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Erzetich Thalia v2024 Review – Better Than Ever

Pros –

Excellent build quality, Fully serviceable design, Comfortable for an on-ear, Sensational bass quality, Organic and forgiving tuning, Excellent layering

Cons –

Lower-midrange will be too full for some, Open-back design limits portable use, Benefits from powerful amplification

Verdict –

In a modern market where on-ear headphones are a dying breed, the Thalia 2024 is a triumphant fist pump that excels with its striking design, delicious warm, organic yet hugely textured sound.


About Erzetich –

Founded by Blaz Erzetic, the brand is built atop over 30 years of passion for music. With a background in electronics and design alongside possessing experience as a professional musician, few are more qualified to run a one-man shop like Blaz. His foray into the equipment side started when Slovenia was still a part of Yugoslavia in the 90s, where the unrest resulted in difficulty importing audio gear. Blaz circumvented this by making his own HiFi equipment. Years later, he has translated this passion into his consumer audio product line which are all underpinned by the same core tenets with each being hand-crafted for the purpose of musical enjoyment and sustainability.

Introduction –

The Thalia 2024 is an update to Erzetich’s popular portable on-ear headphone and is currently their most affordable model. It has deigned to be easy to drive and deliver a fun sound signature. Despite using the same 40mm titanium-plated dynamic driver as the original model, extensive changes have been made to the surrounding design whilst retaining the same core aesthetic appeal. The wooden earcups of the original make way for resin and milled aluminium. This material choice has given Blaz finer control over the internal acoustic design. The headband is now carbon fibre with a rubber suspension band as opposed to the padded steel unit on the original and the earpads are plusher with softer padding. The Thalia also now comes with a more premium 8-core OFC silver-plated cable rounding off the experience.

 The Thalia v2024 is available for 699 EUR at the time of writing. You can read more about it and secure one for yourself at Erzetich Audio!

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Blaz very much for his quick communication and for helping to organise a review of the new Thalia. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the headphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

Contents –

Specifications –

  • Weight: 280g
  • Drivers: 40mm Titanium Coated Dynamic Driver
  • Impedance: 32 ohms

Behind the Design –

40mm Dynamic Driver

Erzetich doesn’t mention the exact differences between the 2024 and 2018 models on their website. However, likely the two are using the same 40mm Ti-plated unit as removing the 4 2.5mm hex screws of the faceplates reveals a similar XDEC 16ND03 designation. Regardless, the surrounding acoustics play just as large a role, and this is a very capable unit. Titanium is lauded for its low weight and high strength properties. This permits a more responsive yet rigid driver.

Updated Resin Housings

With his adoption of resin housing, Blaz was granted finer control over the shape of the internal acoustic chamber. Immediately apparent to me were the ridges running around the inner perimeter of the housings which are absent on the 2018 unit and remind somewhat of bass traps used in speaker enclosures. This theoretically should function to minimise back waves/reflections and should result in a more controlled and lower distortion sound. The housings also appear to be slightly wider.

Improved Ergonomics

In addition to updating the earcups, the whole headband assembly has been reworked alongside implementing new, plusher earpads. This involves a suspension band assembly and a lighter carbon fibre chassis. The earpads are substantially wider and have a flatter face to better distribute clamp force over a wide surface area.

Unboxing –

In line with Erzetich’s dedication to sustainability, the Thalia 2024 comes in a cardboard box with nothing more than simple text branding. Opening it up reveals a laser-cut foam inlet containing the headphones in one compartment and next to it, a 1/4″ adaptor, velvet drawstring pouch, 8-core SPC cable and papers. It’s simple, effective and all in line with the company’s commitment to sustainability. Ironically, it makes more of a statement in the high-end market than a lavish velvet-lined unboxing.

A kind addition is a curated album from Blaz. In my case, he included Gold III which contains 14 Indie songs of impeccable records on a gold-plated audiophile-grade CD. Within is a PDF containing details on each track. Blaz talks about the artists, their stories and even delves into analysis of some of the tracks. You can tell great care was put into the selection and it showcases the amazing relationship between musicians. Many tracks on the CD are from small self-released albums so it’s encouraging to see them given some spotlight. They’ve certainly gained a new fan in Sydney. The songs offer some sensational mastering techniques and make for a great first evening of listening.

Design –

The Thalia is a compact headphone that is a delight to handle. Erzetich mentioned they targeted a timeless design and I’d say that the Thalia’s octagonal design falls confidently under that label. The wood cups of the original looked sensational but the new resin shells are no less charming and subjectively offer a bit more visual congruence. Combined with exposed metal hardware, they provide a retro aesthetic with a few new age touches like the carbon fibre headband adding a touch of modernity.

The Thalia exudes a very functional “hardware store” aesthetic with its use of exposed hex screws and washers. Simplicity and serviceability are key here and that is on full display. Though some may not agree with the styling, I do feel it all comes together nicely and suits the overall spirit of the product. Most importantly, the in-hand feel is immensely solid, and should you ever feel the need to service or mod the headphones, common tools are all the user needs to do so.

At the bottom are dual mono 3.5mm inputs. The headphones are completely symmetrical meaning orientation is determined by how you wire them. The stock cable offers excellent ergonomics suitable for its portable intentions. The cable is an 8-wire unit though it is light and highly pliable with minimal memory. I noted essentially non-existent microphonic noise transmission and the connectors were all solid and reliable during my testing. On the flip side, due to the smaller gauge, the wire does feel a little more flimsy than the rest of the headphones, but this shouldn’t be a problem with considerate use. Balanced termination can also be optioned at purchase but there is nothing extra at play here like modular connectors.

Fit & Comfort –

Weight & Headband

The most challenging aspect of designing an on-ear headphone is finding the balance between wearing stability and comfort. With that said, the Thalia is among the most comfortable and well-considered models I’ve tested. I was able to wear them all day long with only mild discomfort on the outer ear developing after extended listening. Coming in at 280g total, the new Thalia notably gains 10g than its predecessor. However, I never felt that it was an especially heavy headphone during wear due to the weight distribution.

Specifically, Erzetich has implemented heavier cups and a lighter band assembly, improving fit stability and the perception of heft by lowering the centre of mass. Accordingly, the Thalia survives plenty of head movement before any fit adjustment is required, especially impressive as clamp force is just medium; firmer than an over-ear but not as ear-flattening as most on-ear designs. Clamp force is pivotal to the comfort issues plaguing on-ears, but minimising this whilst keeping the fit stable enough for daily use is no small feat. Blaz should be applauded for this achievement.  

The headband assembly also now uses a high-durometer rubber suspension band. Thankfully, it isn’t grippy or hair-pulling at all and feels a lot more like faux suede. I personally much prefer the new design over the padded steel band on the 2022 variant. I find the suspension sling better conforms to individual head shape and offers more surface area to distribute weight than any form of padded headband. To this end, the Thalia never produces a hotspot at the top of my head even after hours of non-stop wear. Overall, I think the ergonomics of this headphone are impeccable considering the form factor.  

Earpads

The new earpad design also helps with the impression of comfort as they are notably larger, deeper and softer than on the previous model and most on-ear headphones too. Erzetich has gone with a faux leather material but again, not the tacky kind but a nice smooth material that nicely imitates soft leather. While I can’t speak for the long-term wearing properties compared to leather, they are easily removed using a basic collared design – erzetich even has a tutorial on their Youtube channel. Replacement units are also available from the company directly, but you will have to email them for exact rates and shipping. You can experiment with other 70mm earpads to customize the sound also.

Pivotal to their ergonomics is their soft heat-activated memory foam stuffing with over 2cm of depth and a flat face design. They sit firmly on the ears but form a fantastic seal. The wider face spreads the clamp force over a larger surface area albeit after several hours, I did still find my outer ears becoming a little sore. This is really the best you can hope for with an on-ear headphone as most are designed for portability over long-term comfort. The Thalia is a headphone you can realistically use stationary too. It won’t be as comfortable as an over-ear, but they aren’t terribly far off either.

Sliders & Isolation

Possibly the most lacklustre part of the otherwise excellent engineering on Blaz’s behalf, the sliders are incredibly basic, using a simple screw down tensioner. It’s a fine arrangement that is purely functional and does contribute to the old-school aesthetic, however, it does make fine-tuned adjustments a little difficult. At the very least once screwed down, the sliders are locked very firmly in place so once you have your setting dialled in, they will remain that way.

The hangers pivot on pre-tensioned screws and offer even resistance on either side – you can tell lots of care went into the assembly of each unit. They’re on the looser side but offer enough tension to hold the earcups at a comfortable angle on the outer ear.  In addition, the pivot allows the headphones to fold flat but there is no other folding mechanism for storage which does limit how compact the headphones can become. Besides this, the bag space occupied by the Thalia is still quite minimal due to its slender profile.

Despite being designed for portable use, the Thalia has an open-back design and with that, buyers shouldn’t expect much passive noise isolation. You will still clearly be able to make out noises in your environment and though the powerful sound tuning works well in this context, expect to turn the volume up when out and about. The Thalia also won’t be suitable for listening in especially noise environments and sound leakage is quite apparent.

Next Page: Sound Breakdown

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Picture of Ryan Soo

Ryan Soo

Avid writer, passionate photographer and sleep-deprived medical student, Ryan has an ongoing desire to bring quality products to the regular reader.

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