The noise cancelling space is usually reserved for big-named audio companies with years of experience. While Phiaton might not be the first name you think of when when it comes to the best noise cancelling headphones, the new Phiaton 900 Legacy make a strong case for the company. They have effective noise cancelling, a comfortable build, and some cool, convenient features bundled in. Still, does it pack enough value to justify its $250 USD price tag? Let’s find out.
Who are the Phiaton 900 Legacy for?
- Commuters will appreciate the rotating ear cups, folding hinges, and hardshell carrying case, all of which make these a good option for the train ride to work.
- People who like bass. The low-frequency response is great if you prefer a loud bass response over an accurate one.
- Frequent flyers should consider these, because the noise cancelling on these is rock solid. Pair the effective ANC with great passive isolation, comfortable memory foam ear pads, and long battery life, and these are perfect for your next cross-country flight.
What’s it like to use the Phiaton 900 Legacy?
The Phiaton 900 Legacy provide a seamless user experience. The headphones might not look like anything out of the ordinary, but they have plenty of tech packed inside that has me reaching for them every morning when I get ready for work. The Phiaton 900 Legacy headphones are made of a lightweight plastic making the total weight of the headphones only 256 grams, so you should be able to wear them for long periods of time.
The ear cups and headband have a plush padding that is very comfortable, and I was easily able to wear these for hours at a time during work. The ear cups don’t provide much wiggle room, but thanks to the padding, I never felt like they were uncomfortably tight either. You can fold the ear cups toward the headband, which is great for anyone constantly on the move. You can rotate thee ear cups 90° so they lay flat too. Phiaton provides a nice hardshell carrying case, so you can toss them in your bag quickly if you need to.
The one thing I’m not a huge fan of is how the ear cups are designed: a glossy, carbon-fiber plastic covering detracts from the otherwise sleek appearance. Maybe you like the carbon-fiber look, but it’s definitely not for me. That said, the touchpad controls on the right ear cup are absolutely perfect, because the swipe gestures, which let you control volume and playback, are smooth and intuitive. You can also double-tap to pause your music, but my favorite method of pausing playback was to just take the headphones off, thanks to proximity sensors in the ear cups. The headphones perfectly auto-pause and resume playback. Anytime I took the headphones off to quickly answer a question, the headset immediately paused my podcast, so I didn’t have to rewind anything to catch what I missed.
The Phiaton 900 Legacy also switch between devices seamlessly, which was another reason these rarely left my head throughout the day. I could listen to music while working, and then easily switch over to my iPad to watch a YouTube documentary over lunch without ever needing to re-pair the headphones. The combination of the Bluetooth multipoint support, intuitive controls, and comfortable build removed basically all of the friction that I normally experience when testing headphones. These are as close to “plug and play” as you can get, and I haven’t even gotten to the noise cancelling yet.
How is the noise cancelling on the Phiaton 900 Legacy?
Overall, the noise cancelling on the Phiaton 900 Legacy is pretty great. These headphones go toe-to-toe with some of the best noise cancelling headphones around, but do so at a much cheaper price. To be clear, these don’t beat out the big names like the Sony WH-1000XM4 or the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, but they’re not off by much. The combination of the plush memory foam ear cups and noise cancelling microphones on the outside and inside of the ear cups results in a pretty silent experience.
To disable noise cancelling on the Phiaton 900 Legacy, press the NC button on the left ear cup. This cycle through listening modes. When you get to the equivalent of ambient aware mode, the headset uses the tiny microphones to amplify outside noise instead of cancelling them, which lets you hear your surroundings. While I haven’t been flying much this year, I know from experience that this kind of ambient mode is essential for frequent flyers, as it lets you hear important announcements without removing the headphones.
Become an expert: How do noise cancelling headphones work?
As I mentioned, these aren’t going to dethrone some of the top noise cancelling headphones out there but they do give them a run for their money. Even with noise cancelling turned off the isolation you get from the memory foam ear cups do a good job of blocking outside noise. Closed-back, over-ear headphones typically block high-frequency sounds, as illustrated by the jagged pink peaks to the right of the graph, but these go even further.
The ambient listening mode is one of my favorite features.
Without noise cancelling these do a good job at blocking out sounds slightly above and below 1000Hz, which are the frequencies where a lot of ambient noise resides. With noise canceling turned on sounds all the way down to about 50Hz become less loud as well, with a nice peak around 90-100Hz where low hums and rumbles reside. In practice, these are very effective at cancelling sounds that can be annoying during your commute or flight.
How do you pair to the Phiaton 900 Legacy?
Pairing to the Phiaton 900 Legacy for the first time is super simple as they automatically enter pairing mode when you first power them on. Then all you need to do is go to the available devices list in your Bluetooth settings. From there, select “900 Legacy,” and the two devices should establish a connection. If you’re pairing a second device then the process is a little different, but just as easy. To pair to a second device perform the following steps:
- Turn on the headphones and continue holding down the power button for a few extra seconds on startup.
- The Phiaton 900 Legacy will then enter pairing mode.
- Navigate to Bluetooth settings on your second device and select “900 Legacy” from the list of available devices just like before.
How is the connection strength?
The Phiaton 900 Legacy headphones have solid connection strength up to the typical 10-meter range, and they remained connected even with a few walls in the way. These are rocking Bluetooth 5.1 firmware, which means that you can listen to your music for longer as it brings improved battery performance. Along with the default SBC Bluetooth codec that all Bluetooth audio devices share, the Phiaton 900 Legacy headphones also support the aptX HD Bluetooth codec. This means that if you like to stream higher quality files from services like Tidal, Deezer, or Amazon Music HD then these should be up to the task (assuming your ears are as well).
One thing worth mentioning is that iOS devices are only compatible with the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs, so if you’re on an iOS device, you won’t be able to take advantage of the aptX HD codec. Plus one for green bubbles. If you use a device that doesn’t have Bluetooth, then you can just use the included 3.5mm audio cable to bypass Bluetooth all together.
Do the Phiaton 900 Legacy have Bluetooth multipoint?
Yes! The Phiaton 900 Legacy have full Bluetooth multipoint compatibility, and it works very well. The 900 Legacy headphones support two simultaneous connections and can switch between them automatically, depending on where the audio is coming from. This is nice for jumping between devices throughout the day, but I find it truly useful when I receive phone calls while listening to music on my computer. Music automatically pauses and the headphones switch to my phone so that I can answer. The headphones even vibrate slightly to really get your attention.
How long does the battery life last?
Phiaton claims that the battery on the Legacy 900 headphones will last you 43 hours of constant playback with noise cancelling turned on. In our objective testing where we run the headphones at a constant output of 75dB until they die, I managed to get 44 hours and 46 minutes. Needless to say, that’s pretty great.
Battery life on these is really, really good.
If you need even more juice you can always make the headphones last longer by using the included 3.5mm audio cable, or by turning off noise cancelling. If you still can’t get to a charger though you don’t have to worry as these will still work even with a dead battery because, well, they’re still just headphones. Fast charging is supported, and just ten minutes on the charger will get your roughly four hours of playback time.
How is the microphone on the Phiaton 900 Legacy headphones?
The built-in mic on the Phiaton 900 Legacy headphones works well enough for phone calls and conference calls, mainly because it provides a good amount of emphasis throughout the important bits of the vocal range. You can see from the graph that most of the frequency response up to 1000Hz lies above the red dotted line, meaning that your voice will come across a little louder than it typically would. Better to be a little loud on a call than too quiet.
Phiaton 900 Legacy microphone sample:
How is the sound quality of the Phiaton 900 Legacy?
Most people will have no problem with the sound quality of the Phiaton 900 Legacy headphones. These consumer-friendly bass response is to be expected, although it was a bit too strong for my liking. Plus, not everyone prefers a neutral-leaning frequency response. If you’re looking to edit a podcast or produce music then you should look for headphones with a sound signature better suited for studio work, but when it comes to commuting that extra loudness in the low end can be helpful.
On top of the already rock-solid isolation and noise cancelling, the extra bump in the lows means that you should have an easier time hearing the basslines in your favorite songs when you’re in an airplane cabin or on the bus. The bassline in the song Home by Islandis was definitely too much for me, and made it hard to hear other instrumental detail. Still, whether I was sitting at the park, walking on the street next to traffic, or sitting next to my air conditioner, I had no problem hearing the bass guitar.
With the strong bass comes with a number of dips in the mids that just don’t come across as loud as the bass. You can hear an example of this at the 2:27 mark in the song When I Was Done Dying by Dan Deacon. The moment the rolling drums come back in, the vocals and synth melody in the background become much harder to hear, because of auditory masking. I noticed the same lack of clarity in the highs as some of the reverb from the cymbals was nearly impossible to hear during certain loud parts of the song.
Should you get the Phiaton 900 Legacy headphones?
If you’re looking for great noise cancelling headphones for travel or commuting but don’t want to dish out for some of the more popular brands, you should definitely consider picking up the Phiaton 900 Legacy headphones. As far as what you need for a pair of on-the-go headphones these check all the boxes. They have good active noise cancelling, they’re comfortable, sound good, and have amazing battery life. While I found the bass to be a little too strong, I don’t think that’ll be an issue for most people. While you can get better noise cancelling and sound quality from options like the Sony WH-1000XM4 or the Shure AONIC 50, you’ll also have to pay more for them. While the Phiaton 900 Legacy headphones aren’t what I would consider cheap either, they’re definitely a value-packed pair of cans that get you 90% of the way there for just $250 USD.