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December 13, 2012 • Reviews, Travel

Phiaton PS 300 NC Premium Noise Cancelling Headphones Review

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I’m into a period of time that will see me on planes rather frequently, and while I’ve tried various noise canceling headphones over the years, I’ve never found a pair I loved to use. For example, I was impressed with the Sennhauser MM 450s when I reviewed them, but when I bought a pair on sale a few months ago I found myself disappointed with the buzz created by the noise cancellation system. It wasn’t bad, but it was noticeable, and I just couldn’t see myself using them longterm.

Most recently I had purchased a pair of inexpensive Sony in-ear headphones with active noise cancellation. They worked well enough, but I’ve been spoiled by some of the higher-end headphones I’ve been reviewing lately, and I longed for something better. I mentioned this to one of out contacts, and a package arrived a few days later with a pair of Phiaton PS 300 NC Premium Noise Canceling Headphones. I had been pleasantly surprised by the prior two pair of Phiaton earbuds I’d reviewed, so I was excited to try these out. Our trip to Aruba presented the perfect opportunity to give them a try, and try them I have.

So I sit on United’s flight to Newark at the end of our week away, listening to Phantom Planet and writing this review. Let’s take a look at the headphones and whether they stand up in the crowded world of noise-canceling headphones.

Gear Diary Phiaton NC 30

From Phiaton:

The Phiaton PS 300 NC headphones are masterfully made and matched to exacting standards. With powerful noise canceling technology that minimizes distortion while allowing authentic production values to come through, the PS300 NC allows you to listen to your music with up to a 90% reduction of most unwanted noise in your surroundings. This unit has a comfortable, compact on-ear fit with a flexible ‘fold and go’ design that fits headphones conveniently into a compact carrying case for easy travel. When on the move, the Custom lithium-polymer rechargeable battery offers up to 20 hours of reliable run time while the set of four adaptors allows you to recharge anywhere. The standard 3.5mm plug and the 6.3mm adaptor make this earphone perfect for any portable or home theater electronics.

In creating the premium quality “Primal Series” PS 300 Noise-Canceling headphones, Phiaton’s engineers and sound designers utilized all their expertise to exceed expectations. Featuring the luxurious look and feel of supple leather and leather-grade trim, as well as some of the world’s most advanced sonic technologies; the Phiaton PS 300 NC noise-canceling headphones offer music lovers a superb listening experience with unprecedented comfort, audio quality, style, and musicality.

Gear Diary Phiaton NC 10 2

I was immediately impressed by the packaging. There is no question that Phiaton was going after the premium market when designing these headphones and their box. The experience of opening the box and exploring everything inside was more than a bit pleasant. And speaking of everything inside, the PS 300 NCs are a good example of a company actually adding extras into the package rather than increasingly skimping on what is included — the way we have seen with smartphone companies who are now increasingly leaving out the headphones AND wall adapters. Sure, regardless of the company, the included headphones were crap; but leaving them out while keeping the price the same is just obnoxious.

So what IS in the box?

Phiaton PS 300 NC Headphones

2 rechargeable lithium-polymer batteries

6.3 mm stereo gold-plated plug adapter

Two 5-ft. detachable audio cables (one with inline mic)

Dual-plug adapter for airplane

International power plug adapters

Cradle charger with USB cable

AC/DC adapter

Carrying case

Owner’s Guide (Including 1-year warranty)

Product registration card.

We’ll get back to the headphones, but first let’s run down the extras.

Gear Diary Phiaton NC 22 1

The case is large and formfitting, and it is specifically designed to hold these headphones and accessories. The material used is rigid enough to hold its shape even when the headphones aren’t inside. That translates to them offering decent crush protection; I like that. One side is designed for the headphones and the other has a series of mesh pockets that hold all the accessories.

Gear Diary Phiaton NC 35

Next up is the inclusion of two cables and adapters. One is a straight cable for simply listening to your music; the other includes an inline microphone. We’ve seen this on other high-end headphones, and I always appreciate it. Unfortunately the material used for the cables is thinner and more tangle prone than some we have seen and, as a result, feels like it is a bit on the cheap side. Regardless, both cables work well; since they are removable they can be replaced fairly easily if need be.

From Phiaton:

Two Separate Audio Cables Allow for Phone Access: For total on-the-go convenience and flexibility, the PS 300 NCs comes with two separate single-sided cables, including one standard cable and another that features a remote microphone function that lets you access phone calls while listening to music.

Gear Diary Phiaton NC 00

I totally love the charging system.

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The wall adapter comes with both US and European plug adapters, so you can use these headphones just about anywhere you might go.

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The company includes not one but two batteries with the headphones — that’s unheard of in today’s money-grab electronics environment.

From Phiaton:

The PS 300 NC comes with two rechargeable batteries, a cradle charger with USB cable, and universal AC/DC adapters. One battery offers 18 hours of noise canceling function. Unlike most other noise-canceling headphone products on the market today, the unique PS 300 NCs still play music even if the noise-canceling battery is out of power.

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To charge the batteries, you use the included USB adapter.

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A neat feature is the fact that the adapter into which the battery slips looks very much like the ear cups on the headphones.

For those of you interested in specifications the company lists the following:

Studio Grade 40 mm Electrodynamic Drivers

Impedance: 32 Ohm

Frequency Range : 15 Hz ~ 22,000 Hz

Sensitivity: 98 dB

Max input power: 1000 Mw

Cord length: 5.2 ft / 1.6 m

Weight: 5 oz /140g without cord

Gear Diary Phiaton NC 42 002

The headphones themselves are fairly compact and, no doubt, are modeled after Bose’s smaller noise canceling offerings. The near headphones have a soft padded cushion that sits on your ear and, thanks to its ability to mold to them, creates a fairly effective noise barrier on their own even before the noise cancellation is turned on.

Gear Diary Phiaton NC 59

Buttons are kept to a minimum, and they are limited to the noise cancellation on/off control and a toggle that claims to offer extra bass but didn’t have much of any impact in my experience with the headphones. The plug for the audio cable is on the right ear cup, and it is offset about half way up on the side. This is notable since these headphones to an effective job of canceling noise whether you have music playing or not. Also notable is the fact that if you turn the noise cancellation off and remove the battery, the music plays through as if these were an ordinary pair of headphones. That’s a great feature, which means you can take these headphones on a trip and have them serve as your only headphones whether you have them charged or not.

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The headphones fold up into a fairly compact package that can then be stowed in the included case. I do worry about what might happen if you didn’t stow the headphones carefully, since the build quality does feel a tad on the chintzy side. That is especially so after having reviewed the Harman Kardon headphones this past summer; now THOSE were headphones that were built like a truck!!

Gear Diary Phiaton NC 36

I found the headphones to be comfortable, but I did notice some ear fatigue after a few hours; I suppose that a certain degree of this can be attributed to their on-ear style. With that said, sund quality was excellent, and I really enjoy listening to music while wearing these.

The exceptional noise-canceling capabilities of the ultra-lightweight PS 300 NC headphones literally shut out the unwanted noises of the world so you can enjoy your own music in peaceful solitude. Phiaton’s powerful noise canceling technology minimizes distortion while allowing the authentic production values to come through. It’s the ideal lifestyle solution for hearing all your favorite music, including subtleties and nuances, even while traveling on an airplane or listening in noisy surroundings, like a train or subway car.

The exceptional noise-canceling capabilities of the ultra-lightweight PS 300 NC headphones literally shut out the unwanted noises of the world so you can enjoy your own music in peaceful solitude. Phiaton’s powerful noise canceling technology minimizes distortion while allowing the authentic production values to come through. It’s the ideal lifestyle solution for hearing all your favorite music, including subtleties and nuances, even while traveling on an airplane or listening in noisy surroundings, like a train or subway car.

Adjustable headband and a soft ear cushions seal in the sound for superior audio quality VHST for noise cancellation creates an occlusive effect for better noise reduction.

Phiaton’s patented VHST (Valves of the Heart Sound Technology) for noise canceling was inspired by the valves that enable flow of vital blood supply in and out of the heart. Translated to the audio paradigm, the technology makes use of check valves that expertly control airflow in and out of the headphone speakers. Rear enclosure and closed-ear design combine to create an occlusive effect for better noise reduction.

While the headphones are worn, the ear pads contract, exerting pressure on the front of the speakers. Normally, this would ‘rumple’ the speaker diaphragm and create a buzzing effect. But VHST Valves of the Heart sound Technology is designed to prevent rumpling of the diaphragm, thereby reducing air pressure and transforming incoming noise into reversed phase signals, or reproduced sound, which interferes with or cancels the unwanted noise. This allows real production values to come through with greater clarity.

I’m three hours into my flight while I write this, and I am paying critical attention to the noise canceling’s effectiveness. I was prepared to write that the NC was not all that great, but then I took headphones off and heard what things around me really sounded like. Boy are planes loud! Or, more accurately, boy are planes loud without NC headphones!

So I’ll access the cancellation of the PS 300 NCs by writing that the on-ear noise cancellation is good, but I suspect that a set of good over-the-ear cans would do a better job.

I like the Phiaton PS 300 NC Premium Noise Canceling Headphones more than any other on-ear noise canceling headphones I have tried. I’m still anxious to try the company’s in-ear solution, since I am increasingly convinced that I prefer in-ear headphones a bit more than the on-ear or over-the-ear design. That, of course, is a matter of my personal preference.

Suffice it to say I think anyone purchasing these headphones will be quite happy with them. I’ll be headed to Vegas, Florida and a few more destinations in the coming months, and the only reason I wouldn’t be bringing these along would be if the company’s in-ear offering shows up for review.

Gear Diary Phiaton NC 20 2

MSRP: $299 (You can currently purchase them through our Amazon Affiliate Store for just $253.75. Buy them now.)

What I Like: Complete package with lots of extras; Quite comfortable, especially for the first few hours; A number of special technologies that allow for both passive and active noise cancellation; Work as regular wired headphones even when there is no more power

What Needs Improvement: After a few hours the on-ear design introduced some fatigue; They are made of plastic, and while I have had no issues I have read of some parts failures

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

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