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Phiaton Chord MS 530 M-Series Wireless & Active Noise Cancelling Headphones with Microphone

  1. pro1137
    A Feature-Filled Offering from Phiaton
    Written by pro1137
    Published Aug 12, 2014
    Pros - Loads of features, versatility, design, build quality, comfort, ANC ability, Bluetooth range, battery life
    Cons - Relatively sub-par sound, ANC greatly affects sound quality
    The Phiaton Chord is a stylish and functional full-size on-ear headphone that features both Bluetooth connectivity and Active Noise Cancelling.


    Build/Design - Phiaton has, for the most part, a great design team. The Chord is quite stylish and attractive in design. The headphones are made of a few different materials, including aluminum, plastic, and rubber.

    The headband and cups are made out of plastic. This plastic feels pretty dense and not prone to breaking, cracking, nor spontaneously combusting. I don't advocate for dropping pieces of technology, but I think the Chord's plastics would be just fine if you were to let it fall.

    Aluminum. Aluminium. 'Luminum. However you pronounce it where you live, some of the Chord's parts are made from it: the length adjusters, folding mechcanism, and part of the cups. On the adjusters, the Phiaton name is embossed, rather elegantly so. The aluminum on the cups holds the buttons, switches, covers, and other feature-engaging apparatuses.

    Rubber is used as the headband cushion. It's pretty smooth, yet soft at the same time. There's a red stripe in the center that extends past the cushion itself into the actual headphone cable that leads into the cups. Clever, I'd say.

    The shape of the Chord isn't anything outlandish like its sister headphone, the Bridge, but that's not to say it won't stand out. Literally. The adjusters have a peak at where they turn in to approach the headphone. The peak somewhat "juts out," making the headphone look a bit wider than it is, and, depending on your personal tastes (and head shape/size), may be either favorable or unfavorable.

    The cups are a rounded rectangle in shape. The left cup holds the ANC on/off switch and the 3.5mm cable input for when Bluetooth isn't optimal/available for use. The right cup holds the call button, volume up/down switch which also doubles as a play/pause button, the Bluetooth on/off button, and the micro-usb charging port. 

    Comfort - As far as comfort goes, these are incredibly nice. The large and soft earpads rest nicely on my ears with little to no clamping pressure. 

    This headphone seems to be the definition of the fusion of form and function. It features both ANC and Bluetooth functionality; both of which can be used by themselves or at the same time. Bluetooth 4.0 is, as always, incredible in terms of quality and range. It is much more efficient on battery than previous Bluetooth models and has a range that more than doubles its predecessor. ANC works very well. I've used these on buses countless times, and the low-end rumble of said buses practically disappears when ANC is turned on. Same for my expereinces in noisy cafes. Less noise, more music.

    Sound – Chord seems to follow suit in many of Phiaton's newer M-series headphones in terms of sonic signature: Flat with some mid-centric tendencies. However, I feel that it falls short in comparison to even Phiaton's Fusion model and even more compared to Phiaton's Bridge; especially when ANC is turned on.

    The sound does change somewhat drastically when the noise cancellation feature is activated, but let's start with it being off, first.

    The Chord is in no way a bass heavy headphone. To me, this is a plus. Too many portable headphones on the market today have the same tired signature of being bass-heavy. Of course they all have their differences, but the Chord takes it a bit farther.

    The bass area is neutral and very in-tune with the other aspects of music played. This allows the headphone to be more versed in genres. It performs exceptionally well with anything I've played through it. It may be a bit underwhelming for hip-hop to some, but that wasn't the case with me.

    The midrange is slightly forward in comparison to everything else. This, to me, gives music more body; especially rock and jazz. This equates to a more intimate listening experience as a whole as well. This area is very clear and pronounced with a lot of transparency to the sound.

    Treble is well balanced , granted the forwardness of the midrange. No noticeable peaks or harshness. Details come out very easily as well.

    Soundstage depth is quite good for a closed-back on-ear, even if it is a full-sized on-ear. Width isn't anything special, unfortunately, but it suffices.

    But when we turn the noise cancellation feature on...

    Bass at this point remains unchanged, for the most part. There seems to be a bit of an accentuation in the upper bass while ANC is on, but other than that, it's the same.

    The midrange suffers most from the ANC feature being on. Almost all of the transparency noted before has dissapated and spread into a cloudy cover. The mids actually get a bit more pronounced as well, which only further exhonerates the cloudiness.

    The treble becomes a bit more sparkly in the lower regions, but still no harshness detected. However there now seems to be a bit of a roll off in the upper treble that seems to mask some of the details that were more present before.

    Soundstage has also taken a hit here. Depth seems to be nonexistent now, while width isn't altered.

    Concluson – The Chord is a very versitile headphone that excels in multiple regions. Sonically, I feel it fails in comparison to two of Phiaton's lower end models. While it's packed with features, it's up to you to determine if those features are worth the money. If your answer is no, I'd advise you to take a look at Phiaton's other offerings instead.