At first glance the Able Planet Clear Harmony NC1050 headphones look very similar to the Bose QuietComfort product line. Both headsets have an over-the-ear circumaural body style, a sleek, yet simple, ear cup form and of course a padded interior that oozes a comfortable appeal. But if we had to choose one product for looks alone, it would certainly be the Able Planet NC1050 headset pair.
Previous iterations of Able Planet headphones like the Able Planet Sound Clarity NC510B headset, featured a matte black finish on the ear cup exterior, surrounded by chrome accents. In the newer models (like the Clear Harmony NC1050), Able Planet removed the chrome-like accents and replaced them with a checkered carbon fiber type bezel, which also has a slightly glossy finish – we only say slightly glossy because it’s not as reflective a surface as one might expect. Nevertheless the new all black form factor provides an attractive and very minimal design which is preferred to the dull black and grey of the Bose QuietComfort line.
Like previous models, the battery compartment for the Clear Harmony NC1050 headset is housed in the right earcup and is easily accessible; it’s opened by sliding a small cover off the exterior of the earcup. The right earcup also includes a small on/off switch and a power LED indicator which displays whether the active noise cancelling feature is turned on or not. The left earcup also includes a small storage compartment which can be used to carry the included adapters if one decides not to lug around the bulky traveling case.
Clear Harmony NC1050 Accessories
The Able Planet Clear Harmony NC1050 headset also includes a zip-up traveling case, an airline audio jack adapter, a larger 1/4″ adapter, and of course 2 AAA batteries.
The standard audio cable is fully detachable which is great for traveling and offers incredible portability options. The cable itself includes an inline audio control which controls volume levels for the headset, and a rubber-like casing that improves durability – and believe us it’s a welcome feature, we’ve ruined many a headset thanks to a flimsy audio cord.
Able Planet Headphones – Able Planet Clear Harmony NC1050 Headphones Review
As we’ve already said, the Able Planet Clear Harmony NC1050 headphones are good looking, and rightly so considering the direct retail price is $349. But looks aren’t everything, especially with a product like the NC1050 headset that’s dedicated to providing uninhibited sound.
The Able Planet NC1050 noise cancelling headphones feature a frequency response range of 20Hz-20kHz which translates to beautifully rich highs and attractively resounding lows. In the previous model we reviewed (Sound Clarity NC510B) there was a slight distortion in the audio quality at higher volume ranges, audiophiles will be glad to know there is no such issue with the newer model. It’s also worth noting that the Able Planet NC1050 headphones feature a rated sensitivity level of 121dB while the active noise cancellation is turned on.
One of the best features included in previous Able Planet models is the passive sound mode, which enables users to still hear audio when the noise cancellation feature is turned off; the feature is also integrated into the Clear Harmony NC1050 model. Of course, the sound is significantly lower in passive mode (with a rated sensitivity of 115dB while off) and the bass response is almost nonexistent, but in cases where battery life is less than optimal it’s good to know the headset can still be used.
What’s interesting about the Able Planet Clear Harmony NC1050 noise cancelling headphones is that they produce incredibly pure sound even with a lack of digital signal processing implementations. Most modern noise cancelling headphones use a technique called digital signal processing to eliminate background noise; digital signal processing involves using a microphone to measure ambient noise which can then be eliminated from the audio signal. However as can be seen in a lot of noise cancelling headphones that employ digital signal processing techniques, there’s often a slight distortion at higher sound frequencies and volume levels. This can deter pure audiophiles who would rather hear a direct, uninhibited audio signal.
The sound produced by the Clear Harmony NC1050 headset completely justifies the name, the audio is clear, precise and most of all true to the source. The bass sounds deep when it should, yet doesn’t sound out of place or like it’s been tweaked to high hell. The mids and highs sound crisp, and clean when filtered by the noise cancelling feature- but also sound just as good with the noise cancellation turned off.
As far as performance is concerned, the Able Planet NC1050 headset is also the clear winner taking first place above the Bose Quiet Comfort line, the Creative HN high-end headphones, and even Sony’s MDR line.
Able Planet Headphones – Able Planet Clear Harmony NC1050 Headphones
The previous NC510B model we reviewed wasn’t exactly the most comfortable headphone pair when worn at length. In fact, the cushioned earcups were sized awkwardly and caused a slight pinching at the tops and bottoms of the ear lobes which eventually created a slight discomfort when worn for extended periods.
With the Clear Harmony NC1050 headset comfort is not a problem, at all. The cushioned earcups are incredibly soft, and create a blanket of, shall we dare to say, love for each ear. To be quite honest during a long road trip (3+ hours to be exact) we hardly noticed we were wearing headphones at all. The earcups gracefully surround each ear, without adding even the slightest bit of discomfort and work well to eliminate noise even without the active noise cancellation turned on.
Able Planet Headphones – Linx Audio Technology
All Able Planet headphones use patented Linx Audio technology, which was evolved from traditional hearing aid technologies. LinX Audio enables users to experience high quality and louder sound at lower volume limits without the need to pump up volume levels to harmful frequencies. Basically, users can experience the same sound qualities at the lowest volume as they can at max volume.
The Able Planet NC1050 headphones take advantage of Linx Audio, and when combined with the noise cancelling mode the headset sounds fantastic.
Speaking of noise cancellation, the Able Planet Clear Harmony NC1050 headphones feature a fully adjustable noise cancellation mode which can be activated via a small on/off switch on the exterior of the left earcup. When the noise cancellation is turned on, all ambient noise is blocked out to provide a pure stream of sound from the connected audio device. During our long road trip, we were able to listen to an uninhibited audio stream throughout the whole journey without hearing the blatant noise coming from nearby traffic. Never once did we hear the drowning sounds of other engines or auto-horns going off. We were able to completely enjoy our audio, noise free.
When compared to the Bose QuietComfort line, the Able Planet Clear Harmony NC1050 headphones produce better sound while the noise cancellation features are activated. The Bose headphones suffer from a slight distortion at higher volume limits and also include a tinny, almost slight hissing background noise thanks to the unique noise cancellation techniques they employ. The NC1050 headphones don’t include any such issues, and provide what is truly a pristine audio stream.
The Able Planet headphones have an MSRP of $349 when purchased direct, and are a great solution for those interested in hearing noise free sound while still desiring pure audio streams. In our tests, we concluded that the NC1050 model stands up to even the industries best available headphones, the Bose QuietComfort line. Able Planet wins this one in terms of aesthetics, performance and features.
If given the opportunity to choose between the NC1050 model or a Bose QuietComfort model, we’d happily take the Able Planet product; especially considering Able Planet offers a limited lifetime warranty on all products.
Those Able Planet headphones are a little difficult to find but make sure you visit Amazon if you’re looking for this particular model or another model from Able Planet.