Phiaton’s new MS 100 BA ($99) is a pair of in-ear monitor headphones that use balanced armature drivers. While this technology might not be ideal for large headphones, they are an excellent choice for this sort of application. Bundled with the MS 100 BA are a carrying pouch and four sets of eartips. The red cable includes a mic and track control button but, unfortunately, iOS-friendly volume controls are absent.
Phiaton claims the cable’s shape and texture will reduce tangling. In our testing, the cable stayed untangled through several trips in and out of our pockets. Additionally, the eartips isolate very well, and did not slip off the earphones in any of our tests, even after two sweaty hours of use during a bike ride. The balanced armature drivers allow the earphones to be extremely small, which contributes to their overall comfort.
The MS 100 BA’s sound is neither bass-heavy nor bright — this balanced sound signature makes this earphone easy to recommend to a wide range of users. Overall, however, these were not the clearest earphones we’ve used. Across many genres there appeared to be a slight “veil” over the music, but nothing so severe as to ruin the experience, especially not at this price point. In our testing, the biggest detractor from the MS 100 BA’s sound had nothing to do with the drivers — the tangle-free cable is very microphonic, transmitting even the smallest movement into your ears like a second, random bassline.
We also noticed one quirk that will probably not be a problem for most users. When we used the earphones while cycling, the sound would periodically break up, then come back. At speeds near 30 mph, the music stopped completely. While we can’t be sure if this is a problem with the design or iOS, the MS 100 BA seems to be affected by strong winds. This issue didn’t occur at any other time during testing, but these might not be the best earphones for cyclists.
It has a few strange quirks, but overall, we think the Phiaton MS 100 BA is a good choice for general mobile listening, especially for those with eclectic musical tastes. The MS 100 BA is small, well-built, light, and sounds very good for its size and price. Phiaton’s earphones earn our general recommendation.
Company and Price
Model: MS 100 BA
Compatible: iPads, iPhones, iPods