The Phiaton PS 20 NC Earphones have noise canceling and are worth serious consideration if you're in the market to replace what came in the box with your iPhone or iPod. Aside from sounding quite decent, they add the advantage of noise cancellation that Phiaton claims is up to 95 percent effective; however I didn't find that to be the case for me.
The Phiaton PS 20 NC Earphones
The noise cancellation does work and is powered by an included AAA battery, but the half-open earpiece design doesn't provide a close enough fit to really cancel the majority of background noise. The difference with cancellation turned on rather than left off is considerable, but, to my ears, not really good enough. The process is similar to the Phiaton PS 210 BTNC earphones that I reviewed previously, but the 210s did a slightly better job due to the inclusion of form fitting foam earpieces that blocked the ear canal a bit better than did the three sizes of half-open earpieces included with the PS 20 NCs. Using the foam earpieces, both earphones were as effective as each other in noise cancellation, which I would rather refer to as noise reduction.
The Earpiece Construction
Worth The Money?
The price of the Phiaton PS 20 NCs have been dropping. A quick Internet search showed them introduced at US$179, and then dropping to $149. Now the retail price is $129, and at that price point they are well worth the money and I'd consider them a bargain.
What About the Sound?
The sound is a bit better, clearer and more open than the Bluetooth Phiaton 210 BTNC, but I suppose that's to be expected without the Bluetooth feature that retails for $159. Unless you're as picky an audiophile as myself, I'd spend the extra $30 and go for slightly more compressed sound provided by the 210 BTNCs for the convenience of not being tethered by wire to your device. For no compromise sound, the PS 20 NC earphones aren't the best you can get, but probably provide the best price/sound value for any earphones with noise cancellation of any sort.
The sound is easily bettered by my go-to earphones the Etymotic•ER4s that list for $300, but you get what you pay for, and I feel that you get a lot of bang for the buck with the $129 Phiaton PS 20 NCs. They have a clean open sound with substantial dynamic range from 20-20,000 Hz. I ran a suite of test tones and was quite impressed on how well and clearly they were reproduced. Turning on noise cancellation and playing the tones from my Macbook Pro reduced the volume of the tones in the PS 20 NCs by better than half.
How Do They Feel?
Three sizes of earpieces are provided so you're bound to find one that fits, and although they are only half in your ear you'd be hard pressed to shake your head enough for them to fall out of your ears. The fit and feel are terrific. I've worn them all day and forgotten they were there. That's how comfortable they feel.
How Do They Look?
Phaiton sells them in two versions: white with silver trim and black with gold trim. The white ones will look great as Apple replacements. Also in the box is an airplane adapter and a velvet pouch to hold them, which is nicely kept closed by a magnet.
The Black and Gold Version
It has a classy look to it, until you come to the noise cancellation module. This little plastic tube holds the battery and has a cheap wire clip that doesn't seem to fit with the quality of the product. They could have done better. On the bright side, if the battery runs out the noise cancellation will stop but the music will play on. This is a feature rarely seen in noise cancellation headphones.
Do I Recommend It?
I surely do. Phiaton has done a commendable job of making an affordable, great sounding product that sells at a price that I haven't seen in the noise cancellation market. I believe that just about anyone will be happy with these comfortable and quite reasonably priced earphones.