by Rory Buszka on March 3, 2008 in Speakers/Headphones
When we met AblePlanet at CES, their Clear Harmony noise canceling headphones really caught our attention. Their built-in noise canceling circuitry is intended to reduce the infiltration of ambient noise, but can they stack up sonically against some serious competition within their price bracket?
When Nate highly recommended the AblePlanet Clear Harmony headphones to me back in January, it was based on a cursory listen at AblePlanet’s CES booth. And these headphones are delightful in many ways – they’re light, very comfortable, and provide rich, satisfying sound, with fairly good external noise isolation when compared to headphones without active noise cancellation.
Their noise cancellation proved to be more than adequate in most cases, though to say that the built-in noise canceling feature entombs you in a cocoon of silence would be an overstatement.
For casual music listening, the Clear Harmony headphones work well, but they wouldn’t be my choice for a reference headphone, or for use in professional audio situations. These headphones can sound fine for music listening, and their “LINX AUDIO” processing imparts a character to the sound that many consumers may find appealing. However, at their asking price, you can treat yourself to a true ‘audiophile’ headphone with decent isolation like the Ultrasone HFI-700, and still have enough left over to buy a couple CDs.
With that in mind, I’m awarding the Clear Harmony NC1000CH headphones a Techgage score of 7. When compared to other noise cancellation headphones, they’re significantly more expensive than alternatives from famous makers like Sony, Philips, and JVC. Furthermore, it’s possible to do better for less cash if you’re willing to give up on the noise cancellation functionality. If you do choose to purchase these headphones, you likely won’t regret the decision, but eventually you’ll find yourself simply wanting more.
- Satisfying low end, if a bit hyped
- Compact design
- Onboard active noise cancellation
- Expensive when compared to alternatives
- Sound can be unnatural
- Must be switched-on to be listenable
- Small ear cups
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