Phiaton gave us a nice surprise last year with its anything-but-ordinary. This full-size set features an eye-catching red and black design with uniquely patterned earcups and plenty of extras in the box. The company's flagship earbuds, the PS 200 Earphones, are no different. Like their bigger sibling, Phiaton's littlest headphones feature stylish touches, a slick carrying case, and solid sound quality, but potential consumers might have trouble swallowing the $249 price tag from a relative unknown in the headphone market.
We will say this, though: anyone with an eye for style will have trouble glossing over the Phiaton PS 200 Primal Series. Each earpiece is contained within a conical black and silver casing that brings to mind a mini jet engine. The ends have a textured, fan-like insert that accounts for this funky look. The tapered design of the earbuds works well with the shape of the ear, and Phiaton includes several sets of standard silicone tips for help with fit, but not all users will find them comfortable. It would have been nice to find a larger variety of sleeves in this price range. On the plus side, the package includes a high-quality, hard-sided carrying case with an integrated cable-management system and storage for the eartips.
Descending from the PS 200 earbuds is a black Y cable that meets at a brushed metal accent where you'll find a slider for tangle prevention. The cord is impressively thick and measures just over four feet on the whole. At the end is a standard 3.5mm straight plug. The earphones lack any other features of note. Again, at this price point we would have liked to see some more extras, such as an optional mic for use with music phones or an inline volume attenuator.
Still, sound quality is arguably more important than extras when it comes to earphones, and the Phiaton PS 200 Primal Series Earphones don't disappoint on that front. Our one complaint is that bass is subtle, especially when compared head-to-head with the Monster Turbine earphones. That's not to say it isn't there; it's just more underlying as opposed to thumping. We'd like a more present low-end, but some listeners may prefer the subtlety--especially those who listen to mellow electronica, classical, and low-key rock. (If you're big on pop and hip hop, these may not be the set for you.)
Beyond that, we were impressed with the range, clarity, and warmth offered by the headphones. The female vocals in Motorcycle's "As The Rush Comes" were smooth and buttery without even slightly overshadowing the sharp detail of the background shaker, and the poignancy of Portishead's "Glory Box" was palpable, every string standing out. In David Bowie's "Fame," each individual backing instrument popped. In final analysis, the audio quality produced by the Phiaton PS 200 Primal Series Earphones justifies the price, but we still wish there were more eartips and extras, as well as a more recognizable brand to go with it.