CNET First Look
Phiaton Moderna MS 200 in-ear headphonesDespite a few minor drawbacks, the Phiaton Moderna MS 200 is a very appealing day-to-day, half-in-ear headphone that also works well for exercising.
I'm David Carnoy, executive editor for CNET.com, and I'm here with the Phiaton Moderna MS 200. The company is calling this a half-in-ear headphone, which means it's midway between an earbud and an in-ear headphone. I know that sounds a little confusing, but the idea here is that 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. The earphones come with a few different kinds of eartips, and depending upon which one you choose, the fit will be a little different. All in all, the earphones are very comfortable to wear and the target customer is someone who wants a versatile in-ear-style headphone that can be used on a day-to-day basis as well as for outdoor exercise activities where you don't wanna be cut off from your environment. The earphones have a bit of carbon fiber on their exterior, which should help with durability and Phiaton claims the MS 200's "Multi-Tune Acoustic Design" uses a dual chamber and has five tuning points engineered to optimize airflow. That sounds like technobabble, but the MS 200 sound is richly balanced and has good but not great detail. The fairly flat, tangle-resistant, 47-inch long cable has an integrated one-button remote and microphone that allows you to make cellphone calls. You get four sizes of matching soft silicone tips and one pair of 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 attached. An attractively styled protective carrying case is also included. The headphone is sweat- and water-resistant, so you can enjoy your music with a heavy workout or in a light rain without fear of damaging the headphone. One of the signature sound traits of the MS 200 is that it sounds very open and airy particularly for an in-ear-style headphone. It may not have the best definition, but there's a decent amount of bass and this is an earphone that you can listen to for long periods without experiencing listening fatigue. In terms of fit, the MS 200 shares some similarities to the Bose MIE2i, another very comfortable half-in-ear-style headphone. That said, this model offers a snugger fit and lets in less sound from the outside world. The downside to the MS 200 is the sound feels a little less direct and immediate than a good in-ear design, but this is a versatile headphone that it will appeal to folks who want both an in-ear-style headphone for day-to-day use as well as for exercising. At $120 online, it's reasonably priced, though I think Phiaton could get more attraction with the $99 price point. I'm David Carnoy and that's the Phiaton Moderna MS 200 half-in-ear headphone. Thanks for watching.