Monday, October 12, 2009

Review: Able Planet Clear Harmony NC200 Foldable Headphones

Think a great set of noise canceling headphone need to cost an arm and a leg, well think again. The budget minded NC200 Clear Harmony Foldable Headphones, which retail for $99.99 (but can be found as low as $70 online) are priced perfectly for the budget-conscious market of audio-lovers who don’t want to pay $300 for a set of top-flight cans but still want first-class sound.

For the budget minded these compact headphones offer top-notch active noise cancellation, very comfortable ear cups and overall great sound quality for their relatively slim price. I wouldn't go so far as to place them next to the top offerings from Sony, Bose, Dennon or Sennheiser, however I would place them on the top of my list for the sub $100 market.

  • Featuring Award-Winning Patented LINX AUDIO-a Hear the Difference technology
  • In-Line Volume Control for Easy Adjustment to Safe Listening Levels
  • Lightweight and Comfortable fit
  • State-of-the-art active noise cancellation (ANC)
  • Small and compact foldable design perfect for travel

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20,000Hz
  • Sensitivity at 1 kHz: 115 dB (Off); 121 dB (On)
  • Plug: 3.5mm w/ 1/4 home stereo adapter and airline adapter

Able Planet Clear Harmony NC200 Review

Personally I have never used headphones for a long period of time, most of my movie watching or music listening is done at levels that really wouldn't be noticeable by anyone else in the house or around the office and most of the headphones I've used bothered my ears.

This is one area that the Clear Harmony NC200's passed with flying colors. The ear cups were by far some of the best I've used in recent memory. The amount of flex and tension on the headband was just about perfect. The one down side noted in this area was with the adjustment which wasn't as smooth as I'd like and while I didn't notice any slippage it didn't feel very sturdy.

Other reviews of the headphones warned that enabling noise cancellation will add a faint hum to the headphones when no signal is played, this was only slightly noticeable when I first began my test.

The background noise is a by-product of the noise-canceling technology actively tuning out environmental sounds. The hum or buzz wasn't noticeable during playback but I did find it was becoming slightly more noticeable as time went on and eventually became annoying during long gaps when searching for new tracks or changing movies. If the slight hum becomes to noticeable you can disable the noise-canceling feature which is enabled via a single AAA battery, which can be turned off and on.

The LINX Audio technology, which supposedly makes the audio clarity a lot better, seems to work well. Personally I had to read up on the feature to understand exact what it did, but it does make a noticeable difference in listening.

Sound volume was generally good and using the built in volume controls was great. The controls were smooth and adjustment seemed precise. One trade-off that we found was that at higher volumes others might hear your music. The generous padding that made added to our comfort level seemed to offer little protection from noise seepage.

Blasting away during a few games I was told the noise spilled out and other around me could over hear my game play. You won’t like annoy anyone if you keep the volume at 50 percent or lower with noise cancellation turned on, but for some the fact that you even have to think about seepage might be a bit annoying.

The foldable design and light weight made traveling a breeze. During my review I took the chance to pack the headphones on a camping trip for use with my laptop and MP3 player. Folded they are slightly larger than a soda can making them easily stowed in a back pack or travel bag. Couple that with the airline adapter and the NC200's would seemingly be perfect for frequent fliers.

My overall opinion is that the Able Planet Clear Harmony NC200's are a great set of headphones. I personally haven't tested many headphone on the market but when compared to some of the offerings that I have used I'd say they are definitely a step up.

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