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Phiaton’s touch-controlled BT 460 headphones are smart, sleek, and sound awesome

Bluetooth headphones are great if you’re on the go and want to enjoy your music sans all those wires getting in the way. But more often than not, playback controls can be awkward and imprecise to use, since you can’t see which buttons you’re pressing while wearing them. That’s why we love that Phiaton decided to use intuitive touch controls on its latest set of wireless cans, the BT 460.

The matte plastic body of the Phiaton BT 460 is neither cheap-looking nor decidedly high-end, though we do think the white version stands out a bit more than the black and grey. The design of the headphones is nearly seamless with its plain and gently contoured shape; only the power button and status LED are visible behind your right ear. At the bottom of the earpiece is a small, snap-open door that conceals the microUSB charging port and aux-in port.

Related: 5 best Bluetooth headsets of 2016

The earcups feature an eye-catching, bright-red inner lining with large letters indicating left and right, as well as soft leather cushions that are decently sized and provide a good amount of isolation. The earcups are adjustable in height, though they don’t rotate that much. Underneath the headband is a rubber, air-filled cushion that provides a firm rest for the top of your head that, for some, may become uncomfortable over long listening sessions.

The controls are invisibly integrated in the outer panel of the right earpiece, keeping with the headphone’s minimalist style. The touch commands are simple, too: Double tap the earpiece to play and pause music or answer calls, swipe forward or back to skip tracks, and swipe up and down for volume control. The volume adjusts in gentle increments that allow precise control, but you won’t reach the minimum or maximum in one swipe. You may need to swipe a few times to get to your desired volume. When you do reach the highest and lowest volumes, a tone will sound to let you know that you can go no further.

While these motions are easy to execute, sometimes double tapping was finicky and the headphones failed to respond. It’s as if Phiaton predicted that some users would have trouble with them: There’s a convenient second way to play or pause tracks, by pressing the power button briefly.

Related: Wrap modern tech in retro style with a DIY Bluetooth boombox

We had no problems pairing to the headphones over Bluetooth, nor with the connection once paired. The BT 460 can remember up to two previously paired devices and even pair with a second set of BT 460s through Phiaton’s ShareMe feature, allowing both headphones to stream from the same audio source simultaneously. And there’s another interesting feature on these headphones: Track playback stops automatically when you take the headphones off, even just to drop them around your neck, and when you put them back on, playback resumes where you left off.

The headphones claim a battery life of around 20 hours on a 3-hour charge, though this will depend on the volume at which you listen to your music. If the batteries do run out, there’s an included audio cable with inline controls you can use to continue enjoying your music. The analog volume slider and mic button for play and pause on the aux cable both worked equally well on Android and iOS devices.

The audio quality of the BT 460 is clean, crisp, and leaning on the bright side. While the bass is audibly amplified, giving some tracks extra punchiness in the low ranges, it’s balanced through additional enhancement in the trebles. Although this augmentation opens the door for distortion in the upper ranges, the headphones managed to steer clear of it by just a hair. Regardless, you likely won’t be turning up the volume to the max since these easily reach uncomfortable listening levels in just a few swipes.

Related: Bluetooth 5 is here to better control the smart world

At $199 the BT 460 is a compelling choice for those looking for Bluetooth headphones with great sound, style, and functionality. Not only will you have freedom from wires, with the exception of turning it on, you won’t have any buttons to feel around for either.

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