Wayne Thorp will speak at the 2015 AAII Investor Conference this fall; go to www.aaii.com/conference for more details.
In this age of wireless this and wireless that, the traditionalist in me appreciates running across an “old school” gadget such as wired headphones. It’s been over a year since my last review of wired headphones: the V-MODA Crossfade M-80 Shadow headphones. For the past month I have been trying out another set of high-performance, on-ear headphones, the Phiaton MS 500 Bridge headphones. I have reviewed a few Phiaton products previously, including the PS 210 BTNC wireless earphones and PS 20 BT earphones, so I was very curious to see how they do on the wired side of things. They certainly didn’t disappoint!
If you are going to spend $300 on a pair of headphones, you are expecting quality, rugged construction. That is exactly what Phiaton delivered with the Bridge MS 500. The headphones are arguably the most stylish I have reviewed in this column. It seems that red and black is becoming the color combination of choice, as I have run across my fair share of headphones featuring this color palette. Even non-tech products are getting into the act, including the Digital Treasures PocketPro Padfolio Case I reviewed a few weeks ago. Luckily, the red is merely an accent, so even those with the most conservative of tastes probably won’t be turned off by the color.
The MS line, short for Moderna Series, lives up to its name. As I have mentioned in other reviews, headphones are becoming fashion statements in their own right. The headband is made of genuine perforated leather while the body is machined aluminum.
The MS 500 ear cups fit over your ear, compared to the on-ear ear cups of the V-MODA Crossfades. I have come to prefer this type of ear cup, as I find that it seals off outside noise better and tends to be more comfortable when worn for longer periods of time. The ear cups themselves are well padded as well, which elevates the comfort level. However, their unique inverse teardrop shape has posed a problem for some reviewers. Phiaton appears to be trying to mimic the shape of the human ear. Depending on the size of your ears, the ear cups may not fully cover your ears.
The Bridge MS 500 comes with two tangle-free cloth-wrapped cables, both of which are bright red in color. One is merely a cable, while the other has an in-line microphone for phone calls (more on this later). The MS 500 also sports “ambidextrous” inputs, which allow you to connect the cable to either the left or right side of the headphone. I really like the fact you can detach the cable from the headphone, as often the cable fails before the headphones themselves. It is much easier, and cheaper, to replace the cable than the entire set. The connectors and cables themselves also appear to be of a high quality. One trade-off of being tangle-free, however, is that the cables are rather stiff and I found myself fighting with them on occasion to get it positioned the way I wanted it. The cables are 3.6 feet in length, which I found to be plenty long enough to connect them to my iPhone and still carry the phone in a pocket with slack to spare.