At GottaBeMobile.com, we primarily focus on Tablet PCs and UMPCs, and the accessories that naturally build-up around those devices. On occasion, though, we branch out a little to bring attention to other areas of technology we are enjoying.
When AblePlanet contacted me and asked if I was interested in reviewing their Clear Harmony Linx Audio Noise Canceling headphones, I jumped at the opportunity. I own a pair of on-the-ear Bose QuietComfort 3 headphones (QC3), and was looking forward to experiencing some other high quality headphones, especially some over-the-ear headphones.
Let me begin by stating that I am not an audio junkie. I like a good pair of headphones, but I don’t get in to nit-picking every high and low in music. I tend to prefer over-the-ear and on-the-ear headphones over the more portable in-the-ear headphones. My office has six servers that generate a lot of low-level noise, so noise canceling is important to me. I also enjoy some good noise-canceling headphones when I travel by air. It is amazing how much jet noise a good pair of headphones can filter out. Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to travel while evaluating the Clear Harmony headphones, so I won’t be able to comment on the whole airplane experience.
Here are some specs on the Clear Harmony headphones that AblePlanet sent me:
18 decibels of active noise cancellation – AblePlanet claims this is the highest of any noise cancellation headphone on the market
Operates as normal headphones when noise cancellation is turned off or when batteries run out
Uses two AAA batteries for noise-canceling
Full-size ear cups which fold flat for storage in a nice travel case
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Sensitivity at 1KHz: 115dB (Off); 121dB (On)
Detachable cord; length is 5′
In-line volume control
Overall, I have not been able to tell any discernable difference between the Bose QC3 headphones and the AblePlanet Clear Harmony headphones in music quality – both of them sound awesome. In addition, the Clear Harmony headphones filtered out the low-level server noise in my office very well, along with allowing me to pick up the higher frequencies like people’s voices, my cell-phone, etc. However, there are some advantages that the Clear Harmony headphones have over my Bose QC3′s which are causing me to choose the Clear Harmony headphones when I travel or listen to music in my office.
My Bose QC3 headphones uses 1 rechargeable battery, which can cause problems when you are out somewhere without access to a power supply, you forget to charge the battery, or you forget the charger like I often do. Without a charged battery, the QC3′s are useless – you can’t listen to music nor get any noise-canceling benefit. In contrast, the Clear Harmony headphones utilize 2 AAA batteries for the noise canceling feature, but can still be used to listen to music without batteries. It is worth noting that the Bose QC2 headphones, the Clear Harmony’s direct competitor, uses a single AAA battery, but I don’t know if they can be used when that battery goes dead or not.
Case in point, when I go camping, I like to listen to classical music while I settle in for the night. When I went camping this past weekend, I brought my Zune and both pair of headphones with me. I put my Bose QC3′s on and within 5 minutes, my battery died. Yep – I forgot to charge the battery before I left. Fortunately, I had the Clear Harmony’s with me. I had been listening to them so much in my office, that the AAA batteries in them soon died, too. However, I was able to keep listening to my music throughout the weekend with no problem.
A bit of a humorous DRM side-track here: I hadn’t synced my Zune in about a month, which overlapped with my 3 month Zune MusicPass. So, when I went to play my Zune over the weekend, none of my music would play since the subscription had timed out on the device. Frustrated, I went to the van and got my wife’s iPod, which contained all of our ripped CD’s. I was back in classical music heaven. Ahh, the joys of DRM.
Back on track….
The Clear Harmony headphones have an in-line volume adjustment. If you are like me, finding the volume dial on the computer or on a media player can get a bit clumsy sometimes, especially when you need to quickly turn the music down. With the in-line volume control, I can quickly adjust the music without much fuss at all.
Little things like the in-line volume control and the fact that the headphones can operate with or without batteries begin to add-up to a great experience. With a comparable listening experience, a competitive price, and the advantages that I outlined above, if I were buying a pair of high quality noise-canceling headphones today, I would give AblePlanet’s Clear Harmony headphones the first look.
The Clear Harmony headphones are competitively priced with other high quality over-the-ear headphones at $299, and can be purchased here.