By Mike Riley on Thu, 10/17/2013
Having previously reviewed Phiaton's high-end wired Bridge MS 500 Headphones, I was looking forward to giving their top of the line Chord MS 530 series a try. If you own a top-of-the-line iPhone or iPad and know the quality and features it delivers, you will appreciate the high-end sophistication Phiaton has packed into their premiere wireless Bluetooth, noise-canceling headphones. But are they the ultimate headphones that you have been looking for? These are my conclusions after using the headphones nearly non-stop for the past few days.
Like the Bridge MS 500, the Chord MS 530 ($349) is pillow-soft comfortable. When I shared the headphones with others to try, that was the first thing they noticed. I went longer wearing these over-the-ear headphones in a single stretch than any others I've worn in the past. Yes, you still need to take a break from them after a while, but they don't cause the kind of ear fatigue that other heat-trapping headphones do.
If I didn't know these were wireless before I put them on, I would have assumed by the clarity and dynamic range they reproduce that they were strictly wired. Bright highs and deep bass were delivered thanks to Phiaton's titanium-coated driver unit and expertly tuned acoustic design. Coupled with the extended capabilities of Bluetooth 4.0 and Phiaton's aptX audio communication protocol, the Chord MS 530 contains some of the best cutting-edge technologies in a headphone today.
In addition to the premium sound reproduction, the Chord MS 530 has an onboard noise-canceling technology that the company claims can filter up to 98 percent of ambient background noise. While I haven't had a chance to test this claim on an airplane, I did test it in several settings including various forms of public transportation and an office environment with a droning HVAC system. Each time the results far exceeded my expectations. I shared the headphones with several others to validate my experiences and each person had the same reaction. The active noise canceling technology embedded in the headphones alone is worth the price of admission. The noise-canceling technology also comes into play when using the headphone's built-in dual-microphone. This noise filter removes both background noise and echo from the conversation, giving the call recipient a clear, coherent audio delivery.
The headphones provide up to 30 hours of wireless audio, or up to 18 hours when the noise canceling is switched on. I used the MS 530 continuously (minus the occasional five minute ear breathing breaks) from morning until night and the battery in my phone died before the headset did. Because the MS 530 allows for multi-point connection pairing, I was able to switch over to my iPad without hesitation, keeping the music and podcasts going. The headphones would have continued operating had it not been for the fact that I needed to get some sleep! And had the headphone battery actually fully drained out, I could have simply plugged in the accompanying headset and microphone cable to continue using it
About the only minor issue I had with the headphones is the placement of the CALL button on the back side of the right headphone. It happens to be placed where my thumb grips the headphones to put them on or off my head. I inadvertently triggered a call sequence several times as a result. Once I acclimated to the textured feel and precise location of the call button, that problem diminished. However, it occasionally reoccurred whenever I shared the headphones with someone to let them evaluate the sound and noise-canceling capabilities. But when I actually wanted to make a call, pressing the call button worked as expected, and the dual microphone configuration made the call transmission crystal clear. And with the noise cancelation enabled, reception was also noticeably solid.
The headphones are accompanied by a number of the accessories one would expect in a package of this price. In addition to the headphones and the Everplay-X microphone cable, Phiaton also includes a microUSB charging cable, a 3.mm double mono jack in-flight adapter, a nice, cloth-lined carrying pouch, and paper documentation and warranty information. All this is wrapped in solid cardboard packaging that will easily survive aggressive delivery handling. As it should, given the expensive and sensitive components secured inside the box.
If you're looking for full-size, feature-rich, top-of-the-line wireless headphones and are able to afford the luxuries such high-tech engineering has to offer, Phiaton's Chord MS 530 should be at the top of your list. It delivers remarkable sound for a Bluetooth 4.0 wireless headset, and its noise canceling capabilities are stunning.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars