As I have found with previous Phiaton”half in-ear” designs, the PS 20 BT was quite light and comfortable. With this design, having a decent ear tip seal is important, but not nearly as critical as in some designs (where having a super-tight seal can sometimes make all the difference between adequate bass and no bass at all).
In contrast, the Phiaton design gives you a bit more leeway in choosing among the four sizes of ear tips that come with the ‘phones and it will tolerate a slightly looser ear tip fit than would be workable with most other earphones (in this respect, the PS 20 BT reminds me a bit of B&W’s C5 earphone). Best of all, the fit represents a good day-to-day compromise between a typical earbud’s “grab’n’go” simplicity and a more serious earphone’s higher sound quality and noise isolation.
I found the PS 20 BT’s controller module easy to learn and simple to use, though I would, however, recommend spending a little time with the product manual so you can familiarize yourself with the functions of the buttons and connectors. It is also helpful to learn the meaning of the status light’s various display functions (the light is surprisingly versatile, but it takes some time to learn what all the various display modes mean). Once you’ve got the buttons, etc., mastered, the control module is a joy—especially the little micro-joystick control knob, which is just plain fun and intuitive to use.
The PS 20 BT signal cables are a bit longer than most listeners will need for them to be, so I would not recommend allowing the controller module to dangle from the cables (to do so is to risk cable damage in the long run). Instead, it’s better to use the included lanyard strap to hang the module from your neck. One catch, however, is that when you put the PS 20 BT in its carrying pouch it is easy for the cables and lanyard strap to get tangled up. When you take the PS 20 BTs out again, plan on spending a minute or so clearing cable/strap snags.
The PS 20 BT offers a gentle, somewhat warmer-than-neutral, and largely naturalistic sonic presentation with bass (especially mid-bass) that provides a noticeable but not obnoxious touch of low-end enrichment. Highs are smooth, but also appear to be gracefully rolled off, way up high. Where some earphones attempt to wow prospective buyers with overt, and in some cases hyper-exaggerated, clarity and definition, the PS 20 BT takes the opposite tack, aiming instead for a sound that is rich, sumptuous, a little bit forgiving of rough-edged material, and very relaxing to listen to for long periods of time. Frankly, this is a sound I think many listeners will find easy to embrace.
While purists might find the Phiaton a little too dark-sounding and not quite open or transparent enough for their liking, I think the PS 20 BT’s voicing makes a lot of sense for those listening in potentially noisy real-world contexts. If you hear the Phiaton in in settings where there is any significant amount of low-frequency noise present, you may find the PS 20 BT’s dab of bass emphasis helps cut through background noise. Similarly, the PS 20 BT’s evocative mids convey musical expression in a way that helps loft the music up and above the noise floor.
Is the Phiaton’s sound “accurate”? Perhaps not in a strict textbook sense, but it does represent a very wisely chosen compromise point between sophisticated sound quality (particular in the midrange, where the PS 20 BT sounds its best), versus potential pitfalls that can arise when designers push edges of the “clarity envelope” too hard and wind up with products that sound abrasive, or just plain obnoxious.