Headphone Review: Phiaton PS210BTNC

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Phiaton is a lesser known company to the general public, however, in the audiophile community, they are known for making some great headphones with nice flashy, yet professional design. Phiaton is also a company that does do BlueTooth headphones. Although wireless may be inferior to analog, it does look to be the direction the world wants to head. One of these headphones is the PS210BTNC. 

Design

As stated, Phiaton is known for some elegant designs that are flashy, but still stand professional at the core. The PS210s offer a beautiful design with a metallic-silver finish. The shape of the housings is unique to Phiaton, most of it taken from the non-BT PS210 ‘buds. The housings have touches of black plastic inside of them while the circular sun-beams really add a new dimension of color and shape to the headphones. Just like they have done in the past, Phiaton creates a beautiful silver design that’s professional with composure to it.

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The unique design of the PS210 looks stellar in the right light.

Included with the headphones is also a nice neck strap to keep the BT-module from flying everywhere. It does a decent job at doing it as well.

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The included neckstrap is a nice touch to stop the clip-on module from flying chaotically and smacking you in the face.

Design: ★★★★★

Audio

It’s no doubt that BT technology does interfere with sound quality. With the analog signal brought by the bypass cable, the headphones offer better depth into the low end spectrum, and extend further into the highs. Vocals also seem to pop a little more due to the extra hint of sweetness. All impressions are done in BT mode rather than a live analog signal.

The general signature of these is actually pretty balanced throughout without having an emphasis on any audio spectrum, although the highs do slowly roll off somewhat. This isn’t enough to lose energy though.

Bass

The low end of the Phiatons is really soft, but balanced well with the rest of the spectrum. There is no emphasis on the low end, but decent quality. The bass provides a nice punch to it that is tight and quicker. Impact is still not lost however as the low end provides a nice, overall impact on each hit. It’s not overdone, but not underdone either. The presence is missing as you dig down lower (analog helps this a bit). Delicate textures are produced in a nice accurate fashion, but again, lack presence at times.

Bass: ★★★★½

Mids

The midrange is not something I’d call laid back, but it’s not forward either. Of the entire spectrum, the vocals are the most present and offer a good amount of energy overall. Higher instrumentals are clear as a bell and detailing is nicely done throughout. The problem arises with the lower mids which really aren’t detailed well, nor clear. An ample amount of dynamics is present while timbre is beautifully displayed.

Mids: ★★★★½

Highs

The high end can become sibilant every so often with a more metallic feel to them. Detailing isn’t the best overall, but they still carry great clarity and separation. Energy is good throughout, despite the slight recession in comparison to the vocals. Sparkle is one of the things that this IEM does exceptionally well.

Highs: ★★★★

Audio: ★★★★½

Build

The headphones build quality is really hit or miss. There is a nice velvet-like pouch included that looks professional, and adds an elegant feeling to the headphones as a whole. The softpouch is small. This is good and bad. The good part is that it’s portable; on the other hand, the pouch provides passive cable and the ‘buds a fit that is a little too tight.

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The case is very pretty, but also a big small.

The housings of the headphones do look pretty, but the plastic used feels a little brittle. The silver sections are strong and tough, but the black “joint,” that connects the outer housing to the inner housing, feels a little weak. Strain reliefs that leave the housings are nice and large, they also have a good amount of strength to them.

The cables on the other hand, aren’t really the highest of quality. Sure, the cable is shorter, but it still isn’t convincing in terms of build quality. They are pretty thin, and feel very weak. The good news is that they don’t tangle; it’s hard to tangle a footlong cable anyways.

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The cables that come with the 210s aren’t the most impressive.

The passive cable has the same build as the headphone’s cable. It is terminated by a straight headphone jack. Although decently strong and flexible, it remains straight, something that isn’t the best; I’d rather an angled jack be used.

Build: ★★★½

Comfort

Phiaton touts on their product page that the “half-in-ear” design makes these headphones comfortable as ever. They aren’t wrong on that statement either. The headphones don’t insert deeply, and feel like a hybrid between IEMs and earbuds. It’s really a nice combo. Ultimately, this destroys isolation though. The active noise cancelling isn’t the best, but does drown out 6-8 dB more noise with my testing. Nothing I’d use too seriously though.

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The NC is for noise cancelling. It isn’t the best, but does cancel out some noise.

Phiaton also does include a nice set of silicone tips for users to use. As always, a better fit will result in better isolation and sound. Besides the include silicone tips, Phiaton also does include a Comply Foam tip. This foam tip does improve isolation a little more, but is no miracle worker.

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Comply Foam tips are included to ensure the ‘phones isolate a little better.

Comfort: ★★★★★

Value

At 160 big ones I do want to say that if wired up, these headphones perform at their price level. Over Bluetooth however, it is debatable. There is a nice handy remote on these to control iPod playback as well. There are many things that would keep people from buying these headphones. The build and isolation issues are all reasons for people to step back from these. The noise isolation isn’t the best either. What bugged me the worst was the wind-noise. Although there is a slight bit of microphonics, the wind noise made these barely tolerable when outdoors, say on my commute around campus. The problem with these IEMs doesn’t lie in the sound, it really lies in the usability. If you can live with the isolation and listen indoors, these are a good buy.

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A remote is included so you can swap songs on the go.

Value: ★★★

Final Thoughts

Beautiful design. Check. Great audio quality. Check. High comfort levels. Check. These are the strengths of the Phiaton PS210BTNC. However, its noise cancelling feature isn’t the best, while the design, although beautiful, isn’t the best wind breaker. I still have to say, I love the nice balanced sound signature though.

I’d like to thank Lindsay for the review sample

Overall Score

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Phiaton PS210BTNC

† All prices are in US currency.
This review was written by the iFans.com Review Team. Cumulative scores are rounded to the nearest half or full star.
This accessory, product, or app was received as a sample. Thanks Lindsay for the product sample.

Amendment I

The iPod Touch 4G still currently uses Bluetooth 2.1+EDR rather than updated version of Bluetooth like 3.0 or 4.0. That said, the sound quality can be downgraded due to that. So I have tested the Phiaton PS210BTNC with my new Macbook which supports Bluetooth 4.0 which actually does upgrade the sound really nice. It mainly fixes the extension problems.

Audio

The audio really still follows the same signature type, but improved entirely with BT 4.0 over 2.1+EDR. Although analog signals may still be better, this is actually something I could see myself giving up in place of the wireless convience.

Bass

The low end remains fast, actually, it’s a lot faster now. It’s fast, quick, and punchy. The impact of the midbass is not too strong, but really just strong enough to get the message through. This is accurate, fast bass. Bass digs deep enough to create a better presence, but sub-bass presence is still hindered a bit.

Bass: ★★★★½

Mids

The midrange actually speeds up a lot pace-wise with the 4BT 4.0 vs the 2.1. They do a great job with energy throughout giving instruments a strong timbre. Vocals pop strongly with authoritive sweetness and energy. Detailing is improved overall and the headphones don’t seem like they struggle any longer with the midrange.

Mids: ★★★★★

Highs

The high end is also improved nicely with the BT 4.0. The sibilance is gone entirely, but they still hold a slight metallic sound to them. Detailing is still good, slightly improved, but nothing big. Clarity and cleaness is really nice however, separation is really nice. They do decay a little quick for my likings, but still have an ample splash to them.

Highs: ★★★★½

Audio ★★★★½

Value

This is closer to what I want in a pair of wireless headphones. Quality isn’t hindered too much. That said, audio quality is up there if you have a newer version of Bluetooth (I was able to test 2.1+EDR on the Touch as well as 4.0 on my MacBook; no 3.0 testing was possible). Build is still slightly problematic, while the noise isolation isn’t the best, but passable.

Value: ★★★★

Due to the changes in sound which impacted the value score heavily, the overall score has been increased to 4.5 since the average has gone up.

Overall Score

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Phiaton PS210BTNC

† All prices are in US currency.
This review was written by the iFans.com Review Team. Cumulative scores are rounded to the nearest half or full star.
This accessory, product, or app was received as a sample. Thanks Lindsay for the product sample.
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