ThieAudio has given us some excellent IEMs for a wide range of prices. One of their latest releases is the Prestige, which is one of the highest-tier IEMs we’ve seen from them yet. It has drawn a lot of comparisons to their popular Monarch model, which received an update with the launch of their MK II model. If you’re thinking about which IEM to go for, here is an in-depth comparison between the two.
What You Get
|Monarch MK II||Prestige|
Look & Feel
I think it goes without saying that ThieAudio IEMs have a striking design. Both the Monarch MK II and the Prestige feature pretty artwork on their glossy shells. The Monarch has this fossil-like design, while the Prestige has a more spacey, jewel-like pattern. They both have similarly shaped bodies, but the Prestige is much smaller. If your only concern is the size of the Monarch, then the Prestige will fit more to your liking.
These are both 9-driver configurations that feature dynamic units, balanced armatures, and electrostatic drivers. Only two electrostatic drivers are given to the Monarch MK II, adding two additional BAs. The Prestige provides two low-mid and two mid-treble BAs.
ThieAudio has a good track record for providing an expansive soundstage. The Prestige and Monarch MK II adhere to that notion but won’t offer anything incredible. They have different aspects to their spatial imaging that showcase contrasting levels of depth. If the Monarch MK II has one thing, then the Prestige has the other. For instance, the Prestige is noticeably wider than the Monarch, but it sticks to a more traditional stereo field. With the Monarch, the layers are more distinguished. Their dimension is highlighted more immersively, featuring more spatial movement and height throughout the soundstage. The Prestige focuses more on pinpoint accuracy, while also maintaining a clear separation between performances.
There are different flavors of bass on the Monarch MK II and Prestige. If you’re looking for a punchier tone that balances edge and clarity, then you’ll prefer the Monarch. The Prestige has a ton of low-end frequency content to offer, but its structure of it is a lot less organized. It ends up being more of a resonant feel that you get from a lively sub-bass to shake up the foundation of your tracks.
Both IEMs have a great midrange. They exercise fine detail and display identifiable instruments and vocal tones throughout their frequency responses. Neither is fully natural, and the Monarch MK II even has a touch of warmth to its low mids, but they both supply clear dynamics and evenness in their respective timbres. The Monarch arrives at its transients with a bit more gusto than the Prestige, and it shows with hard-hitting notes and vocal power. You don’t get that with the Prestige, but there is still a smooth elegance to them.
When switching back and forth between the Monarch MK II and the Prestige, the treble is probably going to be the first major difference you’ll notice. The Monarch is a lot more forgiving than the Prestige, offering good clarity and enjoyable coloration throughout its response. With the Prestige, there’s a lot more frequency content, and its timbre is a lot richer than the Monarch. At its best, the Prestige is super crisp in the highs and can express sound elements like female vocals with exceptional resolution. However, it will not shy away from brighter properties, and the highs have a distinct ring to them that isn’t as easy to consume.
The Monarch MK II and the Prestige both have something to offer in every aspect of their sound signature. They share a similar midrange, but the Monarch comes down with a bit more bite. The Prestige attacks more in the highs, and never gets too harsh for me. It also carries a wider soundstage, but the Monarch feels more holographic. Those worried about comfort will probably find the Prestige a more natural fit with its smaller size. I think it’s really the bass that might impact your decision the most, as they both provide different flavors of performance.
The ThieAudio Monarch MK II and Prestige are available at Audio46.
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