Empire Ears Phantom $1799 Review

December 18, 2018 § Leave a comment

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“This may be one of the more controversial aspects of the Phantom while simultaneously being its greatest asset; this earphone is smooth and almost redefines perceptions of naturalness, a statement I say with both positive and negative connotations. In direct comparison to other high-end IEMs, and likely most listener’s impression upon first listen, the Phantom can come across as overly full and a little boxy. It takes some time to appreciate the goal Nic, Dean and Jack were trying to achieve. After a brief adjustment and acclimatization to focussing on the midrange as opposed to bass and treble, it becomes clear that the Phantom’s speciality is its very complete notes.

To clarify, vocals and instruments are fleshed out and filled with detail, there isn’t a hint of over-articulation, thinness of artificial enhancement. In accordance, timbre is excellent, among the best I’ve encountered, and the Phantom is almost impossibly coherent and natural. Tone is undoubtedly on the warmer side and, in this sense, the Phantom produces an overly homogenous image that is not always faithful to the original recording but instead to what one would experience in a live setting. Still, the Phantom is not over-tuned to the extent that it introduces chestiness, muffle or bass spill, and separation is aided by a touch of lower-midrange attenuation.”

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