Are you hooked on bass? Do you scoff at clunky utilitarian headphones, but swoon over the more stylish offerings? When you listen to music, do you like to feel like you’re in your own cocoon, cut off from everything going on around you?
If you answered yes to all of these questions, these are worth checking out: the Phiaton Bridge MS 500 headphones. They’re stylish and sleek, and they have a bold, bass-forward sound that pairs well with thump-heavy dance music and modern pop. Also, the full-ear design of the leather earcups do an excellent job of isolating the listener from outside noise.
It’s obvious that these cans pay homage to — or, depending on your eye, flagrantly copy — the Beats headphones in both their look and sound design. They are all black with touches of red. At least they are more well-constructed than the Beats. The headband and earcups are covered in perforated black leather and outlined in red stitching. The left and right tube arms of machined aluminum also have red accents. They are durable without being clunky.
The included pair of removable cables, each wrapped in a flexible red (natch) nylon-like cloth, don’t tangle easily, which is a plus. The connectors are ambidextrous, so you can plug into either ear piece. One cable has a single-button remote control and inline microphone for phone calls, the second is unadorned and made for use with a computer.
As I mentioned, the bass response is heavily accented. I sampled an eclectic mash up of music played through a Windows PC, an iPhone 5, and an iPod Nano. Train’s “Drive By” has a steady bass line throughout, and the Bridge brings that bass forward. Likewise the purposeful synth-bass in Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way” was prominent, but not overly exaggerated. Despite the pronounced thump that wasn’t as noticeable when the same track was played through drier desktop speakers, I noticed no loss of treble or midrange sound in the Phiatons.
These aren’t billed as noise-canceling headphones, but the leather pads form a nice, comfortable seal that cuts external noise. They can get uncomfortable if you spend a long time wearing them, like while sitting at your desk all day, for instance. But for shorter listening sessions, they’re fine.
Quieter selections such as Chopin’s “Nocturnes” and Pachabel’s “Canon in D” played without any outside sound pollution. Norah Jones’ “Come Away With Me” has its share of deep piano notes and upright bass work, yet it’s Norah’s sotto voce that stands out in the Bridge’s sound cocoon. On the other hand, there was no detected distortion at top volumes either.
Shop around online and you can find the Phiatons for around $270. Sure, there are better sounding headphones you can buy for that money, but these do sound very good, especially if you like swimming in the deep end. A lot of what you’re paying for here is the style and the quality of the build. And by that measure, they’re worth the expense.