It is difficult to find a portable headphone that not only sounds and looks good but is comfortable to wear. Enter the Phiaton Chord MS 530. The headphone sports some useful features such as being fold-able, wireless and having noise cancelling. However, the biggest factor is always audio quality. How well does the MS 530 perform?
The MS530 Build Quality
The MS530 is built to fold in and be compact. This in turns means lighter and thinner materials. The plastic and rubber is thick enough in the joints to make me confident it will hold up to being tossed into a backpack. However, I would still be careful not to drop it onto a hard surface or applying outward pressure to the plastic band.
The Phiaton’s Audio Quality
Sporting a hi-fi, v-shaped sound signature, the MS 530 is designed for enjoying music. The detail is great for a headphone at this price level. Bass is infectiously bouncy and the highs are clear without being harsh. The headphone does have a slightly noticeable noise floor, even when noise cancelling is off.
Design & Look
The MS530 is very sleek with a minimalist, futuristic look. These are the kind of headphones I’d imagine someone wearing in first class on a plane trip. Even though there are a bunch of buttons and jacks on the rim of the cans they are not too conspicuous.
The Phiaton MS530 Comfort
Having the ear pads touching the entire surface area of the ear was a smart choice as it theoretically helps to spread the pressure and reduce discomfort. As with most on-ear headphones they still made my ears sore from the clamping after about an hour and a half of listening. Unlike some headphones the headband itself has great padding and keeps the top of my head pain-free.
Soundstage: Well sized for a closed back headphone with decent sound separation. The track “Venus Fly” by Grimes really showed how expansive the soundstage could be with the vocal reverb radiating outward to reveal tiny sound effect elements striking in the distance around and above.
Highs: Crisp and clear. After an hour and a half listening session of they had yet to become fatiguing. Joanna Wang’s “Moon River” opened with wistful high notes on a glockenspiel perfectly captured and as the song progressed the flutes and upper vocal registers remained pleasantly warming and lushly blended.
Mids: Given that the headphone’s v-shaped the mids are good for electronic and other sharply produced music but are a tad soft in an orchestral setting with lots of presence. Heavy midrange bass like the growls off Zomboy’s “Bad Intentions” were extremely crisp and aggressive. On Junkie XL’s track “Brothers in Arms” off the Mad Max Fury Road soundtrack, the strings and distorted sound design were decently differentiated and driving but when the horn swells came in they could have been stronger.
Lows: Extremely punchy and bouncy. On the track “Professional Griefers” by Deadmau5, the kick had great energy while still remaining sharply differentiated from the bass synths popping around it. While the bass is energetic and strong it does lack a little clarity in the body and tail.
There is a cable for wired listening but the best feature of the MS 530 is their wireless capability. Not having to worry about a cord getting tangled in a tiny plane seat or caught on a chair arm is so useful. The pairing process was easy for me once I held the call button and then searched on my phone for nearby Bluetooth devices. The MS 530 also has noise cancelling that can be enabled with the push of a switch. I was sitting near a vent with loud air conditioning and was surprised at how completely the feature eliminated the background noise.
Should You Buy the Phiaton Chord MS 530?
If you travel a lot and are tired of having to lug around a bulky on-ear or over-ear headphone this compact option is a great buy. If you are tired of trying to wrangle the cables on your headphones every time you turn then wireless saves a lot of headache. Having a reliable set of headphones for traveling is a necessity for music lovers and the MS 530 is a fantastic value for the price.
- Pros: Portability, feature packed, punchy bass, looks
- Cons: Mids, build quality
The Phiaton Chord MS 530 is a headphone squarely aimed at listeners wanting stronger low end and clear highs. Producers and audiophiles looking for a flat and neutral sound may not prefer this for home listening. The headphone is really meant to raise the bar for the pleasure of listening to music on the go. The features such as being wireless and having noise cancelling that really works are icing on the cake.