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 it comes to the best noise cancelling headphones, the Phiaton 900 Legacy makes a strong case for the company. This headset has effective noise cancelling, a comfortable build, and some convenient features bundled in. Still, does it pack enough value to justify its $250 USD price tag? Let’s find out.
Editor’s note: this Phiaton 900 Legacy review was updated on March 31, 2021, to include a content menu, add context to the sound quality section, and expand upon technical details.
Who should get the Phiaton 900 Legacy?
- 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 need to feel the low-end response from these headphones.
- Frequent flyers should consider this headset because the noise cancelling on is 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 provides a seamless user experience. This active noise cancelling (ANC) headset might not look like anything out of the ordinary, but it has plenty of tech packed inside which makes them a breeze to use, even before my morning coffee. The Phiaton 900 Legacy headphones are made of 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.
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The ear cups and headband have comfortable plush padding, so you can wear these for hours at a time without fatigue. 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 and rotate the ear cups 90°, which is great for anyone constantly on the move.
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 double-tap to pause your music, but the coolest way is to just remove the headset from your head (these headphones house inward-facing proximity sensors).
The Phiaton 900 Legacy also switches between devices seamlessly. It’s easy to listen to music and then switch over to another device to watch YouTube. The combination of the Bluetooth multipoint support, intuitive controls, and comfortable build removed basically all of the friction I normally experience when testing headphones. This headset is as close to “plug and play” as you can get, and I haven’t 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 cycle through different listening modes, press the NC button on the left ear cup. It lets you toggle between ANC on/off, and ambient aware mode. 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.
Become an expert: How do noise cancelling headphones work?
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. When worn correctly, these effectively cancel sounds during your commute or flight.
How is the connection strength?
The Phiaton 900 Legacy has solid connection strength up to the typical 10-meter range, and it remained connected even with a few walls in the way. It has Bluetooth 5.1 firmware, which brings improved battery performance. Along with the default SBC Bluetooth codec that all Bluetooth audio devices share, the Phiaton 900 Legacy also supports aptX HD. Iif 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 only support the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs. iPhone owners 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.
Does the Phiaton 900 Legacy have Bluetooth multipoint?
The Phiaton 900 Legacy has full Bluetooth multipoint compatibility, and it works very well. The 900 Legacy supports 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, and useful when you receive a phone call while listening to music on a computer. Music automatically pauses and the headphones switch to my phone so that you can answer. The headphones even vibrate slightly to really get your attention.
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 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 the batteries deplete, we recorded 44 hours, 46 minutes of playtime.
Battery life on these is really, really good.
If you need even more juice, you can disable ANC. 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: 10 minutes on the charger gets you four hours of playback.
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. This 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 need to edit a podcast or produce music, 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 is too loud for me with the Legacy 900, which make it hard to hear other instrumental detail.
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.
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:
Should you get the Phiaton 900 Legacy headphones?
If you’re looking for great noise cancelling headphones but don’t want to pay a small fortune, you should definitely consider picking up the Phiaton 900 Legacy. 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. 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.