Details: Phiaton’s ‘half in-ear’ dynamic offering designed to sacrifice isolation for a less intrusive fit
MSRP: $99.00 (discontinued); $99 for PS 21oi with mic & 1-button remote (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $80 from amazon.com for PS 210; $80 from amazon.com for PS 210i
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 32 Ω | Sens: 98 dB | Freq: 10-27k Hz | Cable: 4.2’ I-plug
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: Sennheiser short bi-flange, Comply T400
Wear Style: Straight down
Accessories (3.5/5) – Single flange silicone tips (4 sizes) and semi-rigid cylindrical carrying case
Build Quality (4/5) – The PS210 housings resemble a cross between the higher-end Phiaton PS200 and the Yamaha EPH-50. The rear halves of the shells are metal and look similar to the PS200 shells except for the ‘turbine blades’, which are not articulated in the PS210. The driver bulges and nozzles are plastic but feel quite sturdy. The strain reliefs on housing entry are a bit too long and rigid for my liking but do the job. The cable is identical to that of the PS200 and features a metal Y-split and short but flexible molding on the plastic 3.5mm I-plug casing
Isolation (2/5) – As expected, the half in-ear design drops isolation down into mediocrity, though aftermarket biflange tips can be used for a deeper seal
Microphonics (4/5) – Quite low but hard to avoid completely as the PS210 cannot be worn over-the-ear
Comfort (4/5) – The driver housings are rather large and the earphones aren’t nearly as light as the all-plastic Yamaha EPH-50 but the ergonomic design still works rather well and the four sizes of silicone tips are a welcome inclusion
Sound (7.5/10) – The Phiaton PS210 shares its half in-ear fitment style with the Yamaha EPH-50, which is similarly-priced on paper but can be found far below MSRP in the wild. Listening to both side by side reveals why – the EPH-50 is a decent budget-oriented earphone but it lacks the refinement and technical capability to compete with my top picks in the $60-100 range. The PS210, however, is another story. Keeping in mind that the EPH-50 is a bass-heavy earphone in the grand scheme of things, the PS210 simply has so much more finesse and control that picking between the two is a no-contest proposition. The low end of the PS210 is tight and well-defined. Impact quantity lags far behind the EPH-50 (though not quite far enough for the PS210 to be called bass-light) but the quality is excellent. The bass is quick but rather soft, boasting little rumble or slam but good accuracy and realistic attack and decay.
The midrange is quite clear, with decent detailing but not much texture. The resulting sound is extremely smooth and quite transparent. The far sweeter mids of the PS210 make the EPH-50 sound like a screaming child – the Yamahas really aren’t capable of great subtlety. The treble is also very smooth and quite well-resolved. The highs are detailed enough to keep up with the better sub-$100 earphones (RE0 being the exception) but never sound sharp or aggressive. Softness is really a recurring theme of the PS210’s presentation. Top end extension is impressive, making the PS210 a rather well-rounded earphone, much to my liking. The way the PS210 presents sound is quite fitting of the half in-ear design. The soundstage is fairly wide and has good depth of positioning and excellent air. Separation is quite decent though these clearly weren’t designed as studio monitors. What they are is an excellent set of relaxation earphones that offer surprising refinement of sound and a very pleasant overall presentation. Lastly, the PS210 is a rather inefficient earphone so hiss out of laptop jacks is not a problem. A dedicated amp is not necessary, however, though the earphones do scale up somewhat.
Value (8/10) – The Phiaton PS 210 is a rather unique offering from the Korean audio giant. Designed to fall somewhere between an IEM and a conventional earbud in both fit and isolation, the PS 210 is otherwise an extremely competent mid-range earphone. The build quality is quite solid though the earphones are larger than my other half in-ear earphones, the Yamaha EPH-50, and absolutely dwarf the tiny EPH-20. However, those with smaller ears may have some trouble getting a seal. The sound is balanced, refined, and spacious. Those who like an aggressive sound should look elsewhere – perhaps at the EPH-50 – but for a relaxing and yet highly proficient listening experience the PS 210 is among the better earphones in its class.
Pros: Well-designed and comfortable, balanced and spacious sound
Cons: Low isolation