Phiaton’s new Moderna MS 200 earphones ($149) sound good and have great sound isolation, sure, but what’s more important is how good they look plugged in to your new iPhone 5.
The MS 200’s look good, like, Michael-Jackson-in-the-80s-with-his-glove-and-red-leather-jacket good. I love the red tangle-free cord (which does its job well) and matching red silicon ear tips. Even the carbon fiber accents are a nice touch. Sure, it’s obvious that these Phiaton’s are going for that Dr. Dre look, but hey, they pull it off well and look amazing plugged into my white iPhone 5.
And another note about the those ear tips. Multiple sizes and varieties are included in the box, and once you find your correct size, they provide very good sound isolation. I would definitely take the MS 200’s on a plane.
Phiaton also includes what they call “RightFit” ear tips in the box. The RightFit’s are more ear shaped and are designed to help keep the headphones in your ears better during workouts. I feel they accomplished that goal in my ears, though they weren’t as comfortable as the regular tips were.
On to sound quality. The Moderna’s performed well, though their audio was a little too sterile at times for my taste (more on that later). The mids and highs sounded clean and clear, and the bass was full though a little overcooked on some songs. I’d say these headphones are tuned for people who listen to a lot of hip-hop or percussion-heavy tracks. In my testing, that seems to be where they shined most. If you’re mainly spinning ColdPlay MP3s, I’d say there are other earphones that’d serve you better.
You’ll also find an in-line music/call control button, just like you would on your white Apple EarPods. This button lets you play, pause, and advance through music, but also includes a mic, allowing that same button to answer and end iPhone calls.
And finally, I want to mention how great the Moderna MS 200’s packaging is. Rarely do I mention packaging in a review, the but process of opening the MS 200’s box and finally revealing the headphones is nothing less than Jobsian and is worthy of some public praise.
Yes, the Moderna’s sound good, but notice I didn’t say great. During songs with a consistent bass floor, like in electronic music, the MS 200s low-end audio was occasionally muddy and undefined. These buds do better with rhythmic bass notes like drums.
But even when the MS 200’s were performing at their best, delivering parts in tracks I never even knew existed, their sound quality sometimes came across as lacking life and warmth. Some people will prefer that sound signature as long as they’re hearing all the notes the artist recorded — I don’t.
But perhaps the most annoying, nay, perplexing issue with the MS 200s, is the fact that they do not include volume control like almost all other headphones of this kind do. Phiaton, what happened!? I don’t want to root my iPhone out of my pocket every time I need to adjust the volume. How does a company include a music control switch in-line but not add volume control? Big miss.
Let’s be honest; most earphones costing around $150 are going to sound good. The Phiaton Moderna MS 200’s definitely meet that criteria. So if you listen to a lot of rhythmic tracks; if you’re really into hip-hop; if you love the sexy red look of the Moderna’s cords; if you don’t mind no in-line volume control; you should consider the MS 200’s as contenders. They’ll have you looking like a smooth criminal.