Danls92 Reviews Hi-Fi Edition: Phiaton MS400

Discussion in 'Audiophiles: Headphones, Earphones, etc.' started by Danls92, Oct 12, 2009.

  1. Danls92

    Danls92 Super Moderator Emeritus Staff Member

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    Danls92 Reviews Hi-Fi Edition: Phiaton MS400s

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    Introduction:
    It’s been a long, long…. Looonnnngggg time coming, but here it is, a new review! I had my hands on a pair of Phiaton’s MS400 series headphones for what some veterans may remember is an inordinately long times, but after a summer of set-backs and vacationing the review is finally here. So read on, to know what yours truly thinks of the Phiaton MS400s.

    How I Review: This review is broken up into 3 major categories (Design Overview, Performance, and Misc. Comments) with a final wrap-up at the end.

    I have never liked the method of reviewing involved the arbitrary assigning of numbers to quantitatively express a feeling because it is so subjective. Due to this, I will not be giving my opinions a numerical value, instead I will be using the words excellent, good, neutral, bad, and horrible. For a brief description of what each means:

    Excellent- Either perfect or just barely missing it. Something will receive an excellent rating if it is the best it could possibly be.
    Good- Possible to improve, but by no means bad. This is the verdict I would give something that is good for what it is, but has several things holding it back.
    Neutral- Neither good nor bad, I don't have any strong feelings. If I feel ambiguous about something it would receive this rating.
    Bad- The unfavorable outweighs the favorable aspects. If something is not well designed, or poorly implemented this is what I would rate it.
    Horrible- Unacceptably poor. If something impedes the thing it is meant to assist, or is completely useless I would say this about it.

    With that being said, let's start the review.

    Design Overview:
    This things will catch your attention. In a world dominated by industrial silvers and blacks, these bright red and black headphones certainly attract the eye. With a color scheme just short of gaudy, these aren’t quite for low profile listening, but they are definitely a stylish choice for those who like a bit more color in their headwear wardrobe.
    They are made in classic on-ear headphone style, with a plush headband and earcups made of the above mentioned red pleather (don’t fret, no animals harmed here). The earcups are snug and fit well, but it takes a while to build up the endurance to keep them on for a long time. As the earcups lay on your ears rather than around them, they can be rather fatiguing after a while and I can image that they wouldn’t be especially comfortable if you have any sort of earings.

    Another touted feature is the carbon fiber outer portions of the ear cups. A sleek checkerboard type pattern with a Phiaton logo on each side adds to the aesthetics of the earphones and completes the look. After much online research, I must admit that I am unqualified to comment on the acoustic properties of the carbon fiber, but check below to see how they sounded regardless.

    The earcups are made such that they swivel 180 degrees, which I can see being a useful feature if you are a DJ but it was never a feature I got much use out of. Likewise, rather than the one chorded design headphones seem to be adopting of late, the Phiatons have a Y cable originating from both earcups. This isn’t a big issue to me, but some might find it annoying.

    A problem that I had with these headphones came at about 3 months after testing, when suddenly the left earcup snapped off entirely from the headphone band. I was in contact with a customer service representative, and not only did they arrange an exceptionally fast exchange but they assured me that this was a freak and isolated incident. While it is worth considering, I would not consider that incident a valid reason to disqualify these headphones if you are looking to purchase.

    Rating: Great
    While stylish and eye catching, these headphones have just a few things in this department holding them back from excellence. There is no one major issue that you have to watch out for, but things like a cable from only one earcup, or a slightly longer cable would go a long way. Additionally, while the issue was resolved in a terrific manner, the broken pair of headphones also brings down the score.

    Sound Quality
    These are ostentatious headphones, and fittingly they have a sound to match. If you are looking for studio-neutral headphones, you would do best to keep looking, but neutrality is not always the best way to listen to music. These headphones definitely are designed with the bass conscious in mind, featuring a slightly emphasized bass that carefully manages not to be overblown. For those of you who prescribe to the theory of burn-in, I feel like these headphones really benefitted from it. The bass definitely resolved quite a bit over the time I had them, and by the end it was tight and responsive while still having the power it needed.
    The mids and highs are equally superb, managing clarity and richness in perfect proportion to the low end. The mids are very smooth and just a bit more present than the highs, but the highs were detailed enough to be made out quite clearly. One thing that you will find with these headphones (along with many others in this price range) is that details in low-bitrate files are much more readily apparent.

    At lower bit rates cymbals seemed unnatural, and bass faded more quickly than felt right, but with V0 files and beyond these headphones sounded unnervingly good.

    Going back to my first statement about neutrality, these headphones stray from it slightly but I can’t help but think they are better for it. Their increased bass gives any music you listen to a rich and powerful feel, but it never feels like the mids and highs neglected. The sound is not especially sharp (in the feeling, not the pitch way) but the slight roundness to it suits the music well.

    Rating: Great
    Neither a revelatory experience nor a letdown, these headphones are exactly what you would expect in this price range. It really comes down to your own personal taste. If you want to hear the music exactly as it was recorded, you’ll probably be looking somewhere a bit more expensive but if you prefer a warm & familiar feel to your music these will suit you perfectly.

    Misc. Comments
    The most important thing I can mention here is the quality of customer service at Phiaton. They were incredibly understanding and helpful with this review and I cannot thank them enough. They resolved any issues I had much faster than any other company I have been in contact with, and if they display this same level of service to all of their customers (of which I have no doubts) Phiaton is an amazing company.
    That thank you aside, I’d like to take a moment to comment on the included accessories. Neither sparse nor extensive, the selection includes a 3.5mm to ¼ inch stereo adapter is a nice but regular inclusion and the included carrying case is sturdy and while it is slightly difficult to initially fit the headphones into it, it does its job admirably.

    Overall: Great
    These headphones are neither a disappointment nor groundbreaking. They are sleek and stylish, and sound great. You would be hard pressed to find a better pair in this price range, but I would not recommend these whole-heartedly. If you have the opportunity, I would listen to these before purchasing, as their sound is not for everyone. The on-ear fit also takes some getting used to, but works out well once you are accommodated. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed these headphones and think the vast majority of you would too, but I would recommend doing your research before going out and immediately purchasing.
  2. rileyman

    rileyman Banned

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    how much do they cost?
  3. Danls92

    Danls92 Super Moderator Emeritus Staff Member

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    They are $250.
  4. thechungster

    thechungster Super Moderator Emeritus

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