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A New Legacy
By now, THIEAUDIO's global reputation deems no need for a long introduction to this emerging brand. With only one year of in-ear monitor manufacturing under its belt, the high-performance and budget-friendly price points of THIEAUDIO's six IEM models have garnered international curiosity and accolade from musicians and audiophiles alike. Notably, the most popular model, the Legacy 3, has been beloved by many for its extreme performance-to-affordability ratio. But the biggest growth to the brand’s identity as a high-caliber IEM manufacturer came with the development of the Monarch and Clairvoyance tri-brid twins, which touted advancements in both tuning and utilization of new driver technologies. Now, just less than 5 months after the twin’s release, THIEAUDIO is back to merge the essence of these polar models into a new budget king - the Legacy 4.
The Legacy 4 and 5 could be likened as the twins of the Legacy series. Both were concepts of a similar effort that attempts to take the tuning innovations of the Monarch and Clairvoyance, but apply them in a more affordable setting. Hence, the goal would be the amalgam of a superior tuning outline with the budget form of the Legacy 3. However the approaches the Legacy 4 and 5 takes to get to this point differ. The Legacy 5, with its emphasized sub-bass impact and ruler-flat mids, was almost a clear-cut mirror of the Signature series’ tuning blueprint, and only distinguished by a smoother treble playback. On the other hand, the Legacy 4 features a slightly warmer low-mid transition, much like that of the Legacy 3, and adds the treble response of the Clairvoyance. Both the Legacy 4 and 5 accomplish their intended designs, but each with its own unique flavor. Let’s dive in.
THIEAUDIO has gone through several packaging designs in the past year of IEM manufacturing. However, with the Legacy 4, we believe the brand has finally found its style. The Legacy 4 comes in a completely revamped packaging design. In truth, we find it even more appealing than those of the Monarch or Clairvoyance! Upon opening the box, we were greeted by a large square semi-hard zipper case. Inside, we found a smaller travel case of the same material as the larger storage case, and in our honest opinion, it is one of the best IEM cases we have encountered so far. It’s stylish, compact, and durable because of its semi-hard structure. As a bonus feature, the inside of the case is lined with soft fur. Definitely a favorite. Beyond the cases, the overall product presentation feels finalized and professional.
The faceplate on the Legacy 4 is perhaps one of the most beautiful universal faceplates THIEAUDIO has done so far. In style, its similar to that of the Legacy 3 and 5, with the hand painted sparkly swirls. But the color palette THIEAUDIO chosen for the Legacy 4 is absolutely stunning. We love the contrasts between the white and black swirls, which is paralleled by the contrasts between the sparkly blue and orange. The housing itself is a transparent black, indicating a different internal structural design to that of the Legacy 5, which was a solid black and 3D printed due to its tubeless layout. Indeed, peering inside the Legacy 4, we can make out the sound tubes connecting the drivers. The compact shape of the Legacy 4 is similar to that of the Legacy 3, which should easily fit most customer’s ears.
The Legacy 4 does feature the 2-switch tuning switches that were found on the Legacy 3. And while the switches do affect the tuning, it once again is not as dramatic as we hoped for. We found the first switch inconsequential, but the second switch does change the output level of the midrange driver by roughly 2dB. This difference changes the overall shape of the graph from a more typical V or U shape, to something a little more neutral and flat in the midrange. Consequently, the resulting volume level will also slightly increase with the increased driver output.
Straight off the bat, the Legacy 4 excels in vocal performance. The 10dB pinna gain that peaks around 2.8kHz gives vocals a natural crispness and definition, while the very minor sloped midrange maintains a neutral body with just the slight touch of warmth in the lower registers. Unlike most V shaped tunings, the Legacy 4 is free of low-mid bloat which can congest the sound and make the overall presentation muddy or sluggish. Particularly, whereas the Legacy 5 is a smoother and warmer vocal presentation, the higher treble output of the Legacy 4 brings about more presence to vocals and instruments, as well as a leaner tonal balance. The treble response follows a nice decay slope, meaning there are no irregularities to the treble presentation such as sibilance or harshness, and the 8~9kHz resonance peak provides an appropriate level of detail and air to the sound.
One complaint for the Legacy 3 has been the lack of definition and punch in the bass due to the choice of dynamic driver. The Legacy 4 utilizes an all new 8mm poly-membrane driver, and its differences are immediately noticeable. The subbass impact is much tighter and faster, even than that of the Legacy 5. However, while the bass of the Legacy 4 will rumble plenty on hip-hop tracks, it does feel less in quantity than the Legacy 5 or the Signature series models, perhaps making it appropriate for those wanting a more natural bass presentation.
Another huge upgrade the Legacy 4 touts from the Legacy 3 is the advancements in technical performance. The resolution enhancement in the Legacy 4 is leaps ahead of its predecessor, markedly due to the utilization of the Knowles ED29689 mid-treble driver, which is at this point, an industry gold-standard for mids and natural pinna presentation. Soundstage isn’t as in-your-head as the Legacy 3, but it isn’t quite as wide as the Monarch or Clairvoyance. However, we find the imaging quite on par, and the level of layering and instrument separation is precise enough to be trusted for performance usage. The technicalities alone deem a substantial upgrade from the Legacy 3, and for fans who liked the general sound signature of the Legacy 3, the Legacy 4 will be a natural transition.
With its balanced tonal signature that tilts more towards a crisp and lean sound, we believe the Legacy 4 is a perfect match for performing musicians and engineers who require an accurate and precise monitor. The Legacy 4 carries enough bite in vocal and instrument finishes to make them stand out in the mix, but tame enough to still make for a pleasing listening session.