Although I do not have access any IEMs in this price range, I still found a few IEMs that for one reason or another made for an interesting comparison.
– 64 Audio Trio –
When I started to listen to the Thummim, the Trio were the first IEMs that came to mind for a comparison because of their hybrid design and warmer, more engaging signature. The Trio have a more intimate feel to them and the signature is a bit brighter overall with a slightly more controlled bass and more prominent treble. I personally have no problem with the treble of the Trio, but it could be a hint too bright for some people. The one thing that has continually impressed me with the Trio is their versatility and I have greatly enjoyed them with every type of music, from rock to classical.
The signatures have some similarities in that the bass is meaty, vocals are very good and the treble is nice and extended. The Thummim though take everything up a notch, adding more colour, more excitement and a much bigger and more enveloping stage. The bass is meatier, guitars have more crunch and only in the treble does it tone things down to feel a bit sweeter and more natural. The Trio are more balanced, more normal, almost boringly so by comparison. The Thummim are over-the-top pantomime compared to the Trio’s Shakespeare. That is not to say that the Trio are perfectly balanced, Shakespeare did write plays such as his farcical The Comedy of Errors after all, just relatively speaking when compared to the Thummim. Where the Trio have some semblance of restraint, the Thummim push unmistakeably for musicality and outright fun.
– DITA Audio Dream XLS –
The Dream XLS feel like an interesting comparison because they also have a titanium shell and a very high-end feel to them, even though they are around half the price. In both cases I would say you are getting a very well thought out package. DITA however do go a step further with more accessories and they have the advantage of the versatility offered by the Awesome plug. In that sense I would have liked to see a couple of pigtail adapters with the Thummim to have a stock 2.5mm balanced cable with 3.5mm and 4.4mm adapters. I think this would have added to the luxury feel.
In terms of sound these two are apples and oranges. The Dream XLS are very refined and entice you into the music, gently revealing an incredible level of detail and texture. The Thummim are by comparison heavy handed and overwhelm you with gobs of detail, texture and energy. That level of energy is far beyond the Dream XLS, but the level of detail and texture is a lot closer. Because the Dream XLS are nowhere near as warm, they are capable of conveying more nuances in the texture and detail, which is why I feel they excel for classical music. The imaging of the Dream XLS also suits classical music better because the layering is exceptionally well done. The Thummim on the other hand present the image in this unique spherical space where notes feel unrestrained, which comes into its own much more with band-based music and the sort of EDM I enjoy so much. In that sense the Dream XLS are more conventional, where the Thummim distinguish themselves with a completely unique experience.
– Empire Ears Phantom –
When talking about warm and enveloping IEMs with great musicality, I feel the Phantom can’t be ignored. Coming straight from the Thummim the stage of the Phantom feels tiny by comparison and I needed a second to adjust to the difference in tuning. The Phantom are more mid-centric and the mid-range tonality is exceptionally well done, with full sounding, lifelike instrument and a great level of nuance in their timbre. The Phantom do have a slight lower treble lift to add a bit of bite to brass instruments that is not as present with the Thummim and so the Phantom can be less forgiving in some cases. The great timbre of the Phantom is an important reason why, despite the smaller stage and warmer signature, I still love these for classical music. They add a sense of drama and intimacy that I greatly enjoy. The Thummim of course add a lot more drama, do away with the intimacy and still manage to completely envelop you with music due to the thicker note size. The Phantom are far from lean, but definitely feel like it compared to the Thummim. I have also hailed the Phantom for their outstanding bass quality, but it is subdued compared to the meaty and textured bass of the Thummim. The Phantom are “dynamic driver-like” in their bass, the Thummim make it unmistakable that there is an actual chunky Dynamic Driver (intentionally capitalised and I should probably have used bold as well) at work.
Apart from sound the Thummim of course have their outstanding build quality, which is something that the Phantom simply can’t match. As much as I love my Phantom, I still baby them because I find the shells too light and worry about any bump they might get. The Thummim I happily take anywhere at any time, confident they will cope with almost anything.
– FiR Audio M4 –
The M4 make for a very interesting comparison because those also have an energetic signature, but one that is more restrained compared to the Thummim. The M4 are a lot closer to neutral than the Thummim and back to back the M4 will feel quite bright, with a very crisp and clear treble, uncoloured mid range and a very tight bass. It therefore takes some adjustment when moving back and forth between these. I rate the M4 as outstanding technical performers, with one of the best bass out there, but comparing to the Thummim is even more apples and oranges than with the Dream XLS. The M4 are very energetic and a joy to listen to, but the treble can give some issues, which I experience when paired with a more reference-type of source like the Lotoo PAW6000. I actually ended up switching to the Cowon Plenue 2 for my review of the M4. No such issues with the Thummim, although they seem somewhat brighter from the PAW6000’s 3.5mm SE out (compared to balanced), which I switched to because the stock cable of the M4 is 3.5mm, whereas with the other comparisons I had balanced cables available.
The comparison is similar to the others in that the Thummim bring a more muscular and heavily textured presentation. The M4 can retrieve a lot of detail and texture of their own, but it is much more subtle by comparison. They are also more balanced and brighter than the 64 Audio Trio with a leaner note size, so the differences are only amplified in their comparison with the Thummim. Much like the Trio, the M4 do classical music really well and I find that the mid range tonality is very accurate and uncoloured. I definitely have to blame the M4 for pulling me away from warmer IEMs in recent times because of this mid range and as such, they emphasise the thick and coloured mids of the Thummim. Interestingly when it comes to the energy of a track like Wolf Alice’s ‘Yuk Foo’ the level of energy conveyed by both is surprisingly close. The M4 are tighter and brighter, but stand up to the Thummim surprisingly well. Even in their stage the M4 can produce a spacious feel not unlike the Thummim, although the Thummim appear to bend the laws of physics a lot more in order to produce sounds from every corner. It feels mostly like a difference in tuning, with the Thummim being warmer and having a muscular type of energy, while maintaining a very fatigue free presentation, where the M4 have more bite and can be more fatiguing for treble sensitive people (like myself).
The Thummim are truly unique and thoroughly musical IEMs with a slightly crazy styling and excellent build quality. They come stock with a very high-end cable, although further accessories are limited. I would hesitate to recommend these flat out to anyone, not so much for their price, but rather more for their tuning that might be taking it a little too far for some people. For those who do like a thicker sound with lots of energy, the Thummim do it at the highest level and offer a truly unique experience. The stage is huge and incredibly spherical, which is filled up with thick notes, lots of detail and gobs of texture to completely envelop the listener in their music. I can’t say I ever had a listening experience quite like it. Truly unique!