ThieAudio has made a huge splash at recent headphone events around the globe, selling out their stock of emerging winners, such as the Prestige, Monarch II and V16 Divinity. Now, they’ve released a reasonably budget friendly model, the Hype 2. Can Thieaudio still blow minds at the $300 price point? And what can you expect in terms of tuning, performance and design?
What’s in the Box?
- Hype 2 In-Ear Monitors
- 1.2m 2-pin cable with 3.5mm termination
- Variety of Silicone and Foam Ear Tips
- Cleaning cloth
- Hard Case
Look and Feel
The Hype 2 doesn’t deviate from the build and aesthetic of Thieaudio’s typical IEM models. The housing, colored in a subdued purple (also available in blue) and shiny star-shaped highlights, is pretty to look at but avoids the glitzy, over the top vibrancy that attracts tweens like bubble-gum flavored vape pens.
The shells are extremely light, yet solid looking in build. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, it’s rare that I run into problems with fit. That said, when I made a point to notice how they sat in my ears, the contours felt super soft, ergonomic and forgiving. The seal is great too, providing effective sound isolation without any obtrusive pressure. 5 stars in this department.
The Hype 2 features a distinctive hybrid driver configuration comprising two balanced armature drivers and two dynamic drivers. The BA drivers consist of the latest advancements from Sonion, namely the 2356 and E25ST, which have gained recognition and adoption among prominent brands within the in-IEM market. The Hype 2 leverages the most recent iteration of these Sonion drivers, which, in theory, should minimize harmonic distortion, contributing to heightened resolution and clarity.
Incorporating Thieaudio’s new IMPACT² innovation, the Hype 2 also uses a novel subwoofer arrangement, which involves two 10mm composite diaphragm drivers in an isobaric configuration. Again, in theory, this arrangement enhances lower frequency performance; the inclusion of an additional 10mm subwoofer serves to bolster the impact and texture of the bass frequencies, while simultaneously optimizing control over their delivery.
For this review, I paired the Hype 2 with my trusty Astell & Kern SR35. But these IEMs are quite efficient, and you’ll get enough headroom even when connected to you phone.
There’s tons of height here. And somehow, the Hype 2 elevates the imaging even further once the track hits the highest frequencies. On certain tracks, vocals that start above the ear, seem to levitate even higher as notes climb up the treble clef. But significant depth is a harder feat to achieve. And though you may not sense elements reaching far behind the ear, the sense of depth in relation to other instruments is still amply apparent. So, you will still get that “forward and behind” sensation (as well as everything in between), adding to the entertainingly 3D feel of this soundscape.
In terms of overall scale, the Hype 2 stops short of feeling excessively wide, maintaining a realistic sense of space. That being said, in part thanks to the depth of the bass, the stage is still grand. And given how generously and precisely spaced out the instruments are from one another, it’s impossible not get lost in this almost Picasso-like splattering of dimensions and color. No complaints here.
In the lowest frequencies, the bass is bold, heavy and dark. The sub-bass frequencies can be felt vibrating in the ears and jaw, though they stop short of creating a rumble in your chest. Pop tracks reveal an impactful and somewhat dry, textured bass, creating a solid grip that is maintained throughout the low-end.
With respect to string instruments, the above characteristics translate into an impressively transparent delivery that felt very natural, with little noticeable coloration. And that heft that characterizes the low-bass frequencies seemed to lighten up as the instruments creeped up the bass clef. The result is a scrumptious, yet disciplined bass that never bleeds or bloats. And all in all, the Hype 2 presents an incredibly versatile low-end, that tackles acoustic genres just as well as it does modern tracks.
This range offers a generous helping of low-mid presence, delivering a warm, juicy and full-bodied profile. The upper-mids avoid protruding through the mix. So, vocals sit naturally amongst all the other elements of the track. Nothing in the mix seems to unnaturally pop out, creating not only a comprehensive and crowd-pleasing sound, but also one that is forgiving on the ears, even throughout long listening sessions.
In the midrange, there’s also a smoothness and cohesiveness that emerges, which becomes especially apparent when listening to vocals and acoustic guitars. And the more melodic instruments move through note progressions with a honey-like fluidity. At the same time, detail is never compromised, and the timbre feels natural highly resolving, while revealing a richness in tone that lends a touch of color to the overall presentation. And despite the Hype 2’s warmth, the layering, in part thanks to the spacious imaging, is super clean, with each element in the tracks given equal space and attention. Even in the lower-midrange, where things can sometimes get muddy, the separation within singular instruments is top-notch.
That easy smoothness continues up into the high frequencies. Alhough vocals don’t feel particularly airy, there’s a silky quality to the sound up here that effortlessly glides through musical passages. Again, the tone has a little color to it, but at no point does it feel oversaturated or unnatural. You won’t hear crazy extension in this range, as there does seem to be a roll-off, which moderates the highest frequencies and tempers any potential peakiness. On the flip side, you won’t hear a tremendous amount of sparkle in this range either. In fact, the more brilliant elements are toned down to create a crispness rather than a shine.
This is one utterly delicious sound signature that satiates the ears in every possible way. With an electrifying soundstage, a powerful, yet controlled bass, a smooth and meaty midrange, and gliding highs that never hurt, I couldn’t find one track that didn’t sound orgasmic. That being said, if you’re into V-shapes with particularly lively high-mids and treble, this profile may not be dynamic enough for you. And if you’re looking for a luminescent personality, this isn’t it. But if you appreciate an easy rider with tons of horse power and steady energy, it really doesn’t get better than this for the price. All in all, it’s a treat for the ears that can skillfully tackle any genre with grace.
Thieaudio Hype 2
|Crowd-pleasing tuning||Lacks a bit of sparkle|
|Smooth and cohesive delivery|