I actually think mainstream listeners may prefer this tuning. Many planar headphones are tuned for extension and have that reach but conversely feel thin where the Wraith excels. When non-audiophiles think of bass, it’s this region they think about, not the ultra-lows — at least consciously. It’s a good fit for rock, pop, hip-hop and other popular genres. It’s also a good fit for gaming, because explosions have greater body and impact. Still, I wish we were able to have our cake and eat it too, here.

The mids are forward and fairly intimate. The tuning here puts vocals at the front of the mix. There is a good amount of resolution and detail in this register. Pearl of the Stars by Coheed and Cambria is a good showcase for mids performance, easily separating out the different instruments from Claudio’s singing. There’s a good amount of detail between the different instruments and the headphones reveal small touches, like fingers on strings. In games, you’ll have no trouble picking out footsteps or a triggered mob chasing your tail.

Highs are also rolled off, but you have peaks in there to draw out details cymbals, harmonics, and add a bit of air to the mix. Hi-hats in particular rise out of the mix, but guitars have extra shine and shimmer that I really enjoy. I didn’t find them to be sibilant at all and would describe the overall treble tuning as fairly relaxed. 

The headphones do a good job of layering sounds and presenting them with that classic planar crispness, but the spacing between the layers feels more compressed. Each layer feels closer together than on competing headphones in this space, like the Edition XS, Gold Planar GL2000, or even the Sundara.  Transients are very good and articulate fast hi-hat rolls and ghost notes very well, so even though they’re closer together, each of those layers maintains its quality.

Imaging and soundstage are both only okay on this headphone. The soundstage isn’t that wide and has more width than depth. For mixing this isn’t bad, but for pure music enjoyment it does lack a little bit of the “wow” factor you’ll experience with those other headphones. Imaging is impacted by this more condensed sense of space. Sounds come from left, right, front, and centered between the ears. 

For gaming, these headphones will work well and easily outmatch any gaming headset I’ve ever heard in sound quality. They’re not as wide as competing planars, and the imaging isn’t as precise, so I would recommend enabling Windows Sonic or Dolby Atmos to enhance spatial audio.

Overall Impressions and Final Thoughts

My final impression of the Thieaudio Wraith is mixed but definitely leans positive. While not the best headphone you can buy for its price, the emphasis on mid-bass versus sub-bass does lend it a unique sound that its competitors can’t really match. The detail and resolution are good, and the comfort and aesthetics are on point. Is it for you? That will depend on how much you crave mid-bass versus ultra-low reach and just how much you demand from your soundstage. 

For my part, the Thieaudio Wraith is definitely unique, but I like it. The size, comfort, style, and mid-bass push make it fun to listen to and to wear. I plan to keep it at my desk and a part of my regular headphone rotation. 

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.

7.0Good
Pros
  • Boosted mid-bass leads to a warm, full sound
  • Sturdy, comfortable design
  • No sharpness or sibilance in the highs
  • Good resolution and detail
Cons
  • Only one pair of earpads included in the box
  • Sub-bass roll-off
  • Soundstage is smaller than expected


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