AblePlanet Clear Harmony Review

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$299

Pros: Clear and loud; Excellent noise reduction; Outstanding for audiobook and movie playback

Cons: Expensive; Headband too big for some users; Audible noise-reduction hiss

Verdict: Relative newcomer AblePlanet quickly establishes itself as a serious challenger in the top-flight noise-reduction market.

At $300, AblePlanet's Clear Harmony headphones have stiff competition from state-of-the-art products made by Bose and Shure. But these pricey cans sound fantastic and hold their own in this price category.

Anyone who's used Bose's QuietComfort line of headphones will quickly find visible similarities between those models and AblePlanet's product. The gray-and-black finish and chunky build strongly resemble the QC2, as do the detachable cord and stiff carrying case.

The fit isn't perfect, however. With most headphones, we have to expand the band slightly to get them to fit. With AblePlanet's headphones, we'd actually like to shorten the headband's default length, so users with small heads can find the perfect fit. At $300, this should not be an afterthought.

Those who have used other active noise-canceling headsets will quickly notice that the Clear Harmony's counter-signal is more audible than most, to the point of providing a thin layer of hiss. Some might find it disorienting, especially when music isn't playing. During regular playback, however, the signal fades into the background, and the question is whether a very able reduction scheme like this one is worth swallowing a bit of hiss. We think it is.

We put the Clear Harmony headphones up against the Bose QuietComfort 3 headphones for side-by-side tests, all of which the former handily won. The over-the-ear design physically blocks outside noise, allowing us to lower the volume on the audio source. The noise reduction is more powerful as well, sounding far superior when we listened to audiobooks and movies.

The Clear Harmony unit is competitive by any standard. AblePlanet's cans come up short only in the fit category, yet they're still quite comfortable over long periods. Any prospective buyer for whom $300 isn't a prohibitive price for achieving quiet listening should consider AblePlanet's newcomer.
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