Pros:great sound reproduction, blocks noxious noises
Cons:bulky, not compact
The Bottom Line: Block unwanted noise on your next economy-class flight and get excellent sound from your MP3 player with a set of Able Planet Sound Clarity Noise-Canceling Headphones. You'll be glad. Huh?
A twelve-hour flight sardined into a "cattle-car class" seat some years ago convinced this traveler to never again suffer through the experience without noise-canceling headphones. And it won't: yours truly bought some Able Planet Sound Clarity Headphones (NC500SC) with "Linx Audio" noise-canceling technology. They'll really earn their pay on my upcoming fifteen-hour cattle-car class flight. Fifteen hours both ways (whimper...)
Recommend this product?
Sound Clarity Headphones combine active and passive noise cancellation in a bulky design that resembles '60s-era Sennheisers. A padded headband connects large silver-and-black earpieces with softly-cushioned ear cups that cover the entire ear; no wiring is exposed. A discrete switch on the left 'phone controls active noise-canceling circuitry, and a jack on the lower rim accepts a 3.5mm plug for input. A green LED informs user (or flight attendant) that the device is activated.
In passive mode, the headphones are at least as good as over-the-counter ear plugs for reducing ambient noise; but in active mode they slice off about 85% of engine noise, screaming-infant noise, and other intrusive sounds. They've proven excellent for flying, and are also good for blocking conversation and other background noise in shared offices, workrooms, etc. The cancellation effect is good enough that I've had to brush up on my lip-reading skills.
For music, Sound Clarity Headphones offer a wide dynamic range (20Hz-20KHz), good enough that I hear bass in my music I didn't know was there (I lost my high-freq hearing decades ago). With noise-cancellation turned on, the music experience is everything one buys good headphones for (and considerably louder than with the cancellation off). I've experienced no distortion and no static; though I have heard B B King's calluses sliding on Lucille's strings.
On the downside, the headphones are rather bulky: though the cushioned ear cups are definitely comfy, curling up and snoozing with them on takes some adjustments. Sound conduction from direct contact with hard objects defeats the NC circuit, as does blocking the small holes covering the microphones.
Able Planet ships the Sound Clarity with a five-foot detachable cord with in-line volume control. They toss in two AAA batteries, a 3.5mm-to-1/4" adaptor and a dual-plug airplane adapter. The earpieces swivel for increased comfort and to fit into the carrying case. Unlike some 'phones, this design doesn't fold. The zippered case (about 7"x8"x2") includes a small net storage compartment for a spare pair of batteries and the adapters; there's additional storage large enough for the cord and an MP3 player under an elastic band that secures the 'phones. The batteries are supposed to last about thirty hours: I've never timed them, I must admit.
My set came without user's manual or instructions (good thing the battery compartment is marked), and I find no documentation at ableplanet.com, either. While reading the package at the store, I almost passed because the blurb promises full rich "base" sounds; but I decided not to punish them for poor proofreading. I'm glad I let it slide.
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