Able Planet True Fidelity Active Noise Canceling Headphone Review

Able Planet-Headphones-1I write this review as I fly at 35,000 feet in the air.  I thought this would be the ideal place to review and test the noise-canceling feature of the Able Planet True Fidelity Active Noise Canceling Headphones (NC300B).  Technology used in high quality hearing aids is implemented in these headphones to enhance sounds and reduce external noise. The result is a full rich sound that is pleasure to my ears, especially in an airplane’s cabin. And that’s not all…

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What you get in the box:

Headphone
3.5 mm plug with in-line volume control
1/4 Home Stereo Adaptor
AAA Battery (1)
Hard Shell Protective Carrying Case with Velcro Pouch
Airplane Adapter

The noise-canceling feature may be turned on and off using the switch located on the right earpiece.  The noise canceling feature makes a huge difference in removing cabin noise even without an audio source plugged in. The difference is not subtle. It tuned out the engine noise almost entirely. The change is dramatic.  I could still hear the hum of the cabin but the external plane noise was cut out.  Things don’t sound muffled, just less noisy.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), there were no crying babies or loud talkers to cancel out. The airline adapter included in the box came in handy as well.  Most airlines have the single 3.5 mm jack but my seat required the dual jack.

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To be fair, I also tried the noise-canceling feature in a less noisy setting, my apartment. Without the audio connected, I did notice a small amount of white noise when I turned on the headphones.  I did not notice the white noise on the plane.  When connected to the audio source the white noise, although still present, was drowned out by the music.

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Without the noise canceling turned on, audio has to compete with external noise. This usually results in having to turn the volume WAY up to hear anything.  But with the noise-canceling feature turned on there are fewer external noises to compete with.  Audio has far more quality at lower volumes.  They call their technology LINX AUDIO, but I call it music to my ears.

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The headphones are also well constructed. The right and left earpieces pivot smoothly from the frame. Each headphone has a smooth, almost soft to the touch, black surface. The headband is adjustable for larger heads. The battery placement is discreetly hidden behind the pivoting earpiece.  According to Able Planet, the battery life is about 30 hours.  The plug includes convenient in-line volume control.

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One of my personal pet peeves is when other people can hear my music when I have my headphones on or when I can hear others’ music from their headphones.  Unfortunately, I have yet to find headphones that avoid this problem.   Although it sounds great at higher volumes, I would not recommend turning these headphone all the way up in a quite setting like a library.

A couple of times I heard a very subtle clicking or tapping sound out of the right headphone.  Although I tried to determine a pattern  (going from high volume to low, heavy bass songs to less bass songs) I could not establish one. My best guess is it is part of the noise canceling circuitry doing some auto adjusting.  I only heard it a couple times and it was not persistent or regular so it didn’t bother me.

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The hard-shelled case provides a protective way to carry your headphones. Inside the case is a small Velcro pouch for wires and adapters.  The case itself took up a large chunk of my carry-on bag.  So, if there are plans for traveling with these headphones make sure you have the room to spare.   Once in air, you wont be sorry you brought them.

 

Product Information

Price:$99.99
Manufacturer:Able Planet
Pros:
  • Noise canceling
  • Sound quality
  • Bass
Cons:
  • Case is large for traveling
Posted in: Audio, Video, TV Gear, Reviews

13 comments… add one

  • Andrew H. November 20, 2009, 8:52 pm

    Have you tried the much more expensive Bose noise cancelling headphones? I am curious how these compare.

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  • Anita Z November 21, 2009, 4:31 pm

    No, I have not tried the Bose version of noise cancelling headphones called QuietComfort 3. They seem pretty pricey compared to these which market for $99. Bose start at 3x that at 300-350. Sony also has a pair starting at 400. Noise cancelling doesnt come cheap!

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  • Richard Raborn MD November 21, 2009, 7:08 pm

    Noise cancelling headphones seem to increase cabin comfort at least one class! Noise is an important part of stress during flights. I have used by Bose headphones for years both in jets and prop planes with great comfort! which reminds me that Al Yancovich was so funny in his last twitter day talking about not seeing anyone else famous in First Class and that if the plane crashed, he was sure to make the headlines!

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  • Nerd Galore November 22, 2009, 1:34 am

    You can buy this model for $50 at CostCo. These are not high quality headphones. Consumer grade (and these are very, very low consumer grade) headphones are not effective at noise cancellation. They add white noise to mask background sounds and encourage users to raise the volume to unsafe levels to compensate for that in exchange. The level of DSP needed for high quality, real-time noise cancellation is for the most part beyond the consumer marketplace. (Bose certainly does not offer it.)

    If you want headphones for noisy environments, I’d highly encourage people to consider in-canal models. They block sound the same way good foam or silicone earplugs do. You can buy in-canal Shures or Etymotics for $100 with outstanding audio isolation and high fidelity. You can also listen at much lower and safer volumes, as the sealed design reduces ambient noise in the 15-25dB range, depending on model and fit. Thus, you can turn the volume way down and protect the precious hair cells on your cochlea.

    I think The Gadgeteer site loses much credibility with reviews like this. A headphone review with a comment such as, “One of my personal pet peeves is when other people can hear my music when I have my headphones on… Unfortunately, I have yet to find headphones that avoid this problem. Although it sounds great at higher volumes, I would not recommend turning these headphone all the way up in a quite setting like a library.” My God, you’ll be deaf soon! Someone who’d write this is not qualified to review headphones. You should never turn headphones — particularly what are known as closed models like these — beyond their almost minimum volume setting. If you need to, you should not be listening to headphones in your current environment.

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  • Anita Z November 24, 2009, 11:21 pm

    @Nerd Galore … Thanks for the info. I also found them on sale at buy.com for $50. In my use of this product I can only hear the white noise faintly when no audio is present, but by no means do I feel I need to turn the volume up to cover up the white noise. And thanks for the “sound” advise about saving the precious hair cells on my cochlea.

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  • Nerd Galore November 25, 2009, 7:56 pm

    Anita, let me apologize for my tone being overly harsh, which I think it unquestionably was, and thank you for your calm and civil response. I congratulate you on your equanimity, which is certainly enviable. :)

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  • VanZackh December 5, 2009, 6:07 pm

    I got 2 of these headphone a few weeks back on sale for gifts but landed up keeping one for myself! From my use this pair is actually quite good in its class. It would be unreasonable to compare it with “in-ear” (Which has mechanical noise isolation as opposed to electronic) or any other type since the comparison would not be 1-1.
    I also have a Bose pair (About 4 years old) and a Sennheiser (The best I believe); except for a rather faint white noise, the “Able Planet” performs quite well.
    The the price is also currently unmatched to any other noise cancelling circumaural headphone with similar performance.

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  • Khalid December 14, 2009, 9:15 pm

    Hi Anita – Very thorough review. While I think the NC300s are a solid product, I didn’t care for the sound reproduction very much. I still say the Audio Technica ATH-ANC7s are much better in that department, although in all other areas, those 2 products are pretty close. My full review here:http://su.pr/1PjcEN
    Cheers!

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  • kur August 24, 2010, 6:07 pm

    It’s a super clarity with decent strong bass at reasonable price range headphone. However, I hate it’s weight more than Bose and clam like tightness make it very uncomfortable after an hrs of wearing it. I hope Able Planet will redesign with better material to comfort and lots less weight so owner wouldn’t go buy another Bose even a 10 yr child prefer over it.

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  • kur August 24, 2010, 6:11 pm

    By the way, there’s no point to buy something that user would regret it later because the comfort problem. Words of mouths are equally important than massive marketing if not far exceeding it.

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  • tim November 24, 2011, 6:29 pm

    I bought a model, sound clarity which seems a little full feature version. Unfortunately, after a few months of usage the Noise Canceling feature became pretty annoying with noise like”pom-pom, pom-pom….” as if I’ve listening to mammogram.
    The sound quality for the headphone is great however, the headset is way too tight make your ear uncomfortable after more than half hr of wearing it. Your ears feeling the burn due to tightness and the weight. AblePlanet support is out of reach after e-mail or calling the office. The company has a very poor support of it products. I end up buying Comfort15 and very happy with it.

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  • Rachel January 21, 2012, 9:25 pm

    I purchased a pair of headphones from Ableplanet because of a great deal on Groupon. I had never before heard of this company but after some light research it seemed to be reported as “award-winning” and reputable so I decided to take a chance. What a mistake that was!
    I happily received my new headphones and got great use out of them for 2 WEEKS until they inexplicably started distorting all sound beyond recognition! They no longer worked with my computer, iPod, or any other device. Seeing that I had taken perfect care of my pricey headphones I was very disappointed with their IMMEDIATE breakage. After calling a few numbers from their website, I spoke to a young woman who, without any apology or explanation, instructed me to send back the malfunctioning product and they would send me a new pair. I sent them back the same day as instructed. Now here I sit, OVER A MONTH LATER, never having heard anything back from them! Deciding to stop giving them the benefit of the doubt, I sent them an angry email and called numerous times – and received no replies whatsoever. Today I finally received an email from FedEx saying that they have shipped a new pair to me, but considering that it has taken them over a month and their awful product breaks after two weeks, I don’t even want the new headphones anymore. This is the WORST experience I’ve ever had with an online buy. No matter what deal they may offer, NEVER do business with Ableplanet! For Heaven’s sake, buy from Bose instead!

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  • John February 5, 2014, 11:46 pm

    Thanks Rachel, Based on the previous comments, I was leaning against succumbing to a Groupon special, $39.99 for the NC300BT!

    Your experience with their nonexistent customer service made up my mind!

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