AblePlanet True Fidelity NC200B Noise Canceling Headphones Review

AblePlanet True Fidelity NC200B Noise Canceling Headphones ReviewI’m not an audiophile, but I do appreciate a good pair of headphones. As a video editor, my ability to hear those tiny flaws in an audio track is vital to the fine-tuning of a good product. I’ve gone through perhaps a dozen pairs of headphones in the past decade, each bringing something new to the table in terms of sound clarity and comfort.

AblePlanet is a relatively new brand to me. I haven’t had much experience (if any) with its products in the past, and I was cautious about leaping into a purchase when my wife and I visited the Brookstone store at a nearby mall. Facing an active travel regimen over the next few months, I was in the market for a pair of headphones to replace the Bose OE2s that I’ve been using for the past year.

While I’m not entirely a fan of Bose speakers for sound mastering, the headphones have served me quite well in this area. The problem with the ones I’ve been using is that they do not cancel background noise as well as they could. I like to get work done while in the air, and having a good pair of headphones that drowns out the noise of a plane’s engines or the chatter of a noisy terminal makes a big difference.

With this in mind, I decided to give the AblePlanet True Fidelity NC200B Noise Canceling Headphones a try. Switching back and forth between them and a $400 pair of Klipsch headphones, I actually liked what I heard from AblePlanet’s set a lot more. I also compared them to Beats by Dr. Dre (twice as expensive) and a member of the higher-priced AblePlanet line, Clear Harmony. To my surprise, it was this particular set, priced at $99, that sounded the best.

So I left the store with the headphones, a two-year extended accidental damage warranty, and a $20 gift card from the store.

Sound Quality

First, let me restate that I am not an audiophile. My ears may be trained to seek out obvious flaws in sound reproduction, but I rarely care about minor nuances in recorded audio while passively listening. I did detect, however, that the bass on these headphones wasn’t as punchy as I’ve found in similarly priced models. The bass is actually somewhat even and slow. Instead of a sudden punch, you hear the deep note as if it were a booming presence in the background. This might be an improvement for some people, but as a listener of double-pedal bass drum tracks, it’s a bit disappointing.

That said, the mids and highs were actually quite good. Listening to a live concert on the NC200B sounded more natural and real than it had on the Bose OE2.

Noise cancellation on the AblePlanet NC200B is, itself, kind of noisy. You should expect some level of a hiss when you activate noise cancellation as it attempts to counter background noises in your environment, but it seemed especially loud on these headphones over others. When the music kicks in, you hardly notice it at all. It’s during the silent spots between notes or during dramatic moments in a movie when you start hearing this hiss.

Background noise remained audible, even with cancellation on. This clears up quite a bit after about 20 minutes of wear as the headphones settle around the ears and adjust to your environment. If you’re going to wear these to drown out background noise, you shouldn’t expect too much from them for the first 20 minutes. After that, the noise cancellation is remarkably good. Perhaps it’s because of a pressurization caused by the resting ear pads, or simply that I’ve gotten used to the background noise still present and have drowned it out.

There was a time when I was typing on my keyboard and could hear the keys clacking away. After a while, I stopped being able to hear this sound through the audio being played.

Comfort

If you have small ears, these are really comfortable headphones. I have big ears, and the cups don’t exactly go around them. They do, however, feel comfortable enough for long-term listening. A pair of pads along the top of the headband make for a great fit.

The NC200B is less like a vice and more like a classy pair of comfortable headphones. That’s a rare find in the budget category, especially with such an expensive feature as active noise cancellation.

The exterior is a soft, rubberized plastic that feels very good in your hands. In almost every way, this headset feels like one that costs a lot more.

Portability

Portability is where the NC200B really shines. You can fold it in every which way you could imagine, including splitting the headband and folding it around the cups. An included cloth carrying bag makes for a classy carrying option for your headphones, cable, and adapters.

An airplane adapter is included along with a 1/4″ adapter for maximum compatibility no matter what you’re plugging the headphones into. The cable is removable, making storage easier.

Other Notes

The NC200B operates just fine with or without noise cancellation turned on. The volume is quite a bit louder with it turned on, but you can still hear what you need to hear should your AAA (included) run down during your project. The battery itself is expected to run for 70+ hours, but it’s good to know a failed AAA won’t leave you without audio.

I’m a big fan of the removable audio cable with in-line volume control. It’s a practical and functional approach for folks who may need to turn the music down for a bit without adjusting the volume on the source. You can also replace this cable with your own audio cable should this one become snagged or otherwise damaged.

There are some reports of the headband hinge being fragile and easily broken. For this reason I’m opting not to fold the headset down every time I travel. It may not be a problem for everyone, but it’s certainly worth noting.

Over all, this is one of the few headphones out there that I would absolutely declare being worth the purchase price. Too many companies are getting away with ripping their customers off in this department. Why would you ever want to pay top dollar for consumer headphones that hiss, neglect key elements, or otherwise fall short in performance and/or comfort? Unless you’re really attached to the brand name, I see no reason to choose these products.

AblePlanet has stepped up to create a fairly good alternative option to the pricier noise canceling headphones out there. This may not be the best set you can get, but it does deliver great sound for the price.

You can grab a pair of AblePlanet NC200B headphones on Amazon right now for about $70. That’s a 30% savings over what I paid for them at a retail store.

2 comments On AblePlanet True Fidelity NC200B Noise Canceling Headphones Review

  • Awesome, I might consider that…!

  • I have used these now for about 18 months, bought them in the US when on business.

    As an audiophile with high end kit at home and spending a fortune on Klipsch x10i in ear headphones (which are excellent apart from the cable) I was looking for a set of noise-cancelling headphones (active) for long flights and found these in a Brookstone outlet for something like $99 and thought they were worth a punt.

    I swapped between the Bose at $350 and these with a colleague of mine who had a set with him on the same trips, and surprisingly he said for he money he would buy these.

    Sound – warm and punchy probably beefs up most portable devices, but as I prefer class A it works for me, and it makes it easy to listen for hours. It has more of an analogue sound, but can lose definition in the bottom end. They are quoted as 20Hz starting so no surprise there. I have found them excellent on vocal ranges. Rounded class A (analogue) feel is my best description

    Isolation – very good but not as good as the Bose………however I am not going to buy the Bose for the best reason when travelling that these have………………..isolation is good enough to enjoy the music, work and sleep but it lets enough sound in for you to be aware of the situation. Why does this matter? Because you can hear pilot/airport announcements and quickly flick the off switch or volume switch to hear stuff that may be important. Likewise I found it good when being asked questions by the Stewardess or catching the landing announcements

    Comfort – Good, I find them a little pushy after about 3-4 hours, they do of course heat up your ears.

    Build – Great considering they are plastic based. Mine are now 18 months old and still look like new

    Design – Excellent. Pads on top for comfort, folding headband and cups mean they pack down well for travelling or laptop bags. In line volume control which has a good deal of travel so can be adjusted sensitively. Removable cable great if you wish to replace one….or if you just want them on without music to kill sound.Switch location is excellent

    Battery life – I have heard plenty of figures but all I can say is that is they seem to last a long long time, my estimate would be 50-100 hours per one AAA battery

    Conclusion: If you travel, commute or want to shut out the world for a while, fancy beefing up your sounds and don’t want to show off or spend loads then these are for you. At the price there really are no contenders.

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