Macro-resolution, cohesive tonal balance, realist tonality, good transparency, fast treble attack, smooth enough to avoid sibilance, forwards female vocal, crisp mids, nice cable and accessories, decently priced
Average micro-resolution&definition, lack of air and space between instruments, compressed imaging, rolled off sub bass&hollow articulation, can go hin shouty with very busy track, cold musicality (subjective), tamed dynamic weight&impact, not very sparkly-resonant
SOUND VALUE: 8/10
THIEAUDIO LEGACY series seems well-received among audiophiles and this sure trigger my curiosity. It’s all about DD and BA hybrid here, using either Sonion or Knowles or both with different DD models.
Hybrid earphones flood the audio market nowadays, for the better (Seeaudio, Dunu, Oriolus…) and the worst (KZ, TRN, Audiosense…), so let’s see in this review if the cheapest Legacy model is worth your interest and your money!
The boxing is nicely presented, it feels premium for a 100$ IEM and includes nice quality accessories. The false leather magnetic protective case is very beautiful. You got 6 pairs of silicone ear tips, which is a minimum. The 4cores silver-plated 2pin cable is of good quality too.
The construction is all molded resin plastic, it’s light and sturdy. Smooth and slide in they ears naturally. The nozzle is a bit short and thick, as well, it has 2 tubing hole without mesh, so be aware dust can enter freely in there. If i have to nitpick a drawback about design, it would be the 2pin connector of the iem which are on the top of a curve and doesn’t have a bump nor is deeply embedded. This means it can be tricky to connect your 2pin cable for this reason as well as for it’s very thigh 0.78mm connection. As well, you cant push fully the 2pin in the body, which is quite concerning…if a water drop goes there, it can perhaps damage the IEM.
CRITICAL SOUND IMPRESSIONS
(gear used: SMSL SU-9+SH-9, Audirect BEAM 2, Xduoo X20, Zishan Z4)
TONALITY is neutral to L shape with a slight mid-bass boost, lean mids and smoothened treble. Bass is warm, mids and treble are dryish-brightish. Tonal balance is cohesive and liquid, in the sense that DD bass driver bleed-embrace lower mid-range naturally.
DYNAMIC attack is fast and tamed in impact, it isn’t very weighty apart bass part wich have soft slam boost.
BASS is notably slower than mid and treble in attack, the definition is warm-hollow, and attack lack bite-snap and sustain control. The extension is rolled off a bit and lacks natural flexibility. The hit has good weight and density, but not a lot of texture and resolution edge. It’s neither too lean or too bassy, just a bit punchy and dry with hollow separation from mids.
MIDS are lean, borderline recessed, with intimate presence and excellent transparency. The resolution is very good, crisp yet smooth, free of sibilance or problematic harshness. The tone is very realistic and life-like with subtle texturing. Female vocal sounds more open, bodied, and present than colder sounding male vocal. Attack has more snap than lead impact and is overall light in weight. For example, piano notes feel they are shot at you instead of ”falling” in front of you. Instruments don’t sound bigger than life here and can feel a bit distant or cold in presence.
TREBLE is fast and snappy, delivers effortless micro-details, and has a delicate extension that avoids aggressivity in dynamic attack balance. It’s not the sharpest BA treble due to an ”organic brightness”. In a very busy and fast track using bright instruments like electric guitar and splash cymbals, the highs can go a bit hot and shouty but with enough articulation to don’t fall into a complete inaccuracy disaster. What the highs lack is extension up to 20khz, air, and sparkle-decay. The attack sustain-release is so fast that you don’t have any natural resonance that would benefit instruments like acoustic guitar or harpsichord. While the lack of sparkle is inherent to all multi-BA IEM, the lack of air is more frequent with dual DD-BA hybrid like this Legacy 2 or, to a less extent, the IKKO OH10.
TECHNICALITIES are a mixed bag here, due to different performance from DD and BA. The Beryllium plated dynamic driver has a looser slower transient response that inflicts on its sloppier attack-sustain, the resolution is inferior too, it’s thick and not very transparent and detailed. The flexibility of the low end is rather poor too. Mids and treble have fast attacks, accuracy is OK not mind-blowing. Resolution is sharpish but not crisp in definition and benefits more macro-resolution than micro-definition that feels a bit fuzzy.
SOUNDSTAGE isn’t very wide nor deep, but intimate and a bit in your head.
IMAGING is quite good, yet compressed a bit in spatial size. It has a great amount of richly presented transparent sound layers you can dig in but not precisely spot the instrument placement which lack a bit of sharp definition.
Everybody has their own musicality conception, for example, Etymotic fans tend to prefer DF tuning approach while Moondrop fans would favor the Harman tuning approach. Some need lot of resolution, other lot of bass and warmth.
While open-minded about tonal balance, i tend to prefer IEM with the weighty dynamic and very extended bass response with a slight sub-bass boost that does not hollow (or swallow) kick drum presence and dynamic. I’m very sensitive to overall timbre too, especially in the mid-range section, I like my female vocal full-bodied and open.
The LEGACY 2 is a bit too serious-sounding to trigger any emotionality in me. I feel it lacks bass extension, weight, and articulation. I really enjoy them for music like classical, but even this genre isn’t sounding very lively in dynamic and a bit compressed in layering-imaging. For electronic or any beat-driven music, the Legacy 2 are plain boring even if the attack can go very fast, I feel distant from the music due to the lack of openness that surrounds you, immerse you in a holographic enough musicality.
Why then do I give a good score? Because they have well-balanced tonality and above-average technicalities. To some extent, the L2 reminds me of the SeeAudio YUME, but less extended in both ends and a bit more rough sounding. For half the price of the YUME, they sound 80% as good, so they sure represent good value for those that can enjoy this type of Harman-neutral tuning. Safe, mature and revealing listen can be the holy grail for some!
VS WHIZZHER HE01 (70$)
The First thought that comes to my mind when I go Legacy 2 to HE01 is: oh, that sounds so more musical and dynamic but I can’t see through the sounds layers!
The HE01 is more lively weighty and vivid in the attack. It’s less neutral and boring, but less refined and transparent. Tonality is lusher more aggressive W shape, less lean, and smoothed in attack pressure. BASS is weightier, more textured, and bodied with a similar rolled-off extension but more rumble impact. Vocals are more natural and bodied, brighter in texture too. Treble is thicker, crunchier, less detailed, and informative than T2.
We have more salt and butter with the HE01, it’s guilty yummy food while the L2 is hit or miss vegan burger, due to its greasy bass and ultra-healthy (not enough salty?) mids-treble.
VS HISENIOR T2U (80-120$)
One would think a dual BA will struggle to compete with a hybrid DD-BA but here it’s the L2 that struggles to follow the fast-paced technicalities to the excellent T2U.
Everything is cleaner, more transparent, and better balanced with the T2U. Sure the bass doesn’t extend as low and isn’t as boosted in sub-bass presence so the slam isn’t as weighty but has faster punch, doesn’t bleed on mids like the L2, as well, it’s more nuanced in texture and well defined in presence. Bass tone is more realistic and less organic-liquid than L2.
Mids are similar in timbre-tone, but more open, textured, and well-layered while leaner, more hollow in resolution and more compressed with the L2. Vocal are more intimate and recessed with L2 too.
TREBLE is less extended, airy, and delicate with the L2, the attack has less edge and snap to it and can’t deal as effortlessly with busy music as the more talented T2U. We have way more micro-details with the T2U, yet, it doesn’t feel out of place like the one that L2 extract in upper highs, so the treble is fuller in response, better balanced and more accurate in attack and articulated in resolution.
IMAGING is where the T2U put to complete shame the L2, both in clean layering and instrument placement, it makes the L2 feel like a compressed spatiality with blurry instrument placement.
All in all, the Thieaudio L2 can’t compete with the T2U due to both inferior tonality and technicalities.
At 100$, the THIEAUDIO LEGACY 2 would represent a good value for those who search for a smoothly bright neutral sounding with slight bass boost IEM. While it isn’t a master of lush immersive musicality, the L2 sure offers superior technicalities for its price with its crisp resolution and fast attack….and that even if a single BA have inherent limit to deal with the whole mids and treble section.
I do think Thieaudio is an earphones company with tremendous potential as well as a mature approach to tuning, but I wish they find a better balance between tonality and technicalities for their other offering because the L2 isn’t for everyone due to a lack of versatility to its tonal balance. Perhaps it’s better to directly go to Legacy 3 model which costs 20$ more for an extra BA and a different DD with perhaps a better bass response.
PS: I wanna thanks DD-Audio for sending me this review sample on my demand. As well as giving me full liberty of opinion (i hope!). Go give a look at their nice ALI store and you can find the LEGACY 2 here: