Quieting the thunder.
You wouldn't necessarily guess it, but my job requires a lot of travel. Developers and publishers love to fly us around to check out their games and attend their launch parties. Not to mention covering events like E3, Comic Con, and Tokyo Game Show. My frequent flyer accounts have more miles than a Los Angeles road map.
Speaking of which, it was a recent trip to Los Angeles thanks to Paramount and their upcoming Days of Thunder NASCAR game
for Xbox Live Arcade that had me testing out the ableplanet (or Able Planet) True Fidelity (NC300B) noise canceling headphones.
With a MSRP of $99, and a quick search easily turning up prices of $65, it was completely unfair of me to put them up against my far more expensive Ultrasone and Sennheiser headphones. But I did it anyway, because I'm a jerk
In perfect silent conditions, without the noise cancellation turned on, they performed respectably enough. Very good sound quality, but not quite the levels that the professional phones can deliver for three times as much. However, that's not what sound cancellation headphones are for.
To test the noise cancellation, I used them on the airplane, on the L.A. freeways (no, I wasn't driving), and at a NASCAR race at the Toyota Motor Speedway. For those of you who have never been to a NASCAR race, it is LOUD
And in all those less-than-ideal situations, the NC300B headphones were just as good
as its more expensive rivals. They also feature something called “Linx Audio” which is supposed to help the hearing impaired. As far as I could tell, all this does is tweak the treble up a bit, which does help with isolating dialogue in most movies. However, the effect is barely noticeable to someone with no hearing problems.
The fit is comfortable, it feels solidly constructed, and it comes with a nice case and an impressive array of adapters. Also the cord unplugs from both ends, including the headphone side, a feature that I love. This allows you to plug in an optional headset mic (not available at the time of this writing) so that they can be used for gaming.
In short, I highly recommended them. If, like me (and a recent Oscar contender), you spend a lot of time “Up in the Air
”, these are easily the best noise cancellation headphones you'll find for under $100. And on the plane, that $300 pair of Bose phones you covet won't sound any better.