Despite its low-cost, the Phantom has rich content in the box. The box itself is very protective with its thickness and it’s quite compact. When you open the box you’re welcomed with a black carrying case, which reminded me the cases of Mr Speakers (now Dan Clark Audio) Ether headphones. The case is very durable but I think it could’ve been a bit stiffer and more rigid. However, I can’t complain. The case is really nice as it is.
Inside you have a pair of spare pads in case the fitted ones wear-out with time. You have the detachable cable of the earphone which has a very nice build with quality coating. However the upper part of the cable doesn’t have coating for some reason. But at least it allows us to tell that it’s a copper wire.
Last but not least, you have two cable adapters. The base cable is finished with a 2.5mm jack. For converting to other jack types, Thieaudio includes a 3.5mm and 4.4mm adapter inside the box. There’s also another 3.5mm standard headphone cable included. So overall the packaging is generous for the price level.
If you’ve researched about this headphone before, then you will know that there are several mods for the Phantom. The list goes on and on from changing the ear-cups, removing the protective foam parts and replacing the headband. You can find lots of guides on Head-Fi and other audiophile domains.
However, there’s one mod that I have to give information about. The planar magnetic drivers have thick foam parts that cover the inside and outside of the driver in each ear-cup. Some guys on Head-Fi suggest that removing the outer foams results in a better sound. But to my surprise, I didn’t hear a significant change with this mod.
To make the matters worse, I didn’t like the Phantom’s sound at first. It was a bit too dark and congested. It almost felt like the headphone desperately needed more space and air in its sound. After some listening sessions, I decided to remove the inner foam that covers the drivers, this time on the inside. Then, abracadabra! The sound improved drastically in a better way.
So I suggest you to remove the inside foam that covers the drivers for no reason at all. Maybe they thought about dust running inside of the diaphragm, but I don’t think that’s probable. This is a desktop headphone and a normal user probably won’t take it to dusty environments. In addition, there’s the protection of the ear-pads which covers the entire ear-cup from the outside. If that’s not enough, the driver itself also has a thin protective foam sheet even though you remove the thick foam pads. So I see nothing but huge benefits with this mod.
The sound impressions were formed with the mod that I’ve mentioned just above. Some people can say that it’s not fair to review the headphone with a mod, instead of reviewing it with its stock configuration. However I think that the foam part on the inside of the driver makes no sense, and the headphone’s capabilities really become exposed with this very simple mod. And since the mod is easily applicable, I decided to review the Phantom this way.
For the sound impressions, I used the Chord Hugo 2 and Oriolus DP100 + Dethonray HA-2 stack.
The Thieaudio Phantom is an easy sounding, smooth headphone with good dynamics, tonality and resolution. The fact that you can get the pace, dynamics and control of a planar driver at this price is simply great news. The headphone overall has good technicalities and a balanced signature across the spectrum, but its mids sound upfront when compared to bass and treble.
The Phantom has a very controlled bass response with good recovery and decay. Lows have nice resolution and texture together with good tightness. The bass never feels bloated or overpowering, so this helps to have clean lower mids when needed. However there’s something missing in terms of kick and slam, which might disappoint you if you’re into big bass and rumble.
So this certainly is not the best headphone for bass lovers. You need to go for dynamic driven headphones for that. The bass is mostly linear with moderate presence. The quantity in my opinion is good enough, but it’s not impressive when it comes to the “wow factor”. In my opinion lows could’ve been fuller with a bit more texture and layering. Instead, they’re somewhat “papery” and without much depth in them.
I won’t go as far to say that the bass is bad. It is actually quite ok , but I expected a bit more from it.