Gear and Gizmos
Lets face it. Modern air travel can be a loud, frustrating and annoying affair. Between the long lines at security, the delayed flights, and the obnoxious guy that inevitably gets seated next to you, is it any wonder why we just want to find a way to escape it all for a little while? A good pair of headphones can really help in that regard, allowing travelers to listen to their favorite music or watch a movie in relative privacy and comfort, while escaping the hustle and bustle going on around them. But not all headphones are created equal, with each of them having different levels of sound quality, comfort and features. I recently had the good fortune of testing the Chord MS 530 wireless headphones from Phiaton, which not only score highly in each of those categories, but just might be the best headphones for travel that I’ve ever tried.
If I were to make a list of features that I’d want to have on a pair of headphones, that list would look an awful lot like those that Phiaton built into the Chord MS 530’s. For starters, these headphones use Bluetooth 4.0 technology, which allows them to be easily paired with a smartphone, tablet, laptop or mp3 player for wireless audio. This is extremely convenient when traveling, as there are no chords to tangle or get in the way while in a cramped space like an airline seat. It can also be extremely liberating to be able to listen to your favorite music, audiobooks and podcasts without having a cable connecting the headphones and audio device. While at home for instance, I was able to pair the Chords to my iPad, which I left on the wall charger while I wandered around listening to music throughout my apartment.
The Bluetooth 4.0 technology delivers more than just wireless audio however. It also allows the user to connect with two different devices at the same time, meaning it is a simple matter to switch from music on your smartphone to movies on your tablet in just seconds. The 4.0 standard is also extremely energy efficient, allowing the headphone’s built-in rechargeable battery to last as much as 30 hours on a single charge.
Another fantastic feature of these headphones is active noise canceling. When switched on, this technology generates white background noise that is imperceptible to human hearing, but has the effect of blocking outside sounds. This is extremely helpful on an aircraft for instance, as the noise canceling feature is great for preventing the roar from the jet engines from interfering with whatever you’re listening to. The noise canceling system that Phiaton uses blocks out 98% of ambient sounds, which means it’ll also keep you from hearing that screaming baby sitting two rows behind you or the two passengers who won’t stop talking for the entire flight. In other words, it provides your own personal cone of silence, which is most welcome when you want a little seclusion.
These headphones also have an integrated mic that allows you to take or make phone calls when paired with a cell phone. A call button on one of the speakers makes it a snap to pick up incoming calls, which come through crisp and clear on the Chords speakers. The mic pics up the wearers voice surprisingly well too, allowing for easy conversations, even in a noisy environment. The same call button also connects with Siri on iOS devices, allowing the user to give her voice commands as well. This makes it easy to do things like switch albums, play specific artists and shuffle tracks. Other buttons on the headphones control volume and pause or play the music too.
All of these great features are nice of course, but they wouldn’t be worth much if the Chord 530’s had poor sound quality. Fortunately, these headphones don’t disappoint in this area either, providing very crisp, clean audio across the entire range. The bass is surprisingly strong, while mids and highs are very clear too. This resulted in me being able to pick up certain nuances to some of my favorite music. Sounds that I had never noticed before, making listening to certain tracks seem new and fresh again.
When putting this package together, Phiaton didn’t spare any expense. The headphones are extremely high quality, look great and are comfortable to wear. They also come with a handy travel case, an airline adapter, USB cable for charging, and an audio cable with an integrated microphone for use when the battery runs out. Even the box that the Chord 530’s ship in screams quality, offering an impressive presentation before you even remove them from the packaging.
As you can imagine, a pair of headphones with all of this technology packed in doesn’t come cheap. Phiaton’s MSRP lists them at $299, which is definitely on the high end of the consumer headphone market. But if you’re looking for a premium product with a premium sound, you can’t go wrong with the Chord MS 530. They truly are a remarkable product with excellent sound, a comfortable fit, and enough technology to match the devices you’re wirelessly paring it with. They don’t come cheap, but they are worth the price.