Our Phantom Hunter is the pinnacle of what we can do with a universal in ear monitor. CNC precision machined Titanium shells offer long term durability while retaining low wearing weight. Careful selection of each material in our in ear monitors...

Trinity Audio Engineering - Phantom Hunter

Average User Rating:
4/5,
  • Our Phantom Hunter is the pinnacle of what we can do with a universal in ear monitor. CNC precision machined Titanium shells offer long term durability while retaining low wearing weight. Careful selection of each material in our in ear monitors is just the start of the process. Each hand made Phantom Hunter is lovingly crafted to ensure the most exquisite listening experience we can offer.

    The Phantom Hunter features our new dual coil dynamic driver as well as 2 X dual balanced armatures using our unique armature chamber vectoring system to provide the most detail, imaging and refined high frequencies.

Recent User Reviews

  1. Midgetguy
    4.0/5,
    "Phantom Hunter - An Average Guy's Review"
    Pros - Natural tone, large sound stage, detailed sound, imaging
    Cons - Harsh treble, cable compatibility
    About Me:
    I'm just your average guy fresh out of college with a passing interest in audio fidelity. I'm NOT an audiophile, but I've got a little experience ranging from lower-end products to flagship designs. I tend to gravitate towards slightly warm sound signatures offering mildly mid-forward presentations. I don’t make professional reviews and by my own account, I’m not much good at describing what I hear either. But I’ll do my best and we'll just have to see how that goes.


    Introduction:
    Trinity Audio Engineering is a relatively new name in the game. They formed in 2014 and shipped their first IEMs in 2015 with a seemingly simple goal: make IEMs that can appeal to the majority of people in both quality and affordability. But how to even go about such a task? With so many genres of music out there, how does one make an IEM that caters to such varying taste in music?

    The man behind Trinity Audio’s sound design, known only as Bob, put together a small team and set forth in figuring out the solution to that exact problem. Thus, a new entry into the world of filter-based IEMs was born. The name of the game for Trinity Audio was to make an IEM that could punch above its price and to that end, the original flagship Delta was born. Hybrid IEMs started to take up the mantle of popularity and Trinity Audio wasn’t going to be left behind; the original Delta utilized a dynamic driver and single balanced armature design in addition to the filters. With solid build and great sound quality for around $100, the Delta rocketed Trinity Audio into the minds of many looking for an affordable, well-built, and good-sounding IEM. Bob and his small dedicated team had done it; a small company launched a new desirable product and didn’t fold immediately after.

    Two years later and I now have in hand Trinity Audio’s new (and significantly more expensive) flagship product: the Hunter. Plagued by production delays, the Hunter took a year (give or take a month depending on who you ask) from pre-order launch to delivery. Floating in the $500-600 range, the Hunter drops affordability from the Trinity Audio portfolio, but aims to further build upon some of the other pillars of the company’s origins: sonic ability, build quality, and audience-capturing tuning filters.
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    Disclaimer:
    I’m not the most eloquent or well-versed in describing what I hear, so take my words with a grain of salt. Also keep in mind that everyone hears differently; it’s not bad, it’s not wrong, it’s just different.
    I bought the Hunter over a year ago during the initial pre-order launch window, but due to how Trinity Audio does their funding/development/production, only received it a couple weeks ago.
    For this review, the Hunter is connected to my iPod Touch 5th gen supplying lossless and 320kbps .mp3 audio files.
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    Packaging and Accessories:
    My heat-treated titanium Hunter came in a very nice looking box with two windows, each showcasing the main attractions: the IEMs and the tuning filters. Outside of the box in the mailing package, a triangular case and a pack of their medium Kombi tips were included. This is, of course, in addition the slew of standard accessories in the actual box: 4 pairs of single-flange silicone tips, 1 pair of double-flange silicone tips, 2 pairs of foam tips, 3 cables (braided - no memory wire, braided - memory wire, cloth-covered with mic), a shirt clip, and a 6.3mm adapter. And a note indicating to send an email regarding desired terminations for the two 8-wire Litz cables. Not too shabby. Then, of course, there’s the 12 sets of tuning filters. One set of filters is pre-installed in the Hunter shells in the foam inserts. The rest of the filters are mounted on aluminum plates; 6 sets per plate when none are on the IEMs.
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    Build Quality, Design and Comfort:
    Build quality is almost as good as one would expect for a product in this price tier. The Hunter shell is made of titanium and so far, it’s as sturdy as you’d expect a titanium shell to be. But the seam joining the two shell halves isn’t as perfect as one would like to see in a flagship product. And I’m not talking about the seam you see all around the shell that’s there and obvious just because of the basic design of the shell; I’m talking about matching the two ends. You can see right at the connector that the two shells don’t match exactly and that one half is a fraction lower than the other half. It’s a nitpick really since it’s barely noticeable and doesn’t affect any function whatsoever. Something I can’t really nitpick about is the finish. I bought mine with the heat-treated titanium look and I think it looks cool, better than what I’ve seen of the gunmetal edition (sorry gunmetal owners, but mine looks better than yours).
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    Now, let’s touch on some design aspects that I noticed. First and foremost is that none of the cables supplied use easily noticeable L/R markers. They do exist, but they’re printed in white on top of silver connector housings; not a great choice in my opinion. The original launch lineup and many of their newer models use red and blue strain reliefs as indicators and they should have done that here as well. A more important design aspect concerns the actual connector and socket; Bob said it would be industry standard 2-pin for this first batch, but that’s not entirely true. While the pins are indeed 0.78mm, the connector they’re on has an indented notch to help you determine which way to plug them into the socket, matching with a nub inside the socket. This is, in one way, a good idea, but it’s probably more detrimental than good with this implementation. The problem is that this design allows for Trinity Audio’s 2-pin cable to fit in any other standard 2-pin IEM socket, but other 2-pin cables won’t fit Trinity’s 2-pin socket because of that little nub in the socket. A guide of some sort is a good idea because it helps with avoiding phase issues to do connecting the wrong way, but they’ve implemented it in a way that makes the entire 2-pin socket proprietary, so at that point, why bother with the “standard” 2-pin design at all? At least you do have more than one cable to work with.

    This next observation is the most obvious of them all: the shell is round. DUH. But a round shell fits better than I expected it to. The concha, as one should notice, is NOT a circle, nor does it remotely resemble a circle. Yet, the Hunter fits in my relatively small ears without much incident. And for those who are rebels, while the Hunter is intended to be an over-ear IEM, it can be worn straight down and without have to switch L/R wearing; it’ll just look a bit weird.

    Being made of titanium, it’s light. It stays there comfortably for extended periods of time unless my head happens to be cold and I need to wear a beanie. The only over-ear IEM I’ve owned where wearing a beanie doesn’t cause comfort issues over extended periods of time is the Earwerkz Supra so this isn’t really a problem; it’s merely an observation that would likely hold true for just about any over-ear IEM of similar size.

    What I did have a slight issue with was the angle at which the nozzle comes out of the shell; it maybe just a little too much angle. The other IEMs I have of similar form factor tend to have nozzles at an angle slightly more perpendicular to the shell compared to the Hunter. Perhaps just by a few degrees, but enough of a difference to make it so that I didn’t find a good fit with my usual choice of Spinfits. Instead, I settled on the Kombi tips, at least for now.
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    Overall, I’m giving it good marks on the face of things, with only a single glaringly odd observation. Two of the cables use the classic (and now essentially discontinued) Trinity Audio braided style, one with memory wire and one without, and the third cable is a cloth cable with a mic. The cloth cable with mic is comfortable, but I just don’t have a need for the mic so I don’t bother with this cable. I don’t like memory wire so that leaves me with using the standard braided cable (pending receipt of the custom-order Litz cable). That’s entirely fine with me; I like the standard braid cable. It doesn’t tangle much, it’s very flexible, and it has low microphonic qualities. But the fact that the socket is a proprietary 0.78mm 2-pin socket is still just a baffling decision. So great job most of the way, but still needs improvement in a key area. Mind you, this won’t matter with the next run of Hunters as Trinity Audio is switching to a system that’s attached at the IEM shell and detachable via 3.5mm connection at the y-split. So really, that point is going to be moot for the next production run.


    Basic Technical Specifications:
    • Type: Hybrid
    • Drivers: 1 dual-coil dynamic, 2 dual balanced armature, 5 drivers in total per side
    • Frequency response: ???
    • Impedance: ???
    • Shell material: titanium
    You might have noticed I have no idea what the frequency response or impedance is. It’s not because I’m too lazy to look at the technical specifications listed on the site; it’s because Trinity Audio literally hasn’t listed them anywhere. They aren’t on the site, they aren’t on the box, they aren’t on a pamphlet inside the box. I’d hazard a guess that the Hunter has a 16ish Ohm impedance and I don’t really care what the quoted number for frequency response would be. The Hunter produces sound waves within the range of human hearing; that’s pretty much the basic thing you need to know.


    Sound Quality:
    Let’s be honest, this section is gonna be kind of a mess so I’ll keep it short, but hopefully informative. I don’t think I’m very good at putting what my ears hear into words on a screen and what I can describe is only going to make sense if your mental references of all the terms are similar to what I’ve got going on in my head. Nevertheless, let’s give it a shot anyway.

    Prior to this review, I did a runthrough of all the filter options and decided that I currently like the gunmetal filters best considering what I want this IEM’s signature to be: something natural and relatively neutral with bass a little north of neutral. This may change, but as it’s my current choice, the gunmetal filters will be what is described in this portion of the review. A guide to what general sound signatures are produced by the various filters can be found on the Trinity Audio Engineering site: FILTERS EXPLAINED LINK.

    The Hunter is a hybrid IEM consisting of a single dual-coil dynamic driver and two (2) dual balanced armatures for a total of 5 drivers. One thing about the Hunter that sets it apart from most other multidriver IEMs is that it doesn’t have a crossover network. I won’t go further into it because I’m nowhere near knowledgeable enough to do a deep dive of that topic, but let’s just say that few manufacturers do that with multidriver IEMs and I’m not sure I know of one that does more than two drivers without a crossover network. Another unique thing about the Hunter is its sound vectoring chamber, but I don’t have any further information on that either. In any case, this is all supposed to add up to a high-end and very sonically capable IEM. So how is it?

    Isolation:
    It’s a hybrid IEM which means it has a dynamic driver somewhere in there. A dynamic driver needs air which means the Hunter has a vent. If it has a vent, it’s not going to have the same level of isolation as an all balanced armature IEM. That said, once you find the tips that fit you best, isolation feels above average for a vented IEM; in my case. Note that with their design, there isn’t a vent on the shell itself, but rather at the bottom of each filter nozzle where the filter screws into the IEM.

    Sound Stage, Imaging, and Instrument Separation:
    Sound stage is impressive. Not in the sense of being huge; neither super wide nor super deep. Rather, the Hunter impresses by presenting an adequately-sized sound stage. It sticks to creating one where the music sounds like it’s where it should be relative to you. It varies depending on the track, as it should, to match a particular track’s presentation. It’s most important in more orchestral pieces like 117 by Neil Davidge, where it becomes wider to accommodate the more grandiose nature or a little deeper to show off the layers of brass instruments in Too Good Too Bad by The Seatbelts. Coming out as large as it should be, the sound stage feels expansive in Flynn Lives by Daft Punk. On the other end of the scale, Neon Cathedral (feat. Allen Stone) by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis is much closer and the vocals of both Macklemore and Stone are presented with a much more intimate distance.

    The Hunter does an excellent job of imaging. You can tell in appropriate tracks where the instruments played are coming from. I always love it when I can close my eyes and point in the direction of where an instrument or section is.

    Likewise, I feel instrument separation is also very good, though I’d say not quite as good as the absolute top-tier IEMs. It separates well, but also melds them all together. It takes after the old saying “all things in moderation” wherein it separates well enough to be noticeable but doesn’t overdo it, retaining the musicality provided by blending instruments.
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    Highs:

    I have a love/hate relationship with the highs of the Hunter. On the one hand, like all the other frequencies presented by it, the highs are very clear and detailed. On the other hand, they can be a bit piercing at times. This isn’t helped by the filter system in my opinion; a filter might tame the treble, but at the cost of changing the sound signature in a less desirable fashion. For the most part, the treble behaves okay with the gunmetal filter. For example, on some of the trumpet and saxophone parts of Car 24 by The Seatbelts, you feel a little pierce of the highs, but it’s really not that extreme and it’s present in other IEMs as well, though perhaps a little smoother. Some users have reported sibilance, though I haven’t experienced anything more than usual; the Hunter doesn’t seem to accentuate sibilance.

    Mids:
    All I have to say about the mids is that they’re not lacking in presentation nor are they too forward for my tastes. Like the rest of the range, the mids are detail-rich and natural-sounding with male and female vocals not coming out overpowered or overdone. Mothica’s two-pitch performance comes through beautifully in Clear (feat. Mothica) by Pusher even as the rest of the thumping good time of a track sucks you in. Adam Levine’s incredible range in his song Lost Stars shines through. And the Hunter doesn’t make any missteps either in when listening to Donald Glover or Eminem spit fire in tracks like Freaks and Geeks by Childish Gambino and 25 to Life by Eminem.

    Bass:

    I’ll admit it; this is the section where I’m just going to drool all over the Hunter. While I’m not a basshead (quantity-wise anyway), I really do like bass and appreciate both quality and quantity. If one so wishes, the Hunter does have filters that provide quite a large quantity of bass. But for the purpose of my review, I’ve gone with the more reigned-in combination of the gunmetal filters with Kombi tips. Standard silicone and Spinfit tips give more bass quantity in the gunmetal filters, but the Kombis tone down the quantities a bit while still offering some kick. And boy does the Hunter know how to kick; it produces some very delicious low frequencies. The mark of an IEM that’s very bass capable is that the lower bass notes are still present even when overall bass isn’t in very high quantity and the Hunter has that mark. It has texture, it has the right amount of speed and decay, and it’s produced with the power and authority I like to hear when I’m listening for bass. Excellent performances can be heard with Always About You by Sayvere and Clear (feat. Mothica) by Pusher.

    Filter Comparisons:

    I’m going to do a few brief choice filter comparisons. Through my initial preliminary quick runthrough of filters to see which one I liked best to use for the main review, I found that the descriptions followed the ones posted on the Trinity Audio website pretty well. The following section regarding filter comparisons will not list all of them, but several of the ones I had more reasons to make multiple testing trials. These comparisons may not be entirely accurate due to the ability of the human mind. Sound memory decays quickly and switching back and forth between filters takes a bit, so take these comparisons with a grain of salt: serve with a small side of minor skepticism.
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    Green filters: while the mids were raised slightly, doing some great things for acoustic notes, and the highs brought back down just a bit, I found that I preferred the gunmetals overall. I like forward mids, but they seem to impact the upper mid range more which, while improving clarity perception a little, took away a little detail perception in the highs and actually makes tracks like Ants by edIT a little more harsh. Gunmetals still win out for me in this comparison.

    Blue filters: much more neutral tuning. Seems like it loses a little sound stage height; could just be my brain messing with me though. Vocals lose a little soulfulness to them. Harsh highs are in full effect with Ants by edIT. The thinner neutral tuning doesn’t go well for me and I really miss the comparative warmth provided by the mids in the gunmetals. Definitely not preferred over gunmetal filters.

    Red filters: these are a bit odd. It does tame the highs, though only slightly more than the green filters. Sound stage seemed to close in a bit compared to gunmetals. The odd thing about this filter is that for some reason, it seems a little musically off compared to the other filters, like things sort of shifted weirdly during the signature change. Could just be my brain.

    Gold filters: damped offers a little more mid clarity due to being a little leaner. Gunmetals give thicker mids so the presentation has a little more body to it, which I prefer. The undamped golds have more treble than the damped ones and are a bit sharper; not so preferred.

    Silver filters: damped feels very much like the gunmetals other than that there’s some more bass. Undamped is like the damped, but with sharper treble. I could go with the damped version and be quite happy if I wanted to have a little bit more bass during my day. Even more bass if used with silicone tips rather than the Kombis.

    IEM Comparisons:
    I will make some short comparisons between the Hunter and a couple of the other IEMs I have. They won’t be deep dives, but will hopefully give a general idea of how the Hunters stack up both in terms of sound characteristics and ergonomics. As with the rest of the review, the Hunter is equipped with gunmetal filters and Kombi tips unless otherwise specified. For other IEMs, assume stock silicone tips if no specific tips are mentioned. As always, take these comparisons with a grain of salt.

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    Noble X:

    The Noble X, a dual balanced armature per side IEM, is the result of a collaboration between Noble Audio and MassDrop to bring affordable mid-tier to the masses. For my preferences, they did a pretty good job of nailing it. The Noble X has similar feel to the Hunter in the sense that it has great mid body as well. Sound stage is larger overall on the Hunter, but the X is no slouch in that department. Vocals are more forward than on the X than the Hunters and overall the sound signature is smoother. There’s less detail than the Hunter, but again, the X is by no means lacking in detail. Is the Hunter musically more competent? Yes. But how about the comfort? An IEM is no good, regardless of how sonically able it is, if it isn’t comfortable. For my ear shape, the Noble X wins even though it has a noticeably bulkier shell. I’d say this is mainly due to the angle at which the nozzles exit the Hunter. The Hunter is the better-sounding IEM, but you might be surprised at what the difference is considering the price gulf between them. That’s not a knock on what the Hunter is capable of for what it costs, but rather praise at what the Noble X is able to do for less than half the price.

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    Earwerkz Supra:
    The Supra is another dual balanced armature per side IEM, one with a much more custom-looking universal shell. Earwerkz (now Empire Ears) makes multi balanced armature IEM designs and this is their most affordable model, though it does still cost more than the Noble X. It’s a decidedly different sound signature, opting for a very neutral tuning and it’s my benchmark for comparing to a neutral response. I wear mine with Spinfits. The Supra is detailed, it’s clear, and somehow not quite boring in its neutral tuning. The Hunter is similar if you consider the tuning with the neutral blue filters, but the Hunter’s treble is sharper than that of the Supra. Sound stage isn’t a competition; Hunter wins without a doubt. The Hunter also has better imaging and instrument separation. Still, regarding a neutral tuning (aka Hunter with blue filters), I’d pick the Supra over the Hunter. The Supra can stay in my ears longer compared to the Hunter with blue filters because of the Hunter’s sharper treble response. This is all aside from the fact that the Supra’s shell is also the most comfortable universal shell I’ve ever worn of similar size and ergonomic style (over-ear wear). If the question was “would I pick the neutral Hunter or the Supra?”, my answer would be to pick the Supra; it has better physical ergonomics, it’s doesn’t cause listening fatigue like the Hunter with blue filters, and it’s cheaper than the Hunter. But in the end, the Hunter is the winner. Though I’m not sure how much that can be called a win considering the Hunter with gunmetal filters provides the more preferred sound signature to me compared to the flat tuning of the Supra anyway. With that trait, the Hunter was pretty much going to win by default.

    JH Audio JH16 Pro FreqPhase:
    The first JH16 Pro FreqPhase is a 8 balanced armature per side CIEM. It’s pretty long in the tooth and no longer in production, but it was a flagship IEM in its heyday so it serves as a good one to compare against. And boy do these IEMs make for a great comparison with the Hunter, highlighting how exactly how IEMs can both be on fairly equal sonic footing for different reasons. The Hunter has a larger sound stage and produces a more natural presentation on acoustic performances. It has the detail retrieval and imaging to go toe to toe with the JH16, but as an overall IEM, I say the JH16 is the winner. The Hunter, compared to the JH16, falls into the trap of being technically excellent, but not as enjoyable. While the Hunter is able to keep up in terms of fidelity, I find that it’s lacking in the “performance” aspect. For example, the Hunter is actually the technically better sounding IEM with tracks like Flynn Lives by Daft Punk or Car 24 by The Seatbelts, but on all tracks across genres, including the aforementioned, the JH16 is a masterclass at enjoyment. It’s more dynamic and more engaging. Even if accurate, the Hunter sounds a bit hollow in comparison. It’s less evident on these more acoustic-oriented tracks, but the JH16 takes the cake with other genres. The Hunter may return punch for punch against the JH16, but the old JH Audio flagship keeps its crown in my collection as the overall best IEM to listen to.


    Music used for testing:
    Rumours (feat. Mark Johns) by Gnash
    Finish the Fight by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori
    Tribute by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori
    117 by Neil Davidge
    Clear (feat. Mothica) by Pusher
    Tank! by The Seatbelts
    Too Good Too Bad by The Seatbelts
    Car 24 by The Seatbelts
    Sunday Morning by Maroon 5
    Neon Cathedral (feat. Allen Stone) by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
    Ants by edIT
    25 to Life by Eminem
    Kick, Push by Lupe Fiasco
    Freaks and Geeks by Childish Gambino
    Flynn Lives by Daft Punk
    Stop and Stare by OneRepublic
    Shoot to Thrill by AC/DC
    Lost Stars by Adam Levine
    Beyond Monday by The Glitch Mob
    Darling VIP (feat. Missio) by Said the Sky
    Always About You by Sayvere


    Conclusion:
    The Hunter is a very capable and versatile IEM suitable for a diverse stable of sound signature preferences. Can it kick it with the best of them up in the very top tier of IEMs of today? Hard to say as I haven’t been able to get my hands on any of the new ones, but I’d bet it’s a lot closer than you might think. But does it compare to the flagships of yesteryear? In my opinion, yes it does. It’s hard to compare when you don’t really have anything else on hand in the same price tier, but it seems to me that the Hunter would make more thrifty buyers wonder if they really need to venture into that top tier with its organ-severing pricing. At the very least, I can consider it a gateway of sorts to the upper tier of IEMs; one that offers a wide variety of sound signatures which will allow you find what signature suits you best before doing a full dive into the uber-expensive top-tier market. Using gunmetal filters, the Hunter is a natural-sounding IEM that has little trouble switching between genres while providing the same amount of enjoyment. I’d hesitate to put it in the exact same fidelity league as the more established flagship IEMs of today, but it’s most of the way there and it doesn’t cost a kidney and half a liver. That’s a win in my book.


    *Note that the rating system only works in whole stars; I'd give this a 4.25/5.

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