The Phiaton PS 210 BTNC ($129) earphones—yes, they named them all that—have all the same functionality as your white Apple earbuds; you can chat with ’em, listen to tunes with ’em, even control your iPhone with ’em. But unlike your white-wired buds, they do all that wirelessly via Bluetooth, and include some sparkly noise-canceling technology that deliver audio to your ears sans a world of ambient sounds.
Let’s start from the top, because above all, the PS 210s are meant for listening to music.
During my tests, listening to tunes on both my iPhone and on my Mac, the 210s sounded quite good. I was actually surprised how good they sounded. Now, that’s not to say they’re the best sounding earbuds I’ve ever used—they’re not—but for their price, they deliver.
I have no doubt that, at least in in some small way, the lovely audio I was hearing was related to the 210’s noise-canceling technology. When switched on, it does a good at job eliminating many minor background noises, like the TV, outside car noises, etc., and eliminating those noises made it easier to hear the nuances of the music I listened to. But let me temper that observation by also stating that, though Phiatron claims the 210s eliminate 95% of background noise, I’d say was getting more around 60% elimination. Your mileage may vary depending on how well they 210s fit your ears. The included ear tips were either too large or too small for my hearing canals.
And speaking of fit, even though the 210s didn’t to totally fill my ear canals, at least I wasn’t having to readjust them every 15 minutes to get them to stay in place. This is a problem I’ve had with other sound-isolating earbuds; not so with the PS 210’s. Phiatron did a good job designing the 210’s to stay in your ears where they belong.
Lastly, I liked the 210’s convenient phone and volume controls. From the control unit, you can skip songs, control volume, answer and hang up on calls, even use Siri, all without touching your iPhone. And since the 210s are iPhone-volume independent, they allow you to turn the volume up to much higher levels than your iPhone would normally allow. I like that because with some songs, my iPhone can’t deliver the audio levels I desire (for my death metal of course).
One of the first things I noticed when pulling the 210s from their beautiful box, was how well-built they looked. Then, well, I picked them up, and was definitely surprised how light they were. That’s because everything, the earbuds, the housing of the control unit, it’s all made from a metal-looking plastic. Sure, that keeps the 210s light-weight, but it doesn’t inspire confidence in longevity. For a unit MSRP’ing at almost $160, I expect a better build quality, maybe some aluminum, some tin, something that’s not plastic.
My other gripe with the PS 210 has to do with its built-in mic; you know, they one that broadcasts your voice to your callers. According the its box, the 210 includes “Echo-Off” technology that “eliminate’s most background noise while on a call.” That wasn’t my experience. In fact, my callers could hear every little noise during our calls. They complained of cars passing, “shuffling” noises, and since I was wearing the 210s control unit (where the mic is) on the supplied neck lanyard, they could hear it swinging back and forth across my well-defined man pectorals—not a sound you want broadcasted during a sales call. I would only use the 210’s mic in a totally silent room with its control unit held still if you expect the mic to perform without a lot of background noise.
Though the Phiaton PS 210 BTNC have a mediocre mic and average noise-canceling tech, they deliver in their main endeavor: sound quality. If you’re looking for Bluetooth earphones that sound good and also let you take a call or two, the 210s are definitely worth your consideration.