Public transit during rush hour, a busy Starbucks, or a loud workplace — they all have one thing in common: They generate a lot of noise. It’s the kind of noise that most of us would prefer not to listen to, but we rarely get the choice. Active noise-canceling (ANC) headphones are a good solution, but they tend to be pricey. When they’re not in the hundreds of dollars, they can still be bulky affairs, often with over-the-ear designs. And as for finding a pair that can take some abuse (like splash resistance)? Good luck, my friend.
So it’s great to see that Phiaton, an audio brand known for its careful balance of price and performance, has just launched its new $79 Curve BT 120 NC earbuds. These around-the-neck earphones may not be fully wireless, but given that they are aimed at an active lifestyle, that might not be such a bad thing. With an IPX4 rating, they’re fully sweat-proof and can probably stand up to a rainy day without suffering any damage.
The Memory Flex neckband contains the battery, which is good for 8.5 hours of music listening. You can get a full charge in two hours, but if you’re already late for your morning run, a fast-charging feature will score you an hour’s worth of music in only five minutes. It also packs the Curve’s vibration motor, which can do double duty as a call indicator and a warning if you leave your phone behind.
But the key feature for most potential buyers will be the active noise cancellation. Phiaton says the Curve can cancel 95 percent of low-frequency noise (under 1kHz), which is a bold claim. Most noise-canceling manufacturers like Bose and Sony, refuse to offer a specific number because environments can vary. Still, the company’s previous efforts, like the BT 150 NC, have done an excellent job of canceling noise, so this spec might not be too far from the truth.
It’s too soon to make any observations on the Curve’s sound quality, but if Phiaton’s previous headphones are any indication, we expect they will sound much better than other earbuds at this price, and possibly better than more expensive ones, too. We’ve been reviewing Phiaton’s audio products for the better part of a decade now, and with almost no exceptions, they usually turn in a solid performance.
The Curve BT 120 NC comes in black, with a white option coming in January.