Product: Bluetooth stereo headphones/microphone with noise cancellation
Requirements: Bluetooth enabled audio device
Availability: Out now
I was deeply impressed with the last set of Phiaton Bluetooth headphones I reviewed, which did an astonishing job of delivering great sound quality (especially on the bass end). Now they’re back with a redesigned set that not only incorporates all the features I enjoyed, but in a more stylish design with noise cancellation features.
The Phiaton PS 210 BTNC has a convoluted name but a simple layout; two in-ear buds with silicone plugs (the device comes with four sets of those, so you can size them to your lobes) connected to a slim, silver controller with a clip on its back. The controller is the biggest physical change from the PS 20 model, and everything about it is an improvement. Where the previous version was an oval bubble, the 210 is a silver rectangle that looks much better clipped to your jacket or shirt while out and about.
The four-way control switch doesn’t stick out as far as it does on the 20, which also makes it easier to slip in and out of pocket, and less likely to get caught on something while moving about. The call button is bigger and set into the front of the device, rather than small and on the side, where it can get confused with the power button. Speaking of which, power is now a slide-and-hold switch on the side, above the matching switch to activate noise cancellation (which uses a green light to avoid confusion over the red/blue lights for power/Bluetooth syncing). All in all, everything about the design of the 210 is an improvement on an already great product.
Sound-wise, the headphones deliver the same great quality, especially on the bass end, with no leak to bother people around you. It’s simply stunning how good the sound is from this pair of headphones.
The microphone (built in to the controller, not the chord) works well for phone calls, but I had a lot of trouble getting Siri to recognize commands when using it with my new iPhone. The volume meter would move, indicating my voice was registering with the phone, but commands would often be misinterpreted, or simply ignored.
Given that the 210 uses fitted silicone plugs seated snugly in your ear, it already does a pretty good job of sealing out the world. Activating the noise cancellation feature gives you a boost to most minor noise, but the effect is subtle: conversations will be dimmed, but a dump trunk rumbling down the street? Not so much. And in one activity where I use headphones a lot—biking—using the NC feature actually amplified the sound of the wind in my ears. The noise cancellation feature won’t make you feel like you’re alone in a room, but toggling it on and off produces a noticeable difference in most situations.
The controls are simple: Toggle up and down for volume, left and right to advance a track. Press in to play/pause. Tap the call button to activate Siri, press and hold to call the last number that called/was called. One more neat trick; the iPhone will display the battery life of the 210 headphones in its menu bar, letting you know how much life you have left before you have to recharge (using a micro-USB cable).
The Phiaton PS 210 BTNC is a great, attractive product that delivers where it matters: amazing sound quality. They took a product I already loved and made it look even better.
But the Phiaton PS 210 BTNC Bluetooth 3 ANC Stereo headphones