INTRODUCTION AND DISCLAIMER:
The ThieAudio Voyager 3 is an in-ear monitor (IEM) utilizing three balanced armature drivers per side. The Voyager 3 uses a three-way crossover with two separate sound bores. It also has low and high tuning switches which allow the user to adjust the level of bass and treble.
I have used the ThieAudio Voyager 3 with the following sources:
- JDS Labs The Element
- Apple USB-C to 3.5mm dongle
- Meizu HiFi Pro dongle
- Radsone Earstudio HUD100 USB DAC/AMP
I have tested these headphones with local FLAC and Spotify Premium. Visit my last.fm page to get an idea of what I listen to.
PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES:
The ThieAudio Voyager 3 comes in a rectangular black cardboard box. The box is unmarked apart from a circular seal emblazoned with the ThieAudio logo. The package I received included a zippered semi-rigid carry case, a detachable 2-pin cable, and a small pin-like tool that resembles a SIM card ejector tool for adjusting the tuning switches.
The carry case exterior is brown synthetic leather with a cloth-backed interior. It has a small mesh pocket on the roof of the lid for storing accessories. The case is one of the roomiest I have seen included with an IEM of any price.
BUILD QUALITY / DESIGN:
The ThieAudio Voyager 3 has clear acrylic housings with brightly colored faceplates and a pseudo-custom fit. The faceplates have a wood grain pattern and are inlaid with the ThieAudio logo in silver text. What I assume is the unit serial number is printed in silver on the inner face of the housing. The BAs, wiring, crossover, and BA tubes are all visible through the shell. The 2-pin connectors protrude slightly from the surface of the housing and are compatible with QDC-type cable connections. The sound bores have no exterior mesh cover. The nozzles lack a lip for securing eartips but I did not have any eartips come loose using the Voyager 3. The nozzles are thick and wide, which could limit their use with aftermarket tips. In addition to the stock silicone eartips, I used Moondrop MIS T55 eartips with the Voyager 3.
The eight-core silver-plated OCC copper 2-pin cable included with the ThieAudio Voyager 3 is gorgeous. It is soft, flexible, and resists tangling. It is moderately microphonic, but this can be mitigated with the clear plastic bead-like chin-adjustment slider. It has a straight 3.5 mm termination with metal hardware and good strain relief. The Y-split is metal as well. Both the Y-split and the 3.5mm jack have carbon fiber inlays. The cable uses preformed clear plastic earguides without memory wire. The 2-pin connectors have raised markings to indicate left and right, but the markings are so faint that they require scrutiny to distinguish. As in other similar cases, I would prefer to have colored indicators to distinguish the channels from each other.
COMFORT / FIT / ISOLATION:
The ThieAudio Voyager 3 is intended to be worn cable-up. The earpieces have a moderate insertion depth, and while I found them to be comfortable for the most part, the thickness of the nozzle may be troublesome to those with narrow ear canals. Secureness of fit and isolation are excellent.
My measurements were conducted with a Dayton iMM-6 microphone using a vinyl tubing coupler and a calibrated USB sound interface. The headphones are driven using my Element, which has an output impedance of no more than 1 ohm. The measurements use a compensation file derived from relating my raw measurements to published measurements from Crinacle and Antdroid. The measurements are presented with 1/24th smoothing. There is a resonant peak around 8k. Measurements above 10k are not reliable.
The ThieAudio Voyager 3 has a V-shaped tuning in all its switch configurations. I find the ThieAudio Voyager 3 most enjoyable in its stock configuration, with neither switch activated.
With the low-frequency switch in the off position, the Voyager 3 has a mid-bass emphasis. The bass has adequate speed and respectable articulation but limited texture and impact. Bass resolution is middling. There is considerable mid-bass bleed into the lower midrange, which creates congestion. Switching the bass switch on elevates the sub-bass and the lower midrange, creating a more uniformly bassy presentation. I found this setting overwhelming and muddy.
With the high-frequency switch in the off position, the Voyager 3 has a warm, thick midrange. Male vocals have good body but female vocals sound slightly muffled and overall vocal intelligibility is below average. With the high-frequency switch on, vocal intelligibility, presence, and overall clarity improve. However, this comes at a significant cost to the smoothness of the midrange, introducing strain and sibilance. Midrange timbre has noticeable plasticity.
The lower treble is strongly emphasized. Although generally unfatiguing to my ears, there is severe upper treble roll-off. Air and detail retrieval are limited. The Voyager 3’s soundstage is average in both width and depth. Imaging and instrument separation are also average.
AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS AND SOURCE PAIRING:
The ThieAudio Voyager 3 can be easily driven to a comfortable listening volume with a competent dongle. I did notice hiss with the Radsone Earstudio HUD100 USB DAC/AMP, but not with any of my other sources.
The ThieAudio Voyager 3 is a strong effort in terms of physical design and build quality. However, I do not feel its tuning is competitive at this price point. The inclusion of tuning switches at its price point is novel, but I recommend future efforts by the company incorporate switches which target narrower frequency bands instead of splitting the frequency response down the middle.