These headphones look as good as they sound – USA TODAY
Finding the right set of headphones is about comfort, audio quality, and overall look, all while navigating price. The Phiaton Bridge MS 500s headphones (MSRP $299) strive to offer consumers a fine marriage of high-quality audio and good looks, but they are the type of headphones you want to try before buying them.
The fit on the MS 500s can be a little tricky to get comfortable. The shape of the ear pads is neither over-ear or on-ear, leaving you with a hybrid shape that really doesn’t work well, and will likely have you adjusting and readjusting for the first few hours. Unfortunately, the first few hours are also the best few hours.
Though the leather ear cups are lavish to the touch, they also retain a lot of heat. I found myself growing almost uncomfortably warm (even amid Boston snow flurries) after a few hours of use.
There are positive flourishes, of course: The piston-like arms provide enough distance from the band for even much larger heads. The cups rock lightly up, down, left, and right for added flexibility, and leather along the band makes for a comfortable fit. Just try them before you buy them.
Things like comfort, fashion, and quality craftsmanship are nice touches when you’re dropping $300 on a pair of headphones, but if the music doesn’t cut it, it’s all for naught. Fortunately, everyone but the most particular audiophiles will be quite pleased with the sound the MS 500s deliver.
In our lab tests, we found the sound to be quite balanced. You shouldn’t expect to hear a lot of boosted low-end, bass frequencies, and musical attributes like layers of harmonized vocals were easy to distinguish without overpowering foundations of drum and bass. More subtle nuances, like a solo pianists’ intended crescendo, were also well preserved. Volume between the left and right speakers proved very even, so that sound is never notably louder or softer on one side than another.
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BUILD AND FEATURES
Fresh out of a bold red-and-white box, the Bridge MS 500s immediately look and feel as if plenty of care went into the packaging and design. A leather-wrapped aluminum band segues almost seamlessly into foldable limbs. The ear cups sport smooth, firm plastic that seems to magically deny any hint of fingerprints. The Phiaton Bridge MS 500s are a very handsome, detailed set of cans.
The included carrying bag is an especially nice addition to the whole package. The drawstrings and stitching are high quality, and the interior’s red felt and cable pocket are a nice touch. While the band isn’t foldable, the arms that hold the cups are, making it easy to bag these headphones up and go on your merry way.
However, if you want to listen to these on the go, the MS 500s don’t do the best job of blocking outside noise. If you’re considering lots of travel, such as by train or plane, the Bridge MS 500s aren’t a good choice for cutting out the low rumbling of the engines.
Adding to the versatility of these headphones, the cable is completely detachable, and plugs into either ear cup, so if your vacuum gets hungry, you’re able to replace the cable. You’ll also see a slender in-line controller with a single red button embedded into a silver base — it’s just a one-button affair, but works with both Apple and Android devices.
From a pure audio quality perspective, the Phiaton Bridge MS 500s are not quite equal to their $300 MSRP. For their current sale price of $269, however, and considering the meticulous craftsmanship of the design, we have to give at least one thumbs up to Phiaton’s red-and-black beauties. The MS 500s are physically impeccable, which is not a negligible trait by any means. I still recommend trying before buying, however, to make sure that the snug band and on-ear design prove comfortable enough for your noggin.