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The AblePlanet Clear Harmony NC200s come entombed in that hard plastic that's impossible to open without a sharp implement. It doesn't matter how strong you think you are, if you don't have scissors, you're not getting the NC200s out.

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Once you've exhumed the headphones, you'll notice that they look a lot like the QC3s and every other set of on-ear active-cancellers.

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The NC200s on HATS. You'd also look this dapper with a set of NC200s atop your featureless, grey skull.

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Flip 'em over and you can see the cup padding. Underneath the padding is a thin oval of fabric, which keeps the innards protected from ear projectiles or something.

The active cancellation feature is controlled by a switch on the right ear cup. There's also an LED to let you know the feature is getting power.

The underside of the left ear cup is where you plug in the cord. In the photo below, you can also see the small hole for the active cancellation's microphone, which is located on the bottom edge of the right ear cup.

The cord itself is a good length for a set of headphones like these. They're meant to be portable, and the cord is a manageable length so you won't have a giant coil of cable sticking out of your pocket. The cable also has an in-line volume dial.

The underside of the left ear cup is where you plug in the cord. In the photo below, you can also see the small hole for the active cancellation's microphone, which is located on the bottom edge of the right ear cup.

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In the box you'll find the headphones, a cable with a volume dial, a 1/4-inch plug, a battery, and a pouch.

We don't see any glaring durability issues on the AblePlanet NC200 headphones, though it does have some smaller issues. The band isn't collapsible, which means it runs the risk of breaking if it gets bent the wrong way. The headphones do seem to be well-manufactured, even if their plastic design doesn't initially inspire much confidence. The pads are covered in a durable, leather-printed material, which means you should be wary of puncture damage; they won't likely succumb to normal wear and tear.

The cable is made of black plastic and seems durable. We pulled at it pretty hard and it didn't feel as though it was going to break. The worst that'll happen is it'll detach from the headphones.

The headphones look pretty good overall. They have faux-leather padding along the band and a solid design overall. They actually look suspiciously similar to the Bose QuietComfort 3 headphones. The small area where the NC200s' good looks fall short is around the ear cups, which look pretty plasticky. Overall, though, these headphones look pretty nice.

The AblePlanet Clear Harmony NC200's frequency response graph was a bit wonky. The bass starts out within acceptable limits, then steadily increases, hitting its peak towards the lower end of our scoring limits (the dotted black lines). At this point, it's about 10dB too loud, which isn't terrible, but it's an odd frequency to emphasize. After that point, the frequency response takes a dive, then gets a bit scribbly. Those scribbles towards the high end aren't terribly offensive to the ear, but it could cause a slightly unnatural sound. Very nearby frequencies could have about 10dB of difference.

Frequency Response Graph
[Click here for more information on our frequency response test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Frequency_Response) The headphones did well with distortion overall, but there was a bit of noise in the low end. Though it does get a bit distorted in the right channel, it's fleeting and less than 2%. For most people, this level of distortion won't be an issue. If you're going to be listening to these headphones with the active cancellation feature on, however, that's a [whole different story.](https://www.reviewed.com/headphones/content/AblePlanet-Clear-Harmony-NC200-Active-Noise-Cancelling-Headphones-Review-946/Usability.htm#Other_Features)
Distortion Graph
[Click here for more information on our frequency response test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Distortion) The headphones' tracking was a bit wonky. No matter how much we readjusted the headphones, the left channel was always slightly louder in the low end, and slightly quieter in the high end. This abnormality aside, we're not talking gigantic decibel swings here. The most it wanders is about 7dB off center, and it's just a blip. Chances are, you won't notice it.
Tracking Graph
[Click here for more information on our frequency response test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Tracking) Not a lot. These headphones really weren't great in the isolation department, according to our tests. The active noise cancellation feature did block out some bassy ambience, but otherwise the feature offers a negligible improvement over just wearing the headphones with the feature off.
Isolation Graph
[Click here for more information on our isolation test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Isolation) The headphones suffered from a moderate amount of leakage. Someone sitting next to you would be able to hear your music pretty clearly in a quiet room. They won't be louder than typical street noise, however, so as long as you aren't in a study hall, you shouldn't have to worry about annoying anyone. [Click here for more information on our leakage test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Leakage) We were able to get the AblePlanet Clear Harmony NC200s up to about 103dB before it hit 3% distortion. This is pretty decently loud, and should suffice for most users. You really don't want anything louder than 120dB, because that could damage your tender hearing! [Click here for more on our maximum usable volume test](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Maximum Usable Volume) We think the AblePlanet NC200s were pretty comfortable. The padding along the band was sufficient enough to keep the hard plastic off our sensitive skulls. The cup padding helped mitigate the pressure against the sides of our heads, keeping the headphones fitting snugly, but not uncomfortably so. This being said, if you're exercising, these headphones probably will shift around; we wouldn't recommend wearing these to the gym.
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We thought the headphones wore well over time. The padding was enough that we didn't suffer from that late-onset head fatigue we typically get from heavier headphones like Beyerdynamics.

There's not a lot you can do to customize these headphones. They don't come with any extras, like in-line accessories or faceplates. The band extends and bends, and the ear cups can tilt; that's about it.

The NC200s have a four-foot, removable cord that plugs into the bottom of the left ear cup. The cable itself seems pretty robust, with decent insulation and thick cord guards.

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The headphones also come with a 1/4-inch adapter.

The NC200s are meant to be portable, since outside is where the majority of unwanted noise is. While they're lighter than most on-ear headphones, they're still a lot bigger than a set of in-ears. The ear cups do fold up, but that doesn't improve portability that much: you'll still need a bag or something to carry them in. The headphones come with a pouch, but we doubt anyone will want to tote a tiny, manufacturer-branded pouch.

While you can disassemble the NC200s, you can't get very far. You can take off the ear cups, and a piece of foam underneath them, but at that point you hit a dead end. The headphones also don't come with any cleaning tools.

Maintenance Image

This is what you'll see once you remove the padding.

Battery

The AblePlanet Clear Harmony NC200s use batteries to power their active noise cancellation feature and also to give the music a bit more kick. You technically can use the headphones without battery back-up, but we wouldn't recommend it: they have a weak, hollow sound.

Volume Control

The volume dial is located in-line, a good distance or so away from the ear cups. It functions like you'd assume a volume dial functions. Our only complaint is that the dial feels a bit cheap, like it's on loose.

Volume Dial Image

This is the side of the pendant where all the volume dialing action takes place.

Active Noise Cancellation

The active noise cancellation feature is controlled by a switch on the right ear bud, and has a little red LED to indicate when the feature is active. While we liked the ability to switch the feature off, as mentioned above, the headphones lose a lot of punch without battery power. Also, the active cancellation feature isn't very kind to audio quality. It creates an audible hiss, and doesn't offer much actual cancellation.

These two headphones have very different designs. For starters, the HD 650s are over-ear, rather than on-ear (circumaural vs. supra-aural). The HD 650s are also open-backed, so they're not a good pick if you're concerned about isolation.

What the HD650s lack in isolation, they make up for in sound quality. This is a problem we've found with many active-cancellers out there: their cancellation feature often comes at the expense of audio quality.

In terms of frequency response, the NC200 was significantly more erratic than the HD 650s, which had a much more even keel to its frequency response.

The HD 650 barely had any distortion. It wins by a long shot.

The HD 650 also had much smoother tracking.

The NC200 isolates much better than the HD 650. The HD 650s are open-backed, though, so if you're looking for isolation, these shouldn't be considered.

The HD 650s are significantly larger, and have harder pads with coarser padding. The NC200s were slightly more comfortable, unless you're used to a large set of over-ears.

The HD 650s are significantly better in terms of audio quality, but don't offer the isolation that the NC200s do. The NC200s are also significantly less expensive than the HD 650s.

The two headphones feature a very similar design. Both look somewhat plasticky and have leather printing on their padding. Both are roughly the same in terms of durability as well. We say this one is a draw.

The NC200s had some issues with some low tones, but the AH-NC732s' response looks like it falls off a mountain towards the high end.

The low end on the NC200s wasn't spectacular. The Denon AH-NC732s, on the other hand, were almost flawless.

Both headphones had some issues with tracking, but the AH-NC732 was a bit more erratic than the NC200s.

The AH-NC732 has far better isolation than the NC200.

We thought these two headphones were roughly the same in terms of comfort, with a slight preference for the Denons.

If you're looking to spend the extra money, the AH-NC732s are simply a step up from the NC200s. If you're not looking to spend the extra money, the NC200s are a nice, inexpensive option.

The two sets of headphones look pretty similar. They have the same general design to their ear ups, and connect to the band the same way.

The NC200 has its issues, but the QC3s have a disproportionately loud bass compared to the rest of their response.

The NC200s had slightly more distortion in the low end.

The QC3's tracking is slightly more erratic.

The QC3 beats the active-cancelling pants off the NC200.

We thought both pairs of headphones were roughly equivalent in terms of comfort. We had no complaints for either one.

If you're looking for isolation, the QC3s offer significantly more than the NC200s. This being said, the NC200s cost much, much less than the QC3s, and didn't perform that much worse.

The two headphones have roughly the same design. The NC200s are more collapsible, however.

The NC200s have a more erratic frequency response.

The ANC7s have really low levels of distortion towards the mid and a blip towards the high end. The NC200s have slightly more significant distortion in the bass. Neither was particularly bad, however.

The NC200s' tracking was a bit off, but not by much. The ATH-ANC7 got a bit erratic towards the high end.

The ATH-ANC7s have far superior active cancellation, especially for bassy sounds.

We didn't have problems with either set of headphones. Both are about the same in terms of comfort.

The ATH-ANC7s cost a lot more than the NC200s, but offer much higher quality.

The Able Planet True Fidelity NC200s aren't great headphones. Fortunately—and this is rare for headphones, which is why we're calling it out—the lack of audio quality is actually justified by their low price. They're entry-level sets. Too often we review headphones like the Bose QC3s, which have a premium brand and price, but don't have the performance to back up either. So thanks, Able Planet, for pricing your headphones appropriately. You are a beacon of sanity in the grifter's game that is headphone sales.

This being said, the active cancellation feature really isn't great. The technology (apparently) isn't something you can do on the cheap. If you're looking for active cancellation, you'll have to spend a lot more money. On the other hand, if you don't have a discerning ear to get annoyed by the anti-noise, or you don't like wearing in-ears, the NC200s are a good bet.

Meet the tester

Mark Brezinski

Mark Brezinski

Senior Writer

@markbrezinski

Mark Brezinski is a senior writer with seven years of experience reviewing consumer tech and home appliances.

See all of Mark Brezinski's reviews

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