Thieaudio Phantom vs. HiFiMan Sundara

I just saw the latest review from Zeos on the Thieaudio Phantom. He says they are the “King of cheap planars”.

I researched these headphones when I was looking to buy a set of good headphones, it was my understanding from the discussion forums that the Hifiman Sundara was the better headphone and the best at this price range. both of them are selling for $350 right now.

The Sundara also came in fourth place in critical listing on website for best headphones. Above them is the Edition X.

I really wish Zeos would review these, I’m sure he would change his opinion on which are the king of cheap planners.

thei audio phantoms are new so the longevity isn’t that well known and sundaras are known to die

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There’s something strange going on with the Sundara - I know at least 2 sound demos on YT where they come out as wayyy too bright and clearly sibilant (one of them by oluvsgadgets, who I’ve learned to trust a lot for frequency response comparisons), whereas some reviewers like Resolve were talking about them like they were the closest thing to perfection at that price. IDK, it’s either high unit variation, huge changes from break-in, or depends a lot on your taste for highs (but then why would Resolve love them and hate the 1990?). I know I for one wouldn’t buy the Sundara vs. the Verum One (for example, since I haven’t listened to Z’s Phantom review yet) even at equal price. The sound demos got me too uncertain of what I’d be getting myself into.

DO NOT TRUST Rtings’ “critical listening” score. If you look at their top models by that criterion they’re mixing closed-back plastic gaming cans with open-back planar magnetics as being the best things in the world for critical listening. Clearly BS.

Zeos also says that he felt like he could be saying they are ‘finishers’ (end game) not just starters (cheap). I don’t know about sundaras. All I know is I took a chance and bought the phantoms, ended up loving them, and all I’ve done so far is change the pads. Don’t really know how I would upgrade from this without spending $$$$.

Also, I might be wrong, but is it the sundaras that make a crinkle sound when you move your head? I remember reading something like that and being turned off at the thought of that. The phantoms don’t have that issue.

The crinkle issue exists with most planars, but some models more commonly experience this compared to others. It’s more annoying, but most of the time does not harm the sound. I don’t think it was the sundara because the sundara does not create a strong seal on your head because of the design of the focus pads, so the crinkle is alot less likely to happen.

Well take it from someone who owns a pair, me, the Sunderas are a fantastic pair of headphones. The construction is metal just like the Phantoms. I’ve detected no crinkle. One of the things I liked about them from the reviews is that they’re not too bright, like other planars. And I’ve been constantly amazed at their performance. They’re not perfection but I don’t have $3,000 to buy perfection.

I’m 49 years old. I’ve been listening and loving music for a long time. Started out with records and cassettes, moved on too MP3 players, I always stayed away from the audiophile equipment. I just stuck with Koss stuff.

When I discovered the audiophile discussion boards and certain review sites on YouTube like Zeos. I decided to get into better quality headphones. I was amazed, it was almost like a religious experience. I started with Grado, then Sennheiser hd600, then the hd650s.

One of my all-time favorite albums is Simple Minds “New gold dream”. None of these headphones could play new gold dream right. it’s a difficult recording. That is until I found the Hifiman Sundara’s.

I own a Schiit DAC and amp.

PS. on I chose best headphones including all of them.
Maybe I should have chose best audiophile or best open-back. Anyway Sundara’s has come in fourth place on all of the lists. The site actually measures their headphones.

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Just wondering, have you picked up New Gold Dream on SACD? Its really is a good remaster

Edit: The DVD-Audio mix is really good to, since its an alternate mix

Yes i have! i dont own a player yet to play it lol. They all seem so expensive

Any decent sony bluray player can play the sacd. Just make sure it says so in the specs though to make sure.

Even Tyll from innerfidelity found the Sundaras a bit bright. They have a strange CSD graph. It’s like they’re… deliberately extremely slow planars in some parts of the treble range. So, even if they measure flat-ish:

Look at the CSD:

I personally removed the Sundaras from my list (neutral equals too much 10khz-to-20khz for me, so…). Considering Verum ones or Thieaudio Phantoms instead. Both are apparently really versatile (if you don’t like the sound signature, you’re not screwed: Just change the pads).

It all depends on how much you like cat ears. :stuck_out_tongue: (Verum ones headband)

Yeah, they are neutral and they have some treble. I’m not sure what slow treble means. maybe it’s HiFiman’s attempt to deal with bright planters? I heard one reviewer say the treble on these headphones aren’t too bad, like they would normally be headphones of this type. One interviewer said these were the new Sennheiser HD600. That they were even better. Dare I say it lol.

CSD graphs basically show the speed at which X sound (frequency) stops. With most planars it’s maybe 1ms or less at 1khz and higher. This is definitely different. That’s what I meant by “slow” treble. Just unusual peaks of frequencies lasting longer than usual. This may explain why Tyll and others found these a bit bright despite the (pretty much flat) frequency response graph.

Planars are renowned for their speed, and it can mean more accuracy and more detail retrieval… Ironically, Sundaras are known as “detail monsters”, so this CSD graph definitely doesn’t matter, heh.

Also, I agree, the first time I read “these headphones sound slow” I was like “what the hell”. :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s the “-ish” that gets them though. That graph clearly shows them as too bright, just like the sound demos. They have 2-5 dB too much energy from 3 to 5 kHz and then again from 7 all the way to 10 kHz. You really have to like treble to prefer these over everything at the same price. Not surprising that Tyll would notice they’re too bright either, since he likes his treble a little south of “neutral”.

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Yeah, and they’re open. This makes things even worse. Maybe I’m wrong but when the kick/bass can just disappear into the ether, I feel like the FR graphs need to be tilted a bit.

Like, Sundaras could have been perfect closed-back planars.

I think the sundaras have sufficient bass slam and extension, but I can agree they are treble tilted for sure. I wonder how closed would sound. I don’t think hifiman has ever attempted releasing a closed planar either

I like chifi ever since getting the Avias and then Phantoms. Buying the cheaper end that sound good makes the hobby more fun. I like the none mainstream brands.

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