We discuss the THIEAUDIO Oracle MKII, a hybrid IEM with a 10 mm dynamic driver, 2 Knowles BA and 2 electrostatic tweeters. It costs $589.
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THIEAUDIO Oracle MKII
The THIEAUDIO Oracle MKII is generally a good IEM due to its generally attractive sound signature that is not genre specific or source sensitive and performs well with most modern equipment. It’s an IEM that will appeal to audiophiles and party animals alike.
Nice V-shaped tuning
Intense peak of 7 kHz
Low number of earplugs
THIEAUDIO has peaked a few times so far since it opened its doors. Their Monarch MKII is constantly talked about in many audio circles and we’ve extensively reviewed other variants including the recent Elixir and the Legacy models, 2 and 5.
Well, today we have one of their other MKII IEMs and one more affordable in terms of price, the THIEAUDIO Oracle MKII. In definition, the word Oracle conveys revelation, so perhaps revelation is their niche and the concept offered here.
THIEAUDIO says the original Oracle was designed as a tonally balanced studio monitor-style model and the MKII is being marketed as the next generation of that vision.
What I immediately see, however, is a twist from that to a nice tuning instead of a flat studio monitor that sometimes doesn’t offer a nice factor.
It’s pretty obvious that THIEAUDIO likes to use Sonion EST tweeters as they use them on many of their IEMs. It seems to be their thing and that’s okay. THIEAUDIO calls their use “ultra treble unlocking” and I agree, as most of the models that use these drivers have a high-frequency response that isn’t shy in any way.
The internal driver structure of the Oracle MKII consists of a 3-way system starting with a set of dual Sonion tweeters with the addition of a dual BA driver and a dedicated bass driver.
To be more specific, there’s a 10mm LCP dynamic bass driver and the other array consists of a Knowles and Sonion BA combo set. The Sonion tweeter section uses two EST tweeters in one housing. So if you take all that into account, there are five drivers in total.
The Oracle MKII uses a 3-way crossover to connect the 1+2+2 driver array. THIEAUDIO calls it a Tribrid system and claims a linearly flat frequency response between the frequency range of 200 Hz and 1 kHz. It doesn’t seem like they were aiming for a flat look at the Oracle MKII frequency response measurements, but then again, who looks at graphs?
Most of the THIEAUDIO IEM range uses what I would call a universal fit shell design, where the shells are shaped to fit a wide variety of inner ear sizes and types. THIEAUDIO adjusts the design here and there and in almost imperceptible steps.
It seems that these particular Oracle MKII shells have a longer output port compared to the original Oracle model. It’s certainly an improvement over the Legacy 5 output strain we reviewed last year. Especially since the rim around the aluminum exit port tube holds the installed tip really well.
The Oracle MKII shells are resin-based and seamlessly assembled. THIEAUDIO didn’t skimp on image, as even the vents have tiny grilles. Our model came in black with what they call the Tiger color scheme, but there is a second color scheme available which they called Black Scarlet.
Connectivity is achieved through a 0.78mm flush mount female connector that connects to the B-pin type double pin connectors of the standard cable. This type of connection is universal and most 0.78mm cable assemblies can be used with this IEM.
Comfort and insulation
To judge the comfort I have of course worn the Oracle MKII for a long time, but I also try to receive comments from others around me to get a different perspective. I got a negative comment from one of about 11 people I asked.
I felt no comfort issues and I have a fairly common ear shape and size. One tends to feel the penetration of the tip more than anything, or at least in my case. As long as you choose the right tip size, I doubt you’ll have any comfort issues.
But the one aspect that continued to intrigue me was how well the Oracle MKII isolated the listener from the outside world. It was almost at an active ANC level, but obviously not as effective compared to some of the top ANC implementations, but close enough.
The THIEAUDIO Oracle MKII comes with a pre-installed set of silicone tips and there are two more that come with the kit along with 3 sets of foam tips, but that’s it. It’s not a huge number of tips and some might consider this a bummer, but not a deal breaker.
The Oracle MKII has another very noticeable feature and that is that it is not very sensitive to the selection of ear tips. In other words, I only noticed small and slight changes in tonality when switching earbuds. Perhaps the most notable areas were within the size of the stage.
It seems that THIEAUDIO has precisely tuned the Oracle MKII to the point level and designed them to just be inserted into the ear canal and sound good. There are no interchangeable mouthpiece tips or anything, just a fixed metal grille with lots of very small perforations that all the sound comes through.
The standard Oracle MKII cable is not assembled with a complicated and artful braid, but rather a four-wire twisted set assembled with 4-core 5N oxygen-free, silver-coated copper cable in copper-colored insulation.
At first glance you could see that some care had been taken with the quality and construction. The only problem I found was quite a high level of noise transfer or what some call microphonics.
The cable comes assembled with all metal hardware and all pieces are finished in an all black satin finish. The cable construction was almost exactly four feet long, which is a perfect length for mobile use.
The best part about this cable assembly is that it comes with an interchangeable tip system and THIEAUDIO includes a 3-prong set that consists of a 4.4mm balanced connector, a 2.5mm balanced connector plus a single sided 3.5mm plug.
So you’re well covered on most fronts in terms of connectivity right out of the box.
Packaging & Accessories
The Oracle MKII accessories line-up consists of a storage case, the 3 earbuds, the cable set, six sets of earbuds plus a microfiber cleaning cloth.
You could call it an almost minimalist approach to packaging and again, I have to complain about the lack of ear tips if we were to compare the included set with other models, even in a lower price range.
All items are contained in a flip-open box that, when opened, reveals the IEMs, cable assembly, and the front of the storage case. The rest of the Oracle MKII accessories are placed in the storage case.
Studio monitor tuning you say? I say no. Just one glimpse of the THIEAUDIO Oracle MKII frequency response measurement chart tells almost the whole story. This IEM has a V-shaped tuning in every way, but it’s not overcooked or too saturated in tuning.
The Oracle MKII has a fair amount of full-bodied low-end extension that’s almost flat from 22Hz and off in the midrange section where it dips a bit in output. There is a slight drop below which starts to occur below 22Hz, but the set is audible well below the 20Hz mark. There’s a very good amount of bass extension with a slightly noticeable mid-bass emphasis.
When it comes to bass bleed, THIEAUDIO has managed to make it non existant, as the bass driver works independently, which simply gives the mids room to breathe. The mids shine through on this IEM with plenty of clarity, pitch fidelity and a nice, airy character with plenty of body.
The Oracle MKII treble response is presented forward at almost any volume level. There are some audible peaks at 3 kHz and 5 kHz, but there is a fairly large peak around 7 kHz that is quite high and intense. Some may perceive an excessive amount of brightness and intensity due to that peak.
Listening to the THIEAUDIO Oracle MKII, I realized that the treble response wasn’t the hero here, but the midrange response and presentation, although the output levels are a few decibels lower than the rest of the spectrum. It seems they have a sizzling character in the upper midrange that usually works to their advantage.
The mid-range, for instance, has a good ability to reveal details, in that you can hear those final nuances at the end of a song, as they are carried over into the presentation more than other IEMs.
One particular song I know very well had a soulful OWE at the end that I had never heard before, followed by a Michael Jackson-esque vocal shuffle, I first heard that on the Oracle MKII. So it seems that revelation is one of their strengths. It wasn’t a Michael Jackson song, by the way. It was a Debarge job.
Staging & Dynamics
The Oracle MKII bass can pack quite a punch if you crank up the lower bass frequencies and the good part is that the bass remains fast, responsive, tight and retains a good amount of definition. You could almost reach bass levels with a slight boost below 80Hz.
Fortunately, if you decide to do so, it will not affect the rest of the frequency spectrum and the stage will also remain intact. Some IEMs can’t handle bass boost, but they can’t have a detrimental effect on the rest of the spectrum either.
The overall soundstage is wide, deep and slim high, as most instruments stay below, on or just above your line of sight. It is also very accurate in terms of placement and panning accuracy. There’s a lot of layering in the front stage and more on the sidelines.
It seems that the Oracle MKII wants to emulate a sound characteristic of a concert hall in which most of the instruments sound like they are front and center on stage with proper placement and positioning to the side.
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