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HATS-Front Image
HATS-Side Image

When you remove the silicone sleeves, you'll notice a semi-porous mesh. This probably does not afford the speakers much protection from just about any normal bio waste, so try not to sweat a lot on these.

Looking from the side, you can see the brushed metal accents and have a greater appreciation for how big these things actually are.

The back of the Phiaton PS 210is prominently display a turbofan-like piece of plastic that gathers highly-visible crud at a rate you wouldn't believe. Even 30 minutes after removing them from the box, they already have a noticeable amount of grime on them, and it's a mystery as to where it came from given our lab environment. We wonder why this design element was necessary.

The cable employed by the Phiaton PS 210is is a fairly high-gauge wire with thin insulation. The cable itself is 3.93 feet long and ends with a standard 1/8th inch plug.

The plug is a standard 1/8th inch plug with a fairly uninspiring cord guard.

Speaking of cord guards, on the whole they are fairly robust, with the notable exception of the cord guard near the plug: it's small and flimsy.

The Phiaton PS 210is have an in-line microphone before the cable split for iPhone users.

Packaged with the Phiaton PS 210is are 3 pairs of additional silicone sleeves, a carrying case, and a warranty/registration card with envelope. Noticeably missing is any sort of instruction manual.

Much like the sleek, metal turbofan engine that these earbuds seem to be designed after, a slight bit of foreign-object damage could put these earbuds out of commission. In most spots the electronics are protected only by plastic panels that stand a decent chance of breaking at certain stress points should the buds themselves be dropped. While it hasn't happened here at the lab yet, we're being pretty careful with these.

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The Phiaton website claims this design is award winning, we claim their design is dated, as jet-styled design themes largely went out of style in the early 1960s. We were slightly more enthusiastic about the design at one point, until it became obvious that it doesn't actually grant you the power of flight.

Our testing showed a decent frequency response, but a few alternating points at which one channel was louder than the other and vice-versa. This seemed fairly consistent until the dropoff at 10kHz. To the PS 210is' credit, there weren't any noticeably huge boosts or drops in volume before normally expected.

Frequency Response Graph
[Click here for more information on our frequency response test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Frequency_Response) The Phiaton PS 210is don't seem to have any issues with distortion worth mentioning.
Distortion Graph
[Click here for more information on our frequency response test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Distortion) As you can see by the chart below, the tracking for the Phiaton PS 210is are a little odd, as they start off slightly favoring the left channel, trend toward the right channel, and then inexplicably start jumping all over the place with no discernible pattern. It could be worse, but we've also seen a lot better from similarly-priced in-ear headphones.
Tracking Graph
[Click here for more information on our frequency response test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Tracking) The graph you see shows how well these headphones did in blocking outside noise. Given that they only seemed to block a narrow range of pitch poorly, the Phiaton PS 210is are probably not a good choice if you like your music to close you off to the world around you.
Isolation Graph
[Click here for more information on our isolation test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Isolation) Oddly enough, the 200is do not seem to prevent much leakage despite being in-ears. We retested to make sure that there was no error with these results, and we reproduced this poor result time and time again. While this is a bizarre result, it does raise the point that you won't have to blow out your eardrums to disturb others around you if you listen to your music too loudly. [Click here for more information on our leakage test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Leakage) The maximum usable volume (without losing 3% or more to distortion) is 114.3 dB [Click here for more on our maximum usable volume test](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Maximum Usable Volume) The Phiaton 210is are fairly comfortable to wear in the short term, however the cheap silicone sleeves may start to feel uncomfortable after about an hour, even if you have the correct size on the nozzles. Over time, you probably won't notice much of a difference in comfort, as the soft silicone sleeves tend not to change much while in your ear canal. It's also entirely possible that you may have to re-adjust these a few times like we did, so that's something to be aware of if you aren't a big fan of cramming small electronics with some force into your ear canal. Included in the packaging are three extra pairs of sleeves that you can put on the nozzles to give you the best fit. Unfortunately, they only come in one style, so if you prefer another type of sleeve to caress your ear canal you are out of luck.
Customizability Image

The Phiaton PS 210is have a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, and no adapters. The cord is an average 3.93 feet long, which should be fine for most listeners keeping their media player within an arm's length of their head.

The Phiaton PS 210is come with a neat little faux-leather and felt pouch in the shape of a cylinder. Even though it's relatively small, it has more than enough room to store all your sleeves with your PS 210is. One drawback: there's no system on the inside to manage anything, so if you open it too suddenly, you may fling tiny sleeves all over the place, which can really ruin your day.

There's just about nothing you can do to maintain your PS 210is, as they come with no cleaning apparatus, no detachable earbuds or cable management system. They don't even come with a manual; all that's included that could be remotely akin to some sort of disaster-relief plan is a pre-paid envelope for register a warranty.


The Phiaton PS 210is have no battery, as they do not feature active noise attenuation. It's always nice to be free from futzing with a battery or constantly losing power halfway through a listening session, and the PS 210is will never have any of the aforementioned problems.

Remote & Mic

The Phiaton PS 210is have an in-line microphone with a tiny button to enable it for iPhone users. Anyone not using these headphones for an iPhone should be aware that more solder points means more risk for cable breakage.

You'll notice that the Sennheiser MM50 iPs have a much simpler design than the PS 210is, and that's okay- sometimes a simpler design is not only more sturdy, but also more visually appealing too. Both pairs of in-ears seem to have bad cord guards, so keep this in mind.

Aside from an erratic response in the high-end frequencies, the Sennheiser MM50 iPs have a much better frequency response over a broader range than the PS 210is.

While it's seriously splitting hairs here, the Sennheiser MM50 iPs have a better distortion response, though neither had any problems worthy of note.

Where the Sennheiser MM50 iPs have a virtually inaudible shift in its tracking, the PS 210is had several points along the range of audible frequencies that recorded a significant shift in channel volume.

The PS 210is are the corrupt bouncers of decent noise isolation, letting in just about every frequency but some of the high-range ones. The MM50 iPs provide better noise isolation.

Where both of these headphones are in-ears, there will always be a certain level of discomfort to take note of, but the Sennheiser MM50 iPs are much more comfortable than the PS 210is in the short term, and over a long period of time.

With a lower cost and better performance, you will get more bang for your buck out of the Sennheiser MM50 iPs than you would with the Phiaton PS 210is by a long shot. Really, there are almost no advantages to choosing the Phiatons over the Sennheiser MM50 iPs.

The Sony Triqii on-ear headphones have a much more interesting look than the Phiaton PS 210is, as well as a somewhat more robust design.

While both frequency responses were fairly good, the edge goes to the Phiaton PS 210is simply because their range of response is free of the same dramatic peaks that the Sony Triqiis have issues with in the 2-10kHz range.

The Sony Triqiis had a much larger problem with distortion than the Phiaton PS 210is, which comparatively had almost no distortion.

Both the Phiaton PS 210is and the Sony Triqiis had some issues with tracking, but they were much more severe with the PS 210is. The Triqiis have a passable tracking performance.

Even though the PS 210is block out hardly any outside sound, they still block more than the Triqiis, which is saying something. Still, the Triqiis are not likely to leak anywhere near as much sound to the outside world as the PS 210is, which is also saying something, as in-ears are almost universally better at corralling their own sound output than over-ears, especially cheaper ones.

This isn't really a fair comparison, as in-ears introduce the element of plunging a foreign object into your tender ear canal, whereas over-ears simply chill out on the outside of your head, not irritating you nearly as much. Still, neither set of headphones were exactly "comfortable," so we'll stick to our assertion that over-ears will probably feel better for you.

Even though the Sony Triqiis have an interesting design and low price tag, we're inclined to opt for higher sound quality and lower distortion. If the marginally improved scores of the Phiaton PS 210is aren't enough to justify shelling out double the cash for you, then we'd say go with the Triqiis. Still, each pair of headphones offer their advantages and disadvantages, so you will have to weigh your priorites for yourself.

The Etymotic Research hf5s are smaller and have a bigger potential to break easier, but they don't have a useless and ugly large fake plastic turbine on the back, so they have that going for them. Still, both sets of in-ears could do more to boost their durability, such as use better cable guards or thicker insulation or detachable earbuds so you can replace broken cables.

There is absolutely no comparison between the two in terms of sound quality; the hf5s are better in every regard by a longshot. The even response of the hf5s is more in line with what we consider to be ideal than the PS 210is, which seem to fall short of "erratic at best."

Both sets of in-ears had very minor levels of distortion.

Again, absolutely no comparison. The hf5s have an almost ideal tracking, whereas the PS 210is fall well short of this.

The Etymotic Research hf5s also block out a significantly higher amount of sound across the entire range of audible sound than the PS 210is. Starting to see a trend here?

This section is largely subjective, as our lab geeks tend to more resemble Quasimodo than normal human beings, and your fit preference will be almost entirely up to you, as ear canals come in different sizes. All that said, the hf5s offer 3 different types of sleeves, where the PS 210is only have one.

If you don't mind paying 2-3 times as much for the hf5s, you will be rewarded with higher quality almost across the board, especially when it comes to sound quality.

Compared to the PS 210is, the Shure SE115s are more equipped to withstand a savage beating. With monster cable guards and decent wire insulation, the SE115s are far more durable than the PS 210is. Even though the SE115s aren't going to dazzle you with their beauty, they still don't have large fake plastic turbines on the buds.

The comparison is sort of a wash here, as the SE115s' frequency response is fairly good until a complete dropoff at the high frequency range (goodbye cymbal crashes) and the PS 210is are erratic but maintain a decent level of high-frequency sound.

The SE115s output a bit more distortion in our tests than the PS 210is, certainly not enough to be detected by the human ear. Still, in our relentless pursuit of identifying the better pair of headphones, we use robots.

While both headphones have a dramatic shift in tracking at different frequency levels, the SE115s' peak is at a level that you are much less likely to notice.

The SE115s block out much more noise than the PS 210is, possibly due to not wasting money in designing ugly fake plastic turbines for the earbuds.

This comparison is entirely subjective, but we like earbuds that are straightforward and uncomplicated to wear. Still, it's entirely up to you; what works for us will probably not work as well for you.

More robust with a comparable sound performance and better isolation, the Shure SE115s are the better buy at a similar price. Also they aren't ugly as sin.

The Phiaton PS 210is are by no means a high-end set of in-ears, but it may be hard for some users to swallow the cost of buying them unless they can find them for much cheaper online. They offer decent frequency response and tracking, but the tracking is fairly terrible. Overall, we'd say that there isn't a whole lot that Phiaton offers to set the PS 210is apart from the competition than to offer very weird-looking turbines on the back of the earbuds.

Meet the tester

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Staff Writer, Imaging


A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.

See all of Chris Thomas's reviews

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