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Review: Phiaton PS 20 NC Earphones with Noise Blocker Technology

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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It's commonplace to see music listeners clad with headphones or earphones almost anywhere you go, from walking down the street, to the passenger seated next to you on the plane to almost anyone on an exercise machine. Many just want to listen to music, others want to detach themselves from the environment and enjoy a few moments of solitude and quiet. One of the ways to do either is with the Phiaton PS 20 NC 'Primal Series' earphones with Noise Blocker technology.

Features

Phiaton, part of the Cresyn Co. Ltd. of Korea, manufactures several models of headphones and earphones as well as a uniquely styled iPod docking station. The PS 20 NC earphones are similar to the PS 20 earphones, but the NC model features Phiaton's Noise Blocker technology, which blocks 95% of outside noise. In my review of the Phiaton PS 20 earphones, I noted that they are well-suited for portable and home stereo listening, but the PS 20 NC model with noise canceling is intended for listening on-the-go in noisy environments such as airplanes, trains, city streets or the gym.

While noise-canceling technology is no longer unique, 95% blocking is higher than other models I've seen, especially for an earphone. The noise cancellation is controlled by a small in-line dongle on the cord of the PS 20 NC, which also features a 'Monitor' switch allowing you to momentarily mute the music and listen to sounds in the nearby environment. The device, which also houses the battery, has a pocket clip.

The Phiaton PS 20 NC earphones are very comfortable. Their design fits snugly outside the ear canal and they come with soft silicon tips in four sizes to fit almost any sized ear canal. A soft carry case is included.

Travelers, especially cross-country air travelers, will benefit from Phiaton's 'EverPlay' feature. Simply put, if the AAA battery dies over Kansas, you can still listen to music until you reach the coast, although without noise canceling.

Performance

I expected to hear similar audio performance between the PS 20 and the PS 20 NC – they appear to be the same other than the Noise Blocker feature. However, I noted a much fuller, warmer and more detailed sound quality with the PS 20 NC, especially in noise cancellation mode. The volume was slightly higher in NC mode, but the overall sound was much better as well. They sounded more like a pair of larger headphones with larger speakers. Bass was solid with good depth and extension, complemented by equally listenable mids and highs.

Overall the noise cancellation in the PS 20 NC is mostly effective for reducing environmental noise, but not as effective as over-the-ear headphones with the same feature, likely because isolation is better with headphones rather than earphones. I'm not sure about the claim of 95% reduction in noise and have no way to test it, but the PS 20 NC earphones reduced external noise enough for my tastes when playing music and have a very sweet, easy-listening sound quality. If you looking for comfortable earphones with a good balance of high-end sound quality and reasonably effective noise cancellation, check out the Phiaton PS 20 NC.

Specifications

  • Frequency response: 15 Hz – 22 kHz
  • THD: Less than 1% at 1 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 101 dB at 1 kHz
  • Cord length: 1.2m
  • Available in black or white
  • Price: $149.00
  • Contact: phiaton.com

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