Review: Able Planet Sound Clarity Wireless Headphones

Great sound wirelessly, as long as you stay in one place. (December 11th, 2008)

Electronista Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: Able Planet, Inc.

Price: $179.99 US

The Good

  • Comfortable adjustable headset. Best reception in the “sweet spot.” 360 degree coverage when you turn your head. Nice carrying case included. Support for two separate audio sources.

The Bad

  • When you move out of the sweet spot audio sounds hissy with occasional pops. Large headset.

Able Planet vaunts its Linx Audio technology throughout its line of audio headsets, including units with active noise cancellation and headsets for gamers. Its long-winded Sound Clarity Infrared Wireless Headphones with Dual Source Transmitter is a great choice for people looking for personal audio from their desktop system without the clutter of cables tethering them to a desk.

The $179.99 package uses infrared (IR) technology in a base station you connect to your Mac using an included 3.5mm-RCA stereo plug. The IR base plugs into a power supply.

The Base

The adjustable base transmitter can be pivoted at angles off the horizon, so if you position it on your desk, you can direct it at your head for maximum sound quality. I actually had better luck positioning it on the top of my Mac Pro, which sits atop my desk; its top is roughly even with my head. It actually pays to back away from the transmitter a bit; think of it as casting a wide beam across the horizontal plane of the room parallel to the floor.

RT400 screen

The headphones contain four receiving diodes, which Able Planet assures customers captures the signal 360 degrees so you can turn your head without losing the signal. My experience bore that out.

When you're not directly in the view of the IR transmitter, you're likely to hear a very noticeable audio hiss that increases the farther away you get. So, it pays to find the "sweet spot" of the transmitter and stay put. If you're looking for something that casts a large enough sweet spot to go dancing around your room, you may find these headphones lacking. I also heard occasional audio pops that aren't present using external speakers through the same audio port on my Mac Pro.

A push-button on/off switch lets you turn off the headphones when they're not in use, plus they are equipped with auto-off sensors that turn off the headphones after 3.5 minutes of idle activity, which helps conserve battery life. The headphones are powered by AAA alkaline batteries, and unfortunately, they're not rechargeable using the base. The batteries last a good long time, though.

The Sound Clarity Infrared Wireless Headphones with Dual Source Transmitter supports a second audio channel, so you can use this to input audio from another source, such as a home entertainment system, an iPod, or video game system. You switch between channels with an A/B selector on the headphones.

RT400 screen

The headband is very comfortable, adjustable for large and small head sizes, and well padded around the top. The ear cushions are also fantastically comfortable and soft. The headphones also fold up into a very nice and durable hard carrying case included with the kit. The AC adapter and size of the transmitter preclude using the system with a laptop, unless you're really determined to go wirelessly.

Sound Technology

Able Planet's Patented LINX AUDIO technology sets these headphones apart from a crowded field because they change "the audio signal to increase the intensity of higher frequency harmonics making it easier to hear words or notes in the higher frequencies where clarity is often lost." This means you can listen to your music at lower volumes, and that if age or undue noise exposure has affected your hearing, this headset may help you hear what you've been missing.

Able Planet also offers the headphones with a single-source transmitter for $10 less ($169.99) or just the headphones for $129.99. You can also find these items at steep discounts at Amazon, Sam's Club, and other online stores.

by Lee P. Meredith


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