After the success of the widely applauded Monarch MKII and V16 Divinity, ThieAudio has decided to throw another hat into the ring with the realease a new flagship IEM. Priced at $1300, the Prestige is offering something different. This firecracker of a sound signature may thrill some while slightly offending others. What kind of character and performance can you expect from the ThieAudio’s new baby?
In the Box
- ThieAudio Prestige IEMs
- 2-pin cable with interchangeable terminations (2.5mm & 4.4mm balanced, and 3.5mm unbalanced)
- 3 pairs silicone tips
- 3 pairs foam tips
- Cleaning cloth
- Hard carrying case
Look and Feel
The Prestige’s shells have a Studio 54 vibe to them, featuring glossy, glittery specs in all the colors of the rainbow. It’s the kind of aesthetic my toddler would lose his diapers over, and for some fellas out there, it may be a little too unicorn-ish. But I didn’t particularly mind the tween glam charm. The fit was perfectly comfortable, in that I hardly noticed them in my ear after getting into the music. The shells also have a semi-open-back design (featuring a tiny circular grill on the side of the shell), which seems to enhance the soundstage quite well.
The Prestige boasts 9 drivers with a five-way crossover design: 1 dynamic, 2 low-mid and 2 mid-treble balanced armatures, as well as 4 electrostatic. The 2-pin OCC cable is silver-plated and graphene silver-plated with a swappable termination (3.5mm, 4.4mm, and 2.5mm jacks included). ThieAudio claims that the Prestige has been “engineered to deliver a reference studio monitor-like sound signature” that is uncolored. But the actual result seems quite different. More about this below.
Although not immensely expansive, the soundstage checks all the boxes you would expect for an IEM in this echelon. A clear sense of depth is often the hardest thing to achieve in a soundscape. And the Prestige did a solid job of delivering that behind the ear sound, even if the rear imaging sometimes slipped into the stereo field. Interestingly, the Prestige seemed to have a harder time reaching significant heights. But left to right imaging felt precise and nuanced. So, overall, there was a sufficiently multidimensional feel to the aural space for an entertaining listening experience.
Although you’ll hear a generous serving of bass, it can be a little sluggish at times, often failing to deliver the punch and speed I was hungry for when listening to particularly animated pop tracks. Still, if you’re a hip-hop fan, you’ll certainly appreciate the ample sub-bass frequencies, which will vibrate all the way down to your love handles. I also wasn’t disappointed by acoustic instruments in the low-end. Cellos, for example, though somewhat tinted in timbre, did exhibit sufficient texture and detail to warrant the Prestige’s price tag.
Lively in this range. The upper mids sound favored here, bringing vocals into center stage. Snares have some good smack, lending ample energy to pop tracks. That being said, the timbre feels somewhat saturated, and there’s nothing natural sounding about this signature. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you like a particularly colored or charismatic IEM. Just don’t expect an authentic tonal quality to guitars or strings. Definition was also slightly missing in the low mids. Acoustic guitar strums, for example, slightly lacked the clean delineations you would expect from an IEM at this price point. That being said, for modern genres, the mids really deliver a dynamism that I enjoyed for the most part.
Let me preface this section by admitting that I’m not a big fan of particularly bright IEMs. But even those who love their highs high, the Prestige may push you to you to the edge of your limits. For a lot of tracks, when judged relative to the lower frequencies, the Prestige’s highs have the ability to invigorate the soul. Female vocals, for example, though again, not particularly natural sounding, can display an exciting glow in an otherwise dark mix. But if you listen to any kind of jazz or classical music, where trumpets or violins are involved, you may want to pause before opting for this IEM, especially considering the artificial timbre. Even on funk tracks, such as Daft Punk’s “Lose Yourself to Dance,” while the percussion intro has radiant sparkle, once the trebly funk guitar comes in, I had to turn down the volume. Any kind of snare or cymbal resonance that reaches this range also presents the same problem. That being said, if you’re one of those masochistic suckers for brightness, go for it; you won’t be disappointed.
The Prestige will deliver the right qualities to the right kind of listener; A 3D sounstage, deep bass, dynamic mids and super crispy highs make for a fun listen. And if you’re sick of the all the au naturel sound signatures out there, this very colored profile will deliver that contrast you’re looking for. However, if you’re a purist or you mostly listen to acoustic music, the affected tone of the Prestige may be less suitable to your tastes. But certainly, those who love a super bright high end and appreciate a somewhat idiosyncratic sound profile, will probably gravitate to these admittedly entertaining IEMs.
|Drivers||1 Dynamic, 4 Balanced Armatures, 4 Electrostatic|
|Frequency Response||20Hz – 40kHz|
|Cable||1.2 m (2.5mm, 3.5mm and 4.4mm plugs)|
|Cable Type||22AWG 6N OCC Silver-Plated and Graphene Silver-Plated|