About 2 weeks ago, I got a little surprise in my mailbox. I received a pair of Ableplanet’s NC200 Clear Harmony foldable noise canceling headphones. Ive tried a bunch of inexpensive noise canceling/isolating earbuds but its been a while since Ive used a really nice pair of earphones.
To give you a little background, Able planet boast their "linx audio" noise canceling technology. as we all know, many manufactures of all types of listening devices have fancy names to the technology they use to lock out background noise. to be honest, I wasn’t really expecting too much. Checking the list price, these headphones sale for about $99 bucks so I would think that they should be one of the better set of headphones Ive used.
Opening the box
When I first opened the box, I noticed that they were a really nice looking pair of headphones. Nothing too fancy but they did have that "nice piece of hardware" look. In the box was the NC200 headphones (volume controls on the cord), a stereo adapter, and a simple black carrying pouch. I quickly put them on my head to see if they blocked out noise. I was a little disappointed. Noise was blocked but any more than any other pair of headphones…I thought (more on that later). The Headphones itself were pretty comfortable. I could see myself using them around the house or at my desk, I couldn’t see myself using them for my iPhone music listening when I’m out and about (I’m a earbud guy). Over all, as far as the look and feel, I was satisfied. I put them back in the box for later use.
How did they fair when used?
A day or so later, I sat down to use the NC200 for the first time, noticed that they didn’t fit into my iPhone so I decided to use my laptop. A friend was over and took a look at them. I was explaining how the noise canceling didn’t do much when I just put them on my head without anything playing and that’s when he pointed something out to me. On the side of the right headphone there is a little on and off switch. Dont know how I missed it before. I put the headphones on and flipped the switch to on and all of the background noise (and I was in an area with a lot of background noise) got sucked out of my head.
Ahhh here we go.
Theres that link audio that I read about. Now my disappointment from earlier was gone. I took the headphones off and looked at them again and noticed the battery compartment. The noise canceling tech is powered by a single AAA battery. So on to my test.
How did they fair?….for real this time.
Over the next couple of days, Ive used the NC200 exclusively for just about everything I did on my laptop. Ive listened to music, Watched movies, Online content, did a few video tutorials. Even tested the PZIZZ software I wrote about the other day. I was in the same area though all of the testing. That area is noisy, which makes a perfect environment to test noise canceling headphones. The technology used with the noise canceling headphones worked out really well. I felt it sufficiently blocked out background noise, to a point where once things are playing, you clearly heard what you were listing too, and nothing else (unless you concentrated on listening to things in the background). They didn’t quite block as much noise as some of the noise canceling earbuds Ive tried, but it was a more comfortable feeling. The earbuds Ive used all felt like my head was in a bubble, I didn’t get that feeling with the NC200. The NC200’s actually felt quite natural. There were times when I forgot there was even background noise and would flip the switch off to see what things sound like without the link audio technology activated. Big difference. I really liked the natural feeling of noise being removed when using the NC200’s. To give you an idea, Imagine you are in a room where someone is running a vacuum cleaner. Now imagine that person with the vacuum goes upstairs on the far side of the house. That was the difference.
As far as the sound quality, I was also satisfied. Movies sound great when played on my laptop using the NC200’s. You got a full range of sound and and every voice and sound effect was really clear, about as good as it would sound if I was sitting in a small room by myself watching a television.
Ok What did I not like?
I have to be honest, There wasnt much I didn’t like about these headphones…well maybe a few things. First the hinge where you fold the headphones for storage seem like it would be a little prone to breaking. I didn’t have any problem with it, but I was really careful as it was a concern the whole time I used them. I feel that as long as you have them unfolded, there was no risk, but folding them scared me. There is a snap that holds the headphones open when unfolded that you have to put a little more muscle into unsnaping the hinge than I felt comfortable with (also that I felt would wear over time and loose its "snap").
Also,the NC200 are pretty comfortable, but there were times where the room I was in got a little warm, and I noticed that the vinyl around the "ears" cause a little more sweat than Im use too (hope AblePlanet doesn’t want these back).
The last little thing was the noise canceling technology. While it worked pretty well, it didn’t work quite as well as I like. seems like it did a really good job with some types of sound, like a person talking, but other sounds were always there, in a minimal way. I really cant fault the NC200’s for that because I feel that the natural feel to the noise canceling tech made up for whatever sounds got through. and to be honest, Most people will not be using these headphones in an environment like the room I was in testing.
I have 2 conclusions. Before I get to them, I have to say that if no one told me how much the NC200 cost, I would guess $199. They seem like a "near high end" set of headphones. But the regular price is $99. I clearly think these are worth the money and is a good buy if you have a need for a nice pair of noise canceling headphones.
Personally, I think that while $99 is a good deal, and I can recommend at that price, I would still say shop around first. Luckily, if you look around you can find the NC200’s for Half that price (try Amazon). At $44.90, I was call this a definite buy.
Check out the NC200’s at AblePlanets website
Check out Amazon.com’s listing for the Clear Harmony NC200 foldable headphones.