First Listen: Phiaton PS 200 in-ear headphones

Earphones and in-ear monitors
Phiaton PS 200
First Listen: Phiaton PS 200 in-ear headphones

Phiaton (pronounced fee? ah ton) is a subsidiary of the South Korean consumer electronics giant Cresyn Company, Limited, and as near as I can tell the firm is intent on making its mark in the world of high-performance headphones and other portable audio products. At present, the company’s product offerings fall in two groups: the “Primal Series” models, which are targeted toward the high-end community, and the “Moderna Series” models, which are construed more as visually appealing “lifestyle” products. But the models that caught my attention, from the Primal Series group, of course, are the PS 200 in-ear headphones with an MSRP of $249. The PS 200’s will be one of my review subjects for Playback issue 20.

Technically, the PS 200 has two distinguishing features: first, the headphone are driven by “dual balanced armature drivers with a passive crossover,” and second, they incorporate an “acoustic impedance control mechanism (that) opens and closes holes on the rear side of the speaker unit,” thus changing the acoustical impedance of the speaker enclosure to “improve low frequency sound.” While the PS 200 is by no means the first dual-armature headphone on the market (three others that immediately come to mind are the Klipsch Custom 3’s, the Shure SE 420’s, and the Ultmate Ears SuperFi 5Pro’s), I found it impressive that a relative newcomer to the high-end in-ear headphone marketplace would lead off with a product incorporating this relative complex technology.

I’m still in the midst of my review listening with the PS 200’s, so I don’t want rush to judgment, but I can tell you that they are very revealing and detailed. The bigger question I’m wrestling with involves their overall tonal balance and bass output, which is extremely dependent on fit (more so than is the case for many of the other in-ear ‘phones I’ve tried). What compounds the issue is that the PS 200’s appear to be capable of two levels of fit (as judged by the degree to which they form a truly airtight seal in your ear canals): good fit—with very minor air leaks—yields good bass, but great fit—which is a bit harder to achieve—may take bass to even higher levels.

One other very nice aspect of the PS 200s is there very well designed (albeit slightly bulky) carrying case. The gist of things is that the interior of the case provides a hard shell chamber for the left and right earphones, spare sets of ear tips, and accessories, while the whole shebang doubles as a winding spool for the signal cables. The exterior of the case is a tough, fabric-covered wrapper that provides a nice, solid magnetic closure. Stay tuned for the full review in PB20.   


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