The Thieaudio Phantom is an admirable effort towards affordable planar headphones. These headphones attempt to fill the lower end of the pricing spectrum while dressed in elegant attire.
- Clean, Understated Aesthetic
- Too Dark
- Too much foam damping
Build and Comfort
The Theiaudio Phantom has an understated, earthy appearance. You are greeted with wooden rings, matte black grilles, and copper-colored forks. The branding is minimal and overall, they have a classy and moderately retro appearance.
The Phantoms are open-back, over-ear headphones. They are lightweight and have a very mild clamp force. This makes it easy to wear them for long listening sessions. The only negative I would give in terms of comfort is that the relatively shallow pads mean my ears touch the internal padding quite a bit.
The padding is breathable, so it ends up being something I can ignore. Build quality is passable, if a little on the cheap side.
Packaging and Accessories
The updated version ships in a matte black cardboard box, not the metal box of the previous version.
There is a nice matte black soft-shell case that houses the headphones, 3.5mm cable, 2.5mm balanced cable, 2.5mm to 4.4 adapter, and 2.5mm to 3.5mm. The 2.5mm cable is very nice! Braided copper up to the split, then black sleeved the rest of the way. The 3.5mm cable is a bit more basic, with entirely black sleeving, lacking the silver embellishments of the 2.5mm cable.
The treble of the Thieaudio Phantom is the first thing you’ll hear impacted by the overdamping. Any traces of treble sparkle seem like they are absorbed by the foam. This means most of the energy in cymbals and the sharpness of a snare are dulled. If you fatigue easily, this may end up being to your liking, but for my tastes, it was disappointing.
Mids are often my favorite part of the equation when it comes to sound. This makes the over-damping especially prominent. From male vocals to instruments, you feel there is something in the way of your enjoyment. While this leaves a lot of instruments sounding veiled, they’re still fairly easy to separate.
The bass is very controlled. I’ve always enjoyed the way planar headphones present bass. That said, impact is sorely lacking throughout the range. The Phantoms roll off early in the sub-bass for my personal tastes, but if that’s something you prefer, these can be enjoyable.
I compared these to the Verum 1. Planar magnetic headphones around the same price. The Verum 1 outperformed in every area. Switching between the two felt like the Verum was revealing parts of the music that the Phantoms were hiding.
I found that dichotomy striking when you consider that Verum means truth and phantom are usually hiding in the shadows.
- Driver Type: Planar Magnetic
- Driver size: 101 mm
- Impedance: 47 ohms
- Sensitivity: 93±3 dB
- Frequency response range: 5 Hz – 50 kHz
- Distortion: < 1% @ 1 kHz
- Rated Power: 2W
- Weight, excluding cable: 440g
The Phantoms are laid-back headphones that are perhaps a bit too laid back due to all the foam damping. I couldn’t find a place for them in either critical or casual listening. They have hints of being good sounding headphones. Perhaps a revision or two will get them there. I sincerely hope this happens, as having more options in this price range is a good thing!
I do see a lot of people calling for these to be modified to sound really good, but I don’t think it’s fair to review them that way, so I did not modify them at any stage of this review.