Phonaudio PHN200 Review by mark2410
Thanks to Phonaudio for the sample.
First Impressions: So who are Phonauido, yeah they are a brand shiny new headphones company coming from the UK. They however are focusing on big can’s on and over ear things. The one I’ve got here is the baby, the on ear one. I’ve been told there are a pre retail packaging so what I have here is only indicative but not what retail versions will be like. The box though, the outside looks plenty professional to me. It’s a big box, all white with bold black writing and a pic of the all black headphones, I’m a sucker for the monochromatic I know but come on, its looks good does it not? Opening up and black foam, then there we go, the headphones. Oooh, pretty. They are all back, predominantly matte black with black glossy accents, tre tre pretty. Not that looks should matter but you know, no harm in looking nice is there.
On the head and oh dear, the cable seems damaged. Grabbing the cable from the PM-3 and it seems to work, it’ll do till a new cable comes. These things happen. Cable in and oh Jesus Christ. Holy crap where is that bass coming from, lol holy crap is it abundant. Oh my god, I can’t seem to stop myself from giggling, these things are off the wall mental. Lol these things are F*ing crazy. Burn in time.
Source: FiiO E7/E9 combo, Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., HiFiMAN HM-650, 1G Ipod Shuffle, Lumia 735, Nexus 5 and Graham Slee Solo Ultra Linear.
Lows: Oh lordy, are these beasts bassy. If you have a bright source or amp, I’d suggest fishing it out. Lol even with something bright these are still just mental. All of da bass!!!!!!!!! It’s hilarious, it’s so epic, vast, potent, so expansive, like this broad sweeping wave that is coming at you like a Tsunami. Vast, unrelenting, relentless and unstoppable. Sure you can play a little bit with it, pairing it to as light a source as you can, something cold and dry and still it’s a beast. A beast that’s ready to push you through a wall. It’s crazy, so so crazy. It’s so anti Head-Fi, so anti “audiophile.” Lol if you wanting some delicate and nuanced little flower this is as far as you can get from that image. These are beast, savage, ravenous beasts. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Okay so you’ve got there is boatloads of bass here, and we aren’t talking little bitty boats were talking Titanic sized amounts. The quality isn’t horrible. It’s easily at its best when well powered and by something colder as it’s somewhat inclined to be a little bit woolly in its epic abundance. Running out of the NuForce uDAC-3 on my desk they are punchy, punch you right in face. They clean up, harden up and stop flabing all over the place. Tbh either I’d say will go down will with its target audience as in either case they are beasts. They just happen to be at their best with a cold hard amp behind them.
Mids: Well, I loves me some good mids and well, the PHN200’s are no mid-head cans. They are suited well to the sort of so so vocals you get in mainstream pop music. Clarity is fine and they nicely gloss over the artists imperfections. I’d like them to be a bit less far back but it’s that gigantic bass mountain. The mids have perfectly adequate clarity but never expect the mids are going to shine. Its not what they are for, they don’t try to go there and so neither should you.
Highs: They are okay. As was immediately noticed by a friend having a quick 5 min session with these and the Momentum On-Ears he declared that the Momentums were distorting. What he really meant was that the Momentums were offering a clarity level by which he could hear the distortions in the recording he was listening too. These, he could not, or in any case not that he was noticing. So if you’re after gobs of detail then the PHN200’s probably aren’t your best option. However it not what they are trying to be. They don’t want to be monitor’s nor analytical tools. The PHN200 is there to rip your face off with its bass and give you the most bombastically savage beast of a bassline. It’s about people having a great time and loving listening to them.
The detail levels in strictest terms are a bit so so. for the price tag I’d normally want more and certainly it be more obviously noticeable but that’s like buying a hooker red Ferrari and then moaning that its rubbish for going to the supermarket in. If you’re doing so you’ve kinda missed the point of getting it in the first place.
Soundstage: Distance is moderate, placement is a bit nebulous too. Things are casually arrayed before you but I’m not to sure where about anything in particular is. There is a bit of fussiness to everything. Placement and integration are all just vaguely there. Nothing is particularly crisply defined.
Comfort: For and on ear, it’s pretty nice, the pads are quite nicely soft and squishy. As is normal though if you wear for many hours they never hurt, but you get that pressure feeling. You don’t really notice it but then when you take them off, you suddenly feel like some great weight has been removed. Still you could wear these for plenty of hours and you’ll be just fine. If anything it’s the bass quantity that will wear you out.
Cable: Nice. It fools nicely thick and sturdy. It’s also got a volume control in it, it uses a variable resistor so it works no matter what the source is. It also has a button for play / pause /skip. Now if having 1 play/ pause / skip button isn’t enough, you’ve got another two. Yep on each side of the headphone, the ear cups have a decorative button that does the same. That way you have 3 buttons you can use, two of which are always easy to reach and no matter if you’re left or right handed. It is a bit odd of a set up but its works great.
Isolation: Always a function of how snug a seal you get and on ear headphones are never super-duper great at sealing. These are fairly so so. They diminish outside sounds but they aren’t really something I’d want for a flight or the Tube. Out and about you’d be okay but on a bus, well you’d probably be fine but as with all on ears I’d worry about being “that guy.” Still you should be fine in most cases. Oh and naturally you will need to get used to using your eye’s for traffic lest you became a road stain. With these playing you will not hear traffic until it’s by bone conduction through your skull.
Build Quality: These are very light, they are clearly all plastic. Well the headband extension bits are metal but everything else I think is plastic. As plastics go they are all very premium feeling, all matte soft touch stuff. The finish on them is immaculate too. The ear pads themselves are very nice as well, there really isn’t any physical aspect of these I can find issue with. They look good and they feel better.
Aesthetics: As I said right at the start, I’m a bit of a sucker for monochromatic things. The black on black, matte with glossy offsets to me looks awesome. It to me shows some serious attention to detail and desiring to look great without being some garish nightmare of chavy bling. Not to name names you understand but I’m sure we have all seen some bass heavy headphones that scream attention seeker. These do not, I like them, their subtlety and the attention to detail. Additionally they come in two other colours. Where the black glossy bits here can be also either gold or silver. The gold, err im not sold on but the silver one looks lush. Oooooh so pretty, shiny, drool.
Phone Use: I slapped them into the Z3+ on my desk and made a call. The call was fine, they said they could hear me very clearly despite my fear of the mic being at my ear becoming an issue, it wasn’t. The buttons all worked too, that was a bit weird but I really loved the buttons being on the side of headphone, it just made them so easy to reach and press without any thought at all. The cable one you always have a glance in its direction to see where it is but the headphone ones you always know their exact location it was weird but great.
Amped/Unamped: These are clearly meant to be run from a phone. The mic and buttons clearly demonstrate that and thus they are intended to be run out of weedy sources. They do just fine too out of any old thing too. Even my ever so meh Nexus 5 it could rip your face off. However, if you have a cold device, especially a cold amp then go for it. They are their most acoustically vicious when very well powered by something as icy cold as you can get. RAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRR!!!!!!! Playing out of the NuForce uDAC-3 was super entertaining. Aurally exhausting for my delicate little ears but a rip roaring roller-coaster of bass tearing all over the place.
Accessories: Well I have pre retail pack sooooooo, I got the cable and that’s was it. You should also get a carrying pouch thingy too.
Value: These have clocked in at an RRP of £209. Odd number to me but whatever, so are these cheap, clearly not. So in terms of value, well it depends what you’re looking for, you see if your after pure audio quality then these can be beaten with some ease. However, they aren’t about being sonically pure or revealing, they are about bass that’ll rip your face off and you having a good time while it happens. They accomplish that goal with more than a fare degree of talent.
Conclusion: Lol. Seriously at so many point these had me laughing out loud as to their comically prolific bass. It’s so crazy, so so so crazy. It’s there, ever-present and it’ll come barrelling out at you like a shell from a canon. Lol these are mental bass canons. Rip roaring bass beasts that the purist in me got a little annoyed at. It’s too ever present and waaaaaaaay too massive. It grew on me a bit but these are not for me. That bass, god it’s funny in small doses but by the time I’m a few hours in and gosh my poor little ears are simply worn out. So much bass, so much air movement, I need a rest, my ears need a rest before my skull implodes.
Acoustically and tonally these are very heavily weighted to the bass. The big question is that what you’re after? Straight up, if you want something flat or analytical then oh god these are not for you. These are aimed at people that might buy a pair of Beats. These while very considerably better looking in my opinion and from memory I’d say sound more resolving too. Beats aren’t something I have to hand but these share a similar, very highly bass focused balance. Yet you aren’t shelling out wads of cash to have a name written on the side of it. If push comes to shove, if you are after something like a pair of Beats you really very much ought to have a look at these, they are simply better.
So should you / would I buy one? Well I wouldn’t. These are gargantuan bass canons and my ears need more delicate and flat. Should you though? Well if you’re after a bass monster of the sort Beats produce then you’ll want to have a very serious look at these. They may not have such a big well-known name but in every other regard best them. Sonically, visually and I rather love the multi mic button set up rather than just having one on the cable. It’s clear a lot of thought has gone into these, a lot of attention to detail and the result is that it’s paid off. Its nice product, too wildly bass heavy for me but a great quality, crazy pants product.