Review: Phiaton Chord MS 530

Phiaton | Bluetooth On-Ear Headphones | $ 349.00

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Phiaton has always been a company that has pushed noise canceling as a feature of its headphones.  They have also been one to show that they aren’t afraid to go the route of Bluetooth either.  This on-ear model does both; it’s a noise-canceling, Bluetooth headphone that is ironically called Chord.  In essence, it doesn’t need an actual chord.  

Specifications

Driver: Dynamic
Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
Impedance: 32 ohms
Sensitivity: 100 dB

In the Box

Phiaton Chord MS 530 Headphones
Cable (with remote and mic)
USB Cable (for charging)
Soft Pouch
Inflight Adapter

InTheBox

Design

Aesthetics has always been in Phiaton’s DNA and they always seem to know how to create a mixture of materials, colors, and finishes to make something that is attractive to the eye.  Black and metallic silver with red accents, yup, it’s a Phiaton alright.  The metal and rubber construction of the Phiaton look great to the eyes offering enough flash to catch eyes, but never overly flashy.

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Design: ★★★★

Audio

The Chord represents a more linear sound overall with bass that extends well with good control and presence.  The mids are sweet and energetic while the treble is a energetic and strong.  The MS 530 also does have a noise canceling feature that reduces bass sounds from the external areas, but also from the drivers itself.  That said, the NC feature also lowers the sub-bass a tad.  In addition to NC, the Chord also runs chordless over Bluetooth.  There was little distinction between BT and direct wire in terms of sound.

Starting at the low-end of the spectrum, we find that Phiaton does keep the bass of the Chord very well in balance, although there is a slight focus on this section of audio.  There is really no focus in the bass region as it seems relatively flat overall (until NC is turned on of course, then sub-bass drops).  The sub-bass of the Chord offers fluidity as well as solidness while the lower bass gives a well-defined impact with each and every tight punch.  The Chords bass isn’t the fastest, but definitely sufficient enough with speed.

As we head up into the midrange, we do find that this section is a little smoother overall.  Detailing is very well done while the retrieval seems less aggressive at heart and more natural.  Going up in the midrange, the upper midrange clarity isn’t the strongest that it could be, but definitely more than sufficient enough to accurately reproduce music.  Vocals are a mixed bag however, as they are present and strong, but do lack the dynamics that good vocals would have.

As we jump even further up into the treble regions, we find that the treble is a little stronger in the upper ranges with a more relaxed lower-treble region.  Despite the relaxed lower-treble, the presence still is right in line of where it should be.  Detailing is very strong in the lower-treble, the same can’t be said about the extension unfortunately.  Going up into the upper treble, they are energetic with strong splash bursts.  The do separate relatively well and extend OK.

Audio: ★★★★½

Build

Phiaton packages the Chord with a nice slew of accessories, one of them is a nice carrying pouch, the same one that comes with the Bridge (MS 500).  The pouch is compact enough to fit into an averaged size bag, but also large enough to hold all of its accessories (charging cable, mic’d cable, inflight adapters, etc.).  It’ll do a good job protecting the headphones when they aren’t in use, although it really doesn’t need it.

Case

As stated before, Phiaton seems to have a knack for choosing the right materials for the job, in the case of the Chord, the materials, mainly metal and rubber (for the headband), creates a strong construction that will last.  The metallic housings and arms give a very nice firm base which makes them feel solid.  All the ports and openings are covered by flaps that sit around the bezel of the housing.

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Each housing slides on a metal arm that hinges onto the headband.  Like the housings, the headband has a matted, black metal exterior.  The metal is strong, yet flexible and does a great job.  It also seems that there is a metal skeleton as well.  The underside of the headband is air-filled rubber which acts as a padding.

Headband

For those that will be using these wired, the cable is of good quality; it’s the same one that comes with the Fusion.  The cable is red and uses standard rubber.  It has ample thickness to it and remains flexible, but also has good strength to it.  The jacks have decently-sized strain reliefs and the headphone jack itself is angled at 90 degrees.

HeadphoneJack

Build: ★★★★

Comfort

The Chord’s an on-ear model with supple, large ear pads that cover the entire ear.  They actually are quite comfortable overall and are soft to the touch.  Like most current headphones, they do use memory foam to ensure the perfect fit and seal.  The headband padding is air-filled with a rubber skeleton.  This would be the weak spot of the comfort.  This “padding” works OK, but definitely isn’t the best.  It’s a little tougher than I’d like it to be and can get a little discomforting after a couple hours of straight use.

Pads

Comfort: ★★★★½

Value

The Phiaton Chord come priced just under 350 dollars.  This is a relatively steep price for a pair of headphones, but it contends well in its price bracket being comparable to the V-Moda M-100, NAD VISO HP50, and even things like the B&W P7.  The downside is that its competition are over-ear models, and at this price range, I would rather an over-ear model.  I can forgive that though as the Chord also offer the ability to run wirelessly over BT and have active noise canceling.  So the use of wired vs wireless is good to have.

Remote

The noise canceling is definitely a feature that is useful.  It cuts out the majority of unwanted bass but also cuts out the headphone’s own bass resonances.  At times, the algorithm will not work properly and you’ll have an odd floppy sound.

NC

Value: ★★★★

Final Thoughts

I do have to say that I was impressed with the Chord’s offering as the headphones sounded great. With the Chord, Phiaton wanted to release a model that would offer great sound quality over a wireless, Bluetooth signal all inside of an aesthetically pleasing package.  With that said, mission accomplished.

I’d like to thank Phiaton for the review sample.

Overall Score

★★★★½

Phiaton Chord MS 530

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