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

Phiaton Chord MS 530 ($299)
I've been carefully listening to Phiaton's offering over the years, and noticed them moving ever closer to really good sound over time...the good build quality and looks have been around for quite a while. Heck, I almost reviewed the Phiaton Bridge MS 500 last year as it was pretty good to my ears. Well, I think they've really done it this time with the new Phiaton Chord MS 530. This is a dandy headset, and really pulls off the "jack-of-all-trades" trick quite well. Let's have a look.

The Phiaton Chord MS 530 is a full-size, on-ear, sealed headphone, that can operate passively or with noise canceling both with a cable and using a Bluetooth connection. When cabled, all active Bluetooth headset audio and control (volume, FF, RW, pause, answer, etc) electronics turn off automatically and the controls and mic on the cable become operational.

Bluetooth pairing functions are super fast and reliable; accompanying voice notifications are a terrifically handy and provide you with a nice feeling of knowing what the heck is going on. Often times with BT headsets I find myself feeling a bit unsure of were I am in the pairing process and which flashing lights I'm looking for. With the Chord MS 530 the voice prompts always told me where I was, and most times—if the device had been previously paired—all I heard it say was "...power on...device connected..." and I was ready to go without having to do a thing.

The controls and cable ports are clearly labeled and easy to use once accustom to the layout. The multi-function toggle switch takes a bit of getting used to—flick it up or down to increment volume; hold up or down to track forward or back—but once I got used to it, it was pretty intuitive and very functional.

Overall I find this a good looking headphone. The design is simple, elegant, and very functional. The outside of the main headband arch seems to be made of a fairly stiff, semi-matte black plastic. Bonded to it on the inside is a one-piece rubber-ish black and red molded assembly that acts as the headband cushion. I was a bit skeptical about the effectiveness of this pad thinking it might not be ample enough, and that the soft rubbery material (likely a silicon) might drag on your hair enough to feel like its pulling on it excessively. I did not find this to be the case. In fact, the friction of the headband pad does a very nice job of keeping things in place.

The arms that extend off the headband are aluminum, and have ratcheted slides to move the ear-pieces for head size adjustment. These arms also fold inward to reduce the size of the headphones for storage and transport. I thought the clicking mechanism for adjustment was a bit loose as it shifted when putting the headphones on and off at times, but adjustment was easy and I didn't find it too bothersome. Adjustments were stable once on the head.


The ear pads on the MS 530 were quite a surprise. I don't expect on-ear headphones to be as comfortable as circumaural cans, and the Chord MS 530 wasn't...but it wasn't too far off. They're one of the most comfortable on-ears I've had the pleasure of wearing. The reason, it seems, they're so comfortable is that the pads are quite large—larger than most folks ears, I would think—and quite soft. The front of the pad looks flat, but under the protein leather of the pad there's a thin piece of red grill cloth, then a thin sheet of foam (none of the foam looks or feels like memory foam), and then there's a thicker sheet of foam with a hole cut out over the driver. The result is a pad that looks flat, but depresses easily and in all the right places—quite ergonomic it seems to me.

Overall, the Phiaton Chord MS 530 is an appealing headphone, understated but elegantly simple looking in a livery of black and silver (aluminum) with red accents. Fit and comfort are very good for an on-ear headphone; controls and functions are comprehensive and work great. Functionally speaking, these are a very convenient and feature rich headphone.

You know the deal, flip the page and we'll talk about the sound quality.

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?