A Sum Greater Than Its Parts: The Outstanding Phiaton Chord MS 530 Bluetooth, Noise-Canceling Headphone/Headset Measurements


Click on graphs image to download .pdf for closer inspection.

The plots above are with the MS 530 in passive mode wired. At the bottom of this page I've included the plots of the MS 530 in wired, noise canceling mode. I need to make a note here that this headphone was very difficult to measure. The ears on my measurement head are somewhat stiffer than real ears and achieving a seal with the flat pads of these cans was very difficult. I think I managed to get good plots on the passive measurements, but I'm highly skeptical of the noise canceling plots being representative of these cans due to variations in seal.

Measurement Notes for Passive Mode - Raw plots show only modest changes in FR with positional changes of the ear pads on the head. To be truthful I had to work quite hard to achieve these results and it's likely these cans will see bigger changes in low frequency response when worn than indicated in the above plot. However, I didn't have any problem at all positioning these cans on my head for good listening results.

Compensated plots show a headphone with a broad bass hump but good extension; a mid-range dip; a bit of presence accentuation; and then a long slide into an overly rolled-off treble. Oddly, I didn't hear these cans as overly-emphatic in the presence area (1kHz-2kHz), likely due to the lack of treble otherwise. The low level of the 9kHz peak relative to the mid-range line ensure these cans don't sound harsh or strident, but the level there is too low. The right channel does have a small, sharp dip at about 1.7kHz, I'd guess this has something to do with the electronics enclosure in one ear being different than in the other; it's probably fairly benign and doesn't concern me much.

30Hz square wave plot shows good shape—surprisingly good for an on-ear design, and indicates an on-ear pad that can achieve a good seal. Slightly bowed down shape of the trailing half of the waveform top indicates a bit of looseness in the lows, and is echoed in the broad bass hump of the FR and minor upward rise in THD in the low bass. In listening I thought the bass was quite good, but did have minor issues just as measurements would indicate.

300Hz square wave shows a headphone with a somewhat slow slew rate—the rising edge doesn't slew as quickly as really good headphones. The initial peak is only slightly high, but it returns quickly to the base line and is only moderately noisy thereafter. While a little slow, this is actually a very nice wave shape without any eccessive ringing. Similarly, the impulse response is sluggish, but it lacks significant ringing and settles down quickly.

THD+noise shows very low distortion overall for a headphone of this type. The rise at 4kHz is within acceptable levels; the rise in bass is expected and actually very low for an ear pad headphone; otherwise this plot is excellent! These cans did sound quite clean to me.

Isolation is very good for an ear-pad headphone at -14dB broadband. In the plot below on this page measured with noise-canceling on, it seems that isolation actually decreases when turning the noise canceling on. I'm quite certain the plots below are inaccurate, and I'm going to try to take plots again before publishing NC measurements of this headphone to the allgraphs.pdf. I'm publishing them here though because while I heard the overall ambient noise to lessen when turning on the NC circuit, I also heard more high-frequency outside noise than I had expected. Also, because of the odd low-frequency feedback I heard when the cans were muffled by a pillow or sweater and scarf, I'm not surprised to see the cans measured some low-frequency gain in outside noise with NC. My guess is that the NC circuit is a little acoustically unstable.

Wired, these cans show a 28 Ohm impedance and require 20mVrms to achieve 90dBspl at the ear. The MS 530 will play plenty loud from a portable device.

I think these measurements are quite good for a headphone of this type and price. These are a really good walking-around headphone!

Click on graphs image to download .pdf for closer inspection.
Phiaton Corporation
18662 MacArthur Blvd, STE 405
Irvine, California 92612
(949) 756-8918

tony's picture

Thank you again , Tyll , but...

   Are we to accept this nice submission whilst Steve G Snatches the Spotlight with the OPPO PM-1 details and hands-on observations ?

 Of course , Steve leaves the Wall of Fame for our leader's careful - thoughtful - consideration .

 I will wait patiently for the insightful analysis .  

Pleezzzze Tyll , I can't hold my breath much longer .   

Just now there is only one other PM-1 review out-there and that submission is from a Brit using 320 mostly and some stale Brit Pop CD's

veggieboy2001's picture

There is another very positive review:  http://stereos.about.com/od/Headphone-Reviews/ss/Review-Oppo-Digital-PM-1-Headphone.htm worth a read...


Have a little faith...Tyll will get to it! lol.


in the meanwhile, hopefully the other review will help for a while.

Tyll Hertsens's picture

I've got them in house, they're good and will get a review.

But it takes time to really get a grip on the sound of things, and for a headphone that intends to take a spot in reference land you just can't pull it out of the box, have a quick listen, and then write a review.  It takes time.


Jeff Y's picture

I fell in love with Phiaton MS500s (a little V-Shaped sound but otherwise great for everything) now I have to check these out.

Audioaddict's picture

If this headphone is a jack of all trades for a noise canceler and a blue tooth i'm very interested to see how the new V-moda XS will stand up to this. Also anxiousily awaiting the Oppo PM-1 review ever since I laid my eyes on it in a headpfi article i've wanted that headphone. I feel like i will suffer through another spell of broke student syndrome soon. 

Tyll Hertsens's picture

...the XS is a completely different type of headphone, so I'm not sure a comparison is relevent, but it seems like a nice little headphone so far.

tony's picture

   Thank you for mentioning the OPPO plans , your reveiwing  standards are well-worth the wait , please take you time , I'll stop nudging you .    

Chancie's picture

​Hi Tyll, having read your reviews I would be most grateful for your expert opinion. Which would be your one recommendation over the following NC wireless headphones...and why?:

Sennheiser MM 550-X TRAVEL
Phiaton Chord MS 530
Logitech UE9000

My priorities are audio quality and noise-canceling​ quality.

Many thanks!

(PS - the Parrot Zik is not for me btw).

Invalid's picture

Hi Tyll, I'm planning to buy these and I'll be using them wirelessly, I would like to hear your opinion on them compared to the 2 wired headphones when on bluetooth. Thanks in advance.:)

Turel_Nos_Ferrat's picture

Hello Tyll,

as I'm really no fan of On-Ears this doesn't seem to be the right headphones, even if they sound fine enough.

I've read your review of the Sony MDR-1RBT and now I wonder the merit of the second generation of them. Any Chance you'll get to review the Sony MDR-1RBTMK2? Or the MK2 series in general?

evensteven's picture

Hi Tyll,

How do these Phiaton 530's compare to the UE6000 in terms of sound quality?