Phiaton Moderna MS-200 in-ear headphones review: Comfortable, versatile, and sporty

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.7
  • Design: 9.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Sound quality: 7.0
  • Value: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Phiaton Moderna MS 200 model offers a very comfortable fit and stylish design with a flat cord and inline remote/microphone. The earphones are water-resistant and sound full and very open. They also come with a nice carrying case and several eartip choices, and they don't seal out ambient noise, which means you can hear cars coming when you're biking or running.

The Bad Not ideal for people who want a tight seal (they let a lot of sound in). Definition could be a bit better.

The Bottom Line Despite a few minor drawbacks, the Phiaton Moderna MS 200 earbuds are very appealing day-to-day, half-in-ear headphones that also work well for exercising.

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The Phiaton Moderna MS 200 is a "half-in-ear" headphone design, which means it's midway between an earbud and an in-ear headphone. While the MS 200s have eartips, you don't jam them all the way into your ear canal. Instead, they simply rest in your ear canal, so they let some sound in. That said, depending on which tip you choose (several kinds are included), they offer a little more of a snug fit than the Bose MIE2is, which have special customized silicone tips and let even more sound in.

It's an interesting design, and the earphones are very comfortable to wear. The target customer is someone who wants versatile in-ear-style headphones that can be used on a day-to-day basis as well as for outdoor exercise activities such as walking, running, or biking, where you don't want to be cut off from your environment. I liked them. In terms of sound, the MS 200s don't offer incredible definition, but they do sound full and open, particularly for this type of headphone design.

Design and features
The MS 200s' distinctive styling, carbon graphite fiber body, and bright red cable stand out in the crowd of in-ear headphones. Phiaton claims that the MS 200s' "Multi-Tune Acoustic Design" uses a dual chamber and has five tuning points engineered to optimize airflow. That sounds like technobabble to me, but the sound is richly balanced and has good detail.

The unusually shaped earpieces are larger than most and have a vertical "post" that hangs down from your ears, which makes them feel a little unstable. That didn't detract from comfort, and since the design doesn't require a tight ear seal to produce solid bass, there's no need to fuss with the fit every time you put them in your ears.

The earphones have a graphite fiber body. Sarah Tew/CNET

The oval-shaped, 47-inch-long red cable has mic and phone controls located high up on the flat, tangle-resistant cord that is attached to the right earpiece. The MS 200s come with four sizes of matching red soft silicone tips, and one pair of Comply foam tips. There's also a set of RightFit silicone eartips, and they definitely provided a more secure fit for exercising than the other tips, but the headphones' bass output dropped with the RightFit tips installed. I much preferred the sound with the standard tips. The attractively styled travel pouch is the only included accessory.

The headphones are sweat- and water-resistant, so you can enjoy your music during a heavy workout or in a light rain without fear of damaging them. The MS 200s have unusually large 14.3mm drivers and a 32-ohm-rated impedance.

The four different types of included eartips Sarah Tew/CNET

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Oct 31, 2012
  • Sound Output Mode stereo
  • Type headset
  • Headphones Form Factor in-ear
  • Connector Type mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm