The Thieaudio Legacy 5 is supposedly the last product from the new Chinese brand, at least at this point in time, and fills the hole in the $200-500 price range with a hybrid dynamic driver and 4 balanced armature product. This product is priced at $249 and was provided as a review unit by Linsoul for the purpose of this review article.
The Legacy 5 expands upon the previous $119 Legacy 3 with two additional BA drivers, while falls short of the 8-BA hybrid setup in their $550 Legacy 9. I have yet to hear the Legacy 9, but I did, review the Legacy 3 universal and custom versions a few months back with some good impressions, and thought they both were good value for their price points, while still lacking in a lot of raw technical capabilities.
The Legacy 5 comes right on the heels of the stellar Monarch and Clairvoyance tribrid IEMs, which have been highly praised by the community and has quite a lot to live up to, so can it? Let's find out.
The Legacy 5's unboxing experience is very much the same as the recent Monarch, Clairvoyance and newer Legacy 3 packages. The item is shipped in a green square box that slides open to reveal a brown pleather case that is large enough to comfortable place the IEMs with cable attached and some extra space for tips or other accessories.
The Legacy 5 comes, by default, with a black braided cable with silver-colored connectors that is the same cable as the Legacy 3 before it. There is an upgrade option for a silver cable, which I assume is the same one that comes with the Monarch and Clairvoyance, however I can not confirm that.
The packaging also comes with a series of spare foam and silicone tips.
The Legacy 5 IEM shell is a medium-sized shell that looks kind of large and thick, but actually fits my ears very easily and extremely comfortably. The shell geometry goes after a custom-like fit, which is a best-fit style that should fit most people well.
The design artwork on the faceplate is supposed to be a glittery-peacock-feather type of graphic, however the dark black translucent shell hinders the artwork a lot! The shells are just too dark and the glitter art barely shows up in any sort of lighting and viewing angle. From afar, these just look solid black to me, and capturing the design work in photos is near impossible.
The Legacy 5 has a warm and semi-gooey type sound with a more laid-back presentation than the other Thieaudio IEMs I have tried. It has a smaller rise in the upper-midrange and a more relaxed treble presentation that is much less fatiguing and smooth than what I'd call a reference tuning. I'd say this one is on the thicker note weight side of thing.
During my time reviewing the Legacy 5, I tested it on a variety of different gears at my disposal: the Sony NW-ZX507, Apple iPhone 5S, Cowon Plenue 2 MK II, and my desktop setups of the iFi ZEN DAC, and the Schiit Bifrost 2/Topping A90. While most of these are fairly uncolored setups, the ZX507 is a bit on the warmer end of things and it is my primary listening device for IEMs.
Let's start with the positives.
The Legacy 5's tuning is very nice. In some ways, I may prefer this over the Clairvoyance and Monarch for the times when I just want to sit back and enjoy a very long listening session. It's warm, rich, and relaxed tuning makes everything sound more cozy and soothing, while still retaining some decent clarity and detail for it's price point of $249.
The tuning does emphasize the lower mid-range moreso than the upper mid-range, as it does not have as steep of a upper-mids rise as a more reference-type tuning like the Monarch. That said, it doesn't make females or strings sound recessed, but more centered in depth in the sound image. While some may not like this lack of forward female vocal presence, to me, this makes music sound a little more natural and not as fatiguing.
Treble extends well enough. What I mean here, is that it goes beyond 10KHz however does dip in the most upper ends of the audible spectrum. But there's just enough out there that the upper harmonics are present. When I hear a cymbal hit, I don't feel like it sounds blunted or dull. It rings naturally, though again, not as sharp as some other IEMs since treble is a little more relaxed here.
So what do I not like about this IEM?
It's the bass quality. It's not the best out there. It's rather middling to be honest. It's actually a frank contrast to the Clairvoyance and Monarch, the more recent Thieaudio IEMs which actually use the same dynamic driver. The Legacy 5's bass response reminds me much more of the slow, blunted and low resolution of the Legacy 3 than of the tribrids Monarch and Clairvoyance. Yes, they all share the same driver, however the tribrids have a pair of balanced armatures that also handle the low end bass region, which provides additional clarity and resolution, and doesn't just sound like elevated smothered noise.
I may sound a little harsh here, but I do feel it lacks proper texture and layering capabilities, but for a dynamic driver hybrid at this price, it's passable. Even the Monarch and Clairvoyance aren't the best here, but the additional BAs do help make them sound quite good for the price point.
Now that said, I do find the overall technical performance of the Legacy 5 to be just fine and dandy at its asking price, and it doesn't have the same glaring technical issues that the Legacy 3 had at half it's price. The L3 was severely lacking depth, and sounded too forward and lacked good imaging. The Legacy 5 doesn't suffer from that at all and it's only main flaw is the sluggish and what I'll say as an overused dynamic driver.
I feel like its overly emphasized and it's too prominent in the sound profile that it does show off it's lack of technical capability, but for casual listening, many will enjoy it's level of warmth and impact. It's thicker and adds note weight to the bass and lower-midrange, which is a nice change up from my normal IEM choices, especially in the chifi market lately.
I get asked for the following comparisons very frequently with the Legacy 5, outside the Thieaudio lineup: The Moondrop Blessing 2 and the Mangird Tea, so I'll try to cover those in this section here.
Moondrop Blessing 2
The $320 Blessing 2 is a much leaner sounding product, with a brighter overall sound signature and a leaner bass presentation. The Blessing 2 resolves better in my opinion across the board, with a tighter and more controlled bass response, and across the mid-range and treble. I do find the Blessing 2 to sound a tad too bright at times, and that's never a worry with the Legacy 5. In contrast, the Legacy 5 sounds much warmer and more romantic with a more thick and succulent tuning that can be used for a long time without fatigue.
The Mangird Tea is priced just above the Legacy 5 at $299 and has a similar look, shape, and tuning. The Mangird Tea is darker though. While I do find the Legacy 5 to sound darker than neutral, I don't find the tonality to be as affected by a warmer and more laid-back sound. With the Tea, the timbre does suffer a little bit more, as it is a darker tuning, especially in the main treble region. There is a dip around 6KHz that makes some music sound a little off, but also makes the general tonality to sound even more richer and focused. The Tea also sounds a little more forward and intimate than the Legacy 5, almost to a flaw.
Despite some of the negatives I mentioned in this review, the Thieaudio Legacy 5 is a nice addition to their lineup, and sits confidently between the Legacy 3 and the tribrids, Monarch and Clairvoyance. Like those three products, the Legacy 5 is one that can definitely hold its own versus similarly priced competitors and can compare to products above its price point too.
I do find it an improvement of the Legacy 3, but a noticeable step below the Clairvoyance and Monarch. I unfortunately have not heard the Legacy 9, so I can't provide comment on how it stacks up to it's more expensive sibling.
The Legacy 5's tuning is the best part of it, and it comes with a nice price tag and a set of quality accessories. While it's not as earth-shattering as the tribrids, it is a refreshing addition to the crowded market at the $250 and under price range, and one that I think will be well-enjoyed by many.