Thieaudio is a relatively new Chinese headphone and earphone manufacturer. They recently released an IEM series under the Voyager moniker. In this review, I’m checking out the Thieaudio Voyager 3 in-ear monitor. The Voyager 3 has 3 Knowles balanced armature drivers and 2 tuning switches. Does it deserve your attention? Let’s find out.
This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
Thieaudio Voyager 3 Review
4 tuning options
Great build quality
Good stock cable
Value for money
No documentation – users are left to guess at switch settings
Sub-bass lacks authority
Shells may be large for some people
Package and Accessories
The Voyager 3 comes in a metal carrying case without any external packaging. While I don’t lament the absence of a cardboard box, the carrying case doesn’t have much room for much apart from the earphones and cable. So what you get is the Voyager 3 earphones, a detachable 2-pin cable, 3 pairs of silicone eartips and a small tool for adjusting the switches.
Build Quality and Design
Pseudo-custom shells have become almost the default in Chi-Fi over the last year or so. We’re seeing little variance in the body styles but that’s hardly a bad thing; after all, this type of earpiece is definitely comfortable and offers excellent noise isolation.
What sets the Voyager 3 apart from other IEMs in its price range are the 2 tuning switches on the rear of the shell. These allow the user to customize the tuning of the earphones, offering a total of 4 different sound signatures. The button on the left controls the bass while the button on the right dictates the level of midrange and treble.
Voyager 3 features wooden faceplates so each pair is unique. The only problem I see with this is you never know exactly what style or colour you’ll end up with. I wouldn’t bring it up if the variance was minimal but I’ve seen vastly different styles on Voyager 3 models. Some are predominantly blue and others purple. The set I received is a fairly even mix of purple and pink.
I generally don’t care too much about the outward appearance of IEMs but I feel many might find these to have an overtly feminine aesthetic. One thing that I would really like to see changed is the horrible typeface used for the Thieaudio branding. It’s the kind of font you’d expect to see on something pulled out of a cereal box.
Comfort and Noise Isolation
These are fairly comfortable for my ears in moderate doses, However, after some time I do get hot spots on my antitragus. People with small ears may have some difficulty due to the fairly large shells.
Noise isolation is excellent and above-average. Due to the concha-filling and sealed design, the Voyager 3 blocks out a large amount of external noise. These are great for commuting and for use in noisy environments.
Included with the Voyager 3 is a high-quality eight-core silver-plated OCC copper cable. The cable is thick, soft and handles nicely. It has lightweight aluminium Y-split and plug, both of which have a band of carbon fibre material around the centre. A transparent plastic bead acts as a chin slider. Overall, this is one of the nicer stock cables you’ll see around this price point.
Gear used for testing includes the iBasso DX120 and Shanling M5s as portable devices. On the desktop, I used the single-ended 3.5mm output on the Phatlab Chimera (<0.1 Ohm output impedance) which in turn, was connected to the Topping DX7 Pro via its RCA output.
As I mentioned earlier, there are 2 tuning switches: 1 alters the bass response and the other the midrange and treble. These give you a bit of room to personalize the sound more to your personal preference. The effect of the various switch combinations can be seen in the measurements below.
For my tastes, I preferred either the grey or blue configurations but spent most of my time with the grey. The Voyager 3 has a fairly balanced approach that’s on the warmer side of neutral. It has good detail retrieval, especially with the right switch enabled. There’s ample clarity throughout the midrange
The bass is fairly typical for a BA driver: it’s fast and tight but doesn’t bring much in terms of absolute impact. Sub-bass notes have a light rumble that is heard rather than felt. Mid-bass notes have slightly more weight but are also conservative in quantity. As a result, the bass doesn’t bleed into the midrange. The control is tight and the bass is fast enough to keep up with frantic drum solos. But for certain music genres, it may leave you wanting more in terms of bass output.
There is ample clarity in the midrange, particularly with switch 2 in the ON position. With switch 2 OFF, the tone becomes much darker and vocal articulation takes a hit. In addition, the vocals become recessed in this configuration.
The mids sound more energetic and vibrant with the 2nd switch ON. But at the same time, the upper mids become a bit thin and sometimes sibilant. In the end, it will depend on the listener which way they prefer it. Personally, I found myself wanting something in between. The sound is a little harsh with the 2nd switch ON and a little dull when OFF. Kind of a catch 22 going on there.
The treble is detailed and crisp but again this will depend on the switch settings. In order to get the best out of the treble, one needs to turn ON the right switch: but this, unfortunately, is tied to the 5-6kHz peak which makes Voyager 3 sound a bit strained and sibilant. Furthermore, the highs fall off sharply after 10kHz so there isn’t a lot of sparkle or air.
The soundstage is average in width but the depth is quite impressive. Where Voyager 3 excels is in its instrument separation. Each element has its own place and even during busy segments it holds things together tidily. Imaging is quite good too, making it easy to determine the position of different sounds within the stage.
The Thieaudio Voyager 3 is a solid entry in the $100-$200 bracket. Users will no doubt appreciate the ability to fine-tune the sound with the built-in dip switches. It offers excellent build quality, good detail retrieval and a balanced sound.
However, if Thieaudio continues using tuning switches, there should really be some documentation included in the package to explain exactly how they work. The Voyager 3 shows a lot of promise and I think Thieaudio has the potential to make some great IEMs going forward. I just hope they replace that font first!
Drivers: 3 Knowles Balanced Armatures
Noise Cancellation: 26dB
Sensitivity: 113dB at 1 kHz
Impedance: 14 ohm @ 1KHz
Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
Connector: Recessed 0.78mm 2Pin
Plug: 3.5mm Unbalanced Jack
Cable Length: 1.2 m
Cable Material: 8 Core Copper and Silver Tensil Mixed Wire
Net Weight: 17g
Included Accessories: Cable Metal Storage Case silicon tips(S.M.L)