You all know how I feel about Bluetooth audio products by now, especially my opinions about the inverse relationship between portability/convenience and sound quality. It's true that most of my Bluetooth audio reviews here on AP have been negative, however, what I have today completely blew my expectations. I know, I know, I'm not supposed to judge anything before I actually get it and test it, but I'm jaded, so I was very surprised here.
Meet the Phiaton BT 390, an extremely competent pair of Bluetooth headphones that pack very good and balanced sound, and even amazing battery life, into a foldable, portable body. From all appearances, Phiaton is staking its reputation on its attempt to show us that headphones can be wireless and still sound good. And, I daresay, the BT 390 succeeds.
|Sound||Fantastic sound, especially given its size. Very balanced sound profile, and even decent bass, thanks to the 40mm drivers and black magic/marketing speech.|
|Battery life||Phiaton claims you can get 30 hours out of these headphones. I could not prove them wrong.|
|Portability||Like some Bluetooth headphones, the BT 390 folds into something that will fit in your gym bag, backpack, or purse very easily.|
|Connection||Not only did I not notice any wireless connection issues, but Phiaton includes a microUSB-3.5mm cable in case your phone has Bluetooth problems (*ahem* Pixels, Nexuses, and many Xiaomi devices *ahem*).|
|Value||For $79, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anything better. Similar, sure, but better? No.|
|Comfort||The BT 390 has the on-ear style cups, meaning that if you have glasses (especially thick-framed ones) your vision will either be messed up or you're going to get a tension headache. In my case, both happened to me after about an hour.|
Design & comfort
I like the design that Phiaton went with for the BT 390; it's clean and minimalistic, just the way I like it. The headband itself, covered in a very smooth plastic, feels pretty sturdy. A soft, cushy pad sits on the underside for your noggin, helping to alleviate the pain that many headphones can cause. Both sides of the BT 390 fold in, as I've mentioned. Unlike other devices that I have with this same feature, like the Beats Solo Wireless, the hinges glide smoothly whether you're expanding or closing the headphones. When doing the former, you'll find that the hinges pop nicely into place without any harsh "plastic breaking" sounds.
Both earcups have what I could consider to be an adequate amount of padding. As with all other headphones that I've used in the gym, these do get very sweaty during a workout. My only problem with the overall comfort, though, stems from a common issue for practically-blind people like me. I wear thick-framed glasses, and have for many years, which cause a problem with all kinds of headphones, most notably with on-ear cups. I gave up finding the right fit in the gym, settling for either my glasses being askew or a headache from my frames getting squished against my head... sometimes, I'd get both of those issues within an hour of use.
All of the controls for the BT 390 are on the right can. There are phone and power buttons up closer to the band, while the volume/track slider are on the back of the earcup. On the bottom is the microUSB charging/audio port. The power LED sits between that and the volume slider, whereas the mic is right next to the port.
That volume slider is one of my favorite little touches. Sliding it up or down quickly adjusts the volume, but holding the button to either side controls track skipping. Finally, you play/pause your music by pressing it in. Such a system is nice for when you're in the middle of a workout, especially since the slider is easily accessible due to its ergonomic location on the earcup.
Other than the fit issues, color me impressed.
Sound quality & battery life
Sound quality and/or battery life are, to me, the weak points of many Bluetooth audio products — like software is to phones and tablets. Read on, dear reader, with that in mind.
I like the Phiaton BT 390's sound and its battery life. Hell hath, indeed, frozen.
Hyperbole aside, I do enjoy what Phiaton managed to do with the sound quality in the BT 390. According to the company, the 40mm drivers are equipped with an "optimized vibration system" and neodymium magnets, the latter providing "rich, commanding bass" and passive sound isolation. If that all went over your head, understand that Phiaton's black magic/marketing speech works very well with this product.
Bass is strong, mids are sharp, and highs balance everything else out. Some others have said these headphones are a bit strong on the bass, but I disagree. You can listen to a wide range of genres, different EQ presets, and even podcasts and enjoy all of them (regarding sound quality). From Amon Amarth to Darude to the Drunken Peasants podcast, I was very happy with what I heard, especially considering the price bracket that the BT 390 finds itself in.
The wireless connection is pretty solid, depending obviously on what phone you're using. With the Meizu Pro 6 Plus, my gym media player, I never had any connectivity issues. There was a pretty typical thirty-foot range with no signs of interference from machines or my neck (if I look left, most BT devices start cutting out and getting choppy). Phiaton has also included a microUSB-3.5mm cable in case either the battery runs out (good luck) or your phone's Bluetooth performance sucks. That's a nice touch, and not one you see very often.
Phiaton says that the BT 390 will go for thirty hours of continuous playback, meaning the headphones will outlast your phone, several times over, in all likelihood. Since I got these, I've used them at the gym, riding the bus, and during my long walks to the places I need to go. Thirty hours is about spot-on, even with a small margin of error — no other pair of Bluetooth ear- or headphones has gotten anywhere close to that. Again, Phiaton blows away my expectations. Great sound quality and awesome battery life? Indeed.
This is one of the short and sweet reviews, the type where I like what a product has to offer and have few complaints. Phiaton did some great work on the BT 390, no two ways around it. For $79, you get a very portable pair of headphones with a good sound profile and outstanding battery life. All of these qualities certainly surpass what one might expect for such a price. In the end, I think Phiaton accomplished its mission. Well done.
Sure, there are much better wireless headphones out there, but the BT 390 is not aimed at the premium Bluetooth audio market, similar to the Plantronics BackBeat 500. I have a feeling that such products are not what many people are interested in when considering a new pair of wireless cans.
So chalk this up to the "Bluetooth products that Jordan likes" board. It's a small list, yes, but I'm glad to put Phiaton's BT 390 on it.
See you all next time.