Monday, May 9, 2011

Expect rich sounds with Clear Harmony headphones

Able Planet's Clear Harmony

Produced by: Able Planet -
Available: NOW
Price: $349.99 (you also get an 8gb iPod Touch with purchase)

As you know

from my review of the Turtle Beach PX5 headphones - - you know I love sounds. I love the science of sound - the Doppler effect, deep vibrations from bass. Until I took these headphones for a spin, the best headphone's I've owned have been a pair of Bose "QuietComfort" headphones. The noise canceling was awesome. I could flick the switch and literally hear nothing. I tried a set of Plane Quiet Solitudes that did an ok job, but still couldn't compare to the Bose.

I even went to a few Best Buys and tested several headphones, including Beats by Dr. Dre - Monster High-Definition Over-the-Ear Noise-Canceling Headphones and wasn't impressed. For me, if a set of headphones couldn't compete with the Bose QCs, why bother?

It wasn't until I slipped Able Planet's Clear Harmony headphones on my ears that I found a worthy contender to fight the champ.

The Clear Harmony headphones use Linx Audio - a technology that removes undesirable sounds and enhancing sound reproduction and speech clarity. Basically, it allows users to hear music in a live, concert-like setting with excellent clarity.

The headphones operate off of 2 AA batteries - but what's really awesome about the headphones is you can listen to your music with or without the Linx Audio enabled and still get great noise canceling sound. I haven't tested the headphones without the batteries to see if batteries in the unit are necessary for the noise-canceling feature.

The construction of the headphones is what you'd expect from a set of $350 headphones. The headphones aren't flimsy - they are sturdy and can take some abuse. The case the headphones came in has an elastic band to keep the headphones in place, as well as a contoured hump to put the headphones around. The unit I received also came with a CLEAR VOICE™ Linx® Microphone - for use with Xbox LIVE and a cable to hook into the controller - and a couple of stereo adapters. While I was expecting to use the Clear Harmony headphones with my 360, I was never able to get it working. Oddly, even though a cable included in the box was labeled "Xbox 360" and fit into my wireless controller, I could never hear sound out of the headphones.

The ear cups on the Clear Harmony headphones fit comfortably on my ears. After a few hours, I had no problems wearing them. They go over the ear, which helps seal in the deep, rich sounds.

The headband on the Clear Harmony headphones also fits great on my head. Combined with the ear cups, the only thing that will make you take them off may be low batteries.

Now, the part you have been waiting for - the sound. For the review and tests, I chose several songs, ranging from hip hop and hard rock to classical, as well as a few movies on my 60gb Apple iPod Video and my iPhone 3GS.

Here are a few songs I selected for the review:

1. Right and a wrong way - Keith Sweat
2. Make it last forever - Keith Sweat
3. A Milli and Lollipop - Lil Wayne
4. Wait (The Whisper Song) - Ying Yang Twins
5. Rhapsody in Blue - George Gershwin
6. Breathing the Blue - Robert Matt
7. I came running - Ancient Astronauts
8. Adagio for Strings - Samuel Barber
9. Enterprising Young Men - Michael Giacchino
10. All Rounds Expended - Ramin Djawadi
11. Halo 2 Mjolnir Mix - Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori
12. Freaky Tales - Too Short
13. Ambitionz Az a Ridah - Tupac
14. Get it girl - 2 Live Crew
15. Ghosts n Stuff - Deadmau5
15.5. 'Just Dance' By Lady Gaga VS 'Ghost N Stuff' By Deadmau5

The headphones excel in every type of music genre. From the deep bass from songs like "Put On" by Young Jeezy featuring Kanye West and Short Dawg's woofer-busting "Freak Tales" and "Dope Fiend Beat", to the other end of the audio spectrum - the classical cut, "Rhapsody in Blue" by George Gershwin and even "New York, New York" by Baby Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra, the headphones can handle it all. The sound reproduction is rich and with the Linx Audio enabled, your ears will enjoy a digital serenade. The audio makes live performances sound like Bono is in front of you, singing to you in the comfort of your home.

The classical songs also benefit most from the excellent sound clarity for spoken words and the high pitch of various instruments. The sounds are nearly HD - high definition - the words are crisp and really do give the Bose headphones serious competition. While I can't use the Clear Harmony headphones with an aircraft - any QC owner knows what I am talking about - it's a small card that Bose tucks into their QC headphones to ask end users NOT to use them as aviation headphones. (They work great in airplanes, BTW, especially near the engines)

With all of that said, do not let the price scare you off. For $350, it's a wonderful deal. Plus - if you order from their Web site, they'll send you a free - yes, FREE - 8gb Apple iPod Touch with your purchase. (Source: The headphones are well worth $350, considering the Dre Beats will run you a hair less - $300 - and the quality is lacking.

If you want great headphones that will give you a concert experience without shelling out thousands to hear Celine Dion or Elton John live, check out these headphones.

The verdict? 9.5 (out of 10) I have owned a few pair of noise-canceling headphones in my life - a set of Bose QuietComfort headphones (first generation), some Plane Quiet Solitudes and a set of V-Moda Crossfade LP headphones and the Clear Harmony headphones are the best headphones I've ever owned. Can the headphones improve? You bet! However, at the end of the day, all we audio lovers want is to have a device perform to our expectations. Able Planet's Clear Harmony headphones will exceed your expectations.

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