FcConstruct

Head-Fier
Thieaudio Clairvoyance and Monarch
Pros: Superb midrange tonality
Tastefully done, natural treble
Tactful bass shelf
Cons: Staging and layering
Note: This is a review for both the Monarch and Clairvoyance. The star rating is for the Clairvoyance.

Introduction

2020 has been a long year. Ignoring the craziness of the real world, the IEM world has had a number of big releases such as the MoonDrop Starfield, the refresh of Campfire Audio's flagship Andromeda and Solaris, the entrance of the heavyweight Empire Ears Odin, and to end the year, crinacle's MoonDrop Dusk re-tune of the hugely popular Blessing 2.

With so many exciting IEMs released in the past year, I figured what better way to end the year other than discussing what's possibly the most lauded ChiFi release of the year: the Thieaudio Monarch and Clairvoyance. Today, I'll be taking a look at these critically acclaimed IEMs and add yet another perspective for those wondering what the hype around these two IEMs are.

Disclaimer: I was lent the Thieaudio Monarch and Clairvoyance as part of Linsoul's review tour program. Below are my honest thoughts on these IEMs. I am not compensated by Linsoul in any other way.

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What's in the Box?

For those unaware, the Thieaudio Monarch and Clairvoyance are also referred to as the "tribrids" as they contain a dynamic driver, balanced armatures, and electrostatic drivers. Specifically, the Monarch has a 1 DD + 6 BA + 2 EST configuration while the Clairvoyance removes a single BA from that setup. At $700 for the Clairvoyance and $730 for the Monarch, you could say that extra BA costs $30. The DD used in these IEMs is the same one found in the Legacy 5. The BAs and EST forgo the typical Bellsing drivers found in ChiFi in favor of Knowles and Sonion. Do note that despite being called electrostatic (EST) drivers, they are not true electrostatic drivers as you'd expect from headphone nomenclature. That is to say, they aren't true estats like the infamous Stax headphones or the Shure KSE 1200/1500 lineup. They do not require a dedicated amp with a transformer for power. Speaking of power, they aren't too hungry and can be driven rather easily from my Apple dongle. The Monarch actually requires less power than the Clairvoyance does despite having one more BA driver.

Looks wise, the Monarch and Clairvoyance are pretty much identical except for some shiny orange speckles on the Monarch's faceplate. The pearl-like finish and iridescent sheen is rather eye-catching; the promo pics on Linsoul's website seriously does NOT do a good job showcasing how good it looks. The packaging of the twins are identical with the exception of the labeling sticker on the box. It comes in the standard Thieaudio green cardboard box with a set of S, M, L foam tips, M sized SpinFits, a hard carrying case, and the Thieaudio EST 2.5 mm cable and its corresponding set of 3.5 mm and 4.4 mm adapters. In fact, the packaging is identical to the Legacy 5 and you can read my not-so-positive rant on the EST cable there.

Fit and comfort on both IEMs were about standard for me, though they aren't the most comfortable in the sense that they disappear into my ear. It has a nozzle size of 5 mm which I'd say is a bit above average. While my unit does not have a nozzle lip, Thieaudio has since added it for the newer ones in production. The shell of the tribrids are definitely on the large size and for some reason, I find the Monarch to be slightly more comfortable than the Clairvoyance despite them having practically the same shell. Maybe it's just my ears.

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Sound

To be completely honest, I was not immediately blown away by these IEMs. They're both tuned extremely well but I wasn't overly impressed with their technical performance at first listen. Resolution wasn't immediately leaps and bounds better than what I was used to. Soundstage was within the realm of what you'd expect IEMs to be (i.e. eeehh). Admittedly, I had very high expectations of these IEMs from the hype that surrounded their release. To be honest, it was the sound of diminishing returns.

Despite saying all of that, over the next few hours and days of listening, the Monarch and Clairvoyance convinced me that they're worthy of their price tag. The Monarch's tuning is a lot leaner than the Clairvoyance thanks to a very controlled subbass boost and treble forwardness. In my view, the Monarch is an IEM that demands attention. It's not an IEM that you can forget about in the background. On the other hand, the Clairvoyance takes a more conservative approach. It has a lightly warm midrange and a relaxed but still present treble. The Clairvoyance has an easier-to-listen to presentation that fits perfectly into a work from home environment. Between the two, I greatly prefer the Monarch.

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Bass:

The Monarch has a heavy subbass focus that hits deep. It both slams and rumbles with a great sense of impact and unique texture. When the right notes hit, it can be very satisfying to listen to. They accomplish this through dedicating the DD and 4 BAs solely to the bass. However, this does come at a cost: I find that the bass performance isn't wholly consistent. Certain notes, especially on the kick drum, have an awesomely deep rumble and weight to them. Other notes that don't fully leverage the Monarch's bass setup are less impressive and more akin to the Clairvoyance. Furthermore, in my initial listening, I could actually hear the blending of the BA and the DD though I haven't been able to notice it again after the first couple of days.

The Clairvoyance's bass is a fairly standard DD affair. It doesn't have that sense of awe like the Monarch does but still provides a respectable performance. While it does rumble when needed, it has much more of a warm, full-bodied midbass focus compared to the Monarch. Where the Monarch flattens out at about the 125 Hz mark, the Clairvoyance is sustained until around 200 Hz, right before the lower mids. This makes the Clairvoyance the bassier of the two to my ears. The Monarch feels like "neutral with a subbass boost" while the Clairvoyance is overall "balanced". There's a good sense of nuance and resolution in the bass, a far cry from its blunt and low-res sounding siblings. Despite sharing the same DD, the difference in bass quality from the Legacy 5 is mindblowing. The choice of BAs working in tandem with the DD makes a serious difference. Transients are very good on the Monarch and decent on the Clairvoyance. For those who want a low end that "fills the room", you'd want the Clairvoyance over the Monarch. The sterility of the Monarch may sound just a little thin for some people. Personally, I really enjoy the Monarch's bass presentation for its uniqueness and often deeply satisfying subbass.


Mids:

The mids of the tribrids are excellent with what I'd consider about an ideal pinna peak placement right around 2.5-3 kHz. While they both have forward leaning vocals, there is a significant difference in tonality. Compared to the Monarch, the lower mids of the Clairvoyance are ever so slightly elevated. Combined with the increased bass presence in the midbass, the Clairvoyance clearly has a lusher tone over the Monarch.

Vocals have a good sense of space on both IEMs, being placed cleanly forward and taking center stage. Both male and female vocals perform just as well on both. Neither are harsh nor sibilant. Vocals on the Monarch have a slightly aggressive front to them while the Clairvoyance are a touch relaxed. This is likely due to the minor mid elevation in the 1-2.5 kHz range. Likewise, electric guitars have a gritter and more engaging sound on the Monarch. Acoustic instruments have a homely tone on the Clairvoyance while they sound sharper and more defined on the Monarch. Overall, I wouldn't say the mids of the tribrids are especially unique or have some romantic quality to them. They're just really good with an instantly agreeable tonal balance, though with a different flavor on each. I prefer the midrange of the Clairvoyance.


Treble:

The treble of the Clairvoyance is present but restrained. It has good extension and provides plenty of clarity without being fatiguing or distracting. Hats and cymbals are tamed but have a very natural voicing to them. I don't notice any outstanding peaks or oddities in the treble. Where most other IEMs fail the treble test for me, the Clairvoyance passes it comfortably without overly dampening the sound and killing transient energy.

On the flip side, the Monarch's treble straddles the line of almost being fatiguing without ever crossing it. It's rather omnipresent and in-your-face for me, like I'm constantly being reminded that I'm listening to the Monarch. Like the Clairvoyance, the Monarch's treble has a natural tone, but is distinctly more crisp with more brilliance in the shimmer of hats and cymbals. There's a great sense of clarity in each note that rings out. In addition, the upper harmonics of brass instruments have just that extra layer of energy to it, making it a treat whenever they appear. The treble of the Monarch falls neatly in line with my preference for treble, though a bit of a longer decay would be nice. Needless to say, I greatly enjoy it.


Presentation:

The soundstage of both IEMs aren't anything amazing. They still have that centered, in-your-head feeling. For the most part, the horizontal soundstage is constrained to between the ears but occasionally they do surprise me with notes that stretch those limits. There is limited height to the soundstage though at times there is good depth, especially on the Monarch. Imaging is quite decent. There's plenty of nuance across the horizontal stage though depth is limited to two planes. These are not IEMs you buy for a vast sense of stage. Notes do seem to fight for the spotlight and layering is limited. The Monarch does a much, much better job here than the Clairvoyance, likely due to the leaner midbass tuning. While far from bad, it's clear that the staging is a relative area of weakness compared to the prowess of the other parts of these IEMs.

While I initially wasn't super impressed with the resolution, I gotta say, after listening to these IEMs for a while and then going back to my more budget range gear, the step up in resolution is definitely noticeable. Rather than a big step forward like I experienced in the Fearless Dawn, it's a lot of tiny little improvements that I notice every now and then that comes seamlessly together. Like the layering, the Monarch has better resolution. While part of it has to do with its more sterile tuning and forward treble, I suspect that its improved transient response really adds a subtle bit of extra clarity. Switching to the Thieaudio Legacy 5, it's like a whole other layer is missing. This is the threshold level of resolution that I expect top tier IEMs to have.

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Should You Buy It?

Yes. While I think both IEMs are excellent, having heard both side-by-side, I'd buy the Monarch hands down every time. Personally, when I think about reaching HiFi or endgame, it's more about just tuning or technical performance. I want something unique, something that fills a gap that others leave behind. For me, that is the Monarch. I love its forward treble response and its bass hits like few others do. It's not a perfect IEM but for the price and what it strives for, I think the Monarch is an extremely compelling one-of-a-kind option with nothing yet on the market to challenge it. On the other hand, the Clairvoyance's safer, less aggressive tuning is a double edged sword. It's a great IEM but it doesn't reach for more than that. While the $700 price tag places it firmly below some of its competitors in the Viento and Sony IER-M9, the used market does open a lot of doors to IEMs near the kilobuck range.

If you've made it this far into the review (or just skipped to the end) and want a simple way of thinking about these two IEMs, here's my perspective on them. Get the Monarch if you really focus and listen to music when you do. If you're someone who really wants to immerse yourself in the sound while commuting or lounging. Get the Clairvoyance if you want a very solid and safe set to listen to. If you're someone who listens to music while working on something else and just want some good sound to keep you company. The Monarch is better for more energetic genres like EDM or pop. The Clairvoyance does better with more acoustic music.

Hopefully this review helps clarify things for those still on the fence for the Thieaudio Monarch or Clairvoyance. As I say goodbye to these IEMs and start a new year, I hope 2021 continues to bring IEMs that redefine the limits of sound quality and price performance.
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slex
slex
The nozzle structure of the twins are slightly different, perhaps you found it more comfortable then Clairvoyance 😊. Btw,Nice impression .
FcConstruct
FcConstruct
@slex Are they? They look identical to each other and identical to the L5's nozzle.
dheepak10
dheepak10
@FcConstruct - The Clairvoyance nozzle is more horizontal and the Monarch is a bit more tilted to the bottom. (From the pics of another user on Discord)

Benasherding

New Head-Fier
As enjoyable as an eclairee (An average audiophile's review)
Pros: Really Pleasant tuning
Great overall IEM
Cons: You might prefer something more intense as an audiophile
I have had recently bought my very own clairvoyance, and as a music enthusiast and vocalist, it's generally a pleasant experience through-out.


I have quite average-sized ears and this monitor fit rather nicely into my ears. Before my purchase, I have had tested it at a relatively noisy cafe. My first impression was the sound isolation, even if you were to plug it into your ears, without audio playing, you would really experience quite a tight isolation.

Personally, isolation isn't the most important thing for me. I would prefer the tonal experience more than isolation.

Comparing it with my fender fxa6 shells, these have better isolation. But of course, with better isolation, I too feel slightly more pressure on my ears with these plug into my ears. Pressure wise, it's not harsh, but if you are particularly picky on a loose-fitting, these aren't so.

During my first impressions, I felt that the shells were slightly weak and could be fragile. Maybe It was because the shells aren't heavy compared to my Acoustune HS1551 CU, Fenders FXA6, and many other IEMS out there. Another reason could be it has quite a pretty face. It doesn't look rugged in any way.

Although the IEMS seems to be a little lacking in luster, I'm rather amazed at how good it sounds. It is balanced sounding, having a decent sound stage, mids are rather natural. When it comes to details, they have enough, not as detailed as the VX. While balanced sounding, it has it's bass boosted. Its bass isn't really glaring, and neither are they right at your face, they fit quite nicely to the rest of the sound spectrum. they lack quite a bit of detail when it comes to the lows.

Personally, I recognize the sound signature of its lows relatively similar to that of many mandarin grammy award sound engineers
( I don't know about you, but I recognize how some mandarin grammy-nominated sound engineers tend to tune a decently lean, very slightly veiled, and nicely boosted lows in their soundtrack)

Mids wise, the male and female voices sound natural, they aren't very clear like the VX.
At this point, I kind of realize that clairvoyance is an IEM that strives in presenting the overall sounding of a music track.

High wise, it's relative so safe, that I could simply say that it is a near equivalent representation to its mids.


-After 50 hours of burn-in I could recognize that it now sounds more natural, its soundstage is slightly deeper and the mids are now more emotional.

Overall, I'm just happy that these are very worth it for it's price.
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antdroid

Headphoneus Supremus
Thieaudio Twins Review
Pros: Great top notch tonality
beautiful shell design
good resolution and imaging
Cons: Shell is a bit large/wide
Bass lacks a little bit of resolution/texture




It's always interesting to see a brand grow from its infancy into a full-fledged competitor and this is how I am starting to feel with Thieaudio, Linsoul's house brand of portable audio gear. They started with headphones, and then moved to their bread and butter IEM products with the Voyager (multi-BA) and Legacy (dynamic driver + BA hybrid) products. I've reviewed a few of their products in the past with mixed results, but this latest batch of products -- the Clairvoyance and the Monarch -- come with great anticipation and a certain bit of hype.

Being involved in the community, I've gotten to discuss the tuning and progression of this brand through their owner, as well as these two specific IEM's tuning wizard. It's because of this, and the thoughts behind how it should be tuned that got me most excited to try these two sets out, as they were tuned with an objective and for the most part, I think these two do their tasks well.

This review will be a little unlike others I've done mostly because these are two similar but unique IEMs with slightly different tunings. I'm going to spend most of this article talking about how they differ than anything, but just remember that both of these are top tier IEMs in my opinion and hopefully I'll capture that as well.

The Thieaudio Clairvoyance is $700, while the Monarch is $730, and both are tri-brids featuring dynamic driver, a series of balanced armature drivers, and electrostatic tweeters.
Unboxing
I posted a video of the unboxing experience and will just leave it at that:

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To quickly summarize though:
  • Same packaging for all Thieaudio IEMs
  • Nice brown fake-leather case
  • Selection of tips
  • 2.5mm white braided cable is nice, however to use it with 3.5mm or 4.4mm requires a very long adapter




Sound Impressions
Both the Thieaudio twins, the Monarch and Clairvoyance, are well-balanced tunings with sort of reference mid-range and treble, but with elevated bass to provide a nice fun, but accurate sound. They do differ across the spectrum though, and I find the Monarch to be much more sub-bass focused and have a shoutier upper mid-range and a brighter treble. The Clairvoyance, on the other hand, is a more smoother overall sound signature, with a thicker bass region that doesn't emphasized sub-bass, and adds more mid-bass to the sound. The upper mids of the Clairvoyance is also slight tamer, as well as the treble presentation, making this one sound a little less technical, but more musical.







When I listened to both, my first impressions were that the Monarch is right up my alley. It has the reference-type sound I really like, with a similar comparison to the Hidition Viento, but with a bigger sub-bass emphasis. Listening to it more and more, and comparing it to the Viento, I did find some things I did not like -- and that was mainly the slightly nasally and shouty upper mid-range. These are very nitpicky issues, and not overly glaring however, but it is something I notice when I listen to piano music where the weight of a piano strike in this range hits harder and with more ringing.

The Clairvoyance is more equally weighted in the low-end than the Monarch. I found the Monarch to have a large subbass emphasis, while the Clairvoyance has more mid-bass, but it's more to put it in equal playing with the subbass. In this regard, the Clairvoyance provides a more natural low end sound, and a thicker lower mid-range, while also having a more unemphasized upper mid-range and treble. The Clairvoyance does lack the deep rumble that the Monarch has, but it replaces it with a more smooth and full sound.

This is a really generic genre chart that I came up with based on music I listen to and a small sample of random music within these genres.



In both acoustic and new wave music, I found that there's trade-offs for both of these IEMs, but both play them well. Depending on the acoustic rock though, I do partially prefer the Clairvoyance more, and with New Wave, I do partially prefer the Monarch more.

In the genres of Bluegrass, Classical, and Jazz, I prefer the Monarch over the Clairvoyance. This is due to my impressions that the Monarch has a little bit of a bigger soundstage, better imaging, and a little improved resolution over the Clairvoyance. The deeper sub-bass also gives double bass guitars a bit more rumble and drive, which tickles my ears.

When I play rock music, pop, and country music, I tend to prefer the more full and smoother sounding Clairvoyance. These genres seem to perform better with the mid-bass addition that the Clairvoyance provides, and the slightly tamer treble, does make electric guitars and any constant high percussions attacks from becoming overly fatiguing.

There's very distinct difference when listening to these two IEMs when I listen to my stable of rock music -- whether it be the layered rock tunes of Sonic Youth or The War on Drugs, or the Seattle grunge originals, Temple of the Dog and Mother Love Bone, or the more catchy tunes of The Beatles and Fleetwood Mac -- I find the performance of the Clairvoyance is much better suited for these bands.

One of the most distinguishing bands that really show off the differences between the two of these IEMs is Daft Punk. I listened through the entire Random Access Memories album on both of these, and there's some very audible differences. In "Giorgio by Moroder", the sub-bass focus of the Monarch really shows its strength towards the end of this track where the heavy bass is skull crushing while it sounded rather tame, but filled-in, on the Clairvoyance.

On "Contact", the final section of this track is a insane mix of sounds, percussions, synths, and a heavy bass line. Many IEMs fail to give proper instrument separation and also clearly define each layer of this multi-layered track. The Monarch handles this song with absolute ease. It's quicker transient response and improved imaging over the Clairvoyance really shows its characteristics here. That's not to say the Clairvoyance fails, because it doesn't but it just doesn't quite have the separation capability nor does it have the raw bass impact that the Monarch provides, and this is why I feel like in EDM music, the Monarch's added clarity and sub-bass focus makes it a more fun and exacting experience.





Wrap-Up + Comparisons
At this point, I just want to reiterate that both of these IEMs, the Clairvoyance and the Monarch, are two of my favorite IEMs that I have listened to, and the fact that they are tri-brid IEMs at a relatively low price makes these two sets a industry disrupter and a market statement from Linsoul and Thieaudio. There's little to not like here, and recommending these sets is easy for me. They work well with a lot of music, and they have a price well below comparable products, and in fact, you can get both for the same price of it's competitors. That's saying something.


Let's talk about some of those competitors....

Hidition Viento-B
The Viento-B was one of the IEMs that I recall was the inspiration behind these two twins. It has some characteristics of both of the Monarch and Clairvoyance, and probably leans closer to the Monarch in general sound, but I kind of feel like it can compete with either one. The Viento is more coherent and I think a more natural tonality than both of these two IEMs, but the Clairvoyance and Monarch both have much better bass texturing and just overall natural bass sound. While the Viento-B does have a nice bass shelf, the Monarch has a bigger subbass shelf, and the Clairvoyance has more bass presence in general. The Viento-B is less shouty than the Monarch and is probably more in-line with Clairvoyance though.

In this case, even though I have the Viento-B, I think I'd take the Monarch over the Viento-B personally.

64 Audio Nio and U12t
The U12t and Nio are two pairs of similar IEMs from 64 Audio that are also in-line with the Thieaudio twins. The Nio is a bit bigger in it's bass presence, in the fact that it hits harder with more slam and impact, but not so much as it's subbass. When looking at that, I think they are comparable to the Monarch. The Nio is probably a good mix of both bass characteristics of the Clairvoyance and Monarch, but more emphasized than both of the Thieaudio products. This is mostly because the treble is more tame on the Nio and U12t than the two Thieaudio IEMs. The Monarch is clearly the set that has the most bright signature.

Unique Melody MEST
I was not able to demo the MEST side-by-side with the Thieaudio Monarch and Clairvoyance, so I don't have any opinion that can be fully taken. From memory though, I feel like the MEST has better texturing and imaging ability than both the TA products. The MEST is a tad narrower at times, but it has a chameleon-like soundstage that morphs around depending on the song. I think resolution of the MEST is top notch, and may be slightly better than the TA, but the Monarch and Clairvoyance have it beat for tonality and are easy to recommend for overall non-fatiguing listening.


Video Review


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Adnan Firoze
Adnan Firoze
One of the best reviews. Checks off all the boxes in what I would ask from a review. One question though, if I want a complementary IEM (i.e. not the same) to the Sony IER-M9, which would you suggest?

dheepak10

100+ Head-Fier
Mid-fi Brilliance
Pros: - Brilliant tonality - warmish neutral
- Wide and deep sound-stage
- Excellent dynamism and timing
- One of the best stock cables
Cons: - Percussion can lack bite on dynamically compressed songs.
Thieaudio is a relatively new entrant to the IEM market and have a good number of items in the portfolio. This is my first Thieaudio IEM which I purchased from Linsoul.

The shopping experience was pretty straightforward; Paypal always gives me confidence to spend my hard-earned money. The IEM is made to order as per Linsoul’s support team. The IEM shipped on the 3rd business day after order. Linsoul used DHL priority shipping and the package took 3 days to reach from China to Toronto, Canada.

Build and packaging

For a $700 IEM, the Thieaudio Clairvoyance’s packaging and accessories are pretty basic. The case is shared across the entire Thieaudio line and just a checkbox on the outside with a marker’s ink specifying what model you’ve received.
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However, not all is boring as you are presented with the pearlescent shine of the IEM’s faceplate against a black background upon unboxing. The fit and finish is great on the IEMs – no complaints there.
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The cable that accompanies the IEMs are quite exceptional and I don’t think you will ever need a cable upgrade over this one. The cable too has a shine to match the opalescence of the IEMs.

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You also get a pair of Spinfits CP100 and 3 pairs of foam tips, along with a ‘leather-looking’ case. Sadly the IEMs don’t fit in this case and it is only to be used for accessories, and, a DAP or your portable DACamp, probably.

Fit and Eartips

Though on the larger side of UIEMS, the Thieaudio Clairvoyance is designed to fit most ears – I’ve had long listening sessions without any type of pain on my outer ears. My wife, on the other hand has tiny ears and the Clairvoyance fit her just fine; she did not have any room for adjustments, but she was fine with the fit (pics attached for reference).
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As with all IEMs, tips always matter as they could vastly impact the tonality. The CP100 supplied are decent, but they are quite grippy and cause soreness in my ear canal, plus I feel that the sound is a bit boomy on those. So they are not the tips for me.

I then moved to softer, sticky tips. They worked perfectly fine and offer the best seal possible. However, they were still not for me as the bass quantity is more than what I prefer and the pressure exerted due to the bass notes can cause ear fatigue. I also tried the AZLA Sednafit Xelastec, but they are a bit too big even for size MS and the wide bore makes the treble too hot for my preferences.

Finally, I settled for Sony Hybrids EP-EX11 M tips which gives a nice balanced tonality for Clairvoyance's signature. It was just perfect. Another good set of tips is Spinfit 360 - the size S was good (M for commute when that extra seal and bass was needed). The soft silicon shell, in both these tips, while giving the right isolation, also helps the pressure escape while inserting into the ears, thereby resulting is less driver flex. Also, they are neither narrow bore nor wide which make them quite balanced sounding. With the Spinfit 360, bass can be overwhelming at times, depending on the track.

Note that I have had to use 1 size lower for all tips than what I usually use with other IEMs.

Now that the tips are sorted, there is another issue which you should be aware of with the fit – there is no front vent to relieve any pressure and this can cause driver flex when using tightly sealing tips. So you’ll have to take care to release pressure while inserting the IEMs based on the tips you’ll be using (The Spinfit 360 nullifies this for me and most soft shell tips should help alleviate this issue)

Drivability

The Thieaudio Clairvoyance can be driven from most devices, including your smartphone audio jack. However, based on the DAC and amp section the audio experience could vary significantly.

For example, I tried it on LG G6 with normal mode and there was a severe lack of soundstage depth and the presentation lacked the musicality; the line out mode was better, but nothing that I get from my preferred chain (described in the next section).

So, not all sources will be equal – but it will not be difficult to find the perfect source. I’m ending this discussion here as this could go off-topic 😊.

So how does it sound?
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Here's the setup for my evaluation

Source: FLACs (16/44.1, 24/48 and 24/96) or Tidal Hi-Fi

Chain : Bit perfect playback through Foobar2k on Laptop > iFi Nano BL / Topping D50s > iFi iTube in buffer mode > Headamp GL2

The iFi Nano BL has a lot of depth perception and it helps bring out the layers in simpler tracks, but on complex demanding tracks, it cannot keep up with the timing and dynamics of the Topping D50s. Hence, I prefer the Topping D50s for the Clairvoyance and most observations noted here are with the Topping D50s unless called out specifically.

Let me start off by saying that the one thing I liked the most about the Clairvoyance is its tonality – it has the perfect balance of low end, euphonic mids and sufficiently airy highs. This helps the Clairvoyance present most genres of music pleasing to the ears – From the luscious bass-lines of The Weekend’s After Hours to the fast hi-hats of Dire Straits’ Sultans of Swing, you’ll rarely be left wanting more.

The one area which could be a hit or miss, based on your source is the instrument separation and positioning. Any decently implemented should help on this front.

On Dire Straits’ Sultans of Swing you get a full-bodied, yet incredibly bass guitar which does not interfere with the ongoing vocals or the super-fast hi-hats. The hi-hats have a precise and fast attack and decay. The layering on this song is what makes it brilliant and the Clarivoyance makes it a magical listen.

While I have not heard the Clarivoyance’s twin, the Monarch, the one track that could highlight the difference between the two is funkadelic’s Sexy Ways. This track has a bass guitar driving the rhythm section, while not on the forefront. The Clairvoyance is able to give it enough body without making it overwhelming (just how it was intended). This is yet another track which I used to evaluate the brilliant rendering of depth and layers in the track and the Clairvoyance delivers.

Is it Always Binary by Soulwax was never more enjoyable – the Clairvoyance places you right in the middle of the band in the presentation of the song. The percussions and synths on this song helps demonstrate the overall coherence with which the Clairvoyance renders music. Another such track which Clarivoyance handled with absolute ease was Vicious Delicious by Infected Mushroom – the fast synths were a pleasure to listen to.

I did try a couple of alt rock songs too with the Clairvoyance – Cockroach King (Haken), Thought Contagion (Muse) – while there is a slight lack of bite in the overdriven guitar riffs, the songs are still quite enjoyable. These aren’t particularly well recorded tracks, so I’m just listing a small observation with these.

One genre where the Clairvoyance is not very enjoyable is Post 2000 Electronic tracks - but that's more to do with Harman target curve than the IEM itself. These tracks don't get well with the mid-bass warmth offered by the Clairvoyance. That's just a subset of the vast library for most folks and definitely not something I worries me.

Finally to close the evaluation, I tried Hey Nineteen by Steely Dan and Dreams by Fleetwood Mac – these are quite well recorded tracks, particularly the former. The tonality of the Clairvoyance is a stand-out on these tracks where the balance across the spectrum makes them an absolute pleasure to listen to.


Select (Unfair) comparisons:

A lot of discussions on forums talk primarily about the tonality of the Clairvoyance. Well, the Sony MH755 and Samsung Galaxy Buds+ also have a frequency response which is very similar in tonality to the Thieaudio Clairvoyance. So why should pay a multitude of the prices of these IEMs to buy a Clairvoyance?

Well, tonality can only do so much as to make the sound pleasing to you, but technicalities take the listening experience a couple of notches up. Paired up with basic mobile phone, you will fret the decision that you spent a fortune on the Clairvoyance when the MH755 can give you the same experience. Bring a decent $100 DacAmp into the picture and these IEMs cannot match the rhythm control, dynamism, soundstage portrayal and coherence demonstrated by the Clairvoyance.

And once you have experience what a well-tuned IEM can offer, there is no going back to simple stuff.


Conclusion:
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The Clairvoyance has an exceptional tonal balance, expansive soundstage and some brilliant drivers that make the listening experience quite immersive. So instead of adding many more adjectives, I would just say that I highly recommend the Clairvoyance and it is definitely ‘end-game’ material for most folks.
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