ThieAudio Oracle MKII Review
I can’t think of a time that I put an IEM from ThieAudio into my ears and wasn’t impressed with the sound that came out of it. My first exposure to the company came when I tried their flagship V16 Divinity IEM, and I’ve taken their name pretty seriously ever since. Today, though, I’m taking a look at the more affordable Oracle MKII, an updated model from ThieAudio’s Tribrid line of IEMs. Let’s see what impressive tech is packed inside this sparkly little in-ear monitor, and most importantly, what it actually sounds like.
What’s In The Box?
-Oracle MKII IEMs
-Detachable 26AWG 5N OCC Silver Plated Litz Cable
-Detachable 2.5mm, 3.5mm, and 4.4mm adapters)
-3 pairs silicone ear-tips (S/M/L)
-3 pairs foam ear-tips
-Semi-firm carrying case
-Anti-static cleaning cloth
Look and Feel
In typical but welcome ThieAudio style, the Oracle MKII sparkles in a snazzy red, amber and gold with textures that resemble gemstones, rare metals and opals. The bronze-colored cable is a tasteful compliment to the overall aesthetic.
Though the buds seemed chunky upon visual inspection, I didn’t have any issues putting them into my ears, and the ergonomic shape featuring rounded edges provided max comfort that required minimal readjustments during a listen. Isolation was pretty adequate too, betraying what one might expect from the semi-open design. Really my only complaint lies with the cable, which featured four separately insulated wires that swirled together in a thick spiral before connecting to the 4 pin output jack. While it’s nice to see that audio signals will be undoubtedly well protected from any possible interference, it didn’t take much for the cable to become disorganized and messy with its wound-up multi-wire design.
The Oracle MKII comes from ThieAudio’s Tribrid line, thus 3 driver types are contained in each bud: one 10mm dynamic driver, two balanced armature drivers, and 2 electrostatic drivers. That means an extra balanced armature and electrostatic driver when compared to the first generation of the Oracle. Also worth noting is the very small grill on the top of the housing that gives it a semi-open back design.
Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 40 kHz
Impedance: 11 ohms
While the Oracle MKII didn’t have a particularly large stage, it was undeniably spot-on in terms of accuracy. It dealt with the subtleties of lightly panned parts with a particularly steady hand that gave listens a special, spatial quality. Considering the fairly straightforward-yet-accurate imaging in the context of the Oracle MKII’s squeaky clean balance, these IEM’s strike me as having a distinctly analytical character that are great for natural, true-to-the-mix listens.
The Oracle MKII’s low frequency handling was likely my favorite part of its balance. This isn’t because it was particularly loud or boosted, but rather because the boomy quality of subs seemed to walk the perfect line between presence and restraint. When a mix demanded a throbbing sub, the Oracle supplied it without overstepping its bounds or sacrificing precision. Thick and mildly vibratory qualities were present in mid bass as well, which added just the slightest touch of welcome energy to the generally conservative low end mix of indie rock songs. My general impression of the low end was one of creative tastefulness and maturity.
The Oracle MKII may indeed have a mid scooped shape on paper that, when featured in other IEMs or headphones, leaves many asking “Where did my vocals go?” Luckily, I found this scoop to be exceedingly light and rather well done (and that’s saying something – I’m usually fairly critical of such “U” shaped EQ’s). The light middle frequency attenuation gave room for extreme lows and highs to maximize their impact without sacrificing a very natural overall timbre. Vocals didn’t seem to lose strength or take on an awkward/weakened tone, a testament to just how gentle this center scoop really is. Guitars sounded as warm, crunchy or smooth as the mix engineer intended, and pianos had particularly realistic acoustic qualities. The only weakness I could find (after some particularly critical listening and a determination to find something to criticize) was how the the Oracle expressed horn parts, which sounded just a touch thin in the context of the greater mix.
At this point, you can probably guess what I might have to say for the Oracle’s handling of higher frequencies: clean and natural. Hi hats had poignant clicky qualities that sat emphatically in contrast to the Oracle’s slightly boosted low end. Acoustic guitar transients found similar benefits, with their washboard-like character receiving a mild and pleasant emphasis. While I find the high-end to make perfect sense with the rest of the Oracle MKII’s balance, the electrostatic drivers that I know to be present in the design leave me wondering what the Oracle would sound like with a slightly more bold profile at the tippy-top of the frequency spectrum. That has more to do with my own speculation than any real criticism of a high-end that ultimately left me plenty satisfied without an ounce of shrillness.
To put it plainly, the Oracle MKII is yet another sexy IEM from ThieAudio that brought me a joyful and pristine listening experience. It’s actually hard to write about the specifics of a unit that stays so true to mixes, as all I could keep thinking about was how perfectly it layered and balanced everything I listened to with it. Rather than going for a colorful and idiosyncratic sonic profile, ThieAudio’s Oracle is especially analytical, providing a level of fidelity that makes its somewhat intimidating $589 price tag seem like a discount on the quality it offers.
ThieAudio Oracle MKII can be purchased from Audio46.