ThieAudio Elixir Review

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ThieAudio Elixir – Sound

For a single driver unit, the Elixir surprised me right out of the box. I evaluated the Elixir with the new SMSL DO100 and HO100 stack. I used AudioQuest’s Mackenzie XLR as the interconnect cable. The stack’s review will be up soon on Headfonia, too. FYI, the stack has a balanced and neutral signature and features a solid technical foundation. 

First of all, the Elixir is not a strictly V-shaped or overly warm earphone. It features a pretty balanced signature except for the slightly elevated low region. The Elixir sounds slightly warm but not overly so. It has a good tonal balance and does not have any major dips or peaks. ThieAudio wanted it to be a good all-rounder and tuned it that way.

To my ears, the Elixir sounds inoffensive, relaxed, and effortless. That is not an easy task and oftentimes manufacturers boost the highs to increase perceived clarity but that is not the case here. The Elixir has an airy presentation with effortless highs and still feels very clear for the price. This is the first element that I liked about this IEM.

Moving on to the second element, the Elixir’s presentation copes very well with a wide spectrum of genres thanks to its fairly balanced tuning and it features a great technical foundation. The imaging and layering are certainly impressive for this price bracket and I am surprised to get a multi-BA level of performance out of this single transducer earphone.

Let’s dissect the sound section into major bands and take a closer look.

Low

The lowest region of the Elixir performs well. The bass reproduction is solid, impactful, and balanced. It does not feel boomy or bloated at all. The slight elevation helps the Elixir’s sense of rhythm and dynamism, affecting the SQ positively. The sub extension is great, the lows are clean and the bass to low-mid transition feels effortless. Overall, the Elixir offers a smooth bass response with good texture and resolution and performs above its price tag for this section as well.

Mid

The midrange of the unit is not as recessed as you’d think. The midrange has a good amount of presence and feels energetic from top to bottom. The vocals sound coherent, clean, and articulate. Grace Mahya’s Smooth Operator cover is one of my test tracks and the Elixir reproduces Grace’s graceful voice timbre realistically. The mids do not feel dry or aggressive. It also does not feel overly saturated like some of the earphones in this price range. ThieAudio got the timbre right. The upper midrange performs similarly, but their presence is ever so slightly more prominent compared to the lower mids.

Do note that the Elixir does not feel thin or artificial. The upper midrange feels energetic and the extension is impressive, especially for this price bracket. Nina Simone’s Sinnerman has this wonderful snare on the right. The Elixir does a good job of reproducing the extension and also there is a good amount of space between the vocal and the cymbal/hi-hat/snare on the right of the stage.

High

The treble of the Elixir follows the route of the upper midrange with great extension and overall spacious reproduction. There is no sharpness, no shrill on both of the ranges. The treble feels open and shows good resolution and texture. What impressed me here is the sense of effortlessness.

No matter what genre you throw at it, including tracks with complex passages that include many instruments playing simultaneously, the Elixir handles them with finesse. The treble shows great control and has no trouble reaching the top octave without sounding sharp or discomforting. I too, like many of you, had concerns when it comes to the treble but it is certainly great to see how far the budget IEMs have come. Well done ThieAudio.

Technical Performance

In this paragraph, I will do my best to go over the technical elements of the Elixir. Let’s start with the tonality. As I mentioned before, the Elixir is not your regular V-shaped earphone it is not a U either. The tonal balance is actually great and the Elixir offers a balanced presentation with relatively realistic reproduction.

It is an easy-to-drive earphone but it scales well with proper source gear. SMSL’s HO100 & DO100 is a 388 USD combo that offers great power and a detailed SQ and the Elixir’s synergy with the combo is certainly impressive, to say the least. That is perhaps the one disadvantage of the Elixir that it requires a good source to shine. Pairing it with a smartphone does unfortunately not cut it.

Furthermore, I already mentioned that I liked the imaging, let’s talk about that for a bit. I spent a month with the Elixir, listening to all kinds of tracks. I listen to many different genres depending on my mood, sometimes it is metal sometimes it is club jazz. No matter the genre, the Elixir performed great and it managed to realistically position the instruments.

It has a medium-sized stage with solid imaging and layering. The depth is also good. The effortless and spacious presentation really does help here. Long story short, the Elixir offers a solid technical foundation and punches above its price tag, easily.

Comparisons

vs. Yanyin Canon ($349 USD)

Yanyin is a new manufacturer that recently emerged into the audio sphere with some interesting earphones. The Canon is their entry to mid-tier offering that features a customizable SQ via switches on the shell. The Canon has a hybrid configuration and features 4BA and 1 Dynamic Driver per side. Compared to the Elixir, the Canon is a worthy rival with a very clean and energetic presentation, impactful bass, and an overall resolving signature.

The Canon’s soundstage is slightly wider and the headroom feels slightly bigger compared to the Elixir. Technical-wise they both have great imaging and instrument positioning, however, Canon’s PRaT and dynamism are slightly better than the Elixir. Note that there is a 140 USD price difference between the units. Both of the earphones are great in their respective price brackets.

The Canon’s upper midrange and treble are slightly more energetic and may be discomforting if you are already using a bright-sounding source. The Canon’s review will be up soon on Headfonia so stay tuned!

vs. Hiby Crystal 6 ($459 USD)

Hiby’s Crystal 6 is a slightly bright tuned monitor with a linear bass. Compared to the Elixir, the Crystal 6’s presentation feels somewhat harsh. The Elixir is tuned in a relaxed and spacious way and the Crystal 6 feels slightly too energetic, especially if you pair it with a neutral source like the SMSL stack.

The upper midrange of the 6 could be a little brittle for some of the audiophiles and that’s not great. The Elixir has a better note-weight and feels more realistic when paired with a proper source. It has a bigger, more impactful bass and feels more dynamic. Resolution-wise both of the earphones perform well and feel clean across the spectrum.

Last Words

ThieAudio has managed to come up with a solid set of monitors and the Elixir features a well-tuned sound for the budget audiophile. The fact that it has a great technical foundation allows it to be a great all-rounder.

The only downside is you need a proper source for it to shine with. If you already have that and looking for a good earphone to pair with, I can easily recommend giving the Elixir a try. 

 

Page 1: ThieAudio, The Elixir, Specifications, Packaging & Accessories, Design, Build & Fit

Page 2: Sound, Low, Mid, High, Technical Performance, Comparisons, Last Words

 

4.4/5 - (237 votes)

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Long time Tech Enthusiast, an ambitious petrol-head, Yagiz likes his gadgets and always finds new ways into the tinkerer's world. He tries to improve anything and everything he gets his hands onto. Loves an occasional shine on the rocks.

1 Comment

  • Reply August 6, 2022

    Diego Rojas

    Hola buenos días …. sonará bien con el Fiio M11LTD?… si tuvieras que elegir entre el Moondrop Kato y el Elixir con cual te quedarías ?…..poseo los Fiio Fh5s Pro y quiero un sonido diferente…..mi DAP es un Fiio M11LTD…. gracias

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