The ThieAudio Legacy 5 is a hybrid 5-driver universal IEM featuring a single 10mm Nano-Membrane Dynamic Driver and 4 BA drivers. It is priced at $249.
Disclaimer: The ThieAudio Legacy 5 sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion in this review. We thank Linsoul and ThieAudio for this opportunity.
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Note, this review follows our new scoring guidelines for 2021 which you can read up on here.
ThieAudio Legacy 5
The ThieAudio Legacy 5 do bass and midrange exceptionally well for the price and have a soft, pleasing tonal quality with good comfort.
I can recommend this to people who want smoothness over forwardness..
ThieAudio was started as a gathering of minds to create audio products. The most amazing thing is that they have made a mark in the audiophile scene and their gatherings were only started back in 2019.
Rarely has a company in such a short time take off so fast. They must be doing something right with such a record of success.
So here we are with their latest IEM offering. The ThieAudio Legacy 5. A 5 driver hybrid IEM.
The ThieAudio Legacy 5 sits somewhere in between the ThieAudio Legacy IEM lineup. It is an upgraded follow-up of their now popular Legacy 3 IEM which got very good reviews within the audio circles.
The ThieAudio Legacy 5 is another IEM that leaves a clue in its model number because the Legacy 5 is a hybrid 5 driver IEM made with a resin shell, an aluminum output tube, and a removable cable with a .78mm connection.
It is a rather sensitive IEM with a rating of 23Ω and a 110-decibel sensitivity rating. So it is an IEM with portability but they can also handle some decent power if you wanna go that route. Portability and flexibility? Yes. Scaleability? No. Read on.
The tuning on the ThieAudio Legacy 5 was done similar to their Monarch and the Clairvoyance which are some top tier models.
However, the tuning objective was not so much to retain the pure analytical tonal characteristics but to obtain a more pleasing musical quality while retaining as much of the analytical aspect as possible.
According to ThieAudio, one of their sound implementations to improve the sound is in the low end incorporating a custom high order lowpass crossover network that does not disturb the midrange and with a smooth frequency response transition.
I notice a trend of lowering crossover frequency points on dynamic drivers so they act as subwoofers with low crossover points. This way they tend to not affect the mids especially if independently vented and these combined features make midbass bleed a thing of the past nowadays.
The ThieAudio Legacy 5 capitalizes on a tried and true dynamic driver design which was developed further by ThieAudio.
The ThieAudio proprietary 10 Nano-Membrane dynamic drivers were used and have been used before with success by ThieAudio in many of their IEM, particularly the Legacy line and on some top tier models as well.
I believe this driver is the same driver that was used on the top model in the series, the Legacy 9 which is a 9 driver hybrid IEM. A good driver indeed if it can keep up with 8 BA drivers.
Sonion and Bellsing
Two Sonion Balanced Armature drivers handle mid to high frequencies transitioning from the dynamic driver. From there the ThieAudio Legacy 5 reverts to two Bellsing Balanced Armatures which transition over to the high frequencies.
This is an uncommon configuration especially when one finds out that the Legacy 5 mounts all those drivers in a tubeless shell design which is also uncommon nowadays.
The ThieAudio Legacy 5 is made of medical-grade resin and is very comfortable to wear with no itchy or irritation issues for me.
The body style is seamless and polished up nicely but one thing is that the color pattern is hard to see and visible only in certain angles and light conditions.
The stem seems to be made of aluminum and it has a metal fine mesh grill. It also seems non-removable so I suggest to keep an eye on them and to keep them clean.
I do see a series of air vent holes around the shell so there might be a multiple vent system here that is being implemented more every day in many modern-day built IEMs that use dynamic drivers.
Comfort & Isolation
The ThieAudio Legacy 5 IEM is quite comfortable to wear for long periods. Their weight is negligible and does not have any effect on comfort at all. Their shape is not too chunky either and mostly resembles a custom fit IEM.
They do isolate well passively and block out most external sounds plus I did not notice any bleed on their part so they are well suited for an urban environment where you might have to sit next to others.
I must mention one thing somewhat related to comfort. One con I found is that the stem where the tip is mounted is smooth and does not have a ridge or anything that holds on to the tips so using a large inner diameter tip creates a problem of the tip staying inside the ear.
The ThieAudio Legacy is offered with choices of wires but there is a second option available from Linsoul which is an EST cable. The upgraded cable available is a Litz silver braided cable with more connectivity options.
The stock one I got was rather nice and works for me in looks and function. The wire is a black 8-wire braid with another 4-wire braid set pair on top and no microphonics at all.
All the hardware is metal which is polished to a smooth mirror finish including the splitter and chin adjuster. The wire is terminated in a gold-plated 3.5mm single-ended stereo TRS male plug.
The quality of the wire is rather nice and I see no need to upgrade unless if you need other types of connectivity like a 4.4mm or a 2.5mm TRRS balanced connection then it would be worth the extra investment.
The ThieAudio Legacy 5 comes with a very nice branded carrying case that looks elegant with the appearance of brown stitched cowhide leather. It also has a flap that latches on with magnets to keep the contents secure while being easy to open as well.
One unique aspect of the ThieAudio Legacy 5 is that they almost come exclusively with foam tips. I have seen others mention that all you get are foam tips but for the record, I did get a pair of clear spin fit tips along with 3 sizes of black foam tips.
Since this is what ThieAudio includes I assume they feel the Legacy 5 sounds best with foam tips so I did some listening with foam tips. I switched later on.
The ThieAudio Legacy 5 sound signature tends to be almost flat to my ears but with a smear of musicality. But one important aspect I must mention is to play around with different flanges because I found these to change in tonality a bunch with different tips.
Going straight to the tone sweep test I noticed the bass has a slight and steady drop below 30hz. It does go audibly below 20 and I heard it go all the way down to around 16hz.
Left and right tonality balance were good and the test did not show any abnormal shifting and the driver array seems to be well matched up. The test did not present any hard peaks or dips either.
On the high side, the treble did extend fairly well. Maybe it was my hearing but I did sense a high-frequency roll-off but it was high enough to not affect performance much dropping off quickly at around the 14khz range.
The ThieAudio Legacy 5 can do deep bass. It can also take a considerable amount of boost. I do notice that the dynamic driver is most comfortable in the lowest octaves and sounds cleaner as it goes lower in frequency which is peculiar.
I did find it to be a touch on the southside of where I like bass so I boosted the 60 to 30hz region by about 2 or 3 decibels with very good results, especially on bass light songs.
The bass response is flat and there is no bass emphasis. It is rather well defined with decent speed and a reasonable amount of energy behind it when the song requires it.
To me, the ThieAudio Legacy 5 does midrange best with a good clean tonality that is true in pitch. Once again, the midrange is rather flat in response with no major peaks or dips.
There is perhaps a touch of forwardness in the 3khz region but it only adds some presence to an almost sterile signature which is, in fact, desirable.
There is a rather high amount of midrange detail and separation which is what strikes me more over the general tonality and is their best quality. Background detail seems to be very present and pronounced.
The ThieAudio Legacy 5 to me is very recording sensitive when it comes to high frequencies. On the right recording, you get a good sense of shimmer and air. With others, you get a slight metallic character.
But in general, the highs sound clear enough to be enjoyable with no harshness or bothersome peaks.
Once again the highs seem rather flat following the general tonal characteristics of the Legacy 5. Perhaps a touch more extension would have been nice since there is an early high-frequency roll-off.
I would say that the ThieAudio Legacy 5 has a soft character that is not too aggressive with not too much slam and forwardness. The general tonality is soft and well mannered and does not become bothersome in long listening sessions so I would safely say these are good for long listening sessions.
They like to be played at low or medium volume levels and I would not use these for playing music at high volumes because at high volume things can get quite congested.
The ThieAudio Legacy 5 can do width and depth well. They have a good ability of placement for the price range they sit in. They do very little height and are restrained in that aspect.
The stage is fairly wide and has some good placement but is somewhat narrow in height and present sound in an almost single plain that does not go past head level.
The ThieAudio legacy 5 has a character some might consider a flaw when it is not in fact and that is in scalability. The legacy does not scale at all and I must have tried around 9 different amplifiers.
They seem to have a resistor system because they sounded the same power wise with everything from my phone to a 5 watts per channel desktop amplifier.
What do you get in return for no scaleability? An IEM that is not amp dependant, can run on low power with little to no requirements, and still, produce very good audio quality. Bluntly, you can run them off anything which to me is a plus over scaleability.
I have to mention in a separate column here that I found these to change tonality in a big way with different tips and I want to describe some of the differences.
Spin fits sounded horrible to me with the ThieAudio Legacy 5 and gave them a sterile character unless you found the exact size for your ears and played with their depth inside the ear canal But they were just too fuzzy.
Foam tips were better but thinning of the bass occurred. So I tried some black rubber tips I had laying around here and concluded that to me they sounded better.
So if you purchase these do not judge them quickly and try all kinds of tips before making a final judgment. I tried most of the ones I had plus the included tips with different results.
The Kinera Freya is a popular multi-driver hybrid that costs around the same as the ThieAudio Legacy 5. There are many similarities including resin shells and .78mm connectors.
The driver configuration differs in that the Kinera Freya is a 4 driver hybrid with a dynamic driver, 2 BA midrange drivers, and a BA super tweeter.
The packaging and accessories go hands down to the Freya with its hex-shaped box, fancy artwork, and conceptual design. Not only that but you get more flanges and accessories with the Freya.
The one accessory I prefer from both IEMs was the carrying case for the Legacy 5 however.
There are similarities here as well. The bass digs deep down to 20hz or past that and the midrange seems smooth. The Freya also has an almost flat response with an early roll-off in the high frequencies.
Bass impact is perhaps ten percent more on the Freya but the bass is cleaner on the Legacy 5 and better defined. The midrange response is the opposite of that and seems pushed forward perhaps a couple of decibels on the Freya.
They both have high frequencies that tend to roll off early but the cleaner treble response is in the Legacy 5 for sure. I would also give it to the Legacy 5 in detail and tonality in general.
The Kinera Freya has a fairly wide stage but is drawn back a little compared to the Legacy 5. But it does present a staging with more height.
Placement is equal I would say but one drawback on the Freya is there is more congestion in staging and the Legacy 5 does separate elements better in recordings.
Both IEMs do not scale well with higher power amplification. In fact, I do not recommend high power with either, especially with the Kinera Freya because they can get overwhelmed easily, more so than the Legacy 5 and especially in the bass region.
They both use a 0.78mm connection and both come with a decent wire but perhaps the Legacy 5 stock cable edges out in quality.
The ThieAudio Legacy 5 IEM is in a good place in its price category and is one of the better choices in its price bracket right now.
The sound they produce has more positive aspects than negatives. The only cons I picked up on was the early roll-off in the highs and the stem not being able to hold onto large inner diameter flanges that leave the tips stuck inside the ear canal.
But once you find the right tip for your ears and one that securely fits which is a 4mm, then I’m pretty sure most people will enjoy these very much. They do bass and midrange exceptionally well for the price and have a soft, pleasing tonal quality with good comfort.
I can recommend the ThieAudio 5 to people who want smoothness over forwardness with a good stock wire and an IEM that is not so ‘amplifier-dependant’ at a competitive price.
ThieAudio Legacy 5 Specifications
Drivers: Proprietary 10mm Nano_Menbraine Dynamic driver, 2 Sonion BA / 2 Bellsing BA