THIEAUDIO GHOST Review: A treble that haunt you in the dark

-Open, clean and crisp sounding
-Mature U shape to neutral tonality
-Good resolution
-Impressive technical performance
-Fast snappy airy treble
-Beautiful female vocal with foward presence
-realist yet smoothed in texture timbre
-smooth, safe and organic balance
-Wide holographic spatiality
-Nice construction and design
-excellent sound value

-bass is a hint warm, mellow and lacking proper well define roundness
-mid range definition edge is a bit lacking too
-pinna gain is a bit high
-while not boring these aren’t really fun sounding


TONALITY: 8.2/10


Thieaudio is a well established chinese audio company, closely connected to Linsoul audio distributor. They have launch multiple hybrid IEM and headphones, mostly plana, like the Phantom.
In the past I have reviewed their Legacy 2, a 1DD+1BA hybrid with lean bright neutral tonality that was quite impressive in technical performance for 120$ price.
Today, i will review their new headphones, the Ghost, which promise a reference sound at ultra competitive price.
Priced 130$, the Ghost is a full open back headphones using a 40mm sapphire composite dynamic driver. This new driver technology is suppose to greatly improve transient speed and control as well as lower the resonance distortion that could affect negatively resolution clarity.
I’m always excited by new driver tech, so let see in this review if it deliver a sound that surpass expectation we could have from an headphones priced under 150$.




For the price, I really have nothing to complaint about built quality of the Ghost, in fact, I find it both beautiful and comfortable, and it doesn’t seem overly fragile either.
Its made of plastic and metal with top of metal headband having a memory foam cushion. This is a true fully open back headphone and the back metal grill is made of metal too, with beautifull design that captivate the eyes. I find the look very elegant, the metal band that hold headphones cup too have carved design that is appealing.
Ear cup and ear cushions pads are big and oval and will fit large ears. These cushions are made of velour like material and are hard enough. Its easy to change those pads, ive test them with bigger false leather pad and stock one are better.
As well these are detachable cable design similar to Hifiman or Meze design, so the 2x 3.5mm to 3.5mm (or bal) jack cables match. In fact, I use those with 2.5mm balanced cable from Meze, which is both perfect for my need.


Talking about the cable, it’s a flat cable of basic quality that will benefit an upgrade to achieve even better sound. I highly suggest getting a balanced cable for these if you have balanced dongle or DAP since they scale up with power and audio source quality.


In term of packaging, it’s a compact box that look nice enough and more importantly when we open it we are greated by a nice quality compact carrying case, very welcome addition that is unexpected at this price range. Other accesories are the cable and a 3.5mm to 6.5mm adapter. Overall very nice.


I want to add that changing pads is very easy with the Ghost, which is a blessing of it’s own. I feel that using false leather pads that have higher sealing property might boost bass punch but I don’t have oval shaped pads of this type yet. Anyway, as seen stock one are of good quality (and prompt to collect cats hair quite fast!). They aren’t too soft so even my big ears have enough space unlike with some other headphones that make them touch the inner driver.

Above pads pictures you can see the driver, see the purple sparkle? It’s the sapphire coating. Woofer around it is made of ceramic-metal composite.



The Ghost offer a U shape to harman target tonality, where we have slight sub and mid bass boost that permit easily following of bass line, gentle upper mids boost that help to extract instrument and vocal presence and this magnificently delicate, sparkly and well extended treble that add most of excitment and magnify sens of airyness and openess.
These aren’t edgy in definition, it’s smooth and liquid, while sharpness come mostly from upper treble part above 8khz. There some darkness in treble too, that tame treble texture brightness and grain, so it’s a bit organic timbre wise, but this help to preserve and even boost sens of transparency.

While near reference neutral, these aren’t plain cold or boring sounding headphones, the bass can offer slam and warm boom when needed, if the track ask for it, but it’s not what I would call a very punchy headphones, nor very rumbly or fun. Crisp, balanced and maturely musical, the Ghost is all about efforltess laid back clarity.

It’s important to note that the Ghost have low sensitivity and will scale up and open up with proper amping, so these aren’t really meant for portable usage unless you have a powerfull DAP or dongle, yet, since it’s an open back too I don’t really see myself going in subway with this.

The mellow bass response is rather unique for 2 reason, firstly, with all open back headphones I try from Hifiman Sundara to HE400i to Grado SR325, when it’s open back their will be a slight resonance sustain warmth added to the bass hit, as well, extension will not be very clean and tend to blossom in the air foggy way. Unlike closed back, rumble tend to fly away instead of hiting you hard too.
So, their this first reason, other one being that the slight bass boost is around 40hz section it seem, so, more sub bass jump than proper round mid bass punch, for electronic like EDM, it will tend to make the kick warm and a bit mellow in thumping, the scooped edge of definition will not help to underline the kick drum presence too. The Ghost doesn’t do well for rock music, wich need energic punch and abrasive texture. Don’t expect lot of grunt too, so electric bass will in fact sound cleaner and lacking in attack lead, cello too, contrabass too. In fact, cello sound like violin due to lack of low harmonic density.
So, let say the bass is light but not plain anemic, it does have warm body to it that boost bass line presence in a darkish way, kick thump can be perceive too, again, without well define presence, so we have ghostly bass here (pun intended!): it haunt you, but you can’t see it!
This kind of bass do very well for jazz, folk, country, classical and anything that doesn’t need big round slam, rumble or sharp definition and texture.
As a last example, and to show that while i complaint about lack of texture and presence the result can still be mesmerizing, with the jazz track like ”Ecuador” from Yellowjackets, I don’t struggle follow the bass line which is well layered under the saxophone and percussions and even stay perceivable when the piano and other instruments come in, prooving a rather fast transient speed what I perceive is specific region of lower harmonic, so when bassist go solo it’s realist, well resolve enough.

Now this fascinating mid range, which really question me about the price tag of the Ghost since its so refined, clean, open and transparent, with realist tone and timbre that sit between organic and lush, smooth and vivid. Firstly, those mids tend to favor female vocal and woodwinds instrument like saxophone. Why? Because we have smoothed edge in upper mids, yet presence is loud and clear and timbre isn’t too thin, just not very textured. Those are polished upper mid range à la harman target, which mean for some it might sound a hint shouty or too fowards. This mid range remind me alot the Moondrop Aria but with a hint of extra bass warmth and lower mids body, so both male and female vocal doesn’t sound too recessed and thin. So the Ghost are perfect for vocal lover. When it come to piano, everything go well and crisp until its loud high pitch note (7th octave) where some resonance can blur the definition, the note weight is felt and natural decay is very clean from low to most upper mids before 3-4khz section where loudness boost become problematic and near trebly. This is quite inherent to Harman target and alas the Ghost is no exception in pinna gain fatigue for those that are very sensitive to this region it might be distracting or unpleasant.
Back to female vocal, i really love their fowards presence that isn’t thin and even have some euphony to it, it never struggle to open in spatiality and tend to be the center of the show as it should.

The treble, oh….just wow, this is the incredible part of Ghost sound spectrum and sure what will hook your attention the most and certainly don’t let you indifferent.
Airy, crisp, brilliant and wide open sounding, the highs float around you delicately with this snappy shinny attack which will sure be a delight for treble lover. It’s not an harsh, noisy or overly textured treble, rather smooth until it get a small spike in upper treble that add this air on top. Again, the Moondrop Aria similarity come to haunt me with the Ghost, it feel clean yet softed in definition edge sharpness to keep the music gently presented, sure their this slightly more agressive boost in lower treble that add energy to instrument presence projection as well as adding just a hint of bite for minimal texturing and attack definition of acoustic instrument like violin, which sound liquid and energic at the same time.
We are between safe and vivid highs here, so this favor acoustic instrument more than electric instrument like electric guitar which will sound scooped in energy and softed in distortion texture, in that regard I would not suggest the Ghost for rock, metal or grungy energic music like low fi stuffs.
Yet, this doesn’t mean we have boring treble at all, and that versatility isn’t lacking, quite the contrary in fact since amount of micro details are on the generous side and the highs have this bright appealing snap for proper engaging dynamic rendering.
Should it be with electronic, EDM, soul, R&B or other music with crisp rythmic percussions, the Ghost can deliver the fast attack it need with proper sharpness of resolution in a wide and clean spatiality with great precision, yet as said, slightly softed edgyness.
At the end, we have an open, well resolve, sharp and snappy treble with impressively fast attack that expend sens of space and add extra dimension to sound layers, avoiding any sens of congestion or compression.

And this sure benefit the soundstage, which is tall, wide and deep, not Sennheiser HD820 wide and deep, but not far from it. Headroom is sure bigger than both my Hifiman HE400i and Sundara.

The imaging is unexpectly good for an entry level headphones. With have good transparency enough for sounds layers separation and wide clean space enough for horizontal instrument separation.



VS HIFIMAN HE400i 2020 (1planar-140$)

The Ghost are brighter and more U shape, and first thing that truely hit is how much open the headroom is and less lean the dynamic is rendered. The the crisp resolution of Ghost suddenly is requestionned by the more textured and detailed sound of the H400i, which have faster and more controlled attack and layering. The bass of HE400 is more mid bass punchy, better define and textured, dryer and more rolled off in sub bass extension, so less rumble and overall warm roundness like the Ghost that have heavier slam and more bodied bass line presence. Mids are colder and leaner with the HE400i, more texture and richer in details, transparency is better for proper sound layering and upper mids are smoother, so less prompt to loudness peak but less fowards with female vocal which sound more distant and in fact overly softed in upper mids. When it come to treble, the Ghost are more vivid, airy and sparkly with longer natural decay, it seem highs are more extended too, but softed in texture and bit where the HE400i is more abrasive, full and textured. So while the Hifiman dig more micro details in mid range, the Ghost extract more sound info in ultra high treble between 8khz and 15khz.
Spatiality as said is notably more open with the Ghost in all axis: wideness, deepness and tallness, which make the HE400i sound very compressed and closed. Yet, even if spatiality is more compressed, the imaging is superior with the Hifiman, positioning is more accurate and definition of instrument in mid range being more edgy we struggle less to pinpoint the instrument even if space between them is less wide both in layering and horizontal separation.

All in all, the Hifiman HE400i 2020 sound leaner dynamic and more technical performance that doesn’t trigger as much musical and emotional response than the Ghost, which is more open, slightly more bassy, more extended in treble but not as rich in details and not as controlled and speedy in attack.



The Thieaudio Ghost are very impressive headphones for the price.
Tonal balance is mature, neutral yet avoid being too lean or cold sounding like some reference headphones that can just be enjoyed for audio monitoring.
The technical performance is excellent too, and sure put the bar high in term of sound benefit. This is quite exciting for budget minded consumer since these Ghost have nothing to envy to benchmark headphones like the Sennheiser HD580 which have a similar tonality but with dryer timbre and less extended and open treble.

Perhaps 2023 will be the year of chifi headphones greatness, I wish so since we now have a new 130$ headphones benchmark to beat.

Highly recommended.

PS: I want to thanks Linsoul for sending me this review unit. I’m not affiliated nor compensate in any way to write positive review. As always, these are my 100% unbiased honest subjective sound impressions and opinion.

You can order the Ghost for 130$ here (non affiliated link):

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