Review: Empire Ears Phantom – Crassus

Empire Ears Phantom

Aftermarket cables:

The Phantom comes with Effect Audio’s Ares II, a very good cable, already, it was tuned with this cable in the chain. If you want to change the signature a bit you can do so with replacement cables. I personally like to play with materials and see how monitors react to specific cables. The Phantom is a monitor that does enjoy a higher quality wire. My top three cables for it are listed below.

Effect Audio – Ares II (8 wire)

The eight wired Ares II does an excellent job at enhancing Phantom’s technical abilities while keeping its key signature. The Phantom has more air in the midrange, with a wider sound stage and even better imaging. High notes are a bit sparklier. Vocals are more emotional and have more space. Resolution has stepped up, as did layering. The midrange has better texture with the bespoke Ares II to me.

Double Helix Cables – Clone Fusion

The Clone Fusion is a cable that brings high quality resolution to each monitor I pair it with. From top to bottom, everything seems more resolved and with higher accuracy. Usually I don’t like pairing the Clone Fusion with monitors that have elevated bass, but with the Phantom it just excels in authority and punch. Mids are more open, but still loaded with warmth. Treble becomes more alive and energetic, with more sparkle and glow.

Empire Ears Phantom

Empire Ears Phantom

Effect Audio – Leonidas II

Now this is my favourite pairing, and ever since the Leonidas II has made its way to me it has been my go-to cable for any monitor. The Leonidas II brings out the finest of the Phantom. Everything is more resolved, while all instruments stand out from a pitch black background. Midrange is full and rich, with excellent air and timbre. The Leonidas II knows how to make a monitor better. Sound stage is wider and deeper, with better layering.

The entire sound to me seems cleaner and clearer, where all details make it through the Phantom with ease. High notes are more in the picture with Leonidas II than with Ares II. This pairing makes the Phantom look a bit veiled in its vanilla configuration.

In my opinion the Phantom scales up very well with a different cable. Though the intended signature was achieved with the Ares II, it isn’t my favorite combination.

Empire Ears Phantom

Empire Ears Phantom

Sources:

With 117dB sensitivity and ten ohms impedance (at 1kHz), the Phantom sure isn’t a monitor that’s hard to drive. I have to go lower in volume with the Phantom than with any other IEM I have, except for the Zeus, which is even more sensitive.

The Phantom is a monitor that can pick up hissing from your source if it isn’t absolutely dead quiet. I was very surprised to hear it even with my Astell&Kern DAPs. Even though only during quiet parts and at the beginning of some tracks. I’m very picky about that though, so just because I hear it, that doesn’t mean you automatically will hear it too.

Chord Electronics – Mojo

The Phantom picks up faint noise from the Mojo, which can be heard when there is no audio playing, hit the play button and you’re good.

The British FPGA DAC/Amp pairs very well with the Phantom. It’s well resolved and has excellent layering. The sound stage is wide and deep with perfect imaging. The entire sound is full and well constructed. It’s well rendered with immaculate precision.

Phantom picks up every detail Mojo has to offer, and makes sure you will be hearing the whole sound with harmony and pleasure.

Empire Ears Phantom

Empire Ears Phantom

Chord Electronics – Hugo2

The Hugo2 is one of my absolute favorite products. It plays well with any ear or headphone I have and the Phantom is no exception. If you look past the electronic hissing the Phantom picks up, you get a highly resolved and emotional sound with superior layering. The sound stage is as wide and deep as the Phantom goes.

Bass is well controlled and extended, it is fast and has excellent texture. Midrange is organic and rich. Vocals are dense and thick with good weight. Some people don’t like the treble of the Hugo2, I find myself drawn to it. Phantom sounds exciting and energetic in its highs with Hugo2. It’s more open and tickles out the fine details of your music.

Astell&Kern – SP1000

The Korean flagship DAP has been my daily driver for a long time, it’s the source I probably know best from all products in my inventory. The pairing with Phantom is very good in my opinion. It has wonderful resolution and texture.

Bass is dynamic and reaches deep with good rumble and punch. It’s fast and very well controlled. Mids are thick and dense with good weight. The key here is precision, as every note gets hit with the right accentuation. Every tone is perfectly formed and reproduced. Treble again is something the AK does very well, it has good richness and energy.

Empire Ears Phantom

Empire Ears Phantom

Astell&Kern – SP1000M

Only two weeks have passed since I received my SP1000M, but it has impressed me from the first second. It basically has the same internals as the 1000$ more expensive SP1000, but it comes with a smaller storage capacity, no optical output and a smaller screen. It also has considerably less weight, which has always been a concern for me with the SP1K.

My initial setup went straight to the Phantom, and I was very surprised to hear the air that I was missing before coming through now. The Phantom sounds open and airy, with wonderful emotions and extension on both ends. It’s still full bodied and thick. The resolution is top notch, and the same can be said for sound stage, imaging and layering.

The Mini has a different treble tuning than the SP1000, which is richer to me, whereas the new kid is more neutral and maybe a touch dryer. The Phantom gets a fast and precise treble with the SP1000M.

This pairing is definitely my favorite of the above, especially if you bring a Leonidas II to the chain. Superb.

The last page is about Comparisons and Conclusion.

Review: Empire Ears Phantom – Crassus
4.7 (93.57%) 140 votes

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A daytime code monkey with a passion for audio and his kids, Linus tends to look at gear with a technical approach, trying to understand why certain things sound the way they do. When there is no music around, Linus goes the extra mile and annoys the hell out of his colleagues with low level beatboxing.

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