Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Review: Able Planet NC300B Headphones

Honestly I can say while I know that over the years Able Planet has produced award winning headphone sets I hadn't personally heard much about the company until last year when we had the chance to review their Clear Harmony NC200 Foldable Headphones.

Until that time I always thought a pair of headphones was a pair of headphones and there was going to be very little difference. Boy has my thinking come along way since then. Noise-canceling and true fidelity truly make there mark over your standard set of headphones. So much so that I can't see myself ever returning to a run of the mill set again.


Having had our Clear Harmony NC200's for some time now and absolutely loving those we jumped at the chance to review the newer True Fidelity NC300's. Unlike the ultra-portable foldable NC200's the NC300 are standard over-the-ear headphones with an adjustable and padded headband that uses powered noise-cancellation technology as well as Able Planet's LINX AUDIO technology.

  • 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 cancelation (ANC)
  • Superior comfort
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20,000Hz
  • Sensitivity at 1 kHz: 115 dB (Off); 121 dB (On)
  • Plug: 3.5mm
  • 1/4 Home Stereo Adaptor
  • AAA Battery (1)
  • Hard Shell Protective Carrying Case
  • Airplane Adapter

The NC300 headphones are lightweight, fairly compact and very stylish. The noise-canceling features are nothing short of amazing and sound quality is superb. The headphones offer inline volume controls that are very accessible and side earpiece mounted switch for noise-canceling. All this is powered via a single AAA battery.

Noise Cancellation

Possibly one of the biggest and brightest features packed into our NC300's are the noise-canceling technology. Now lets face it no noise-canceling headset is ‘perfect’ – in other words, they don’t block everything out. But from my very unscientific testing I'd have to say Able Planet has noise cancellation down to a sweet science.

You do get that ominous hum when there is no noise be pumped through the headphones however as mentioned this is only noticeable when there is no noise. Once you start turning up the music, you will quickly drown out any other noise in the area. And yes I mean any other noise, I could sit with the TV on at a moderate level and still not hear it above the music I was listening to and almost all but the loudest background noise while on the road was gone.

Naturally you should be careful about damaging your hearing by listening to too much excessively loud music.

Sound Quality

Without exacting scientific testing this is going to be one area that is very subjective, so caveat emptor, and you may have a very different opinion from me as to what you feel is great sound quality verses just so so. So please take this as its meant as just an open opinion.

I use my headphones not only to listen to a wide range of music but to listen to and watch movies and for some light gaming on my PC and or laptop. When doing musical tests sound production on mid's and high's was crisp and clear with almost no noticeable clarity issues. Lows on the other hand weren't reproduced very well at all. Now these are headphones so some consideration has to be given for that. When watching movies or during gaming sound quality felt very precise and very clean.

Comfort - the one downfall

Unfortunately this is going to be another very subjective area and sadly the one area that our Able Planet NC300B's fail very short on. When watching movies or listen to music I was not able to wear them for extended periods – over an hour. Unlike the NC200's and other headphones I've previously used the headband felt very rigid and tight. The adjustment band seemed to slip from a comfortable position down to a tighter one which tighten the ear cups down to an uncomfortable level. The ear pieces themselves were fine, it seemed the only issue was the band.

Being summer and rather warm I did notice the ear cups made my ears quite warm, even sweaty so I found myself needing to take them off periodically. This wasn't a major concern as its a fairly common issue with most similar headphones. The headband issue, at least in my opinion, was a major flaw though.


For the most part I give the Able Planet NC300B headphones a glowing review, this doesn't however mean that I would also give them a strong recommendation. In fact on a 5 point scale I'd barely give them a two.

Its my opinion that you can make a great product but if its not comfortable enough for me to use it then its not worth me buying it. Sadly this is the case for the NC300's. I'm very aware of the fact that comfort is a subjective area so they might feel great to someone else and just not to me so I won't say they are horrible or they shouldn't be bought just that from my experience they aren't for me. Personally I felt the NC200's we previously reviewed were a much better fit and more portable.

My comfort issue aside you can clearly see how these could be a great set of headphones. They offer great sound quality and exceptional noise-canceling all for a price tag that most would consider as being extremely affordable. The Able Planet Site will hit you with a bit of sticker shock as the Able Planet NC300B headphones carry a $150 price tag. Don't let this bother you you savvy shoppers out there should have no issues finding them for a much better price elsewhere.

ABLE PLANET NC300B True Fidelity Around-the-Ear Active Noise Canceling Headphones (Black)

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