Phiaton MS 400 Moderna Series headphones review: Phiaton MS 400 Moderna Series headphones

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Phiaton MS 400 (Red)

(Part #: MS-400) Released: Sep 1, 2008
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The Phiaton MS 400 Moderna Series headphones feature solid sound quality and an eye-catching design that's also comfortable.

The Bad The Phiaton MS 400 headphones' Y-cable is not conducive to at-home listening, and the earcups tend to overheat the ears.

The Bottom Line The Phiaton MS 400 Moderna Series headphones are cool to look at and comfy to wear; the balanced audio quality make them a good choice for listeners with a diverse taste in music.

7.0 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Performance 7.0

In a gadget world dominated by black, white, and silver, it's always refreshing to come across colorful tech. Earbud manufacturers already offer every color of the rainbow, but finding funky full-size models is more challenging. Skullcandy is a notable exception, and now more companies are joining the fray. Hot on the heels of the Monster Beats by Dr. Dre headphones are the slightly similar Phiaton MS 400 Moderna Series headphones, another cushy red and black pair that retails for $249. They may not be as fashion-forward as Dr. Dre's, but that doesn't mean they won't garner some compliments from passersby.

Beyond the color, the physical design of the Phiaton MS 400 is pretty standard for a full-size model, with an adjustable padded headband terminating in two U-shaped earcup holders. This allows the earcups to be swiveled 180 degrees, making them more DJ-appropriate than the Beats headphones. However, spinners likely won't appreciate the Y-cable descending from both earpieces; this is an unusual (and not entirely desirable) feature for earcup headphones. At any rate, the 4-foot cord is on the short side for at-home use, and the relatively small size of the MS 400 combined with the fact that they fold down compactly makes them more suitable for on-the-go use. Phiaton includes a sturdy zippered case, making the headphones even more travel-friendly. However, there's also a quarter-inch adapter in the event that you want to connect to your home audio system.

Getting back to style, the Phiaton MS 400 headphones certainly have something going for them. The dominating color is bright red, which comprises all the soft material, including the headband and earpads. There are also red, metallic badges spelling out "Right" and "Left" in their entirety on the outside of each side of the headband. The outside of each earcup is encased in glossy plastic decked out in a black and silver 3D checkerboard/zig-zag print. Thankfully, Phiaton didn't ignore the importance of comfort in its quest for style--the MS 400s are cushy enough to wear for several hours without discomfort. However, earrings must be taken out; also, the headphones tend to cause ears to sweat.

Of course, looks aren't everything--or the most important thing--for headphones. Solid sound quality is a must, and the Phiaton MS 400 headphones deliver. During testing, we were impressed by how evenly they sounded across genres, making them a good choice for users with a diverse listening palette. They tend to play heavy and loose on the low-end, which may not appeal to those looking for tight, balanced sound. The mids are rich, but not quite buttery, and high-end clarity and detail is good, though not extremely crisp (we tend to prefer this, but others may not). On the whole, music sounds quite lovely, but we were never really blown away--it's about what we expect in this price range.

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