Rating: ★★★★☆

I have been interested in trying out a pair of active noise cancelling headphones for a while now – my house has two teenage girls, my young son, five dogs, and a Macaw that enjoy giving me headaches on a daily basis. When I’m in an online conference of meeting, at times it can be downright impossible to hear anything. I have plenty of passive noise canceling headphones and ear buds, but they can only do so much – so how well do the True Fidelity headphones from Able Planet hold up?

After seeing the huge differences between the prices of the True Fidelity brand from Able Planet, and some of the other brands out there, I have to say I wasn’t expecting much.  After all, you can get a pair of the True Fidelity’s for under $100 with very little searching effort, while a comparable Sennheiser runs closer to $300; a Denon will set you back over $400.  Looking at the numbers like that, it’s easy to see why the True Fidelity headphones can get overlooked (the brands in that price like include Caliphone International and….John Deere???) – but to overlook these gems is a serious mistake, as I soon found out.

The sound quality, while not as extreme as some of the overpriced headsets I’m been privy to try out, is just right for what I needed them for.  I use these both for listening to music while trying to write an article, and for whenever I’m needed in a press conference.  The sounds are all crisp, and the bass isn’t overly dominant (important for conferences – some speakers have booming voices.)  I do usually use them with the noise cancelling mode active though – when it is off, the sound coming from the headphones becomes heavily attenuated.  I’ve learned to make sure to keep a spare triple A battery around for that very purpose (you only need one, that’s all it uses), because I would hate for the battery to die during something important.

One thing I noticed, is that even when no music is playing (and the active noise cancelling mode is off), they still do a pretty decent job of muffling outside noise.  Nothing as loud as a dog’s bark, but it’s definitely hard to make out words when someone is trying to talk to you.  Oddly enough, if you turn the noise cancelling mode on with no music playing, most low frequency noise gets pretty much eliminated – although you can hear a very faint amount of white noise.  What makes this odd to me, is that the high frequency noises around seem to get through easier.  While testing this, I was more able to hear the girls in my house talking with the noise canceling mode on and nothing else playing.  I can only assume this to be because of the absence of the low frequency sounds; I’m no expert though as to what causes this phenomenon.

When I have any music playing though, I really can’t hear anyone else talking to me at all – they do exactly what I needed them for.  Now when I’m writing a news piece, I slip them on with some classic rock, and I can get everything I need to done without distractions.  No more begging for children and animals to go away and let me work – I can work right through all the noise and not worry about a thing.

The True Fidelity headphones fold down nicely into a carrying case, unfortunately that carrying case is too bulky to sit comfortably on a desk.  I would have preferred if the ear cups had folded inwards, rather than lay flat.  If you want to use them for conferencing (as I do), you also have to purchase a separate mic, as the price of the headphones is for the headphones alone.  While the mic kit isn’t that expensive, it’s still another expense to consider if you want them to do everything.  the only other complaint I have with these is the weight – they feel as heavy as a pair of Psyko Carbons, and those have five speakers in them.

All in all, I give the Able Planet True fidelity NC300B headphones a rating of four stars out of five – the price is right for the average user, but if you want something light, or something that doesn’t take up a lot of desktop real estate – look elsewhere.

Pros:

  • Very affordable for active noise cancelling headphones
  • Sound is clear
  • Noise cancelling works nicely

Cons:

  • Bulky case, and large desktop footprint
  • A lot heavier than their appearance would suggest
  • Extra expense if you want a mic

You can grab a pair of the Able Planet True Fidelity NC300B headphones from Amazon for $80.44



Staff