Phiaton’s new BT 220 NC wireless noise-canceling earphones put Bose in their sights

When Phiaton unveiled its Chord MS 530 Bluetooth headphones with active noise canceling, we were skeptical to say the least. But it didn’t take long for the Chord to win our hearts. Providing excellent sound, and near-flawless overall performance for a market-friendly $300 price, the MS 530 showed what today’s wireless headphones can do. With the BT 220 NC, the follow-up to the company’s BT PS 210, Phiaton is daring us to believe once again, offering Bluetooth, noise canceling, and more, all in a stylish in-ear priced right at $179.

The new BT 220 may not have a sexy name, but the design does a good job of making up for its antiseptic title. Not fully wireless, the BT 220 harbor the playback controls and the electronics that make this system go in a clip-on control piece, which appears inconspicuous enough upon initial impressions. The system relies on Bluetooth 4.0 for wireless connection, and it also employs aptX technology, which allows for near CD-quality audio from compatible devices — meaning non-iPhone handsets.

Other features include NFC for one-touch pairing — also leaving behind the iOS crowd (for now) — as well as the ability to pair to two source devices at a time. Battery time for the BT 220 is estimated at 17 hours of music listening, and 16 hours of call time with the on-board mic, enhanced by Phiaton’s Clear-Voice-Capture technology. When the juice runs out, the headphones will also work with a wired connection. And finally, the ‘phones come with a mute button, which both kills the audio, and turns off noise canceling, so you can order that Bloody Mary from the flight attendant, then bounce right back into the action.

The buds themselves have a sleek look, designed with plenty of surface area round the angled housings to add some passive noise relief to the active noise cancellation. Inside the housings are relatively large 14.3mm drivers. We’re excited to hear the 220 in action, but we do have one apprehension: While the 210 offered top-tier performance, we later discovered the spring-loaded clip on the back of the control module was prone to breaking during daily wear and tear. However, the 220 looks more robust, and we’re hoping Phiaton has resolved the issue.

Phiaton’s new BT 220 NC will be hitting the market sometime in October for $179. And you can bet we’ll be pulling a pair in to see if the company can redeem the flaws of its predecessor, and pick up right where the MS 530 left off.