Sugg. Retail: $299 (CAN)
Manufacturer: Phiaton Corporation, www.phiaton.com
Reminiscent of Koss in its glory days, this new company is attempting to inhabit the high end of the headphone market at a time when the former headphone maker has gone way downmarket. Phiaton has also applied some serious engineering effort to the noise canceling design process as well. The PS 300 NC is not just a headphone, but a package that comes with a pair of proprietary rechargeable batteries (18-hour life cycle), and a charger that can use either USB or AC power, and in the latter case provides attachable plugs for different national power systems. There is a 1/4″ adapter for the miniplug on the removable audio cable, which also has a Mute button (to hear what the flight attendant is offering), and is a single cable that plugs into the right earpiece, avoiding the usual awkward under-chin harness. All these thoughtful touches endeared me to the PS 300 even before I auditioned it.
All this comes in a very nice, compact semi-hard case or pouch similar to the aftermarket one I bought for my Grado SR-125, so you can slip the whole business into a briefcase when not listening. The headphone itself folds neatly to fit the case, and has switches on each earpiece for bass enhancement, and a single further slide switch to engage the NC circuit on the top of the left one with an LED to show it’s on. The ear cushions fit right on the ear, and are of a perfect size for most users, and softly cushioned with a leather-like material. The battery plugs into the top of the right ear cushion in its holder, and the second battery can be left cooking on your computer or in a wall outlet until you need it. The battery itself is described in their online literature as a “lithium-polymer” type, which “provides up to 18 hours of listening time”, and Phiaton calls the extra battery “a $50 value”. I don’t think any other maker has thought NC headphones through so completely from an ergonomic point of view. In our own picture of the Headphone “kit”, you can see the AC charger section at top left, with the USB section below outside the case, which plugs into the bottom of the AC adaptor, as well as directly into your computer.
I discovered recently that pink noise, which we use to test speakers, is also useful to evaluate noise-canceling headphones. Play the pink noise signal through my listening-room speakers, in my case all 8 in our main audio system, with the headphone on, turning the NR on and off to hear its reduction of the external noise. The headphone itself doesn’t have to be playing any music, and the effectiveness of the cancellation can be better heard that way. What I heard from this Phiaton was excellent low-frequency attenuation, with the added bonus that the sealing earpads also deal quite well with keeping out higher-frequency noise, too.
To conclude, the Phiaton PS 300 NC is a very well designed and packaged product that, though expensive compared to some other seemingly similar products, is really quite a bargain considering all that comes with it, its fit and finish, and most important, its exceptional sonic performance.
Related Reviews:PSB M4U 2 Active Noise Cancelling Stereo Headphone System
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