Review: Phiaton PS 210 BTNC Bluetooth noise cancelling earphones

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Phiaton has brought to the market a pair of Bluetooth earphones with a unique half in-ear design. With noise cancelling, Bluetooth, a microphone, and the ability to plug into a standard audio jack on MP3 players and other devices without the need for battery power, it seems to have all bases covered. Let’s put it through the paces, shall we?

Pros

  • Great sound quality. A good balance that allows all ranges to shine through
  • A nice soft pouch to carry the unit around
  • Bluetooth 3.0 allows users to walk around in a small area without the worry of wires, and without disturbing others
  • Relatively low price
  • Included audio cable allows for connection to hardware that is not Bluetooth capable

Cons

  • Control module is a little large
  • Control module cannot be used while plugged in via the included audio cable
  • Bass lacks boom compared to other earphones
  • Noise cancellation could be better

Features and Design

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In the box you will find four sets of silicone ear tips (XS, S, M, L), but it also comes with one set of Comply memory foam ear tips. There’s enough variety here that you should be able to find a pair that suits you best. One thing that’s a bit different here is the half in-ear design. In addition to the usual small earphone, there is a larger part that sits just outside of your ear canal (indicated to the right in red). My girlfriend, for example, couldn’t even put these earphones in properly because her ears are too small. I didn’t have any problems regarding this feature, and they were comfortable enough that I would forget that I had them on.

The clip on the back of the control module faces downward, as opposed to sideways. Attempting to clip the earphones to my shirt (where the buttons are) didn’t provide enough stability. Jogging in place for just a few seconds resulted in them becoming detached. The cord between the module and the earphones themselves being approximately 22 inches means that you won’t have a whole lot of options when it comes to where you clip the module. The clip should probably only be used in conjunction with the leather neck strap that’s included, unless you’re putting the module behind you and storing it in a backpack, for example. A front shirt pocket would work too.

This unit is Bluetooth capable and quite easy to set up. Setting up on your computer for the first time should only take a few minutes. Each time after that, if you’re still connecting manually, it only takes approximately 10-30 seconds (1 second for automatic connections). Lacking internal Bluetooth technology on my laptop, I bought a Bluetooth adapter which allows for connections of up to twenty feet away. Testing it out, the Phiaton earphones did indeed work up to twenty feet away from my laptop. Treks to the kitchen, living room, and just walking around my room were glitch free. Anything past that twenty feet resulted in a connection that stuttered. The product information makes the claim that this set can be used up to thirty-three feet away via Bluetooth 3.0 technology, but I was not able to fully test this because of the particular Bluetooth adapter that I was using. The unit did live up to the purported battery life of fourteen hours of music play time.

Connecting the PS 210 BTNC to a smart phone was just as easy as on the PC. The functions of the control module worked effortlessly. Taking calls and ending them is simply done with the press of a button. Volume and skip controls etc. worked fine as well. Sound quality was about as good as if it came directly from the phone.

The noise cancellation worked fairly well. When standing next to a running dryer, it sounded as though the lower tones of the dryer had been cancelled out. In general, the noise cancellation seemed to get rid of the more bass-like qualities of sounds, while not affecting the treble-like parts of sounds as much. The noise cancellation could have been a tad better, but overall it worked pretty well.

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There is an interesting feature on this pair of Bluetooth earphones that seems a bit strange: the ability to plug into a device with an audio cable. However, the fact that it can so easily change from a wireless set to a corded one for your MP3 player, or whatever other devices you have that aren’t Bluetooth capable, is great. The downside is that once it is plugged in via the standard 2.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable, the control module powers off. This means that volume control and pausing functions are now only capable via the device that you’ve plugged into. In addition, though you can plug into an MP3 player and walk around, the control module is more obtrusive than if you just had a regular pair of earphones attached.

Audio Quality

When a pair of earphones inspires you to want to rediscover the sound of your own music collection, something is definitely going right. Listening to the Cave Story (video game) soundtrack, I was able to hear all of the highs and lows perfectly. From the lowest electronic buzzes to the high tinny pings, everything sounded just right. There is a clarity to the sound that allows notes from all ranges to ring distinctly. The one thing this unit seems to lack is punchy bass (apparently the MS 200 earphones were this way too). In an attempt to boost the bass, I turned it up via an equalizer, causing it to become distorted. It’s not that the unit doesn’t represent bass well, but that users who are specifically wanting their music to rumble should probably look elsewhere.

Again I became aware of the clarity of this model while watching movies. During the movie A.I., every note of the soundtrack, and every footstep was clearly heard. In the scene in which the mecha were being hunted down by humans on motorcycles, the sound of them zipping around was represented really well, giving me a good sense that it was happening around me. The detrimental factor here is that if you’re using the earphones in Bluetooth mode, there is a very slight (expected) delay. For me it doesn’t destroy the experience, but I would understand if it does for others. In this case, plugging in via the audio cable fixes this problem.

Conclusion

The Phiaton PS 210 BTNC earphones have great quality for the price. If you’re looking for a set that will give you the freedom to walk around up to thirty-three feet away from the audio source, and your environment requires that you don’t make excessive noise via speakers, this is a great set of earphones. The audio quality distinguishes all ranges of sounds so that everything shines. However, for those looking for a booming bass sound, this set will probably not satisfy. The relatively low price brings high quality sound to those who may not normally be able to afford it. If you’re not interested in the Bluetooth feature of this model, there is a PS 210 model (a little over half the price of the PS 210 BTNC), though I can’t comment on whether or not it has the exact same sound quality (it’s two years older).

Grade: B+

Technical Specifications

Driver size: 14.3mm
Frequency range: 15 Hz ~ 25 kHz
Impedance: 32 Ohm
Sensitivity: 110dB/mW
Bluetooth version: Ver. 3.0 (compatible with previous versions of Bluetooth)
Bluetooth Profile Support: A2DP AVRCP HFP HSP
Operating range: Within 33 feet (10m)
Calling time: 12 hours
Music play time: 14 hours
Standby time: 600 hrs. (Noise-blocker off)
Operating frequencies: 2.4 GHz (2.402 GHz ~ 2.480 GHz)
Audio codec support: SBC, apt-X
Power supply: Built-in rechargeable lithium polymer battery

What’s in the box

PS 210 BTNC earphones
Soft protective case
Neck strap
4 sets of soft silicone ear tips (XS, S, M, L)
1 set of Comply memory foam ear tips
2.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable
USB charging cable
Owners guide (including 1 year warranty)
Product registration card

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Ryan Southard
Ryan Southard 776 posts

Ryan Southard is a video game enthusiast, dissecting games down to their tiniest details. Whether it's new or it's old, as long as it's awesome, he'll play it. Follow him on Twitter at @Ryan_Southard <a href="http://nerdreactor.com/about/">Meet the Nerd Reactor Team</a>