Able Planet Noise Canceling Headphones - Noise Cancellation, Testing and Conclusion

Article Index
Able Planet Noise Canceling Headphones
Closer Look, Features and Specs
Noise Cancellation, Testing and Conclusion

Able Planet NC500LC & NC500SC Testing:

Testing of headphones is a tough one though, it's not actually hard to do, but it's a bit subjective. I know people who use cheap headphones they were given on a plane and then try out expensive headphones and don't really understand why you'd pay that much for headphones and can't really notice the difference. I also know people who have $300 dollar headphones and swear by them.  Just after Christmas, I purchased a set of JBL 510 Reference headphones on sale and this was my first long-term experience with noise canceling headphones.  When the Able Planet sets arrived, I had something to compare them two, but really there was no comparison.

The hardest part of this review was keeping in mind the fact that these are retailing for $179 and $249 respectively; while quite expensive, for headphones in this class they are competitively priced.  You simply cannot compare $30 headphones from Walmart with $200 headphones made by Able Planet.

Pair of Batteries The first headphones I used were the NC500LC "LoSt CaUzE" headphones.  I hooked these up to my computer, laptop and iPod and took them with me while I was at work, on the road, and just chilling at home.  I even wore these to bed when we had a horrible storm blowing a couple of weeks back.  The wind was whistling through the furnace and noise cancellation was darn handy.

Whether you're watching movies, playing games, listening to your favorite tunes of any genre, or catching up on your latest podcasts, the NC500LC Headphones are a pleasure to use.  They are quite light, very comfortable on my medium-sized head, and offered very good range across bass and high treble.  Overall listening experience was very positive.

The noise cancellation on both of these headsets is a bit interesting though.  The mic that picks up noise is located outside the ear cup, and Able Planet uses this to provide very good suppression of white noise.  Other companies headsets block more noise than these, but the trade off is in sound quality.  On several other high-profile brands, the mic is located inside the ear cup and they use a bit more aggressive cancellation to block more noise.  The downside to this is sound quality at high volume levels.  While Able Planet offers a bit less in the way of suppression, they offer better audio quality than any other headset we demoed and far better quality than the JBL 510 that are priced the same as the NC500LC. 

Headset Powered Although these headphones share almost identical physical characteristics and identical specifications, the listening experience is quite different between the two.  After being very impressed with the NC500LC units, it was time to test out the more expensive "Sound Clarity" NC500SC set.   This set is a bit heavier and while construction looks identical, due to their extra weight, they feel more solid and better built.

I used these in the exact same environment and listening scenarios as the LC version and the experience was even better than the NC500LC.  I found it hard to believe, but the sound was even more robust, crisp and full of bass.  I swapped headphones quickly during the tests to compare them with each other, the JBL 510 and the SteelSeries Siberia headset.  There was no comparison with the other brands at all.  The Able Planet NC500SC headphones are by far the best headphones I've heard.  With noise cancellation turned on or off the experience is darn near incredible.  Songs like Skillet's Better than Drugs come alive and make you feel like you are at the concert (minus the screaming sweaty fans), and the experience was noticeably better than the NC500LC.

As far as battery life goes, I'm still working on my first set of batteries after many hours of listening and even a couple of instances when I forgot to shut them off.  We'll see how it goes, but I'm very happy with the battery life on these.


Final Thoughts:

The Able Planet NC500LC and NC500SC headphones are pretty sweet.  Both sets provide the same level of noise cancellation, but the Sound Clarity series does in fact provide better sound quality.  That is not to say that the NC500LC set doesn't sound good though.  The LoSt CaUzE set was the best set of headphones I'd ever listened to - until I listened to the Sound Clarity set.  Both are priced very competitively for their markets and while many of you gamers don't think you need a set of noise canceling headphones, if you have a noisy air-cooled computer, you'd be surprised at how they help tame fan noise and provide a quieter environment for you to concentrate on your virtual enemies.  The LC set retails for the same price as the JBL 510 and they outperform the JBL hands down.  If you don't need the headphone extension and have an extra $70 in your pocket, the NC500SC is the way to go for maximum quality.  However, the NC500LC set is very good for most people.   All in all, both of these headphones are winners.

 

Pros:

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Very good noise cancellation
  • Good battery life
  • Good value for the market segment
  • Very comfortable
  • In-line volume control
  • Sturdy design and nice case for transportation


Cons:

  • Price


While I've listed price as a "Con" you've got to keep in mind that these are aimed at high-end Bose and Sony noise canceling headphones.  In this market they are reasonably priced, but for the average Joe looking for a set of gaming headphones, they are expensive.  This makes it a bit harder to judge value, but we have to be fair to the market and judge them for what they are - high-end noise canceling headphones.  Both sets score pretty much the same when it all boils down as you get what you pay for and both are great headphones.

BCCRating

 

Top Pick

I'd like to thank Able Planet for firing up these headphones for us to review.  We'd love to hear your feedback and experience with your noise canceling headphones.  Please post it at the "Comments" link below.