The theme here for the past few years is that Chinese earphones have without a doubt been the standard for the price to performance metric. ThieAudio is one of the companies that is producing forward-thinking bleeding-edge technology to the audiophile IEM market and with a month of listening under our belt its time to review the ThieAudio Monarch.
These tribrid earphones (A hybrid earphone with three separate drivers technologies) are absolutely exceptional if you are after a big sub-bass presence and extreme detail.
Where to buy:
As usual, we list the direct links to where you can buy these earphones so you can check the current pricing.
Check price on – Amazon (Not yet available link will be updated in the future)
Check price on – Linsoul
THIEAUDIO MONARCH VIDEO REVIEW BY AUDIO LEVELS
The big selling point of the Monarch is its insane multi-driver setup that utilizes three different types of drivers to produce its unique sound. This approach takes advantage of each driver’s ability to best represent certain frequencies and usually provides a very different sound than a single driver earphone or even one with multiple drivers of the same family.
The configuration in the Monarch gives you 9 drivers in each earphone. There are 2 electrostatic drivers, 6 balanced armatures and 1 dynamic driver in each housing configure with 4-way passive crossovers and 4 bore tubes to release the sound.
Build Quality and Design
Build quality is exceptional. The Thieaudio Monarch is a result of Linsoul distilling everything they know about earphones and putting it into practice. The bodies are an ergonomically friendly resin molding that is slightly on the big side but very comfortable to wear over long listening sessions. The fit and finish is flawless with no rough edges or imperfections.
The nozzles have a good metal grill protection but I didn’t like that they don’t have a lip on them to prevent the eartips from sliding off as you remove them from your ears. This didn’t happen with the included tips but in theory, it is possible if you use aftermarket eartips with a slightly too big borehole.
The earphones are terminated with a non recessed 2 pin connector which I have been critical of in the past. i like to see a recess on a 2 pin to provide some extra protection if it is decided that they don’t use my much preferred MMCX connectors in the design.
The faceplates are fantastic, one of the prettiest designs I have seen all year. A shell backing and some glistening gold flakes make them look fantastic in the hand and in the ear.
The thing here is they feel and look like an expensive set of earphones and have a sense of craftsmanship about them which you don’t get from more industrial earphones from the likes of Sony and Sennheiser.
I think I have to say it… I think it’s true… this is the best earphone cable I have ever had my hands on. Its an absolute stunner and if feels and performs up there with the best models.
Functionally it won’t beat the versatility of the Dunu Hulk but the materials used, the finish, the weight, resistance to tangling, and the way it hangs and moves just make this cable an absolute joy to use. I know many companies that sell earphone cables north of $500 that don’t even come close to how good this is. Well done Thieaudio.
Comfort and Isolation
As I mentioned above the Monarch is a little on the big side but that has to be expected when you consider how much technology Thieaudio has managed to fit inside. If you have medium to large size ears you won’t have a problem and the ergonomic contouring of the shell meant that there were no pressure points of heat spots during my testing.
When it comes to isolating I would say they are above average as the housing is so densely packed with drivers it provides a good barrier for unwanted sound ingress. I would be more than happy to recommend these for use in noisy environments.
The Thieaudio Monarch does a lot of things well but it does one thing exceptionally well and that is electronic musical genres with a high bass emphasis and lots of complicated details.
Detail retrieval and separation are combined with a thumping response to the sub-bass department that goes very low with extreme rumble but at the same time, it feels completely separate from the midrange and treble. Often with such a low-end response, we see a smothering or overly prominent representation that takes away from the shine of other areas that deserve their own credit.
The Monarch has this grand sound to it where you get all those peaky details, micro blips, and energetic inputs in the lead up to an insane bass drop. These are incredibly fun to listen to and bassheads will love them but that’s not solely where their strength lies.
The midrange is also worthy of some high praise with extreme detail retrieval and amazing clarity and separation between instruments.
Its the instrumentation that really shines here although they do carry good weight and hint of warmth to present vocals in a pleasing manner. It was really guitars and strings that came alive and I spent a lot of time listening to seasick steve and Rodrigo y Gabriela and the tonality with both was very impressive.
The whole time though I knew there was one album that would be perfect for these earphones and I couldn’t have been more right when the time came to listen. That album of course was Infected Mushrooms – Vicious Delicious. Mushrooms move into a blend of heavy guitar riffs, heavily layered with electronic artifacts and crescendoing with enormous bass drops.
It was as if these earphones were made for that album and the whole test process became a real pleasure.
The high notes are handled by the electrostatic drivers and they do a competent job in displaying the treble with good clarity and again much detail. There is a sparkle going on here but not in the sense of sibilance. It’s high energy and very spacious sounding which helps create an impression of a more open sound stage that what you commonly get with in-ear headphones.
Thieaudio Monarch vs. Fearless Audio S8Z
In a head to head with these two headphones, the winner is entirely down to how you intend to listen to your music. Whilst they are both in a similar price bracket the way they present themselves is vastly different.
The Fearless come across as revealing balanced and fluid whilst the Monarch is a more high energy and flavored earphone. If you listen to a lot of different types of music then the fearless will come into their own but if you really lean towards anything with enhanced bass for the majority of your listening then the Monarch are the clear winners.
Thieaudio Monarch vs Campfire Audio Polaris
Not exactly in the same price range but I did want to bring up another excellent bassy earphone in the Campfire Audio Polaris to show where I think this tribrid setup and the extra money spent goes. The Polaris is a V-shaped earphone and the midrange sits further back than when you listen to the Monarch.
This makes the Monarch the more versatile earphone than the Polaris as it can be used to better effect with non-bass heavy music. The Polaris is great at what it does and it does it with a similar impact but it’s in detail-rich tracks that the Monarch shows its refined tuning and ability to pull great detail throughout the sound spectrum.
We are getting into the realm of high-end earphones with high-end price tags now and as such the value for money proposition we have come to expect from the Chifi market doesn’t really apply here.
Thieaudio is aiming at taking on the big players in their own back yard and the Monarch shows that they are capable of doing so. The sound is fantastic and it has over the past month been one of my most listened to earphones in my collection.
The design is great although I really wish they opted for an MMCX connector they more than make up for it with what I’m going to say is the best earphone cable on the market. The Thieaudio Monarch is a huge win for Linsoul who finally seems to be getting their footing with this brand amid their latest releases.
As always if you want me to do comparisons with any of the other earphones on the site just shoot me a message. I won’t be drawn for comment unless I can do a direct side by side, I don’t like to do these things based off memory so give me a few days to put that together, and of course, I won’t comment on how they perform against earphones that haven’t been through the full review process.
Other than that I can give these a solid recommendation for anyone who likes an earphone with a deep sub-bass response and lots of details. One of my favorite so far in 2020.