Able Planet NC300 Noise-canceling Headset Review
There are plenty of audio options out there aimed specifically at the gaming market but the NC300 noise canceling headset is not one of them. It is missing the neon highlights or fancy marketing of other manufacturers and doesn’t scream “L33t Gamer”, however it does offer a comfortable fit and good audio fidelity in a pretty affordable package. If you’re looking for pointless accents and frills, maybe Playskool makes a headset you’d like.
Able Planet NC300 True Fidelity Foldable Noise Canceling Headphones (PC [Reviewed])
The NC300 is a great portable, multi-use headset. Travelers and gamers play in crowded or noisy environs should take note of the unit’s built-in white-noise generation ability. Powered by a single battery, the headset is used without any audio source to dampen ambient noise or give crisper audio in parallel to your games, movies or music. It is interesting how useful this noise canceling headset is at helping you focus or just drop the everyday noise around you.
I’m a laptop user and I also travel regularly throughout the year. The NC300 is a great option for frequent travelers looking to cut the din of airplane, train or car engine and travel noise. On a recent three-hour drive I popped on the headset, activated the noise canceling and had the most peaceful experience in a long time. Likewise, at home with a house full of noisy children I can clearly hear my game without exterior noises intruding during an extended play session of Mass Effect 2.
The noise canceling is not the only feature that makes the NC300 a good choice. The ear cups rotate and fold for easy storage and the unit comes with a nice hard shell carrying/storage case. While not as convenient as ear buds for storage, the headset is lightweight and durable and offers enclosed ear coverage which also help reduce interference even when the noise cancellation is not active.
Wearing headsets long-term is often a matter of a comfortable fit. I found the headband of the unit comfortable to wear for extended periods though the foam covers on the ear cups did irritate the outside of my ears a little after wearing the NC300 for an extended period. The irritation was not troublesome for shorter periods, so I’d recommend limiting how long you wear the headset or removing it often if the foam bothers you, otherwise these headphones fit nicely and did not cause cranial pain like some of their competitors.
Able Planet offers a few optional add-ons for the NC300 that also interest travelers. Included in the storage kit are two audio adapters – a dual pronged airplane adapter and a 1/4″ audio jack used most commonly on home theater setups. The 1/4″ adapter is a nice feature considering that if you’re a console gamer using an audio system this allows you to continue to use this headset on during console play or while watching movies and television if you choose. The audio cable and in-line volume control is also removable and all these are stored in the carrying cases’ included mesh pouch.
The biggest question for any headset though is how does it sound? Well, the Able Planet NC300 delivers a crisp sound that is not overdriven or heavy on bass. I tested the unit for gaming and general media playback using Hulu, Netflix and DVDs. When paired with the noise canceling I found the sound very clean and clear. The Nc300 does not produce a deep rumble and seems best at reproducing vocal ranges.
During media play I tested it with a variety of music ranging from melodic instrumental jazz to death metal and found the sound reproduction was comfortable. Again, the mid-tones seemed the best produced. Dialog during movies was easy to distinguish and the positional bias seemed well-balanced based on the mix of the media itself, there was not any noticeable variance between the left and right cup.
The Able Planet NC300 is a nice mid-range headset that has greater utility than your typical “gamer” headset. Thanks to some nice included extras and the noise cancellation features the unit is also suitable for non-gaming applications. The only gamer-centric feature missing is an included boom microphone, though Able Planet does offer a mic as an add-on buy that is compatible with the headset, replacing the included in-line audio control cable.
- Noise Canceling at a good price
- Good mid-range reproduction
- Easy to store and transport
- Included adapters and removable audio cord
- No microphone included
- Does not have strong bass
- Ear Cups uncomfortable after hours of wear